War: December 2003 Archives

Guerrillas Kill 3 U.S. Troops; Bomb Kills 5 Iraqis

This is the first Reuters headline I spotted on my home page as I got up this morning. Before reading the story I had perversely assumed that "we" were the party responsible for the deaths of the 5 Iraqis. Actually it was the work of a suicide bomber in a northern Kurdish city, who died along with two guards, a passerby and a 13-year-old girl.

Now I would say that while the "score" should read, 8-0, it's actually the coach in the White House who deserves the credit for every one of those eight - and for every other death in this monstrous war that has been and is still to be.

Finlay Johnson Richards, 2, of London, England, points at New York City police officers patroling Union Square as part of Operation Hercules as his twin sister Maya Rose looks on, Monday, Dec. 22, 2003 in New York.

The uniforms and the guns have descended in force once again.

Our little general tells his people to just go about their lives, and leave everything in his care. And all has been absolutely super under that arrangement so far, no?

Jimmy Breslin describes what this looks like on the streets here in New York.

. . . over the weekend, Homeland Security raised the terrorism alert to condition orange. By Saturday night, the streets of midtown looked like a parking lot at a police precinct. Vans were all along the curbs. Patrol cars were up on the sidewalks. All had lights, yellow and white, flashing in the night air.

Cops took over the sidewalks and lined them with metal barricades. On Seventh Avenue, 44th Street was blocked and traffic waved on. A friend was in a cab on Seventh Avenue trying to get to the Algonquin Hotel on 44th and Sixth, but as the cab couldn't turn on 44th, he said he would get out.

The driver stopped and said, "Get out now. Hurry up!" They were too slow. A cop was at the door when it opened and he shouted that he was giving the cabbie a summons. Nobody was to stop. This was a civil defense emergency.

This great big city now belonged to the nearest badge.

We're now being told that the "alert" will not be called off at the end of the holiday season. Is that supposed to please or upset us? Do we bother to think about it at all? All of this is only a rehearsal anyway, for something much bigger. If and when just one more terrorist succeeds within our borders, much more than lives will be lost. Our entire political system will be destroyed forever, permanently replaced by a military dictatorship. We can be sure no voice will be heard to object.

If, in this interim, anyone manages to think about it at all, she or he knows that no SWAT team, no army, can make us safe. Only an intelligent executive, and above all an intelligent foreign policy, could give us and the rest of the world any security. But Americans don't want intelligence, especially in their government.

Hail to the [fill in the blank] chief!

In the Fall of last year I wrote in this space:

Almost two years ago, in the months after the 2000 elections, I bored or frightened my friends with my prediction that we would never have another Presidential election, and we would very likely be relieved of the messiness of another congressional election as well. I believed that the Republicans would never give up what had been so ill-gotten in the winter of 2000-2001.

I was certain that some pretext would be invented to distort the electoral process, or even entirely suspend the Constitutional niceties providing for the election of a Congress and a President, in order to protect us from enemies at home or aboad.

Absent any compelling case for Republican involvement in the events of September 11, we still have a case for a Republican conspiracy, one which is subverting the political process at this very moment, and it's working very well indeed. Most of the Democrats have bought into the monstrous idiocy of this regime's war arguments and practices, with disagreement only in the details, at best.

It looks like they're going to pull it off.

[image, and the excerpt from its caption there, are from Yahoo! News (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)]

(Conceived and executed by Ed Sedarbaum. This product conforms to official Patriot Act requirements: it's useless.)

What possible purpose is served by the government making an announcement that should totally distract, if not scare us to death? Hmm.

[the image caption is from the artist himself]

Shaking Hands: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983 [in the midst of the war begun in 1980, when Iraq attacked Iran]. (video clip still)

Hussein now as good as dead? If we think about it for a second, we can see that's not a good thing for "freedom." [since Bush, we have to put the word in quotation marks]

First, let's see, what do we know for sure about the Iraqi dictator's sudden reappearance?

There seems little reason to doubt that Saddam Hussein is in Iraq and currently in the custody of its American owners. Everything else being reported should be subject to the most intense scrutiny.

What we do know, those of us who have kept abreast of the story from the beginning, is that it isn't in the interest of anyone in power in the U.S., Britain, or just about any other nation, and not excluding the paper governing committee we have installed in Iraq, to see him actually put on trial. Any legitimate, fair trial would permit Hussein to speak in his defense. Every one of his current enemies has been compromised by contacts, agreements, support and conspiracies which stretch back 30 years, many continuing even until only months before the hostilities which began in March.

From Bloggy, writing about our own government's relationship to the man we now describe as a monster:

Are they going to allow his defense to bring up things like the fact we provided satellite intelligence to him when he was gassing Iranians and others during the Iraq/Iraq war, or that Rumsfeld was happy to meet with him during that time? I doubt it.
There will of course be no fair trial. There may in fact be no trial at all.

At least one blogger has suggested that there's a possibility that the former dictator has actually been in U.S. custody for some time. Then why weren't we told about it?

Easy. Early reports describe the captured Hussein as appearing bewildered, disoriented, perhaps in some kind of stupor, even "broken." The circumstances of his discovery and arrest were anything but public. It all happened under cover of darkness, and the 600 troops which were part of the task force did not know the nature of the operation. Could the events of Saturday night have been an invention? But to what end?

I'm sure many hypotheses might be advanced, but my own should appeal to more than just those who revel in conspiracy theories. I think Saddam Hussein may have been captured some time ago, and the reason we are only hearing about it now, the reason it is being described as if it had just happened is that his captors first needed some time with him in private. I think there's a good chance he's now been "modified."

Ok, too fantastic? Perhaps, especially since the same purpose would be served if Hussein didn't get to testify in the first place. Any number of people could be found to see that he was murdered first, but maybe it would be neater if he managed to die of some unfortunate medical condition. No matter how the arrangements are handled, we're never going to hear what he has to say.

So in fact his life is already over. Only the details have to be worked out.

How did we get to the point where we could imagine the very worst in the conduct of our own goverment? In fact I think we now can actually expect the very worst.

And I think this means it's all over.

[image and caption from George Washington University, The National Security Archive]

Boys at war

The caption which accompanies this photo from the current Yahoo News slideshow reads:

Two US soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the 173 Airborne Brigade take position next a group of Iraqi youths during a massive raid in Hawijah, 45 kilometres (nearly 30 miles) west of Iraq's northern oil center of Kirkuk.(AFP/Mauricio Lima)

[from the look of it, in this case the photographer probably agreed with the Iraqi youths' estimate of the danger]

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from December 2003.

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