Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Welcome to the Chaos.

As evidence of the Iraqi threat, the U.S. Secretary of State lauds a report of purported new findings by British intelligence, which turns out to be a thoroughly disreputable cut-and-paste from old and questionable sources, including the work of students, revealing information that is a more than a decade old. The plagiarism itself was so complete that it reproduced not only the very words of one of the student's papers, but also the grammatical errors and misspellings.

Sorry, but if my opponents from St. Philomena High in rural western Pennsylvania had tried to pass off that kind of evidence in a scholastic forensic league debate held in an empty classroom and witnessed by a track coach and two nuns, my high school debate partner and I would have been embarrassed for them.

Turns out it wasn't British Intelligence but Tony Blair's press office that produced it. British Intelligence was actually saying that there are no ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

No wonder Powell's attempt to tie Al Qaeda to Iraq on the basis of a purported bin Laden tape inspired skepticism. (Let's not embarrass the emperor by pointing out that last year's Satan and Public Enemy #1 is apparently still at large.) His other evidence previous to the tape---which even if genuine doesn't establish a relationship, others say---was a supposed base and chemical weapons plant in Iraq which turned out to be a few falling down shacks with minimal electricity outside Saddam's territory.

But look closer at the case the Bushies are making and it gets even more sinister: Sure, bin Laden despises Saddam as an apostate, but lots of terrorist groups are finding common cause as war nears, because they have a common enemy. We can expect terrorist acts even in the United States, possibly including dirty nuclear devices, chemical or biological weapons, planted by Al Qaeda and possibly supplied by Saddam, because the U.S. is preparing to attack Muslim territory.

In other words, the Bushies are making the case that we need to attack Iraq because it supports terrorist Al Qaeda, and the reason Al Qaeda and Iraq may be combining forces is because the U.S. is going to attack. Where is Joseph Heller when you need him, may he rest in peace.

Meanwhile North Korea is preparing to make nuclear bombs, and warns the U.S. that it isn't the only country that can engage in a pre-emptive strike so don't even think about it. A few days later, Iran announces it is doing some new nuclear fuel processing of its own, but not to worry, they aren't going to make bombs, which is just what North Korea says, wink wink, nudge nudge.

This is while France and Germany are joined by Russia in supporting a plan to put UN people on the ground in Iraq before the U.S. bombs can fall. Stayed tuned for Security Council: The Dueling Vetoes. In their different ways, all of these countries are responding to the Bush foreign policy of arrogance and bullying

They're seeing consequences of American arrogance in more terrorism in Europe and Britain. The closer war gets, the more menacing the threat. The U.S. is put on alert. Nobody seems to know if much has actually been done to protect the country's most vulnerable and potentially destructive terrorism targets. The head of the International Association of Firefighters says nobody has provided equipment or training to most firefighters in most places to cope with bio, chemical or radiation attacks, and they're understaffed in most cities even for more conventional threats. Communications is still a mystery in most places, and while Americans are being urged to buy battery-powered radios, there may be nothing to hear on them but the latest from British intelligence.

Congress holds hearings on plans for postwar Iraq and finds that practically speaking there are none. NGOs and the UN aren't prepared to deal with "humanitarian needs," which is nicespeak for starving, bleeding, thirsty, maimed and terrorized civilians. But the Bushies did say they expect Saddam to blow up his oil wells, creating a blanket of deadly pollution we'll probably all get a taste of.

Conservative estimates have the U.S. occupying Iraq for two years. An army of occupation is likely to face armed opposition, as it tries to restrain the opposing ethnic and religious groups in Iraq from savaging each other. The retired general who led relief efforts in the region after Gulf War I said that even without those responsibilities, tens of thousands of American troops remained for the next 11 years, long after the cameras went home. "The war never ended," he said. "We aren't going to go home from whatever we do in Iraq."

Meanwhile back in Iraq the inspectors say Iraq is cooperating better, but everybody knows the Bushies won't take yes for an answer. They insist that war isn't inevitable, and if it happens it will be regrettable, but nothing anybody does gets any reaction other than derision. Everybody else is deluded; only the Bushies are right.

Thanks to that self-righteousness, Americans will be paying for the war and the occupation of Iraq into the indefinite future. It doesn't look like France and Germany will help much.

Instead Bush stands shoulder to shoulder with his staunch ally, the prime minister of Australia. He shouldn't expect much from that country in the long term either. Everybody in Australia knows that come the next election, this guy is toast. Why? Because he stands shoulder to shoulder with Bush.

Bush submits a budget with huge tax giveaways for the rich and the largest deficit in U.S. history, batteries and the cost of the war not included. All the voices that despaired over government deficits are silent. State governments are already saying it and pretty soon the federal government will say it, too: Gee, there's no more money! We'll have to tighten our belts, so the majority of families in America can look forward to worse education and health care, and an old age of poverty and untreated illness. I guess they're hoping we'll suffer in silence, ashamed of not being billionaires and getting tax cuts, too.

The ax is already starting to fall here in California, thanks to state budget cuts. People will be thrown out of work and others will be overworked, students and their parents will pay more for less education, and as for the poor---let them eat tax cuts.

A draft proposal for Patriot Act II circulates in Washington. Patriot Act I already allows homes to be searched secretly, without a warrant. Patriot Act II apparently proposes secret arrests. You know, the very definition of totalitarian government---the knock on the door in the middle of the night, and somebody disappears. Only they won't knock. Of what form of government is this act a patriot of? Where are Stalin and Pinochet when we need them?

If there's another terrorist attack, we'll probably find out. Just don't keep this column on your hard drive.

Meanwhile, the crashing sound of icebergs falling apart, the chainsaws and bulldozers and the drills cut the life out of the planet, the quiet dying of the last of their kind as species vanish forever.

Welcome to the Madness.

No comments: