Iraq: A Right-Wing Alternate Reality Show

Never mind all that folderol about Iraq’s burgeoning insurgency: those bombs going off everywhere, the kidnappings, and the complete inability of the U.S.-installed Iraqi government to keep order in the streets of their own capital city – “The war is over,” says Karl Zinsmeister, “and we won”!

Does that mean we can bring our troops home now?

Zinsmeister, editor of the American Enterprise Institute‘s magazine, doesn’t address that question, let alone answer it, but one has to wonder if he ought to re-title his magazine from American Enterprise to Transmission From Bizarro World. I mean, this guy actually went to Iraq and saw nothing, really, all that amiss. Oh sure, he writes, there are a few “periodic flare-ups in isolated corners,” but “our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over.” Instead of fighting, Zinsmeister assures us, American troops are building schools, picking up the trash, and helping little old ladies cross streets. While everything isn’t exactly hunky-dory – “the terrorist struggle continues,” we are told – we’re on the way to complete “victory.”

Gee, I wonder, then, why USA Today is reporting that “the number of U.S. deaths in Iraq increased about 34 percent in the past 12 months compared with the year before.”

As King Pyrrhus is said to have remarked to one of his generals: “One more victory such as this, and we are finished.”

For a more, uh, reality-based view of what is happening in our freshly conquered province, go listen to what Christopher Allbritton, a former AP writer and reporter for the New York Daily News – who has been to Iraq three times now and is currently living in Baghdad – has to say in his first podcast from Iraq. Allbritton is reporting from the front lines, and his fiery exasperation with the ideological cant coming out of this administration is incandescent and terrible to behold:

“Since returning, it feels like I’m listening to the same record I’ve been listening to for a year, only with the volume turned up. Donald Rumsfeld, the American secretary of defense, says the U.S. is winning the war and that the media are focusing too much on bad news. I know this because the press releases from the American Forces Information Network tell me so.”

He then cites a Pentagon press release trumpeting Rumsfeld’s contention that the media is making up all this stuff about bombings, kidnappings, and rising casualties among Iraqis (as well as American soldiers). To report these things, Rummy says, is to ignore the “solid progress” being made in favor of focusing on a few “bumps in the road.” Allbritton’s rejoinder:

“‘Bumps in the road’? Just earlier today, presumably before the Iraqi journalist was killed, an Iraqi member of parliament was killed in a car bomb attack. I can’t even begin to tell you how many Iraqis have been killed in the weeks I was away. And how many more Iraqis … will die because the Americans can’t tell who’s friend or foe? Those aren’t ‘bumps in the road.’ Those are signs that you went off the road without a map a long time ago. Where do you even begin combating the head-in-the-sandism, brazen propaganda, and revisionism of the above release?”

Allbritton is doing yeoman’s work in fighting head-in-the-sandism: if his reports had more reach than, say, Rush Limbaugh’s fantasy-based fulminations, it would make the job of debunking the War Party’s hallucinations far easier. What is clear, however, is that brazen propaganda is about all we can expect, not only from our rulers in Washington but also from their amen corner in the American media, who live in a symbiotic relationship with their government overseers and mentors. This cohabitation is brought home by the news that a bevy of right-wing radio blowhards, masquerading as journalists, is about to embark on a trip to Iraq. Fox News reports:

“‘The reason why we are doing it is we are sick and tired of seeing and hearing headlines by the mainstream media about our defeat in Iraq,’ Melanie Morgan, a talk radio host (search) for KSFO Radio in San Francisco and co-chair of Move America Forward, said. …

“According to retired Col. Buzz Patterson, host of The Buzz Cut on Rightalk, the delegation of seven to 10 conservatives will also include two writers from the Web site FrontPage Magazine, which is published by David Horowitz) and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. ‘The war is being won, if not already won, I think,’ Patterson, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, said. ‘[Iraq] is stabilized and we want the soldiers themselves to tell the story.'”

Cocooning in the Green Zone, traveling under heavy guard when they dare to venture out, the War Party’s Traveling Dog-and-Pony Show will broadcast propaganda at U.S. government expense, direct to you from Centcom headquarters, “reporting” our great success in turning Iraq into a training ground for terrorist groups worldwide. The Fox piece cites Joe Conason as predicting that Rummy’s amen corner will be disabused of its ideological notions very quickly, and Allbritton’s recent experience upon landing at Baghdad airport shows that this will no doubt happen very quickly:

“I’ve been back one day, and the airport road was the worst I’ve ever seen it. We had to go around a fire-fight between mujahideen and Americans while Iraqi forces sat in the shade of date palms on the side of the road, their rifles resting across their laps. My driver pointed to a group of men in a white pickup next to me. ‘They are mujahideen,‘ he said. ‘They are watching the Americans.’ Indeed, they were, and so intently that they paid no attention to me in the car next to them. We detoured around two possible car bombs that had been cordoned off while Iraqis cautiously approached.”

There is so much in that paragraph that debunks the mindless talk of “victory” and “staying the course,” starting with the alleged eagerness of the Iraqis to fight for their aspiring “democracy“: the part about them sitting in the shade of date palms, while Americans did the fighting, tells us all we need to know about how the Iraqis will “stand up” so we can “stand down,” as the president puts it.

So we’re “winning,” are we, if not already victorious? Then how come we can’t even secure the road connecting the airport to Baghdad?

The anonymous blogger known as “Billmon” has a great take on the “Truth Tour.” He points out that if the insurgents are smart, they’ll be just as accommodating as the U.S. military in keeping the radio-rightists out of harm’s way. The wing-nuts, after all, are an enormous asset to the jihadis, who want to radically alienate Iraqis from the secular West, says Billmon:

“As it happens, the paid propagandists of wing nut radio have the same objective – to promote a clash of civilizations. They do it by playing up every atrocity committed by the insurgents while ignoring every display of massive overkill (like the flattening of Fallujah) committed by the U.S. military, by glorifying torture and degradation (I Heart Gitmo), by demonizing Islam as a ‘gutter‘ religion and the Arabs as a subhuman species, and in general by being the loudest, most obnoxious assholes on the face of the earth. Walking billboards for anti-Americanism, in fact.

“And they do these things for much the same reason Bin Ladin rants about Zionists and crusaders: because it gets good ratings. Spewing hatred over the airwaves 24/7 keeps the true believers in a permanent froth, drowning out any doubts about the party line and the party elite. This, in turn, makes it easier to paint dissent as treason and criticism of the Cheney administration as support for terrorism.”

Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer makes the same startlingly trenchant point in the opening paragraph of Imperial Hubris, his bestselling book:

“As I complete this book, U.S., British, and other coalition forces are trying to govern apparently ungovernable postwar states in Afghanistan and Iraq, while simultaneously fighting growing Islamist insurgencies in each – a state of affairs our leaders call victory. In conducting these activities, and the conventional military campaigns preceding them, U.S. forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result, I think it fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally.”

If we can go back to the Bizarro World thesis for a moment, it is perhaps possible to understand this strange alliance. According to my theory, the 9/11 terrorist attacks ripped a hole in the space-time continuum and we entered another dimension – Bizarro World – where up is down, good is evil, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and – naturally enough – victory entails defeat.

That explains all the happy talk by the right wing even as Iraq descends into civil war and chaos. It also explains what the president means when he says Iraq is the “central arena” in the “war on terrorism.” Translated from Bizarro-talk, this means Iraq is the central conduit through which we are actively aiding Osama bin Laden and his followers – who, together with such neoconservative exemplars as Michael Ledeen, have a vested interested in embroiling the region in an orgy of “creative destruction.”

This is madness, you say.

Yes, it is, but there is a method to it, a pattern that lends itself to analysis. We have to ask: who benefits? Bin Laden is one, but there are others. Certain corporate interests, for sure, and beyond that, Israel.

Seen from Tel Aviv, the Middle East is ripe with possibilities for the consolidation and expansion of the Zionist project, which had been faltering in recent years. Syria is humbled, Lebanon is destabilized and possibly in need of another visit from either the IDF or the Americans, the Palestinians are backed into a corner, and the extension of Israeli influence deep into Kurdistan nearly fulfills the ambition expressed by David Ben Gurion, the founder of the Israeli state:

“The present map of Palestine was drawn by the British mandate. The Jewish people have another map which our youth and adults should strive to fulfill – From the Nile to the Euphrates.”

The purpose of this war, aside from enriching the friends of this administration, ought to be clear enough: it was to ensure that Israel could make “a clean break” with a stalled strategy. Prior to the invasion and conquest of Iraq, Israel was a besieged settler colony barely hanging on against an overwhelming demographic reality. All that is now changed.

In a sense, when the neocons and their deluded “conservative” shills say “we’re winning” the war in Iraq, there is no real reason to doubt their sincerity. We have to ask, though: who is “we”?

The neoconservative faction in this administration, adamantly pushing [.pdf] for war with Iraq for nearly a decade, once in power, immediately began to implement their war plans – which received a significant impetus on 9/11. Pentagon deputy chief Douglas Feith‘s ideological solidarity with the radical wing of Israel’s Likud party – he helped draft the infamous “Clean Break” document, along with a group of likeminded neocons now ensconced in this administration – is no secret. Nor is the neocons’ affinity for Israel anything but openly expressed. When people say this amounts to a “conspiracy theory,” the only answer is that it was a remarkably open conspiracy.

Of course, they didn’t openly advertise it as a war for Israel’s sake. They were careful to raise a cloud of obfuscation involving “weapons of mass destruction” and nonexistent links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Yet it was obvious that these lies would be debunked sooner or later, and once they were, what remained in the way of explanations: a war for oil? Where is the oil, then? Iraqis are waiting in long gas lines, and the oil wealth Paul Wolfowitz assured us would pay for the reconstruction is nowhere to be seen. That’s because, as all libertarians know, enterprise requires peace, and that is what – in spite of rightist delusions – is sorely lacking in Iraq. Which is not to say that the U.S. seizure of oil assets – in, say, Saudi Arabia – isn’t on the agenda: only that, so far, the main beneficiaries have been Israel and the jihadis.

This war has nothing to do with America’s national interests, even extravagantly defined, and never did. That must be the starting point of any opposition to its continuance. As we home in on the cabal that lied us into invading a country that represented no threat to us – and as their crimes in ruthless pursuit of a war policy are exposed and prosecuted – this will be brought home to all and sundry.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].