Remember Ali Abbas, the cute little tyke whose arms were blown off by his American “liberators”? He’s calling down vengeance on the heads of his tormentors:
“Ali Abbas, the 13-year-old boy who lost both his arms and much of his family in the bombing of Iraq, says he hopes the pilot responsible will be ‘burned as I am burned.’ Images of Ali crying in pain in a Baghdad hospital drew international attention. British doctors have since fitted him with artificial arms.
“‘I keep asking myself why they are bombing Iraqi people. What have we done to them?’ said Ali in a television interview due to be broadcast last night. ‘I hoped the pilot who hit our house would be burned as I am burned and my family were burned.'”
An eye for an eye is a moral principle not limited to the Judeo-Christian tradition. And he knows who his real enemies are:
“The youngster criticized Britain for its part in the war. ‘When I was in the hospital [Britons] sent me letters, but they still helped the Americans,’ he said.”
How many little Alis are we breeding in Iraq? Will they one day wreak their vengeance in acts of terror yet undreamed of?
Ali’s revenge is just a matter of time, and, if we interpret “the pilot” responsible for his mutilation in a metaphorical or symbolic sense, then we don’t have long to wait. Because the President of the United States is getting burned in Iraq every day, along with the military forces he commands, by those geniuses over at the American Enterprise Institute, and their neocon amen corner in the administration, who told him that American troops would be greeted as “liberators,” that it would be a “cakewalk,” and that the entry of our troops into Baghdad was like the march into Paris in the summer of 1944.
Then why are the Iraqis responding as if it’s the summer of 1940 and they’re the French Resistance?
Let’s look at a typical day in the life of this empire we’ve suddenly acquired, October 14, 2003, and see if that’s what we want to be doing for the next fifty or so years.
A car bomb went off outside the Turkish Embassy, killing two and injuring at least a dozen, the day after Turkey’s parliament voted to send “peacekeepers” to Iraq. It was the third such attack in a week. The proposed deployment of 10,000 Turkish troops in Iraq couldn’t have provoked the Iraqis more if it had been designed to: even the U.S.-appointed “Iraqi Governing Council” opposes this crazed idea. All Iraqi ethnic groups, but for the Turkmen, are united in their opposition to Turkish troops as occupiers, but the Kurds are particularly perturbed, and with good reason: Ankara’s war on the Kurds inside Turkey is a longstanding atrocity, one that has been ignored in the West except insofar as it involved Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi dictator and the Turkish military, objectively acting in tandem, kept the Kurds in check as long as the Ba’athist regime lasted. But the U.S. invasion has tipped the balance of power in favor of the Kurds and the Turks, facing an ongoing Kurdish insurgency within their own borders, want to tip it the other way. The Americans, like the Romans, now turn to mercenaries to police their empire.
Modern Turkey has long harbored expansionist designs, and the “transformation” of the Middle East by U.S. policymakers has given Ankara an opening. The “Pan-Turkic” ideology of the 1908 revolution, led by the legendary Ataturk (a.k.a. Mustapha Kemal), was based on a radical irredentism that envisioned the restoration of Turkish rule in the Caucasus, the Crimea, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Siberia, Turkestan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan and, on the European side of the Bosporus: Bulgaria, Western Thrace, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, and the Aegean islands. This expansionist tendency was held in abeyance, prior to the invasion, but could be potentially unleashed by Turkey’s willingness to take casualties in place of the Americans.
The invasion of Iraq had to mean its disintegration as a nation: it was only the Ba’athist ideology of Iraqi nationalism that kept the country together. In addition to the Turkish incursion, and its explosive consequences, this was a day that saw a major outbreak of fighting between rival Shi’ite factions in Karbala, where followers of Muqtada al-Sadr took over the shrine of Imam al-Hussein from fighters loyal to Grand Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani. Casualty figures are rapidly changing, but at least 10 were killed, according to reports, and more than a dozen wounded.
In a separate incident, an American soldier of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was found dead Monday night in the Euphrates River near Hadithah: the cause of death is unclear.
Reports are also just now coming in of 7 attacks over the weekend and into Monday, in which 3 U.S. soldiers were killed and 11 others wounded. And in other news, we learn that Iraq’s oil minister, Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad. He was traveling through Baghdad with a deputy on the Governing Council in a seven-car convoy. And that’s just the attacks we know about. Setting the tone for a day of unfolding disaster, MSNBC reports:
“Gunfire rattled in the streets of Baghdad near the Palestine Hotel before dawn Tuesday, sending police rushing to the scene. The cause was unclear, and it was not known whether anyone was hurt.”
Twenty-four hours in the lifespan of the Empire and never a dull moment. Is this what we want?
I’m watching General Barry McCaffrey on MSNBC right now it’s time for my afternoon Buchanan & Press break! and he’s saying that he envisions a 2-to-5 year process of Iraqi-ization, and a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq and Kuwait. But the other guest, Senator Thomas Craig, Republican of Wyoming, didn’t seem too happy with that prospect, and said he thought we could put the Iraqis in charge and get out.
It’s interesting that we’re hearing calls for a withdrawal, albeit muted, coming not from Democrats but from conservative Republicans like Senator Craig, who are looking for an exit strategy. All the Democratic candidates for President, except the minor ones, are calling for “nation-building” in Iraq: Dean, Kerry, Clark, and Lieberman all support the continued presence of U.S. troops. This is seen as a Republican war, yet the Democrats with the exception of Dean all supported it, and voted for it, handing the President a blank check. They’re whining now that he’s written in the sum of $87 billion, but that’s just nitpicking: both parties agree on the policy.
Yet Americans do not agree: according to a recent Newsweek poll, the majority, 49 percent, disapprove of Bush’s war. Americans are evenly split on our new foreign policy of perpetual bellicosity: 45 percent approve while 44 percent do not.
Who represents the dissenters?
They are locked out of the political system, ignored by both major political parties, and without a voice in Washington. But that is a dangerously elitist policy to pursue, one that could easily provoke a populist revolt. Think of the recent upsurge in California, where voters recalled a sitting governor and went outside the political establishment for new leadership and then imagine it on a national scale. Lacking a national recall mechanism to rein in the out-of-control clique at the helm of our foreign policy, however, the rising opposition to this rotten war has no legitimate outlet until the pressure bursts the bounds of legitimacy.
That’s what they call a revolution.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
Monday’s column on the “form letters” sent out in the names of individual U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq, extolling the alleged achievements of the occupation, generated a lot of interest, including a note from Antiwar.com columnist Nebojsa Malic, who pointed out that this is merely a repeat of a stunt pulled by the Republicans in January, where they generated email form letters sent to practically every newspaper in the country that started out:
Slate reports that this spamming of propaganda known to the cyber-cognoscenti as spam-aganda succeeded: the letter, appearing under different names, saw print in nearly 50 newspapers, including the Financial Times and the Boston Globe.
Habitual liars don’t care how many times they’re caught because they just can’t help themselves. They’re addicted to lying, they get high from it.