By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by James BunoanPerhaps you've heard President George W. Bush's recent complaint that the media hasn't been doing enough to tell about the "good progress" we've been making in Iraq. Bush was quoted recently by the Associated Press as saying that news reportage is so rife with opinion that he rarely reads or watches it himself. "I'm more interested in news, and the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what is going on with the world," he said.
The cynical among you might be asking, "Isn't 'good progress' redundant, and how would Bush know what's in the news if he ignores it?"
But didn't he know Iraq had weapons of mass destruction despite our best intelligence to the contrary? Didn't he predict that Iraqis would welcome us with open arms (okay, so the arms were rocket launchers) and that the war would practically pay for itself from oil revenues? Give the man some credit for insight.
And, darn it, Bush is right: a lot of news from Iraq is unreported or underreported. Let's help him out:
CONVERTS TO DEMOCRACY! The 10,000 civilians we killed in the war are still dead. The noncombatant men, women and children killed during the "active" phase of the war were barely mentioned then and have been all-but forgotten since, though probably not by grieving relatives. And no one in the news even began counting the untold thousands of soldiers we bombed into bloody tapioca in the first weeks of the war. I'm not talking about crazed Saddam loyalists, but hapless conscripts forced into uniform, who were as much victims of Saddam as anyone. Maybe Bush thought he was helping them and the civilians to go Patrick Henry one better: give me liberty, and give me death.
What are these deaths compared to the 300,000 dead found in Saddam's mass graves? Aren't those graves reason enough for us to have gone to war? You bet, but when? Unmentioned in news accounts is the fact that most of these graves date from the 1980s, when the Reagan and first Bush administrations were arming, financing and supplying intelligence to Hussein. "If you harbor or support a terrorist, you are a terrorist," another Bush said, not that there's a moral here.
CREATING JOBS! U.S. officials and the U.S.-formed Iraqi Governing Council are considering employing former crazed Saddam loyalists—including members of his homicidal secret police—to form a paramilitary force (rhymes with "death squad") to hunt insurgents in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times (but no TV news) reported last week. Wow, isn't that too much democracy too fast? For example, look at Afghanistan, where, two years in, we're using thugs on loan from friendly warlords as advance troops. Reported in the LA Times, but few other places, our new partners in freedom have been terrorizing villages, looting, stealing, stabbing and torturing in our name. Consider also the recent case in which U.S. planes bombed targets—killing several civvies, including four children—under the direction of an Afghan snitch who, it turns out, was just settling an old score. Let me put this in terms even rah-rah supporters of American should get incensed at: the world's most powerful nation is being played like a piss-pants bumfight wino by these foreign spooks. The freedom and democracy we've brought to Afghanistan, by the way, seems limited to Kabul, while the rest of the country is abandoned to chaos or the warlords. Heroin fans will get a warm glow from hearing that opium poppy farming has returned in a big way.
WE'RE GETTING SOME ACTION! Speaking of us getting played, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) exile group fed "intelligence" to the Bush administration, used to justify our going to war, despite red flags our intelligence community raised about its truth (which our own WMD search in-country is showing to be a load of hooey). Once our troops cleared the way for him, we installed INC leader Ahmad Chalabi as head of the Iraqi Governing Council, where he's awarding lucrative contracts—with your tax dollars—to his cronies and political allies. What makes him think he can get away with that?
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER! Remember Bush's prewar claim that Saddam's Baathists and international terrorists were allied? Well, listen to this: "There are some clear indicators that they have now begun to work together," says General Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. military commander in Iraq. The problem is that he said it on Oct. 30 of this year. There's still no evidence supporting Bush's prewar claims of Iraqi links to al-Qaida and/or Sept. 11, but our occupation of Arab soil is bringing the otherwise ideologically opposed Baathists and jihadists together. Next maybe we'll get Dracula and the Wolfman to make friends.
WHEN THE PRESIDENT TALKS, TERRORISTS LISTEN. Remember when the best-guarded man in the world dared terrorists to do their worst, taunting, "Bring 'em on"? There has since been a marked increase in violence against our troops, driving the post-"mission accomplished" death toll higher than the number killed in the "active" war.