by Michael Hammerschlag     May 25, 2004         Smk Chp vers.


Bush’s speech was, as expected, not an apology for egregious errors, but a self-justification chock full of lies and fantasy. “our coalition is strong”, he said after Spain defected, Poland prepared to, and even the British wavered in their open ended commitment to George’s folly. “At every stage the US has gone to the United Nations,” he prevaricated straight-faced. “No power of the enemy will stop Iraq's progress,” he swore, though it had already slowed to a crawl.


Not a word about his and the neo-nut responsibility for the prison abuse scandal, except to dump it on the handful of thuggish reservists who were, in fact, following orders that had come down straight from Rummy. A recitation of the crimes of the killers in Iraq, as if their manifest evil excuses our own. Simplistic Manichean equations: "one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life."  Nobody fired, nobody demoted, not a word of guilt or shame, except for him Biblically choking on the name of the prison (Abu Ga…….reb), when he pledged to destroy it. But he appointed the general who had championed the torture, Maj. General Miller, to run it while they planned to hang the incompetent Gen. Karpinski who’d followed Miller’s orders. SOP with this administration: never admit mistakes, never change course, no matter what the change in facts or outrages. It was just all those MP’s fault- it’s always someone else’s fault with the Slitherins of Bush House. This deeply inbred cowardice and irresponsibility is what’s behind Bush’s precipitous drop in polls, but they just don’t get it. They don’t understand the semi-perverse public lust for confession and repentance; and the vast capacity of Americans to forgive.


Nobody should be surprised at the prisoner torture scandal- we all knew it from the first shocking pictures of the shackled hog-tied hooded Afghan prisoners in Guantanamo. We are all guilty. This was sensory deprivation torture, along with denying sleep- the easiest way to break someone. Do we do that? I thought. Well, OK- maybe for those fanatic Taliban terrorists. But the Bushmen were already promulgating these brutal procedures throughout the military, carefully inoculating themselves by rejecting the World Court and forcing governments to grant immunity to our troops for the atrocities that were planned. When you say prisoners have no rights: no right to be judged, no advocate, no appeal, no hope, no future- torture is the inevitable result. After all, these aren’t humans- these are creatures with no rights- whom are they going to complain to? Now they say 37 prisoners have died in our custody. There is torture in every war, but not on orders from the top. We are supposed to be better than that.


The blind panic with which our military turned to Baathist Generals to police Fallujah is indicative of how lost we are in Iraq. Here’s a flash- within a month, some of these newly reconstituted Iraqi Army units will be fighting us. De-Bathification was a necessary and essential step (contrary to the wind-blown punditry); but immediately rehiring and reconstituting a decent police/military force or providing one of our own wasn’t on the neo-nuts blank planning board. Incredibly, they believed their own lies about our presumed cakewalk. Likewise, having a much more massive force in Iraq wasn’t and isn’t a panacea- in a guerilla war more troops are more targets.  Except for not rebuilding Afghanistan, the minimal footprint we made there was very successful. But this Iraq war was lost when our idiot commanders and troops stood by and allowed every institution to be looted- 1000 soldiers could have saved tens of billions and 8 months of rebuilding. Somehow they thought the destruction of the entire infrastructure was a finger in Saddam’s eye, not ours. But this looting was expected, inevitable, when the cover was blown off the totalitarian pressure cooker of Saddam’s Iraq. Only the neo-nuts had no clue. They let the ammo dumps of artillery go unguarded into the fall of last year, to provide an endless supply of monstrous terrorist bombs.


The Washington Post profiled the breathtaking carelessness by which the CPA was run by right wing 20-somethings in charge of billions. Rather than the vast roster of experts with experience in reconstruction and peacekeeping, these kids were hired without interview or security clearance because they posted their resume with the Heritage Foundation. Criminal incompetence from top to bottom. A war based on lies; a reconstruction based on fantasy, run by inexperienced ideologues. The latest lambaster, Gen. Anthony Zinni, charged the neocon plotters with dereliction of duty in his new co-Tom Clancy book and on 60 Minutes: “ to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls…. As best I could see, I saw a pickup team, very small, insufficient….. with no detailed plans that walked onto the battlefield after the major fighting stopped and tried to work it out in the huddle….it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this?”


More fantasy in the immutable Bush Universe: the leadership of Iraq transferred to a new government- an unknown unpicked government who will have absolute power- the CPA ceasing to exist (duties taken over by the gigantic US occu-embassy). A hard date for a vision in smoke, no change possible. All the marbles invested in the UN’s Lakhdar Brahimi, as we previously invested all the marbles in con man Ahmed Chalabi, now disgraced for myriad reasons*. No fights, no arguments, no delays permitted. After years of contempt, ridicule, and bullying; the UN is now our only hope. And they criticize Kerry for changing his mind? Incredibly, the incurious anti-intellectual unread Bush fancies himself an heir to Winston Churchill, so every criticism and opposition is one more test of his resoluteness, not evidence of his disastrous mistakes.


The Bush plan for Iraqi-ization was enunciated by Powell: “if you build it, we will go”- if the new government asks (which they may politically have to), we will leave. This would be the excuse for Bush to quickly draw down ¾ of US troops, and hunker down the rest, so US casualties drop to low numbers and the looming disaster of Iraq falls out of the daily news to help his re-election. But the likely result of this appointed, weak government and American military flight is a catastrophic civil war- with maybe a million dead in the next decade and a breeding ground for every jihaddi in the world. As long as Americans aren’t killed, the TV networks won’t care too much, like they didn’t in Rwanda or the death chamber of the Iran-Iraq War. Peace with (dis)honor. Chalabi may have been deposed as the fall guy for the Administration lies that launched this imperial misadventure.


This is the lame Plan B by this sleazy Practice to escape Bush’s Wanton War. After he fueled a religious war against us that may last a generation. To further that prospect we slaughter desert wedding parties as the Israeli’s mow down demonstrators in their own mini-Tiananmen in Gaza. Meanwhile, Bush’s started to strip US forces from facing the nuclear North Korea to facing his non-nuclear Oedipal obsession in Iraq.


If  Fahrenheit 911 runs in time, Americans will finally see War Leader Bush’s 10 minute deer-in-headlight panicked freeze after he was informed a second plane had hit the WTC. He continued robotically reading to schoolkids as suicide planes homed in on the White House and Pentagon- no orders to scramble fighter jets or evacuate anything.  The Republicans cheapjack plan to piggyback their NYC convention onto the anniversary of 9-11 may backfire, bigtime. This devastating unshown video will finally vaporize GB2’s inexplicable popularity for being tough on terrorism.


The greatest danger America has ever faced is the willful blind ignorance that allows partisan voters to not see the truth- to live in an alternate reality where Administration motives and actions are invariably noble and critics unpatriotic. When the next major terrorist attack occurs, these delusional characters would gladly squelch 220 years of hard-won American freedoms. They need to have their faces crammed into the slime of this Administration before it’s too late. Fearless warhorse Sen. Lautenberg did that with his double barrel Chickenhawk speech, and Kerry and the long somnambulant press must do the same.


*Chalabi is now claimed to have been an Iranian agent, but everyone knew this guy was playing every side (that was his strength). If true, the neocons have committed the greatest military blunder in US history- invaded and destroyed Iraq as an agent for America’s longtime nemesis. The CIA can finally get revenge for Wilson’s wife’s betrayal and years of bullying and humiliation at the ignorant hands of the neo-nuts by crushing them in endless nat. security investigations.


Michael Hammerschlag has written commentaries + articles for Seattle Times, Providence Journal, Honolulu Advertiser, Columbia Journalism Review, Media Channel, & Moscow News, Tribune, and Guardian. He was a correspondent in Russia from 1991-1994, was scheduled to fly over Manhattan on 9-11, and has written on airline security. His website is e-mail:


 Lasting Wounds of War- devastating injuries to our troops-