By: Justin Raimondo

Perhaps you're paying attention to the increasingly annoying presidential campaign, in which the nearly lost art of distinguishing typewriter fonts may prove decisive, and it just didn't register; or maybe you were too focused on the latest developments in the Scott Peterson murder trial, and it slipped beneath your radar. My theory is that Zell Miller's speech to the Republican national convention reached such heights of inspired demagoguery that it blew mental circuits nationwide, resulting in collective brain damage of frightening proportions. In any case, while hardly anyone was looking, the U.S. lost Iraq to the rebels. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, along with Juan Cole and Pat Buchanan, were among the few who noticed.

Ramadi and Samarra are lost. Fallujah was never taken, and neither was the teeming ghetto of Shi'ite Muslims loyal to Muqtada Sadr, just outside Baghdad, known as "Sadr City." The alleged "transfer" of sovereignty to the "interim" Iraqi government has gone well beyond farce, all the way to pastiche. The present script reads like David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest, retold in the style of The Simpsons.

The Sunni Triangle is a de facto independent state, with absolute control of Fallujah, for example, ceded to something that calls itself the "Mujahideen Shura Council," which executes "American spies" (30-plus so far), collects the garbage, and rules according to the many strictures of Islamic law.

The leader of the Shura, Sheik Abdullah al-Janabi, is a conservative Sunni cleric who opposes the American occupation on the grounds that the famed "weapons of mass destruction" proved nonexistent, and hence the American presence has no legitimacy. Although the Bushies are still sticking to the line that the principal armed opposition to the occupation is engineered by "Saddamites," Sheik Abdullah was banned from making speeches in the mosques in the old days for predicting that Saddam was provoking an American invasion. This administration used the plight of people like him to tout the invasion as a "liberation," but the Sheik's answer to them, recorded in this recent interview, is sternly matter of fact.

ROSS COULTHART: So do I take from that that you believe that the fight against the Americans is a good fight?

SHEIKH ABDULLAH AL-JANABI: In my opinion, it's only natural that you would want to fight invaders and drive them out of your country.

ROSS COULTHART: When the Americans liberated, as they say, Iraq from Saddam Hussein, were you not a supporter of that?

SHEIKH ABDULLAH AL-JANABI: Not only me, but most Iraqis initially gave credence to what they were saying, but after the Americans occupied Iraq, they changed the tune, and instead of hunting Saddam Hussein, they were here fighting terrorism. They ruined our country, committed human rights abuses, violated our cultures and traditions. All these things negated any credibility they once had.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admits that it could be months before the U.S. and its Iraqi sock-puppets would even attempt to take the rebel cities:

"Part of that strategy is that Iraqi security forces must be properly equipped, trained and led to participate in these security operations, and then once it's over, can sustain the peace in a given city."

Myers is full of it. As the Seattle P-I tartly observed: "That appeared to be a tacit acknowledgment that even if the Americans regained the cities by force, the Iraqis would not be able to control them." When Sheik Abdullah's boys carried out a sentence of death against the local Iraqi National Guard commander, the PI reports that "the entire National Guard contingent, estimated to number several hundred, fled the city." The much-touted "Fallujah Brigade," which, the Wall Street Journal assured us, was supposed to eventually have responsibility for ensuring security in the city, blew away like so much vaporware. Their commander claims sabotage by the U.S. military, as extended negotiations between the de facto government of Fallujah and the U.S.-backed regime of Prime Minister Ayad "Shoot 'Em Up" Allawi drag on.

The "transition" is in tatters. No sooner had the U.S. military handed over the Fallujah administrative center to the Iraqi police when 23 were killed in a guerrilla assault, and Sheik Abdullah stepped up to the plate, ready to take a swing at the American occupiers:

COULTHART: What if, even under a new Iraqi government, the Americans are still here in two, three, five years' time?

SHEIKH ABDULLAH: Well, the new government will be slaughtered first, then the Americans.

His words ought to send a chill down the spine of every American parent with a son or daughter in the military, because this is the future if we "stay the course."

In the Shi'ite south, the movement led by Muqtada Sadr is down, but not out: if not for the intervention of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Sadrists would still be fighting the Americans – and the holy city of Najaf, along with its sacred mosques, would have been destroyed, along with all hopes of reining in the growing radical Shi'ite movement. But the way in which violence was averted – a political settlement sponsored by the Ayatollah – only underscored the impotence of the Allawi clique and signaled a power shift in Iraqi politics that may doom the "interim" government to permanent impotence.

The bad boys of Shi'ite politics, Muqtada and his fellow Sadrists, have made noises about joining the political process, but have so far chosen to remain outside the "democratic" framework set up by the occupiers: The Sadrists and the Sunni rebels know that when the Americans leave – as they one day will – the patriotic bona fides of Iraqis who collaborated with the invaders will be called into question: that is, if the collaborators are still breathing…

In any case, the Americans are even having trouble with their sock-puppets, who have gotten into the annoying habit of talking back: not only the once-favored Ahmed Chalabi, but also Iraq's current Vice President, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, who complains that the U.S. "does not understand Arab culture or customs" and that it "came into Iraq like an elephant astride its war machine."

The elephant is stumbling, though, and is ill-suited to warfare in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, where our alleged "victory," like that in Iraq, is being reversed – or, rather, revealed as a complete fraud.

President Hamid "Fashion Plate" Karzai rules only in Kabul, and is confronted with a mounting resurgence of the Taliban in a war that many speculate is being masterminded by Osama bin Laden & Co. Herat is in turmoil as crowds riot, and dozens are killed, in response to the removal of the local governor by the central government. All large gatherings are banned: this is distinctly odd occurring as it does in the run-up to Afghanistan's much-touted national elections. That tells us all we need to know about the fate of the Bush administration project to implant Western-style democracy in Afghan soil.

The southern areas of the country remain under the control of the Taliban, and other radical jihadist groups, which have been energized and united by the upcoming elections. While the Bushies burble on about the war in Iraq as the "central front" of the worldwide war on terrorism, the Taliban attacks the U.S. and its Afghan allies with impunity, and Al Qaeda openly mocks us, predicting that the country which neither the British nor the Russians could successfully conquer would prove to be the Americans' "burial ground." In an audiotape played by Al Jazeera, Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy, hailed a string of Muslim victories against the invading infidels:

"The Americans are hiding in their trenches and refuse to come out to face the mujahideen, as the mujahideen shell and fire on them, and cut roads off around them. Their defense is only to bomb by air, wasting U.S. money as they kick up dust."

It's heartwarming to see that someone cares about wasting the American taxpayers' money, since neither of our two major presidential candidates, nor the Congress, seems to give a hoot. So that's where all the fiscal conservatives have gone off to – Al Qaeda!

To heck with fighting a jihad: My advice to Mr. al-Zawahri is to put down the scimitar and join the Republican party, where he could carve out a niche for himself as a right-wing opponent of the Republican "Big Government Conservative" Establishment and deficit hawk. He could succeed where Pat Buchanan failed – and, speaking of Pat …

He was on Wolf Blitzer's Sunday news program, better than ever, knocking down the neocon talking points one by one, an expert shot, as his interviewer dutifully reiterated the party line with what seemed like a permanently painted-on sneer: Echoing Slate writer Timothy Noah's contention that Buchanan owes Richard Perle an apology for comparing him to Fagin, the character in Charles Dickens' classic novel, Oliver Twist.

Pat's reply – no – is absolutely correct. Noah's outrageous demand is a form of political correctness designed to kill any discussion of the neoconservatives' responsibility for dragging us into a war that looks more and more like a trap, a killing ground for our children and a training ground for al-Qaeda.

Noah writes:

"Let's turn to page 42 of Where the Right Went Wrong. In a passage introducing the group of Iraq hawks who called themselves "the Vulcans," Buchanan observes that the best known members

were Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Perle's depiction of his delight at first meeting the future president reads like Fagin relating his initial encounter with the young Oliver Twist.

"Buchanan is trying to evoke, humorously, the con artist's delight at finding an innocent to corrupt. But Fagin is second only to Shylock as the most famously anti-Semitic portrayal of a Jew to be found in English literature. Scholars often argue that, as characters in The Merchant of Venice and Oliver Twist, respectively, Shylock and Fagin possess human qualities that transcend the ugly stereotype of the grasping Jew. But nobody would dispute that any comparison between Fagin and an actual, living Jew – particularly one made by a writer (Buchanan) who has more than once been called anti-Semitic – is, well, anti-Semitic."

So, if this analogy had been made by anyone other than Buchanan, would it still be "anti-Semitic"? If the answer is no, then this is just another attempt to tar a man who has been standing up to the War Party longer, more consistently, and far more eloquently and effectively than any of the war's left-wing critics. The neocons hate him for it, and have been trying to smear him ever since he – almost alone – rose to oppose Gulf War I, accurately predicting that it would be but the first in a series of Middle Eastern wars that would lead us, ineluctably, down the road to Empire, and ruin.

If the answer is yes, then what we are in for is the policing of the language by self-appointed Grand Inquisitors of political correctness, neocon-style. Much of the neoconservative discourse has been about the alleged indoctrination of college students into the left-wing mentality and politics of their teachers, who have imposed "speech codes" and other impediments to the free and open discussion of ideas. The conservative – or, more accurately, neoconservative – alternative is banned as "hate speech," and leftist hegemony over the academy is effectively unchallenged. But now the neocons are trying to impose a speech code of their own, clearly designed to squelch their critics for even identifying them – because we all know that "neocon" really means "Jew."

Blitzer flung this canard at Buchanan, who protested that there are plenty of neoconservatives who are not Jewish, naming Bill Bennett, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and others. The disdainfully knowing look on Blitzer's face was just begging to be wiped off, and if it had been me, I would have included in the list one Larry Franklin, the neocon ideologue, devout Catholic, and upper echelon Pentagon official recently identified as a spy for Israel. Blitzer, a former employee of AIPAC, which has been directly implicated in the spy imbroglio, would probably have imploded onscreen – and what a pretty sight that would have been.

Noah's attempt to police American political discourse in order to purge it of "anti-Semitism" would impose a self-censoring code of journalistic ethics that would forbid the honest discussion of who lied us into war, and why. It would eliminate all reporting of the AIPAC spy scandal, and silence anyone who points to the obvious: that the propaganda campaign leading up to the Iraq war was the work of Israel's fifth column in the Pentagon. By aligning itself with a powerful faction within the Republican party, Israel gained access not only to key decision-makers and the highest councils of state, but also to America's secrets.

It's true, but we aren't allowed to say it, at least according to the strictures set down by Noah, Blitzer & Co. Ooops! Now I'm in trouble! I mean, isn't the mercantile trope "& Co." a sly stereotypical reference, especially when coupled with two Jewish names? Oy vey! Somebody call the Thought Police! (That's 911-PURGE).

Finally, what of Dickens and Shakespeare? Are they, too, to be condemned as bigots? They get a free pass because "some scholars," as Noah puts it, have given them the okay: "Shylock and Fagin possess human qualities that transcend the ugly stereotype of the grasping Jew." But who is to say Buchanan doesn't believe Perle has these same transcending qualities? In the context in which it was written, the reference to Fagin and Oliver Twist is directed, not at Perle, but at Bush – disdained as a credulous child, who, when served up a portion of lies, holds up his plate and humbly asks for more.

The neocons would rather die than honestly debate the issues at hand: they would rather smear than face the fact that one of their own has been "outed" – and is busy implicating them and their ilk to law enforcement officials. They would rather talk about "anti-Semitism" than the problem of what to do about the traitors who lured us into Iraq and left our sons and daughters torn and bleeding on the battlefield, more than 1,000 of them – and for what? So that Ariel Sharon could expand the settlements and extend Israel's influence into Kurdistan?

What I hope and pray is that the patriotic Americans in our intelligence services, law enforcement, and the military, who have been on to the Great Neo Con since the very beginning, do not lose heart, and continue the fight. What heartens me above all else about the Franklin affair is the news that this was just part of an investigation into Israel's underground espionage operation that has been going on since before 9/11 – and that Bush's top officials were briefed on it when they first came to Washington during the transition. The sheer scope of such a probe, its longevity and breadth, means that America's natural defenses are healthy in spite of the opportunistic infection that has set in at the very top.

We can win this one yet – and, God willing, we will.

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Justin Raimondo is Editorial Director of AntiWar.Com. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

Justin Raimondo may be contacted at egarris@antiwar.com     

Published in the September 13, 2004 issue of  Ether Zone
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