Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tourists in Hell

Today is Tuesday, 4 September 2007.

In 1920, the playwright and social critic Karl Kraus saw a newspaper advertisement offering guided tours of the Great War battlefield of Verdun. One sentence of his response, Tourists in Hell, captures the whole of his moral outrage.

“You will enjoy lunch at the best hotel in Verdun, including wine and coffee (tips included), near the exact spot where 1,500,000 human beings bled to death in useless agony.”

I was reminded of this essay when I learned yesterday of the latest vacation in Iraq of W. Bush and his henchpersons.

The White House protests that this was an essential mission for the faux President to investigate the facts on the ground in advance of the upcoming regime report to Congress.

Bush spent less than a full working day hiding on an Air Force base in the middle of nowhere. Pray tell: what facts could he find in such a setting, that he couldn’t find at Andrews Air Force Base, in The White House bunker, or while clearing brush in Crawford?

It was simply another taxpayer-funded romp of propaganda and photo ops.

It’s significant the visit occurred in Anbar Province, where the US military is conducting a curious experiment.

The resistance to the American occupation in Anbar, a predominately Sunni area, is various: former Ba’athists, tribal-based militias, and al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which claims to derive its inspiration (though obviously not its operational orders) from Osama bin Laden. The situation has grown more complicated since al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia announced that it alone formed the core and foundation of a new “Islamic” state in Iraq. The tribal leaders, of course, will have none of this, conceiving themselves as the rightful rulers, subordinate to none.

Those leaders have largely welcomed the twist in US policy which now furnishes them with money and guns with which to destroy their erstwhile competition. Thus, the American taxpayer is now allied with and funding precisely those tribal militias which, a short time ago, were killing American soldiers. There is every reason to believe that, once they have subdued the competition, the tribal militias will return to armed struggle against the American imperialists, only now strengthened by the infusion of American treasure and guns.

This prospect is emblematic of the desperate and muddled state of the Bush-Cheney regime’s policy, which is now funding and arming both sides in the Shiite-Sunni civil war. Meanwhile, the “Surge” continues to flounder. Total 2007 American combat deaths continue to exceed those of 2006. Civilian deaths are made to seem diminished only by the duplicitous expedient of counting only those dead found individually, and excluding from the casualty toll those killed in mass settings, such as suicide bombings.

Meanwhile, W. Bush continues to lark around the globe, staying the difficult course of his latest all-expenses-paid vacation.


Post a Comment

<< Home