Even with mounting civilian casualties in Iraq, you can be damned sure that our $650,000 a pop Tomahawk missiles haven’t killed as many civilians as the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. Excluding all the bloody wars he’s waged in the region, it’s estimated he’s killed, jailed or tortured more than 100,000 of his own people. Peace? The people of Iraq haven’t had it for a long, long time.
Even without the current war, the United States has done plenty to exacerbate the situation. We pushed the United Nations toward a sanctions program that only starved thousands of innocent Iraqi children even as it let Saddam manipulate the situation and point the finger in our direction. Where was all our concern then?
If flag-waving “pro-war” protestors comes across as bad taste, protesting against this war is a simple waste of time. News flash: The war is on. Let us put down the placards and pay attention to the details.
• Good news on two fronts last week: Halliburton, the old corporate roost of Vice President Dick Cheney, stepped down from seeking a $600 million contract to help rebuild a war-torn Iraq. It just smelled bad, didn’t it? Also in the news, Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard Perle resigned after newspaper editorials criticizing his corporate role in helping Global Crossing win international business contracts while we wage war. Along with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Perle was instrumental in helping Bush formulate the “Axis of Evil” and strike-first policies that now have the rest of the world spray-painting swastikas on Ronald McDonald outside our embassies.
• We hold policymakers accountable for their business connections. Let’s do the same when it comes to connections that look especially sinister in the eyes of people we’re supposed to be liberating. News flash: The Muslim world generally, and especially the Arab world, doesn’t look kindly on Israel’s Likud Party. Why, then, are we poised to install Lt. Gen. Jay Garner as Iraq’s top civilian leader under the command of Gen. Tommy Franks? Not only does Garner have a history of belittling the Palestinian cause—a cause very dear to Arab hearts, in case you haven’t heard—he’s also got connections at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Even as we groom Garner to lead a “liberated” Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a Sunday speech before the pro-Israel lobby group of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, warning Syria and Iran to watch their backs. Someone ought to tell Powell that photographs of him delivering speeches behind the backdrop of an Israeli flag don’t play well at all in the Middle East. Al-Jazeera loved it, no doubt.
• Granted, American political columnists such as George Will routinely compare Palestinians to Nazis. Signing billion-dollar checks to Israel, regardless of its settlement activities in the Occupied Territories, is standard procedure. Admittedly, the Arab world routinely casts Israel in wild conspiracy theories. Why do we fan the flames? Because we can’t wake up from the spell that the world loves us. As reported in Slate last week, Iraqis giving the “thumbs up” sign to American troops are really telling them to shove it where the sun don’t shine.
• Back in the free world, the U.S. Supreme Court debates whether or not consensual gay sodomy is constitutionally allowed behavior, and our crotchety Sen. Orrin Hatch resurrects his constitutional amendment that would punish anyone who desecrates Old Glory. Big Brother is such a bitch.