Tuesday, June 29, 2004

How Free is Free?



Well, now. The United States has handed sovereignty to the interim government of Iraq.

While the above sentence may look good on paper (or a computer screen), 'interim' may be the key word...as in the US has carefully chosen favorable Iraqi figures from diverse backgrounds to hold power in the 'interim' until complete chaos breaks out. Or at least until the US can hightail it away from the mess it made.

Am I being a pessimist? Or just a realist? This can be such a fine line.

Part of me wants to jump into the cool pool of warm and fuzzy feelings and view this entire transfer of power as the happy ending to a troubling saga. You know how the saga goes: Saddam is bad, US doesn't like Saddam, US captures Saddam, US gives the Iraqi people their homeland back in the ultimate gesture of goodwill. Cue Elton John song and roll the Disney credits.

I'm sure alot of Republicans view it this way. Morphine addicts, too.

Since my morphine stash has run dry, I have a slightly more skeptical view.

Let's face it, George Bush was more eager to get the blood of the Iraqi war off his hands than Britney Spears is to get hitched when near a Las Vegas chapel.

This transfer of power was the preeminent game of "Hot Potato". BushCo. made one fine mess, and now it cannot wait to let somebody else collect the shattered pieces, pieces of groups of peoples who have not quite fit together for centuries, long before any US military action, long before the US even existed. Of course, knowing the fragile nature of Iraqis geo-political makeup would have required BushCo. to, I don't know, read a history book or pick up a newspaper.

Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and numerous tribes have made Iraq a divided maelstom of trouble for ages, and now BushCo. apparently feels it fixed everything by dropping some bombs and locking up some of those 'dang a-rab evildoers'.

Wrong.

That's now how it works, George.

Look, selecting a few Iraqis from diverse backgrounds, Iraqis handpicked most likely for their fondness for US interests (namely oil), and throwing them together haphazardly in a lughable effort to create Iraq's 'forefathers' is a lab experiment just waiting to blow up. Or a really good season of MTV's "The Real World".

How long until one of these so-called Iraqi leaders has his name run through the mud puddle of corruption?

Oh, it will happen. Trust me. BushCo. runs with sleaze. It always has.

These Iraqi men are not Washington and Jefferson and Hamilton, rebels who lived and breathed for American freedom.

No, these Iraqi 'leaders' are chums of the Americans, or, more precisely, chums of BushCo. They're puppets. Sycophants. The willing.

Also, the interim Iraqi government has several characters who are already being criticized by Iraqis for being 'too Westernized'. This is a cardinal sin among many Middle Easterners.

OK, maybe the transfer of power will appease the Iraqi people for a few days, weeks, or months. Maybe the euphoria of some (any!) good news will maintain some (any!) peace.

Or maybe not.

Today, just a day after the transfer of power, three more US Marines were killed, a police station was attacked, and various other bouts of gunfire erupted. In Afghanistan, another country we invaded and set up a 'puppet' government in, several people have been murdered in the past few days. Their crime? Registering to vote.

Yep, let freedom reign. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Just wait until the leaders of the various Iraqi religious and ethnic groups begin squabbling and the 'interim' government, built upon desperation, begins to crumble. Just wait until Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani opens his mouth and says something the Iraqi people find profound. (I bet BushCo. is just dreading this possibility.) Or even worse, just wait until the next charismatic insurgent riles up his following. (I bet BushCo. dreads this even more.)

Look, maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe democracy will truly take hold and someday we can ditch brutal American winters for the comfortable beaches of Baghdad where we can drink Coke, talk on cell phones and poke fun at guys in turbans, all in good jest. Maybe someday Iraqi will ditch its status as a world outcast and join the 21st century. Maybe a flower will bloom from the graveyard BushCo. built. We can only hope.

Or maybe BushCo. feels secure in its Iraqi oil interests and is giving the Iraqi people back their government because, well, it couldn't care less about what happens to the Iraqi people.

I know what I think. Am I pessismist or a realist?

Or both?

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