The Lone Conmen
Two eyes took the aim behind a man's brain
But he can't be blamed:
He's only a pawn in their game - Bob Dylan
I got suckered yesterday by a logo. Nothing special about that besides the irony that the logo was No Logo, which sold me a copy of No War by Naomi Klein ("and others," though that addendum is dark blue on a black background). I didn't realize until later Klein's only contribution - and apparently without her consent - was "Baghdad Year Zero", an essay published more than a year ago in Harper's and available free online.
Besides the need to be smarter about my discretionary spending, I'm glad it also reminded me of Klein's reporting from Iraq. She's very good when describing the neoconservatives "apocalyptic glee" at the destruction of a society to accomodate their extreme makeover - "Iraq was to the neocons what Afghanistan was to the Taliban: the one place on Earth where they could force everyone to live by the most literal, unyielding interpretation of their sacred texts" - but I think she falters when framing for the big picture, as do most left critics of the war, by not having a deeper field of vision. She doesn't see behind the neoconservatives, to clusters of elite power which owe no allegiance to nation-states, and whose purpose all along has been calamity and the ruin of America.
The great historical irony of the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq is that the shock-therapy reforms that were supposed to create an economic boom that would rebuild the country have instead fueled a resistance that ultimately made reconstruction impossible. Bremer’s reforms unleashed forces that the neocons neither predicted nor could hope to control, from armed insurrections inside factories to tens of thousands of unemployed young men arming themselves. These forces have transformed Year Zero in Iraq into the mirror opposite of what the neocons envisioned: not a corporate utopia but a ghoulish dystopia, where going to a simple business meeting can get you lynched, burned alive, or beheaded.
Well, yes; that particular hallucination of a Chicago School hot house on the Euphrates has been well dashed, having served it's purpose to rally Milton Friedman's infernal optimists to the Great Crusade. But like so many crusades, this one was sponsored by cynics for undisclosed ends. Iraq's kingdom of ghouls did not arise entirely by chance or surprise, and not without encouragement. Reconstruction remains impossible because the forces of occupation both inspire insurrection - that's about as far as Klein goes - and also impersonate it. (And shortly after the outrage at Basra who was found dead in the same city, a suspected suicide, but Captain Ken Masters, only the officer "responsible for the investigation of all in-theatre serious incidents.") British examples are good here, to remind us that the double game is international and Anglo-American, demonstrating a trans-national bond and common interest that goes deeper than simply bending to the will of a Donald Rumsfeld.
Iraq is viewed almost entirely as a neocon project, but the backstory to the war includes the purposeful bankrupting of America, which has weakened the state from the inside while the Iraq war has not only created more enemies, but left it more vulnerable to attack.
The neocons are the Lone Gunmen of Iraq. They're the patsies who'll eventually take the fall for its failure, which will actually mean success to the real players who've allowed them the liberty to play their hand. Like Oswald, these patsies aren't innocents, but neither should perfect blame be laid at their feet. And like Oswald, when their heads are offered to the public the public will be expected to sigh with relief that the beast has been slain and all is right again in the land.
But they're not up for the chop yet. A few more acts need to be played before they've unintentionally exhausted their use in the hastening of the collapse of American power. (Idealogues blinded by the beauty of their ideas are easily manipulated to the service of contrary ends.) The car bombing of Lebanon's Gibran Tueni and the heavy hand pointing to Syria is one suggestion of the next act, and the timetable for a nuclear Iran is another.
Prince Hassan of Jordan said on Sunday that the US had run out of goodwill in Iraq, and that "only the horror of an all-out civil war, with perhaps a million more dead, could bring an uncertain end by arms to this ongoing tragedy."
I'd say don't give them any ideas, Prince, but you're not telling them anything they don't already know.