By Chris Floyd - The Moscow Times
April 10, 2003.
As shovels scoop the shredded viscera of cold collaterals in Baghdad, and brisk hoses scour the blood from market stalls and children's bedrooms -- festive preparations to make ready for the enthronement of the new lords of Babylon -- we cast an anxious gaze beyond the barbed steel of the security perimeter, to a column of troops and ordnance rumbling toward the horizon. Whither are they bound? Who's next to feel the mailed fist of liberation?
"The rule of law is dead ...
The courtiers know they cannot govern a
country at peace and hope to survive
At the moment, all signs point
to Syria. Iran, of course, would be a more glittering prize -- not
to mention a more remunerative one for the unholy trinity of Oil,
Arms and Construction, whose mephitic spirit broods over the rising
American Empire. But Iran is a big beast; first Iraq must be chewed,
swallowed and digested before there is sufficient room in the
imperial gut -- and sufficient loot in the imperial treasury -- for
another sumptuous banquet.
Syria, however, would make a
tasty snack -- rough fare gulped down on the long, circuitous march
to Persia and Cathay. What's more, a dose of shock and awe for
Damascus would secure the rear for any eventual push on Teheran. And
once recalcitrant Syria is brought to heel, the juicy olive of
Lebanon would surely fall of its own ripe weight, without any need
of brutal plucking. Then, with the equally cowed Jordan, it could
serve as a -- what should we call it? repository? refuge? -- yes, a
refuge for the troublesome hordes of Palestine, transferred --
humanely and happily, of course -- from the newly cleansed lands of
Judea and Samaria.
Such are the utopian visions
that allure the policy-makers in the court of the imperator, George
Augustus. But there are practical considerations that drive them on
as well. Their leader excepted, these are not vain or stupid men.
They can certainly see what the blind, bedazzled and bought-off
media refuse to show the rest of the nation: that the U.S. economy
is in serious decay, that the infrastructure of American society --
its ability to provide education, medicine, roads, justice,
security, stability, opportunity, equality -- is being severely
fractured by the ever-growing, unconstrained imbalance between a
small circle of powerful elites and the increasingly disempowered
multitudes who serve them.
Of course, the imperial
courtiers applaud this imbalance; they believe it's the best, most
efficient ordering of society. (The fact that their own wealth and
privilege are enhanced by this higher order is simply a happy
accident.) That's why they're striving mightily to increase the
imbalance through their radical domestic policies: their deliberate
bankrupting of national and state governments through massive tax
cuts for the wealthy, coupled with gargantuan military spending that
siphons any remaining funds away from public services. The
Imperator's own political mentor, Grover Norquist, put it well --
long before that other happy accident on Sept. 11: "We want to
shrink government down so we can drown it in the bath water."
But vestiges of America's
democratic system remain. As in the dying days of the Roman
Republic, the traditional structures of self-governance -- though
increasingly gutted -- are still in place and retain their old
meaning for many Americans. (Many others, of course, are glad to see
their liberties subsumed by the growing authoritarian cult of the
Commander in Chief.) The Commander and his courtiers cannot yet rule
solely by fiat -- though they're almost there, as shown by Bush's
still-unchallenged assertion of his right to order the extrajudicial
killing of anyone on earth whom he deems -- on secret evidence, or
none at all -- a "terrorist," or even just an undefined "supporter"
So there must be more war,
and soon. Syria is currently being sized up as a prospect. Unsubtle
hints are being floated in the press: Damascus "aided and abetted"
Saddam, Damascus is sheltering Hussein's minions, Damascus might be
hiding Hussein's vast storehouses of weapons of mass destruction,
which the cluster-bombing liberators failed to find. Damascus has
its own weapons of mass destruction, supports terrorism, has invaded
neighboring countries, and might, conceivable, possibly, one day
threaten the United States in some hypothetical fashion -- just like
Hussein. And last week, Bush courtiers suddenly began trumpeting the
fact that the repressive Syrian regime -- a Baathist Party state,
just like Iraq! -- sadistically tortures its prisoners, who are
often snatched in secret arrests and held without charges or trial.
This fact has hitherto been conveniently overlooked by the Bushist
Party state, which has been sending some of its own Guantanamo zeks
-- often snatched in secret arrests and held without charges or
trial -- to Syria's torture chambers for "special interrogation."
But as long as some semblance
of democracy survives, there is a danger that the courtiers could be
tumbled from power by the multitude. Therefore, the true nature of
America's societal rot must be kept hidden at all costs. The
courtiers know they cannot govern a country at peace and hope to
survive politically. Only war -- with its upsurge of tribal feeling,
its emotional floodtides sweeping away doubt, dissent and reason --
can provide the necessary diversion from the Regime's fanatical
policies of Imbalance.
But as Saddam has learned,
doing America's dirty work -- which he did for many years, bombing,
brutalizing and gassing with the gushing support of Ronald Reagan,
Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George Bush Senior -- cuts no ice when
the courtiers change their plans. So keep looking for that light on
the road to Damascus -- not the blinding glory that converted Saul
of Tarsus, but the flash of flesh-chewing MOABs launched by the
Crawford Caligula, George Widowmaker Bush.
IraqgateColumbia Journalism Review, March/April 1993