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September 26, 2003

So Damned UN-pretty


Bush Bows to World Opinion and Logistical Reality, Chalabi Gets the Rub

by Anthony Gancarski

It's September 23, and I type this during CNBC's pregame show for Bush's speech to the UN requesting international cooperation in Iraq. Joe Kernan, resident analyst, recommends that we buy, not hold, such concerns as Lockheed Martin and GlaxoSmithKline; encouraging, if our aim is to profit from death and illness. For his part, the ubiquitous Larry Korb, CNBC panel mainstay from the Council on Foreign Relations, suggests that maybe – just maybe! – the appetite of Americans for military adventure is diminished.

You think? Here's what I think: when I was watching CNBC world Tuesday AM before passing out in a stupor of hydrocodone and granola, I noticed that the US dollar has lost 17% versus the Euro in the last twelve months alone [which neatly mirrors the 17% gain in the S&P Index over a comparable period]. What does that mean? It means the few dollars I make writing columns are worth a full sixth less than they would be a year ago. It also means recent stock market gains aren't all that impressive after all, that the capital value of these companies is neatly augmented even as the spending power of the "proletariat" is diminished, like the lifespan of a 12 year old Iraqi homeland defender in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Am I bitter? You're damned right. Do I think this war was a colossal error? Hell, yes. Do I believe the neo-cons who lied us into war should be strung up by their well-compensated vocal cords and typing fingers, lynched by those who gave their health or loved ones so that Iraq Could Be Free? I'd watch it on PPV. Does it bother me that, in abrogating the sovereignty of "failed states", we have pissed away our own sovereignty for precisely no gain? Not even a profit from the Iraqi war? Hell, yes. False idealism is one thing but inefficiency, and the squandering of America's strategic position are something else altogether.

What does it mean that Bush is asking for UN assistance in Iraq? It means that the US can't finish what it starts, unless it comes to imposing "security" on the hapless American people. It means that, once and for all, we are yoked to the dying nations of the EU, in some vain hope of courting legitimacy in the "world community".

"Those who target relief workers for death have set themselves against all humanity." Ask me if I care about relief workers, when everyone I know is pimping themselves out for money from any employer willing to sign them on. I don't care that the "evil ones… adopt the tactics of gangsters." Very few of the secular humanists who plan American wars understand the significance of Iraqi cities like Basra in Koranic prophecy; even the non-Muslim Rastafarians sang of Basra ["he comes from Basra/his garment dripping with blood" went one lyric from a Lee Perry production] on 1970s Jamaican dub plates. But no one cares about prophecy at this late date; it's all the neocon nabobs at Fox News can do to decide whether or not to wear a flag pin on any given day.

Do I care about the "torture chambers" going bye-bye or about the "killing fields" being found? Hell, no. Like we don't have rough equivalents to such in our own country. Like people don't fall off the face of the earth, never to return. Like people don't get locked up in Joliet, IL or Starke, FL and come back to "society" a few years later, with a gift of AIDS or syphilis from overeager cellmates who jumped their bones whenever the mood struck. And I really don't care that "the United Nations has been a friend to the Afghan people". The best gift we could give the Afghans is to forget them.

"The greatest financial commitment of its kind since the Marshall Plan" seems like such a colossal, unmandated spending spree that future historians will call it by its proper name: embezzlement. "The broadest possible" assortment of countries battling "rogue states" seems like nothing so much as a prelude to the "seven nation army" I wrote about in this space last week. "The fifteen billion dollars devoted to fighting AIDS around the world" seems like nothing so much as vainglorious pretext; again, why should Americans care about people they can't find on a map? Much less die for them, or go bankrupt for them?

Somehow, in the delivery of this speech, our President managed to hold forth on the UN's responsibility to squelch the international sex trade. Come again? What does that have to do with stopping The Next Adolf Hitler? "The trade of human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive in our time"; again, not to be hypercritical, but the Washington government can't even stop people downloading Celine Dion songs without the explicit permission of copyright holders. So why in hell should we imagine they'll have any more luck in squelching sexual exploitation, especially given that I can't watch a Florida Marlins game on basic cable without seeing ads for strip clubs? Sexual exploitation – it's not just for breakfast anymore! And was that Ahmed Chalabi sitting in the "Iraq" chair at the UN? Waiter, more Vicodin for this humble scribe!

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and LewRockwell.com. His web journalism was recognized by Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

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