December 12, 2003

Case Forged
No Amens Here for NR's 'Corner'

by Anthony Gancarski

The advocates of war in the Middle East, now in panic mode, have resorted to concocting third-rate fiction to support the occupation of Iraq. Consider this email that National Review stalwart Cliff May claimed to have gotten from a real live Iraqi [who presumably reads NR for the stories and not the salacious pin-up stuff that I really don't want to mention in mixed company].

"Happy thanksgiving," the message begins, letting us know the writer is sincere [because people with inadequate written English skills are the prima facie salt of the earth, desirous above all else of Americans to sanction their very lives], alive, and breathing. It's as if the reader needs reassurance; a cynic might claim that Cliff May wouldn't be averse to fabricating documents to retroactively justify his advocacy of a war that is both unwinnable and unprofitable, thereby calling the document's authenticity into question. But there's no question here on that front.

"I am very proud for the great great visit of Mr. President to Iraq. It was very brief visit. The reaction from Iraq people is very very great," writes this young lady, who instinctively seems to realize that Americans simply repeat adjectives and use the word very as much as possible to denote sincere emotion. According to May – who just might have a GPS targeted on her Jordaches as verification of the planks of her identity – his correspondent is a Chaldean Christian who lives near Mosul.

And a chatty Chaldean Christian this emailer seems to be! "They feel it is good support and insure American are going to stay until the job is done. Iraqi people they worry about American election. They love very much Mr. Bush to be elected again a lot of people ask from Iraq what they can be a part of the campaign."

Let's assume that this is a real email, sent by someone in a war zone to a think tank jock at an American neoconservative magazine. She doesn't really have the command of English to understand Jonah Goldberg's paeans to Matt Groening, or even Larry Kudlow's prescriptions for the economy. But no matter! She soldiers on, reading the work of Cliff May and being so moved by it [Quick: name one quotable thing Cliff May has ever said.] that she overcomes her shyness about English to write this cat from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies [Slogan: "Sharon Calls, We Respond"] and inquire about working on Bush's campaign. Utterly unreal – aren't these Iraqis supposed to be unsure about how democracy works? If that is the case, what would make them – en masse, mind you – express longings to each other to help Bush get reelected?

Looked at in isolation from the current action in the Middle East, such a fabrication as this email seems to be might be framed as horseplay. But May is not too far removed from the folks who shoved yellowcake down the collective Anglo-American gullet. Nor is he very far from the clamor of the Case Closed cabal some weeks back. And therein lies the problem: this action in the Middle East is founded on mendacity, deceit, and moral bankruptcy to a degree so significant that the real motivations for and modes of war cannot be discussed in the public forum.

What are the elites to do, when the truth [in the case of Iraq, an occupation that only a shill can frame as a Good Thing] is inconvenient to the carefully forged "National Greatness" brand of conservatism? In the grand tradition of Leo Strauss, they construct a noble lie. And then, when that lie becomes threadbare, they construct another.

Kathryn Lopez, who oversees operations at National Review Online's communal blog "The Corner," referred her readers to the blog of a purported Iraqi by simply declaiming "It's Not All About Oil."

If it's not about oil, then it must be about something else. But does it really matter what that might be? Lopez's blogger doesn't seem to think so, conveniently preferring instead to reference the familiar tropes of the nattering nabobs of neoconservatism. "The blood was never for oil...There had been a perspective that is widely spread among Arabs and the anti war, even some Iraqis, that America came to Iraq to steal the oil and other natural resources from Iraq (I don't know if anyone supports this idea in the USA) and I've got sick of seeing this ridiculous idea written on the walls in Baghdad or on signs held by the supposed peace activists or even being spoken in interviews on al-Jazeera or other Arab media by those who pretend that they care for the interests of the Iraqi people. I wonder how their brilliant, clear thinking got to that nonnegotiable conclusion!!?"

A few questions come up. First, why would this resident of Iraq be so conversant with the "no blood for oil" slogan used by left-liberal, western opponents of the Iraqi action? Secondly, why would the blogger use essentially Anglo-American jargon ["Arab Media"]? The incredulous three-way tryst between the two exclamation points and the question mark – how can such things be seen as anything but a glaring seam in the characterization that practically begs to be called out as fabrication?

The blogger exposes the grisly business of fabrication in many ways. Because we are to believe that he is in fact Iraqi, we readers are treated to imbecilic jokes ["the answer is so simple that even a blind man can see, heh"] as a framework for familiar, long-discredited arguments ["the war was never for oil itself, the aims of the war were freeing the Iraqi people, destroying Saddam's WMD's, fighting international terrorism and the spread of freedom and democracy in the M.E."]

How can anyone – much less an editor at what once was the country's greatest conservative magazine – push such cheap fiction as legitimate reportage? Do real Iraqis refer to the "M.E."? "Saddam's WMD's," "international terrorism," and the "spread of freedom and democracy"? Does anyone talk that way who isn't angling for career advancement inside the Beltway?

Elsewhere in the blog, the writer sees the sunny side of the Coalition incursion onto his homeland: "Oil is needed continuously all over the world, and the oil supplies should be maintained to every country, no crazy tyrant like Saddam should be controlling one of the largest reserves of oil in the world, imagine the mess if Saddam, Gaddafy and the mullahs of Iran decided to cease the production of oil, as some Arab countries did in 1973 when Saddam held the slogan 'oil is a weapon in the battle.' Anyway I think that – even this side effect – was not in the interest of the USA alone. Oil, like water; is essential to everyone, and no one should hold it off from the others."

Imagine the mess indeed! You'll have to, because the prospect of all three of them getting together long enough to cartelize an embargo is and was pure fiction. In the weeks leading up to the invasion, reports were that Iran and Iraq were finally wrapping up their POW exchanges from their war during the Reagan Presidency.

America may collapse any week now from the weight of accumulated debt, but that shouldn't matter so much. "A wonderful sunny day in Baghdad, I couldn't sleep last night, I was anxious. The day is my day. I've stayed awake late watching the news channels broadcasting the news about president bush's visit to Baghdad. I tried to figure out the meanings behind this visit. I shared the tears with him, tears of joy, anxiety, and care for the future of his country men. I was also afraid for the future of my people and I felt some kind of unity of feelings with all the good on earth. I expressed that today as I marched with my brothers in the demo. That fights the terrorism and defends freedom and democracy."

"Expressed"? "Defends freedom and democracy"? "All the good on earth"? Utterly absurd – Winston Smith on a mescaline jag. The image of this blogger waiting for Bush like Snoopy waiting for the Great Pumpkin likewise is priceless, leading this reader to wonder if the neocons really think people are so stupid and insensitive to nuance as to buy any unsupported assertion they dream up.

I could go on for much longer, noting the slangy use of "demo" as convenient shorthand for demonstration, the curious discursion on the subject of "the people's id," the chiding of Baathist bitter enders for having "such a negative attitude," and the blogger's argument that "the M.E. and the 3rd World Nations" don't need standing armies to maintain "the regional equilibrium of forces." Likewise, I could call attention to the blogger's excoriation of London protesters in November pulling a statue of Bush down for not understanding that "Iraq and Afghanistan" needed liberation and that said protesters needed to be more considerate to the "feelings" of the American people. But what's the point? This blog is a sham, like so much else offered up by the post 9.11.01 advocates of global Democratic revolution. It is up to those who know better than to believe this bilge to call it for what it is, and to force those who authored and promulgated it to answer for their base deception.

~ Anthony Gancarski

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and 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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