Until such time as I can resume my own trenchant, highly relevant, witty, urbane, and modest commentary and analyses, I return to my old standby, Slate.com.
First, from today's Today's Papers, we find out that the US Gov't, not content to buy commercials and hire (psuedo-) intellectuals to hype itself at home, but now it's spreading santorum, er, US democracy's vital dubious government-funded propaganda in Iraq as well!!! Yay!!! Go, Democracy!
In other (bad, what else?) news, also from Slate.com, Fred Kaplan has cogently analyzed the new(ish) Bush strategery for Iraq, and found it wanting.
"Let's put it this way: If the war in Iraq truly were as serious as the wars against Nazism and Communism, then where is the military draft, where is the trillion-dollar defense budget, where are the steps to put the entire economy on war footing, where is the all-out effort to train thousands of officers and intelligence analysts in the relevant foreign languages? Bush cannot equate the war in Iraq with the 20th century's wars for Western civilization—and yet insist that it requires no sacrifice except from the brave members of our all-volunteer armed forces." (emphasis added)
"The American occupation itself is strengthening, legitimizing, and radicalizing the insurgency. This fact—acknowledged by nearly everyone but the president—is what makes the issue of troop levels so complex: Our troops are, in one sense, fighting the insurgents and making Iraq more secure; but in another sense they're bolstering the insurgents and making Iraq less secure. The net effect—both of the continued occupation and of a withdrawal—is debatable, but the president will fail to engage the debate as long as he pretends the dilemma doesn't exist."
Finally, in addition to ignoring problems and trying to hire people to say those same problems are actually pluses, the government (and the media) is returning to the fact that we have/have not/have/have not/well, ok, we have used chemical weapons in Iraq. Specifically, what is essentially Napalm II (note that this story is from over a fucking YEAR ago!!), and we've used white phosphorus, usually used for illumination, to much the same effect. Jesus H. Christ, people, when will Joann and Joe Average stand up and say THIS is NOT OK???? (warning: 2nd link refers to extremely graphic proof of our use of person-melting incendiaries in Iraq -- and on what one has a hard time believing are not primarily -- if not solely -- civilian, human "collateral damage" beings).
And you want a real fucking trip? Try searching Google News (or anywhere else) and see just how many publications you recognize reporting on this. Hmmm? How many prominent outlets have reported on this CONFIRMED story that's been exposed and still happening on the ground for over a YEAR? It's worth noting: we've (the US gov't) admitted to using these... see the links above, especially the one from Globalsecurity.org, which contains our government's convenient parsing our use of such vile weapons thusly:
"The Pentagon said it had not tried to deceive. It drew a distinction between traditional napalm, first invented in 1942, and the weapons dropped in Iraq, which it calls Mark 77 firebombs. They weigh 510lbs, and consist of 44lbs of polystyrene-like gel and 63 gallons of jet fuel.
Officials said that if journalists had asked about the firebombs their use would have been confirmed. A spokesman admitted they were 'remarkably similar' to napalm but said they caused less environmental damage.
But John Pike, director of the military studies group GlobalSecurity.Org, said: 'You can call it something other than napalm but it is still napalm. It has been reformulated in the sense that they now use a different petroleum distillate, but that is it. The US is the only country that has used napalm for a long time. I am not aware of any other country that uses it.' Marines returning from Iraq chose to call the firebombs 'napalm'."
There is, of course, a treaty against just this sort of thing, which, surprisingly, the US has signed AND ratified, but reserved for itself an exception to the rules when the party it's fighting against hasn't signed the treaty. (In this case: Hussein's Iraq, AND present-day Iraq. If I were them -- the Iraqi government -- I'd get signing.) I guess the argument is that our principles only attach if everyone follows our principles... which makes the idea of "bringing democracy" a little complicated, no? We'll bring it to you, not only at gunpoint, but using tactics illegal in countries with nominal democracies. That is: IF YOU'RE REPRESSED, WELL, SORRY, BUT YOUR POPULATION IS FAIR GAME FOR MELTING. (Of course, along with Somalia, the US also reserves for itself the privelege of not agreeing to the human rights of children. Even if one thinks it would redundant for us to ratify it (I don't), what is the possible point of joining Somalia in being the only ones in the world NOT TO?)
Well, folks, our time is up. I didn't even get to the death squads.
DEATH. SQUADS. (Gee, I remember those. Surely a coincidence that Negroponte was ambassador to Iraq for a time, right....?)
Ok, I'm going to go lie down until my head stops spinning with horribleness. (And hope that J-Meta-Quasi-Girlfriend decides to drop two hyphenated adjectives.)