This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 30, 2004.
Happy Flood Watch, everyone. Take it seriously and be alert; we're overdue for the big one.
I myself plan on celebrating Iraqi Sovereignty Day each and every June 28th to try and recapture some of the excitement that swept the world and the pride that filled American breasts as we watched. Let me try to summarize the events of that historic - nay, heroic - day: the parades of the new secular and united Iraqi military, the public speeches, the joyful and highly musical celebrations with families in parks, the languid waves to traffic policeman as celebrants passed in their cheaply fuelled cars. What a lovely scene, an inspiring day.
As the goddess Stoned Delusion, attended by cherubim Civil War and Religious Barbarity, knelt in adoration before this new Iraqi provisional government, in Turkey Presidential Advisor Condi Rice wrote a note saying 'Iraq is Sovereign!' - clearly designed as a momentous pre-tested artifact of Bush's Great Victory and had it handed to the President at a NATO conference during a convenient moment. Over this our President wrote 'Let Freedom Reign!' and then shook hands with Prime Minister Blair to his right. It's possible that the phrase he was told to write was 'Let Freedom Ring,' which makes actual sense, rather than 'reign', which is something of an oxymoron because you can't reign without inhibited freedoms, but with such a clunky bunch of tonedeaf politicos, what do we expect? English is not their first language. Force is. And that's why Iraqi Sovereignty Day is already forgot because Iraq today is different from Iraq a week ago only in that Bremer is gone and Iraqis have the power to assign parking spaces in some areas, mostly on the weekends. It was not a moment people will always remember proudly, or at all, despite all of Karl Rove's hopes. Much like the war itself.
Rather, a hurried assemblage of vaguely empowered Iraqi guys, led for a former CIA flunky in exile, received a quick signature and a hurried hand shake, and Paul Bremer, Bush's former critic before being hired for the loser proposition of being his stand-in, was whisked out of the country he'd sorta run for less than a year.
Meanwhile, our military is still there and about to be reinforced. Young people who once idly riffed through brochures at a recruiting office over the last few years are now finding out they thus became part of our Ready Reserve and are about to be shipped out. Along with all the soldiers and Marines we lied to about their length of service, and unnecessarily lied to solely for Bush's political image, all the people we're not letting out of our All Volunteer military, all the people we're not reassigning because we cannot remotely afford to replace them, all the countries we're leaving against treaty and promise in order to feed the Mesopotamian Beast, all of this can be laid at Bush's feet and his apparent belief that a small, successful war would shore up his constituency for a second term of Bill of Rights revision.
How did such a necessary event come to be done so badly, obnoxiously, arrogantly, and totally?
The Shiite cleric and portly thug Al-Sadr had his men pose as authority with the new Iraqi police and they jointly directed traffic. The police either were terrified of them or didn't want to exercise powers they aren't clear they have. This public display by the man we promised to grind into dirt two months ago still seems to be about, and about with power. Shameful. The worst thing ever is to threaten without follow through, and we've suckered ourselves into making several of these hollow boasts and threats, making us indistinguishable from everyone else over there in the Middle East. That sort of bombast escalates, and finally someone has to do something, like slit throats or blow up an innocent but impressive target.
We went over there under the naive assumption we could change it. We've become part of it, and with this administration of poseurs and country club tough guys, perhaps that isn't surprising. Bush and his shills claim dramatically that turning over power shows America keeps its promise, but it and they have done no such thing. Iraq is as sovereign as Wounded Knee, Puerto Rico, or Utah. Maybe less so, because they, in any case, have police forces that work, and Iraq does not.
Because, during the Big Sovereignty Moment, al-Sadr's militiamen directed traffic, and people obeyed.