What a treacherous weekend!
Campaigning in Greeley, Colorado on Saturday, the WAR PRESIDENT said (to tumultuous applause), "My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision, and the world is better off for it." But perhaps not for the 655,000 Iraqis killed on the WAR PRESIDENT's watch since he lied his way into this obscene war. Or for the wounded. Or for the almost 2 million Iraqi refugees. Or for the Iraqi women raped. Or for the thousands of Americans killed and grievously maimed. But who's counting when freedom and democracy are doing bombs-away? Certainly not the WAR PRESIDENT.
In a precious counter-stroke of ironic simultaneity, Bush's WAR SECRETARY, the ever-oblivious Rumsfeld, got body-slammed and grand-slammed on Saturday by a bevy of military newspapers. Four, count 'em, four weeklies -- the Army Times, the Navy Times, the Air Force Times, and the Marine Corps Times -- all hammered The Donald with an inspirational chorale of career advice: "Donald Rumsfeld must go." Bush got the news, not that it ever makes a difference, and according to the aptly surnamed White House WAR PRESS SECRETARY, Tony Snow, "shrugged it off." What else is new?
Well, when it rains it pours. Sunday eventually turned up and an old pal of WAR SECRETARY Rumsfeld got a bit of a bracing from a judge in Baghdad. You will hang by your neck until you are thoroughly stretched, he repeatedly explained to the former WAR PRESIDENT of Iraq. No slouch at arrogance either, Saddam also shrugged it off by subtly retorting at the top of his lungs, "Long live the people. Long live the Arab nation! Down with the agents! Down with the occupier! God is great!"
Saddam's rap sheet regarding his crimes against humanity included acts of murder, forcible deportation, wrongful imprisonment, torture, enforced disappearance, and other inhumane acts. Actually, one can see why he was peeved. Ever respectful of where his money and material once sprang, Saddam somehow restrained himself from even hinting that these charges could just as readily be applied to WAR PRESIDENT Bush and his coterie. Perhaps with an eye toward the worm turning, and a new job as Iraq Strongman, the former WAR PRESIDENT of Iraq demurred from ratting on the current occupier of the White House. Hey, life is strange. Wolfowitz got the World Bank. Rice got the State Department. Bolton got the UN. Why can't Saddam be a player again? Smart money says he's exactly what Iraq needs.
And about him being miffed? Who wouldn't be? I mean what's the big deal about dispatching 148 Iraqis? Mere child's play by Bushian standards. Consider this. About 600,000 souls were killed by Anglo-American bombing in World War II. Another 100,000 were incinerated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Bush and his ilk are world-class dispatchers! 148? Peanuts. What's the fuss about polishing off 148 Iraqis when Bush killed 655,000? Besides the deed was done way back in 1982. This was a peak year for Saddam being palsy-walsy with the United States, Reagan, and . . . The Donald. Nobody in the US said boo to Saddam about it. Quite to the contrary. The Donald of Rumsfeld actually embraced Saddam's hand. If that wasn't bad enough, Rumsfeld proclaimed his Iraqi buddy to be a bulwark against fundamentalist Iran. And he gave Saddam the chemical juice to do the deed. And who knows what else? Poor Saddam. Indeed, rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. Beware when anyone in government calls you a "bulwark."
Speaking of waxing poor, Dick "Dunk 'em" Cheney, WAR VICE PRESIDENT, also graced the great state of Colorado over the weekend. Ever sensitive to the plight of American forces in Iraq he revealed that the Democrats will raise taxes. He also cried his usual wolf, warning that terrorists are still desperate to commit acts of violence against Americans, adding that "we'll protect this country by going on the offensive and by taking the fight to the enemy." He then went on the offensive and took the fight to a private hunting reserve in Wyoming. Break out the KEVLAR®.
Meanwhile that paragon of foreign policy cogency, Vanity Fair magazine, allowed an outlet for two brace of neocon chickenhawks. Kenneth "Cakewalk" Adelman and Richard "Candyman" Perle, two arch-advocates of the catastrophe that is Iraq, spilled their guts calling the Bush administration "incompetent" and "dysfunctional," among other unkind cuts. For most intelligent life on our planet, both animal and vegetable, this was not particularly revelatory.
The other two stool pigeons, Michael "Et Tu" Rubin and David "Axis-of-Evil" Frum also coughed up some tidy bits of humble pie. Incredibly, Rubin accused Bush of betraying Iraqi informers, thus proving that liars should never trust liars. Frum, a purple prose White House scribbler, predictably coined another phrasal obscurity. The fault lies with "failure at the center," he opined.
The long knives were flashing this treacherous weekend, proving yet again that there is no honor in or among these birds of like feather. Indeed they deserve each other. But we and our armed forces in Iraq, indeed, do not deserve them. The disgrace done to America by this flock of criminals may well be irreparable. We shall see. Tomorrow is Election Day. Let there be light.
James Ryan is a co-founder of Service Academy Graduates Against The War and West Point Graduates Against The War. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, class of 1962. Ryan spent five years in the army artillery with assignments in the United States and Europe. Thereafter a businessman, he subsequently became a writer. He divides his time between Istanbul, Turkey where he lives, and New York City where he teaches in the summer at Columbia University. Father of four, Jim has eight grandchildren.