War, lies and yellowcake

I’m not enough of a social scientist to fully understand why the yellowcake uranium story has finally taken hold like it has, but honestly, I don’t really care. It should have been obvious to any reasonably bright pre-adolescent that the entire case for this war was built on a mountain of lies and deceit, and if this is the wedge, the faultline that finally brings it all crashing down, it’s fine with me. They got Al Capone on tax evasion, after all.

Look, all the pieces of the puzzle have been out there in the open for a long time. We know that Rumsfeld and Perle and Wolfowitz forced round pegs of intelligence into square holes of preconception. We know that those same gentlemen have been advocating an invasion of Iraq since the mid-1990s, in order to establish a foothold in the region — the same old dream, held dear by Western imperial powers for most of a century. (A dream which is, in a nutshell, pretty much why we now live in a world where we have to live in fear of madmen hijacking airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers, but that’s another rant.)

We know that stories of Saddam’s involvement with al Qaeda and 9/11 are tales for children and simpletons, no more worthy of our concern than tales of monsters under the bed and ghosts in the closet.

We know that we are being led by ideologues, who came into office with a couple of clear, simple goals — cut taxes, roll back regulations, and if things really worked out well, invade Iraq — and that they’ve continued to pursue those goals both before and after 9/11, and as the economy sinks lower and lower and the jobless rate hits, I believe, its highest point in nine years — in short, no matter what problem we find ourselves facing, no matter how circumstances may change, they continue to offer the same, unchanging solutions. I believe this is at least close to a technical definition of madness.

My sense is, they really did believe they were going to find WMDs, and that it was therefore okay to lie about it beforehand, because they knew they’d ultimately be vindicated. Of course, they also thought they could just install Ahmed Chalabi as some sort of Presidential Puppetman and retreat into the sunset to a soundtrack of cheering Iraqi throngs. This is what happens when you have CEO’s running a government like a business: no one around them is in a position to tell them that they are living in a fantasy world. And when reality fails to conform to their fantasies, they are perhaps the most shocked of all.

It’s not about whether the yellowcake business was a lie if Bush believed it at the time, or whatever it is the pro-war weasels are arguing. There was so much evidence to the contrary, if he did believe it he should probably be impeached on grounds of sheer incompetence, but that, too, is another rant. No, they knew they were lying — maybe, just maybe not the boy President, whose grasp of current events seems shaky at best (see post below) — but for damn sure Uncle Karl and that nice Mister Cheney knew it was a lie, and this is the point: it’s still a lie even if it was a lie told in the service of what they believed to be a greater truth.

And now that greater truth is revealed for the ideological fantasy it always was, and a lot of people have lost their lives, and our occupation is costing about a billion dollars a week — a week — and there is no light currently visible at the end of the tunnel.

So the sycophants can amuse themselves debating the technical meaning of a “lie,” or spinning elaborate stories about “flypaper strategies” on the basis of three thoughtless belligerent words, but it’s not going to change the very simple fact: Bush lied, people died. I’m glad the media are finally waking up to this, though honestly, they should get about as much credit for it as MSNBC should get for firing Michael Savage, which is to say, none at all. We never should have ended up here in the first place. Where the hell were these people six months ago? Flaunting their damned flag lapel pins and giving us breathless puff pieces about military hardware and presidential determination, and debating whether the antiwar protestors were traitorous dogs or simply mindless dupes. It’s better to be skeptical late than not at all, but it’s a bit like the old saw about closing the barn door after the livestock have escaped. People are dead and we are stuck in Iraq, and that’s the facts, Jack.