Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Manila Times
August 26, 2005

The fiction of truth is an interesting thing: it flies, it swims, it sings.[1]

"The percentage of foreign fighters over the past several months seems to have increased," whined General John Abizaid, the commander of US forces in Iraq in an interview on CNN. The general's right, of course. Over 140,000 foreign fighters have illegally snuck their way into Iraq - all of them wearing American 'liberator' uniforms.

"If crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire," asked the comic George Carlin, "what do freedom fighters fight?"

Not to be outdone, the US commander of the misnamed Multi-National Force in Iraq, General George Casey, revealed to CNN in a separate interview that current insurgent assaults in Iraq "were running at between 50 and 60 attacks a day. Quagmire Zen: somehow, the number of attacks was calming for the general. "What it means to me," said Casey, the freedom fighter, "is that [the Iraqi insurgency] is not nearly as strong or as capable as some people thought they were."[2]

Actually, in order to avoid bureaucratic hassles and because US generals "want to hear about the number of attacks going down not up," American soldiers "do not tell their superiors about attacks on them unless they suffer casualties" - which makes the claim of 50-60 attacks a day dubious.

War is peace; peace is war. And "mission accomplished" means members of the Iraqi National Guard in Mosul today don Arab gowns, hide their weapons and drive through the city in a civilian car, the situation being too dangerous to travel "in uniform in official vehicles."

Fission accomplished: according to Khasro Goran, the deputy governor and Kurdistan Democratic Party leader in Mosul, the Mosul police had actually helped insurgents assassinate the previous governor. In fact, said Goran, when guerrillas captured almost all of Mosul on November 11, 2004, the police had collaborated and abandoned 30 police stations without a fight. "They didn't fire on terrorists," Goran said, "because they were terrorists themselves."[3]

Interesting problem: "If you don’t know who they are in Iraq," wondered a former senior Bush administration official, "how are you going to locate them in Istanbul or London?"[4] You can't, but you can pretend you do; to be sure, just continue pacifying the entire blighted populace.

Pacification, according to Ed Herman's Dictionary of Doublespeak: "Returning a restive population to its traditional state of apathy by killing on the requisite scale; subjugation."

Define requisite scale: during America's war on Indochina, the US dropped 6,727,084 tons of bombs - "more than triple what was dropped on all of Europe and the entire Pacific Theater in World War II."[5] Why so many bombs? "Male impotence, or fears of it," wrote Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, "are openly referred to, but the problem has its effect far more broadly than in bedrooms. Beware a heavily armed nation that acts like a man with something to prove."[6]

Beware indeed.

What's in a word? Not much: "I, the American Ambassador, am not going to run away in the middle of the night," said US envoy to Vietnam Graham Martin in April 1975. "Any of you can come to my home and see for yourselves that I have not packed my bags ... I give you my word." On the same month of the same year, America flees Vietnam.[7]

Man, said Adlai Stevenson, does not live by words alone despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.

"American GIs were told, and believed, that as soon as Korean soldiers saw the whites of Yankees eyes, they would turn tail and run," recounted the Korea scholar Bruce Cuming. The American government found it unthinkable that mere "Orientals" would resist US forces. So did the US media.

"The weakest of the satellites is licking hell out of us," wrote an aghast New York Times columnist Arthur Krock. On the other hand, US State Department luminary Dean Rusk found it vital to discover how the Russians got their satellite countries "to fight their actions" for them. "Here was a technique," said Rusk, "which had been very effective and it was not obvious how the success had been achieved." There appeared to be a "nationalist impetus" which seemed to motivate the Koreans to resist American forces.[8]

Some drink from the fountain of wisdom; others just gargle.[9]

"I can handle it with one arm tied behind my back," preened the famed US general Douglas MacArthur, the commander of US forces during America's war on Korea. "Why, heavens," huffed the general, "you'd see these fellows scuddle up to the Manchurian border so quick, you would see no more of them."

Sounds familiar.

Mission abolished: "I think it will go relatively quickly...Weeks rather than months," bragged US Vice President Dick Cheney on March 16, 2003 - three days before the start of the US war on Iraq.[10]

"We thought we could whip them in two weeks," said William Oliver Trafton of the US army as invading American forces battled defenders of the Philippine republic in 1899 - a pacification campaign that would rage for over a decade and which would leave behind hundreds of thousands of Filipino dead as a direct result of war, famine and disease.[11]

"It's not true that life is one damn thing after another," said the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. "It is one damn thing over and over."


[1] A play on the title of the late Susan Sontag's searing essay "The Truth of Fiction Evokes Our Common Humanity," read on the occasion of her receipt of the Literary Award from the Los Angeles Public Library, April 7, 2004 and republished by on December 29, 2004.

[2] "More foreign fighters entering Iraq: US General," ABC News Online, March 28, 2005. See:

[3] "150 hostages and 19 deaths leave US claims of Iraqi 'peace' in tatters," Patrick Cockburn, The Independent-UK, April 17, 2005. See: . Rarely have such accounts been reported by US mainstream media. The bleak situation has even more interesting variations. According to US Lieut. Gen. David Petraeus, tasked with overseeing training of Iraqi security forces, approximately 147,000 Iraqis had been trained. Upon further questioning, General Petraeus conceded that less than one-fourth of the 147,000 were actually "combat capable." See "What I didn't see in Iraq," Jim McGovern, The Nation, April 14, 2005.

[4] from "Revisiting Hiroshima," Noam Chomsky,, August 2, 2005.

[5] Fred Branfman, "U.S. War Crimes in Indochina and Our Duty to Truth," ZNet, August 26, 2004. See:§ionID=44

[6] "Protecting innocent ears," James Carroll, Boston Globe, November 16, 2004.

[7] From John Pilger's "The fall of Saigon," The Independent-UK, March 6, 2005.

[8] Bruce Cuming, North Korea, The New Press, 2004.

[9] Lifted by the author from a hilarious shirt produced by the Philippine company Spoofs.

[10] In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," March 16, 2003

[11] William Oliver Trafton, We thought we could whip them in two weeks, New Day Publishers, 1990.

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