''Beware Americans bearing gifts''
(YellowTimes.org) -- You don't have to be an anthropologist to understand that whenever a caveman left his environs to conquer a neighboring cave, he wanted something for his trouble -- more food, women or even the primitive ego gratification of exercising power. Nor do you have to study folklore to know that whenever a tribe invaded another tribe, its members wanted something the other tribe had -- superior land for agriculture, better hunting grounds or even the capture of slaves. And, as history has shown time and again, whenever one country invades another, it also wants something -- territorial expansion, natural resources or regional hegemony.
This is not an inclusive list of reasons, of course, but it is enough to show that never did anyone invade another to give them a gift. The mythical Trojans should have understood this before they dragged the wooden horse into their midst and barred the fortress gates behind them.
History has now been turned on its ear with George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq because he says, "We did it to spread democracy." In other words, we invaded to give Iraq one of our most cherished gifts -- our form of government! And we will do this under the gun, whether they want it or not.
Wait a minute. Aren't these the same people who "hate our freedoms and our liberty"?
Somewhere along the line, I suffered a logical disconnect. If those people despise the very things that our form of government provides us, how could they possibly look favorably upon our bearing them this unwanted gift of democracy?
When all other arguments failed, we changed the reasoning to, "We went in to free the Iraqis from the tyrannical leadership of the murderous Saddam Hussein." He was, after all, responsible for torturing thousands at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Oh, perhaps he didn't do it personally but, as head of state, he was responsible nonetheless. Our enemies' sewage rolls uphill and he was covered in it.
Of course, after deposing Saddam, we took over Abu Ghraib and gave Iraqis the gift of American torture and murder, something they already had and needed no more of. However, the blame for this was not laid at the doorstep of George W. Bush, the leader of the US, but to a few rogue soldiers who weren't trained properly. In America, sewage obeys the law of political gravity--it doesn't roll uphill. Dubya didn't do it personally and he's not responsible either. This is how it works in a proper democracy.
So, from an Iraqi point of view, what's the difference between Saddam and George? Well, there is Bush's gift of a lot more dead, and many more homeless, for one. Those who have taken pains to do the accounting estimate the number killed at close to 40,000. We don't know for sure because US forces aren't in the business of totaling "enemy" dead. The gift of bookkeeping is not one that we are giving.
There is also the gift of destroyed buildings -- homes, businesses, water works, sewage and power plants. Getting electricity and clean water, something Iraqis enjoyed under the tyranny of Saddam, is a bit problematic now but that's the price you pay when you are the recipient of American generosity.
It needs to be pointed out that it was with great fanfare that Bush & Co. denied that they were invading Iraq for their oil. Why, it belongs to the Iraqi people they said and will be used solely for their benefit -- namely rebuilding their country. It needs rebuilding, of course, because it is the same country we are destroying to liberate its people from the oppression of torture and murder.
How many of you actually believed that line?
But something happened on the road to Eden. The GAO found that over a billion dollars of said oil revenues mysteriously found their way into the coffers of Halliburton Corp. How it got there, nobody knows, or nobody is telling.
And now the Bush administration has announced plans to shift another $3.46 billion from Iraqi water, power, sewage and other reconstruction projects to improve security, boost oil output and prepare for the elections scheduled for January. The gift of elections and "security," something that has deteriorated daily since the invasion, are certainly more important than pure water, sewage disposal and electric power. (It should also be noted that to date only 5.5% of the money previously earmarked for reconstruction has actually been expended in that effort.)
Magnanimously, this will clear the way for the forgiveness of 95% of Iraq's debt to the US, something Bush has suggested that other countries also consider. Why would he give Iraq the gift of debt forgiveness? It's simple if you think about it. The oil money, if it went to pay off debt, could not easily find its way into the treasure chest of companies such as Halliburton and other administration-favored, no-bid contractors. It would have to go back into the US treasury -- our treasury from whence it came -- not to some fat cat corporate friend of the Bush family. The money would then be used to pay off what we borrowed in order to loan the money in the first place. What a silly idea! Reduction of our national debt is not something this "conservative" administration seems inclined to do.
In any case, I'm not so sure most Iraqis are willing to trade water, sewage disposal and electricity for the gift of boosting oil output—the revenues from which they most probably will never see.
Our modern caveman, the atavistic George W. Bush, has exercised his primitive power urge and gotten a big dose of ego satisfaction. And because he has done so under the guise of bearing gifts, that famous old saying -- "Beware Greeks bearing gifts" must now be updated.
If I were an Iraqi, I don't think I could take too many more of these American gifts.
[Raff Ellis lives in the United States and is a retired former computer industry executive. His writing hobby is stimulated by his ceaseless amazement at the truth of two of his favorite quotations: Puck's observation, "What fools these mortals be"; and "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people," variously attributed to P.T. Barnum and H.L. Menken.]
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