The Konformist

June 2004

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Beast of the Month - June 2004

The Iraqi Quagmire, "Mission Accomplished"

"I yam an anti-Christ..."

John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"

"The horror."

Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, originally in Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness


War has a way of descending into horror and madness very quickly. One year after May Day 2003, when Shrub pranced on the USS Lincoln in a Top Gun outfit while declaring "Mission Accomplished" (looking about as convincing as a member of the Village People performing "Macho Man") it is clear the downward spiral has accelerated in Iraq.

Pictures tell a thousand words, and the photos are now in: rows of flag-decorated coffins released (accidentally) to Konformist kontributing editor Russ Kick and his website, the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and finally the crude beheading of American soldiers by terrorists forces allegedly led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. All these photos (and the soon-to-be-released Cannes Film Festival winner Fahrenheit 9/11) tell a tale of doom, doom that was created on a pack of lies. Whether it is Abu Ghraib, the al-Zarqawi decapitations or the bloody attack on the people of Fallujah, all the warning signs are there: Iraq is quickly becoming a quagmire. And it is this Iraqi Quagmire that is The Konformist Beast of the Month, a Beast that doesn't look to be disappearing anytime soon, even with the supposed plan to reinstitute Iraqi "sovereignty" (insert laugh track) the end of June.

Is "Operation Iraqi Freedom" another Vietnam yet? No, of course not: over 58,000 Americans died in that conflict and 150,000 wounded, with over 1 million troops and 4 million civilians slayed on the Vietnamese side. However, that was over eighteen years: in little over a year, there have been over 800 deaths American soldiers and 5,000 wounded, with over 10,000 killed of both Iraqi civilians and soldiers. Total cost of the mission so far: $166 billion. And things are only beginning to heat up, as April 2004 was the first month in the battle with over 100 US soldiers killed and 1,000 wounded.

Indeed, it can only be hoped that the War in Iraq doesn't approach Vietnam, as it is without equal the worst conflict the United States has been involved in since the infamous Ike-JFK-LBJ-Nixon blunder. Perhaps it is a good sign that people are already up in arms over Iraq: better at 800 than at 58 thousand.

When recognizing a Beast such as the Iraqi Quagmire, a good question is who to blame for the mess. Two groups deserve to be mentioned in particular: the Neocons, a team of hawkish intellectuals who advocate huge defense budgets and rampant militarism that long drooled over taking over Iraq and its oil fields, and the Project for the New American Century, a think-tank dominated by the Neocon set. The PNAC released in September 2000 a manifesto titled Rebuilding America's Defense, a blueprint for the Bush Team's war policies. (This was ranked the most censored story of 2004 by Project Censored.) At the time, the goals were deemed even by the PNAC as to be politically implausible. As the report itself put it: "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor." One year later, the PNAC and Neocons got the Pearl Harbor they were looking for.

But The Konformist understands people want names named. That said, here is The Konformist Top Ten List of individuals worthy of having the finger pointed at them for this Neocon nightmare:

Top Ten Honorable Mention: JUDITH MILLER - Though technically not part of the Bush Administration in her role as a pseudo-journalist for the New York Times, Ms. Miller's fraudulent scribbles attempting to justify the Bush Team's bogus claims of Iraqi WMDs make her an essential part of the promotion of the Iraqi Quagmire. Making her scandalous deception even worse, one year ago, the NYT went in a hysterical campaign to demonize Jayson Blair for lies that lacked the malevolent purpose and effects of Miller's.

10. AHMAD CHALABI - Miller's primarily source for her false stories, the head of the anti-Saddam group Iraqi National Congress has long been on the Pentagon's payroll: the INC had been receiving $335,000 a month for supplying "intelligence" to the US government. That stopped in May, after it was uncovered Chalabi was also passing classified info to Iran. In retrospect, it shouldn't be surprising a convicted embezzler of $300 million may not be a trustworthy source and a two-timing opportunist.

9. I. LEWIS "SCOOTER" LIBBY - Chief of Staff for Donkey Dick Cheney, PNAC member and top Neocon cheerleader of war, he earns bonus points for being a popular pick as the treasonous Leakgate culprit in the notorious outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, a move which has likely led to the death of intelligence agents.

8. DOUGLAS J. FEITH - Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Feith is the Neocon creator of the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, an intelligence unit created to manufacture the case of an Iraqi menace to justify Gulf War II. The findings of the group falsely linked Iraq and Al Qaeda, Saddam and Osama, findings that were deemed as bunk by the CIA and DIA. Among its top sources, unsurprisingly, was Chalabi.

7. GENERAL RICHARD MYERS - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He knew of the Abu Ghraib scandal in January, yet reacted quite meekly. When he found out 60 Minutes was doing a report on the scandal, he immediately called CBS about delaying (or perhaps supressing) the segment. In other words, Myers was more concerned about the revelation of the abuse than the abuse itself.

6. L. PAUL BREMER - as the American Civilian Administrator in Iraq, he has his fingerprints all over the failed post-war administration of Iraq as much as anyone. Previously, at the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank, co-chaired with Ronald Reagan's Attorney General Ed Meese a task force that created the blueprint for the Department of Homeland Security.

5. RICHARD PERLE - The second most influential Neocon thinker, the PNAC co-founder has "Prince of Darkness" as his nickname. Was Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 2001 to 2003, when Seymour Hersh published a New Yorker article exposing his conflicts of interest: via business dealings with the Saudis, Perle stood to gain huge profits from the Iraqi conflict. He resigned as chairman over the controversy, though he still remained on the board. Undeterred by the Iraqi Quagmire, he released in January (with Shrub speechwriter David Frum) a book with the charming title An End to Evil. The tome advocated preemptive strikes on Iran, North Korea and Syria.

4. PAUL WOLFOWITZ - King of the Neocons, the Deputy Secretary of Defense and PNAC member is the true brains of the Iraqi Quagmire. Runner-up for the 2004 Konformist Beast of the Year, Wolfie has become a symbol of the failed results of the ideologues under Dubya for their brave stance in sacrificing American soldiers in a war based on lies.

3. DONALD RUMSFELD - Secretary of Defense and PNAC member, he was Beast of the Year in 2003. His glee with saying the word "Kill" has oddly disappeared now that those being killed are more frequently becoming American soldiers.

2. RICHARD "DONKEY DICK" CHENEY - The unelected second-in-command in the White House. Hiding somewhere in his bunker right now, he has yet to admit his constant linkage of Saddam to Al Qaeda and hyping of Iraq's WMD capabilities was wrong.

And this leads to:

1. GEORGE W. BUSH - As with everything else, Shrub has repeatedly tried to evade responsibility for the Iraqi Quagmire. Sorry George: if you can't stand the heat, you should've never stolen the 2000 election.


How will this all end up? Well, it's already an ugly picture. The best hope of an exit strategy for Iraq would be to internationalize it, but there's little hope of that happening, at least while King George is squatting the White House. All of which brings up the private dire warnings of Colin Powell in the leadup to the war. He gave what he cited as the Pottery Barn Rule: "You break it, you own it." It appears then the US will be owning Iraq for many years to come.

In any case, we salute everyone involved in the making of the Iraqi Quagmire as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, dudes!!!


Note: What about Colin Powell, George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice?

Some would include Colin Powell, George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice on this list as well, but they are excluded because none were cheerleaders for the war. Indeed, as the Pottery Barn quote shows, Powell was a vocal opponent to it, though has been a predictable yes man to the disastrous policy after it was implemented. As for Tenet and the CIA, they are increasingly scapegoats for the false intelligence manufactured by Wolfie, Feith and Chalabi. (Perhaps the greatest indictment of the Bush Team is that they could make the CIA look good in comparison.) Meanwhile, with Janet Jackson successfully spoofing her, Condi has enough rippings of late.

For more on Iraq, the Neocons, and the PNAC, please read 50 Reasons Not to Vote for Bush, by Konformist editor Robert Sterling:

For photos of dead American soldiers in coffins, visit Russ Kick's website The Memory Hole:

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