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Shane Elson


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November 2006 # 2

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Back to Editorials 2006

Rumsfeld's Henny Penny Excuse

As our thoughts turn to the results of the US congressional mid-terms, we should spare a thought for one of the unfortunate causalities of this political skirmish. It seems the first person to be sidelined as “collateral damage” is Donald Rumsfeld who resigned to leave his protégé, George W. Bush to hold the can.

Rummy is spoken of as a ‘good ole boy’. A “patriot” according to George W Bush. A defender of all things American. Well most things American. Well a few things American. Actually, nothing really American as such but more like a defender of good ole fashioned capitalist enterprise and number one - himself.

You see, going into Iraq was for Rummy, a rather cathartic experience. He and his fellow “hawks” in the White House, had their hearts set on giving Saddam a bit of ‘what for’ ever since George the Shrub’s dad decided that his oil interests in the region were safe and pulled out the troops.

Back then it was a slap in the face for Rummy who had, only some six or seven years earlier been shaking hands with Saddam and whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Saddam was supposed to reciprocate and open up his country to the exploitation of the US multinationals. However, Saddam got cold feet.

Well, actually, he didn’t get cold feet. Rather, he began to listen to those who told him the wealth was far greater than that which the US was willing to pay. So, as any good business man does, he began to look around for others who might offer him a better deal. The Russians, the French, the Germans and even the British, who has made a hasty retreat some 40 years earlier, were interested.

Gaining the interest of other potential bidders spurred Saddam on to reconsider the US deal and he eventually got back to his American suitors and wanted to renegotiate it. There was uproar. The ‘friend’ of the US was now turning into the ‘enemy’ of the US. A ‘dictator’ was “outed” and new ground rules spelled out in no uncertain terms. The US, while allowing a tyrant to dictate to others would brook no back-chat from any one, let alone a tin pot, cigar smoking, Arab tyrant they had invested a lot of money in so their interests were protected.

So, with Rummy mincing about in the background, not quite being in the inner circle of Bush the First’s clique, the US decided that a little country many of us had never heard of, with a name we weren’t sure of, in a place we didn’t know, was going to be, literally, the beach head for it’s attack against the “butcher of Baghdad”. And, so it was, with CNN cameras to capture the action the US troops stormed ashore, hero’s before the first bodies had their lives removed.

The neo-cons, including the current Vice President, Dick Chenney, were beside themselves with glee. This was their moment to retrieve the pride from the ignominy that was the withdrawal from Vietnam some 20 years prior and the chance for the US to declare the cold war won and they the victors. Unfortunately for them, George Senior had other ideas.

The Bush family investments in the region lay just off the coast in the oil terminals that kept the tankers fed with Iraqi oil. Bush Senior realised that if he allowed the troops to storm all the way to Baghdad that the oil might dry up completely. His terminals were fed from the northern and eastern oil fields and the pipes that delivered the oil were vulnerable. In short, he needed Saddam in power to hold the various, potentially warring factions at bay so the crude could keep flowing. So he took the only option open, made a bold business decision and pulled out of Iraq once he was sure Saddam realised that if he wanted to continue in the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed, then he should reconsider his options.

Saddam didn’t like this and thought the Americans were part crazy and part bluff. However, the international sanctions that were subsequently imposed began to hurt the Iraqi people. While Saddam was quite free to wheel and deal in oil for food, his people began to suffer. Again the practicalities of wealth demanded that so long as the oil kept flowing out, and Saddam kept a lid on the potential revolt of his suffering people for as long as possible, the US would not act against him.

However, Saddam, like any other dictator, had a breaking point and by the late 1990’s was attempting to establish deals with, again, the Russians, the French and the Germans. While not ready to give away the wealth of his country, it would seem he was ready to do deals just to stop the devastation of the sanctions. When the 2000 US elections rolled around and Rummy and his mates found themselves in the driving seat, they saw their chance to act. With George W as their ventriloquist’s dummy, the neo-cons enacted their plans.

Their “Project for a New American Century”, concocted in the back alleys of the White House by such notables as Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Chenney, Richard Perle, William Crystal, Jeb Bush and Donald Rumsfeld was rolled into action. Three years later the ‘victors’, no doubt, held a quite little party somewhere to celebrate their win. Now, three years after that little shindig, Rummy, following Perle’s lead, has jumped ship leaving behind him a right royal mess for someone else to clean up.

In doing so, Rummy has shown his true colours. He is no patriot, no good ole American boy and certainly no defender of the US. Like so many of the administration and I guess all of us, he is interested firstly in himself and ensuring his own comfort and pleasure then trying to ensure these two things are not upset but such inconveniences as, say, indictment by a now potentially hostile Senate. Like Ken Lay of Enron infamy, Rummy will defend his actions all the way to the grave.

In the three years since Rumsfeld’s great adventure in Iraq began as many coalition soldiers have been killed as those who died in the fall of the twin towers and up to four times as many will forever carry the scars. Tens of thousands of Iraqi’s have been killed, maimed or rendered incapacitated. Thousands of men and women have been incarcerated and hundreds tortured all while Rumsfeld derided anyone who questioned his determination as “Henny Penny’s” to whom the sky was forever falling.

What we now know of Rumsfeld is that he is the real chicken. No doubt, and as the US President has already said, Rumsfeld will be hailed by the neo-cons as a hero and history will be rewritten to cast him as a ‘visionary’ and ‘master strategist’. However, for the thousands who actually took part in the battles and skirmishes, he will forever remain a twisted and bitter old man for whom “collateral damage” was term used only on the innocent victims of war and never those who directed it.

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