This week a Denver radio host lost his job for saying he wanted a “nice school shooting” to break up coverage of the impeachment fiasco. On the other hand, anyone who follows President Trump’s Twitter feed gets a daily dose of nastiness from the Oval Office. Looking at the big picture, my country may need a great big wall around it, but not to keep people out. The hate and vitriol that’s spewed from the good old U.S.A. these days, is unprecedented in our history. We’re rabid, angry, and mean, and I have pinpointed the moment we went over the top when a new strain of rabies got out of control.
A new form of rabies virus-infected almost all of America on 19 March 2003. The moment of attack was announced by a squint-eyed little Texan on live TV from the White House. George W. Bush announced the pandemic when he inform us US forces were invading Iraq “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” In the days that followed, dastardly carriers of the insidious disease like then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld raged out, bearing gritted teeth at an enemy that was no enemy at all. CNN and other networks with coverage of “Shock and Awe” – they were the carriers of the insidious disease. Who can forget the imagery and the “play by play” of the maelstrom of fire and shrapnel that rained down on Bagdad?
Few of us knew it back then, but this was the moment America’s collective brain began to boil with the infection. President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair were on-screen telling everyone we had invaded Iraq “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” And we forgot, that many of these same people who were around when J.F.K. was murdered, and others the children of Vietnam’s unholy perpetrators. We could not have known that their disease caught hold of nearly everyone. The first symptoms were our delusions, as we tuned in expecting to watch a Chuck Norris or a John J. Rambo emerge from the smoking heap of Bagdad in ruin. Willingly, almost gleefully, America looked on at the distant death and dismemberment, as if Bruce Willis would save the day or Die Hard trying. As I type this, the broad memories rush in. Coworkers on the construction site I was working on bragging, about how “we” had just kicked some Iraqi butt with our Tomahawk cruise missiles or Apache choppers. And those who were not cheering, they put their heads down on the work at hand, hamming that nail with due diligence.
But there was no deadly enemy. Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, the man the US had helped put in power in Iraq in the first place, he was just your run of the mill dictator sitting on top of too much oil. We found no weapons of mass destruction. There were no solid ties to perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Iraq actually had done no harm whatsoever to the American people. Still, we spurred the new Iraqi regime to hang Saddam for supposedly killing off 250,000 of his people in purges of the past. But what about America’s war? What about the killing 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and about 750,000 or so civilians up until about 2011? Nobody in Washington was hanged!
We did not just “let” it happen. We cheered from the sidelines as mad dogs set Arab Spring in motion. We still sit in front of our TVs. smartphones, and PC monitors foaming at the mouth, just waiting for the next justification. We’ve gone stark raving mad for useless gadgets and steaming hot plates of “more, more, more” until there is nothing left to take. Now it’s the Russians all over again. And those pesky Chinese, we have to “do something” about them, don’t we? Mexicans, Bolivians, Venezuelans, Merkel, and the Germans, and all those Trump shitholes in Africa, America just has to do something to keep them all straight. Now, don’t we?
I know some of you are feeling it, the damnable metallic taste of truth deep on the back of your tongue. Now let me offer you the rest of the cocktail.
Saddam Hussein, as self-serving as he was, helped lift the Iraqi people out of “shithole” status (aka Trump shitholes) with genuine economic policies. The biggest spurt of economic freedom for the Iraqis having taken place when Hussein kicked international oil interests out of his country in 1972, it took those interests over 30 years to pay him back. The 1973 oil crisis that skyrocketed Middle East states to the forefront of finance, it was in large part because of Saddam Hussein’s bold moves.
They did not teach us about Iraq back in school in the 60s and 70s – and today the lessons are all about how we “saved” the country for democracy. Almost nobody in America knew of the social reforms and transformation Hussein created for Iraqis. Right after Hussein threw the oil giants out of Iraq, he began providing social services that were unprecedented among Middle Eastern countries. He established and controlled the “National Campaign for the Eradication of Illiteracy” and the campaign for “Compulsory Free Education in Iraq.”
The new leader of Iraq started universal free schooling up to the highest education levels. Saddam Hussein also set up free hospitalization to everyone, gave subsidies to farmers, and created one of the most modernized public-health systems in the Middle East. And the so-called “west” cheered him. Before Saddam two-thirds of Iraqis were poor peasants. Iraq emerged from the sands of the Middle East as a world power, but Saddam Hussein underestimated rabid animals west of Bagdad. He resisted the Israelis and signed a pact with the Soviets. The unvaccinated in Washington set the Kurds on Hussein, but they lost.
The French helped Iraq build a nuclear power plant, but Israel blew that up. In the 1980s America’s Middle East envoy Donald Rumsfeld and the rabid dogs needed Saddam to invade Iran, so the Iraqis started a war. This ended in one of the longest and most destructive wars of attrition of the 20th century. The Germans and the Americans made it possible for Iraq to deploy chemical weapons in this one. A million people died in this proxy war, but few ever recall this. Even though Americans were not totally rabid at this point, it appears the vaccines were losing effect.
Washington’s leaders put the Kurds in play in Northern Iraq, but everybody blames Hussein alone for the 200,000 dead in the Al-Anfal Campaign. By now the reader should understand, the other side of the coin, the yin, and yang of our intervention and abuse of power. The causes of the First Gulf War were also obscured, simplified for the rabies-infected American public.
The Soviet Union had fallen. The liberal world order too complete charge. Yugoslavia got busted up. The Rothschilds and others set out carving up Eastern Europe with Russia waiting to be chopped into profit blocks.
America finally succumbed to rabies on the date I specified. The final necessary infectious bite was administered by beady-eyed George Bush in the days after he declared his “War on Terror” almost immediately after the September 11th attacks of 2001. I can prove my assertion in several ways, but the shift in public sentiment on a war in Iraq is the best indicator. In January 2003 a CBS poll showed that 64% of Americans had approved of military action against Iraq, but 63% wanted Bush to find a diplomatic solution rather than go to war. Furthermore, 62% of the people surveyed said an invasion would make terrorism worse. This means that before “Shock and Awe” there were still sane Americans. By February of 2003, the rabies virus had taken hold. One month before invasion, more people worldwide protested the Iraq War than at any time in history. Three million in Rome and almost 40 million worldwide marched to stop the insanity. Very few of the more than 3,000 protest marches were in America.
Few people know that Saddam Hussein offered to let 5,000 FBI agents into Iraq to certify he had no WOMDs. Nobody talks about the fact that Iraq offered US oil companies priority, or that Saddam said he’d go into exile if he was allowed to keep $1 billion U.S. if the west would relent. CNN and the other networks were already all-in preparing for coverage of the hellfires over Bagdad. The enemy wanted to surrender, but rabid dogs don’t back off. Let me wind up this rabies diagnosis with some media, analysis, and snarling insanity from just before and after the outbreak of this war.
March 3rd, 2003, 16 days before Shock and Awe begins, the Washington think tank Brookings Institute speaks of the “impending” war with Iraq and warns that Saddam Hussein may “upgrade” his terror against America! Yes, a leading think tank spurred the public in this way. This one was written by Daniel L. Byman, who was part of the 9/11 Commission and the Joint 9/11 Inquiry Staff of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
- March 12th, 2003, 6 days before the invasion, a Stanford student publishes “Televised Media: Supporting the War on Terror and the Impending War on Iraq.” The paper talks about the danger of the media, and things like the “legitimization of violence.” Which, in retrospect, means that other Americans knew about the rabies epidemic for some time. It also means that the Stanford professors of ethics at least took issue with more killing fields. The student paper is a mirror of the times when the White House and mainstream media started a nationwide panic.
- In February of 2003, Jonathan Alter is a senior editor and columnist at Newsweek threw in with President Bush “for” invasion. He used the slim pretexts most journalists did.
- At the same time, Mark Bowden of the Atlantic proposed attacking Saddam Hussein as soon as possible. He believed, wrongly, that Saddam actually had WOMD and would use them.
Gregg Easterbrook, who was senior editor of the New Republic, a contributing editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution “voted” to invade.
In the days before the actual invasion, the “voting” for or against Iraq invasion was split down the middle basically. In the days after Bush’s announcement hostilities had begun, this is when my country went stark raving mad.
In order to prove Americans went rabid in March of 2003, it seems necessary to show there were normal people in other countries. Well, Terry Jones at The Guardian wrote a natural (and scathing) tongue in cheek assessment of George W. Bush’s war on Muslims. Here is a quote from “I’m losing patience with my neighbors, Mr. Bush.”
“Perhaps Mr. Bush needs to wipe out everyone who could possibly be a future terrorist? Maybe he can’t be sure he’s achieved his objective until every Muslim fundamentalist is dead? But then some moderate Muslims might convert to fundamentalism. Maybe the only really safe thing to do would be for Mr. Bush to eliminate all Muslims?”
Jones proved that at least one person from Wales had not succumbed to the inflammation of the brain the rabies virus causes. There were others around the world voicing their disbelief that America might invade another country illegally. What’s interesting for me today, is how the American media spread the rabies virus so quickly after the invasion. Days before Bagdad went under the missiles, outlets like the Washington Post and New York Times seemed to be laying low. Then on March 19th, all the propaganda hell broke loose. On March 20th CNN announced the “decapitation attack” aimed at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and other top members of the country’s leadership, and the game was afoot. We were introduced to a new language of American détente. It is the language of insane pack animals.
By March 24th a Gallop Poll showed 72% of Americans supported the war against Iraq. The same poll showed President Bush’s approval rating at 71%. The poll also showed that most Americans were satisfied with how the war was going a few days after Shock and Awe began. 90 percent of Americans at this moment believed that weapons of mass destruction would eventually be found. What is telling about this early Gallop Poll is that it showed American rabies-like science. Almost half of those surveyed said they could care less if WOMDs were found or not. The foaming, gaping jaws of derangement had begun. Everything since March 19th, 2003 has been a gag reel of a kind of zombie apocalypse, though very few can see this.
Amazingly, there actually were one or two Americans not showing the telltale signs of rabies. The highest-ranking one, Senator Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat and the war’s biggest critic in the Senate, was quoted in the New York Times announcement Bush had begun his war:
“Today, I weep for my country. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent, peacekeeper. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.”
Sadly, Byrd passed away back in 2010 and did not get to see how prophetic his words turned out to be. He was the longest-serving senator in US history, and if anybody knew Iraq would be a mess, I guess it was him. Unfortunately, a couple of Americans not driven nuts by propaganda to perpetuate rampant capitalism, greed, and apathy could not stand in the way of our ultimate lunacy.
When Corp Watch disclosed then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company Halliburton, and how it was cleaning up with the war, nobody really cared. Fox News defended its “patriotic coverage” of the war, and America loves Fox News until this day. Since the Iraq war, we’ve had the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, the Fukushima mess, the Georgia War, Ukraine’s coup and eastern provinces killing fields, but Americans are focused on their iPhones. Hillary Clinton clowned about killing Gadaffi, Syria was destroyed by US mercenaries, millions were displaced, and our brains are on fire about a smartass billionaire being impeached.
Now the American people care for absolutely nothing outside their personal bubbles. My countrymen are just “bone mean” as my grandpa used to say. As is the case with rabies, the time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms can be up to one year, since the virus travels at different rates in different people. Unfortunately, rabies in humans is almost always fatal unless vaccines and treatments are started within 10 days of the transmission of the infection. By now we’re in the final stages, snapping and snarling at anything that moves, and led by red-eyed cur dogs who never really were okay in their heads. There is no cure, of this I am certain.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”