Daily Archives: April 23, 2004

What’s the difference between Mike Spann and Leroy Harris-Kelly?

by Seattle

As many of you probably remember, Mike Spann was the first American – a CIA officer – to be killed in the US invasion of Afghanistan. Spann’s death was all over the news (scroll about two thirds of the way down for typical photos), CIA director George Tenet shed a tear on TV at Spann’s funeral, Bush pointed out Spann’s widow in the audience of his State of the Union address, Spann’s funeral and flag-draped coffin were all over the nightly news, and …. well let’s just say that we got a hefty dose of images and stories about Mike Spann and his death.

Leroy Harris-Kelly is a different story. I’m willing to bet that noone reading this has ever heard of Leroy Harris-Kelly. He’s the latest American military fatality (number 706?) in the US invasion of Iraq. He was twenty years old.

So what’s the difference between Mike and Leroy? The answer is that it was politically valuable to broadcast images of Mike Spann’s death back then and it’s politically harmful to broadcast images of Leroy’s death now.

Two recent events relevant to this issue are interesting. An employee of the military contractor Maytag Aircraft was fired for releasing an image of flag-draped coffins coming back from Iraq and there is a battle going on between a press freedom activist and the Department of Defense over the release of these images.

The administration knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, and there are many thousands of words that they don’t want Americans to hear.

Protecting the Carlyle Group

Some hopes were raised recently when the Bush Admin–led by Junior himself–allowed as how UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s plan for a caretaker govt was a dang good one. It seemed that Georgie’s desperation to get the Occupation off his campaign calendar had finally pushed him into a semi-reasonable position. But, as usual with the BA, it turns out that it was just another bait-and-switch tactic. The NY Times reports today that the BA is already backing away from their support.

The Bush administration’s plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, administration officials said Thursday. (emphasis added)

Um, legitimate govts pass laws, people. And so the character and quality of the word “caretaker” in the eyes of the BA becomes a mite clearer. They’re defining that word strictly and literally–the “caretaker govt” is to “take care” to enforce the laws the US has put in place and it dast not make for itself any news ones. See that Army base with all the soldiers and bombs and tanks over there? Now, you guys behave. There are, however, some doubts that the UN, already used like a tissue by the BA (“We made the mess but you have to clean it up”), are ready to let the same thing happen again.

The administration’s plans seem likely to face objections on several fronts. Several European and United Nations diplomats have said in interviews that they do not think the United Nations will approve a Security Council resolution sought by Washington that handcuffs the new Iraq government in its authority over its own armed forces, let alone foreign forces on its soil.These diplomats, and some American officials, said that if the American military command ordered a siege of an Iraqi city, for example, and there was no language calling for an Iraqi government to participate in the decision, the government might not be able to survive protests that could follow.

That may be the understatement of the week. Either that or this one is:

The diplomats added that it might be unrealistic to expect the new Iraqi government not to demand the right to change Iraqi laws put in place by the American occupation under L. Paul Bremer III, including provisions limiting the influence of Islamic religious law.

“Might be unrealistic.” That’s a good one. Might also be a sham, a scam, or an imperial trick that sets loose the fires of Armageddon, huh? Let’s face it, the Emperor has no intention of turning his newest and richest-in-OIL colony over to a democratic governing body if there’s a chance it could disagree with his decisions for its future. He’ll rubber-stamp a puppet but actual “democracy” is off the table. Unacceptable. No effin’ way.

Everybody understands that the security situation–thanks to Bremer’s bonehead play in closing al-Sadr’s newspaper–is rapidly deteriorating and that the Iraqi police and military forces are, at this point, so ill-trained and inexperienced as to be all but useless. So nobody expects–or wants–the US military to abruptly abandon its role as the nascent society’s guardian (once it figures out that’s what its role is, of course) and turn security over to forces that can’t secure themselves, let alone anyone else. And wouldn’t you think the fact that our presence will remain dominant, even overwhelming, for the foreseeable future would be enough? But no. We have to handcuff any new governing “authority” because otherwise it might do something we don’t want it to do, like pass a law that says native Iraqi companies can bid for contracts currently marked “American Only” by the BA.

Let’s not be naive. There are really only two developments in the story of Iraqi sovereignty that the BA fears: 1) a democratically-elected Islamist govt, and 2) a democratically-elected nationalist govt that might reverse the field and place limits on or even expel American corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel in order to hand the work and the money to other Iraqis. The BA has handed out $$$Billions$$$ in lucrative contracts to corporations afilliated with the Carlyle Group, and there’s no way they’re going to let any damn Iraqis stop that flow of cash. The oilfields will remain under American control, chiefly Chevron and Shell control, and the rape of the Iraqi people and the American taxpayer will remain the job of American corporations.

Any Iraqi “government” that dares to think otherwise for as long as a millisecond is already history.