Deranged, Disconnected, and Dangerous
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 17 March 2006
There was an article in the Washington Post ten days ago that, was, in no uncertain terms, the most frightening and disturbing report I have seen in months. It wasn't about mass casualties in Iraq, or about a looming civil war there, or about terrorism, or the bursting budget, or spying on Americans. It was about a rug.
"Nothing says power like the Oval Office," begins the article. "The paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The desk used by both Roosevelts. And then there's the rug. Don't forget the rug. President Bush never does. For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents. Turns out, he always says, the first decision any president makes is what carpet he wants in his office. As a take-charge leader, he then explains, he of course made a command decision - he delegated the decision to Laura Bush, who chose a yellow sunbeam design."
The article goes on to describe, in writhing detail, how George W. Bush inserts the Oval Office rug into virtually every conversation he has. If a discussion veers away into matters of import, Bush steers it back to the rug. "He loves his rug," said Nicolle Wallace, the White House communications director, in the Post article. "I've heard him describe it countless times."
The article, to be sure, was meant to be lighthearted. It left me, however, in a state of deep disturbance. All he can talk about is his rug? With everything that is going on these days, he wants to focus on the rug. Dead soldiers? Rug. Civil war? Rug. Complete and total failure? Complete and total rug.
The man is deranged, disconnected, dangerous. It appears, finally, that a significant portion of the country now sees this clearly. Only 33% of Americans, according to the latest Pew poll, approve of Mr. Bush and the job he is doing.
Hey, it only took five years. It has suddenly become all the rage to jump all over this administration. Pundits from every corner, including more than a few conservatives, are apparently waking up to the fact that they stapled themselves to Casey Jones's train. Hell, even right-wing avatar Peggy Noonan is saying that if she knew then what she knew now, she wouldn't have voted for Bush. Here's the kicker, though, and a good explanation for that lingering 33% support: Noonan says she wouldn't vote for Bush because he is actually a liberal. The blind leading the blind has become the deranged following the deranged. Go figure.
Speaking of deranged, and of the 33-percenters, let me show you something. This was put together by one of the administrators of the web forum DemocraticUnderground, who noticed that news reports out of Iraq seem to continuously use the phrase "a recent surge of violence" to describe what is happening there. Feast:
Middle East Online, September 3, 2003: "Meanwhile, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac were to meet in Germany on Thursday to discuss ways for the West to respond to the recent surge in violence in Iraq and the Middle East."
UK Telegraph, October 31, 2003: "Ansar is believed to be channeling into Iraq the foreign fighters who are behind a recent surge in violence in the country, officials say."
KNI News, November 3, 2003: "Bush blamed loyalists to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists for the recent surge in violence in Iraq."
Reuters, March 4, 2004: "A wave of bomb attacks in Baghdad and Karbala killing at least 171 people earlier this week has highlighted the difficulties in rebuilding the country and restoring peace. But Mr. Blair, speaking after a meeting in Rome with his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, said the recent surge in violence in Iraq did not constitute civil war."
Radio Free Europe, April 14, 2004: "US President George W. Bush held a major news conference at the White House on 13 April in the middle of the deadliest month for Americans in Iraq since Baghdad fell a year ago. He spoke of the recent surge in violence there, but urged his countrymen not to lose faith. He also said he would adhere to the 30 June deadline for handing over sovereignty to Iraqis."
US State Department, April 15, 2004: "Pace said the recent surge in violence in Iraq is being driven by 'terrorists' who see the June 30 deadline for turnover of sovereignty approaching rapidly and are petrified by the promise of democracy."
CBS News, April 26, 2004: "Lt. Gen. David Barno, the top American commander in Afghanistan, said Monday that the military has seen a recent surge in violence, but that most attacks were directed against soft targets, such as civilians or isolated Afghan security outposts."
Pew Research Center, May 12, 2004: "Despite the prison abuse scandal and the recent surge in violence in Iraq, a majority of the public (53%) continues to support keeping troops in Iraq until a stable government is established."
China Daily, May 25, 2004: "In his speech to the Army War College here, Bush warned that 'there are difficult days ahead and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic.' Yet he vowed the handover would take place on schedule and that the US-led coalition would not be defeated by insurgents blamed for the recent surge in violence."
The New Standard, June 24, 2004: "Compelled by the recent surge in violence, US Central Command (CentCom) has informally asked Army planners for as many as 25,000 more troops in Iraq, the Baltimore Sun reports."
The Washington Post, July 22, 2004: "Despite a recent surge in violence, including kidnappings, car bombings and assassinations, senior US and Iraqi officials gave a relatively optimistic assessment on Wednesday of the security situation in Iraq since the transfer of political authority from US to Iraqi authorities June 28."
Progress Magazine, July/August, 2004: "In the short term, ongoing help will be required with the maintenance of security within the country. The response to the recent surge in violence must emphasize political solutions and not be just a simple deployment of military power."
The Washington Post, September 9, 2004: "'The recent surge in violence has been especially surprising because in the weeks after the transfer of power there was a phase that, for Iraq, felt to some almost like a lull.'"
Al Jazeera, September 17, 2004: "The assessments, made before the recent surge in violence in Iraq and the US military death toll there topping 1000, appear to conflict with Bush's upbeat description of the US-led effort to stabilize and democratize Iraq."
The Washington Times, September 22, 2004: "The Iraqi leader also said that despite a recent surge in violence in Iraq, it is 'very important for the people of the world really to know that we are winning, we are making progress in Iraq, we are defeating terrorists.'"
Al Jazeera, December 18, 2004: "Mosul has experienced a recent surge in violence. On Friday, a car carrying Turkish security guards was attacked in the city, in Iraq's far north near the Turkish border, and four people were killed, one of them decapitated."
Radio Free Europe, January 4, 2005: "The incident marks the most senior assassination since the death in May of Governing Council president Abd al-Zahra Uthman Muhammad and should be seen within the context of the recent surge in violence ahead of national and provincial elections slated for 30 January."
CBS Chicago, January 17, 2005: "The area around Kut has seen a recent surge in violence. In a separate attack, two Iraqi provincial government auditors were shot to death late Sunday after armed gunmen stopped their car in Suwaira, about 25 miles southeast of Baghdad, an official at a Kut hospital said."
ABC News, March 2, 2005: "Most of the victims were Shiites, the targets of a recent surge in violence, most notably a series of suicide bombings and other attacks that killed nearly 100 people during the Shiite religious commemoration known as Ashoura."
The BBC, April 27, 2005: "But he added it was too early to say if a recent surge in violence amounted to a concerted campaign, and insisted that US-backed forces were 'winning.'"
The International Herald-Tribune, May 16, 2005: "The insurgents' choice of adversary is unusual. But the recent surge in violence, at least, follows a time-tested pattern."
The Washington Post, May 19, 2005: "A senior US military official told reporters Wednesday that the recent surge in violence in Iraq followed a meeting in Syria last month of associates of the Jordanian insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi."
The Council on Foreign Relations, May 20, 2005: "It's unclear how much of the recent surge in violence stems from tribal leaders, but as Metz points out: 'Local elites recognize that in a secular, modernized Iraq, their power would be challenged.'"
Salon, May 23, 2005: "Even despite the recent surge in violence, in some areas - downtown Mosul, for example - Iraqi forces have begun limited independent operations."
Associated Press, June 17, 2005: "It is also believed to be the main hideout of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose al Qaeda-linked group has carried out many of the deadliest attacks in Iraq and who US forces believe is behind a recent surge in violence."
White House press conference, June 20, 2005: "Mr. President, we were told that you planned to sharpen your focus on Iraq. Why did this become necessary? And given the recent surge in violence, do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?"
Iran Focus Online, August 4, 2005: "His comments came as the 15-nation council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution condemning a recent surge in violence in Iraq that has killed hundreds ..."
Radio Free Europe, August 12, 2005: "But a recent surge in violence and reports of growing public hostility to the Japanese presence are prompting many to question the prospects for continued humanitarian assistance there."
Associated Press, September 17, 2005: "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, has reportedly said the recent surge in violence is in retaliation for a coalition offensive against the group's stronghold in the northern city of Tal Afar."
The Washington Times, October 31, 2005: "The fresh US effort to crack down on insurgents followed a recent surge in violence caused by the passing of the new Iraqi constitution in a referendum held earlier this month."
Agence France Presse, January 7, 2006: "US officials have sought to downplay a recent surge in violence that on Thursday alone claimed the lives of more than 115 Iraqis and 11 US servicemen."
The Sidney Morning Herald, January 8, 2006: "The recent surge in violence is "an anomaly" and Iraq is not on the verge of civil war, the top US commander there said yesterday, after one of the country's bloodiest days since the fall of Saddam Hussein."
The American Chronicle, February 1, 2006: "Recently, five other members of Congress and I sat on a C-130 transport plane surrounded by soldiers going from Kuwait to Baghdad. The backdrop is a recent surge in violence."
The Associated Press, February 4, 2006: "Dozens of bodies have been discovered in various parts of Baghdad gagged, bound and shot repeatedly in the past week, amid recent surge in violence, which analysts have repeatedly described as initial stages of an open-ended civil war between Iraq's ethnic groups."
Associated Press, March 1, 2006: "AP reports that he was giving an unusually frank assessment of the stakes in the country's recent surge in violence."
The Baltimore Sun, March 4, 2006: "The top US commander in Iraq said yesterday that he hopes to make an assessment this spring about whether to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq. But Pentagon officials speaking anonymously said a recent surge in violence there has dampened hopes that force levels can be cut anytime soon."
Associated Press, March 6, 2006: "The training at the desert village is especially important for the Marines of the First Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. The battalion, made up mostly of Marine reservists, is leaving soon for Iraq, where sectarian tensions have brought a recent surge in violence - and growing concerns about civil war."
Reuters, March 10, 2006: "Iraqi forces, not American troops, would deal with a civil war if one erupts in Iraq and US troop cuts remained possible despite a recent surge in violence, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Thursday."
Al Jazeera, March 11, 2006: "Moving to the recent surge in violence that has swept Iraq, Ritter said he wasn't surprised as the only thing holding the three infighting ethnic and religious groups (Kurds, Shia, and Sunnis) together since the end of the Ottoman Empire after World War I was Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist Party."
The New York Times, March 13, 2006: "Despite the recent surge in violence in Iraq, Mr. Reid said he believed that civil war was "neither imminent nor inevitable." He said Iraqi security forces now numbered around 235,000, with 5,000 more volunteering to join every month."
There you have it, folks. There isn't anything to worry about in Iraq. It has only been a "recent surge of violence" we have been hearing about ... every week for the last three years since this whole catastrophe was first undertaken. Have no fear, though. As Army General George Casey states in the January 8, 2006, article above, "This level of violence, I think as we've seen, is an anomaly." George can keep right on admiring his rug.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.