By The Progressive on July 26, 2006
Maliki Parrots Bush, Gives Scant Hope of U.S. Withdrawal
By Matthew Rothschild

July 26, 2006

The speech of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sounded like it came right out of the White House Communications Office. I didn’t know anyone over there knew Arabic.

Time and time again, he parroted Bush’s lines and used Bush’s tropes.

Like Bush often does, Maliki made early reference to 9/11 and compared Iraq’s situation to America’s.

“Thousands more continue to die in Iraq today at the hands of the same terrorists who show complete disregard for human life,” he said.

But even the U.S. military now admits that the insurgency (of which Al Qaeda affiliates are only a small part) pales in comparison to the sectarian violence that is embroiling Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

Maliki gave a one-word timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq: “eventually.”

Those taking part in the civil war, for the most part, are not Osama’s minions. They are indigenous Sunni militias on the one side, and Shiite militias on the other.

Like Bush, Maliki made extravagant claims about the importance of winning the war in Iraq, saying that “Iraq is the front line” in the war against terror. Sound familiar?

And like Bush, Maliki stressed the speed of change in Iraq. “In a short space of time, Iraq has gone from a dictatorship, to a transitional administration, and now to a fully fledged democracy,” he said. That’s Bush boilerplate.

Another clue that the White House had its hand in the speechwriting was Maliki’s amazing invitation to foreign companies to take over his country’s economy: “In keeping with our economic visions of creating a free market economy we will be presenting to parliament legislation which will lift current restrictions on foreign companies and investors who wish to come to Iraq.” Of course that one got applause.

Two other lines from his speech stood out. First was the astonishing statement that the new government is helping to “consolidate the role of women in public life as equals to men.” Iraq right now actually is a “living hell” for women, according to Houzahn Mahmoud of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq. As Ruth Rosen recently noted, “The invasion and occupation of Iraq has had the effect of humiliating, endangering, and repressing Iraqi women in ways that have not been widely publicized in the mainstream media: As detainees in prisons run by Americans, they have been sexually abused and raped; as civilians, they have been kidnapped, raped, and then sometimes sold for prostitution; and as women -- and, in particular, as among the more liberated women in the Arab world -- they have increasingly disappeared from public life, many becoming shut-ins in their own homes.”

Last, but perhaps most telling of all, Maliki gave a one-word timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq: “eventually.”

That just doesn’t cut it, not after 2,554 deaths of U.S. soldiers and the wounding of more than 18,000. Here is the passage, in its depressing entirety: “The completion of Iraq’s forces forms the necessary basis for the withdrawal of multinational forces, but only then, only when Iraq’s forces are fully capable will the job of the multinational forces be complete. Our Iraqi forces have accomplished much, and have gained a great deal of field experience to eventually enable them to triumph over the terrorists and to take over the security portfolio and extend peace through the country.”

“Eventually” is much too long a time to wait.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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