Originally published December 19, 2005
When George W. Bush first announced he was invading Iraq, I vaguely supported it. This was right after “9-11” and I figured they (the Government) knew something we didn’t know about “terrorist” activities in Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction and all that shit. I figured they were gonna do like what they did with Noriega in Panama, where the army marched in there, yanked Noriega out of his throne, and then got the hell out of there. Saddam Hussein was an obvious asshole, and a definite threat to any human being within his sorry-ass radius. So I wasn’t crying any tears over him, and good riddance to the bastard.
But as soon as Bush started talking about bringing “Constitutional democracy to the heart of the Middle East” I couldn’t help thinking: “GEORGE W.BUSH; YOU STUPID WORTHLESS SHIT-FOR-BRAINS SONOFABITCH! Surely you are joking? ‘Democracy to Iraq’?”
The only forms of government that have EVER taken hold in the Middle East are a.) blatant military dictatorships — like Saddam Hussein in Iraq, where the people are kept at bay by the barrel of a gun. Or b.) religious dictatorships — like the Ayatollah Khomeni in Iran, where they kept the people at bay by cowing them with “Wizard of Oz” type of religious pyrotechnics (‘DOWN ON YOUR KNEES BEFORE THE AWESOME POWER OF THE GREAT AND ALL-POWERFUL WIZARD OF ALLAH!!’). And I guess a third type of Middle East government would be like in Kuwait, where you got Oil Company dictatorships propped up by western corporations.
But “democracy in the Middle East”? Surely this George W. Bush fellow isn’t THAT stupid? (Feel free to correct me on this assumption.) It’s never going to happen, I said at the time. You can figure that out now. Or you can figure that out 20 years and countless billions of dollars and countless thousands of U.S. servicemen’s deaths, later.
There is no third alternative.
The only so-called “democracy” that’s ever been able to survive in the Middle East is Israel. And that so-called democracy has been artificially propped up with endless billions in foreign aid courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers, as well as the full backing of the U.S. military. And even then, the so-called Israeli democracy has only been sustained by absolutely and brutally squashing all the democratic rights of one half of the population, namely, those hapless Palestinians. So, some “democracy.”
Meanwhile, this blithering imbecile — otherwise known as President George W. Bush — is going to continue in his folly to bring a European-style, representative type of “democracy” to the Middle East. To which I can only say: Good luck. And I admit I am hardly a sophisticated observer of political matters (so far, I’ve concluded that politics is all bullshit, but I haven’t worked up any political ideology much more sophisticated than that). And — unlike many strident, leftwing, Bush-hating, Michael Moore-loving, Leftists — I certainly would love to be proven wrong. I’d love to see Bush actually salvage something out of this seemingly hopeless mess.
Can anybody out there tell me how that could be humanly possible? Grafting western style democracy onto the hopelessly barbaric landscape that is the Middle East seems about as feasible as transplanting an internal organ from a baboon into the body of a butterfly.
My prediction — and its here in black-and-white permanently embedded in the rock that is cyberspace — is that we’ll be able to prop up some kind of phony-baloney government in the Middle East for only so long as we’ve got the military might to back it up.But once we leave — 5 minutes after we leave — the country of Iraq will devolve into an endless series of civil wars. Until one tribe gets the better of the other and props up a.) a military dictatorship, or b.) a religious dictatorship.
As I write this, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is giving a lecture at the Zellerbach Auditorium on the other side of the UC Berkeley Student Union Building where I’m typing this thing on the campus computers. A large crowd of demonstrators are decrying the Israelis, holding signs, angrily ranting into megaphones, and waving Palestinian flags. Being against Israel is like, The In Thing, this year.
Which is weird to me. Because I remember getting obsessed with the Israel/Jewish issue about 15 years ago, and getting dropped by about half the papers that were running my strip at the time for my terrible, terrible “anti-Semitism.” Almost nobody even talked about that stuff back then. And to do so was to risk public ridicule and shame. Which has always been my thing, I guess. Because face it, I AM ridiculous.
But it’s been a symptom of my “career” that I’ve always been 15 years ahead of my times. Or maybe 15 years behind the times. But never in sync with the times.
But as I get older it bothers me less. Because you realize, no matter how ingrained a thing is, no matter whether 99% of the people agree on the Right Position, it’ll just be replaced 15 years later by something completely different. If not just as stupid.
I remember one of the best cartoons I did at the time that nobody saw: “All in the Shamir Family.” It was a take-off of “All in the Family,” with then-Prime Minister Shamir as Archie Bunker. His daughter Gloria marries Meathead, who’s a Palestinian, so Shamir has him taken out and shot. (And to think I never reached the level of fame and success of “Garfield”)… The only guy who would print it was that zen bastard Paul Krassner (who’s Jewish by the way).
What got me fascinated with the whole “Jewish Issue” back in 1990 was the whole Holocaust Revisionism debate. Everybody told me: you can’t talk about that stuff, you can’t read that stuff. So, of course, I had to. What sparked my interest was a trial in Canada against this whacky lunatic named Zundl who got busted for publishing a book with the title “Did 6 Million Really Die?” A legitimate question of inquiry, I assumed, and certainly they could crush him like a bug simply by showing where they came up with that figure. But then (and here’s the weird part), when you start investigating where exactly this “6 million” figure came from, you realize it was basically just pulled out of thin air. There really are no statistics to back up this claim. Just because it’s been repeated a zillion times in the media doesn’t make it so. Even Raul Hilberg himself (an eminent Jewish Holocaust scholar) says the figure is closer to 3 million, that “6 million” is really a “symbolic” figure. Which is fine. But how come this guy Zundl is thrown into jail for questioning something that isn’t true? It smacked of a 1984, “2+2=5, believe it or else,” Big Brother kind of mentality.
Almost immediately I was attacked for sticking my nose into this: “What are you, a nut? Are you saying The Holocaust never happened?” As if this was a black-or-white proposition with no shadings of gray in between. Certainly the Holocaust Revisionists were contesting some of the basic tenets of the Holocaust Orthodoxy (there’s that word). There basic position was that the Holocaust, as tragic as it no doubt was, has been greatly exaggerated and distorted by the popular media, as well as being used as a propaganda tool to justify the state of Israel and the oppression of the Palestinians. Which is a little different than saying “It never happened.” But somehow that’s how it always got twisted around in the mix.
The other thing that piqued my interest was: the Institute of Historical Review (the main publishers of Revisionist material) had their entire warehouse of books burned to the ground in an arsonist attack (on the Fourth of July, no less, how’s that for rubbing it in?). The prime suspect (never proven) was Irv Rubin and the lunatics at the JDL (which is a whole ‘nother story). But the weird thing was: You had actual book burnings, on a massive scale, as well as censorship of ideas regarding legitimate historical inquiry. And not a peep was heard about this from all the bullzhitters in the media. At the same time, that windbag Jello Biafra was prancing around in front of the media spotlight with his No Censorship campaign because he had been busted for putting a banal photo of ass-and-cocks on his album cover which was bought by minors. And this was the great “Free Speech” issue of the times. What a sickening spectacle it was to see this Jello Biafra creep preening in the media spotlight like he’s some kind of heroic crusader for truth.
Anyway, I’m still pissed at the Israelis, 15 years later. But it’s not from some high moral ground, like: “Oh, how could those terrible, terrible Israelis oppress those poor innocent Palestinians!” I mean, I’m an American, and we crushed the Indians into the dirt. And actually I don’t think ANY nation has much in the way of bragging rights when it comes to throwing stones at other countries’ glass houses. My beef with Israel isn’t at their immorality, but their abject STUPIDITY. I mean, I come from a long line of Italian mobsters. And as dumb as these thugs are, even they know that there’s only two ways to deal with your enemies: 1.) You sit down and make deals that benefit both sides, or 2.) You wipe them out. Get rid of them. With one clean cut, as painlessly as possible. It’s the only way. Shit or get off the pot. Israel, on the other hand, has spent the last 50 years trying to do a little of both at the same time. It’s like they’re trying to make “peace” while they’re endlessly cutting the Palestinians with little paper cuts. And then wondering why the Palestinians get more and more pissed every day.
The reason the Roman Empire lasted as long as it did wasn’t because the Romans — as thuggish as they no doubt were — just marched into these countries and crushed and dominated the people. What they did was chop off the heads of the Kings at the top, but left most of the political infrastructure intact, over-seeing it, of course, but leaving the lords and dukes and senators to have their power and turf, too. Making deals, you dig — one hand washing the other — and providing the countries with irrigation and water and all sorts of services. This scene in the modern Middle East, where the Israelis spend 50 years with their foot precariously propped on the Palestinians neck….how can they POSSIBLY think this situation is tenable?
I have no ending for this column. Because I can’t envision any ending to this stupidity.