For Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Column By Charlie Reese
Seymour Hersh, with his usual thoroughness, has documented Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's latest scheme for Iraq. It is, in short, to set up death squads, trained by Israelis and using Israelis as consultants in Iraq.
The Israeli role is supposed to be hush-hush, but not only Hersh, in his New Yorker article, but also a British reporter in the Guardian have confirmed the Israeli role. That will win a lot of hearts and minds in the Arab world. About the only government they hate worse than ours is Israel's.
The idea is to hire some of the worst of the worst — members of Saddam's old secret police — to infiltrate the resistance and finger key players for the American murder squads. Thus, we climb in bed with the very people our boy president likes to moralize about — those dreaded evildoers. Only now they will be evildoers on our payroll instead of Saddam's. Only now, instead of bringing democratic values to Iraq, we will show the Iraqis we are just as good at murder as Saddam.
If you are one of those superpatriots who like to wrap themselves in the American flag while you watch Fox News, don't be shocked. We did exactly the same kind of things during the Vietnam War. I used to have, now and then, a bloody Mary or several with a CIA man who had run the infamous Phoenix Program in Vietnam.
There, the South Vietnamese would finger members of the Viet Cong, and we would snuff them. Of course, my friend said in his cynical way, if the quota for the month was 50, the South Vietnamese fingered 50; if it was 500, they found 500. How many of the thousands we murdered were actually Viet Cong and how many were innocent Vietnamese, nobody knows, except perhaps the South Vietnamese who were involved. The number of people we murdered ranges from 21,000 (an official figure) to 47,000.
Another friend of mine, on loan to the CIA from the Green Berets, paid Nung mercenaries $5 for each Vietnamese head they brought in. They brought them in by the croaker sack full, but of course a severed head can't tell you if the person who used to wear it was a Viet Cong or just a poor farmer the Nungs happened upon. After all, they hated all the Vietnamese without regard for ideology.
The same thing will happen in Iraq. Our paid evildoers will finger people they have a personal grudge against or, if they are smart, innocent Iraqis actually on our side. That way our death squads will endear us to the Iraqi people just as the Israeli death squads have endeared them to the Palestinians.
Think of a wrong way to conduct an occupation, and the Bush administration will adopt it.
The important thing about all of this is that the American people remember this filthy tactic the next time we hear some politician waxing eloquent about our great gift of freedom to the Iraqi people. The fatal flaw in our foreign policy is that we always talk one way and act another way. Cold-blooded murder is cold-blooded murder, whether the hit man works for the mob or the U.S. government. Assassination violates every principle we claim to stand for.
The truth is that war and occupation are a dirty business, and they contaminate everything and everybody involved. There are no good wars, and there are no good guys on either side. All you have are degrees of evil. We committed enough crimes against humanity in World War II that if we had lost, it would have been our politicians and generals in the dock for war crimes.
If we can't refrain from acting like Murder Inc. and from sleeping with the evildoers, let's at least drop the self-righteous bit. Hypocrisy so ill becomes us.
© 2003 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.