Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 20]

That Was Then, This Is Now . . .

In March of 2003, the war in Iraq loomed. Oriana Fallaci, the much honored Italian journalist who died at 77 in 2006, published in English a scathing essay later turned into a book, The Rage and the Pride.

Fallaci was contemptuous of Islamic culture. Any compromise, nod or lean in the direction of understanding and conciliation with the followers of Mohamed was weakness and betrayal of the West. Her view (often called “Islamophobic”) was a tireless indictment (often called a rant) against Islamic fundamentalism.The book questioned the stated tenets of Islam and its practice, condemned totalitarian forces bent on destroying liberal Western society and civilization, and railed against apathy regarding the immediate threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism. In the United States, she was supported by the Ayn Rand Institute and a number of other right wing foundations.

Here is smattering from that March 2003 essay, “The Rage, the Pride and the Doubt--Thoughts on the eve of battle in Iraq.” Appearing just before the Iraq war began, this essay showed her unleavened contempt for any and all who might give Iraq a hearing, insist on more UN arms inspections, exhaust diplomatic channels. Be they communists or the Holy Father of the Catholic Church, Bush should and must have his war.

“They [anyone taking a pacifist or delay the war position] are in Rome where the communists left by the door and re-entered through the window like the birds of the Hitchcock movie. And where, pestering the world with his ecumenism, his pietism, his Thirdworldism, Pope Wojtyla receives Tariq Aziz as a dove or a martyr who is about to be eaten by lions. (Then he sends him to Assisi where the friars escort him to the tomb of St. Francis.)”

Tariq Aziz is the memory trace of importance in this pro-war diatribe. You might just recall this guy appearing regularly on TV. He always had a good word for Saddam; a straight-faced lie in service to his protector tyrant. Fallaci would no doubt rejoice with the news that this Chaldean Christian is facing post-Saddam justice in Iraq. But her smug joy at the prospect of Aziz going on trial would probably be tempered by her sneer at hearing the word justice in conjunction with a court made up of Muslims. Her war, much like Bush’s, was a Crusade, righteously pursued but lacking a clear, obtainable object. That kind of playing with people’s and nation’s lives is the essence of arrogance.

So it may be clear to all today that Tariq Aziz’s crimes as Saddam’s diplomatic and administrative henchman were brutal and tyrannical. What is not clear is what we should call the forces of brutality and chaotic tyranny we unleashed in an Iraq that no longer has a Tariq Aziz to bring to justice. One wonders if Oriana Fallaci could speak to that question with her cold reason today.

(Sometimes The Money is not about millions, billions and trillions. In this case it’s about what $15,000 could not buy in today’s war disabled Iraq.)
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The New York Times, April 30, 2008
Trial Opens for Former Hussein Aide
By STEPHEN FARRELL

BAGHDAD — Tariq Aziz, who for years was the public diplomatic face of Saddam Hussein’s government, went on trial in Baghdad on Tuesday, facing charges over the execution of Iraqi merchants during the Baathist era. . . .

Elsewhere in Baghdad on Tuesday, heavy fighting erupted in the Shiite district of Sadr City as American and Iraqi troops continued efforts to curb rocket and mortar attacks on the capital’s fortified Green Zone. Many of these are launched from nearby Sadr City, a stronghold of the radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

The American military said it killed 28 gunmen during one prolonged clash on Tuesday morning, after a patrol was attacked with small arms, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades. A military statement said American troops had fought back, using rocket launchers.

Doctors in Sadr City hospitals said they had received the bodies of 21 people, including women and children, Reuters reported.

In the central province of Diyala, the police in Balad Ruz said they had found the bullet-riddled corpses of six academics who were kidnapped last week. Their families had paid $15,000 each, but the kidnappers still executed the hostages, Iraqi security officials said.
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Trial Opens for Former Hussein Aide

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