Even though there's so much S*&t goin' on this month, it's not hard to know where to start. The Friday Follies in the Senate and House Armed Services Committee lasted over six hours, and Big Dog, Gen. Myers, and their team withstood a barrage of speeches designed more to create a tidal wave of opinion against Mr. Rumsfeld than to find about the problems at the Abu Ghraib prison. The whole thing was a big snoozer. The President is angry that he was surprised by the revelations of prisoner abuse but, as Mr. Cheney said, Big Dog is the best defense secretary we've ever had. Rumsfeld must stay, and remain unhindered in prosecuting this war. He's a weapon we can't afford to put on the shelf.
Nevertheless, we can't underestimate the gravity of the prisoner abuse scandal. Many conservatives -- even Rush -- are belittling the abuses, trying to compare them to the normal conduct of our enemies. There cannot be a comparison, because we aren't they, they aren't us, and we're at war to maintain that fact. The proofs of their barbarianism are redundant. You don't even need to think back to the murders and mutilations near Falluja in March. Only last week this sermon was delivered by Shi'ite cleric Abdul-Satar al-Bahadli in Basra. Ol' Abdul preached, "A 250,000 dinar reward will be given to whomever detains a female British soldier…She should be handed to the office of Sadr, the martyr, and she will be treated as a concubine." Moqtada Sadr -- whose aspirations for martyrdom we'd be glad to accommodate if we can draw a bead on him -- is an Iranian-backed thug. Al-Bahadli is another of his ilk. To reveal al-Bahadli's terrorism is not to justify what went on in Abu Ghraib. This matter is very serious, and the worst is yet to be revealed. At least two prisoner deaths are being characterized by investigators as homicides.
But it's also important for us to keep this in perspective. The President and Mr. Rumsfeld have both apologized. We need to stop it there. We will punish those who committed crimes, but we make no apology for our policies, or our attack on terrorists and terrorist nations. We can't afford to allow the world to think that we're going to do in Iraq what we did in Vietnam. We're not going to cut and run. We're not going to give up the global strategies of preemption and treating terrorists as terrorists, not POWs. Those who attack Mr. Rumsfeld want him -- and the President -- to be replaced by someone who won't use American power to take the fight to the enemy. Mr. Kerry has said he rejects Mr. Bush's policy of preemption. Kerry's policy amounts to "get shot first, and ask questions later." Americans aren't that docile, defeatist, or dumb. But we are distracted, and the distractions will only grow. That we cannot afford. Damn the apologies, full speed ahead.
AS IMPORTANT AS THE ABU Ghraib problem is, there is much more going on that is more important. The insurgency in Falluja continues, though there hasn't been an incident there in several days. One reason may be that the gamble by General Conway may be paying off, and the Iraqi former officers we've put in limited charge may actually be succeeding. More likely, as sources tell me, is that many of the Iranian, Syrian, and other imported terrorists may be moving to the Baghdad area, intent on thwarting any Iraqi government from taking power on June 30. There are so many unanswered questions about the new government, it's hard to see how the "turnover" of sovereignty will be anything more than an illusion. June 30 will come and go, and nothing much will have changed in Iraq, or in the U.N.
As everyone who doesn't work for the State Department knew would happen, the U.N.'s envoy to Iraq -- Lakhdar Brahimi -- is busily selecting a new Iraqi government that no one other than the French and Germans will be happy with. Brahimi -- who the president inexplicably gave carte blanche to a few weeks ago -- proposed a non-political government of bureaucrats. Now, having wasted even more time, we are insisting that the new government be one that has some political power. So, naturally, Brahimi is looking at allies of Ali al-Sistani, among them Islamist Adel Abdul Mehdi to head the new government. Mehdi is unacceptable to the Sunnis, who understandably don't want a Shi'ite radical as their president who will insist on strict Islamic law that denies basic rights to many citizens. Thanks, but we don't need another Iran. One is more than enough.
France and Germany are lobbying for the new Iraqi government to have control over its army and security forces, pitting them against the Coalition occupation force. The government will be chosen next week by Ambassador Bremer and President Bush's special envoy, Robert Blackwill. Whoever they select, those chosen will be targets for terrorists, and for the U.N.'s sordid influence. The only thing the U.N. can be counted on to do is to corrupt the political process in Iraq, leaving it prey to the vultures of the Security Council.
THE U.N. "OIL FOR FOOD" PROGRAM scandal is in the process of being buried. The investigation by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and sanctioned by the Security Council is being used as an excuse to continue an outrageous coverup that alone should be enough to cause Kofi Annan's removal. The U.N. last week sent letters to several of the companies involved in this, the biggest financial fraud the world has yet seen, demanding that the confidentiality agreements between them and the U.N. be honored. Translation: don't give anyone any facts, any documents, or any testimony that will implicate the U.N. in looting Iraq and helping Saddam buy votes in the Security Council. This is a direct effort to thwart the congressional and other independent investigations of the scandals, including the one being done by the Iraqi Governing Council. No other coverup has been as brazen, or as effective.
Because the U.N.'s Secretary General and his family may be directly involved in the corruption, we need to put as much pressure on the U.N. as we can to let the facts out. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada introduced a bill requiring us to withhold 10% of our dues to the U.N. unless it gives full access to FBI and Government Accounting Office investigators, which it surely won't. Ensign's bill won't pass because Colin Powell and the rest of the U.N.'s buddies won't allow it to. Ensign has the right idea, but he doesn't go far enough. Not another Yankee dollar should go to the U.N. until this mess is unwrapped and unraveled. We need more than an apology from the U.N. We need answers, and we're not likely to ever get them.
On the lighter side, the EUnuchs just celebrated "Europe Day." Tony Blair hasn't yet set the date yet for his act of ritual political suicide, but the Brit public will almost certainly reject the EU constitution when Blair lets it vote. Blair is still feverishly negotiating the constitution's terms with Wacky Jacky Chirac, and will, of course, compromise his "red line" issues away. WJC, meanwhile, took the opportunity to say that strong ties between the U.S. and Old Europe were in the "fundamental interest" of both sides but -- according to one report -- he "…hinted there were still some hard feelings." On his side, of course. Maybe we should apologize to him. On second thought, that's already in the plan. Just wait until Vichy John Kerry becomes president.
TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of the forthcoming book, Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe are Worse than You Think.