Intervention needed, stat

Imagine a mentally ill person who persists in jamming a fork into an electrical outlet, badly burning himself. "Next time it will feel good!" he keeps saying. Finally, after getting out of the ol' bughouse (and out of restraints) he calls a press conference to say he has changed.

"Tomorrow I will jam a fork into the top outlet with my left hand and a fork into the bottom with my right hand," he says. "I am confident that will bring us success, and that my enemies have misunderestimated me."

That's George "Captain Ahab" Bush, who the press persists in treating as a sane and rational person worthy of respect. He is not. Nearly four years ago, he either ignored evidence or just plain lied us into a war.

We landed in Iraq, shot a few folks and Tommy Cruise landed a plane on an aircraft carrier and stood beaming, happy as Alfred E. Neuman, before a sign that said "Mission Accomplished." Since then we have destroyed much of Iraq, all of our credibility, and allowed that pathetic imitation nation to be ripped by civil war between warring factions of Shiites, Sunnis and who knows what else. The war has been lost; we have botched the occupation from beginning to end. But now we are going to make it even worse. The highly prestigious, nonpartisan Iraq Study Group presented a set of recommendations to President Shrub a month ago. They might as well have presented it to my dog Paddy. W grinned, thanked them and then indicated that he plans to do the one thing nobody was recommending: an insane suicidal troop "surge," in which 20,000 more Americans will be flung into the disintegrating hellhole of Baghdad.

Our forces elsewhere will be spread even thinner. If the militant Ghegs and Tosks of tiny fortress Albania have any secret yearnings to invade Sterling Heights, this would be the time they could probably get away with it.

Nobody intelligent thinks the "surge" will do anything except get more Americans and even more Iraqis killed. There are some military men who think if you threw in a few hundred thousand more, we could hold Iraq in some kind of a sullen, Roman- or British Empire-style long-term occupation.

Except we don't have the money, men or will to do that. Oh, we could raise taxes, bring back the draft, apply it mostly to illegal immigrants, and hold our interests and guard our oil sources with a vast conscript army speaking many tongues. That is how ancient Rome held things together, for a while anyway.

Failing that, what we really need is Saddam Hussein back. I had fantasies of us doing a deal with him right before his execution. "Look, asshole, we're going to give you another chance. No invading other countries, no screwing around with Americans and our interests, and no mass genocides.

"You can kill a few dozen a month but no more, and denounce us whenever you want to, but keep the oil flowing. Got it?" Then we would put a spin on it, prop him back up ... and get the hell out.

Naturally, I am writing this tongue in cheek. What we did manage to do instead was turn him into something of a martyr. We turned him over to our puppets for the execution a mere half-hour before the deed.

The proceedings showed what a farce Iraqi so-called democracy is. Saddam was the most dignified person at his own hanging, which looked just like the typical basement butchery we've seen from terrorist snuff films. His killers wore ski masks and chanted Shiite slogans. Naturally, they snuffed Saddam on the eve of a major Muslim holiday, helping cement his legend further.

Saddam, knowing full well his hanging would soon be available for the world and history to see, said, "I have protected you from the Americans and the Persians," turning his execution into his own show.

Now Bush wants to pour more troops in to join him in death. Last fall former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan, once a supporter of the war, said we should regard the democratic takeover of Congress "not as an election anymore, but an intervention." The nation badly needs an intervention now.

American needs to get out of Iraq, where "democracy" means the freedom to kill your neighbor if his religion is different. We need to find the least bloody way to leave, giving the Iraqis not "democracy" but the government likely to get the fewest of them killed, and we need to do so as quickly as humanly possible.

We might accomplish that by inviting the United Nations or an international peacekeeping body in to partition the "country." That might involve finding another shrewd strongman, a less bloodthirsty Saddam. Yet we have to go.

Throwing more troops in is murder. George Bush won't see it, and so it is up to Congress, and every one of us, to do what we can to end the madness.


Faith, hope and charity update: Two weeks ago I reported on the Detroit Catholic archdiocese's mean-spirited decision to evict Bishop Thomas Gumbleton from St. Leo's, an inner-city church he has held together for years. As far as I can make out, the Bish has never been popular with the bureaucrats who run the church, mainly because he persists in being a Christian.

He's been careful not to challenge the Vatican on matters of belief. But he really angered them last year. That's when he suggested that Ohio extend the statute of limitations to allow people to sue who are just now finally coming to terms with the fact that they had been sexually abused by priests in the past.

Poor bishop! He ought to have known you never hit a moneychanger in the pocketbook. That got him evicted. I wrote how unjust that was, and heard from more than 50 people, some of them priests and nuns, nearly all of them Roman Catholic "despite the best efforts of my church," as one said.

Every single person was strongly in favor of Gumbleton. Well, except for one; the local mouthpiece of church Stalinism, Ned McGrath.

He said the only injustice here was my column. "The anti-Catholic vitriol he [Lessenberry] spews is palpable and a disgrace," McGrath wrote in an e-mail sent to this paper. "These types of attacks denigrate the million-plus Catholic faithful of southeast Michigan, whoever and wherever they may be."

Well, I heard from a lot of allegedly faithful Catholics who think otherwise. A couple of them protested, only to receive what at least one man described as an insulting form letter, pointing out that it was quite normal to give bishops the boot when they turn 75. (This is not quite true; they are normally allowed to stay as long as they like ... if they are seen as politically correct.)

The Kremlin on Washington Boulevard does admit it denied the saintly bishop's request to keep living at St. Leo's, where he slept on a pallet in a drafty room. Had to go give him the boot; after all, he is almost 77. Keeping him on would never do. After all, the bishop of Rome, aka the pope, will be a mere ... 80 in April. "We have but one consolation," wrote a permanent deacon in the church. "And that is that they have so undermined their own authority with stupid things like this, that the ranks keep thinning, at least among the educated. Whatever they do, there is still a light in every human being they can't extinguish."

Jack Lessenberry opined weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at [email protected]
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