dinsdag, april 15, 2003

Filling the Vacancy in the Axis of Evil
"...We are waging this war for a better peace, that we are fighting for the happiness of people who have so often been oppressed by their governments. No power in the world will make us deny our duty, or forget even for a moment our historical task of maintaining the freedom of our people." -- Joseph Goebbels.

With major combat operations in Iraq winding down it doesn't take a clairvoyant to divine the Administration's ethereal game plan for filling the new vacancy in the Axis of Evil. Using terminology strikingly similar to that before Iraq was invaded, the Man with the Plan, Ari Fleischer said in yesterday's press briefing that "Syria is indeed a rogue nation," and noted it was on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. Speaking to reporters, Fleischer read from a CIA report to Congress for January-June last year on the "acquisition of technology relating to weapons of mass destruction and advanced conventional munitions."

"Syria sought CW (chemical weapon) related precursors and expertise from foreign sources during the reporting period. Damascus already held a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, but apparently is trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents," the report said. Asked why the Bush administration was raising the weapons of mass destruction charge on Syria now, when it had not over the last six months, Fleischer said: "It's a relevant fact."

Since it seems Syria is next in line for Dr. Bush's Miracle Makeovers, it might be time to get the "before" vision ahead of the "after" picture. We missed out on the halcyon days of evil tryanny in Baghdad when crime was non-existent and the tourist attractions were still standing and while the looting is dying down, this is mostly because there isn't anything left to loot in Baghdad any more.

If the chaos of occupied Baghdad was any precursor to the future, you might want to check out the National Museum of Damascus before the looters get to it. The museum's facade was once the entrance to the Qasr al-Hayr al-Ghabi, an ancient military camp. According to the Lonely Planet, inside is a fantastic array of exhibits, including writings from the 14th century BC that use the world's first known alphabet, statuary from Mari that's over 4000 years old, two halls full of marble and terracotta statues from Palmyra, Damascene weapons, old surgical instruments from surgeons' graves, a collection of 13th century Qur'ans and a complete room decorated in the style of the 18th century Azem Palace.

"It's important for President Assad of Syria, who is a new leader, a young man, to understand that the future needs to be different from the past." Ari Fleischer, White House spokesmodel.

Since it's no fun naming a new member of the Axis of Evil without a little historical background, the Federal Research Division of The Library of Congress notes that until the twentieth century, when Western powers began to carve out the rough contours of the contemporary states of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel, the whole of the settled region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea was called Syria, the name given by the ancient Greeks to the land bridge that links three continents. For this reason, historians and political scientists usually use the term Greater Syria to denote the area in the prestate period. They remember that until 1920, "Syria" referred to a region much larger than the Syrian Arab Republic of today, a region that stretched from the borders of Anatolia to those of Egypt, from the edge of Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea. In terms of today's states, the Syria of old comprised Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, plus the Gaza Strip and Alexandretta.

"We say to Mr Bush that Syria has no chemical weapons and that the only chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in the region are in Israel, which is threatening its neighbours and occupying their land," Buthaina Shaaban, a Syrian foreign ministry spokeswoman.

As we examine the degrees of separation we see that Saladin, the first Ayyubid sultan, and famous for having recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders, one of the great heroes of Arab history, is buried in Damascus. Perhaps ironically, he too was born in Tikrit, already well-known for another Arab figure of recent fame. Saladin died in Damascus. Saddam's wife is rumored to have run for Damascus so, eager for that home-cookin', Saddam could be headed for Damascus also. Hell, Saddam is probably over at the Cham Palace Hotel already, smoking cigars, drinking expensive cognac and plotting to formulate a final Crime Syndicate to battle George Bush, Dick Cheney, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. And perhaps just like Saladin, Damascus is where he will die for the eighth time since the onset of the invasion of Iraq, in a massive, pinpoint bombing strike, much like the other pinpoint strikes which killed him already.

"Of course we will examine possible measures of a diplomatic, economic or other nature as we move forward. We are in touch with Syrian authorities, we have a very effective ambassador there, Ambassador Kattouf, who will stay in touch with them and make them aware of our concerns and we'll see how things unfold as we move forward," said Colin Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State.

It won't be long before the networks begin their tandem assault so get used to seeing photos of Damascus via satellite as ex-generals walk all over floor-sized maps of it, pointing out where all the evil ministries are located and pushing orphan-sized chess pieces of artillery over the surface of it before bringing out the giant magic markers to slash a giant X across it.

"The United States has "intelligence that indicates some Iraqi people have been allowed into Syria," Daffy Donald Rumsfeld said, adding, "I would say that we have seen chemical weapons tests in Syria over the past 12, 15 months."

Besides, there's already a Damascus in Maryland so even if the city has to be bombed into rubble, America's got another one to replace it. The same couldn't be said for Baghdad.

So get into the ritmo of the city while you still can with Sufi Songs of Damascus by Hamza Shakkur.

"We say to him [Mr. Bush] that Syria has no chemical weapons and that the only chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in the region are in Israel," said Buthania Shaaban, the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.

So congratulations, Syria. Looks like the Bush Administration done found its whippin' boy.

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