Washington, DC (Monday, 28 June 2004):
In the wake of the early transfer of nominal sovereignty in Iraq today, the US government acknowledged that it has been considering a number of possible new names for the country.
The proposed names are discussed in a memo dated
1 January 2004 and marked "highly confidential -- classified" which was leaked to the press over the weekend.
The memo, authored by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and addressed to Vice President Dick Cheney, reviews a number of suggestions offered by various staffers in the Counsel's office, the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and other interested departments of the Administration. There is no indication of any suggestion made by the now-defunct Iraq Governing Council or the similarly constituted Interim Government of Iraq, which was handed the nominal reins in a secret ceremony today.
As detailed in the memo, the suggested new names and evaluative comments are as follows:
1. Vietraq -- Many staffers favor this suggestion, given the inexorable trend toward quagmire-dom. However, we feel it would not be appropriate because Iraq has a much drier climate than Vietnam, with mostly sand instead of jungle--although the growing risk of drowning in crude oil leaking from sabotaged pipelines is real enough.
2. Afghaniraq -- This choice is not favored because of the need to minimize the war on Afghanistan, and focus instead on Iraq as the center of terrorism in the world, so as to perpetuate a major justification for the March 2003 invasion and continuing occupation.
3. Al-Qaedaraq -- This is more favored and indeed more accurate than #2, becuase it underscores the fictional connection we have striven to foster between Saddam Hussein and Osama bid Laden, who actually hate each other.
4. Haitraq -- This sounds too much like "hate," which is not the impression we want to give the Iraqi people, whom we love. It also would conflict with the official fight song in our valiant struggle against the unarmed yet dangerous, popularly elected Aristide administration, which we deposed: "We hate Haiti! Yes we do! We hate Haiti! And we love La Tortue!"
5. Freedomraq -- A moderately popular suggestion with staff due to its vaguely patriotic ring, but this may be a problematic choice because of confusion surrounding pronunciation of the final syllable. Some people say "RACK" while others say "ROCK" -- so let's call the whole thing off.
6. McRaq -- This choice has potential, given that we are doing our best to impose our crass commercialism (AKA "the new democracy") on the country.
7. Our-Iraq -- Another good possibility along the lines of #6, particularly in light of NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw's prescient statement on 20 March 2003, that "in a few days we're going to own that country."
8. Halliburgh -- Yet another accurate embodiment of our motives for the invasion and occupation, namely, handing out sweetheart deals to corporations with close ties to the Administration. However, we need to downplay this aspect of the war.
9. A 3-way tie for Bremerville, Powelltown, and Riceland -- These suggestions are undeniably catchy but must be rejected, since none of the namesakes will be around much after the end of 2004.
10. Negroponteland -- A tempting option in light of the unprecedented power to be given to the new US Ambassador to the country, which is necessary if our Administration is to keep control after the nominal power transfer. However, we do not wish to call undue attention to the Ambassador's history (e.g., as the Proconsul of Honduras), nor to what will be the largest US embassy on the planet. In addition, staffers agree this name would be too long and difficult to pronounce.
11. Guantaniraq -- A singularly appropriate choice, in light of our fully justified decision to use torture on detainees for various purposes, including for the fun of it. But naturally, we need to hide this reality if at all possible, or (if necessary) to present it to the American people and the world strictly as "Operation THUG: Torture and Humiliation by Underlings and Grunts."
12. Torture-raq: Too obvious, especially if Operation THUG fails.
13. Palesraq -- The unanimous favorite choice among staffers. The parallels between Palestine and Iraq are almost too numerous to fathom, including: (a) the perpetual, overwhelming, and oppressive presence of hostile foreign troops, immune from responsibility for any and all heinous crimes they commit against ordinary citizens; (b) bombing of clearly civilian targets such as ambulances, hospitals, schools, and mosques; (c) indiscriminate house demolitions; (d) kidnapping and terrorizing family members of randomly suspected resistance fighters; (e) collective punishment of towns and cities in retaliation for selected rebel attacks against the occupying power; and (f) the 10:1 ratio of civilian deaths to occupying forces' deaths.
The memo also reports the results of staff work on the national anthem for the new sovereign state, entitled "JABBIRAQI" :
'Twas chilling, how the GI Joes
Did gyrate so nimbly in the picture frame.
But however flimsy were the prison clothes,
We must forget the wrath of Abu Graib.
At a press briefing on Sunday, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan confirmed that the memo is an authentic document, but emphasized that "the President is very troubled by this leak, and wants to get to the bottom of whoever disclosed this sensitive information to the media."