Bush administration officials have been touring the Continent this past week, blasting and threatening nations like France, Germany and Turkey that opposed the Iraq war, or dishing out great wads of cash to countries at Europe's unfashionable eastern end that supported the Anglo-American invasion.
The threadbare nations of East Europe, notably Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, were quick to jump on George Bush's invade-Iraq bandwagon, offering Washington their services in exchange for hundreds of millions in aid, loans, cheap arms and political support. They were also showing deep gratitude for America's lifting of Russia's yoke over East Europe.
Poland contributed 200 soldiers to the invasion force, for which they got a cool $90 million US and their very own occupation zone in Iraq's north, thus aiding Washington's pretense that conquered Iraq was somehow akin to four-power occupied Germany at the end of World War II.
All that lacked was a remake of the wonderful film, The Third Man, with Harry Lime running watered-down drugs from Baghdad instead of divided Berlin.
Bulgaria, formerly Moscow's most faithful European satellite, whose intelligence goons used to handle "wet affairs" (assassinations) for the KGB, quickly offered its mobile loyalties to Washington. So, too, bankrupt Romania and wretched little Albania.
No one in the Bush administration seemed in the least abashed that its new best friends in Europe were nations that are run by old communist politicians and secret policemen, direct heirs of history's most murderous political movement. These apparatchiks in Hugo Boss suits who used to worship Lenin are now, as the old Trinidadian calypso song goes, "working for the Yankee dollar."
Speaking of rewards, remember the White House's vow that "Iraq's oil belongs to the people of Iraq?"
Well, it now turns out that buried in the fine print of an "emergency" untendered U.S. government contract authorizing Vice President Dick Cheney's former firm, oil giant Halliburton, to fight potential Iraqi well fires, was "operation of facilities and distribution of products." In other words, pumping and selling Iraq's oil - a deal estimated to be worth at least $7 billion over the next two years.
No wonder "liberating" Iraq's oil fields was the priority of U.S. invasion forces. To America's shame, it deployed troops aplenty to secure oil wells, but not even a squad of GIs to prevent the looting of some of mankind's most precious historical artifacts from Baghdad's museums.