Karate against a kid
What does it means to beat Iraq
By Daniel Patrick Welch
April 9, 2003
Teach them a lesson they'll never forget. So goes
the thinking in Texas-on-the-Potomac. And what a lesson it has been!
They'll never mess with us again, nosirree Bob! As this childish
thinking worms its way around the neocon braintrust, now giddy with
"success" of their own definition (like toppling the Taliban?),
it is instructive what lessons might be drawn by more rational--albeit
scared to death--observers around the world.
These are some of the conclusions I've drawn, doing
my humble little part to follow Bush's sage advice. First, if you
don't already have nukes, you'd better get some--and that right
soon. Uncle Sam don't play. While you're in the catalog, get a whole
bunch of night goggles, and tons more air support. Spend more on
the military, and less on feeding, housing and educating your people,
if you care about your own sovereignty.
The picture of the American GI lounging in Hussein's
chair, plastered on front pages everywhere, sent the disturbing
signal: it's ours.... it's ALL ours. I can't imagine that image
spun quite the way it was intended around the globe--or maybe that's
just the point: we're comin' to getcha! And another thing--don't
bother trying to meet the Americans head on. Lesson number two is
that, in asymmetrical warfare, guerrilla campaign is the only way
to go--do anything, and I mean anything (see Lesson #1: Get Nukes)
to keep the mighty invading army at bay.
Lessons 3 through umpteen were learned before the
war started, actually: international law doesn't apply to the U.S.,
The UN, EU, as well as various global aid organizations, conventions,
and agreements are quaint relics of a bygone era. Oh, right--there
is a caveat here: we can bring them back to life on call when it
suits our purpose and we want to complain about other people's behavior.
Although it may seem incongruous, I'll allow myself
a Seinfeld moment here. What the hell, Americans watch 25 hours
of TV a day anyway. I couldn't help thinking of the time Kramer
was boasting about his karate prowess until he was forced to reveal
that he was just beating up children. In an ominous twist, the kids
ganged up and waited for him in the alley, where they beat the crap
out of him.
And what is all this focus on civilian dead? I mean
it's horrific, of course--it's the whole ball of wax, really. But
soldiers aren't people? When the tables are turned, the U.S. screams
bloody murder if one of our boys is killed, TV up close and personals,
etc. Enemy soldiers don't have mothers? They can be blithely incinerated
from 40,000 feet by fuel-air bombs and other weapons more horrific
than anything currently banned--international law, thankfully for
the Americans, hasn't had time to catch up to the technology. I
guess that undermining, bribing, and threatening pays off. Bush
and Rumsfeld (dubbed Chemical Donald by a British columnist) even
insist that we have the right to use nuclear weapons, or other gases
only allowed for domestic crowd control.
Only the Americans have the sovereign right, drunk
with power and arrogance, to threaten to try the invaded in US courts
for "war crimes." Bush and his corporate cronies are so
busy trying to teach the world a lesson that they forgot the lessons
they should have learned from history. For all the distorted comparisons
to Hitler, they seem to have missed this gem from the Nuremberg
International Military Tribunal: "War is essentially an evil
thing... To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only
an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing
only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the
accumulated evil of the whole."
There are other lessons, both foreign and domestic.
Before the war came the bugging of UN personnel, some in their own
houses. A sort of Watergate gone global--get the message yet? For
icing, Americans exploited the fog of war to shoot up convoys of
diplomats with whom they just happened to have beef, and killed
a few journalists who gave them bad press--one of them on air! Now
THAT sends a message! Coupled with the unabashed prostitution of
embedded (or "in-bed-with") journalism, and we have a
pretty good idea of which way we are supposed to go.
But let's not forget the domestic lessons. The Bush
Cartel is an equal opportunity terrorist. Cops in Oakland opened
fire on protesters with "non-lethal" weapons (kind of
like pushing someone gently down the stairs) in an incident oddly
reminiscent of the San Francisco 1934 general strike--which also
started on the docks. Radio hosts encourage violence against protesters,
and some have obliged, plowing into one demonstration in a truck,
calling in bomb or sniper threats. A high school principal pulled
the plug on movies like "Bowling for Columbine" by that
dangerous radical, Michael Moore.
John Kerry was attacked for speaking out against
Bush. One GOP hatchet man went so far as to suggest that Kerry had
no right to call for "regime change" during wartime. Hmmmm..in
civics class I was led to believe we had (technically) regime change
every four years. And the Democrats, for crying out loud, who have
enough trouble defining the word "opposition!" Forget
Syria and Iran: if the milquetoast Kerry, who voted for the war,
is fair game, who's next?
But I suppose ol' George and his puppet masters might
be touchy on the subject. Imagine if people learned the wrong lessons,
and enforced regime change the way they do--or even ascended to
power the way Bush did? Yikes! Iraqis, of course, don't speak out
because they are afraid of the regime, and our freedom, by contrast,
is the reason we should all just shut up (or else). Beam me up,
The whole project has the air of what Robert Parry
has called Bush's Alderan, recalling the Star Wars plot
line where a small rebel planet destroyed by the infamous Death
Star to keep everyone else in line.
Don't worry, we are told--it will all come into focus
soon. Yeah, we know. But no matter how many staged footage of toppling
statues, Iraqis are a proud people. And a gun-toting one. When the
US military tries to disarm Iraqi civilians, we'll see...
What is also waiting to come out is that this episode
of Gilligan's Travels to Liliput hasn't been quite the romp we've
been told, even in the last week. Then again, it is a fiction to
think that the access will be freer under the watchful eye of the
US military occupation. Government minders are no match for tanks
shelling your hotel.
And as far as lies go, you ain't seen nothin yet.
Suicide bombers--the term itself a manipulative attempt at a subtle
link with the events of September 11--will be branded terrorists
(or, even more incomprehensibly, 'cowards') by an occupation force
and a press corps which refuses to admit it is there illegally.
What a world turned on its head: how could there possibly be any
illegitimate American targets where there is an occupying army?
But of course, the invaded squirming under the tread
of an Abrams tank don't have the right to resist. Further resistance
will be dismissed as "getting in the way of rebuilding Iraq."
They will not be heroic defenders of their country, but always foreign
fighters, just as they were "outside agitators" according
to COINTELPRO, and "agents provocateurs" at the Haymarket.
Of course. In what conceivable universe could people actually want
to repel foreign invaders?
We will be treated to many more planted stories of
'potential' WMD's, the horrors of Saddam's regime, the noble cause
of "Freeing" Iraq. And the horrific cost of this war and
the sanctions which preceded it will be laid at Iraq's own door--with
a docile press corps, the victor writes the history.
This all relies, by the way, on keeping the American
bubble inflated. The Stupidity Factor doesn't appear to be evaporating
any time soon. Many Americans are perfectly happy to have a "president"
who is no smarter than they are--it's not threatening unless you
get on his bad side. Kind of like the old drunk on the corner stool
in the bar. He tells some good jokes, but watch out when he's in
a mood. Remember that egghead Carter? Yuck.
I used to think that the monopoly corporations who
funded Bush's rise to power had picked wrong--and it may still be
shown that they overplayed their hand. But my cynicism and despair
have deepened in the past few months. What a coup (pun intended)
to have picked a true idiot, a mean, drunken frat boy who does what
he's told and then some, sticking to it like a rabid pit bull.
I can't help thinking that Randy Newman had the dark
side of the American character pegged, and I keep running this old
lyric through my head:
Americans dream of Gypsies I have found
and Gypsy knives and Gypsy thighs that pound and pound and pound
And African appendages that almost reach the ground
And little boys playing baseball in the rain
America, American, may God shed his grace on thee
You have whipped the Filipino, now you rule the Western Sea
America, America, step out into the light
You are the best dream that man has ever dreamed
and may all your Christmases be white.
So, many of the people will eat it up. But the economy
is in deep trouble and getting worse--the "what now" burp
is already hitting the markets. And using the Conquering Hero spike
to float their crazy economic agenda just won't work like they want
it to. Even Democrats will put up some kind of a fight.
Don't forget the Afghan "model," where
Special Forces casualties are said to be "staggering."
Sorry for all the quotes and parentheses, but the bogus language
of this war makes it almost impossible to talk without footnotes.
Let's not kid ourselves, no matter how many times we watch the bogus,
staged, rehashed footage of statues toppling: this "war"
(slaughter) isn't "over" (left the front page) any more
than its Afghan counterpart, where 11 civilians were recently killed
by "mistake" (murder-from-above by an arrogant superpower
that would rather kill and ask questions later, earning it the enmity
of all and the certain retaliation by virtually anybody).
And I was only kidding before when I mentioned John
Kerry. Of course we can't forget Syria and Iran, now in the sights
of the voracious Democracy Installing Cabal (you do the letters).
And then there's Colombia, Venezuela, Philippines, Syria, Iran,
North Korea, Montezuma, the Shores of Tripoli.... But let's not
forget the biggest lesson, looming in the shadows: the Kramer lesson
(apologies to Michael Richards). The kids are waiting in the alley,
George. They are learning different lessons from this war--and their
numbers are growing.
© 2003 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission
Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts,
USA, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run
The Greenhouse School. His columns have also been aired on
radio. Others interested in airing the audio version (electronic
recording available) please contact the author. Welch speaks several
languages and is available for recordings in French, German, Russian
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