Mess With Texas
April 12, 2003
By Daniel Patrick Welch
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
Lessons three 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, Scottie! The whole project
has the air of what Robert Parry has called Bush's Alderaan,
recalling the Star Wars plot line where a planet was 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 Sept. 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 pound/And African appendages that almost
reach the ground/And little boys playing baseball in the rain/America,
America, 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 granted. 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 and Spanish pending a reliable translation,
or, alternatively, telephone interviews in the target language.
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