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Increasing Collateral Damage; or, Genocide for Fun and Profit
June 7, 2003
Satire by Colin Cohen

"War," Shakespeare once wrote, "exceeds peace as far as day does night; it's sprightly, waking, audible, and full of vent." And with war comes many glorious side effects -- most notably, collateral damage. This term, a fairly modern one, was developed by our overly-conscientious American military complex to soften public resistance to the justified homicide of non-combatants -- those who are in the way of achieving a desired and just military objective.

The term "collateral damage" came into vogue during the first Gulf War in the early 1990s. This was the first major conflict for the United States military since the Vietnam War, a war many generals believe was lost not on the battlefield, but on television. They believed that if they had only understood marketing and public relations better, the outcome would have been quite different. For example, if only the "Massacre at Mai Lai" could have been called the "Inopportune Kinetic Targeting of the Local Populace at Mai Lai," the American public would have quickly forgiven and forgotten the honest mistake of slaughtering over three hundred innocent men, women, and children.

The first Gulf War proved just how media savvy the military complex had become. Not only did they come up with cute catch phrases such as "collateral damage" and "smart bombs," they also controlled the flow of information to the media establishment by having former military officers appear on television to properly dehumanize mass casualties. And they used the "new media" to anesthetize war -- making it appear as a video game, something the average American could understand, appreciate, and even empathize with.

And what was the outcome of these efforts? Not only did America win the war quickly -- restoring the duly unelected leader of Kuwait, and reestablishing the free and inexpensive flow of oil from the area -- but the military was able to murder an estimated 35,000 civilians without protest from either the American Left or the world community. It didn't even matter that half the dead were children -- they were simply a Stalinian statistic.

Collateral damage in Iraq, of course, didn't end with the conclusion of hostilities. The United States had to punish Saddam Hussein by killing -- according to United Nations estimates -- a half-million of his Iraqi children through the use of sanctions. When told of this number, former US secretary of state Madeline Albright said that it was perfectly acceptable. And she was right. After all, many of these children would eventually grow into soldiers, who would then hamper future military operations, plans of which were being developed as soon as the War ended. By destroying an entire generation of Iraqis, we were simply "decapitating" one of Hussein's greatest "assets."

The 1990s was truly a great time to be an American. The economy was thriving; and with the fall of the Soviet Union, we were able to freely police the world in fun places such as Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo -- inflicting collateral damage whenever we felt the urge -- the right and the privilege of being the lone superpower. But then, something bad happened. Our enemies wrongfully came to the conclusion that they too could inflict collateral damage . . . on us. This conclusion, of course, was wholly illogical, as they had no sharp-talking generals, no fancy vocabulary, and no video games. What was worse was that instead of inflicting collateral damage through the use of smart bombs, their weapon of choice was suicide attackers -- a clear violation of the Geneva Convention, which clearly states that the mass slaughter of human beings must be carried out exclusively through gentlemanly means.

The attacks started out small -- mostly against our proxy in the Middle East, Israel. We condemned the attacks, but mostly ignored them. After all, they weren't killing Christians. But then came September 11, 2001. The day we as Americans finally awoke to our innate superiority. Now we could finally inflict collateral damage without any hesitation due to some misconceived notion of morality.

Afghanistan was our first target. They were superficially indirectly responsible for the attacks on September 11; but more importantly, they were easy to attack. And besides, no one liked them anyway, not even the Iranians -- so there wouldn't be much of a fuss. Also, Americans were so mad, we didn't care whom we killed -- just as long as they were Muslim and sufficiently different from us. Again, we had lots of generals on television showing us all sorts of fun new video games, and we easily crushed the infidels.

However, according to the Boston Globe, we only killed approximately one thousand civilians, and far less than fifty percent of them were children. This was truly a troubling development. How could we possibly teach these people a lesson -- thou shall not challenge the United States -- if we allowed so many of their civilians to remain alive? It's a mistake that has haunted us ever since, as the ungrateful Afghanis have consistently scorned the freedom we imposed on them; and instead of properly bowing to us in the streets, they constantly make petty demands on us for insignificant things such as food, water, and shelter. And that's only when they're not taking potshots at our brave soldiers, those who have graciously sacrificed the comforts of home to teach these people blind subservience to the American flag and to our great Christian god.

Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, we quickly got bored with Afghanistan; and as the president's poll numbers started to slide when Americans selfishly became focused on mundane issues such as feeding their families, a new enemy had to be found. But who? Why not our old friend Saddam Hussein? He was still in power; and thanks to those crippling sanctions imposed on Iraq since the first Gulf War, they were the perfect enemy. Even though we had already killed much of their population, there were still many left, especially as Muslim populations have a tendency to rabbit-like increases.

Thus began the second Gulf War. However, as opposed to the first one, when the world was united to turn back a ruthless dictator who had unjustly overthrown another ruthless dictator, we didn't have a convincing enough argument. Actually, we didn't have any argument -- despite the best efforts of all the screenwriters working in the White House. So, it was up to us alone to inflict collateral damage. But as the cliché goes, "the more, the merrier."

Preliminary results of the War, though, are quite discouraging. There have been only a few thousand civilian casualties; and again, a far lower percent of dead children. As the occupation progresses, we have seen slight increases of both these numbers, but only slight. We can only come to the conclusion that this great crusade, while done with the best of intentions, has, like in Afghanistan, come up somewhat short.

The heart of the problem, I believe, is that we have a muddled policy regarding collateral damage, a policy which we need to make far more succinct. I propose that instead of making collateral damage a hidden side benefit of our policy, it must become the cornerstone of it; and it must be taken to the next logical level. I call for the mass extermination of enemy populaces, a policy that will enrich us both economically and politically. It is a policy that we should not be ashamed to state openly.

By eliminating populaces, we will not only eliminate current and future enemies, but we will also gain control over their natural resources -- whatever those resources may be -- resources that we should've controlled all along considering we use them the most. We will also get what the Nazis called "Lebensraum" -- living space for us to breathe. Of course, the world may very well protest. But even if they do so sufficiently and with a loud enough voice, we could simply hand control of these resources to our not-so-secret proxies, the multinational corporations.

Unfortunately, when we say "the mass extermination of enemy populaces," this conjures an ugly word in the English language: genocide. It conjures Hitler, Pol Pot, and Edi Amin. These men lamentably took a perfectly acceptable term, something that was practiced by heroic men from Biblical times onward (even God, in His infinite wisdom, practiced it on many occasions to teach us a much needed lesson) and bastardized it through their ignorance of the art of public relations.

Just as we invented the term "collateral damage," we must invent a term for genocide that the average American can accept and embrace. One possibility is "extreme collateral damage." Not only does it signify collateral damage at a much higher level, but the adjective "extreme" has come to be understood by our culture as something "cool." The term conjures not the brutal and senseless butchery of innocent people, but instead properly conjures Arnold Schwarzenegger's next film.

However, this term just doesn't seem creative enough -- it doesn't sound like something that would come from the pen of one of those scribes from Madison Avenue. A better term, I think, is "aggregate disappearance." It sounds scientific enough without sounding too sterile; there's a bit of mystery to it -- and best of all it's accurate without being too accurate. People won't be murdered, there will be neither blood nor cries of agony. People will just conveniently disappear.

So, where do we begin creating aggregate disappearances? One of the nations President Bush singled out when he made his eloquent, Churchillian speech about the "Axis of Evil" was Iran. They are a good choice, because as with Iraq, they have one of the world's largest oil reserves, they are populated by heretics, and their name begins with the letter "I." Iran is the perfect training grounds for our little experiment in disappearing -- the final solution of a problem that's been nagging us for more than twenty years.

The people of Iran, after decades of our unrelenting support for their benevolent tyrant, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, which included restoring him to power by unselfishly overthrowing the democratically-elected government of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, showed their appreciation by taking our embassy hostage, a clear violation of international conduct. And ever since, the Iranians have failed to show us the respect we deserve -- even after we helped Iraq develop chemical weapons that were used so effectively against the Iranian population during their little war in the 1980s.

The plan against Iran should be concluded as follows. As we already have a large military deployment in the Gulf region, it will not be difficult to turn our weapons toward Tehran and begin creating disappearances. This should be done without warning, in classic Blitzkrieg fashion, so as to preclude Western journalists from witnessing it and putting a negative spin on the carnage.

The Second Gulf War conclusively proved our forces can overrun any country with the type of speed that would envy even Hitler. Add to this our new policy of encouraging collateral damage, and it would not be unreasonable to expect that the battle would last days, if not hours. And if the international community complains or protests, we'll just say that it was a necessary preemptive strike against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. We can manufacture all the evidence they need.

After we've liberated Iran and eliminated most of its enemy populace, we will have control of its vast oil reserves; and in combination with the oil we already control in Iraq, we could easily break the OPEC cartel and soon anticipate the return of ten-cent-a-gallon gasoline prices, which would spur unparalleled growth in our economy.

A question that will arise soon afterward, though, is what will we then do with the few remaining Iranians and the places in Iran that do not contain oil. Using our history with Native Americans as a precedence, we could create reservations for the locals, within which we'll encourage alcoholism so as to keep the population docile. We'll then bus them to work in the oil fields, in the Persian rug factories, in the fast food chains, and in the golf clubs that we'll build across the country. If they behave themselves, we might even let them build and operate a few casinos. Finally, we'll send over our best fundamentalist Christian missionaries to make certain that all these poor souls will be saved.

Once we've fully cleansed Iran, we'll then free other countries. The next logical target would be the third member of the infamous Axis of Evil, North Korea. However, North Korea has almost no natural resources; and unlike the Middle Eastern nations, it might actually put up a fight. As such, it would clearly be better to sublimate North Korea through diplomatic means -- meaning that we'll let the United Nations annoy it with sanctions until it starves to death.

The forth unofficial member of the Axis, Syria, would seem to be a better candidate for disappearing. While it has only modest oil reserves, it has enormous amounts of natural gas deposits, which is perfect for heating American homes cleanly and cheaply.

Our military is so strong that we may even be able to finish Syria and its citizenry at the same time we're finishing Iran. And after Syria, it will be an easy task to wipe out the other oil producing states in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. Most of these Gulf nations have so few people that they will hardly be missed.

This purging will leave only a few oil producing nations outside our control, most notably Nigeria and Venezuela. Joyfully, both these nations are extremely unstable, and should acquiesce to their predestined fate without much enmity.

After we've taken control of almost all the world's oil reserves and have eliminated a considerable amount of the world's excess population, you might think that we as Americans will finally be able to rest. But one of the things that have always made us great is our ability to think outside the box. Wealth and world domination is not secured solely through the control of energy. There are nations abundant in gold, diamonds, and rich farmland -- all waiting to be liberated by us.

Yes, the task before us is immense and will require a unity of thought amongst all Americans -- a unity that must be achieved involuntarily if necessary. But, if done correctly and efficiently, our policy of aggregate disappearance will not only be highly profitable, but will also be a whole lot of fun as well.

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