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Sorry, Fresh Out of Weapons... Would You Like Another Vietnam Instead?
July 5, 2003
By Brad Odland

Review the ads in your Sunday paper and you will find a cornucopia of great deals. Top brand home theatre systems and drastically reduced prices, sofa sets at unheard of prices. But when you get the store the clerk tells you, "Sorry, the last one sold not fifteen minutes ago." You shrug and promise yourself to be more diligent next time and then you proceed to look at the more expensive items still available.

This method has been used and abused by retailers for years. The idea is to get people through the door - once there you can then use pure salesmanship and personality to "up-sell" to an item with higher profit margins. We all understand this and accept it as part of the discount retail game. Do we like it? No, of course we don't.

George W. Bush has taken this to new level. Bush advertised the invasion of Iraq as a way of keeping us and the middle east safe from an attack by the evil regime of Saddam Hussein. The attack was imminent. Nuclear weapons were only months away. Saddam's invasion plans were ready to roll. His missiles were lined up and ready to fire. His stealthy drone aircraft were awaiting the order to begin dropping deadly anthrax spores on unsuspecting Israelis.

Many in America walked right into George Bush's store and were willing to accept that the world was in grave danger from an evil man bent on global domination. But now it seems that what we went into the store for is no longer there. So now we are nonchalantly told that Iraq is out of stock on WMDs - would we be interested in accepting another Vietnam instead?

It has become clear that the administration selected intelligence information that promoted the claim of existence of viable ongoing weapons programs with the direct purpose to sway public opinion. The administration assumed that weapons were probably going to be found once invasion began. So it began and it "finished" in a few short weeks with the proclamation by George W. Bush on the deck of the most powerful naval vessel in the world that "major military operations in Iraq have concluded." Now the real war has begun. The one hidden from view.

Yes, there is still a war going on in Iraq, and so is the bait and switch sales pitch. We now realize that a new phase of war has begun - guerilla war. Just like that coveted TV in the Sunday ads, the Iraq war was supposed to be quick, easy and inexpensive. Did we really think that we would actually get that? What we have now, after we've brought the box home, is a big screen behemoth with huge monthly payments stretched out over an indefinite period. Comparable to what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumfeld said as the realization of a longer engagement unfolded, "forces will remain in Iraq for as long as it takes..."

I am sure our young men and women are overjoyed with the prospect of an extended tour in Iraq. Patrolling in armored vehicles, scanning the fields for signs of enemy activity, dropping into hot LZ's, evacuating wounded from the most recent operation to sustain peace in the region. At no point does one feel safe. Any moment you could see your buddy next to you take a bullet in the face or have a full metal jacketed round punch a clean hole through your Kevlar vest and chest. What could be more honorable than to be killed by a bullet fired by a 12-year-old in an unnecessary war? Sound familiar? Have we forgotten?

"Regime change in Iraq," "Saddam must disarm," "Remember September 11th," "United We Stand," "God Bless America" - all slogans used to win the hearts and minds of the American people. It worked. But then it doesn't take much to win shallow hearts and narrow minds.

George W. Bush sold the American people an Iraq war for increased security and world peace. Now we have a sustained, open-ended war and a world that is anything but peaceful. But that doesn't really matter to Bush. What matters is that he surpassed his sales quota and will get a nice bonus from his employers.

"Thank you so much...would you like to purchase an extended warranty too? It's good through 2008!"


Brad Odland is a concerned citizen and Unitarian Universalist in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

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