Given the current dire state of world affairs, it seems entirely appropriate that this column reduce itself solely to bullet (ha, ha!) form. What, you were expecting bombs?
• Check out the daily action between dueling patriotic protesters, who’ve split lines by way of a crosswalk connecting 100 South along State Street. Last week the anti-war protesters constructed a nifty effigy of President Bush lancing baby dolls kibosh style. The hawks prefer standard fare from 1991—“Support Our Troops”—but with a few new twists—“Piss on France.” Like, eloquent, dude. One popular photo making a circuit around the Web shows a young woman holding a sign reading, “Support Are Troops.” Patriotism is a verb. Ain’t it, now? Grammar and spelling could be our last concern where the intelligence of the American public is concerned. According to a recent CNN poll, 41 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
• Word from the front is that this is an “asymmetric battle,” with lots of frisking and patting. British soldiers have stated it has a Northern Ireland flavor to it: no clear boundaries, and no clear enemies since loads of Iraqis wear civilian garb. Count on the British to make clear comparisons. What are we going to compare this to, Panama? Saddam Hussein may yet be driven from power Noriega-style, when we blasted the Latin American ruler out of his bunker with bad country tunes like “Achy, Breaky Heart.”
• Remember the warning of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq: Coalition forces are free to rid Iraq of Saddam, but long stays aren’t welcome, even when you just want to pal it up with the Shia Muslims. Before Iraq, there was another conflict in a little Middle East country called Lebanon.
• An awful lot of news stories since the war have focussed on one question, “Will the War Help the Stock Market?” It’s about our portfolios, people. If the war can’t generate profits—uh!—what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. The New York Stock Exchange knows how to handle the situation. Monday, as reported by the Associated Press, it kicked two Al-Jazeera reporters off the trading floor. “Security reasons,” was the explanation. Curious minds want to know what the rest of the world thinks of us, and why. The aljazeera.net Website is a perfect place to start, if you read Arabic. Too bad Al-Jazeera’s freshly launched English site was sabotaged by hacker attacks early this week. It would have made for some interesting reading. Americans believe in a free press, when it’s ours. When the world shouts back at you, plug your ears.
• The current war isn’t centered around President Bush. It isn’t centered around Dick Cheney, or even Donald Rumsfeld. It’s about our nation’s new pre-emptive strike policy as formulated by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the bright-eyed man who believes this war will transform Iraq into an oasis of Middle East democracy, and a man persuasive enough to convince everyone else of the same. His name is mud if this operation fails. Bush, of course, will be re-elected in 2004. We like presidents with a limited vocabulary, and a limited world-view. The people of Iran—second on our “Axis of Evil” list—should be very, very nervous. With troops in Afghanistan and now Iraq, we have a strategic position from which to strike. Sound far-fetched? Don’t count on it. Peace protesters might want to stock up on extra supplies, and kick in for the long haul.