View from the Loft 

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Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Humanitarian Situation

Please check out my entry on the humanitarian situation in Iraq here. You'll be happy to know that even while burn victims are dying in Basra hospitals because of the lack of medicines and other supplies, our troops in that city can now enjoy Pizza Hut and Burger King offerings.

More on Weapons

Once again, the Patriot missile is being questioned as to its performance. Why did it shoot down friendly aircraft? With no enemy aircraft in the sky, why did the Patriot target aircraft at all? These are the questions being asked after two allied aircraft were downed during the war against Iraq, resulting in three deaths. A third plane barely escaped. The Patriot system was lauded in the Gulf War until, after the war, it became obvious that the Patriot had not only not performed as advertised, it had quite possibly not disabled even a single Scud missile.

The death toll in Iraq continues to rise as land mines and unexploded cluster bombs kill civilians, especially children. As of April 21, the Mirror reports, 52 people had been killed and 63 injured by mines and unstable, unexploded munitions in Kirkuk alone. In one week, the newspaper reports, the Mines Advisory Group, a mine-clearing charity, has removed 30 truckloads of explosives - 11,000 mines plus 200,000 bombs and missiles, so many they are sometimes stacked by the side of the road and marked with red paint. The 700 people working for the organization say that"of all the war zones they have entered, Iraq is by far the worst they have ever seen." Read the article.

Meanwhile, reports Japan, Bush has asked Congress "to repeal its 1993 ban on developing low-yield nuclear arms." Opponents on removing the ban argue that "developing low-yield nuclear weapons would lower the boundary between conventional and nuclear weapons. It might also open the way for the United States to resume nuclear tests." Somehow, I just don't feel any safer knowing that the administration and the Pentagon find new nuclear weapons necessary to protect us ....

I'm having a rough time.

It's very difficult to resist falling into despair, even knowing that it's imperative that we do so resist. All of us. Despair will only paralyze us, render us ineffectual. But ... I'm having a rough time.

The naked rapaciousness of the current administration; the aggression; the war on the environment and civil rights, as well as on sovereign nations; the assault on women's reproductive freedom; the cronyism, corruption, and, above all, the arrogance that gives the whole thing a "Well? What are you gonna do about it?" coloring, is enough to sicken one. But just as bad, or perhaps even worse, is the fact that the average American goes along with whatever the Bush administration does. America loves a war. Americans love to believe the myth that we are always the good guys, that if we are at war, our leaders must know something we don't, something that justifies such violence. We would never go to war unless it was justified. Right?

I recall the Gulf War, how our family was one of the few who didn't jump on the war bandwagon. We actually were afraid that we'd be vandalized because we didn't display any yellow ribbons, such was the jingoism and frenzied "patriotism" of the times. It was a sorry time in our nation's history, for the nation we defended was no democracy, and Saddam Hussein himself had been given to understand that he had our implicit go-ahead for his actions in Kuwait. Just as the war against Iraq was justified by a raft of lies, so the lies were trotted out in the Gulf War, most notoriously in the case of the babies snatched from incubators, which turned out to be a total fabrication. The young woman who had supposedly witnessed this callous act and testified to Congress about it turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador. No matter: just as the continued "discoveries" of WMD are trumpeted on page one, validating the public's sentiments that the war was a just one, so was the falseness of this story hidden until public opinion had been aroused against the barbarians. When the WMD turn out not to be WMD, when the incubator story turns out to be a lie, it's too late. The perception is already there in the minds of the public.

America loves a war, is entertained by a war, at least as produced by Fox News, to the point that it is willing to ignore everything else that an immoral and unjust administration does. How can we criticize the President for any reason when our very security is at stake? That's the thinking out there, or so I surmise. And so the looting of our own country goes on, and on, and on, stolen or sold to the highest bidder. Wilderness? Air and water quality? Protection of our civil rights? Those are inconvenient to the current world order, the current corporate state, and the war is a handy device whereby to distract us away from our usual concerns.

How do we break through the knee-jerk reactions, the denial, the insistence that all is right with the world? I don't know. My daughter says that the way we raise our children, especially those in the U.S. who employ the "spare the rod" mentality, trains our citizens to obey, to accept, to do as we are told. Do It Because I Say So. Don't Question Authority. Trust the Experts.

I don't know what the answer is. I just wish I had more faith in United States citizens to inquire into things and demand explanations and accountability. Instead, we have citizens who push Fox News to the top of the ratings and who didn't seem to care all that much that the last Presidential election was, in reality, a Presidential selection.

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