by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
April 3, 2003
THE MANY IRONIES OF WAR
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- We're living in a time of funhouse mirrors - without the fun.
The Iraqi war has turned reality upside down and inside out, and given irony vast new powers. How else could you explain this sentence from a routine Associate Press report: "On the 13th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, British officials claimed that 8,000 Iraqis have been taken prisoner so far."
Fox News, the media arm of the conservative right, screams, "Controversy on campus! Should students be allowed to discuss the war in their classrooms?" But what else should colleges be doing? Isn't it their job to teach students how to think critically?
Unfortunately, critical thinking is now "treasonous," especially if you're a journalist. Just ask veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett, who was fired from NBC this week for saying on Iraqi television that the war isn't going well - something that even the generals in the field are telling The New York Times.
It's even more dangerous to think critically if you are a celebrity, as Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks recently found out. When Maines said she was ashamed of President George W. Bush, one town built a huge pile of Dixie Chicks CDs and crushed them with a tractor. If I was Maines, I'd be saying, "Great, at $16 a pop, destroy as many as you can." But Maines backed down and apologized.
A Website called the Specious Report (thespeciousreport.com) mocked Maines' apology: "And most important of all, I realize that it's wrong for a celebrity to voice a political opinion, unless they're... Bruce Willis... Arnold Schwartzenegger... Charleton Heston."
In the American funhouse, things go downhill quickly. For example, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are being asked to pray for President George W. Bush.
Yes, even though they are the ones facing death, thousands of American soldiers have been issued little prayer books called "A Christian's Duty" and are being urged to pray, for example, "that the President and his advisers will be strong and courageous to do what is right regardless of critics."
But what, dear praying Christians, if the critics are right and the advisors are wrong? For example, when Vice-President Dick Cheney went on "Meet the Press" just before the war, he said, "I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators. ... The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States..."
Yet now, young men from all over the Arab world are clambering onto buses and heading for Iraq to fight for the man they used to love to hate, Saddam Hussein.
"The ghastly Saddam, the most revolting dictator in the Arab world... is now leading a country that is fighting the world's only superpower and that has done so for almost two weeks without surrendering," British reporter Robert Fisk wrote this week from Baghdad. "Yes, General Tommy Franks has... turned the monster of Baghdad into the hero of the Arab world and allowed Iraqis to teach every opponent of America how to fight their enemy."
Meanwhile, American Marines are cadging food and cigarettes from passing Iraqis because they are short of supplies, and the American warmongers are eating and smoking each other.
The generals in the field blame Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for insisting on a light, flexible force dependent on air power's ability to "shock and awe" for a quick victory. Now that there is no possibility for a quick victory, the plan has left American supply lines vulnerable and American forces without sufficient backup.
Rumsfeld, an arrogant man who has never heard the expression, "The buck stops here," is now blaming Franks for the war plan.
The deeper we get into this war, the more we realize that it was never about Saddam Hussein, freedom, or the so-far imaginary weapons of mass destruction.
Instead, it is built on a plan designed by conservatives in 2000 to create a global "Pax Americana" that will maintain U.S. pre-eminence in the world, prevent the rise of any great-power rival, and shape the world to fit American principles and interests for years to come.
This paranoid blueprint for world-wide American domination, by the way, includes outer space and spotlights China as being in line for a "regime change."
In other words, we have embarked on an endless and impossible world-wide war to force feed the world democracy on the point of a bayonet.
In response, a French security analyst named Etienne de Durand told The Boston Globe, "Teddy Roosevelt said to speak softly and carry a big stick. He didn't say to swing a big stick constantly and smash everyone's head."
Maybe we should be praying, "Please God, help President Bush find more humane and intelligent advisors. How about sending him Oscar-winner Michael Moore?"
American life has become a bizarre carnival designed more for standup comics than for philosophers, but unfortunately innocent Americans, Brits and Iraqis are paying with their blood.
An old Holly Near song, "Foolish Notion," neatly nails our current national insanity: "Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong? What a foolish notion, that war is called devotion, when the greatest warriors are the ones who stand for peace."
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.