The Rants, Raves, Gripes, and Prophecies of Paul R. Potts

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Tue, 18 Mar 2003 Sleepless in Ann Arbor

Well, it appears that the clock is ticking... President Bush has given Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave the country. I had to stop by the bank this morning and unfortunately caught a glimpse of CNN; the brief glimpse almost burned out my retinas. I want to rinse my eyeballs in bactine or something. Bouncing, animated "terror alerts" ratcheting up to orange! Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! It makes me glad that I haven't been following this on television (we don't have cable, and so can't tune in anything). Re my comments previously about hot and cold media: CNN must be the "Elmo's World" of war coverage.

It would be interesting to see just how and if the population's support for unilateral military action against Iraq correlates with how we get our news. My hypothesis is that talking heads with earnest, earnest faces, together with biased, distorted, and edited coverage and flashy, hypnotic graphics, produce a much more uncritical attitude of support towards American policy.

Grace and I sat across from each other at the dining table last night and sighed. However this plays out, whatever happens, it ain't gonna be good. There's the retaliatory terrorism scenario; I think it's likely, and to be blunt, we're fucking asking for it. Talk about the terrorists winning: what better evidence that they have already won, than by seeing the outcome of the process by which the U.S. becomes one of them? A rogue state that defies the will of the international community and attacks another? Bombing and invading a sovereign nation who has, literally, not threatened or attacked us -- based on sketchy evidence of possible threat mixed in with a heavy dose of religiously-tinged ideology -- what do you call that again? Can you say "terrorism?" I knew you could!

Now, we may not use what we classify as Weapons of Mass Destruction (d'ya notice how this has become a new vocabulary word -- as if it truly represented a clear-cut category, now universally abbreviated as WMD) -- but do you think that massive aerial bombardment is somehow not massively destructive? Does anyone remember the televised demos of the "fuel-air explosives" from Gulf War I, designed to rupture the lungs and other organs, burst the eardrums, and suffocate and burn the victims? (See Human Rights Watch). That's a conventional weapon. So is the new MOAB (Mother of All Bombs). I suppose we've decided that depleted uranium does not constitute a WMD, but do we feel good about maintaining the moral high ground in not using WMD, but instead Massively Destructive Conventional Weapons (MDCW)?

I hope President Bush is sleeping well, because I'm sure not. Besides the massive casualties, the massive expense, we've got the massive violations of international law -- and, now, disgustingly, apparently just about every other nation in the world is prepared to look the other way, given sufficient bribes, or threats when bribes won't work. We're likely to see environmental damage that makes Gulf War I's flaming oil wells look insignificant by comparison. And we'll have the burden of responsibility for masses of refugees -- which we will conveniently blame on Saddam Hussein, and conveniently fail to provide for, leaving the rest of our strained "international community" to try to take care of the human cost of our attack. We'll have "regime change."

And perhaps most ominously, we'll have set a brave new precedent and turned into reality the police-state, world-policeman fantasies of the new U. S. Security Strategy. Welcome to the future of international relations. Can anyone believe that this is going to make the world a safer place?

One more thing we can be reasonably sure of: we'll find the evidence to justify the war. The U. S. will uncover a secret cache of... something nasty... that the inspectors obviously overlooked, illustrating their clear incompentence. Something that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, unless you realize that it is fraudulent, planted evidence. The press will be allowed to file in and photograph the evidence, then filed out quickly, before they notice that we've covered up the "Made in U.S.A." labels with ones that say... "Fabrique en France." The administration's done this kind of thing before, and they'll do it again. Keep an eye out. And watch for that "plausible deniability" thing in action; if it is exposed, it'll be blamed on an overzealous, low-ranking official of some kind.

And remember -- we still have the power to enact regime change here. Let's make it decisive. Let Bush be remembered as the the president who was voted out after one term by the biggest margin in history. And pray that there's a genuine leader to vote for who can help clean up this mess, or at least fail to make it worse. After all, any fool can start a war, and we're seeing proof.

A few more links: see Robin Cook's resignation speech here.

The resignation letter of diplomat John Brady Kiesling.

The resignation letter of Foreign Service Officer John H. Brown.

The Australian intelligence official Andrew Wilkie.

And the Onion was, distressingly, eerily prophetic.

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Ramping Up the Rhetoric

There's a very wise, insightful piece on Alternet by George Lakoff, a Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, about the language of war and the metaphors that we use to make the notion of killing large numbers of people morally acceptable. Please go read it! The essay is here.

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