Saturday, February 15, 2003

One Two Three Four...

Looking back on old emails, I find I forgot, when discussing Powell’s UN speech, to use a fact which I was holding for an apposite moment. Actually, I’m wondering how many of you were aware of this: in 1969 Powell wrote the first report on the My Lai massacre, which he said based on no investigation did not happen, and added that in fact the American soldiers had great relations with the Vietnamese people.

The US expels an Iraqi journalist covering the UN. Hopefully the UN will protest. But I’m guessing the point was to make sure that Iraq would respond and kick US journos out, so there will be fewer pictures of the coming carnage broadcast in the US. And sure enough, some Fox News reporters are kicked out. Or possibly Iraq is just taking seriously the Fox slogan “We report, you decide,” and made the decision the rest of us would like to make--to deport all employees of Fox.

Given that Turkey is trying to extort a bribe of something like $25 billion to aid the war effort, it’s hard to get too worked up over France and Germany holding up deploying weaponry there.

Well over a million people marched to Hyde Park against the war, doing the grass simply no good at all. One person protested in support of war outside the Iraqi embassy. Protesters included the Eton George Orwell Society, Archaeologists Against War, the Swaffham Women's Choir and Notts County Supporters Say Make Love Not War (And a Home Win against Bristol would be Nice). “Make Tea Not War,” and the slightly cleaner and infinitely more British version of an old American standard: “One Two Three Four, We Don’t Want Your Bloody War.” One man walking a poodle had a sign “Stop insulting poodles.” The astonishing thing is that no one is chanting the equivalent of Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh. No one actually supports Saddam; the protest is purely anti-war. Tony Blair does not have the British people behind him, nor his own party, but he does have proxy control over the royal prerogative and a willingness to substitute his personal judgment for that of the nation.

Here’s a paragraph from a Mary Riddell column in the Observer:
Political leaders hate crowds. Mass meetings have been supplanted by leaks and soundbites. In the fractious build-up to war, lonely societies are encouraged to become more solipsistic. A fearful population, hiding behind its anthrax-proofed windows, is also tractable. There is nothing threatening to government about citizens bickering over the last roll of duct tape in Wal-Mart.
So Bush’s AIDS-in-Africa policy is also an attempt to stop abortion. What a surprise.

The American ambassador to Venezuela, where the US has supported a coup and really should shut up now, says that elections aren’t the answer. “Elections divide people. Elections don't bring people together ... Either you're on this side or you're on that side”. Or to put it another way, the elected president, Chavez, should give in to the rich people holding his country hostage.

Incidentally, Iraq rejected the Franco-German peace plan (which involved UN soldiers, for no obvious reason since there has been no resistance to inspections). Doesn’t seem to have gotten much play yet, only saw it in one paper.

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