Saturday, June 21, 2003

History lesson

Must-have terrorism alert accessories.

Israel has killed another “top” Hamas leader. There used to be a joke about every Israeli being a general. Hamas personnel have all been upgraded to “ticking timebombs”--haven’t they seen a movie lately? Timebombs are all digital now.

Reuters says US troops are playing Ride of the Valkyries during their raids. Of course they are. Bush today accused Iraqis of trying to kill and intimidate American soldiers. Aw, are the poor babies feeling intimidated?

A zoo in China has ended one of its attractions, where it rented out rifles to visitors to shoot some of the animals. Those PETA spoil sports!

A month ago, I passed on a story about a Croatian man who was the only survivor, besides the driver, of a bus that plunged into a river, who in his life survived a train plunging into a river, and being sucked out of a plane that then crashed while he landed on a haystack. Evidently there’s more: he jumped out of a car going into a ravine, and two other cars he was in exploded (Yugos, I’m guessing). He just won $1 million in the Croatian national lottery.

I keep hearing Americans say that Iran has oil so it doesn’t need nuclear plants. At the same time, oil is being pumped out of neighboring Iraq, but there is still no electricity as temperatures reach 115 (Paul Bremer says there is now 20 hours of electricity a day in Baghdad. He lies.). The Americans have been unable to get anything working because they’re unwilling to employ actual Iraqis. Bremer and the like would score a lot more points locally if they’d sweat a little when they went on tv; Iraqis are really beginning to get pissed at the air-conditioner gap.

With all the discussion--finally--about the changing rationales for the conquest of Iraq (the War of the Bushes, I’ve started to call it, which is a play on War of the Roses, in case you didn’t catch it), I’ve been meaning to talk about other wars. And since today’s top story, judging by the front pages of the NYT & the Chronicle, is the Harry Potter book, I think I will.

For example, Grenada. This was an invasion that Reagan had been wanting to do for a couple of years. Grenada was the first English-speaking socialist country, and Reagan had Cold War blinkers on. But there were no buyers. He went on tv once or twice and displayed ominous spy satellite photos of the runway they were building, which could land a MIG, Reagan said, or tourist planes larger than four-seaters, the Grenadans said. A coup gave Reagan his opportunity, but it was only some time in that the war was given its rationale, the “rescue” of those poor American med students. I was proud of myself for having caught on to it about twelve hours before it became obvious that the rationale had been switched.

Panama had something to do with wives of American soldiers being molested, I believe.

The first War of the Bushes, Iraq ‘91, took weeks and weeks before it became about WMDs. Rescuing poor Kuwait wasn’t very appealing to Americans, especially as all the rich Kuwaitis urging the war were waiting it out in the south of France, and Kuwait wasn’t exactly an Athenian democracy. The war to make the world safe for feudalism, I called it. So that didn’t work. James Baker said the war would be for “jobs, jobs, jobs,” which didn’t look good at all. Some fake atrocity stories were spread around, but most of them, including the babies-ripped-from-incubators story, were already debunked before the carpet bombing began. Finally, after many focus groups, they started claiming that Iraq was developing nukes. I don’t remember exactly how Bush the Elder climbed down from that one when he failed to go after those weapons.

In those wars, it was at least one rationale at a time, serially as each one failed to catch on. Now they just throw a dozen out at once, half of them made up out of nothing, some aimed at different demographics (remember how we invaded Afghanistan to save the women from Taliban oppression?), and see what sticks.

I could go on along these lines about World War I and the Spanish American War, but I won’t. Maybe we should all tattoo this sort of thing somewhere on our persons like the guy in “Memento,” so we’ll actually remember it for the next war.

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