Always at War against Someone
They say it’s not about oil.
But if Iraq produced little radishes instead of oil,
who would ever think of invading that country?
In the middle of last year, while this war was incubating, George W. Bush declared that “we must be ready to attack any obscure corner of the world.” Iraq, then, is an obscure corner of the world. Does Bush believe that civilization was born in Texas and his compatriots invented writing? Has he never heard mention of the library of Nineveh, or the tower of Babel or the hanging gardens of Babylon? Has he never heard even one of Baghdad’s tales of the thousand and one nights?
Who elected him President of the planet? Nobody called me to vote in those elections. How about you?
Would we elect a deaf President? A man incapable of hearing anything beyond the echo of his own voice? Deaf to the incessant thunder of millions and millions of voices in the streets of the world declaring peace on war?
He has even been unable to hear the caring counsel of Günter Grass. Comprehending that Bush had a need to demonstrate something very important to his father, the German writer recommended that he see a psychoanalyst rather than bomb Iraq.
In 1898, President William McKinley declared that God had commanded him to keep the Philippine Islands, to civilize and Christianize its inhabitants. McKinley said he spoke with God while roaming the White House corridors in the middle of the night. Over a century later, President Bush assures us that God is also on his side in the conquest of Iraq. At what hour and in what place did he receive the divine word? And why would God have given such contradictory orders to Bush and to the Pope in Rome?
The war is being declared in the name of the international community, which is sick of wars. And, as is custom, it is being declared in the name of peace.
They say it’s not about oil. But if Iraq produced little radishes instead of oil, who would ever think of invading that country?
Have Bush, Dick Cheney and the sweet Condoleezza Rice really given up their top jobs in the oil industry? And why is Tony Blair so obsessed with the Iraqi dictator? Might it be because 30 years ago Saddam Hussein nationalized the British Iraq Petroleum Company? How many wells does José María Aznar expect to get in the next divvying up of the spoils?
The oil-drunk consumer society is terrified of withdrawal symptoms, and the black elixir is cheapest and perhaps most plentiful in Iraq.
In a peace demonstration in New York, one placard asked: “Why is our oil beneath their sand?”
The United States says it expects a long military occupation following the victory. Its generals will be in charge of establishing democracy in Iraq.
Will it be a democracy like the one they gave Haiti, the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua? They occupied Haiti for 19 years and created a military power base that resulted in the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier. They occupied the Dominican Republic for 9 years and founded the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. They occupied Nicaragua for 21 years and laid the groundwork for the Somoza family dictatorship.
The Somoza dynasty, which the Marines put on the throne, lasted half a century, until it was swept away by popular fury in 1979. Then President Ronald Reagan saddled up and rode off to save his country, threatened by the Sandinista revolution. Nicaragua, poor even among the poor, had a total of five elevators, plus an escalator that didn’t even work, but Reagan charged that Nicaragua was a danger. And as he spoke, the television showed a map of the United States staining red from southward to illustrate the imminent invasion. Is Bush copying those panic-sowing speeches, just substituting Iraq where Reagan said Nicaragua?
Newspaper headlines in the days leading up to the war: “United States ready to resist attack.”
Record sales of insulation tape, gas masks, radiation pills... Why is the executioner more afraid than the victim? Is it only this climate of collective hysteria? Or is he trembling because he anticipates the consequences of his acts? And if Iraqi oil sets the world aflame? Will this war not be the best shot in the arm that international terrorism could hope for?
They tell us that Saddam Hussein is feeding Al Qaeda’s fanatics. Is he a man to breed ravens so they can gouge out his own eyes? Islamic fundamentalists hate him. They see as satanic a country that shows Hollywood movies, where many high schools teach English, where the Muslim majority does not prevent Christians from wearing the cross on their chest and it is not very rare to see women wearing pants and audacious blouses.
There was not a single Iraqi among the terrorists who demolished New York’s twin towers. Almost all were from Saudi Arabia, the best US client in the world. Bin Laden, that villain whom the satellites tracked as he fled through the desert on horseback and who steps up each time Bush needs his services as a professional ogre, is also a Saudi.
Did you know that President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1953 that “preventive war” was an invention of Adolph Hitler? He added, “Frankly, I wouldn’t take seriously anyone who came to me with such a proposal.”
The United States makes and sells more weapons than any other country and is the only nation that has dropped atomic bombs on a civilian population. And it is always, by tradition, at war against someone. So who threatens universal peace? Iraq?
And is it Iraq that is not respecting the United Nations resolutions? Is Bush, who just gave international legality such a spectacular boot, respecting them? Are they being respected by Israel, the country that specializes in not recognizing UN resolutions?
Iraq has ignored 17 UN resolutions, Israel 64. Will Bush bomb his most loyal ally?
Iraq was razed by Bush Sr.’s war in 1991 and starved by the blockade that followed. What weapons of mass destruction can this massively destroyed country be hiding?
Israel, which has been usurping Palestine lands since 1967, has a nuclear weapons arsenal that guarantees it impunity. And Pakistan, another faithful ally that is a notorious terrorist den, flaunts its nuclear warheads. But the enemy is Iraq, because it “could have” such weapons. If it did, as North Korea now claims it does, would they be so eager to attack it?
And the chemical and biological weapons? Who sold Saddam Hussein the inputs to manufacture the poisonous gases that asphyxiated the Kurds and the helicopters to spread them? Why doesn’t Bush show us the receipts?
In those years of war against Iran and against the Kurds, was Saddam less of a dictator than he is now? Even Donald Rumsfeld visited him on a friendship mission. Why are only Iraq’s Kurds such objects of compassion now, and not the much more numerous Kurds that Turkey slaughtered?
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announced that his country will use “non-lethal gas” against Iraq. Will it be as innocuous as what Vladimir Putin used last year in the Moscow Theater, killing over a hundred hostages?
For some days the United Nations draped a curtain over Picasso’s Guernica so its unpleasant landscape would not put a damper on Colin Powell’s calls to arms.
What size curtain will be needed to hide the butchery in Iraq in accord with the blanket censorship imposed by the Pentagon on the war correspondents?
Where will the souls of Iraqi victims go? According to Reverend Billy Graham, President Bush’s religious adviser and celestial surveyor, paradise measures only 1,500 square miles. Few will be chosen. Guess which country has surely bought up almost all the admission tickets.
And one last question, borrowed from John Le Carré:
”But will people be killed, Daddy?”
”Nobody you know, darling. Just foreign people.”