dinsdag, maart 18, 2003

Alea Jacta Est

Barber: "How many coffins we got?"
Fred: "Two."
Barber: "We're gonna need at least two more, no matter how you figure. You'd better get busy, Fred."
Hadleyville barber to Hadleyville coffin maker in High Noon

There's something creepy about these last 24 hours. It started with the Three Stooges standing in acute isolation at that US Military base in the Azores islands on Sunday, symbolizing the diplomatic failure of the Bush Administration to twist everyone else to his will to consolidate America's global hegemony. The creepy feeling grew worse watching Bush last night, all alone in a cavernous room in the White House, restate the same inefficacious litany of reasons for ignoring the opinion of the world and to initiate a unilateral, preemptive war on Iraq. Because He Says So.

It isn't surprising Bush is considered by so many to be a cowboy. Chillingly, even Oil Baron and Vice President, Dick Cheney, affirmed his approval of Bush's image as a cowboy. "As a Westerner, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad idea," he said on Meet the Press last Sunday. "He’s exactly what the circumstances require."

Last night, Bush resorted to what sounded like the dialogue of a cheap Western: Sheriff Bush giving the Hussein Boys 48 hours to leave town or he'd gun 'em down in the street at High Noon. Even more interesting, Bush advocated the vigilante role of America in lieu of the United Nation's unwillingness to bend to his will. In essence, he told the world that if he doesn't like its judgement, he will ignore it.

"It will show that this whole UN detour was an exercise in futility — that this is what the president planned to do all along," said Stanley Hoffmann, a Harvard professor who has spent a lifetime studying war and the trans-Atlantic alliance. "There is no room in the UN charter for the president’s doctrine of preemption, for anticipatory self-defense."

Perhaps what I find most sinister about all of this is that Americans, by more than a 2-1 margin, go right along with the premise. While that margin could probably be chalked up to the fact that the Bush Administration has done everything in its power to obfuscate information about things like HOW MUCH IS IT GOING TO COST Americans to not only fund this little war but also to fund this ridiculous and blundering concept of rebuilding a postwar Iraq.

The one thing the little brains of these automatonic Americans seem to understand is money and it isn't going to take long, even for their simple, bourgeois intellects, to grasp that while their economy sinks to new lows courtesy of their genius president's tax cuts for his rich friends and a series of ineffectual economic plans, the burden of funding a needless $100 billion war effort is going to kick in, leaving those middle class monkies clapping for war now, holding the bag later. After all, who do they think is funding this charade, Haliburton?

But all is not as bleek as the deforested minds of the Bush Administration would like us all to believe. As a bit of what one might call gallows humor, Saddam’s elder son Uday today trashed the American ultimatum to quit Iraq:

"This proposition was made by an inept individual. We will go one better by calling for Bush to leave power with his family," Uday said.

This sort of wishful thinking was echoed in the House of Commons yesterday as Robin Cook resigned from his role as the government's leader in parliament in protest of Blair's feckless push for Bush's war:

"What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops.", Cook said. To date, three ministers have resigned their posts in protest.

The Dutch parliament don't see things the events as clearly. They've decided on giving "political" support, but not "military" support. Prime Minister Harry Potter Balkenende says he wrestled with the idea of war because "Violence is no solution but it is necessary in specific instances to safeguard peace and the rule of law".

This emergency session of Dutch parliament came on the heels of PvdA leader Wouter Bos, who says he identifies himself "much more with the French position", threatening last week that the formation of the new Dutch government would fail if the Christian Democrats backed a U.S.-led attack on Iraq without support from the U.N. Security Council.

If the cowardly Democrats in Congress had similar backbone and determination, Sheriff Bush might have had to reholster his pistol last night instead of gassing up the War Machine. Then again, why should the pusillanimous pantywaists in Congress care about American soliders risking their lives in war? According to Charlie Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University, a recent study was done on Congress which showed that out of 435 congressmen and a hundred senators, only four had children in the military and only one is an enlisted person..

Quite possibly the most tasteless thing I've seen in the hours since Bush's stoic High Noon ultimatum is MSNBC's countdown clock. It isn't visible from the website, but a quick flip to the channel will allow you to see, in all its garish glory, time winding down as though all of America were about to ring in the new year.

Just so we can all rest assured that America won't be doing this on our own, Secretary of State Colin Powell went out and further discredited and embarassed himself by telling the world that 30 countries will be taking part in what he calls a "coalition of the willing" to oust Saddam Hussein. Hmmm. Either his math is really bad, or he's counting Australia 26 times.

As Nikita Khrushchev used to say: "Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river."

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