Saturday, March 29, 2003

An old and very dear friend left this afternoon, after visiting for a couple of days. He soothed me. Gave me a welcome break from my routine of reading depressing war news morning and night. We went skiing. And window shopping for Harleys. And Cannondales. I am taking up biking, you see.

If you need a meaning in this life, good friends can certainly fit the bill.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Winston Churchill described the American Civil War as "the last romantic war and the first horrendous modern war". Still, wartimes tend to become somewhat romantic, in some ways, after they have past. Just look at all the romantic novels set in WWII, or the abundance of romantic films from that era.

I was born in 1969. All my life, I've listened to my parents and older siblings describing that time with a glint in their eye. It seems to have its own romance. An aura of innocence and ideals. The opposition against, and victory over, a bloody, protracted war. I would read in awe about people standing up for what they believed in. Protesting, and being arrested for it. My generation has been called the 'X generation'. In part because of its total lack of a Cause. Therefore, this all seemed fascinating to a boy, growing up in an era where the greatest clashes were between The Sex Pistols and Duran Duran.

No more.

I am now watching, at close range, as America launches into a full-scale attack on a broken-down, third-world country. I've seen Americans trying valiantly to prevent this invasion. To fight madness with reason. Protesting in the streets. Writing letters. Blogging. Failing. Now they, like I, watch woebegone and helplessly as a nation is being crushed. Their homes destroyed. Their children killed. In their own country. Whole cities are being declared 'legitimate targets'. By an emotionless, foreign, invading force.

Watching this is devoid of any romance. I will not be sitting down with my grandchildren one day, recalling nostalgically the anti-war vigils I attended at the beginning of the century. No. The foul taste in my mouth will not wash. The disdain for the nationwide ignorance, fear and indifference that has spawned this abomination will not subside. These acts are evil. And wrong. I feel ashamed that they are being perpetrated in my name. And sick to my stomach over my inability to do anything about it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I hate it when I'm right about bad things (scroll down to "When the Troops Are Away....").
Other people seem to be loosing faith in the mass media news. Fast. Although I do not have a TV, I like these rules for judging the truth in TV news, even if they are written by a proponent of the US invasion.
In war, truth is the first casuality.

During the first Gulf war, CNN drew a lot of criticism from Pentagon for showing uncensored images from the conflict. This time, CNN is, like the rest of the media, playing ball. It didn't click for me until I read an interview with Robert Fisk, reporter for the British newspaper Independent, in Baghdad. He pointed out that so far, the Iraqi media sems to be just as reliable, providing quicker and more detailed reports, than the western media, drawing upon Pentagon briefings:
When the Iraqis first said they had taken American prisoners, we said, "Oh, more propaganda" - then up comes the film of the prisoners. Then they said they'd shot down a helicopter, and the journalists here in the briefing sort of looked at each other and said, "There's another story", and suddenly we're seeing film of a shot down helicopter - then another film of a shot down helicopter. Then they said they had attacked and destroyed armored personnel carriers belonging to the US armed forces, and we all looked at each other and said, "Here we go again, more propaganda", and then finally we see film on CNN of burning APCs.

It is draining, not to trust the news. Especially if you're used to following them closely. And basing your opinions on their stories.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

What is the deal with all this religion? How can it be playing such a big role in people's lives? Now, I mean, in the 21st century?

I just seem to be confronted more and more with people that appear to genuinely believe. In God and Jesus. Moses and Muhammed. In any of those guys. And it doesn't seem to be just this classical going-to-church-on-Sunday-because-it's-Sunday thing. No, it's something different.

Granted, I grew up in a pretty atheist community. We had some from that Sunday group, but most everybody else didn't really believe in a specific, higher being. Many, I included, would admit that they thought there might well be 'something' out there. But that was as far as the religious dialgoue would be taken.

But here. Jesus! If you pardon the expression.
Any idiot could have told you. There is no such think as a bloodless war. No matter how desperately the American public wants to believe it. You can not drop thousands of bombs on a city, five million strong, without maiming and slaughtering the inhabitants. People like you. And me.

That is why we have no right to turn away. We have an obligation to watch. This is being done in our name.

This was inevitable. And foreseeable. And still, the government of this country has coldly calculated that their 'interests' are worth more than the lives of these people. American lives are worth more than Iraqi lives.

Who the hell are these men? What sick and twisted affliction has robbed them of their humanity? Who elected them masters of life and death?

Madness. Bloody madness.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

How naíve can people get? Horrible images of people maimed by the American military in the last few days really do not seem to have stirred Americans much. At the same time, the media has been raving over a recording of an American soldier tearing down a poster of Saddam Hussein, somewhere on the way to Baghdad. And why has this received so much press? Because of a group of Iraqis cheering in the background.

Now it might well be that these people were genuinely relieved to be free of that disgusting dictator, per se. I would. Let's for the moment assume that they aren't petrified over the likelyhood of an impending civil war, and an extended occupation by a foreign military. I would. I find it unnerving that the police wears guns in their belts, walking next to me. Let alone having my country besieged by nervous teenagers. In full battle-gear. Armed to the teeth. Acting on their 'rules of engagement'. No, what is almost laughable is the naíve notion that there can't be another explanation for the cheering of these people. Let me take a stab at that:

Picture a group of people. In Iraq. Their spirit broken from years of oppression by a ruthless regime. They dance in the streets in a 'demonstration' organized by the same regime. They're waving a picture of the country's dictator. Now, picture that same group of ordinary people today. A foreign military has just invaded their country. With overwhelming force. Dropped thousands of bombs on them. Then, a squadron from that army invades their village. A heavily armed marine makes it his first item of business to tear down the picture of the dictator. What do you expect that group of people, who you saw yesterday dancing around with that same picture, will do? Boo the marine? Kick him? Disagree with him at all?

I don't think so.