The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Choices to be Made

Larry Kirwan • 11 February 2003

This proposed war on Iraq is not a good thing. In fact, from a New York City point of view, it's a betrayal of the many who died here on Sept. 11th. It signals a retreat from the campaign against Al Qaeda, and a return to the convoluted agenda of Mr. Bush and his inner circle of right wing advisers.

The question is why are we putting up with this? Why are we allowing ourselves to be led like lambs to the slaughter? Why are we squandering all the international good will that was paid for so bloodily last September?

I suppose, deep down, we're all afraid of being labeled unpatriotic. But dissent is patriotic, especially when we're betraying the heritage of our country by allowing a small group of bellicose politicians to browbeat us into an international escapade which, for its sheer audacity, literally takes one's breath away.

Of course, Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, etc will not be the first ones hopping out of a plane over Iraq; no, that dubious pleasure will be reserved for some working class kid from Woodside, Queens, or Nob Noster, Missouri. And after we've killed thousands of innocent people, lost some of our own, sent Saddam to a nice retirement in Tripoli or Damascus, inflamed the Muslim world even further, cleared many Palestinians from the West Bank? What then?

Well, we should have cheaper and more plentiful oil. Our SUVs can continue to block up and pollute our streets; our triumphant politicians can return to their cushy positions in the oil industry - when the economy goes down the tubes and they're finally voted out of office; and we'll have supplied millions of uneducated, fundamentalist, angry young men with another hero. Iraq's Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis will have a whale of a time exacting revenge and retribution, and Turkey, Iran and whatever puppet regime/oil company that we set up will hover like vultures over those vast and beautiful big pools of oil.

It is, however, highly unlikely that we'll have the energy, commitment or resources to police what's left of Iraq while the tender seeds of democracy are being sown. Look how we're already sliding out of Afghanistan. Oh, but I forgot, Kabul has no oil and Baghdad does. So, it's on the cards that we'll be opening Burger Kings and Home Depots and staying quite some time on the banks of the Tigris. Pardon me.

At a time when we should be seeking to settle the Palestinian crisis, we'll have slipped even closer into the marital/martial bed with Mr. Sharon, and have even less influence on that doughty old warrior. At a time when we should be planting native speaking agents into every Muslim country to rout Al Qaeda, we'll have fulfilled the prophecy of the bazaar: the return of the ugly Americans who have no sympathy or understanding for Muslim or pan-Arab aspirations. At a time when we should be demonstrating to the world the many wonderful aspects of our constitution and economy, and the openness and generosity of our lifestyle and people, we'll be seen as the enemy - the jackboot from the sky.

I love this country, and it hurts me to see it portrayed as an unthinking, even stupid, aggressor. But the world is a complicated place. Because of modern communications and the meshing of economies, we're all linked in a way that we have never been before. We may think that we're getting rid of a dictator - to others we're ejecting a co-religionist, even a misunderstood patriot. Of course, Saddam is an evil man. To say so, at this stage, is superfluous. But we've supported him against Iran, when it suited our purposes. He's a monster, but then again, we've supported and trained a whole generation of South American and other monsters who turned their training and US supplied guns against their own people.

Who are we kidding? Saddam is going nowhere with his supposed "weapons of destruction" - even if he has them, and there seems to be little demonstrable proof of that. One false move and he'll be obliterated. He knows that. We know that. So, why this urge go get rid of him now? Oil, the oedipal needs of the Bushes, the longing of these nerdy DC cowboys to finally flex their muscles? I don't know. To me, the whole escapade seems ridiculous. Our job now is to protect ourselves and democracy from a group of fundamentalist thugs who slaughtered our people last September. I supported the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan - they were hiding and supporting a group who had blatantly attacked us. By the same token, I know that we should now be spending more time and resources to build a democracy in that shattered country, instead of running away from it, as we did previously when we no longer needed them to mess with the USSR.

It's obvious that we're failing in our war against Al Qaeda. No sign of Osama or Omar - and their blood money still flows freely. The refusal to have an open, independent investigation into the capabilities of the CIA/FBI is playing a large part in that failure. The refusal of both those agencies to recruit from the many patriotic immigrant Muslim communities in the USA is criminal and stupid to the extreme. While a Pashtun or Tajik on Atlantic Avenue may have the language and knowledge of local Afghan customs, obviously they didn't receive the proper college education - on top of that, they look a bit shifty, don't they? And, by the way, what religion are they? Not real red-blooded, video-game playing, monday night football, go to church on sunday Americans, are they?

As many of you know, I have little time for the Know-nothing policies of the Republican Party, but I am deeply ashamed that I'm a registered Democrat - given the behavior of the current leaders of that organization. In an effort to secure their own seats in the November elections, they are handing this President a blank check for war. I remember a time when the Democratic Party had respect for itself, and was the representative of the working classes; now it has become nothing more than another wing of the all encompassing, get as many donors as you can, Business Party. One need not even dwell on their tepid resistance to the looting of the budget surplus by Mr. Bush and his cronies. Oh, by the way, what did you do with your piece of the pie? Did you even get a crumb? Well, I can assure you that 5% of the richest received nice big slices; and, in one fell swoop, we returned to deficit land, just when we could have used that surplus to educate our poor and, perhaps, buy some influence and time with the multitude of poverty-stricken people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, who will be the next canon fodder for those who hate us.

This coming war will be tragic, even ridiculous. But then again, are we not being ridiculous and ultimately tragic by allowing this small cabal of cowboys down in DC to have their bellicose way? Once upon a time, we stopped a stupid war "to save the world from communism" in Vietnam. Do we now have it within us to stop the travesty that is just about to begin? Or will we just lie down and accept what's coming because of our deep and dismal fear of being thought of as unpatriotic?





Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

16 February 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


A Plan "B" for Tony Blair and Northern Ireland
Paul Fitzsimmons


Evidence, What Evidence?
Michael Youlton


Choices to be Made
Larry Kirwan


Talking Through His Cassock
Bert Ward


Letter to Uncle
Jimmy Sands


Long Kesh Meets Peterhouse
Anthony McIntyre


Socialists, Leadership and the Working Class
Davy Carlin


14 February 2003


Anti War March Tomorrow
Davy Carlin


A Tale of Two Writers
Anthony McIntyre


Phil Berrigan is Dead
Larry Kirwan


8 Mile Worth the Trip
Mick Hall


A Letter of Protest
Orlaith Dillon


London Arrests Update




The Blanket



Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices

To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to: