Col. Writ. 5/24/03

Wars for effect

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

"No going to law with nations; cannons are the barristers of Crowns; and the sword,
not of justice, but of war, decides the suit."

-- Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

The late 'war' with Iraq is fast becoming fading memory, and the 'reasons' set forth for the conflict by the nation's chief executive are fading even faster.

Although it may hurt us to concentrate way, way back into the days of...two months ago, let us try to recall the urgencies that led the 'world's sole Superpower' into the dusty and bloody fields of battle. The Bush Administration assumed a high-toned stridency when they brow-beated and threatened the nation into why this war--Now!-- was necessary: a) Weapons of Mass Destruction; b) Close ties with bin Ladin's Al-Qaeda network; and c) Iraq's responsibility for the horrors of 9-11.

The 'war' with Iraq, (if it may be called that) was, by any real measure, a walk-through of a vastly inferior fighting force, one greatly diminished by the long 'quiet war' waged by Britain and the U.S., a decade of incessant bombings of Iraq's air defenses and southern provinces, as the UN quietly looked elsewhere. Pelted with the diabolically deadly depleted-uranium tipped shells for years, their economy staggering as a by-product of the UN-
approved sanctions, its people tired, hungry, desperate and disillusioned, Iraqis had little energy to muster up any sustained resistance to the world's only 'superpower.'

A month after this quasi-war, and the urgent reasons to engage in war are all but forgotten, there is absolutely no evidence of 'weapons of mass destruction', no evidence of close Iraqi ties with Al-Qaeda, nor any evidence whatsoever in support of the widely- believed claim of Iraqi involvement in the events of 9-11.

The big story in every newspaper, and on every network and cable channel, is the Jayson Blair 'story'; how one journalist lied to his editors about the sources and quotes for his stories. What is important, to most major media, is the race of the perpetrator of these heinous deeds (Mr. Blair is Black). His misdeeds have evoked loud and overt critiques of affirmative action, and of the New York Times , Blair's employer.

One disturbed young man lies to his employers about his stories and it becomes a national scandal.

The Bush administration lies to the nation's media and its people about war; a war in which thousands of people lost their lives, and the nation's reaction is: silence.

The corporate media solutes the war as a great and noble enterprise; they toss bouquets and laurel wreaths to the Emperor---oops, I mean, President, for his victory; and the nation swells with martial pride. It has defeated a fourth-rate power, and enriched itself with the vanquished nation's vast oil reserves; the spoils of war.

The reasons for the war? A century hence, some historians will write a footnote in a 400-page tome about the Bush presidency, Part 2 (whom novelist Arundhati Roy deliciously terms, "George the Lesser"). The Iraq war, if mentioned at all, will be a small drop in the Pax Americana bucket. They will probably cite the evils of the Saddam Regime as a justification for the war. Perhaps, if the scholar is bold, there will be some intimation of oil interests.

What will probably be missing is this observation, from a
resident scholar of a major American think tank, whose insights explain the first Iraq adventure, the Philippine invasion, the four Cuban invasions, the five Nicaraguan invasions, the three Mexican invasions, and the others since the 1890s. In the words of the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Ledeen:
"Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up
some crappy little country and throw it against the wall,
just to show the world we mean business."

There it is. A huge nation, still smarting from the ghosts of Vietnam, wants to prove to the world how strong it still is. Like
a bully that beats up cripples, it will not be denied.

Iraq was just an example.


Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books:
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