Teach them a lesson they'll never forget..
Mess With Texas
Posted May 6, 2003
Daniel Patrick Welch
them a lesson they'll never forget. So goes the thinking in
Texas-on-the-Potomac. And what a lesson it has been! They'll never mess with
us again, nosirree Bob! As this childish thinking worms its way around the
neocon braintrust, now giddy with "success" of their own
definition (like toppling the Taliban?), it is instructive what lessons
might be drawn by more rational--albeit scared to death--observers around
These are some of the conclusions I've drawn, doing my humble little part to
follow Bush's sage advice. First, if you don't already have nukes, you'd
better get some--and right soon. Uncle Sam don't play. While you're in
the catalog, get a whole bunch of night goggles, and tons more air support.
Spend more on the military, and less on feeding, housing and educating your
people, if you care about your own sovereignty.
The picture of the American GI lounging in Hussein's chair, plastered on
front pages everywhere, sent the disturbing signal: it's ours....it's ALL
ours. I can't imagine that image spun quite the way it was intended around
the globe--or maybe that's just the point: we're comin' to getcha! And
another thing--don't bother trying to meet the Americans head on. Lesson
number two is that, in asymmetrical warfare, guerrilla campaign is the only
way to go--do anything, and I mean anything (see Lesson #1: Get Nukes) to
keep the mighty invading army at bay.
Lessons 3 through umpteen were learned before the war started, actually:
international law doesn't apply to the U.S., The UN, EU, as well as various
global aid organizations, conventions, and agreements are quaint relics of a
bygone era. Oh, right--there is a caveat here: we can bring them back to
life on call when it suits our purpose and we want to complain about other
Although it may seem incongruous, I'll allow myself a Seinfeld moment here.
What the hell, Americans watch 25 hours of TV a day anyway. I couldn't help
thinking of the time Kramer was boasting about his karate prowess until he
was forced to reveal that he was just beating up children. In an ominous
twist, the kids ganged up and waited for him in the alley, where they beat
the crap out of him.
And what is all this focus on civilian dead? I mean it's horrific, of
course--it's the whole ball of wax, really. But soldiers aren't people? When
the tables are turned, the U.S. screams bloody murder if one of our boys is
killed, TV up close and personals, etc. Enemy soldiers don't have mothers?
They can be blithely incinerated from 40,000 feet by fuel-air bombs and
other weapons more horrific than anything currently banned--international
law, thankfully for the Americans, hasn't had time to catch up to the
technology. I guess that undermining, bribing, and threatening pays off.
Bush and Rumsfeld (dubbed Chemical Donald by a British columnist) even
insist that we have the right to use nuclear weapons, or other gases only
allowed for domestic crowd control.
Only the Americans have the sovereign right, drunk with power and arrogance,
to threaten to try the invaded in US courts for "war crimes." Bush
and his corporate cronies are so busy trying to teach the world a lesson
that they forgot the lessons they should have learned from history. For all
the distorted comparisons to Hitler, they seem to have missed this gem from
the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal: "War is essentially an
evil thing... To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an
international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only
from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil
of the whole."
There are other lessons, both foreign and domestic. Before the war came the
bugging of UN personnel, some in their own houses. A sort of Watergate gone
global--get the message yet? For icing, Americans exploited the fog of war
to shoot up convoys of diplomats with whom they just happened to have beef,
and killed a few journalists who gave them bad press--one of them on air!
Now THAT sends a message! Coupled with the unabashed prostitution of
embedded (or "in-bed-with") journalism, and we have a pretty good
idea of which way we are supposed to go.
But let's not forget the domestic lessons. The Bush Cartel is an equal
opportunity terrorist. Cops in Oakland opened fire on protesters with
"non-lethal" weapons (kind of like pushing someone gently down the
stairs) in an incident oddly reminiscent of the San Francisco 1934 general
strike--which also started on the docks. Radio hosts encourage violence
against protesters, and some have obliged, plowing into one demonstration in
a truck, calling in bomb or sniper threats. A high school principal pulled
the plug on movies like "Bowling for Columbine" by that dangerous
radical, Michael Moore.
John Kerry was attacked for speaking out against Bush. One GOP hatchet man
went so far as to suggest that Kerry had no right to call for "regime
change" during wartime. Hmmmm..in civics class I was led to believe we
had (technically) regime change every four years. And the Democrats, for
crying out loud, who have enough trouble defining the word
"opposition!" Forget Syria and Iran: if the milquetoast Kerry, who
voted for the war, is fair game, who's next?
But I suppose ol' George and his puppet masters might be touchy on the
subject. Imagine if people learned the wrong lessons, and enforced regime
change the way they do--or even ascended to power the way Bush did? Yikes!
Iraqis, of course, don't speak out because they are afraid of the regime,
and our freedom, by contrast, is the reason we should all just shut up (or
else). Beam me up, Scottie! The whole project has the air of what Robert
Parry has called Bush's Alderan, recalling the Star Wars plot line where a
small rebel planet destroyed by the infamous Death Star to keep everyone
else in line.
Don't worry, we are told--it will all come into focus soon. Yeah, we know.
But no matter how many staged footage of toppling statues, Iraqis are a
proud people. And a gun-toting one. When the US military tries to disarm
Iraqi civilians, we'll see.... What is also waiting to come out is that this
episode of Gilligan's Travels to Liliput hasn't been quite the romp we've
been told, despite the sunny TV coverage. Then again, it is a fiction to
think that the access will be freer under the watchful eye of the US
military occupation. Government minders are no match for tanks shelling your
And as far as lies go, you ain't seen nothin yet. Suicide bombers--the term
itself a manipulative attempt at a subtle link with the events of Sept.
11--will be branded terrorists (or, even more incomprehensibly, 'cowards')
by an occupation force and a press corps which refuses to admit it is there
illegally. What a world turned on its head: how could there possibly be any
illegitimate American targets where there is an occupying army? But of
course, the invaded squirming under the tread of an Abrams tank don't have
the right to resist. Further resistance will be dismissed as "getting
in the way of rebuilding Iraq." They will not be heroic defenders of
their country, but always foreign fighters, just as they were "outside
agitators" according to COINTELPRO, and "agents provocateurs"
at the Haymarket. Of course. In what conceivable universe could people
actually want to repel foreign invaders?
We will be treated to many more planted stories of 'potential' WMD's, the
horrors of Saddam's regime, the noble cause of "Freeing" Iraq. And
the horrific cost of this war and the sanctions which preceded it will be
laid at Iraq's own door--with a docile press corps, the victor writes the
This all relies, by the way, on keeping the American bubble inflated. The
Stupidity Factor doesn't appear to be evaporating any time soon. Many
Americans are perfectly happy to have a "president" who is no
smarter than they are--it's not threatening unless you get on his bad side.
Kind of like the old drunk on the corner stool in the bar. He tells some
good jokes, but watch out when he's in a mood. Remember that egghead Carter?
Yuck. I used to think that the monopoly corporations who funded Bush's rise
to power had picked wrong--and it may still be shown that they overplayed
their hand. But my cynicism and despair have deepened in the past few
months. What a coup (pun intended) to have picked a true idiot, a mean,
drunken frat boy who does what he's told and then some, sticking to it like
a rabid pit bull.
I can't help thinking that Randy Newman had the dark side of the American
character pegged, and I keep running this old lyric through my head:
Americans dream of Gypsies I have found/and Gypsy knives and Gypsy thighs
that pound and pound and pound and pound/And African appendages that almost
reach the ground/And little boys playing baseball in the rain/America,
America, may God shed his grace on thee/You have whipped the Filipino, now
you rule the Western Sea/America, America, step out into the light/You are
the best dream that man has ever dreamed/and may all your Christmases be
So, many of the people will eat it up. But the economy is in deep trouble
and getting worse--the "what now" burp is already hitting the
markets. And using the Conquering Hero spike to float their crazy economic
agenda just won't work like they want it to. Even Democrats will put up some
kind of a fight.
Don't forget the Afghan "model," where Special Forces casualties
are said to be "staggering." Sorry for all the quotes and
parentheses, but the bogus language of this war makes it almost impossible
to talk without footnotes. Let's not kid ourselves, no matter how many times
we watch the bogus, staged, rehashed footage of statues toppling: this
"war" (slaughter) isn't "over" (left the front page) any
more than its Afghan counterpart, where 11 civilians were recently killed by
"mistake" (murder-from-above by an arrogant superpower that would
rather kill and ask questions later, earning it the enmity of all and the
certain retaliation by virtually anybody).
And I was only kidding before when I mentioned John Kerry. Of course we
can't forget Syria and Iran, now in the sights of the voracious Democracy
Installing Cabal (you do the letters). And then there's Colombia, Venezuela,
Philippines, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Montezuma, the Shores of Tripoli....
But let's not forget the biggest lesson, looming in the shadows: the Kramer
lesson (apologies to Michael Richards). The kids are waiting in the alley,
George. They are learning different lessons from this war--and their numbers
2003 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted. Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, USA, with his wife, Julia
Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The
Greenhouse School. Past articles are available online: index on request.
His columns have also been aired on radio: those interested in the
audio version may contact the author. Some columns are available in Spanish
or French, and other translations are pending (translation help for more
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