Shooting War Bookslut Column

My latest comics column for Bookslut is now up.

The Iraq War, and the context surrounding it — from the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States and the United Kingdom to the through-the-looking-glass insane discussion of torture by a sitting president, from the continued slaughter of Iraqi citizens to the emotional and physical brutalization (by and) of American troops — has an element of satire and sad, even bitter, absurdism that can make a writer of fiction freeze up. How in the hell can you treat the situation with the necessary savagery, respect, contempt, and intelligence? How do you avoid lapsing into two-dimensional stereotype? How do you convey the complexity?

Comments

  1. Winfred Mann says

    Just remember that Saddam is responsible for the deaths of 1.4 to 2 million people. Additionally he reneged on his “unconditional surrender” promises, and paid PLO terror bomber’s families cash for their sons to perpetrate suicide bombings on innocent victims. Also, most of the people dying in Iraq are being killed by other Muslims, not U.S. troops.

    Please document the loss of civil liberties. I have not lost any. My losses are confined to family members, killed by Islamic terrorists.

    There is also the broader issue of world stability, and Saddam was a threat to such. Furthermore, consider the Philippines expelling an Iraqi:

    Expelled Iraqi diplomat leaves Philippines
    Asian Political News, Feb 18, 2003

    MANILA, Feb. 14 Kyodo

    An Iraqi diplomat accused by the Philippines of having links with a local Muslim extremist group left Manila late Thursday, airport officials said Friday.

    Husham Husain, second secretary at the Iraqi Embassy in Manila, left the Philippines shortly after 11 p.m. for Doha on board a Qatar Airways flight.

    On Wednesday, the Philippine government ordered Husain to leave the country within 48 hours.

    Husain was suspected of having ties with the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim group that bombed a karaoke bar in southern Philippines last October, killing a U.S. serviceman and at least two Filipinos.

    Clinton and the rest of the world believed Saddam had WMD, and Kamel (Saddam’s nephew) confirmed that Saddam was ready to reconstitute his nuclear programs.

    How about that “Oil or Food” scandal? 4400 companies, UN officials, and agents of France, the UK, Russia, Germany, and many Arab nations profited from the illegal dealings. Don’t forget Kofi Annan’s son made $300 million.

    Abu Hassan, Ramsey Yussef (mastermind of the WTC 93 bombing that almost killed me), and al-Zaqarwi lived in Baghdad.

    In 1996, The World Islamic Front declared war on the Uniter States. Moreover, there were more than 9000 terror attacks globally during the period 1983 – 2001.

    You are right; it is all very complex.

  2. says

    “Just remember that Saddam is responsible for the deaths of 1.4 to 2 million people.”

    Who’s forgetting?

    Yes he was a murderous tyrant that the US govt. (including Donald Rumsfeld) had no qualms about doing business with in the 1980s.

    As usual it’s depressing to see any criticism of the murderous actions of the current US administration as being equivalent to approval of Islamism, terrorism, etc. You used to hear the same arguments in the 1970s and 80s when to criticise the US for backing right-wing coups in countries such as Chile or Indonesia was supposedly to approve of Communism, Marxism or whatever -ism was perceived as the enemy at the time. That’s not complex; it’s simple-minded.

  3. Jeff VanderMeer says

    What John said. I just refuse to get involved in the debate any more. The Iraq War was based on a Big Lie, pure and simple. That’s the only non-complex part of it. And any argument going forward *for* the war completely ignores that fundamental fact. And therefore contains its own rebuttal.

    JeffV

  4. Winfred Mann says

    As Orwell noted in “Note on Nationalism:” The Pacifists of the day placed Churchill as the moral equivalent of Hitler. At the same time, the UK and the US were vilified for defending themselves, while the Russia was not. This sound familiar? Self defense is justifiable.

    Telling me to eff off indicates you have no facts to support you argument, only the usual ad hominem attacks. Then you must approve of rouge states that create instability in the world and murder innocent people. “The Big Lie” is your pathetic retort.

    I find it difficult to believe the Leftist diatribe you articulate. I guess you believe it’s better to let terrorists (Saddam terrorized, tortured and killed Iraqi citizens, financed the PLO suicide bombers, and other terror organizations.) kill and maim innocent people.

    Nothing contains its own rebuttal, except to one who has no case other than Leftists clichés to proffer.

  5. says

    “you have no facts to support you argument…..Then you must approve”

    Same old crap as I mentioned above: “You disagree with me, therefore you approve of XYZ”. Either/or, either/or, ad nauseam, as in far too much American discourse on nearly every issue. If that’s the level of your debate then people (me included) are wasting their time discussing anything.

  6. Winfred Mann says

    You have offered nothing to the debate; that’s quite clear. (It’s also disappointing.) Then you once again revert to personal attacks… pathetic.

  7. JeffVanderMeer says

    Winfred:

    I simply cannot sympathize with your position, although I do love the *rouge* states.

    In order to engage you in debate, you have to be operating from a foundation of fact about the origins of the Iraq War. Since you aren’t, I cannot take you seriously. We’re past the point of being polite about putting up with your particular brand of bullshit.

    JeffV

  8. says

    Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed
    By Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page A01

    The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq.

    Along with the contention that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials have often asserted that there were extensive ties between Hussein’s government and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network; earlier this year, Cheney said evidence of a link was “overwhelming.”

    But the report of the commission’s staff, based on its access to all relevant classified information, said that there had been contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda but no cooperation. In yesterday’s hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.

    The staff report said that bin Laden “explored possible cooperation with Iraq” while in Sudan through 1996, but that “Iraq apparently never responded” to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, “but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.”

    The finding challenges a belief held by large numbers of Americans about al Qaeda’s ties to Hussein. According to a Harris poll in late April, a plurality of Americans, 49 percent to 36 percent, believe “clear evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda has been found.”

    Continued: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47812-2004Jun16.html

  9. Winfred says

    I see the facts in my original post are completed ignored… Ostrich Syndrome. I cannot take you seriously.

    Manila expels Iraq envoy over terror link

    Wednesday, February 12, 2003 Posted: 11:43 PM EST (0443 GMT)
    MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines government is expelling an Iraqi diplomat, accusing the envoy of having ties to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.
    Second Secretary Husham Husain has been given 48 hours to leave the country, according to a statement by Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople.
    The Philippine government said it had intelligence that the Iraqi diplomat has ties to the Islamic extremist group, which is one of several outfits fighting for a separate Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
    The Abu Sayyaf is also believed to have links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/asiapcf/southeast/02/12/philippines.iraq/index.html

    The 911 Commission wrote a fairy tale. FYI, Abu Sayyaf was funded by OBL’s brother. The information is available for those who search for the truth, not Ostriches.

    Transcript: President Clinton explains Iraq strike

    CLINTON: Good evening.

    Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.
    Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.
    Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

    http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1998/12/16/transcripts/clinton.html

    Why did Clinton and the world believe Saddam had WMD?

    Let’s not forget, Saddam used WMD to kill 300,000 of his own citizens.

    It seems there are people that believe allowing “bad actor” on the world stage to get stronger will make for a safe world. The same rhetoric was used to allow Hitler to grow strong enough to start WWII. WWII killed 50 to 60 million people. Half of those were civilians, that were intentionally killed as the battle strategy.

    In short, you have the choice of small wars that prevent more Hitler types to emerge, or large wars that kill tens of millions of innocent people.

  10. says

    “I see the facts in my original post are completed ignored”

    What facts? You have a single news story with the words “alleged” and “suspected” in it. If you were suspected of being a paedophile would you want everyone to assume you were? TIME cast doubts on the veracity of those claims a few days later since the expulsion happened a month before the outbreak of war:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,423566,00.html

    “I think the Philippines did it to curry favor with Washington,” says one senior intelligence official bluntly, echoing opinions that emerged soon after Foreign Secretary Blas Ople went public with the accusations. U.S. President George W. Bush did promise to increase military aid to Manila in a phone conversation with his Philippine counterpart one day prior to the expulsion announcement. Manila, says Senator Rodolfo Biazon, a frequent critic of his country’s relationship with the U.S., “is swallowing the Washington line hook, line and sinker.”

    “The 911 Commission wrote a fairy tale.”

    And your evidence for that assertion is?

    Jeff’s point was that the war and its consequences have been disastrous. Where was he wrong?

  11. says

    Further to Jeff’s comments, The Guardian reports this today:

    The full scale of the chaos left behind by British forces in Basra was revealed yesterday as the city’s police chief described a province in the grip of well-armed militias strong enough to overpower security forces and brutal enough to behead women considered not sufficiently Islamic.

    As British forces finally handed over security in Basra province, marking the end of 4½ years of control in southern Iraq, Major General Jalil Khalaf, the new police commander, said the occupation had left him with a situation close to mayhem. “They left me militia, they left me gangsters, and they left me all the troubles in the world,” he said in an interview for Guardian Films and ITV.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,2228690,00.html

    Some improvement.

  12. Winfred Mann says

    I gave a link indicating a relationship between Saddam and al-Qaeda. You post an article saying, ““I [think] the Philippines did it to curry favor with Washington.” I think????

    Are you suggesting that things were better in Iraq when Saddam was killing Iraqi citizens?

    FACTS:

    Just remember that Saddam is responsible for the deaths of 1.4 to 2 million people. Additionally he reneged on his “unconditional surrender” promises, and paid PLO terror bomber’s families cash for their sons to perpetrate suicide bombings on innocent victims. Also, most of the people dying in Iraq are being killed by other Muslims, not U.S. troops.

    Please document the loss of civil liberties. I have not lost any. My losses are confined to family members, killed by Islamic terrorists.

    There is also the broader issue of world stability, and Saddam was a threat to such. Furthermore, consider the Philippines expelling an Iraqi:

    Expelled Iraqi diplomat leaves Philippines
    Asian Political News, Feb 18, 2003

    MANILA, Feb. 14 Kyodo

    An Iraqi diplomat accused by the Philippines of having links with a local Muslim extremist group left Manila late Thursday, airport officials said Friday.

    Husham Husain, second secretary at the Iraqi Embassy in Manila, left the Philippines shortly after 11 p.m. for Doha on board a Qatar Airways flight.

    On Wednesday, the Philippine government ordered Husain to leave the country within 48 hours.

    Husain was suspected of having ties with the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim group that bombed a karaoke bar in southern Philippines last October, killing a U.S. serviceman and at least two Filipinos.

    Clinton and the rest of the world believed Saddam had WMD, and Kamel (Saddam’s nephew) confirmed that Saddam was ready to reconstitute his nuclear programs.

    How about that “Oil or Food” scandal? 4400 companies, UN officials, and agents of France, the UK, Russia, Germany, and many Arab nations profited from the illegal dealings. Don’t forget Kofi Annan’s son made $300 million.

    Abu Hassan, Ramsey Yussef (mastermind of the WTC 93 bombing that almost killed me), and al-Zaqarwi lived in Baghdad.

    In 1996, The World Islamic Front declared war on the Uniter States. Moreover, there were more than 9000 terror attacks globally during the period 1983 – 2001.

    Transcript: President Clinton explains Iraq strike

    CLINTON: Good evening.

    Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.
    Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.
    Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

    http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1998/12/16/transcripts/clinton.html

    The 911 Commission Report is a farce. It was a whitewash for three decade of mishandling terrorism.

    NEWS HEADLINES REGARDING ISLAMIC COUNTRIES FOR JULY 3. THEY ARE ALL EMBEDDED IN CHAOS, NOT JUST IRAQ.
    Tuesday, July 3, 2007
    Reuters

    ISLAMABAD – A paramilitary trooper and at least two students were killed when gunfire erupted during clashes at a mosque run by a Taliban-style movement in Islamabad on Tuesday, police and hospital officials said.
    A cleric inside Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, told Reuters eight students had been killed in exchanges of fire, and a loudspeaker in the compound broadcast a message calling on followers of the movement to begin suicide attacks.
    The clashes began when around 150 students attacked a security picket at a government office near the mosque, snatched weapons and took four officials hostage, according to police.

    Wall Street Journal
    Terror Attacks Resemble ’04 Plot
    BY ROBERT BLOCK IN WASHINGTON, IAN MCDONALD IN GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, AND JEANNE WHALEN AND CARRICK MOLLENKAMP IN LONDON
    Word Count: 1,193
    The widening investigation into the United Kingdom car-bomb plot is providing a clearer picture of a multiethnic terrorist cell whose members may overlap with a group that law enforcement had previously identified and that had plans to target buildings in the U.S. and U.K., according to people familiar with the situation.

    Asia-Pacific News
    Eighth British-bomb suspect a doctor in Australia (2nd Lead)
    Jul 3, 2007, 3:59 GMT
    Sydney – A tip from British detectives investigating botched car bombings in London and Glasgow has resulted in the arrest of an overseas-recruited doctor as he tried to leave Australia on a one-way ticket, officials said Tuesday.
    The 27-year-old, an intern in India before moving to the northern English city of Liverpool, began work as a registrar in a Queensland hospital 10 months ago.
    Aljeezra.net
    Al-Qaeda blamed for Yemen attack
    Yemeni officials have blamed al-Qaeda for a suicide bombing at an archaeological site in the eastern province of Marib which killed seven Spanish tourists and two Yemenis.

    Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, said on Tuesday that security services had been warned last week of an impending attack but did not know where or when it take place.

    He also offered a $75,500 reward for information leading to the capture of anyone linked to the attack at the site of an ancient temple.

    The Associated Press
    TEHRAN, Iran: Venezuela has agreed to sell gasoline to Iran, the South American county’s energy minister said in comments published Tuesday, a week after the Islamic country imposed a fuel rationing program that has sparked violence.
    “Yes, Iranians have asked to buy gasoline from us and we have accepted this demand,” Rafael Ramirez told the Iranian daily newspaper Shargh. The reformist daily said Ramirez refused to elaborate on the deal.
    AFX News Limited
    Witnesses say passengers evacuated from Heathrow’s Terminal 4

    LONDON (Thomson Financial) – Terminal Four at London’s Heathrow Airport was evacuated earlier today because of suspect baggage, passengers said.
    A passenger told Agence France-Presse all passengers had to leave the terminal building because of a ‘bag identified as suspicious’.
    A spokesman for British Airways (nyse: BAB – news – people ) said delays could be expected to departures, but gave no further details of the incident, which comes amid heightened security concerns following failed bombings in London and Glasgow.

    The Associated Press
    Hamas steps up pressure on captors of British journalist
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: Hamas gunmen on Tuesday took up positions around the stronghold of the shadowy group holding kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston, stepping up the pressure to secure the correspondent’s release.
    Members of Hamas’ 6,000-strong militia moved onto rooftops of high-rise buildings and deployed gunmen in streets in the Gaza City neighborhood inhabited by the Doghmush clan. The large, heavily armed family leads the Army of Islam, a little known group that has been holding Johnston for nearly four months.

    The Associated Press
    Trial starts for murder of Turkish journalist
    ISTANBUL: More than six months after the killing of an ethnic Armenian journalist, 18 suspects went on trial Monday in a case widely seen as a test of whether the Turkish judiciary will be able to investigate allegations of official negligence in the slaying.
    Hrant Dink was gunned down on Jan. 19, and his killing led to international condemnation and debate within Turkey about free speech. Dink was hated by hard-line nationalists for describing the mass killings of Armenians early in the last century as genocide.

    The Associated Press
    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Afghan and NATO forces clashed with Taliban militants in a dangerous southern region overnight, leaving 33 suspected insurgents dead, the provincial governor said Tuesday.
    The joint forces carried out the nighttime operation in the Zhari district of Kandahar, said provincial governor Asadullah Khalid. Four other suspected militants were arrested. There were no casualties among Afghan or NATO forces, he said.

    Were the results of WWII disastrous? That was the claim made by many during the conflict. 50 to 60 million people died during that war. I guess you must think it’s advisable to wait until people like Saddam become very powerful (as did Hitler), then have another huge war. The choice is to stop rouge states when they are small, or wait for them to gain power and cause untold millions of deaths.

    What do you think Uday and Qusay Hussein would have done when they reigned?

  13. says

    Still can’t spell rogue, eh? Are rouge states red states with affectations?

    You’ve posted the same news story three times now. That’s a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder. And having a personal grievance doesn’t trump anything unless you want to bring back lynch law.

    Here in the UK we suffered thirty years of deadly IRA terrorism which resulted in thousands of deaths, including the assassination of politicians and a member of the Royal Family. The IRA nearly wiped out Thatcher’s entire cabinet with the attack on Brighton’s Grand Hotel in 1984. (Some of that terrorism was supported by Americans; oh the irony.) At no time did the governments of the day reduce civil liberties for ordinary British people the way this current one has done.

    No one in the UK supports this war which is why Brown has had to withdraw those troops. Blair’s discredited govt is still criticised by those on the right, the left and the centre of British politics for supporting Bush’s act of murderous stupidity. It’s not some dumb left vs. right debate.

    Meanwhile today the NYT reports on the increased persecution and murder of gay people in Iraq, with Iraq becoming as bad as Iran has been for years. It includes this quote:

    “We thought that with the presence of Americans, life would become paradise, that Iraq would be Westernized,” Mohammed said. “But unfortunately the way things were before was so much better than where we are now.”

    Some fucking improvement. Not that you give a shit, I thought I’d just throw that in.

    Over and out.

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