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OFF THE RECORD: Oh, to see ourselves as others see us
In addition to all the unbearable byproducts of war that we'll soon be exposed to, there's the jargon that goes along with it. Whenever a war rears its ugly countenance, new words and expressions pop up faster than those irritating Internet ads.
The Cold War gave us "blacklisted," "spy ring," "containment" and "nuclear proliferation."
Vietnam coughed up "Agent Orange," "flak jacket" and "body count."
And the Gulf War? All I recall from that debacle was the Scud Stud himself, NBC reporter Arthur Kent.
War reporting never looked and sounded so good.
So this time out we're hearing about "U.S. global hegemony" and "embedded journalists."
Embedded journalists? Yup, they're the reporters who will be hanging out with the troops in the battlefield and sending their stories back home. Keep in mind that embedded journalists are not to be confused with "in bed journalists," something much more to my liking.
I have no desire to be on the front lines of Bush's Big Fat Stupid War, but I was curious to find out what my friends around the world think about this lose-lose situation. Here are some of their responses via e-mail.
- IP, tour 0perator, UK/Scotland: "Now that war is inevitable, I am hoping that it will be short and with minimum casualties on both sides. However, the hopeful aspect is that Prime Minister Blair has won a commitment from the Bush administration to facilitate, at last, a settlement of the Palestine/Israel crisis, which itself has been the subject of so many U.N. resolutions that have been ignored. A future healthy and mutually respectful political relationship between the UK, Europe and the USA depends on Bush keeping his word. Let us hope he does; this event marks a crucial crossroads in global relationships. Bellicose homilies are simply not enough."
- FP, newspaper editor, Germany: "Mr. Bush has no right to start this war. He has absolutely no proof of Saddam Hussein threatening the world. There are no connections between Iraq and the terrorists of al-Qaida. This war is not a matter of defense; this is a war for economical and strategic reasons. It won't make America safer. It will make it less safe than it has ever been."
- JN, Canadian, working in Los Angeles: "I think that the foreign policy of this administration is absolutely disastrous. In a couple of years, they have managed to alienate a large portion of the planet, first by pulling out of the Kyoto Treaty and the inability to manage the Israeli/Palestinian crisis and now by making the U.N. and ultimately NATO irrelevant organizations. I think that the world views the USA in a totally different way than how Americans perceive themselves, and that divide widens by the day."
- Neill, scientist, England: "Eleven years ago I saw a live show by the sadly missed comedian Bill Hicks in Liverpool, England in which he rightly berated George Bush Sr. and Margaret Thatcher for allegedly selling the very arms and biological weapons to Iraq that we are now going to be saved from and that were used in the first Gulf War. Hicks mocked Bush by imitating his reply to the Kuwaitis' pleas for help: 'As soon as those checks clear, boys, we're goin' in!'
"Why do we in the West supply dubious regimes with components and weapons because it suits a political purpose at the time, i.e. Iran-Iraq conflict, then take the moral high ground when people like Saddam Hussein seek to proliferate these weapons for his own ends? Also, why was Hussein not toppled after the Gulf War in 1991? His army was on its knees. I feel it was because it suited the powers that be at the time.
Please don't make impassioned pleas to me, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, about maintaining the free world. Carry out your stage-managed, winnable little war, but don't insult my intelligence by saying you do it out of moral obligation and from a position of sincerity.'As soon as those checks clear, you're goin' in!'"
- DD, graphic artist/musician, Zurich: "I have just been listening to the (Swiss) radio and this is what I heard: The day Mr. Bush Jr. starts his war, all students throughout the big cities in Switzerland will leave school and demonstrate. They'll protest against Mr. Bush's ignorance; against another absurd war; for hope in their future. And we ... we stand behind them."
Sue Frause can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.