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Grand Lake theater in Oakland.

March 24th, 2003

Sure They're Loaded
These are critical days. Every day is another day for Arabs to watch their neighbors dying. Every day, up goes the pressure. Bush has bet the rent this war will go quickly and there won't be enough damage to drive the Arab street to overthrow their bought and paid for pro-American government. This is the phase that scares the shit out of me. Pressure is developing here in the Homeland, of course, we're not made out of stone. Soldiers dying, civilians dying, they're all being killed in our name, killed on a hunch it will lead to great things in the Middle East, lead to a future where they all stand, hat in hand, taking our "guidance". And not blowing up our buildings. Or cities. I say if that's the bet, we're crazy.

A leap of logic, this new world order. Nothing incremental here, a jump into the very darkness: Blow off NATO, blow off the UN, blow off Europe, blow away Iraq (and north Korea and Iran and who knows who else) and life will be wonderful. Yes, wonderful. What's a few dead bodies under the sand when you're making the world wonderful?

The tragedy is now that we've started I'm not sure we can pull out. We can't not finish it. We can stop Bush from invading the next country on his list, I suppose, if this becomes the very obvious tragedy we believe it to be, if we get bogged down in a long, drawn out, slow grind of death and destruction, but our actions in Iraq will never go back in the bottle. Which means we pay the price over the next how many generations. Al-Qaeda must be in their heaven as we recruit their new members daily on television.

Push has come to shove for our soldiers. This may not be the war of 1991. They're out in a desert in rubber suits preparing to enter the cities, house to house, gun to gun, man to man, while we watch the sanitized version our government allows us on television. These guys are going to have to kill the Iraqi army, one man at a time. Will they succeed? Yeah, of course, but there's no guarantee they can do it on the cheap. Soldiers pay with their lives. It's war. That's how it works.

Are you really all this flipped out or is this just stuff you put in your journal, space filling bull shit?

I don't know. Maybe they're just words. Some of them sound sanctimonious and I'm not real fond of sanctimonious. Oakland is not happy about this war, but Oakland is not California and California is not the rest of the country. So much of the justification sounds like spin doctored market speak and politics. We're going to build a democracy in Iraq, just as we did in Afghanistan. We haven't done squat in Afghanistan. Militarily we accomplished good things, hooray for the military (as an ex-infantryman I mean that), but all of those "create a country" promises to Afghanistan seem to be no more than the promises we made to the Kurds in '91. Yet people stare blank eyed and nod their heads. "He's a bad guy and we have to bet our future on the outcome of ousting him." Yeah? Bet our future? We're going to create a democracy in Iraq. I don't believe it and, without creating a viable government that the Iraqi's and the Arab street (and we) can tolerate, they will drag this thing, rotting and stinking, right up here to my front door in Oakland.

What's left of my confidence leaves when I watch Bush and his boys down at the bunkhouse, when I see what they've done with our relationships with our allies. There's a sanctimonious quality to the lot of them, an aura of God given truth and knowledge - they know they're right cause they've seen the light. I've seen little good come from people like them in my own life. The world is a complicated place and shit happens, it happens to the good guys and it happens to the bad guys and the guys who think they know what's going on have yet to hear the terrible news. Fuck ups like these are a dime a dozen.

So I'm anti-war, anti-this war, and I'm hoping it goes quickly, that Hussein crumbles without our having to kill half his country and our soldiers come home undamaged, because we're committed. We've thrown the dice. I hope they're our dice and we've made sure they're loaded.

The photograph was taken in the Lake Merritt, Grand Lake Theater area of Oakland.