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San Francisco Journalcon photos
At the usual haunt after work on Wednesday

October 18th, 2002

What Is It We Ask?
Thursday evening. I worked late today, as a number of people in my section were out for one reason or another. I need to "be out" more often myself, for one reason or another. It's hard to get my mind away from the day to day grind. I need to get ready for this coming operation. Get the blood drawn tomorrow, go over what's involved in this six to eight weeks of recovery, draw up a will. That's the music here, the slow beat of a drum. I'm not sure I've gotten my arms around it. Not sure I will.

I've been putting things off with the thought, well, let's see if I'm around to take advantage of them (a subscription renewal, a new piece of photographic equipment, a shirt, a pair of jeans). Shouldn't do that. Not good to do that. I've not given up, after all, but these thoughts occur and I find myself taken aback when I think them. Cancer makes you emotionally weird, I'm finding. Welcome to a world where weird is more than a word.

Two drinks this evening. Two drinks are one too many.

Friday after work. Let's maybe talk about invading Iraq this evening. I'm notBlue painted lady at the How Berkeley Can You Be? parade overly enthusiastic about invading Iraq. I'm not overly enthusiastic about much of anything that's going on at the moment, and, although I'm thinking about prostate things (mostly), I'm also thinking if I dodge the bullet on the prostate thing (most people who catch it early do), I'd like to not buy the farm because people who are unhappy with our foreign policy decide to express their reservations by hosing me down with a killer disease. The CIA released an estimate of a 75% chance something at the level of a biological or a nuclear attack would take place on a US city if we attack. Hello? Is anyone paying attention? This is the administration's CIA, the boys on the bus, and they're stepping outside their safe political box to say three out of four we'll lose cities?

Now, I know, some of you think I'm chicken shit. I live near Berkeley. Just living in the area is suspect, but the thought we're going to war knowing we'll probably lose a city? Are there options? These people in Iraq. Are they on the brink of attacking San Francisco? Miami? North Dakota? Why no discussion? War gives no guarantees. Is Iraq dangerous enough to take a three out of four chance one or more of our cities will be attacked with biological weapons? I'm not hearing anything that tells me yes.

I'm not happy with the way we've managed Iraq since the war, but Iraq is managed, it is behind its borders and Saddam Hussein can't live forever. There are other problems out there. Remember al-Qaida? Remember Bin Laden? Remember Afghanistan? Al-Qaida is blowing up night clubs in Bali, Bin Laden is thought to be dead and Afghanistan was supposed to be a poster child for what a Muslim country could be under a more democratic government. Remember democratic government?

No one blinks when somebody on the news says in passing "we've abandoned Afghanistan". How many times have I heard that in the last month? The rationale for staying the course in Afghanistan seems to have evaporated. How about the rationale for invading Iraq? Is that just today's argument, dropped when we've carried it off? Doesn't apply when we start to die? What are we trying to "carry off"? The last Iraqi war is not the next Iraqi war. Wars are nasty affairs with their own agenda. You light the fuse, you stand back.

After failing in the oil business, George W. Bush was given a sports franchise by people who saw profit in owning a potential president, Enron first among the first. That's his history, those are his credentials. The recent 40th Anniversary of the Cuban Missle Crisis has spawned books and programs describing how Kennedy and his administration managed the crisis. Kennedy did his very damned best to avoid war.

Well, that was Cuba, that was Russia, that was nuclear war, this is different, right? SomeHow Berkeley Can You Be? parade American soldiers, but not many American soldiers and a whole lot of fucking Arabs, most of them young men, women and children, will die. What's the big deal? What would you do, a worker in a biology lab, your family, your father, your mother, your wife, your son, your daughter destroyed by our fun loving free living people who apparently don't give a shit, what do you do when someone asks you to turn over the contents of the refrigerator in the lab? The one behind the black door with the lock? Is everyone really convinced a war won't result in retribution? Or do you trust Bush? And his Vice President? And his Attorney General? And, what the hell, I see your point. When's the last time the CIA got anything right?

Like my twilight existence here waiting on my prostate, there's a twilight existence waiting on a war. And we are sleeping. If they catch the prostate early it usually works out except sometimes it doesn't. Same with war. If we know Iraq will bring us ruin if Saddam Hussein remains in power, we do what we must. War is an option, but a last option, because war is an incredible gamble. If there are other options, other ways to solve the problem, you go with them. You don't jump the chasm without a net unless the bridge is down and the lions are on your ass. "Well, we defeated Iraq in six days, but on the seventh, the crazy man with the aluminum case popped it open in Disneyland." There went the Mouse.

I think I'll march in the next peace demonstration. Not just shoot pictures, but march. They evidently had half million people march recently against this war in Europe and the American media covered it zip. That's the level of protest we had here at the height of the Vietnam war. Two hundred and fifty thousand people marching down a single San Francisco street. Who do we blame if we invade and then get back what should have been obvious to us in the first place? When there was a simpler and less violent way? If you have the option to start or not start a war, you probably shouldn't as you aren't always given an option to stop. Sometimes the stupid get that for which they ask. What is it we ask?

The banner photograph was taken at the How Berkeley Can You Be? parade.