Monday, March 25, 2013

He still lives in the Village, though

So if it wasn't Pollack's and O'Hanlon's war, as I was saying,—Kenny and Mickey's excellent adventure—whose war was it?

Was it Condi's war?—a war of "necessity" because "he" was a "threat" who must be "contained", who had attempted to kill Bush's Daddy (reacting with startling hostility to a man who had merely commanded an invasion of his country, despoiled him of his new province and many of his old ones, and spoken of him in very insulting terms—these Arabs get so emotional*) and must therefore be deemed capable of any mayhem whatsoever, including blowing the entire world into smithereens.

But it obviously wasn't her fault that those Weapons of Mass Destruction did not exist. "No, Sir," she said, "I don't believe I recognize that war at all. Does it claim to be from around here? Maybe it comes from England."

*I for one as a matter of fact do not believe in the tale of the Kuwaiti whisky smugglers turned incompetent hit men who decided to snuff out the life of the elderly ex-president, but I suppose G.W. Bush did.
THE INVISIBLE ENEMY SHOULD NOT EXIST (RECOVEREDMISSINGSTOLEN SERIES), 2007, sculptures created from Middle Eastern food packaging and Arabic newspapers, made to resemble artifacts looted from the National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad, in 2003, installed at Sharjah Biennial 8, 2007.
Illustrations from artwork by Michael Rakowitz as featured in Hanae Ko, "The Sweet and Bitter Road: Michael Rakowitz" in ArtAsiaPacific 78, May-June 2012.

Or perhaps the closely related Big Dick Cheney's war? According to which you could calculate the probability of any event and then respond to it as if it were real, as long as its ]jump]
probability was assessed at no less than 1%?
If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response. (quoted in Wikipedia)
Because surely there was at least a 1% probability that Saddam Hussein would blow the world into smithereens each year. But the fact is that the Big Dick is not quite the tough guy he seems—he shoots only drugged dude ranch birds, plus the occasional kibitzer, he doesn't go into the war in person, he's only responsible for the marketing. "That one percent thing came from over in creative, my office had nothing to do with it."

It really needs to be said, because people are not getting it, e.g. in the comment thread at this very nice bit of reading: if the WMD had existed, it still would have been a very bad idea for a war. It's very important that the WMD didn't exist, because it reveals the deep wickedness of those who made that war happen—they were making it all up, lying because they wanted that war so hard. But even if you believed General Powell for about ten minutes, as I did, you should have seen that it didn't make a casus belli (or "causus belli" as far too many people on these Internets are saying, what's up with that?).

Why didn't we invade North Korea? Why didn't we invade God-help-us Pakistan, with its fully developed nuclear arsenal and bizarre system of vertical warlordism where the president and the parliament and the army and the intelligence services are all mutually hostile armed factions? That's why—because you don't fix a crazy situation by adding more crazy. The only place where it is possible to have a war to prevent a country from acquiring nuclear weapons is in an alternative universe which is just like this one except that in around 1965 Israel was successfully prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons. Or voluntarily stopped after a personal appeal from Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986 following their decision (in the alternative universe) to get rid of their own—"Mr. Prime Minister, tear down this kval!"
VICTORY ARCH INSTALLATION (STRIKE THE EMPIRE BACK SERIES), 2009, large-scale sculpture of two arms, made to resemble the Hands of Victory monument in Iraq, holding Star Wars light sabers and plastered with pages from Saddam Hussein’s novels. Installation view at Tate Modern, London, 2010.

Whatever it was about, it wasn't about smoking guns and mushroom clouds and "he gased his own people" (though, to be sure, he only did it when he was our ally). And I don't believe it was deeply about oil or Halliburton; of course the oil folk and the Halliburton folk were pleased with it, and that helped with the marketing, because you can't do up a war properly without your profiteers swarming at the generals' feet; and of course the generals were fairly pleased too, at first, at the prospect of promotions and medals all round, and then out through the revolving door to the land of oil and Halliburton, until they started to feel embarrassed about losing, you know.

Was it Hitch's war? That's the one, truth to tell, I feel closest to, it responds to a certain cold-heartedness I can't always overcome in myself. People still don't understand about Hitchens, and I feel I do: his war was all about aesthetics. Of all the vile, corrupt, homicidal dictators on the world stage, Saddam Hussein seemed at the time to be the one with the worst taste—Hitch felt for him the same disgust as he felt for that hypocritical crone Mother Teresa. If some head of state had decided to attack Mother Teresa,  to bulldoze her establishment with her in it, to operate a violent regime change on the Missionaries of Charity, Hitchens would have signed up for it right away, and he signed up for the campaign against Saddam in the same spirit. The great irony was, of course, that he ended up indelibly associated with two men as vulgar and psychopathic as Saddam, Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Reached in the bar of the Mesopotamia Hotel in Hell, where he was having a cocktail with T.E. Lawrence (in full Arab drag) and Gertrude Bell, he said, "I just assumed they'd ask Kanan Makiya to come in as dictator, you see. I was totally shocked by the outcome of the whole thing." "Poor darling," said Miss Bell. "And he's so very sensitive."

Or was it Wolfowitz's? The funny little professor who spat on his comb in the Michael Moore movie?

Has anybody read Andrew Bacevich's open letter to Paul Wolfowitz in the current issue of Harper's? You should, it's important.
ENEMY KITCHEN, 2006–ongoing, for the first incarnation of the project, the artist teaches Baghdadi recipes at the Hudson Guild Community Center, in Chelsea, New York, to a group of middle and high school students who have relatives in the US Army stationed in Iraq. 

No comments:

Post a Comment