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Stateside with Rosalea: Monday, gloomy Monday


Stateside with Rosalea

Monday, gloomy Monday

By Rosalea Barker

On Sunday morning, I watched a talking heads political TV show for the first time since early January. It was ABC's 'This Week' and the host was interviewing former (Bush Snr) Secretary of State James Baker. Baker was talking about winning the peace after winning the war in Iraq.

I despair. Who the hell do they think are going to rush into Iraq as a peacekeeping force, when this invasion of Iraq by the US was as wrong as the invasion of Kuwait by the Iraqis? There have been troops from around the world monitoring peace in the Middle East since 1948. Has their presence ever stopped the political ambitions of either the Israelis or the Arabs? Is the presence of a peacekeeping force in Iraq ever likely to stop the political ambitions of either the US or the Arabs? Is Afghanistan an example of how such a thing would work? Does the world even remember Afghanistan exists?

For an interesting view of how the US Army implements and views its peacekeeping obligations, I recommend an article in 'The Atlantic Monthly' from October 2001. This issue was already printed when the twin towers and the Pentagon were bombed so you'll find no mention of that. If you go to http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/backissues.htm and scroll down to October 2001, you'll see the cover with a soldier on it and the article's title: Peace is Hell. You'll also see why the US has no hope of "winning" in Iraq short of bombing the entire populace out of existence.

I repeat the mantra from the 2000 Republican National Convention: Bring them home! Those thousands of delegates were calling that out in response to Dick Cheney's speech about how much it was costing to have US troops on peacekeeping duties, but the same applies to this insane incursion into a foreign nation where there is nothing to be gained - even in a so-called victory - but world instability.

Getting back to 'This Week', the conservative commentator George Will always closes the show, and this Sunday his comments were about television coverage of the war. He asked: "If there had been real-time television coverage at Gettysburg, might this be two countries today? Might Americans have recoiled from the carnage, and allowed the South to secede?" His, untypically weak, reply to that question was: "I think not."

"Americans are not squeamish about sacrifice when they believe the stakes are important," he continued. "Public support for the Vietnam War eroded not because of television, but because the public decided the government had no plan for winning."

George Will's opinion notwithstanding, the television image of a man being executed in the street and the photo of women and children killed in the My Lai massacre, are generally credited with turning public opinion against the Vietnam war, leading to its end. Technology has taken us way beyond the Vietnam War now, in terms of war reporting, but for those who don't think war is a spectator sport the sight of the real effects is as potent an anti-war message as it ever was.

Another thing that hasn't changed is that the stakes have to be seen as important enough, just like Will says. So you can expect a ratcheting up of this aspect of the war in the coming days. Because, frankly, if the government has no plan for "winning" other than the bombardment and destruction of one of the cradles of human civilization, no amount of trying to capitalise on the strength and visibility of the peace movement is going to help it.

Which is why I wage "anti-war", not "peace". I'd like to see the Bush administration and its apologists say it's going to win the anti-war in Iraq.

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