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Doug Giebel: Dance Of Death

Dance Of Death

by Doug Giebel

The Sunday of Easter, 2004, on Meet the Press, U.S. Senator John McCain crooned a soothing message to the nation. Iraq, he said, is not Vietnam. He remarked on how we lost more troops during a week in Vietnam than we've lost in Iraq all year. We must send more troops and forge ahead, the cost be damned. Perhaps his sunny analysis was an effort to resurrect the national spirit after a notably bad week on the pacification front.

Were the families of Americans serving in Iraq's deadly cauldron listening while McCain, a hero with intimate experience in the horrors of warfare, claimed death must be compounded by death, or else America will be mocked as the Weak Sister of All Nations while "terrorists" thrive and multiply?

Again and again, supporters of this nation's newest undeclared war proclaim we are in Iraq, therefore we must "finish the job." Inescapable logic? Day follows night. Once in Iraq, no going back. This mindless plan permits only one solution: more of the same until those pesky few insurgent freedom fighters give up and cry "Uncle Sam!"

We have told it to the Marines, whose numbers just landed in country optimistically hoping to wage a kinder, gentler approach to winning hearts and minds. Instead, they are engaged in a battle for bodies of "insurgents" who just want the U.S. to get the hell out. But politicians from both sides of the aisle have spoken: we will thrust "democracy" on Iraq, even if we have to kill every grumbler and resister, no matter the cost in American lives. Not to reason why. Do and die. And if they don't get you on your first tour of duty, we'll send you back until they succeed. After all, we lost more people in xyz . . . What's one life, more or less?

War supporters have invented a nasty myth, and it is this: If we do not absolutely defeat "terrorism" (nee "evil"), the terrorists will somehow defeat, triumph over and take over the United States, and by extension "the civilized world." One has visions of the Statue of Liberty pulled down by throngs of screaming invaders in a nightmare scenario wherein women who once dressed in Victoria's Secret must wear black veils on pain of death, a crippled nation where the Pledge of Allegiance is to Islam, where darkness shrouds the land from sea to stormy sea. Just how so miraculous a victory would happen is not explained, of course, because this dire outcome is absurd. Our free-speech press does not seem willing to slay the dragon by exposing the myth for what it is: fear-mongering and baseless propaganda.

The situation, however, can't be too alarming, since President Bush decided to take a few more days off and vacation at his Texas rancho. There's no doubt our commander-in-chief stays the course when it comes to personal time. Every citizen can sympathize. One must be fully rested to face that deferential 9/11 Commission while Dick Cheney does the talking, as his recent "on-message" press conference amply demonstrated.

During an interview on National Public Radio to promote his new book Worse than Watergate, John Dean surmised that President George W. Bush is ignorant by intent. He only knows what he wants to know. Could this character trait be infecting a substantial number of adult American citizens who blithely listen to the offensive messages from our White House and ignore what Thomas Paine called "common sense"? Have we as a nation become so deadened of spirit that government by secrecy, lies and character assassination no longer matters? Must the Bush Administration's mindless obstinacy be mindlessly obeyed?

Senator McCain is correct. Iraq is not Vietnam. Iraq is . . . Iraq, a disaster no longer waiting to happen.

If, while shut in our room, we go every day to the door and push against it as hard as we can, but the door refuses to open, we could die before we learn the door opens inward. George W. Bush and his orchestra of war boosters are pushing this nation toward a bitter dance of death. It's time to stop the music.


Doug Giebel is a writer and analyst who lives in Big Sandy, Montana. He welcomes comments at

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