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ISSUE 116 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/9/2003

Weapons search drags on

By Brian Lindsley
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 9, 2003

Last week, President Bush stated that there’s still “much work to do in Iraq,” including the search for “hidden chemical and biological weapons at hundreds of locations.” The only problem is that the United States can’t seem to find these countless numbers of weapons of mass destruction that apparently exist at “hundreds of locations.” On Apr. 17, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said during a press briefing, “I don't think we'll discover anything, myself. I think what will happen is we'll discover people who will tell us where to go find it,” he said. “It is not like a treasure hunt, where you just run around looking everywhere, hoping you find something.... The inspectors didn't find anything, and I doubt that we will.” If only the administration had told us before the war that we could find weapons just by asking people instead of by launching a war.

“We'll find them,” stated Bush. “It'll be a matter of time to do so.” This “when,” not “if” philosophy is especially troubling. Bush wants to justify this war so badly to the American people and his god that I believe he will go to any length to create a situation in which he comes out a liberator. It’s only a matter of time until Bush and Co. plant weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to try to justify this unjustifiable war. It really wouldn’t be too hard since the United States has more weapons of mass destruction than any other country. In addition, justifying the occupation of another country is as morally justifiable as Manifest Destiny. The United States had to do it; Bush had no real choice. As Nicholas Grey helpfully wrote in April, “It’s a fine time to be an American.” And how did the United States “liberate” Iraq? Although U.S. General Tommy Franks has stated that, “we [the U.S. military] don’t do body counts,” it is known that the war caused the death of over 2,000 innocent Iraqi civilians. I am sure that Iraqis who were killed and those that were displaced from their homes are grateful for their “liberation.” Bush has made a mockery of the word “liberation,” and public support for this war has made a mockery of the United States. Too many Americans supported the war and even more believed Fox, CNN, and other media sources as they reported pure patriotic blindness that only echoed our empty consumer culture. It’s easier to wave a flag and buy a “Support Our Troops” yard sign than actually think about the bombs U.S. soldiers are shocking Iraqis with. But Americans don’t really want to hear about war in Iraq anymore. It’s old news, like Afghanistan, and there are happier things to think about, like Bush’s budget proposal for enormous deficits and cuts in social spending. As Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle stated, “President Bush is leading the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history.” However, it must be noted that this plan is fiscally responsible to the rich and to U.S. corporations. Is it any surprise that Fox News Channel, the cable network controlled by Rupert Murdoch's giant News Corporation, supports the conservative corporate agenda and doesn’t ask the obvious questions? Murdoch and other media moguls like him have the most to gain from Bush’s policies. Why would they present the other side of the argument in any sort of constructive way? Take Fox’s biased coverage of the war in Iraq, for example. According to the BBC, “Fox News, which puts a patriotic spin on the news and became the largest cable news channel in 2002, increased its number of viewers by 300 percent to average 3.3 million daily viewers during the conflict.” Americans watched Fox because they wanted to feel good about the war and ignore the large humanitarian costs. Those who supported the war wanted to believe, even if it went against their better judgment, that dropping bombs on Iraq was for the good of the Iraqi people. The war was unjustly framed by rhetoric of freedom and benevolence. Psychologist and philosopher R. D. Laing accurately describes why the war had to be framed by such rhetoric: “Exploitation must not be seen as such. It must be seen as benevolence,” he said. “Persecution preferably should not need to be invalidated as the figment of a paranoid imagination; it should be experienced as kindness. . . In order to sustain our amazing images of ourselves as God’s gift to the vast majority of the starving human species, we have to interiorize our violence upon ourselves and our children, and to employ the rhetoric of morality to describe this process.” Don’t believe the President; the war was unjust. Don’t listen to Nicholas Grey; it’s not a fine time to be an American. And don’t trust the media; Iraq is not a liberated country, but a destroyed and occupied state.

We need to question the logic of war as benevolence strongly and quickly before Bush has the idea of “liberating” another country that might, or might not, have weapons of mass destruction. Patriotism should be freed from its current function of silencing dissent and encouraging consumption to fostering an environment in which authority is always questioned and held accountable. We must be like E. F. Schumacher, who wrote, “All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity had been complete; and no interpreter had come along to help me. It remained completed until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps.”

Staff Writer Bryan Lindsley is a senior from Waukesha, Wis. He majors in intergrative studies.

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