Back Page: March 2003

Simple salesmanship executed with honesty.

By Peter Sills

Things are getting interesting. For the first time since this war machine has gotten going I feel like it may stall out. This may just be a misguided observation but it seems to me that the British resolution for demands marks the first break in Tony Blair's willingness to follow the States into a war against the UN or should I say the EU. What's the difference, it's all about pressure. I am still for this war but I am upset at the way it was presented to the public and the world. I think the whole mess we have gotten into here with our inability to form a coalition comes down to one all important fact that can't be reversed: Sales. The Bush team can be a very focused and wise group of policy makers but when it comes to Sales, they should have had Pete Sills sitting in the situation room giving Wolfowitz, Rice and Powel a lesson in presentation.

First of all, the very idea of demanding that an independent nation disarm itself or prove it has disarmed itself in order to avoid conflict is so goofy that nobody in the thinking crowd believes it, nobody. It's a bad cover story and a card that never should have been played. Yet to this moment, the administration wants the world community to swallow the idea like a blind trout. It isn't working and they need to fade it into the background.

The second bad card is the idea that Iraq and Bin Laden have a connection. The only connection they have is that they hate Americans and that they are both Arabs. Well my next door neighbor and I are both Americans and we both hate Tony Danza. So What! This is a bit shallow minded. Their world view of these two infamous fiends is separated by the fact that Hussein built his government at the expense of religious fundamentalists and in order to get the Bath party in power and keep it in power he has waged a war against religious fundamentalists inside his own nation. He gassed the Kurds and tortured his own in the name of fighting fundamentalism and has managed to keep a secular government in a region which hates secularism and wants the Koran to be that law of the land. When we hear stories about people in Iraq getting tortured or killed for opposing Saddam what we are hearing about is people who are demanding that Iraq become a theocracy not a democracy. The Koran is everywhere in Iraq but it is not in the law books. Women hold jobs as doctors and lawyers and as government officials and dress as they please. The dominant religion is Islam but it is dominant in the same way that Christianity dominates here. Anyway, to complete my point let me remind everyone that the king of all fundamentalist Islam is Bin Laden. He is so wrapped up in the Koran he is convinced it is his duty to clear the middle east of anyone who is not a fundamentalist and that means us. Bin Laden has at least twice publicly called for Hussein to be killed. They hate each other.

Why then do we Attack Iraq? Because we are at war against terror and the war is very complicated. We are not fighting an army as much as we are fighting ideas and the ideas we are fighting are the ideas of fundamentalist and militarist Islam. This war on ideas is not an easy fight for us. The idea of the Bush team is to take the hard road and pull the tree of terror out by the roots rather than trim the tree. The idea is to reshape the political landscape of the Middle East. Oddly enough that means changing the regime in secular Iraq. It makes sense to start with Iraq because Saddam is a lunatic and won't really be missed by anyone. By liberating the Iraqis our war against militant Islam begins in the heart of the region. by installing a democratic government friendly to human rights, a dick of reason is jammed into the mouths of the surrounding theocracies. The first county to fall irresistibly to the temptation of unchecked capitalist glee would be Iran, The most violent and destabilizing transition would eventually be Saudi Arabia. After Saudi Arabia, the others would follow suit. Syria and Libya would be squeezed out and eventually, Islam would be a religion rather than a government. The completion of the Bush administrations goal would take 20 years and possibly a half dozen small conflicts involving the American Military. It's a long shot but according to most of the policy think tanks like the council of foreign relations, it is the only shot. Bravely, the Bush administration embarks on the hard work of building a better world for everyone.

Again, why start with Iraq? The desire to disarm Iraq and keep it from being a Walmart for terrorist weaponry is not the central goal but it is a good goal. Another goal goes like this: By installing a democracy in Iraq, It will clear the way for lifting sanctions. The Sanctions against Iraq have done the United States and its Allies as much harm as good. They have given the fundamental and militant Islamic groups a cause for hating America and they have funneled more money into the Theocratic governments which fund terror, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The sanctions will have to be removed in order to undo the Saudi led monopoly and keep petroleum prices stable. Stable petrol prices are needed to keep the world out of recession not just the U.S.

An attack against Iraq does more than all this and here is the card that should have been played by the Bush administration. The card to be played was the sanction card. The best U.S. argument is that Saddam is too dangerous a threat to world peace to remove sanctions and allow him to go about his business. Next it must be argued that the Iraqi people can no longer be left to suffer under the sanctions or his rule. While the Bush administration has played these cards it has failed to lead with them. The card they have lead with was the worst card. It is an easily exposed lie.

Say for example that Saddam was to produce all the weapons that we believe he has? What then? Do we lift sanctions and go away? What would keep him from buying more weapons? Nothing!! Obviously we have no intention of anything short of a regime change, weapons or no weapons and the thinking crowd knows it. That is the basis of why there is no coalition today: Poor salesmanship.

I am not against the war. I am for it. Maybe for different reasons but I am for it. Basically I am for the elimination of any dictatorial regimes. There are at least nine countries at this moment I would love to see us invade for the sole purpose of burning their state capitol to the ground. The way I figure it is simple. It is the year 2003. We are supposed to be an evolved race of humans at this point. We need to be launching missions to Mars, curing cancer, fighting male pattern baldness, inventing tastier tacos and moving beyond rap music. Instead we are arguing whether or not it is ok to insist that entire nations of people be ruled by dictatorships with sociopaths at the helm. I think we need to get past this. It's time for the human race to advance. The U.S. needs to advance as well. We are not perfect. We could all use some enlightenment. A clothing optional society would be a good benchmark to aspire to.

You cant go back now, but let me just give you a rundown of how it should have been presented by President Bush and his team who are now up to their knees in their own bullshit:

Dear World Leaders: For over a decade, the world has enforced sanctions upon the nation of Iraq in hopes that it's regime would adhere to the demands of the United Nations. It is our belief that nothing short of a military intervention in Iraq to change its regime will bring stability to the region and end the suffering of the Iraqi people. Our hearts and best intentions are with the people of Iraq. We respect their brave commitment to secularism and equality of women. Given the opportunity we believe that Iraq will serve as a beacon to other nations in the region that freedom, human rights and democracy are the minimum staples of human dignity and to be without them is to live in slavery to ones oppressors.

It may have not made building a coalition any easier but at least people would have believed us.

-Peter R Sills


Honey's Ashes

by Richard Cronn

Honey and I first walked this beach 10 years after we met. We lived close by, within earshot of the ocean. It was a charming place. Blazingly hot during the summer and overrun with Dutch tourists during the winter. It was here we'd lived under the same roof longer than any other place. This was as much our home as either of us of could have ever hoped.

As we walked tonight under the half moon, the trade winds blow like they did back then. The salt water feels the same as it washes over my toes making my feet sink in the shifting sand. Still, this place has grown up. There is more of everything. In season, the lights are brighter down the beach towards town, but itÕs still the same sand, the same stars and the same ocean. That's why we always came back.

Tonight I am full of reminisces. The times we spent here in heaven. The times we spent apart. The different places we'd lived together. The beach is deserted as we wade in the tidal pools still warm from the mid day heat. It was the same many years ago.
Honey discovered this place first and then shared her good fortune with me. She said it would be good for my asthma and I could find work. The first place we lived was a rusty aqua trailer near a lagoon with several crocodiles. The second was in town over a bar where she worked during the tourist season. The third and sixth place was a handsome bungalow on a dead end street. We lived there the longest of anywhere we lived together. I was constantly amazed how it had survived so many storms and high tides on that end of the island. A young family lives there now with several cats and a rusty car. It wasn't much different back then.

We took walks to the beach almost every night we lived in that house. Nights were not as hot and there was always a cooling sea breeze, even in the dead of summer. When the moon was full and the night clear, it was so bright we could look for sea shells. Walking barefoot on the beach was our way to spend an evening out. Before we got electricity we didnÕt listen to the radio as much. So we talked, read to each other and played a lot of gin rummy by gaslight. We swam, held hands and made love on our walks.

In the light of this waning moon, I wade across the shimmering pool to the shore break, look out to sea and whisper a prayer. Tonight will be the last time Honey and I will walk together on this thin strip of sand. Possibly the last time we will ever touch.

Kneeling down, I hold her in my shaking hands. As she had opened her heart to me, I opened my cupped palms and let her ashes go out with the tide.


Don't leave it in the park

by John Bryan

i think this year is out to get me:

we embark on our bikes
around the lake
which lately we can't complete
avoiding sharp corners
running people off their feet
squashing their pooches

balancing on the swings
to discuss our demise
moon crashing down
on our heads any second
applying mouth to mouth
i resuscitate
revive that naked form
jaws of life
peeling away accidental
clothes from your
body's carnage
on the ground below

but the insects bite us
suck our blood
decide to salvage ourselves
and in retreat
once again not completing
i plead to you
not to leave this in the park
by bludgeoning my head
harshly on the ground
walking off and coming back
in tantrum, not tantric, foreplay

your house:
i thought about people
who with mortal wounds
remain conscious up to the injuries
dissolving them & you stated
we should start using lube
because lately you've been dry

now i've got to revisit
every place we went
on my own so i can say
i've been there post mortem since you
there is no part of this world i want
to remain booby trapped
one unsuspecting re-step -

... BOOM! ...

i think this year is trying to kill me.

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