The U.S. public wants out of Iraq. The Iraqis themselves want the occupation to be over. What’s a poor U.S. soldier to do?
War needs a why.
Many Americans look across the Pacific at China and see nothing but a vast digestive tract. A billion-plus people are developing quite an appetite: for oil to run their factories, for sheet glass to sheathe their skyscrapers, for grain to feed themselves and their livestock.
Last year in Hamdania, west of Baghdad, eight U.S. soldiers abducted an Iraqi man from his home, threw him in a ditch, and shot him. The soldiers placed an AK-47 and a shovel near his body. They wanted to make it seem as though he were an insurgent digging holes to plant roadside bombs.
What is the world coming to when a wonky slide show wins an Oscar for best documentary? The Inconvenient Truth is about just that: what the world is coming to. And Hollywood is sufficiently freaked out by the prospect of eco-apocalypse to bestow its highest honor on such a low-tech cinematic undertaking.
Back in the early 1990s, an editor at Harper’s asked me for suggestions of progressive foreign policy analysts who could participate in one of their roundtable discussions. I provided a short list, with Noam Chomsky on top. The editor thanked me politely but said that the Chomsky suggestion wouldn’t fly. In so many words he said that the great linguist and critic of U.S. foreign policy didn’t belong at the table with the sober, even-handed discussants. Chomsky was "too out there."
At the beginning of Chinese filmmaker Jiang Yimou’s popular movie Hero , a martial arts master arrives at the court of the powerful Xin ruler. The master swordsman, an orphan who goes by the moniker Nameless, harbors a secret desire to assassinate the king on behalf of his own wronged territory, the nation of Zhao. It is the era of the Six Kingdoms more than 2,000 years ago. The king of Xin proposes to defeat the warring factions and unite the country. Only Nameless, it seems, can stop him.
It’s not been a good time to be a journalist. Outside the United States, reporters literally take their lives into their own hands to cover dangerous stories. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 55 journalists died in 2006, a steady increase over the last several years. The mafia-style hit of Anna Politkovskaya in Russia made headlines. Less well publicized were the deaths of 32 journalists in Iraq. More journalists have died in Iraq than in any other country or any other conflict since CPJ has been collecting statistics. Nor was Latin America particularly safe, as Hernán Uribe writes in a recent Americas Program report.
At Saturday’s anti-war demonstration in Washington, my 84-year-old mother slipped as she stepped off a curb and fell backward. A young man in a small knot of anarchists caught her and gently restored her to the vertical. And on we marched. Leave no grandmother behind!
You’re astride a donkey, and it’s not going anywhere. You’ve got carrots in your pocket and a stick in your hand. Which to use? In the ideal world, the donkey would take a few steps forward to get the carrot that you dangle in front of its nose. If it slows down or gets distracted from the carrot, a couple taps of the switch on its hindquarters get it moving again.