Friday, 6 September 2002

War Begins & Nobody Notices!

Normally, the title for this column could be a headline for The Onion, that hilarious, irreverent New York publication that twists things around in order to hint at some absurd reality. The Onion presents fake news and commentary, poking fun at politics, culture, or whatever. Nothing is off-limits and they do a great job, so normally my title could serve as one of their satirical jumping off points. After all, how could the U.S. deploy hundreds of thousands of troops overseas and begin operations in Northern Iraq without around the clock coverage on CNN? How absurd!

Well, no actually. Of what do I speak? For starters we must go offshore, or more accurately, online, to a piece entitled, "Iraq: In all but name, the war's on," by Marc Erikson in the Asia Times, published August 17. He notes that back in January, when Bush began talking about "regime change" in Iraq, he signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. (As a footnote, this violates U.S. law, but as expected there was very little ballyhoo about that.) At the time there were approximately 50,000 U.S. and British troops surrounding Iraq.

According to Erikson and numerous overseas reports, that number has quietly grown to well over 100,000 U.S. troops in and around Iraq. This does not include soldiers, sailors and airmen within the expanded theater of operations. There have been two main acceleration points: March and June. A new airfield is operational in Qatar and thousands of U.S. troops are working with local forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, mapping out targets, and covertly planning what will be the long awaited major escalation of a campaign already under way. There's more, much more. On August 9, the Turkish daily, Hurriyet, reported that 5,000 Turkish troops entered northern Iraq and took over a key airbase, north of Mosul...

The absurdity of the situation reminds us that a little levity is good for the soul, even during dire times. Thankfully, The Onion continues to pull no punches in its social satire post 9/11 despite the fact that these are not normal times, and quite clearly, this is a not a normal administration in Washington. And yet there is nothing funny about deceiving a population into fighting a war they would not support if only a few simple facts were laid bare or if relevant developments were actually being noted by the media this side of the pond. At the risk of losing one's sense of humor during dire times, we must face the fact that reality has truly eclipsed satire.

It may be the first step towards resisting all this madness.

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