Difficult Choices, My Ass

The downing of the Chinook helicopter near Baghdad yesterday has pundits chattering about the “difficult choices” we face in Iraq and how we have to stick around until we’ve won. What these morons don’t get, however, is that this war was lost before it started. All those wait-and-see folks were idiots; there was never any chance that the U.S. would go in and not act like assholes, guarding the oil ministry and nothing else against looters was inevitable, of course the place was going to disintegrate into civil war and chaos. We didn’t have what it took to do differently, and the situation was bound to degenerate immediately upon our arrival. A brilliant commander-in-chief would have had a hard time taming post-Saddam Iraq; these guys were always too narrowminded, undereducated and arrogant to tame anything. This was always gonna suck, and it’s always gonna suck. Every day that passes kills more innocents, and for absolutely nothing–the United States will never, ever win the war in Iraq because it just doesn’t know how.

To Iraq and Back?

It looks like I’ll be heading off to Iraq in the not-too-distant future. Needless to say, the news that US troops are getting ambushed some 35 times a day all over the country doesn’t exactly make me feel like this is a good idea, but my curiosity about what’s really going on, how ordinary Iraqis are living their lives and what they think about life post-Saddam, is probably going to get the better of me.

I don’t have any assignments whatsoever; I may file my syndicated column from there, but that’s about it. Will there be a book? Possibly, possibly not–I really can’t say. I’ll ask some editors at sympatico newspapers and magazines if they’re interested in receiving anything from me, and we’ll see what, if anything, happens. This is really just to see what’s what.

I won’t be embedded or hanging out with US troops; I’ll be traveling independently and staying with locals as much as I can. I love the fact that there are few expectations…I’ll let you know more when I know it myself.

It’s Nice to Be Loved

Here’s a lovely email I received today from one “John M. Callihan.” The subject line was “You Demagogue.”

Now, before you read this, you may want to ask yourself: What kind of person writes this sort of thing? OK, so the guy doesn’t agree with my opinions. Fine. He’s irritated. Fine. But to actually go to the trouble of writing this to someone merely because they don’t like what you think?

Weird.

Rall-Your every bit as despicable as the Nazis’ you depict in that

unspeakably bad cartoon you have comparing our soldiers in Iraq, to the Nazi

SS/Wehrmacht thugs/soldiers. You were born 50-60 years too late–you’d have

gone far in Josef’ Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda, or more likely, one of

Beria’s weasals/Commissars’ spreading Stalin’s Gospel writing for Pravda. I

hope you run into an unhinged,angry veteran or two of Iraq and that they

kick the living shit out of you–comparing these despicable shits attacking

our soldiers over there, to the Partisans and resistance fighters who took

on the Nazis’. And then, while your lying there on the sidewalk nursing your

injuries, I hope Tom Friedman walks by, unzips his zipper, and takes a

particularly-long piss on that brain-empty head of yours, you Hack—-anyone

with 1/2 a brain (which obviously cancels you out, you “hard-hitting

journalist”–yeah–I really hope someone hit you hard) could see how envious

and jealous you are of Friedman.

Have A Nice Day,

John Callinan

Ridgewood, NJ

For the record, I have nothing against Tom Friedman. I think he’s an interesting read; my cartoon from Thursday is merely my little reaction to a line of reasoning–once the Republicans get us stuck in something, we’re obligated to follow through–that I find amusing.

Swamped

My next book is due this weekend, which means this weekend won’t be a busy one for ye olde blogge. What’s it about, Ted? Wellll…..I ain’t telling. Not yet, anyway. Suffice it to say it’s all prose. Non-fiction. Political. Coming out in early 2004.

Will it change the world?

Leave me alone. I’m typing.

Yahoo “Censorship”? Nah.

People are asking what happened to my column “Why We Hate Bush.” That piece suddenly vanished from Yahoo’s News Op-Ed section yesterday, causing readers to ask if John Ashcroft’s jack-booted thugs had finally appeared to drag me off to Gitmo.

Actually, there are occasional software glitches over at Yahoo, and this was one of them. “Why We Hate Bush” was an old column that mysteriously resurfaced to the top of the Ted Rall section a few days ago for no reason. We caught the error and uploaded my new column from yesterday, about next year’s Necropublican National Convention, and thus bumped “Why We Hate Bush” into the archives.

Censorship certainly is a reality in the media; even so-called “alternative” newspapers refused, for example, to send me to cover the war in Iraq despite the fact that my pieces from Afghanistan won several awards and were lauded by The Washington Post, The Nation and others as the best war correspondent’s reports filed by an American reporter. They were pretty overt about why–they didn’t think their readers would be happy to hear anything negative…and they had reason to think I might look a little deeper than the typical clueless embedded types.

Yahoo, however, has yet to suppress my pieces and I count them among one of my better clients. These software problems do come up now and then, however, so this probably isn’t the last time I’ll have people wondering if the First Amendment is coming under fire.

By the way, if you’re looking for “Why We Hate Bush,” one of my more incendiary pieces as of late, you can still find it here.

Florida 2000-Style Contest Results

After going through more than 200 submissions for the contest to name my next book, many of which had some kind of riff on the film “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (talk about obscure!), the winner is…my publisher.

He came up with a great, simple title that I’ll be free to reveal a few month’s hence. “You have the habit of coming up with really long book titles,” he snapped. What, “All The Rules Have Changed” and “Real Americans Admit: The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done!” are too long?

I do feel badly that I wasn’t able to give away the cartoon original that would have gone to the lucky winner, but it’s like this – titling a book is difficult. If I can’t do it properly, and it’s my job to do it, it’s unlikely that someone outside the field of publishing will be able to do better.

I would like to remind the sore losers out there that there’s still a piece of original artwork out there for those who want one. All you have to do is convince the editor of your local newspaper to pick up either my cartoons or my columns on a regular subscription basis (that’s a 1-year contract). It’s actually very easy to do – often all it takes is a letter to the editor.

A Blast from the Past

Every now and then, you come across something that missed the memory hole. Here, for your reading pleasure, is a piece by Loren Jenkins that ran in Salon back in 1998.

My favorite passage:

For while there is little doubt that bin Laden is a sworn enemy of the United States with the financial means to put some teeth in that enmity, his exact role in anti-American terrorism is unclear. The administration’s claims are based more on conjecture — mostly bin Laden’s own braggadocio and the bad company he apparently keeps — than hard and convincing evidence.

Clinton and his security staff have now blamed bin Laden for being behind almost every terrorist act in the past decade — from plotting the assassinations of the pope and the president of Egypt to the planned bombing of six U.S. jumbo jets over the Pacific, with massacres of German tourists at Luxor and the killings of U.S. troops in Somalia, fatal car bombings of U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia and this month’s truck bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam thrown in. Not since the ’70s heyday of the terrorist Carlos has there been such a Prince of Darkness, if the allegations are to be believed.

But so far, for all of the accusations, no government, not even that of the United States, has established enough credible evidence against bin Laden to conclusively prove his direct participation in, much less leadership of, any of the ugly plots and acts he stands accused of. To date no formal request for his extradition has ever been made, either to the Sudanese government that once housed him or to his current hosts, Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders.

In other words, the US government has never presented the American public with any hard proof that Osama bin Laden has carried out a single terrorist attack against us. Yet both President Clinton and Generalissimo El Busho have used him as a bête noire responsible for everything from bad food to bad music.

Though much has been made of the fact that from his safe-houses in Afghanistan bin Laden has forged a loose alliance with perhaps a dozen different Islamic groups in the Muslim world from Algeria to Bangladesh, he seems to be more of a spiritual leader and financier than the sort of terrorist mastermind being alleged.

“Bin Laden is a true believer and a funder of Islamic causes, rather than a planner and active participant,” says Professor Shibley Telhani, a Middle East scholar from the University of Maryland who has followed his career. “His real influence is not as a mastermind of terrorism but as a person who is using a personal fortune to encourage others to wage war against the American interests in the Middle East he finds so objectionable.”

Even if we captured Osama, in other words, we wouldn’t be nabbing the guy who hit our embassies, or the Cole, or the World Trade Center. And what about the groups that actually carried out those attacks?

Bush won’t even talk about them, much less try to bring them to justice.

Nazis

People are angry. People are annoyed. It’s all because I had the timerity to draw a cartoon, this week, depicting SS officers hanging around a café in an occupied European nation (I was thinking France, but it could be anyplace the Germans occupied during World War II) talking about how much the locals love them, the kids wave at them, the schools are open again and how everything is just hunky dory.

“Bush is an idiot,” one guy wrote me. “He hasn’t sent anyone to concentration camps.” Well, not exactly true. Gitmo IS a concentration camp; if the Administration has its way and begins executing the inmates there, it’ll become a death camp. But it is a concentration camp; there’s no other term that fits, regardless of your politics. So a Nazi comparison is certainly applicable.

But that’s not why I drew the cartoon.

The point I’m trying to make is that occupiers ALWAYS wanna think the locals love them to death. They delude themselves that, because a few whores sleep with them and a few profiteers suck up to them, they’re accepted. Of course, it ain’t so–an occupier is a foreigner is an exploiter is an enemy. Always. If Canada invaded the US and brought us the blessings of universal health care, I’d be the first to spend my nights picking off Canadian occupation police from Manhattan rooftops. If you read memoirs of German soldiers fighting during World War II, you’ll find many accounts of how well they got along with the locals.

Then there are the Internet geeks who would prohibit any comparisons, no matter how apt, between Nazism and post-World War II events. Sorry, but I never signed up for that rule, which is stupid. It just so happens that Nazism was anything but a unique phenomenon in history. It wasn’t an aberration, and the undercurrents of oppression and totalitarianism that characterized Hitler’s regime exist in every modern Western society. There isn’t a huge jump between a guy like Adolf and a guy like GWB, and I’ll be damned if I’m not allowed to say so.

Random Reagan Thought

Let me be the first to say it: the former president will likely die soon, and will unjustly be lauded as the man whose profligate spending brought down the Soviet Union and created the economic boom of the ’80s. Of course, neither of these assertions are true. The Soviet Union, as most experts will attest, had been economically undermined by the CIA for years–my favorite operation involved dumping millions of dollars in cash in Moscow restrooms to destabilize the ruble. If anything, Chernobyl was the final straw. As for the ’80s boom, what boom? Sure, a tiny percent of super rich enjoyed growing incomes during the decade, but the ’80s were a period of increasing disparity of wealth. Poor and middle-income people did not benefit under Reagan; quite the opposite.

Bottom line; Reagan was a stupid, vicious scoundrel who deserved prosecution for his role in Iran-Contra and October Surprise. He hurt America by turning its people against each other, by turning them selfish. He shan’t be missed, and he shouldn’t be mourned.

I’ll be away from the blog until Monday.

Today in Vegas

I’ll be signing my books and giving a talk with slides of my cartoons today in Las Vegas. The book signing is from noon to 12:30; the discussion starts at 3:15. You should also come see Tom Tomorrow, in the same place, at 1:45.

Location: Liberty Point Complex, 200-280 South Green Valley Parkway, Henderson, Nevada.

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