Monday, May 30, 2005

Oh Yeah, the War Stuff

It has never actually occurred to me--like, EVER before--to associate Memorial Day with anything but the damn grocery store closing early, and the rain that invariably ruins those picnics reputedly happening in state parks all over America. I even have a veteran in the family--shout out to my Uncle Earl and his Purple Heart, who's 87-years-old, newly-wed and still chilling down in Macon!--but his story was just some distant folklore about a long-lost uncle down south who I didn't meet until his 80th birthday. It was somebody else's story, just like this has always been somebody else's holiday.

Except this time we are at war--still--and it's an increasingly nasty war, insidiously spiraling toward uncontrollable violence. A few facts from today's paper alone:

Aside from the car bombs exploding every day all over Iraq, regularly killing a dozen people at a time, yesterday 34 people were killed in Iraq in the largest Iraqi-led counter-insurgency operation to date. And this is just the beginning of a new and even more hazardous chapter of the war, in which Iraqi policemen are being targeted by invigorated insurgents.

In the past year, over 10 percent of Baghdad's doctors have fled or been driven out of their practices--and sometimes even out of the country. A vast majority are the most senior doctors. It turns out that doctors are easy targets for violent gangs that specialize in kidnapping. Good luck to the dozens of people wounded everyday by those suicide car bombs and enraged insurgents.

And then there is the new war spawned by the scandalously conducted old war: the violent reactions that have already begun to emerge in Afghanistan and all across the Muslim world as more and more accounts of abuse and torture by American soldiers emerge from Guantanamo and Afghanistan. It turns out that if one Koran wasn't flushed down the toilet, others were desecrated in different ways. The detention situation of "enemy combatants" and "possible terrorists" at Gitmo is becoming increasingly questionable--American lawyers are actually lining up to take the little plane to Cuba to challenge the government's detention of these prisoners.

It's a little unclear whose evil we're fighting now.

It's 110 degrees in Baghdad today, there are power outages, doctor shortages, chaos, lawlessness, and a good chance that at least another 20 people will die. There are 530 remaining detainess at Guantanamo Bay, there are 300 U.S. lawyers who have volunteered to represent them, but most of the prisoners don't even know that they have an attorney.

Wait--so...what was the exit strategy?


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