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Fourth Down and Inches

Iraq War as Football Game

by RON JACOBS

The Super Bowl Sunday papers are full of news about the big NFL matchup/capitalist spectacle. Baseball being my sport, I dont really care who wins the game and will probably watch very little of it. The other headlines concern a contest which is definitely not as equally matched as the Super Bowl, but for which much more is at stake. That is the impending war on Iraq. Mr. Powell, that great diplomat, is quoted as saying the US will go it alone, with or without its twelve (or is it ten) allies. The time for diplomacy, say White House officials, is up. Now, I don’t know what dictionary the Bushes (Daddy and son) use, but Marriam-Websters defines diplomacy as : 1 : the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations 2 : skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility : TACT.

From my view as a peace-loving citizen of the world, I haven’t seen many aspects of either definition one or two applied in the belligerent threats emanating from inside the Beltway. If making threats and deadlines (that are just plain impractical) is diplomacy, then why bother? Why not just go straight to war whenever a country wants something from another? That’s what big mean kids do to other kids on the playground. There have been no negotiations, artful or otherwise, between the US and Iraq. Negotiations can only occur when both parties are willing to negotiate and the US is on record as stating that there is nothing to negotiate. As for handling affairs without arousing hostility, well, I rest my case.

So, on Tuesday the world will hear Dubya tell a series of lies and half-truths which will be his reasons to kill people in Iraq. He will insist that this exercise in mass murder is an honorable endeavor and important to the freedom of the world. Many Americans will believe him, especially the ones in Congress. After all, they are willing to grasp at anything that would justify their timid and half-baked vote for war in September 2001 and October 2002. It’s not like there is any evidence that justifies killing thousands of Iraqis. Indeed, a senior administration official in the Sunday Boston Globe said that the documents that the White House claims to have (but can not show anyone) “do not include irrefutable evidence that Hussein has stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.”

What this means is that the US government is sending men and women over to Iraq to launch a murderous attack on the people of that country because it does not have evidence that it is doing anything wrong. I tell you, I wouldnt want these men and women sitting on my jury. Even if the US did have evidence that Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions, the way to enforce agreement is by insisting that it destroy the offending weapons and programs, not by killing Iraqi citizens.

Of course, all this assumes that the US or the UN as it currently exists has any right at all to pass and enforce resolutions as blatantly unbalanced as those against Iraq. It is not the only country with weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Indeed, the United States military probably has more of these types of weapons in the region than any other country and they aren’t keeping them there for self defense. In fact, the only reason they are there is to attack Iraq, Afghanistan and any other country the warmakers in Washington feel it might be necessary to destroy. Israel, too, has several weapons of this nature. Like the US, they do not have to answer to the UN either.

To get back to the football game, if the rules of the game were applied between the goalposts the same way they are currently applied in world affairs, and if the Raiders were the US (rather appropriate) and the Buccaneers were Iraq, then the referees would never call a penalty against the Raiders and make up penalties against the Buccaneers. In addition, the coin toss would be rigged in the Raiders favor, they would always get the ball in Buccaneer territory, and they would start the game with seven points already on the board.

Hope you enjoyed the game. Go Team!

RON JACOBS lives in Burlington, VT. He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu