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Wartime U.S. Travelogue


In Washington Dulles airport I noticed a large advertisement.  I’d seen it before and not paid attention.  (No doubt that’s why they saturate public space with the things.)  It showed a woman’s face with the words: “A car crash in California almost took her leg.  A bomb blast in Iraq helped save it.”  It directed one to a website:

I’m against car crashes in California.  I’m in favor of saving Dominique’s leg.  But at the website what we find is a claim that her leg was saved because her orthopaedic surgeon had experience in Iraq.  And I don’t mean in the Iraqi hospitals that existed before we destroyed that country.  I mean he had experience in the destruction process.

“Thank you, Dr. Paul Girard. How lucky was I to have an orthopaedic surgeon with wartime experience and special insights on how to treat an injury like mine?”  Thus writes Dominique, whose partner James comments on the doctor: “His experience as a wartime orthopaedic surgeon in Iraq gave him a special familiarity with traumatic limb injuries.”  How would James know this?  Presumably the doctor, whose own comments don’t mention the war, told him.  Or someone ghost wrote the website.

The website was created by three societies of orthopaedic surgeons that clearly know which side of the mutilated troop their bread is buttered on.  (Orthopaedic comes through French from the Greek for boneheaded.)

Surely a few people walk through U.S. airports while simultaneously living in reality, thereality in which the United States destroyed the nation of Iraq, slaughtered 1.4 million people, created 4.5 million refugees, destroyed the health and education and energy infrastructures, created epidemics of disease and birth defects, traumatized millions of children, and left behind a ruined violent anarchic state cursed with deep divisions previously unknown.

Surely some of those reality-based people are aware that a majority of Americans believes the war benefitted Iraq, and a plurality believes Iraqis are grateful.  To read, on top of that perversity, the claim that a bomb blast in Iraq saved Dominique’s leg is sickening.  A doctor saved her leg.  He found a silver lining in a genocide.  The bomb blasts didn’t fucking save people.  The bomb blasts killed people.  And very few of the killers or their funders or their voters seem to care.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the state capitol is surrounded by war memorials.  No evidence of opposition to war is apparent to the casual visitor.  Militarism, as anywhere else in the United States, is everywhere visible.  The sports arena flashes a giant electronic ad for the National Guard.  But the ad flashes on Kellogg Boulevard.  Almost no one knows what Kellogg Boulevard was named for.  But local son Frank Kellogg won the Nobel Peace Prize for organizing the major nations of the world to ban war, and did so prior to all the wars honored on the grounds of the state capitol.  This of course proves thatKellogg’s war opposition should be forgotten since the wars so stupidly and barbarically fought in violation of the law since his day have brought us such a wealth of benefits.  For example . . . medical miracle jackasses capable of surgery but not moral reflection.

Local activists plan to revive memory of Kellogg’s Peace Pact this August.  Stay tuned.

Wisconsin: I remember when it was alive with protest, as North Carolina is now, when the activists joined with the Democrats and therefore labor.  I remember the pizzas ordered for Wisconsin from Cairo and vice versa.  Egypt’s fate is far from clear.  But this we know.  Egypt has set an example of independent, partisan-free, uncompromising populism that shows no signs of fading away.  Egypt threw out a corrupt leader and then threw out his corrupt replacement.  We let a corrupt leader rule the United States for 8 years and then bowed down before his corrupt successor.

This country is far far too big, and the population of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area far too uncomprehending for us to walk like an Egyptian.  Clearly the people of any state you care to visit could run a respectable country if it weren’t for the other 49.

I know you don’t want to hear the word secession.  But what about the word shame?  Would that be too much to ask for?

David Swanson is author of War is a Lie. He lives in Virginia.

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at  His new book isWar No More: The Case for Abolition.

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