Oct. 26, 2002, WASHINGTON, DC ? "Death, death to Saddam!" the turban-adorned man screams into the loudspeaker, garnering cheers and applause from hundreds in the pro-war camp at the base of the Washington Monument. "These protesters, these young people, they say they want peace. But there is no peace with Saddam! Saddam is butcher! Saddam is murder! Death, death to Saddam!"
"Death, death to Saddam!" the myriad conservatives chant in unison, waving American flags and homemade posters with such lovely declarations as "NO WAR: LET SADDAM KILL MORE AMERICANS," "ONE NATION UNDER GOD" and?in an unprecedented linkage between 9/11 and the recent Washington sniper spree that left 10 dead and many professional newscasters in stained britches?"NEWSFLASH: ISLAM MEANS OSAMA MEANS SADDAM MEANS JOHN MOHAMMED!"
And then something hippie this way comes. From over the hill a poster-board manifesto appears: "GEORGE BUSH EATS BABIES."
Following are chants of "No blood, no blood for oil" and signs proclaiming "Regime Change Starts At Home." The greenies march toward the conservative rally by the thousands?screaming, dancing and many smeared with fake blood?all hoping for...something?
"You fucking communists!" one conservative shouts, opening the first of many intelligent dialogues to follow. "Look at you, fucking communists! You teenagers for tyrants!"
"Fascist motherfucker!" screams a blue-haired punk rocker most likely fresh out of junior high school. "Stupid warmongering fascist sonofabitch cunt!"
"Death, death to Saddam!" the conservatives wail. "Death, death to Saddam!"
"Hell no, we won't go!" the hippies reply, now face to face with their archenemies. "Hell no, we won't go!"
"Death, death to Saddam! Death, death to Saddam!"
"Hell no, we won't go! Hell no, we won't?"
It's at this point the DC police break through the protest lines, riot gear on and billy clubs drawn. Guess which side gets the living shit kicked out of them?
"Police state!" one hippie shrieks, flailing through the air at the whim of a 6-foot-7 cop. "Fucking police staaaaaaa?OUCH!"
This is great! I tell myself, standing in the middle of this madman spectacle?a chorus of bodies flying overhead?waving my tape recorder in one hand and press card in the other. I'm actually in the middle of a full-scale riot! Wow! Like, I'm a real journalist now and stuff!
And then I'm airborne.
"Ooph!" I exhale, realizing that I have in fact just been kicked in the stomach by a fucking police horse. My gym-hardened abs have absorbed the blow well enough, especially considering I haven't been to the gym in 16 months, but my trajectory is a dangerous one: to my left, skull-crushing rocks. To my right, dirty hippies. (Okay, I'm making up the skull-crushing rocks part, but the horse is real.) Where do I land? Where do I land?
"Fuck!" I scream. "Help me, you communists!"
Praise Christ: my luscious teenage frame is caught in countless vegan arms.
"Thank you," I say, breathing hard. "How can I??"
"Peace, man," one greenie says. "Peace."
The antiwar protest drew more than 200,000 people from across the nation, if you choose to believe the conjectures of International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), the neosocialist organization famous for such idiot slogans as "We Are All Palestinians." Of course, 20,000 probably looks a lot like 200,000 after a few turns at the bong, but downtown Washington was indeed flooded with young and old alike: lifelong pacifists and ex-soldiers; high school kids who don't know anything about geopolitics (but don't tell them that) and Republicans against another expensive war.
It was the largest antiwar rally in Washington since Vietnam, by many estimates. But don't expect it to change anything: according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released Oct. 25, nearly three-quarters of Americans support military action in Iraq, with 56 percent "strongly" behind such a war. The Pentagon just got a $34 billion bonus for 2003, and U.S. officials are already buzzing about training Iraqi opposition militias, the Associated Press reported Oct. 20. (Worked well enough in Afghanistan and Cuba, why not try it again?) And then there's our man-child-thing president to worry about.
"I can tell you that in all my years I've never seen a president want war more badly than George W. Bush," acclaimed journalist and bag of bones Helen Thomas recently told me at an American University lecture. "We've been attacked in the past and have gone to war, but it wasn't something the President desired. Bush, you can tell, he'll do anything so he can bomb more people."
True that, Helen Thomas. Gulf War II would require the mobilization of more than 265,000 Reservists and National Guard members, nearly a third of the entire U.S. armed forces, The New York Times reported Oct. 28. And Bush is more than ready.
''Since Sept. 11, Americans have been reminded that the safety of many depends on the courage and skill of a few," Bush said earlier this month, before signing the $355.4 billion defense bill reelection-hungry Democrats were shamed into passing.
Well, praise the Lord. Those sheethead Baghdad motherfuckers have no business with chemical weapons anyway, and Dubya is gonna show them what's up. Never mind that the Reagan/Bush administration actually gave the Iraqis chemical weapons in the first place. Because, you know, that would be mildly confusing.
"[T]he shopping list included a computerized database for Saddam's Interior Ministry; helicopters to transport Iraqi officials; television cameras; chemical-analysis equipment for the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) and, most unsettling, numerous shipments of 'bacteria/fungi/protozoa' to the IAEC," reported Newsweek Sept. 23.
"According to former officials, the bacteria cultures could be used to make biological weapons, including anthrax? The helicopters, some American officials later surmised, were used to spray poison gas on the Kurds."
"Are you protester?" the Arab woman asks, standing behind the hotdog stand and taking my two dollars.
"No," I huff. "Journalist? Horse?"
"You are horse?" she seems confused.
"No? Kicked by? Water? Need?"
"These protesters," she shakes her head. "They say, 'No war.' They say, 'Let us have peace.' They do not know like I know. Saddam is killer. Saddam kills his own people. I come from Iran?Saddam killed my mother. Saddam killed my father. Saddam killed my brother."
"Water? Need? God?"
"Death, death to Saddam!"
So Bush is ready and willing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and Christ knows how many lives to take Saddam out of power. Even in the best-case scenario?an unstable U.S. puppet government takes over Iraq and funnels cheap oil to America for however long it takes the Iraqis to get tired of seeing their most precious resource go for sub-market prices?we still have that whole terrorism problem to deal with. Remember? Terrorism?
"U.S. intelligence agencies are watching several groups of Middle Eastern men thought to be part of an infrastructure of as many as 5,000 al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters in the United States," The Washington Times reported last July. "The 5,000 figure was reported in classified intelligence reports sent to government policy-makers within the past month and is an increase from earlier estimates."
Let's face it: taking down Saddam would be great for world stability. After all, this is the man who swore to butcher Israel, and might have the capacity to do so in the near future. (This would actually save the U.S. billions in foreign aid, so it's difficult to see why most Republicans are against the idea, but whatever.)
However, any thinking person can see that going into Iraq would be an economic operation, not one of national security. If the Bush clan were actually interested in the safety of the American people, they wouldn't have given bacterial cultures to a foreign dictator in the first place. Just like they wouldn't have supported Hitler until 1942, when Prescott Bush's stocks in Nazi steel manufacturing were seized by the U.S. government under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
No, the Bushes are in this one for the money again. It's common knowledge that former President George H.W. Bush is a representative of the Carlyle Group, a multinational $12 billion investment cabal with strong ties to both global arms manufacturing and the bin Laden family. Not to sound like too much of an X-Files devotee (the show started sucking after the movie came out anyway), but the more Dubya gets Congress to spend on military funding, the more the Bushes?George I, George II, Jebbie-poo and even his crackhead daughter?see in return.
"In getting business for Carlyle, Mr. Bush has been impressive," reported The New York Times March 5, 2001. "His meeting with the crown prince [Abdullah of Saudi Arabia] was followed by a yacht cruise and private dinners" with Saudi businessmen, including King Fahd, all on behalf of Carlyle, which has extensive interests in the Middle East.
And we all know what Saudi Arabia gave us six months later.
"Are you okay?" the cute hippie girl asks, sitting on the wooden bench beside me. Thousands of protesters parade down Constitution Ave. directly in front of us. The afternoon sun shines bright.
"Yeah, yeah," I say, holding both hands over my horse-stricken belly. "Just had a small run-in with a back hoof, that's all."
"Oh," she says, twirling her lush brunette hair through her fingers. "Hey, have you ever made out under a tree before?"
"Um," I say. "No."
"How about that one?"
"Cool. Let me take my shoes off."
"All right," I say, nervously reclining against bark.
"All right," she smiles before mounting me. "How's that?"
"Great," I wince. "That's really? Oh, wow, that's something."
"Good," she says, her wet teenage lips approaching mine own.
Yes, I've said it once and I'll say it again: God Bless Motherfucking War.