Bits and Pieces

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Updated Axis of Evil

President Bush today announced a reshuffle of his wildly popular Axis of Evil. After an initial sulk following the ruling that he was only allowed three choices (he thought that he, as King... er, scratch that... President, should be allowed more) Mr. Bush nominated the replacement for Iraq.

The new axis, to be announced in a live press conference sometime this week, is as follows : -

Iran - Perennial nogoodniks, Iran will remain firmly at the top of the list. As it turns out, they were initially included due to a mis-spelling of Iraq by Mr. Bush, who later decided he liked the look of the list as it was, and decided not to remove them.

North Korea - As we all know, N Korea was included in the axis after Kim Jong-Il and Mr. Bush showed up at a White House function wearing the same outfit. When Mr. Bush complained to the Korean leader, he retorted with the classic 'talk to the hand', outlawed in 48 states. Things have been decidedly chilly ever since.

And finally, the new addition to the axis, following the complete destruction of Iraq :-


What did you expect? Syria? That's, like, so last week.

What Comic Books Have To Teach Us

You know that little Iraqi kid we maimed? Yeah, that's right, we killed his parents too. Anyway, it seems the little scamp should be A-OK. Once we fit some prosthetics to his mangled torso he'll be good as new. Except with big plastic arms and dead parents. Anyway, it's a big PR coup for the Coalition, so a big thumbs-up - no, not you, Ali. We can't afford the arms that come with digits. You'll have cool hooks.

Now I don't have a problem with the fact that we tore off this kids limbs, or even that we butchered his parents and destroyed his homeland. Apparently these things are unavoidable in wartime. Especially when our chosen method of warfare is dropping thousands of cluster bombs from high altitude on built-up civilian areas. No, my problem is superheroes.

Let me explain. Remember how Batman was created? His folks, Tim and Martha Wayne, were killed by criminals. Remember how Spiderman was created? His Uncle Ben was killed by a criminal.

Now, little Ali's parents have been killed by a criminal. He didn't drop the bomb or pull the trigger. What he did was much worse: he gave the order. This will inevitably lead to a whole new generation of 'superheroes', kids without parents to guide them away from evil, who will be taken in by those in the world who seek to harm us. These kids will strap on the bombs and hijack the planes that kill us and our children.

All this will come to pass because our leader forgot that one piece of wisdom that Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne would never forget:

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The Future of Iraq

I'm finding it more and more difficult to remain civil with people who speak of our 'victory' in Iraq. They speak as if we anti-war protestors claimed that we may lose the war, and that our easy victory in some way validates their position and undermines our own.

The truth, of course, is that the only people who ever claimed that Iraq may have won the war were Saddam Hussein and his employees, including that beloved cult figure the Iraqi Information Minister. Every other sensible person on Earth predicted the outcome as a victory for the Coalition.

But where is this victory? Our motive for the war was, supposedly, to stop Hussein from employing his huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. As none have yet been discovered, this should present a huge problem for our governments. It reveals that we, the people, were actively deceived into sending our loved ones off to fight and die in foreign lands for no reason.

The ability of the anti-war protestor to pin down his or her argument against the war became increasingly difficult as time went on, and today it is nigh on impossible to present a coherent argument that says 'this is why we shouldn't have attacked Iraq'. The reason for this, of course, is that the Administration used some bumbling propoganda tactics that worked in their favour. Way back at the start of the campaign was a claim that Iraq was violating UN resolutions with regard to disarmament, resolutions ratified at the end of the first Gulf War. As we know the argument was based on a claim that Saddam was in possession of WMDs. As this claim became harder to believe (as a result of the sterling work carried out by Hans Blix and co., as well as the fact that much of the 'evidence' touted by Bush was revealed to be inaccurate or just plain fake), Bush and Blair had to shift their strategy.

What came next was an appeal to our hearts and minds. Bush claimed that the purpose of a pre-emptive strike was to topple Saddam from power. We were faced with a barrage of stories of inhuman torture of dissenters. This strategy struck home with Americans, especially, who value above all freedoms such as free speech. The idea that Saddam was denying his people the freedoms we take for granted hit home, and Bush succeeded in getting those who had remained on the fence to take on a pro-war stance.

Once this was achieved, the UN was no longer necessary. We went into Iraq ad won our war. Those of us who stuck by our beliefs were ridiculed as cowards. As the war progressed we were met with often violent condemnation because we did not 'support our troops'. We were told to either shut up or get out.

Now, at the end of the war, we are further condemned. The news networks are flooded with images of mass graves and newly emptied torture chambers. The official line now is the if we had our way these graves would still be being filled, and the torture chambers would be full. How can we possibly defend our position against this? It's true. If we hadn't entered Iraq people would still be dying.

The problems with this idea are two-fold. First, if we cared so much about those being tortured and killed, why did we wait this long to act? We not only knew innocents were being killed, but we knew the actual locations of these graves. Why did we allow Saddam to kill his people since the last Gulf War?

Second, and more relevant, how is the current situation any better? The real issue today is that we have been left in charge of a nation not just on the brink of chaos, but firmly over it. The purported intention of the Bush Administration is to introduce democracy to Iraq, in the hope that this will set off a chain reaction resulting in a democratic Middle East. Anyone who believes that this will occur should get out of the sun and take on some fluids. We don't understand Islam. We don't understand the Middle East. Hell, we don't even understand democracy. The idea that we could successfully impose our own values and beliefs on people so different from ourselves in culture, history and ideology is ridiculous. We can't even enforce democracy in the US. How can we expect to enforce it in Iraq?

This is the reality that Bush and co. do not want to face: the Middle East will never be democratic. Never. I won't live to see it, and neither will my children or their children. It just isn't compatible. Until our governments learn this truth, you and I will piss away our tax pounds and dollars on a fruitless endeavour. Fortunately for Mr. Bush, this won't stop him getting his hands on that oil money.

Stupid Damned Deck of Cards

This is truly disgusting. I just received the worst e-mail I have ever seen. Copying the deck of cards showing faces of Iraq's most wanted list, a company has produced a deck of cards showing the ' "Deck of Weasels", America's Worst'. I won't tell you the name of the company in case some of you decide to buy these pieces of shit.

The deck includes such people as Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen and George Clooney.

These people depend on popular support to make money. If you don't like a person you will not pay to see movies in which they star. Sensing that the mood of America was in support of this stupid war, these people still used their right of free speech to speak out against tyranny. Even when it appeared that the majority of you had decided that you would turn off your brains and support Bush in chasing his windmills, these brave PATRIOTS forfeited their own success by speaking out against a war they didn't believe in, and which was bad for the nation they love.

The result of this has been hate mail, declining support in the box office and death threats, but still they continue to support the cause they believe in. They have been called traitors and anti-American, all because they chose to stand up for what they believe in. Whether or not you agree with their position, the claim that these good people are anti-American is ludicrous.

When the day arrives that citizens of the US are attacked for supporting a just cause for the sole reason that their 'President' disagrees, America has lost it's status as the 'Land of the Free'.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

A Heightened State of Paranoia

I read this 'news' on the AOL homepage earlier.

'Al-Qaeda terrorists and their supporters are set to use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in deadly strikes, a CIA report claims.'

The story was basically centred around the idea that Al Qaeda may attempt to use unconventional weapons against us in the future. I'd read the entire article before it occurred to me that it didn't say anything. There was no new information. Hell, there wasn't even old information, just pointless scare-mongering.

It strikes me that this war against terror is only being kept alive by this constant, deafening flood of overblown rhetoric about the 'threat' that we all face. Without the consant noise we may be more inclined to think for a moment about how real the threats are. We would ask questions like 'is there a great chance of myself or a friend or relative being involved in a terror attack?' The answer, of course is no.

Not only is the real threat insignificant, the terrorist threat today is many times less severe than it was when I was younger. In fact, I was caught in the IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996. Even after multiple terror attacks on my home soil there was less paranoia in the press. We were aware of the reality of the threat, and there was no need to overstate it.

So what conclusions can we draw from this? Could it be that there is very little real threat? Could it be that we are being kept in this state of fear and tension to allow our governments to stop us from questioning their actions? Could it be that this is all a smokescreen? Or am I just cynical?

To quote the CIA report, 'One goal of any attempted strike would be spread "panic and disruption." Hey, they learned it from the best.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Axis of Evil Wannabes, by John Cleese

Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil," Libya, China, and Syria today announced they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil," which they said would be more evil than that stupid Iran-Iraq-North Korea axis President Bush warned of in his State of the Union address.

Axis of Evil members, however, immediately dismissed the new axis as having, for starters, a really dumb name. "Right. They are Just as their dreams!" declared North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. "Everybody knows we're the best evils... best at being evil...we're the best."

Diplomats from Syria denied they were jealous over being excluded, although they conceded they did ask if they could join the Axis of Evil.

"They told us it was full," said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "An Axis can't have more than three countries," explained Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "This is not my rule, it's tradition. In World War II you had Germany, Italy, and Japan in the evil Axis. So, you can only have three, and a secret handshake. Ours is wickedly cool."

International reaction to Bush's Axis of Evil declaration was swift, as within minutes, France surrendered. Elsewhere, peer-conscious nations rushed to gain triumvirate status in what became a game of geopolitical chairs.

Cuba, Sudan, and Serbia said they had formed the "Axis of Somewhat Evil," forcing Somalia to join with Uganda and Myanmar in the "Axis of Occasionally Evil," while Bulgaria, Indonesia and Russia established the "Axis of Not So Much Evil Really As Just Generally Disagreeable."

With the criteria suddenly expanded and all the desirable clubs filling up...Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Rwanda applied to be called the "Axis of Countries That Aren't the Worst But Certainly Won't Be Asked to Host the Olympics."

Canada, Mexico, and Australia formed the "Axis of Nations That Are Actually Quite Nice But Secretly Have Some Nasty Thoughts About America," while Scotland, New Zealand and Spain established the "Axis of Countries That Be Allowed to Ask Sheep to Wear Lipstick." "That's not a threat, really, just something we like to do," said Scottish Executive First Minister Jack McConnell.

While wondering if the other nations of the world weren't perhaps making fun of him, a cautious Bush granted approval for most axis, although he rejected the establishment of the Axis of Countries Whose Names End in "Guay," accusing one of its members of filing a false application. Officials from Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chadguay denied the charges.

Israel, meanwhile, insisted it didn't want to join any Axis, but privately, leaders said that's only because no one asked them.
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