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I watched part of a press conference with George Bush yesterday where he was talking about the incident with the Iranian speedboats and I could swear that every time he made threatening remarks about Iran, he had a little smirk. I have no idea what the truth is; maybe there really was almost an incident, maybe something happened that was completely blown out of proportion, or maybe nothing happened at all, there are very few people who actually know the facts. I do think it is interesting though, that a couple days after this incident gets everyone’s attention, a 500 page report comes out about Vietnam – with very interesting facts about the Gulf of Tonkin – detailing all the lies and falsehoods that led to many pointless US and Vietnamese deaths. Of course, most people will not put two and two together and will demand that Iran is taken care of. Even if this is not another Gulf of Tonkin, even if Iranian ships really intended on attacking the US Navy boat (the boat that was right off the coast of their country- imagine things were reversed), that still does not rationalize attacking an entire country.

                Whether or not the leader of a country is “evil” or poses a threat to either the US directly or US interests, there is a lot more that goes into attacking a country. We attacked Iraq and got Saddam out of power, and there we still are almost five years later with things worse than they were before we went in. Somewhere between one hundred thousand and one million Iraqis have died, depending on which report you believe; each and every one of those Iraqi’s were living breathing human beings who just wanted to be happy. Each one of those Iraqis left people behind – brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents, and children – whose lives will never be the same. Each one of those Iraqi’s deaths probably led to at least one more person hating the US, at least one more kid who will pick up a gun and possibly die fighting this many headed monster occupying his country. If you don’t care about Iraqis, if you think that they aren’t as human as we are, what about the almost four thousand US soldiers? They also gave their lives so the rich can get richer and the powerful can get even more power. They also left behind brothers and sisters and parents and spouses whose lives will never be the same. What about the hundreds of thousands of US youths who wanted to go to college, wanted to make something out of their lives, but couldn’t afford it so were talked into ‘fighting for their country’ so they could? How many of them are going to be mentally stable enough to achieve their goals? How many of them are peeing into bags or spending the rest of their lives in wheelchairs or missing limbs because they took part in a war based totally and completely on lies, a war that has no ending in sight? How much longer till enough people not only realize these facts but are so pissed off by them, that they can’t take it anymore? How much longer till we as a country decide that this system we have – where the rich continue to get richer generation after generation, while the poor break their backs (sometimes literally) to help this cycle – is not working anymore? How much longer till we realize that we are the only ones who can change it? Hopefully not much longer.

                What goes through a war supporters mind (and I’m talking about a regular citizen, not someone who is making money) when she or he sees all the death and destruction happening in Iraq (and other places) while things like education and infrastructure in our country suffer? How can anyone deny that this war is about anything other than power and money when we see armed mercenaries like Blackwater roaming around doing whatever they want? It’s amazing how this doesn’t shock people; after Blackwater employees killed 17 unarmed unthreatening Iraqis in September people were up in arms for a couple weeks, but they seem to have forgotten about it. Now, a new report has surfaced stating that a Blackwater helicopter and motorcade vehicle released tear gas normally used in riot situations, at a checkpoint in Iraq in 2005. Tear gas is not allowed to be used in war unless specific permission is given by either the President of the United States or someone that he assigns, but since Blackwater does not have to follow the laws of the US or Iraq they assumed (probably correctly) that they did not need anyone’s permission. What could be the reason for dropping tear gas on not only innocent Iraqis, but also on unknowing US soldiers? They say they needed to clear traffic and – much like a cop in the US turning on his or her sirens to run a red light – thought that it was a good idea. The State Department conducted an investigation into the incident and decided – surprise! – that no laws were broken and Blackwater does not need to be held responsible. What happens if the war ends; where will the tens of thousands of mercenaries be reassigned? If the thought of tens of thousands of slightly insane armed mercenaries roaming the streets of the US doesn’t scare you… well, I don’t even know what to say.

                Maybe the number of Blackwater mercenaries will be increased as soon as the US decides to send troops over to Pakistan. A suicide bombing that killed twenty two policemen occurred in Lahore as police in riot gear were getting ready for a planned anti-Musharraf protest by a group of lawyers. Authorities have no idea yet who was behind the attack; it could be Taliban or just some guy who does not like the current government. The only thing that an incident like this does is give Musharraf justification to do the things he has been doing. When a ruler starts clamping down on his or her citizens and says it is to keep law and order people naturally have a strong reaction. If the citizens respond with nonviolent protests and civil disobedience then it is hard for the government to use force without getting the attention of the rest of the world and turning off a lot of the military and police who are the ones being used as weapons against their fellow citizens. However, as soon as the opposition turns to violence all bets are off; the government is able to say, “See, this is why we had to tighten the clamps.” The article that I read did not go into any detail concerning the planned protest and whether or not it occurred or not, but I’m betting it did not.

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