Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Nedra and I like to watch the news and we mix MSNBC, PBS, CBS, CNN, and an occasional switch to Fox News, especially when no other news is available. That gives us a nice spectrum of opinions and I find it helpful to know the spin that each commentator gives on a lead story. As I watch the current crises in Ukraine and the Gaza strip I am reminded of a similar range of opinions on the Iraq war.  We are not privy to the debates that take place in our presidents’ cabinet meetings.  We usually start off united and enthusiastic for a war, especially if there is a provocation.  For Iraq it was Sadam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction for first the atomic bomb that wasn’t and second for the mobile poison gas units that were show cased at the UN by our duped ambassador.  As the momentum for war was urged by the neocons and war hawks in the Bush administration, I listened to their spin. The war would be over in a few weeks.  We would use precision bombing that only hit military targets. Guided missiles would spare putting pilots at risk. Once Hussein’s army was crushed (one general called its army “laughable”), the liberated people of Iraq would throw flowers at our soldiers as they marched through Baghdad.  That last image touched my memory.  I thought of the Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy (accidentally) kills the wicked witch by throwing a bucket of water on her (to put out a fire on the straw man set by the wicked witch), the witch melts and dies.  Her army that terrorized Dorothy and her companions, then turns to her and shouts out “Hail Dorothy!” and the soldiers kneel as they adore her.  I felt then that this is how foreign policy is shaped in our childhoods.  We have a fairy tale image of our virtues and strengths and of our enemies’ evils and flaws.  We do not have fairy tales with shades of grey. What depresses me is that fairy tales are not limited to one country. It is a universal childhood theme of good versus evil. Stepmothers are wicked. Ogres exist. Justice prevails.  It is when the war ends or the war drags on or the casualties are seen and the mistakes are made that the shades of grey — what we call reality – set in. Those murky accompaniments of war disturb us because they do not fit the fairy tale expectations that accompany the start of war.  Instead of a “Hail Dorothy” moment we hear “Get out of Vietnam” or “Get out of Iraq” or “Stop the War” or “Hey, hey, hey, LBJ, how many people have you killed today.”  Instead of invoking “light at the end of the tunnel,” the puzzled war hawks invoke “the fog of war.”  They feel that they and their nation were betrayed by unpatriotic protesters who sabotaged their dreams.  They do not feel that they were betrayed by their fairy tale image of yet another controversy in a war saturated world. 

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