I spent last week in the US. While there I had the opportunity to read more US newspapers than usually I do. An article on the Washington Post, which appeared last Saturday, 1st of December, has provided me with the opportunity to reflect on the effects of the War in Iraq beyond the visible damage and tragedies. Actually, despite the entire piece being interesting, it was a small part of it that forced me to stop and think. The article, Spurred by Gratitude, is a short report on ‘Bomb Lady’, alias Dr Anh Duong , a 47 year old Vietnamese scientist, mother of the first thermobaric US bomb, and other new US military killing toys used during the, quite terrorist in itself, War on Terror. A nice lady who seems to use her personal experience of Vietnam, her gratitude to the US, and her knowledge for developing the most lethal weapons for her adoptive country in the hope that they can be a deterrent against any force which would wish to confront the US. She declares that she is against the war and does not ‘want [her] kids to think violence is the answer’, and that the US uses weapons only for good reasons. And how does she know this? Of course, she has a blind trust in the US government and believes that they would never misuse her toys of death. I am sure that actually the monthly check she receives aids in her blindness and is the best guarantee of the good intentions of Bush&Co. Continue reading
After many years, I came back to Italy during the summer. As many of you may have noticed, I have been on holiday even from my blog. Yet today I have decided to make an exception and comment on a debate that for three days (from 13th of August to the 15th) has made the headlines. The Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, has unceremoniously broken one of the main rules which have governed the last six years of the ‘War on Terror’: never speak to the bad guys, just isolate and, if you can, bomb them. My fellow citizen Machiavelli used to say that the end justifies the means.
The BBC has started an interesting project focusing on the disastrous war in Iraq. In one its web pages it is monitoring the effects of the war, week by week, by looking at casualty figures, the pressure on hospitals and quality of life for ordinary civilians.
The war in Iraq has been a disaster; Bush gifts Americans and British people with grief and a dark future of fear, and the Iraqi people with genocide and a multilateral civil war. The only happy guy, were he not dead, would be Mr Osama bin-Laden, who would have seen his corporation and franchise of terror wealthy as never before. But we know that the Bush family is very used to exchange gifts with the bin-Ladens. It is a long tradition, which this time, probably, has its Freudian side.
However, if President Bush still believes that his controversial surge strategy in Iraq is succeeding, it can only mean that he is still speaking to god. Yet, as an anthropologist, I suggest that this god can only be Kūkā`ilimoku Ki`i Hulu Manu, the Hawaiian feather-headed war god.
Iraq is now a safari run amok, where there lurk soldiers, guards of various companies, mercenaries of variegate extractions, militias of any religious or political ideology, as well as many versions and perversions of al-Qaida mujahidin. All of them hunt the poor ordinary Iraqi dreaming only of a normal life, at least as normal as it could have been under the cruel Saddam. Saddam could handle a gun, as we know, but, from the prospective of the game, one hunter who is more or less predictable is better than many who shoot indiscriminately at anything that moves.
Day after day, Baghdad is stained in fresher blood than it had ever been before. Going to buy food, searching in desperation for the few medicines left, looking for drinkable water, all these also mean facing possible death for the ordinary Iraqi. An Iraqi friend of mine, with a dark sense of humour, recently asked me if I thought that, with the right campaign, the WWF might consider to include Iraqis among the species facing extinction. This is an example of the trust that Iraqi people can be expected to have in the power of the absentee UN to save them from this collective sacrifice to force-imported democracy and freedom. Indeed, a higher number of Iraqis, year after year, are asking whether democracy is not really the deadly Western disease that the more radical preachers describe to them, a rebounding Black Death instead of a legitimate political process for achieving ultimate freedom that grants happiness and economic success. Continue reading
Ms Oriana Fallaci, Mr Bin-Laden and the late Mr Zarqawi have something in common. No, it is not their scary faces and the fact that all are candidates for the grave, with Zarqawi recently downed by American missiles and the journalist Fallaci battling cancer. Rather it is their love for interviews, fatwas and explosive (read the New Yorker article ‘The Agitator’). As an academic, I would have not spent time writing this piece except for one reason: like Ms Fallaci, I am a Florentine myself. Florentines are famous for being adept sarcastic polemicists as well as viscerally politically incorrect. Ms Fallaci certainly is both. Tonight, I feel very Florentine. Continue reading