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Metaphors and wars

Monday morning, I heard Colin Powell refer to negotiations with Iraq in the past tense.

“The time for negotiations has passed,” he said at Monday morning’s press conference. Since then, I’ve spent a total of about four or five hours trying to write today’s column. By writing, I’m trying to figure out what I’m feeling as we stand on the precipice of war, one more time. I won’t charge the newspaper for my time, because the time I’m taking is my own.

When I was young, I remember hearing my dad talk about World War II. I was naïve and it seemed like it was so simple. The Japanese, their red circles showing plainly on the tails of their war planes, bombed Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941. My dad, born and raised in San Diego, and his buddies marched right out of high school and right down to the Navy’s selective service office and signed up. It was that cut and dry. They were young men – boys, really – who reacted to an attack on one of their country’s naval bases in the most primal, patriotic way. Our country had been attacked and they wanted to be a part of attacking back – and they were.



But this isn’t like that. Those who attacked us on Sept. 11 aren’t affiliated with any one country. Cowardly, they didn’t and don’t have bright red circles plastered on them for identification. And none of the hijackers was even from Iraq; they were from Saudi Arabia. People who support Osama bin Laden’s crazed fundamentalism are all over the place, hiding in pockets we may never find.

Meanwhile there’s Saddam Hussein, clearly a “bad guy,” and a ruthless leader to be sure. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with focusing on him and his cronies responsible for Iraq’s noncompliance with the countless U.N. weapons inspections. Saddam has put the people of Iraq into grave danger by his actions, and he and his corps should be held accountable. Pull them out of the country, try them in an international court and punish them. And when I say punish, I mean punish. Severely.



But to bomb Iraqi cities filled with innocent people seems just as horrific as smashing airplanes into buildings, murdering countless people who just happen to be in the wrong place and the wrong time. People can counter that argument with, “Why not? Didn’t `they’ do that to us? But who are `they?’ Aren’t we better than that? Do we even want to be thought of in the same breath as Saddam, Osama and the rest?

The war with Iraq is edging closer and closer. It’s like we’re all on a raft headed slowly downriver towards a raging waterfall. Now, it’s looking like even if we wanted to row madly to an eddy, we don’t have the power to do it. Gravity is leading us down.

Since I’m using metaphors, I’ll use another. Attacking Iraq and its civilians is a lot like watching kids on a school bus deal with conflict. A kid, the U.S., is hit in the back of the head with a spit wad by another kid, Osama, who’s hiding in the very back of the bus. The U.S. kid turns around and automatically assumes that the kid, Saddam, sitting directly behind him hit him so he demands to see if Saddam has got any spit wads handy. Osama and Saddam are both mean kids, but the U.S. kid can’t see Osama so he goes after Saddam. He whips out a giant water balloon and nails Saddam and all the kids around him with it. Meanwhile, Osama is hiding in the back of bus, dry and undetected

I heard this morning that, according to a Gallup poll, Americans are almost 50/50 over going to war. It seems like I’m not the only one who’s torn in half over this situation. It seems like the whole country is. And even if you’re 100 percent pro or anti war, as human beings, we agree on a few things. Nobody wants our soldiers hurt or killed. And no one wants people whose actions did nothing to contribute to this conflict – be they Americans or Iraqis, children or adults – to die or suffer over the recklessness of war.

Carrie Click is a Post Independent staff writer. Her column runs on Tuesdays.


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