[saymaListserv] a matter of scale

Steve Livingston nc_stereoman at charter.net
Thu Sep 23 23:31:45 JEST 2004


Dear Friends,

My favorite Iraq blogger is Juan Cole, a professor of Mideast 
History at U of MI. He writes "Informed Comment" and can be found 
at juancole.com. If you want to know what is really going on in the 
Middle East, Prof. Cole adds the cultural, tribal issues, and family 
issues, with a keen understanding of language and history.

He often shares opinions of colleagues, and occasionally writes his 
own. I want to share with you a comparison he drew in his column 
today that really gives substance to the compassion many citizens 
feel for the "enemy" in Iraq.

If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?
by Juan Cole

President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and 
implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The 
population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics 
would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately 
of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, 
grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment 
in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 
11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly 
toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the 
capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in 
Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings 
near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody 
in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the 
Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous 
to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were 
trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to 
move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know 
what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only 
time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in 
Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in 
concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 
275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), 
rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous 
urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely 
controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, 
Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go 
into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the 
President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir 
al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with 
thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every 
major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, 
Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia 
in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe 
houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and 
little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing 
hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire 
platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National 
Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, 
destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam 
Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches 
had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on 
the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at 
a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? 
What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from 
Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got 
on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being 
carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and 
often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to 
grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in 
Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and 
disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City 
bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you 
need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new 
"president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if 
several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were 
assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were 
taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of 
the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that 
freedom and democracy are just around the corner?

-- 
Steve Livingston
nc_stereoman at charter.net
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