March 21st, 2003

The gentleman is always properly dressed

Shock(ing) and Awe(ful)

I’ve been largely silent since Operation "We’ll Call It A Humanitarian Aid Effort" began with Bush’s ultimatum on Monday night. It’s not because I’ve nothing to say. To the contrary, I’ve spilled thousands of words into the ether. I actually can’t stop writing about the war, but I haven’t felt comfortable with posting any of it.

As of right now, dissenters are supposed to be silent because the administration’s clever and dubious spin of the war as some kind of humanitarian aid effort, or because of fear mongering around an "imminent global threat." Once you state that you are against the war, you are dismissed as an idealistic simpleton who has no understanding of the relevant events. On the other hand, if you do manage to demonstrate knowledge of what really is an incredibly complex issue, you are still dismissed as an idealistic simpleton and then branded as "unpatriotic." I actually saw someone use the argument, "Our president has access to detailed information gathered by the finest intelligence network in the world. You do not."

Who said American anti-intellectualism was dead?

Frankly, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of defending my decidedly middle of the road stance from people who think that parroting the same highly-filtered data that the Bush administration uses somehow makes them experts on the region, or from those who confuse emotion-driven rhetoric for rational debate. I am not some sort of hippie peacenik who assumes that war is utterly unnecessary. I am not an apologist for oppressive regimes of any sort. I do not believe, however, that just because someone repeatedly shouts about "attacks on America" or "twelve years of failed diplomacy" means that the opposition has been successfully dismissed. What it does mean is that any further conversation is likely pointless since he’s taken a seriously limited viewpoint and I’m just going to be classified as part of the "no blood for oil" crowd anyway.

For clarification’s sake, like many who feel the US does not have the right to use "any means necessary" to ensure her interests, I recognize that the world’s history does not begin in 1991. I acknowledge the hypocrisy of justifying an aggressive act with resolutions passed by the UN when we refuse to acknowledge the authority of that body ourselves. The US has pursued a course of action that is unprecedented in our history, and in the process has managed utterly to discredit the UN and to anger our allies in NATO, effectively isolating ourselves in an increasingly hostile world. Somehow in the face of this, I am supposed to be pleased.

I am not.

I am embarrassed and ashamed.

I just hope it's going to be as easy as the pundits would have us believe.
  • Current Mood
    clearly upset
The gentleman is always properly dressed

Our Striking Colors

By the mid-17th Century, privateers, licensed to prey on enemy shipping by their national governments, were expected to fly their national flag in addition to whatever privateering symbol they were approved to use. Most often, these symbols were in red, thought to be a graphic warning to the opposing ship to surrender or face destruction at the hands of the privateers. The term "Jolly Roger" is believed to originate from the French appellation of these flags, jolie rouges ("Pretty Reds.")

Privateers that did not fly their national flag in addition to their privateering symbol were considered pirates by maritime convention.


As part of our "liberators, not conquerors" doctrine, American troops entered Iraq after having been instructed not to fly the American national flag. I’m not sure if the regimental flags have also been ordered taken down, though given that a good many of them look a great deal like Jolly Rogers themselves (complete with smiling skulls and crossed weapons), I’d guess that they got left back in the staging areas.

I do recognize that it’s not really the same thing (this is not a maritime engagement, for one thing), but it is a weird move nonetheless. I am inclined to attribute the move to some type of ruse de guerre in keeping with our essentially calling the thing other than what it actually is. I mean, when else was the American flag been thought to represent a feared conqueror?

Certainly not in WWII.

Propaganda is, in a way, its own type of psychological warfare.

Update: Based on photographs I saw of armor attached to the American 3rd Infantry Div., regimental and company banners were NOT prohibited. In fact, one photo displayed a tank in Tuesday's sandstorms flying a flag that looked alarmingly like the Jolly Roger of Calico Jack.
  • Current Mood
    Back to irreverent again