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James Skinner on Iraq and Texas

‘It’s all over, at least the bombardment, the shooting, the downfall of the regime and the final liberation of the oppressed people of Iraq. Or so we are lead to believe. General looting of Saddam’s goodies soon followed and continued with the destruction of priceless jewels such as the Baghdad National Museum and Library and finally, the inevitable uprising of the religious Muslim fanatics who immediately demanded the departure of the infidel invaders. The whole area however has been screwed up and is now up for grabs. Such is the summary of the shortest war in modern history. So what next?

Picture the following surreal scenario for the 21st century:

China is the sole super power of the world following the end of the Cold War. The USA has retreated into deep isolationism; the European Union continues to bicker about insignificant issues such as agricultural policies and ineffectual labour laws that discriminate against women. And the rest of the world; oh well, who cares!
But deep in the heart of the state of Texas a ruthless governor by the name of John Tree has been demonising its people and subjecting them to a life of misery for over twenty years. Despite large oil reserves and severe economic sanctions, Governor Tree continued to ignore the threats of the United Oriental Nations who had been demanding access by their inspectors to Texas’ manufacturing sites of illegal weapons of mass destruction. Hamburgers were deemed to be a hazard to world health, but John T’s dictatorial government continued to serve out double whoppers with ‘freedom’ fries regardless of the international threats. Although the UON was against any military action, China nevertheless went ahead and dropped a couple of baby nukes on Austin and Huston and immediately ended the reign of terror of Mr. John T. The whole world vomited fire and then retreated into the usual ‘what next’ mode of apathy. Reconstruction was the name of the game!

Texas had everything in working order. Electricity, communications, water supplies, manufacturing and agricultural production and a public service infrastructure that allowed its population to live some sort of a daily existence no different to the rest of the world. The people were oppressed all right, but they didn’t really give a damn as long as they could return home every evening, eat their hamburger, and listen to John T’s sermon on Texas righteousness whilst condemning the evil Orientals. They could always change channel and watch the Simpsons re-runs instead. The population was mainly orthodox Christian, yet John T. imposed his ‘Born again’ version and arrested and tortured anyone caught worshiping the wrong God. He usually shot them. The atomic attack ended it all. The Chinese took over. The rest of the States jumped up and down but did nothing. And suddenly the Texan way of life was overturned overnight.

The previous paragraphs are obviously absolute crap!
Not even Orwell or Poe could have dreamt up such a universal idiotic horror story. Yet there is one element that stands out as a parallel to the recent past and present situation in Iraq. Despite the overnight destruction and consequent disruption, the overthrowing of an evil regime, and the awakening to future uncertainty of a stunned population the fact remains that the most dramatic change is the appearance of a massive alien force ready to implant a new way of life. The Texans confronting a Chinese war machine willing to introduce hot and sour soup and chopsticks as their daily bread is no different to the Iraqis staring into the gun barrel of a US marine as he tries to hand out popcorn and teach them to play baseball. Texan radio stations would start listening to the ballads of Chin Fu Lin whilst Madonna would be blasting through the airwaves into the downtown Baghdad slums. Grey uniform suits would prevail in Texan boardrooms whilst blue jeans and ‘love America’ T-shirts were handed out to university students in Basra. But what is going to be the real problem of rebuilding a devastated area of the world, when one system of way-of-life is imposed on another in such a dramatic takeover bid? What fundamental basic issue should be considered as the most important? Language! The problem of communicating of one human being with another is the real challenge. The spectre of the Tower of Babylon will always raise its ugly head whenever humanity decides to rebuild from the ashes of its own inflicted destruction.

The day the war ended, or rather the Anglo-American coalition decided to stop shooting, Iraq, as an operating country was out of action. One could truthfully say that it was at a standstill in every sense of the word. No power, no sewage, no water were some of the understandable and obvious stoppages. Every one of these sectors would require massive engineering and operational input from the outside world to get back up and running. Then we have the infrastructure of communications and services, such as phones and television, hospitals and schools, government offices, security and a sleuth of other areas that needed addressing and fast! Most of all was the need to secure some sort of a governing body that could begin to return the country back to normality in basic living standards. But what about the people, the core of the nation, your true blooded Iraqis that remained stunned by the whole circus act that took place over the past couple of months? What were they beginning to make of it all? Here are the baby boomers of the flower power era running around the nation trying to sort out all these problems whilst Hazmin and her nine children were wondering what had happened to the local bazaar. How could she find out if she couldn’t speak English? Captain Joe Stuart wasn’t able to understand her Arabic language let alone the signs that she was pointing to in the town square. Yet another bombshell is also ticking away! How long will it take before the Iraqi people lose their patience?

The all-important element of time is also an overwhelming factor in the rebuilding of a nation. There is no doubt about that. There is a limit to which more that 25 million human beings can sit and wait for a light to come on, a tap to quench their thirst and their small kids go back to kindergarten. Workers can hang on for so long or housewives brood whilst the bread is being baked before their idleness turns to violence. The new ruling leaders realise this danger. Yet no matter how they wish to transform the country for their own good they still must overcome the gruesome hurdle of transmitting their goodwill message and in the people’s own idiom. But that is not all, not only is it a language barrier, it is also a cultural battle that has to be literally won and soon! No use assuring the clerics that their Islamic faith has been restored. The latter have got to believe it. So, in a nutshell Humpty Dumpy had a great fall. As opposed to the childrens rhyme, lets hope all the King’s horses and all the King’s men can put the bloody broken egg back together again!’

© James Skinner May 2003.

The Media At War
James Skinner on embedded journos

Islam v Consumerism
James Skinner
on the origins of the current conflict

‘Is this the coalition’s slogan as they forge their way through Iraq to destroy oppression and liberate the people?

The Sinking of The Prestige
James Skinner on the poisoned beaches of Spain
'Much too little too late'


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