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02 April 2003

Worse than I expected

I keep thinking that things cannot get any worse. But they can. Before the war started, I was full of dire predictions. The mildest of which was "I think they are underestimating how long and how many lives it can take." And "I don't think anyone has said how all this is going to be paid for." (I did see a report about the ordering of body bags in early March. I don't remember the figure but it was a lot higher than any number you want to think about in this context.) The worst of my predictions are based on the appalling similarities in the run-up to this war and the run-up to World War I. (I am not the only person to have noticed this. I mean to say pundits wrote about that, too.) And it is also a lot like how "we" got into Vietnam, but a lot faster and maybe even stupider, given the really advanced technology and the greater military experience the US has now compared to the mid-1960s.

And yet, the main thing that I fear is the distraction of it, the fact that, as bad as the war is, it is only one little part of the world picture, but it is dominating 95% of the news in all media. Meanwhile, in Korea, meanwhile on the West Bank, meanwhile in Kashmir, meanwhile in the Ivory Coast, etc. etc. Then there is the eerie correspondence between the outbreak of SARS now and the influenza that grew in strength in the background through the last few years of WWI, only to explode into a pandemic (Europe 1918-1919, East Cost of US 1919, midwest 1920).

But I never really anticipated the naked imperialism being displayed by elements of the American government. No, I never saw that coming. I always think that I am so paranoid about people like Rumsfeld and Perle and Cheney that they can't really be as bad as they seem to me. But guess what, I think maybe they are.

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