Notes from the last week of the false peace:
I was having a conversation with a French gentleman this evening, and he said, in a puzzled tone of voice, that hed visited the cafeteria at work today, and there was a sign -
Freedom fries, I said.
Yes! he said. Exactly! What was this all about? Why freedom fries?
Explaining that the cafeteria had found it necessary to deGaulify its menu was one of the more . . . interesting conversations Ive had lately. You find a way to tell a friend that the people who prepare his workaday meal think the antithesis of his country is freedom. You can write about these matters, rant to yourself in traffic, nod with grim pleasure over the brash remarks on a red-meat website, but dealing with the subject over the dinner table is a different matter entirely. You look at your daughter, you look at his; you wonder if they'll ever meet again after he goes back, and you realize again that you never saw this one coming.
Passed some protesters on the way home. They were on the bridge over the highway, waving homemade signs: NO BLOOD FOR OIL, of course - holding a protest without having that slogan would be like shooting an episode of Happy Days in which Fonzie doesnt say Ayyyyyyy. WAR BEGINS WITH DUBYA, said another. (Took me six blocks to figure that one out.) The protesters looked happy; they were all smiling with excitement and holding up the signs, as if this was one of those high-school summertime charity car washes.
Would they trust the opinion of anyone who was swayed, at this late date, by a handwritten sign waved by a stranger on the sidewalk? Your crudely written slogan has confounded my worldview! Tell me more about this refusal to exchange petrochemicals for circulatory fluids. I probably have one demonstration in me, one instance when I put up the yard sign, but this isn't it. I can't put up a LIBERATE IRAQ sign because I don't believe that's the objective here. I think it's a salutory consequence, hardly insignificant, but it's not Job One. DEFEAT SADDAM is the point, and I think that people who put up the pro-war lawn signs know that, and enjoy poking the opposition in the eye with their own terminology. I'm just not a sign-and-placard sort of fellow, that's all. The day the troops go in the flag goes up, and that will say it all. If it bothers some, well, go ahead. Be bothered.
Ive tuned out the dance marathon known as the UN Security Council process. In fact I can pinpoint the exact moment when I realizedI no longer cared: the Syrian ambassador was introduced, and the Security Council chairman made the obligatory introductions. Kind, measured, collegial. Diplomatic, you might say. It was like listening to the gallery give a golf-clap for Hermann Goering, teeing off on Hole 13. The Syrian mouthpiece returned the favor by complimenting the SC chairman for some useless appointment - Interim Crozier of the Plenipotentiary Committee for Soy, maybe. Everyone having been sufficiently fellated, he got down to the business of blocking another resolution - drowning the baby in the baath water, if you will.
Such nice words they have for one another. Its as if they think honey hides the stains on the butchers smock. Actually, it just attracts more flies.
Wake me when the masks drop and the gloves come off, I thought - but today I glanced at the TV and saw a list of suggestions for a new resolution, and it made me sit up and pay attention anew. One of the conditions: Saddam would make a televised appearance in which he would renounce weapons of mass destruction.
It beggars belief. Perhaps a requirement of participating in these discussions is a note from your doctor verifying that he pulled out 75% of your brain tissue through your nose with a hooked stick. Perhaps they think well be satisfied with this, as if making a speech on Al-Jazeera is somehow the equivalent of a legally binding contract. Perhaps they think that this speech would be useful evidence down the road when the International Criminal Court wishes to press charges for the infamous March 17 2003 Gassin O the Kurds:
Brussels, April 1 2004 (Reuters)I did not make that speech, Saddam said in his trial. That was a double. I was in the control room crossing my fingers. Belgian judges later ruled that the crossing of fingers would be permitted if they were crossed before the statement was made, since that established a dialectical contradiction whose negation of the spoken word essentially made the speech mean the opposite of what the speaker said. Relying on French theories regarding the topography of meaning, Judge Henri Spraught noted that the very duress under which the TV address was made requires us to dig below the verdant, dung-infused topsoil of rhetoric to grasp the gnarled roots of meaning beneath.
Saddam makes a promise on TV, and the world stands down, relieved. Peace has arrived! Lets do the Charleston and have another Internet bubble!
Worrying about Pax.
And waiting some more.