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Commentary Last Updated: Feb 6th, 2007 - 01:14:34

Why are we in Iraq? . . . So much depends upon the red wheelbarrow
By Randall Carter Gray
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Feb 6, 2007, 01:12

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It�s going on four years since the first arguments and reasons for war in Iraq were made; and there are new very negative ways to look at this muddled conflict, along with new ways of perceiving the man most responsible for the war.

The sense that this conflict is growing curiouser and curiouser, not to mention more seriously damaging to the region by the day, opens some avenues of discussion, perhaps, that are not being typically and openly discussed -- avenues that are dark and creepy.

In dealing with the best example of mission creep in the history of the United States, it is fair to say that there has been a �justification creep� for the war, too --a development that demonstrates not merely incompetence by the administration . . . but more far-reaching, deceptively sinister motives, which make the whole thing, going all the way back to the Persian Gulf War, creepy. This war is creepy certainly because the protest vote against the war by a majority of American voters in November of 2006 has gone unashamedly ignored by the White House, but mostly because there has been so much deception to go along with reports that high-ranking members of the administration may continue to be profiting from the conflict in Iraq, as they have profited from documented U.S. corporate dealings in Iran.

It�s creepy not knowing whether the leaders of your nation are allies or enemies. Deception is always creepy -- for it is the hallmark of wantonly evil behavior. The misunderstood paradox in life and reality caused by the coexistence of good and evil, a coexistence which exists because good must accommodate evil for a period of free will so that true love between God and man and man�s fellow man may thrive, is most dangerously misunderstood by people with great power but not a lot of intellectual depth and insight, not to mention a lack of spirituality and morality.

Because the rich and powerful are and usually have been for most of their lives rich and powerful, they tend to believe that the Beatitudes are a lie, that the meek, the hungry, the poor in heart, the oppressed, the destitute are not God�s people at all, but rather hopeless losers and vagabonds who need to be punished even further. The elite rich and powerful believe that they are blessed, that they are chosen, that they are most deserving of their positions of privilege, when the truth is that all they are is fortunate, as the rich young ruler was who could not sell everything he owned, give it to the poor and follow Jesus and his teachings on a road that would become steadily more arduous and deadly.

Life, especially the spiritual life of humility, is paradoxical, just as the �blessing� of being truly great as an athlete, for instance, often involves great pain and sacrifice. No pain, no gain is what they tell those of us who want to know why we practice so hard before the big games.

Neither �victory� (whatever that means now) nor democracy are at all likely in Iraq in the distant future, if ever -- and these are the words of our own military commanding officers. Congress seriously debates its equal role as a �decider� of wars, to its credit, but the president remains unfazed, as demonstrated by the presidential oblivion evident in the recent State of the Union address and statements since then made by the president and his supporters.

I am reminded of the analogy of the frog which is being boiled without his knowledge . . . and only realizes his predicament when it is too late and he is practically cooked and ready for serving. For some people, that is perhaps too creepy a way of looking at what it is that our president is doing to us. But reality is ruled by paradox and the incomprehensible, whether we choose to see it this way or not.

I remember as a young student when I learned that every color that I see in the world is not really the color, technically, of the thing that I am looking at, but all the colors except that one, which is being reflected back. So much does depend upon the red wheelbarrow, as the poem states. The red wheelbarrow is not actually, not really, a red wheelbarrow: a red wheelbarrow is every color but red. I sensed then and I have sensed many times since then, that there are indeed things going on that we have never imagined and never dreamed of, mystical things, things going on behind closed doors, up in space, underwater, perhaps in tunnels, perhaps even underground, creepy, sinister, unspeakable things to go along with those things which are openly deceptive and creepy.

Chris Matthews of MSNBC�s Hardball made a very important new point recently about the heartbreakingly and mind-bogglingly grim conflict in Iraq, which opened or reopened some of the ways that I have been contemplating this war. He and his guest were comparing this conflict to the conflict in Vietnam -- and Matthews said, in effect, the situation that we found in Vietnam, circumstances before, during and after the conflict there, is or would be no different than the situation we are finding in Iraq; and that is, as Matthews pointed out, that 10 or 20 years from now Iraq will still be the homes of many of the people who are fighting against the United States. Iraq will be the homes of these Iraqis and many more, whether the United States likes it or not, and we will have left their homeland -- win, lose or draw -- worse than when we found it. And most likely we won�t have kicked anyone out of his country who wants to be there or who doesn�t want to leave and we won�t have changed the social or political or spiritual/religious order one bit. So, Matthews wanted to know, as he has wanted to know on other nights, what are we doing in Iraq! The situation will continue and nothing will have been accomplished by the United States, because nothing in Iraq was ever accomplishable. And, I submit that there was never anything for the United States to accomplish in Iraq, other than the United States being in Iraq.

As weird as it may sound, I believe, I strongly believe, that the basis for the United States presence in Iraq now and in the future may best be gotten at by reading some ancient holy documents and books, which have certainly been popular in the past, and are now somewhat popular, for as long as I have been around.

Why we are in Iraq is a question that involves mystical, mythical, sacred, topsy-turvy, paradoxical and incomprehensible aspects, and it is only in these ways, with these frames of mind, that we can even begin to call the red wheelbarrow red, and even then there is so much more to know about the red wheelbarrow. I agree with whoever it was who wrote that poem -- who is, I believe, either e.e. cummings or William Carlos Williams (I get those two mixed up.) -- so much does depend upon the red wheelbarrow. So very much. Maybe everything.

I keep waiting for someone to call me to ask me to answer why it is that so much depends on the red wheelbarrow . . . but nobody calls. And very few write. That is the fate, for now, of vagabond poets and nearly destitute writers (especially blogging ones) who do what they do for no pay, and who may, in fact, be doing it to their ultimate detriment (bring it on.) . . . if deception and creepiness gets away with what it is doing to this nation and the world.

I meant nothing by �bring it on� except to say that those of us who disagree with this administration, and are maybe even a little (or a lot) creeped out by this administration, feel fairly comfortable, very comfortable, in fact, with Who�s side we�re on.

Randall Carter Gray served in military intelligence in the Vietnam War era. He is a theological "hobbyist," freelance journalist, poet and painter, and lives in Signal Mountain, Tenn. He is co-editor of TANATA.

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