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
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
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
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
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.
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.