Saturday, July 09, 2005

DISSENTER'S NOTEBOOK: Psycho-linguistics

Psycholinguistics has always been an interesting academic discipline. In an article for the premiere science magazine, Nature, to be released in August, scholars reveal one of its new areas of study. It’s called “psycho-ventriloquism,” and scholars believe that it has some very practical applications. You take a psycho-language and run it through a dummy. Preliminary studies indicate that you can run a nation that way. Some scholars agree that one can run a country that way, but say that there is no evidence that you can do it for long without destroying it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

DISSENTER'S NOTEBOOK: Bagdad and Gallipoli

What does the image of GI’s riding down a Baghdad boulevard to have their Humvee blown up, their arms or legs blown off, or their lives blown away conjure up in your mind? I was surprised to find myself thinking of Gallipoli, the famous World War I battle that for no reason sent wave after wave of good young men vaulting out of trenches to attack an enemy waiting with machine guns. Endless, stupid, painful deaths and gaping, bloody wounds. Generals who could not think of another tactic pursued obvious failures with foolish means to achieve useless ends. Generals of such monumental ignorance they should have been executed for treason. Yes, I know ignorance is not in the definition of treason. But what else is betraying a nation to Death’s domain, the enemy stalking us all, if not treason?

So what’s the difference between Baghdad and Gallipoli? Not much I can see. We’ve been sending young men and women out to patrol those streets, endlessly. Why they don’t suffer from repetitive motion syndrome is a mystery. We do it over and over. The result is always the same, another “improvised explosive device,” or another car bomb waiting for us to appear. We keep recruiting desperate Iraqis to take over our deaths for us and they die standing in front of the induction centers. And not a general, none of them one one-hundredths of a percent as innocent as the American young people they send out to die, nowhere near as innocent as the Iraqis they recruit, can think of anything else to do. They know the inevitable result, but do not know how to stop the slaughter and apparently cannot think, imagine, dream of a new tactic, let alone a new strategy. So they keep on. They are carriers of the twin diseases of ignorance and failure of imagination they caught from their commanders, our Secretary of Defence and our Vice President and our President, none of whom know what to do, and so keep doing what they do over and over, calling it “staying the course,” calling it courage. If they did know what to do, they would surely do it or order it done. I guess. Maybe... One hopes…

In Baghdad we don’t ask our children to vault from trenches. Instead, we ask them to drive to their maiming or their death in the machines we give tax breaks to civilians to buy. And then if they survive, we ask them to do it again in the afternoon. Or next day. Endless, stupid, painful deaths and gaping, bloody wounds. Pursuing obvious failures with foolish means for useless ends. Yes, I know ignorance is not in the definition of treason. But what else is betraying our nation to Death’s domain, the enemy stalking us all, if not treason?