Monday, July 31, 2006

The Pottery Barn rule revisited: We broke it, the pieces are still being smashed, and the damage is spreading

Ceerwan Aziz/Reuters

In speaking to George Bush, Colin Powell invoked what became known as the Pottery Barn rule in the run-up to the Iraq war, to little effect.
" 'You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people,' he told the president. 'You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You'll own it all.' Privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it."
We’ve seen the result. It’s as if all the broken shards are constantly being stomped on and ground into the dirt. Kirk Semple reports in the New York Times on his conversation with a local -- Umm Hassan, a 44-year-old Iraqi woman who works as a reporter and translator for the NYT --
in the back seat of a Baghdad car, both of them crouched down to avoid attracting attention.
“Once there was only one Saddam, now there are many,” she continued. “Everyone has their own reasons to kidnap or kill.” She reached over and took my notebook and pen, then drew a circle. “That’s Saddam,” she said, tapping the circle with the pen. “I knew to stay outside the circle, away from him, and I was O.K.”

She then drew a chaotic group of circles, all overlapping — the most complex Venn diagram on Earth. She put the pen tip in the middle of the madness. That’s where the ordinary Iraqi now stands. The enemy, she said, “is everywhere, many sides, every side.”

“There is a new saying,” she went on. “ ‘We’re all sentenced to death but we don’t know when.’ ” Indeed, one of the greatest victims of the war is certainty. There’s uncertainty about who rules and who can be trusted. There’s uncertainty about the safety of moving from point A to point B, the source of the next meal, the meaning of a glance.
Welcome to Baghdad, the hellhole the Bush administration created by breaking the balance of terror that existed under Saddam, because they were sure democracy would solve all of Iraq’s problems.

And the damage is not limited to Iraq. From her vantage point in Baghdad, River Bend writes in Baghdad Burning and reflects on the tragedy in Qana, Lebanon.
And the world wonders how ‘terrorists’ are created! A 15-year-old Lebanese girl lost five of her siblings and her parents and home in the Qana bombing… Ehud Olmert might as well kill her now because if he thinks she’s going to grow up with anything but hate in her heart towards him and everything he represents, then he’s delusional.

Is this whole debacle the fine line between terrorism and protecting ones nation? If it’s a militia, insurgent or military resistance- then it’s terrorism (unless of course the militia, insurgent(s) and/or resistance are being funded exclusively by the CIA). If it’s the Israeli, American or British army, then it’s a pre-emptive strike, or a ‘war on terror’. No matter the loss of hundreds of innocent lives. No matter the children who died last night- they’re only Arabs, after all, right?

Anybody have a rebuttal that doesn't sound like cynical sophistry?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bush and Cheney! Couple of bulls in a pottery barn. Loads of debris and LOTS of bullshit.