Counting down to Iraqi war at SDSU

John Hult

John Hult

Around 10 a.m. Monday morning, I was sitting in class, talking with a group of students about President Bush’s possible address to the nation. One of the students, a national guards-woman, hadn’t heard the rumors.

She shook her head, fixed a forward gaze on nothing in particular and said, quite matter-of-factly,

“I’m gonna be a veteran.”

Later that day, I ran into a professor of mine reading a book in the second-floor breezeway of the Pharmacy building.

I asked the professor, whom I knew to be opposed to a war with Iraq, what he had read about the protests over the weekend. I asked if he knew whether or not Bush would speak that evening (“I hope not,” he said.). I noted a figure I read the night before in the Star Tribune, which said that 80 percent of the Japanese people oppose the “war to make the world safe for democracy,” but the Japanese government wasn’t listening–much like the governments of the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland and many others. I asked him what those opposed to war could do now.

“Cry,” he said.

After class, I came home for lunch and flipped on Headline News. Bush had, indeed, given up on the U.N. He was planning to speak that night.

Inspectors were pulling out. Kofi Annan was expressing disappointment in the failed diplomac efforts and decrying the legitimacy of a war without U.N. approval. Robin Cook, a member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s inner circle, had resigned in protest of Blair’s support for war. Blair, of course, didn’t budge.

Iraq was preparing for battle, readying chemical weapons to use against U.S. forces–although the anonymous U.S. officials who leaked the information said that they had no hard evidence of that particular development. There was light-hearted news as well.

Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, apologized on the band’s Web site for saying in London that she was ashamed that Bush is from her home state.

Apparently a group of angry Georgians had bulldozed a few thousand copies of Dixie Chicks albums. A bunch of Burger King restaurants had followed the lead of Washington cafeterias and changed the name of a certain spud snack to “Freedom Fries.”

Meanwhile, police were arresting anti-war protestors on the West Coast.

Good news, however. The stock market was bouncing back from its early morning lows thanks to Bush’s announcement. Investors, no longer facing an uncertain future, were staging a feeding frenzy. The story was tagged with the question “Will history repeat itself?” Apparently, Wall Street rallied during the 1991 Gulf War.

After a few hours of CNN and Fox News, the televisions in the basement of the University Student Union were again tuned in to sitcoms or Saturday Night Live reruns at around 5:30 p.m. Monday was tense. The break was neccessary and understandable.

When President Bush actually did appear again, he said–more or less–exactly what the various talking heads had been promising he would say:

Saddam Hussein has 48 hours to exit Iraq or face military action.

He explained that the U.N. had failed to live up to its obligation as as international peace keeper.

He urged Iraqi troops to jump ship and join with U.S. forces.

By 8:15 p.m., the USU television that carried Bush’s speech was projecting the words of Larry King to an empty enclosure while its neighbor screened a basketball game to a captivated two. Well, a captivated one. The other guy was sleeping.

The Philosophy, Religion and Ethics Club’s meeting that night came off hitchless, its discussion centering around the true story of a family court judge whose checkered past is confronted by the media. No one was sleeping, but many in attendence weren’t exactly there. The topic turned to Iraq.

By the time you read this, U.S. forces will be making final preparations for the invasion.

The time for discussion has passed.

May we all hope there are more tears than drops of blood.

John Hult is the Collegian’s arts and entertainment editor. Write to him at [email protected].