Thursday, April 26, 2007

In or Out?

Ich bin ein Berliner
--John F. Kennedy

“The common people will let it go. Oh yes, they’ll sell liberty for a quieter life.
That is why they must be led, sir,driven, pushed!”

--Mr. Alexander, A Clockwork Orange

Kennedy was voicing John Donne's metaphysical no man is an island. Bill Clinton gave voice to the same idea, if some what less elegantly with his statement, I feel your pain. This compassion is notoriously absent from the aggressive stance of this administration.

The proposed or actual concrete walls to be constructed in Iraq are 12 feet tall and called
Texas Walls since they have been employed with such stellar success in protecting the U.S. Southern borders.

The walls that the U.S. builds are of course not even remotely comparable to the Iron Curtain of yore. That piece of nastiness was designed to keep people in, and ours of course are humanistic and democratic, since they keep people out. But then again, the Iraq wall keeps them in, too. Out or in, depending upon our mood.

Wall conceptualist Lt. Col. Jeff Peterson sees them as ''homogenous, gated communities,'' each two-blocks square, ''built around a market, a mosque and a generator'' (''In Iraq, and Officer's Answer to Violence: Build a Wall.'') These are placed in the ''epicenter of Iraq's civil war,'' presumably to keep the sects from killing each other. Picture it as a kind of more challenging Celebration, Florida, the communitarian Disney development. At least the homogeneity part.

According to Peterson and other commanders, they are clearly no longer fighting an insurgency, but are in the semi-policing business of trying to stop a civil war. Local policing is not a job for the U.S. Army. ''I felt as though I had been coopted into their sectarian agenda.'' Indeed, he had.

So now the best he and his squadron can do is build more walls, knowing that the Sunnis in these enclaves will now be targets not only for the national police and Shiite affiliates, but also their own Sunni militias, for cooperating with the Americans.

So which is it really--in or out, to borrow Alex's phrase from his game of ultraviolence in A Clockwork Orange? And of course, U.S. soldiers and Iraqis are dying at an alarming rate.

Unfortunately, the walls around our cemeteries are not keeping them out.



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