• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show
"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket
"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming
October 10, 2004
A View From Belgium
Since I asked last week, I've gotten email from quite a few people from outside the US. However, there are some new countries that have shown up in the site statistics that I'm particularly curious about -- Qatar, Venezuela, and Israel. If you're from there and have a second, please write me at tinyrevolution [at] yahoo [dot] com. I'd love to hear your take on the war in Iraq, the world generally, and if you remember, how you came across this site. And of course I'd be delighted to hear from people elsewhere too. (Let me know if I can post what you write here.)
Below is the perspective of FDK from Brussels. I found it very compelling.
Iraq seen from Belgium (and I guess itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the same all over Europe) is very simple: this is a dirty war, completely useless and with no solution at all in the short term, on the contrary. The reaction of President Bush on this issue reinforces the European prejudice of the naive and rather dumb American who thinks that a war follows a Hollywood script: the good and the bad fight a terrible fight and the good guy wins. Everybody here is very aware that this scheme is utter nonsense. Why ?
LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s start with a touch of Ã¢â‚¬Å“couleur localeÃ¢â‚¬Â: a few weeks ago, on September 4th the end of WWII was commemorated in the very small and calm town where I was born. That day in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢44 German soldiers tried to flee to Germany through smaller country roads. It was Sunday and a family stood on the front door to see the Germans passing by. Those scary Germans gunned the whole family down and drove further. Two hours later a huge British tank appeared in the street of my parents and everybody was urged to stay inside. The next column of Germans was attacked by the British flame-thrower and all their ammunition exploded. After a few moment my father couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hold it, opened the door and saw the British soldiers standing there while Germans were rolling over the street completely in flames, crying and dying; about ten houses were burning down. Our house was the last untouched. That was a very small event in this war. You have to multiply this Ã¢â‚¬ËœsmallÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ event by a million as you talk about the deaths and destroyed buildings of the whole war, and then you know what WWII means in Europe. Here soldiers are not heroes; soldiers are killers; war is not a solution, war is complete destruction with only losers; the cause of a war is always stupid because it needs generations to come again to normal. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the opinion of the overwhelming majority in Belgium and I am sure in whole Europe.
Madeleine Albright repeats here on TV, where she is interviewed about her new book, that Europeans donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand what 9/11 changed in the psyche of the Americans. I think she is right, and in fact we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even try to decipher this subtleties. We really understand the horror of men and women, jumping down from the WTC, believe me. But while commemorating, 50 years after, the killing of millions of people and the devastation of thousandths of cities, small towns or neighborhoods, we do not understand that a normal homo sapiens starts a war machine of 60 to 100 billion dollars for two buildings and less than 3000 victims Ã¢â‚¬â€œ certainly when we know that more people were killed in the US during the same year by guns and cars. This Iraq war is in our psyche a case of pure overacting. And every picture of American soldiers in front of burning buildings with dead corpses on the ground and crying people all around, every report on the non-existing of WMD, every killed American soldier, every car bombing, every killing of people who want to make their living as policeman or a truck driver, every kidnapping only for the money (the 2 Italian SimonaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, the French journalists and the poor Nepalese workers) enhances our perplexity in front of what we consider as an abysm of stupidity. And on top frolics an US president, pretending on every TV screen that we live in a safer world. We stay speechless. But on the question who was right and who was wrong: Blix or Cheney, there is no doubt about the answer here: Blix was right Cheney was wrong.
But there is a another Ã¢â‚¬Å“butÃ¢â‚¬Â --
We have no answer to the real war against small groups all over the planet, with mafia methods and a political agenda - which by the way is a Ã¢â‚¬Å“warÃ¢â‚¬Â without Ã¢â‚¬Å“major military operationsÃ¢â‚¬Â. The US stays the only partner able to attack this problem politically and technically as well. Here in Belgium the only politically acceptable military actions are humanitarian ones - planes dropping food over the desert. Remember that the Belgian army was Ã¢â‚¬Å“brought to justiceÃ¢â‚¬Â by the widows of the soldiers killed in the Belgian intervention during the genocide in Rwanda. The military budget is decreasing every year. It represents at the moment less than 2,5 billion euro a year, whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s equal to the US army budget for one and a half day. Our public opinion doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to see the problem and speaking about guns is very immoral while gay marriage isn't. But in the mean time we are not working on what is whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really needed: an intelligent military intervention force without a regular army.