story of a woman on the morning of a war/
me if you could exactly what we're fighting for
– The Red Hot Chili Peppers
morning I woke up real early and practiced my minimal wu shu.
It promised to be a beautiful day – the urban rooster gang was already
crowing, the sun was crawling across my floor and the breeze lifted
the smell of the city out and away. I strolled quickly down the
street and smiled to myself as, for once, the sun seemed to be able
to fend off the fog and pollution and find its way to the streets.
I noticed people were
outside in chairs sipping tea and chatting to themselves. Everybody
had a paper in hand or a TV propped up in the doorway of whichever
store it is they happen to run. The neighborhood sidewalk doctors
were out on the curb – smoking and reading the paper.
As I walked passed
the second or third group of people, I realized that more than just
sunlight had brought the people out into the streets. The radios
proclaimed it, the televisions showed footage of it and the papers
heralded its coming.
The war had begun.
On the bus ride to
the office, the locals stared at me as they always do. Perhaps more
than usual, perhaps not.
On the taxi ride to
the Public Security Bureau to drop off my visa extension application,
I heard Bush's speech as it was being translated word for word by
Sichuan Radio. I heard the man speak of Saddam's "final atrocity,"
using his people as "human shields." I wondered if it
was by choice that the Iraqi Army was surrounded by women and children.
Wasn't it the Americans who said "No place in Baghdad is safe?"
Then I heard the new term "coalition forces" which has
replaced "coalition of the willing."
despise government in general and the current US administration
more than most, but rarely do I get a true nauseous feeling when
When I arrived back at the office,
CNN was being beamed in by CCTV 4 and we were treated to CNN graphics
showing a calm Baghdad with commentary – translated on the spot
– describing attacks on "targets of opportunity" and "leadership
Nobody said much, today is a busy day.
The weekend is coming and Friday is notorious for being "part
of the Sichuan weekend." My bar opens tonight.
night we expats and a few Chinese spoke wearily about MOABS
Cutters and what the reaction might be when those bombs start
falling on little girls like Thuraya, whose letter has made it into
the mainstream media due to the efforts of Voices
in the Wilderness or Iraq
Peace Team and Antiwar.com.
While the world rocked the airwaves
and pages of the mainstream media in the past few months with protests
marches and superb
displays China went about its business. Hong Kong protests
were limited to several hundred people and the coverage of the SCMP
reflected the turnout. I've heard of a few sit-ins planned Beijing
University and in Nanjing, but nothing that will lend Chinese voices
to the cacophony Bush is trying to silence with his "decapitation
attacks" of 3000 missiles and bombs.
Perhaps pragmatic Chinese believed
that war was inevitable and the effects minimal to the mainland,
especially after oil prices rebounded and the stock markets breathed
a sigh of relief when it was finally decided that the killing would
indeed begin soon.
Do all those who go about their lives
today leave drops of blood in their wake? Is writing a column once
a week, drumming a theme to death and digging up new and ever more
ominous signs of our leaders' duplicity, greed and callousness enough
to keep the blood off of my keyboard?
The levels of devotion to oneself vis
a vis the world are so disparate – one girl closes her eyes and
thinks of home as the bulldozer
runs her over, one man pours himself onto page after page of
paper and then goes to the bar and drinks, a city basks in the sun
and sips tea as another is turned to dust.
wonder what my good friend working for Kellogg,
Brown and Root building walls around the US Consulate thinks
of the whole affair. He actually served in the first Gulf War. He
elucidated on the pinpoint "decapitation attacks" that
the US is unleashing on the huddling masses in order to keep the
"world" safe from Saddam.
Can any American alive understand what
it must feel like to be "softened up" for 30 days by MOABS
and B-52s and Tomahawks and the such?
It's still a beautiful day out and
it is fast approaching time for me to get on with my life here and
serve beer to my fellow expats and my Chinese friends. Its time
for us all to laugh and play and discuss the business opportunities
in Chengdu, the best ways to get that F Business visa, the nicest
apartments for the cheapest prices, who is throwing what party where
for whom and perhaps even the war that began today.
The war that sent Foreign Correspondents
scurrying across borders for $800 to $1000 a ride.
The war that will rob Thuraya of whatever
dreams she had, Americans of whatever safety they had, the West
of any unity it may have had and the world of any stability it may
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