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Say it plain:
We have been misled
And the UN is our best way out,
Cease Fire by April 4!
by Greg Moses
March 30, 2003

Managing expectations. That's the polite term coined on the second Sunday of war, to express our anxiety. But commentators and leaders know well who collaborated in the countdown to this bloody mess.

Who will say it plain? This is not what we were told to expect. Not what they lectured us to believe. All countdowns to showdowns, with their crisp colors and self-assured experts, power-pointed to something inevitable and short.

Concepts of inevitability and shortness were twin drumsticks of the same beat. Short war was inevitable. An inevitable war would be short. Had anyone said otherwise, they were ruled out of cadence.

As much as commentators and leaders continue their collusion behind today's preoccupations with length and size--the length of war and the size of force--the real problem of this war is neither length nor size, but an absolute bankruptcy of intelligence.

In retrospect, who was it that asked the Iraqi people first? Only the peacemakers. And that's why the peacemakers tried to speak. It was only the peacemakers who had lived with the Iraqi people for the past ten years. Not the leaders, not the commentators. In retrospect, it was only the peacemakers who told the truth. This war was not inevitable, and only arrogance could predict it short.

In retrospect, who was it that asked the American people first? The American people were prepared for a war that was inevitable and short, but they were never asked to examine the assumptions or decide the question for themselves by means of their Congress.

Today we are told that the outcome cannot be doubted. But leaders and commentators who lecture us today cannot tell us to forget why they said yesterday that an inevitable war had to be short. Remember? A long war would put too many things at risk. Remember? A long war would surely incite people in the region and disturb the balances of the world. All this we had previously been told by the very people who are now so concerned to gingerly manage our expectations.

So rather than hide behind discussions about length and size, we need some ideas of genuine currency today. Like calling this already the post-Iraq situation and asking Kofi Annan for help.

We need a workable cease fire to celebrate before the third Sunday of war. Perhaps a cease-fire by April 4, that fatal day in American history that in 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke against war and that in 1968 marked the day of his assassination. Yes, why not a cease fire by April 4?

Meanwhile, the transparent bankruptcies of our home institutions should be addressed to de-commercialize the news networks, de-fund political campaigns, transform the presidency into a prime ministry, secure a multi-party democracy, and demand the immediate resignations of short-war leaders and their media mouthpieces.

The American people have to begin the process of repairing and atoning for what their powers have torn. We have to take responsibility for re-structuring the institutions that have been so fundamentally misleading that today they dare to speak openly about continuing to manage our expectations of them, of us, of democracy alive!


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