In the surreal green night vision light that was so typical
of the Iraqi war coverage, we met Jessica Lynch as she was
being carried down flights of stairs, on her way back to freedom.
It was/is a powerful moment in war coverage, in television,
even if, even then, it felt a bit contrived.
In our sorting out of this young woman's story, we are finding
a frame in which to put this war. It has not been quite all
Jessica, all the time, this week but close. She has been everywhere.
As we are peeling back the layers of her story, separating
fact from fiction, reality from press release, we are striving
to have a clearer of understanding of this young woman who
has found herself the focus of so much national attention
and as we attempt to understand her, we are also attempting
to understand the war to which she has given a face.
In the reshaping, remaking and redefinition of the Jessica
Lynch story, we are seeing not just the adjustment of an individual
story but of the country's understanding of the Iraqi war,
which had its justification rooted in this administration's
belief - misguided, it now appears [at the very least], that
Saddam Hussein was in some concrete way linked to the events
of 9/11 - the seminal event to date of this young century
and the catalyst for profound changes in the way we, as Americans,
think of ourselves and of our place in this world.
That event was also the catalyst for the creation of the
concept, as well as the Department, of Homeland Security and
for the attempt of this Administration, according to, at least,
the ACLU, to handily dismantle the Bill of Rights.
There has been tragedy, followed by fear, accompanied by
a war that has ebbed into a now long occupation, which has
every sign of being a very LONG occupation.
It will be interesting to see how this is navigated emotionally
by this country - not to mention countries like the Italians
who lost more men this week than they have at any time since
the end of World War II.
Ancient Rome didn't question its occupations much. They mostly
wallowed in the grain given up for bread and animals caught
The Imperial analogy that has been trumpeted by the "neo-cons"
of this Administration has become deeply troubling to many.
Are we occupying Iraq for its own good, as we say we are,
or is it for its oil, the contemporary equivalent of the Roman's
bread and circuses? Rome was quiet while there was bread and
circuses and America should be quiet as long as oil flows
and we can drive our cars for less than any other non-oil
All these Imperial analogies are rightly troubling for Americans
who grew up with a sense of pride in our voting process and
in the concept of national self-determination.
But then this is what has been troubling about the Bush Administration
from the beginning - it lacked the solid electoral legitimacy
we assume in our processes. We accepted it all, once the Supreme
Court's gavels had come down on the side of Bush, whether
we liked it or not, unsuspecting that in front of us was a
national tragedy that would transform the landscape.
The world that has emerged since then seems to confirm every
liberal's fear of the Bush - Cheney ticket.
For Bush, the combined storms of a shaky economy married
with an increasingly suspect foreign policy coupled with a
national growing sense of dis-ease for the death toll being
taken in Iraq in all quarters linked to a perceived lack of
direction in the occupation, have only been moderately relieved
by some good economic news this past week.
We are full swing into the throes of the upcoming Presidential
election. That election, which appeared at the end of 2001
to be a Bush "no brainer" has recently become a
free for all as we assess the meaning of footage showing a
young female soldier moved to safety.