Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A War "Happening"

One of the more interesting effects of the Iraq war has to do with the meaning of the word "happen", as in "to come into being." From an American vantage point, nothing really seems to be "happening." That is to say events are scheduled to occur, they occur and yet it appears as if they did not, calling into question the meaning of the "happening" in the first place. In other words, the U.S. creates "meaning" and the insurgents fragment that meaning to the point where it become meaning-less.

This can be seen in the two major "happenings" of the Iraq war--the capture of Saddam Hussein and the June 30th handover. Neither event proved to be what it was billed as, nor in retrospect does it appear that had they not happened the situation on the ground would look that much different. Sure we can point to a well-fed, well-rested Hussein ensconced in a U.S. jail cell or to a nominally independent Iraq but one can also point to thousands no longer with us that these events were supposed to, at the very least, keep alive. Things happen but nothing really happens.

And so next comes the January election which is being billed as the best thing since the new fall season. While this may or may not happen, if recent events are any guide, even if it does "happen" it won't in any real sense because even Fox viewers know bullets weigh more than ballots and bullets are the one thing in Iraq not in short supply.

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