Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Happy Czech National Holiday. Actually, I have a confession to make. After living in this country for over seven years, I still can't get the holidays straight. Can you imagine if somebody was living in the U.S. for seven years and still didn't know why July 4 is a day off? I'd want to punch them. To be fair, I was about 99% sure this was the anniversary of Czechoslovak independence (not the least because there's a street named October 28 in the center of Prague) but I did require absolute confirmation from Doug Arellanes's blog.

I had an interesting thought. Does it strike anybody as odd that more ink hasn't been spilled about the attack on Deputy Defense Secretary and neo-con kingpin Paul Wolfowitz's Baghdad hotel? Stop for a second and imagine that he'd actually been killed. (It could have happened; one U.S. Army colonel was, after all.) The news these days presents many opportunities to use the word "tragic." But Wolfowitz's death at the hands of an Iraqi insurgent would not only have been tragic; it would have been Tragic, in the grand Sophoclean sense.

When I read that Wolfowitz was in the hotel, I didn't think, "Wow." I thought, "Hm." And my own lacklustre response got me thinking some more. What happened to the debates about American hegemony, the liberation of Iraq and the re-making of the Middle East that saturated the venues of professional (and unprofessional) tongue-wagging this past year? Wolfowitz had ambitious plans for the Middle East; still does. You can criticize neo-conservative hawkishness as misplaced or overzealous, but you could never accuse them (or Wolfowitz) of lacking vision. Or guts, for that matter.

Alas, what's happened is this: The U.S. invaded Iraq. Back when we hadn't invaded Iraq, there was plenty to get worked up about. There was passion flying in all directions. Promising friendships came to an abrupt end, fierce invective was exchanged, and spilled drinks probably stained more than a few carpets. All over a war that hadn't happened yet.

Today? Let's face it. The passion's gone. I think what we have on our hands is a dead shark, that and a Third World country where the average person can't even afford proper flip-flops.

I have no other point I'm trying to make. That's it.