George Bush’s 48-hour deadline for Saddam Hussein had just expired, and all the U.S. news stations were featuring live shots from pre-dawn Baghdad. The fireworks were slow to begin, though there were scattered reports of explosions in the suburbs, no doubt the product of superior smart weaponry, the kind over which newscasters love to salivate. That’s when Tom Brokaw said, “One of the key aims of this campaign is to avoid damaging the Iraqi infrastructure. After all, in a few days we’re going to own this country.”
The facade of disarmament and democratization fell away then, inadvertently replaced with the sad truth: this was a shopping expedition. America was acquiring new real estate. Sparing or “liberating” the Iraqi people was ultimately secondary to avoiding damage to the new purchase. Underlining this mentality was the Pentagon’s subsequent threat to Iraqi servicemen, that they would be prosecuted as war criminals if they set fire to their oil wells. It seems that the physical assets of this new acquisition must be protected above all else. The old “scorched earth” military strategy is now to be viewed by the U.S. commercial mind as a war crime comparable to mass murder or rape.
Resource acquisition as a modern goal of military action is without perceived human toll. Instead, expenses are computed monetarily in terms of weapons and deployment costs, and costs of repairing infrastructure damaged in the action. Thousands of dead Iraqis apparently do not warrant accounting on the balance sheets.
Raywat Deonandan, Washington, DC
To: Kalpana Chawla
Recent Emigre to Heaven
Hello from one who is so very proud of you and your achievements. Like many others from your home country, I admire your luminous presence among the Indian diaspora. You have made us proud by living in the most exotic and adventurous sphere of existence—space.
We viewed the earth through your eyes as you flew miles above us. When you wondrously said, after your first flight in the shuttle, “You see the continents go by, the thunderstorms shimmering in the clouds, the city lights at night. The Nile River looks like a lifeline in the Sahara. And we looked down on Mount Everest. Earth is very beautiful. I wish everyone could see it,” we wished we could. We wished we could be as courageous as you—because it is not everyone who has the guts and the fortitude to train as you have done to be among the elite corps of NASA astronauts. You went to work every day knowing that you were training for a dangerous and potentially disastrous job; and you did it because of that.
You are our hero. You are hero to the people of the land of your birth, India, who have looked up at the sky these last few years and no longer felt left out of the space-race. The skies were no longer filled with American and Russian spacemen and women, but also with one of our own. Our leaders make speeches about you and a whole session of parliament is dedicated to you.
You are a hero to young girls and women everywhere—especially in India—and now the aeronautics department of many engineering colleges have girls fighting to join.
You are MY hero, KC.
I wanted to be a spaceman when I was a boy. No, really, I did! I wanted to see the earth from hundreds of miles up. I wanted to see the moon up close and maybe even the planets. But I remember being scared, too, like one is when one dreams of flying. I imagined being up there in space, untethered. And completely at the mercy of the machine I was in.
KC, you made us all proud. God bless you. Keep Him good company.
Atish Sanyal via the Internet
THE DOMINANCE OF AMERICA
This is a response to the March 2003 issue. First and foremost your editorial is simply, beautifully, forceful. It is clear that the present U.S. government is not serious about fighting terrorism. Their goals are more immediate: total dominance over the Middle East, over oil and over American votes. Thank you for calling a spade a spade.
Kadadangode V. Raghunathan, Sunnyvale, CA
CALL FOR ACTION
On Feb. 27, 2003 U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, introduced legislation in the House of Representatives supporting a permanent seat for India in the United Nations Security Council. Pallone said his legislation allows the U.S. House of Representatives to go on record in supporting India’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. The Resolution Number is H. RES. 108.
It’s understood that Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans has agreed to co-sponsor the Pallone legislation. It’s very important that we work to get more House Representatives to co-sponsor the Pallone legislation. Please call your House Rep. and request him/her to co-sponsor H. RES. 108. Tell your Rep. or the staffer that it’s very important for you that he/she co-sponsors the resolution. Follow up your telephone call with a letter/fax and an e-mail. Remember, a hard copy letter or a fax has much greater value than an e-mail.
We need to campaign to converge this groundswell of informed opinion into substantial support for the Pallone legislation, thereby urging U.S. lawmakers to go on record and acknowledge the fairness of India’s bid.
Once we get a large number of House Reps to co-sponsor the bill, we will have to ensure that the legislation moves from the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific to the full House International Relations Committee (HIRC) and then to the floor. This will require concerted action including well-co-ordinated grassroots action in as many Congressional Districts as possible. The entire community nationwide needs to pull itself behind this campaign.
IN DEFENSE OF IDRF
The propaganda against the IDRF is a hate campaign by anti-India groups financed by anti-nationals and anti-Hindu organizations. These organizations hobnob with organizations like Sabarang which are financed by fundamentalist Muslim organizations and gangsters like Daud Ibrahim.
Have these people uttered a word against missionary organizations who have been overtly and covertly converting poor Hindus? Have they spoken out against the Hindi movies financed by the anti-national gangsters and mafia in India? They dare not.
With this campaign, IDRF will lose the funds it has been getting. The losers will be the poor and downtrodden people who have been benefiting from IDRF help. IDRF has not discriminated on the lines of caste, creed, or religion. Do you want to toe the line of these organizations which survive on the financing from the Gulf?
P.V. Pathak via the Internet