Tuesday, November 28, 2006


yesterday the doc and i were arguing about whether it is fall or winter. he maintained that, as it is cold and "wintery" out (in southern california terms, at least), it is in fact winter. but i say it's fall. and, as the calendar says the winter solstice isn't until december 21, i win.

i mean, don't sell this season short -- fall is a time of transition. sure, sure -- in some ways all the seasons are. but there is something curiously fleeting about autumn that makes me want to savor it. in the beginning it feels like summer, so that you scarcely notice the chillier evenings and sharper mornings. and at the end it feels like winter, so that folks, such as the doc, scarcely can tell the difference.

but right now to me it still feels like winter is coming. not yet here. the forces of cold darkness are massing along the borders, to be sure. for the moment, however, bright sunshine prevails, even if that wind is hella freezing. brrr.

and now that it's official -- after all, it's on tv -- and the situation in iraq has become an honest-to-broadcast civil war, i absurdly think of fall. a transitional time -- a season that lasts as long as any other season, leading inevitably to the next season. rather like the run-up to a civil war in a country as destabilized, brutalized, and fractionalized as iraq. people who know what they're talking about have been darkly hinting for some months now that civil war was imminent, was coming, was already there. all the signs, like the seasons, pointed that way. yet the bush administration denied the forces of nature. the mainstream media hedged its bets and went along with the white house's sometimes surreal rationalizing as to why the scene in iraq maybe looked kinda like a civil war, but really wasn't.

oh, yeah? what does this look like to you? i read this lead story in the l.a. times this morning with a sinking heart (although sometimes i don't think it can sink any further). now the ranks of the militias in iraq are growing and growing, as more and more iraqis -- spurred by the ever-increasing sectarian violence -- decide they can't trust either the iraqi army or the police. time to take up arms for themselves. sunnis and shiites car-bomb, shell, and roadblock one another ... these "unsanctioned fighters" (now there's a hip bureaucratic term) are multiplying so fast that neither the u.s. nor the iraqi government can deal.

while driving to work through the sweet little residential neighborhoods b/w my house and the miracle mile, i thought about the reports of bombings and bodies on the streets of baghdad. about how the authorities (whoever they may be) find corpses on trash heaps and side streets every day; at least 44 on monday. i thought about what america has done to iraq. an innocent country that did no wrong to us. the sun bathed my world in a golden light; i tried to imagine what it would be like to turn the corner and see dead people lying on the sidewalk in the bright sunlight. to be driving along and hear the whistle of a bomb overhead, an explosion in the near distance. to be stopped at a light and suddenly have the car next to me burst into flames with a concussive blast that shatters me and the beast to pieces.

and thinking those thoughts led me to wonder, what does this rapidly destabilizing situation mean for the troops? will they be expected to fight ... who? everyone who isn't in the iraqi army or police force? will this still be defending our freedom? or just defending their own lives? (and i am certainly not saying they shouldn't defend themselves; they absolutely should, if they have to.) and if it becomes a case of total chaos, how will they get out of there? will they be trapped in iraq? and how many will die at the hands of these "unsanctioned fighters"?

oh, but wait ... it's still business as usual. after all, the white house says there is not a civil war, according to msnbc.com:

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said while the situation on the ground is serious, neither President Bush nor Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki believe it is a civil war.

so there you have it: situation, serious. but not a civil war -- oh, no. that's a whole different thing.

one season leads into another, like clockwork, like the calendar, like the turning of the earth on its axis. inevitable.

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