Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Optimistic Incompetence

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"We solve [problems] one by one.
—Gareth Halliwell, Engineer, Guinness

It so happened I was invited to an Italian expats' home last evening. The lady is married to a Greek friend and lives in Athens for almost 10 years now. Her mother, a widow, spends the best part of the year with them, rather than suffer a lonesome life in Vicenza. As our party arrived, their satellite Italian channel (TGI) was broadcasting footage from Caliperi's funeral, followed by scenes from Baghdad; then, interviews with seemingly authoritative experts and officials who were rather calmly explaining the possible versions of the story. For most of the time, the Italian ladies remained silent, somehow detached. When it would be rude to continue watching, they turned the volume down and their attention to us, their guests. My friend's wife summarized their feelings, without waiting our asking: "the Americans must be hiding tons of dirty-doings down there. But Il Manifesto is a historic newspaper, they'll get out what they know." In her opinion, if the newspaper could manage to stay clear of the official PCI line in the past, they could well manage to deflect any foreign superpower pressures.

One needn't embrace yet another conspiracy theory to accept there is plenty of buried information regarding Iraq. Blanket assertions of "national security" considerations have been employed in all modern-time war conflicts, and for less reason than what's at stake in Iraq. Besides the axiomatic "history books are written by the winners of wars," there's the natural unwillingness of participants to elaborate on deeds they were trapped into performing. While, in this age of mass daily electronic disinformation, we have witnessed cracks in the cement of silence on the minute, everyday level, it is still extremely hard (if not totally impossible) to catch any big fish and assertively uncover raw motives, strategy and gentlemen's agreements regarding torture, chemical warfare, whatever. Such a feat appears incredibly out of proportion for any journalist operating single-handedly about the scene of the crime.

Blessed is the State that hides its most egregious crimes behind the smokescreen of incompetence.

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