Victory is certain on all fronts now!

Don't know whether you are a true patriot or not, but I'm still celebrating our glorious killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose name can now be pronounced, almost flawlessly, by nearly every anchor babe.

True, we did have to kill a little girl, and at least two other women in the process, but you can't make an omelet without collateral damage.

Anyway, it sure made for a lot of neat TV pictures of the top half of his body, with most of the blood washed away. I really liked it when CNN showed us pictures of the bodies of other dead villains as well (Che Guevara, Uday and Gusay, etc.), and invited us to make comparisons.

So we got the dreaded leader who, we're told, was the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. True, two days later the American ambassador to that country said Baghdad was "more insecure now than it was a few months ago." True, news organizations, including The New York Times, are having difficulty getting journalists to go report from the meat grinder.

But this victory will certainly change everything. Naturally, I suspect the insurgents will now speedily surrender, and be reorganizing themselves into peaceful town councils. By now, some of the more far-seeing Vietnamese — oops — Iraqi leaders are undoubtedly studying the doctrines of the Methodist Church and the Republican Party.

Except we know better. Here are a few questions that I have asked in this space before, but that journalists, and the American people, should ask the president and his henchmen today and tomorrow and every day following, until we get a satisfactory and sensible answer.

Why are we in Iraq? What is our mission? What are we trying to achieve? How will we know when we have achieved it? Would we ever really leave the oil and our new bases there if they asked us to?

Then we need to ask ourselves how in the world we got into this mess, why we didn't demand more accountability from our government and what passes for an opposition party? How we could allow this to happen?

And we must ask ourselves how could we do this to our children, who will be left paying for this mess, in many more ways than one?

Talk about inconvenient truths. Throughout Vietnam, I always thought that it was a time of temporary insanity, largely caused by the Cold War and military hubris left over from World War II. Eventually, I believed we would see the light and find our way back to who we were and what we were supposed to be as a nation.

I'm not sure about that any more.

Years ago, author Sinclair Lewis said that when fascism came to America, it would be dressed up as patriotic, 100-percent Americanism. Fascism is, of course, an overused word, and too many silly leftists have accused too many people of "fascism." People think of Adolf Hitler raving, swastikas and the gas chambers. No, we aren't likely to become that. But do you know what the classical definition of fascism is, looking back to when it started in Mussolini's Italy?

A political system of extreme nationalism, pressure for conformity in all spheres of life and the identification of the interests of various corporations with the interests of the state. Usually, fascist states are also prone to invade other countries when they decide they need resources.

We now forget — or perhaps never knew — that a big part of the reason for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was that we had cut off its access to oil. Do you really suppose we would have invaded Iraq if it were in South America and had next to no energy resources?

Incidentally, here's something that ought to chill your blood, more even than the blowing up of a houseful of people to get our man: Last weekend three of the inmates (actually, political prisoners) we are holding at our prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, hanged themselves in their maximum security cells. They left suicide notes, which their American captors have not allowed to be published.

And the commander of our concentration camp responded this way: The suicides, Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr. said, were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

The men, who undoubtedly will now be seen as martyrs throughout the Middle East, "are dangerous men who will do anything they can to gain support for their cause," he blathered on. Well, yes. They just did.

We are getting awfully good at creating martyrs, aren't we? By the way, we used to be a country that was better than this, for all our flaws. I remember it and used to live there, not that many years ago.

You should too. Remember that, when you vote next time.


Speaking of an inconvenient truth: You owe it to yourself to go see the movie by that name, hosted by and starring one Al Gore.

Yes, it is hard to believe, despite his denials, that this film isn't at least partly meant to spark a political comeback for the man who, as he begins by saying, "used to be the next president of the United States."

But that doesn't matter. There has never been a more compelling, coherent and vivid treatment of global warming, the phenomenon that very well may destroy human life on this planet, even including Republicans, unless something is done, and done fairly soon.

This movie is fascinating, easy to follow, and easy to understand, and every child over the age of 10 or so ought to be taken to it. Gore, the man the people really meant to elect in 2000, says that he is not a candidate for president, and doesn't expect to be, ever again.

Instead, he intends to devote his life to trying to wake up people about global warming. I largely believe him, but ...

This film may well make you see him in a different light. Thinking of what we wound up with instead ought to make you vomit.

If An Inconvenient Truth were to start a groundswell of support that ended with the Democrats nominating the world's stiffest movie star for president, I wouldn't mind one bit. After all — Gore has credibility and electability; we already elected him once, don't you know?

Plus, the way it looks now, the Democrats are most likely to nominate U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, and the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of her being beaten, badly. Not because she is a woman, but because people just do not like her, in part because of her personality, and in part because she seems to stand for nothing at all.

Wouldn't be nice to have a president who stands for at least one thing ... that isn't evil?

Worth Driving Downtown For: Mark Gaffney, the president of Michigan's AFL-CIO, is speaking at Barth Hall on Woodward Avenue on "Workers' Rights Under Siege" and other human rights issues next Tuesday night, June 20, at 7 p.m., at a forum sponsored by the Michigan Coalition of Human Rights. I've always found Gaffney to be an intelligent and unusually candid labor intellectual, and his thoughts on our state's present economic crisis, and the future of unions, ought to be worth hearing.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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