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[Watch this space for: Pentagon and Petroleum, The Media is only as Liberal as the Corporations Who Own Them, Wash Down With, and Recalcify]


Monday, October 14, 2002


GROTH: Was it dangerous?

RALL: It has its dangers. It's not really so much that as it is -- well, first of all, the diarrhea is just out of this world. It just goes on and on. The first time you go to Central Asia, you'll have it for two to three weeks, and you're completely liquid the entire time. You're just deadly sick. I lost about 40 pounds and I weigh about 200. I was pretty messed up. And also, the climate's extreme. One bus ride I took, I was in shorts and a T-shirt because it was 120 degrees, and that night I was freezing my ass off above the snow line in the mountains. It's very uncomfortable. And because the distances are so vast, you might routinely find yourself going four or five days without a bath because you're stuck on a bus. I guess the biggest hassle of traveling out there is documentation, because it's the former Soviet Union and there are checkpoints all throughout. You're constantly being pulled over and hassled by the police, who are always trying to shake you down for bribes. The first time I went, this just enraged me. I couldn't believe the systemic corruption.

Well, when Ted puts it that way—with the extreme diarrhea and the 120 degree days and the freezing your ass off nights and the systemic corruption—who wouldn’t want to go to no doubt equally Hellish and bowel challenging Iraq?

I have to accept the Shropshire Challenge (with some conditions.) I mean, Frell, Grady already has accepted like 14 times. I figure I can at least accept once. There’s just a few minor conditional details: Instead of $2000, I want enough money to risk my life, at least as much money as my crazed hero Ted Rall got (8 Grand) plus $5000 because I’ll be needin’ bribes bribes bribes, and enough to cover the $10000 (1) fine that Americans face for going to Iraq. So, if you’ve got $23000 grand I’ll be taking that trip to Iraq! (Yeah I know sucks to be poor…)(I’m not rich enough to go anywhere for just $2000 for more than a month or so. I won’t have anything left to come back to. Got no trust funds around here.)This also answers another warblogger query: It takes a certain amount of wealth to be a rebel. The upper middle class people who threw their planes into buildings didn’t think like Americans. True, they had wealth and privilege but they didn’t think of themselves as rich because, unlike Americans—the bestest greatest keenest group of folks in the world who wouldn’t dream of killing 1 or 2 million peasants in Guatemala or East Timor—they probably thought I’m not rich unless my people are rich. I know, ker razyyyyy right Misha…

Keep in mind: The full amount has to be collected before I even deign to leave the Greater Pittsburgh area. I want half up front. The other half, including the $10000, should stay in the hands of a neutral third party, or a side or person that both side respects. I suggest the American Prospect. For that, I promise to spend a month in a war zone. Give me six weeks to get there (The only exception is if I’m physically not allowed to enter the country, then I should be given several (three) weeks to go to Dangerous Place option two or three. I choose my own transportation. If I don’t get to Iraq in time for the war, or if I’m not allowed in what may be the radioactive wasteland formerly known as Iraq then I’ll go to two other equally dangerous places: Israel, or the surrounding territories. And my third option is Venezuela. I’m game and I’m ready.

But I have to be honest, Iraq is probably the last place I’d like to be. I think that if Iraq is attacked then Saddam will unleash all the bad stuff that he does have. (I'll probably have to get a smallpox shot at the very least before I go.) Afterall, there would be nothing holding him back except Saddam's good conscience. Now, here's where it gets kind of interesting and it has to do with a point that Noam Chomsky made in a recent interview. Chomsky said that, essentially, Israel had once threatened the oil reserves by force which might yet be another reason the United States is such a strong supporter of Israel. Let's assume for a moment that our country is run by oilman and let us assume that maybe they've concluded that the biggest threat to their Crack-like oil supply is not the Arab countries, but a country that has over 400 nuclear weapons. Now, Sharon has said that he'll retaliate if Saddam attacks Israel with germ warfare. I'm making the assumption that Sharon means nuclear weapons. But what if the US doesn't let him? What if they decide to attack Israel preemptively in order to protect the oil supply? This is a pretty evil administration. The administration would simply have to choose what's more important: the sacred right of Israeli revenge or the pristine health of the oil fields and all the concomitant Bush/Cheney family oil deals tied to them past present and future. I think a sane presidential administration, not in the pocket of the oil industry or led by a guy who can pronounce words, would never lead us to such a point where such a horrific call would have to be made. Personally, I think this administration will always choose the pristine health of the oil fields over Israel.

It's also why I don't think attacking Iraq is good for Israel, unleashed bioplagues notwithstanding.

By the way, I will go as a writer, period. I'd rather not go, but if Ted Rall can go unarmed then maybe I can be courageous like him, at least once. I'd like to talk to and interview as many people as possible. I'll try to blog from the scene. Just like my hero, Noam Chomsky, I'm not under the illusion that Saddam is a nice guy. I just don't think that force creates longterm peace or stability as the quagmire known as Afghanistan would attest to, not to mention that Al Qaeda seems to be well and active. Wasn't Osama Bin Laden the primary threat? Oh, that's changed. I get it. It'll be France next week. And yes I'm open to negotiation. Bottom line: Collect $23000 grand. Write me a check for $11,500. I'll be in Iraq or options two and three within six weeks (If I'm not there, then you get your money back, unless I'm not allowed to enter the country or if there is no country, as I explained earlier.) Why, that's only $100 per venomous warblogger apiece and there's at least 500 of you. Send a commie pinko to Iraq. Come on. You warbloggin' cowards.

(1) This is a story about one guy who has already gone. Here's what I found in the story and here is the link: Neither that argument, nor the $10,000 fines imposed on some activists who've gone to Iraq in recent years without U.S. government permission, sway Mr. Mauger. Well, it sways me. I'm not rich.

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