License to Kill

by Paula K. V. Radice

Feeling a bit glum this month, for rather obvious reasons.   We're at war, but all it need mean to us is just lots of extra news programmes on television.  We're not in any immediate danger - unless you count spiritual danger, of course, which I can't comment upon, not being any sort of expert.   Like Dylan-the-observer in Black Diamond Bay, "I never did plan to go, anyway..." to Iraq.  I don't know anyone who lives there.  Neither do I  know anyone who's currently in the British Armed Forces (my father was in the R.A.F. all the time I was growing up, and even worked in the Pentagon for a while, but has long since retired, and my brother-in-law used to be an Army officer, but has been out for a decade).

In other words, I have no direct emotional links to the conflict.  If I wanted to, I could switch off the radio and the T.V. every time the news came on, and I'd never have to know anything about it.  (I haven't bought a newspaper for years - I never get time to read one, and British newspapers are a tragic collection of distorted political biases and sloppy writing). 

Bob - full frontal

Instead, I feel desolate about it.  Desolate because it seemed to me that almost no-one in this country wanted it, at least until the time that it actually started and the media and the politicians all played the patriotism card and people began to think that not supporting the war might be taken as ill-wishing "our boys" in the Forces.   

Desolate because it's all the children in my class want to talk about at the moment, and I often can't answer their questions (how do you answer a seven-year-old who asks, "If everyone knows that war is stupid, why do they still do it?"), and because the boys have started playing nothing but war games in the playground.   

Desolate because I don't know anything meaningful about - and won't be told anything about - a single one of the children killed or injured in Iraq.  In all the T.V. reporting of the last three weeks, I have seen, for the brief span of several seconds on each occasion, only two images of wounded children, when dozens (hundreds?) must have been injured or killed.  There was one little four-year-old screaming because his body was covered in burns, and a teenager who had a bullet wound.  On both occasions, we were told that they later died.  There were no interviews with their families.  No photos of when they they were happy, ordinary children.  They were simply not important enough to warrant any more airtime.  Pictures of tanks and bomber planes are far more exciting, after all. 

Desolate because all the schools in Hastings are projecting deficit budgets next year, and most of them will be sacking Teaching Assistants to make ends meet  - and the price of one Cruise missile would solve the problem across the whole town. 

What a bloody stupid situation.  And we just go on with our daily lives, hoping it will all just go away.  We are all degraded by it. 

And I keep wondering why it is that I really want to know what Bob thinks about it.  Why should it matter to me what he makes of the situation?  I feel a real need for him to pronounce about it - and I can't figure out why it should be so important   

There was an excellent news item on Channel 4 a few nights back about the millions of Americans who believe that this conflict may well be the beginning of the sequence of events foretold in the Book of Revelations.  Books written on the subject are bestsellers for months on end in the States, apparently.  We know that Bob has been given in the past to drawing parallels between modern Middle Eastern conflicts and the Apocalypse: does he feel now that we are truly in the End Times? 

We also know that he has denied ever being anything like a pacifist, and has decried "globalism".   Neighbourhood Bully reflected a belief that countries have the right to defend their security and interests.  Does he perhaps feel that the perceived threat to American interests justifies this war? 

I find myself wondering what will happen when the next concerts take place.  Will he, in Texas of all places, do what he did in the earlier Gulf War, and play Masters of War?  If he did, how would it be received?  But above all, why does it matter to me so much what he does or says about it?  Why do I want him - if I'm being truthful - to back up my own judgements on the matter, to see things from the same perspective as I do?  If he said something completely contrary to what I believe, would it make me question myself - or think any differently about him? 

Does it matter to you?  Have you wondered why?