Random Shots: The Gulf War Miseries

Against the Current, No. 31, March/April 1991

R.F. Kampfer

IN ORDER TO avoid future disputed crowd counts, all participants in future marches on Washington are requested to throw one large reckon the White House lawn. Adding them up will give the census bureau something to do in off years.

One elderly congressman, evidently enjoying a 1960s flashback, was heard to denounce “scruffy, shaggy protesters with their little, round, wire-rimmed glasses.” Those commissar glasses were originally popularized single-handedly by Tom Courtenay in his brilliant portrayal of Commander Strelnikov in “Doctor Zhivago.”

Has Bush ever taken a moment to think about what he wants to do with Iraq after defeating Saddam Hussein’s army? Trying to occupy the country could easily lead to another Afghanistan; letting Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Turkey move into the power vacuum could lead to a new war over what’s left of Iraq. Setting up a new strong-man might raise some questions about what the whole bloodbath was for.

Some Desert Storm buffs have gone so far as to spend real money on MREs, the military rations (Meals Ready to Eat) known to generations of grunts as Meals Rejected by Ethiopia.

Wars Past, Present and . . .

DURING THE Iran-Iraq war, propaganda on both sides made frequent references to previous conflicts going back to the eighth century. One has to admire anyone who can hold a grudge that long.

While shopping for $999 pliers, the Pentagon apparently forgot some of the basics. A Fort Stewart detachment, on orders to leave for Saudi Arabia last summer, found itself lacking thousands of cans of suntan lotion, bug spray, skin cream and lip balm, plus 174,000 gallons of bottled 2qater. Rather than fill out a DD214, they bought what they needed locally. (What to do if they ran short in the desert was another queston.)

Tom Lehrer’s description of the national mood during the 1968 Tet Offensive may fit once more: “Like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.”

Despite changes brought about by modem military technology, one rule dating back to the Middle Ages has still been (so far) adhered to: The Head of State is Off Limits.

George Bush’s call up of the reserves brought to memory the musing British ballad “Don’t Call Me”:

I don’t want a bullet up me.
I don’t want me shot away,
I want to stay in England, merry, merry England,
And _______ me_________ life away.

Meanwhile, In the Rear

CITROEN HAS ENDED production of the 20V after many years. The cylinder car was popular because it could usually be patched up with pipe cleaners and tape when it broke down. If not, it was easy to push.

A Florida man has been found guilty of counterfeiting three million Polish zlotys. He faces twenty years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The value of his phony hoard: About $315. I have some Kerensky bonds that may interest him when he gets out.

March-April 1991, ATC 31