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lessons among the fruits and vegetables
by elena siprova
2.26.03
writing


Tonight, I'm going to start in the produce section and work my way to frozen foods. After 11 p.m., most people coming in to the store aren't that interested in fresh vegetables. Late-night diners usually hunger for frozen pizzas made on miniature bagels or a six pack of low-calorie imported beer. If the floors need to shine when the early shoppers arrive, it's best to leave frozen foods for last.

"Mirek, don't forget to buff – tomorrow's double coupon day."
"Yes, Mr. Gupta, I will not forget."

I've been working the overnight shift in this store for the past 14 months. Never have I forgotten to buff, but every Friday, Mr. Gupta reminds me. "You're a great kid Mirek – you Russian boys never miss a day, do you?" "No sir," I respond, not mentioning the fact that I'm Czech, not Russian. Since I've been in the US, I've gotten used to being mistaken for other nationalities. It bothered me at first, especially considering my country's history with Russia, but my job here at the grocery has made me realize that I'm not an ethnic expert either. At checkout, I'm never sure who is Indian and who is Pakistani. All I know is while we're here, we're all Americans.

It takes about an hour to clean up produce, mostly because of all the plastic bags left strewn over the vegetables and scattered on the floor. Before I can sweep, I've got to make sure the aisles are clear. As I'm picking my way through cabbage, I hear the rumble of thunder that signals the sprinkler system. I remember the first time I saw this; I was arranging avocadoes when a fine spray of mist rained down on the shelf in front of me. "The customers demand moist fruits and veggies," said Mr. Gupta as he lowered the price on cantaloupes.

After sweeping produce, I move on to the canned goods, the easiest of all the aisles. It's a straight sweep – up and back. The floor's almost always clear so all I need is my broom. It's on this aisle that I usually think about home. I think about my degree in microelectronics and the jobs I thought I would have. I never planned to leave my country until I realized that I didn't have much choice. If I wanted to live a moderate existence, I'd have to find my fortune abroad. Somehow, I didn't think that I'd find it cleaning grocery stores at night. But my under the table wages here earn me significantly more than my career at home. So, I swallow my pride and clean stores; as I push the dust and dirt to the end of the aisle, I imagine going home with all the money I've saved. With that money, I'll buy a two-bedroom flat in the city and still have enough to start my own electronics store.

While rounding the corner into organic foods, my thoughts are interrupted by a group of young people perusing the hormone-free organic meats. I shuffle my broom down the aisle and listen as they argue over the benefits of soy. I notice that they're about my age; probably university students or maybe a little older. The two boys are dressed in a more American style – outdoorsy but fashionable while the girl appears to be more eccentric. She's wearing a t-shirt that says "No blood for oil" in bold red letters. As they make their selections, I quietly push my broom and listen to their conversation.

"Next thing you know, Bush will have the whole world eating tainted meat," the girl says with a roll of her eyes.
"That is if he's not too busy killing Iraqi children," comes the quick retort. All three huff indignantly as they make their final selections.

With purchases in hand, they turn and start toward me on their way to checkout. Standing with my broom, I step out of their way. As they walk by, I notice one of the boys wrinkle his nose as if he's smelled something rotten. He turns and whispers to the others igniting a wave of giggles. I quickly drop my eyes and feel the heat rise in my cheeks. Even though I haven't heard, I know why they are laughing.

I'm a foreigner; a floor sweeper; an unskilled smelly foreigner. In America, a land without a caste system, I've somehow worked my way into the undesirables.

I keep my broom moving – sweeping up all the miniscule fragments of debris – steadily working my way up the aisle. I glance up to see they have made it though Anil's checkout. I can't see if they have offered him an indignity – only that he has carefully bagged their groceries and thanked them for their patronage. They walk out the automatic doors into the cold night air.

I work my way diligently through personal goods, pet care, and finally into frozen foods. By 5 a.m., all the scuff marks and sticky spots are remnants of yesterday's shopping. In one hour, the doors will welcome the shoppers and their double coupons with sparkling floors and glistening fixtures.

"Excellent work, Mirek," praises Mr. Gupta as he makes his last rounds for the night.
"Thank you, Mr. Gupta." I reply.

But tonight, I don't leave feeling proud of my hard work. As I grab my keys and walk out into the cold, I feel unusually jaded. What has happened to America? I left my country to come to a nation of strong, proud, and united people. Where was the America that stood behind its flag ready to rid the world of terror and injustice? I came here to find opportunity and safety from the evil and corruption I have seen. But instead, tonight I have found something else - a self-hating group of people that find temporary solace in idealism.

With wounded pride, I reach to open the trunk of my car. No sooner than I have touched the metal, do I recoil my hand. A sticky string of slime oozes from my hand back to the trunk. An egg. Someone has thrown a hormone-free egg onto my car – and it's smashed all over my American pride sticker. Somehow, I, a smelly unskilled foreigner, have become the symbol of the American warmonger.

I close the trunk and in the cold night air, I light up a cigarette. I lean against my door and exhale a dreary cloud of smoke. The cloud hovers and then dissipates and it's then that I realize how fickle the American dream can be.


ABOUT ELENA SIPROVA

Lover of language, travel, culture, and juicy details. Deep green Slavic eyes behind the lens, I'm currently tracking the illegal trafficking of women in the Eastern European border cities.........

more about elena siprova




COMMENTS

wendy p
2.17.03 @ 9:23a

I heard a story very similar to this from a Bulgarian woman and her husband that live in my apartment complex. She cleans apartments and he works as a plumber and they both feel like lesser people because of the way several Americans have treated them.


tracey kelley
2.17.03 @ 10:09a

We have a very high Laotian and Bosnian refugee population here. There's a Bosnian (I found out later) gentleman who, indeed, works overnights at the grocery store down the street. When I was in there one night, I said hello and he smiled. When the transaction was finished, he said thank you and I told him to have a good night. He then said, "Now that someone has actually acknowledged my human existance in this store, I just might. You have a good night too."

At first, I was kind of pissed, thinking he was taking it out on me. But instead I said, "I used to work overnights, too - it's a lonely position." He replied, "I work at this store for almost 2 years. Every night it's the same thing...drunks and sleepyheads and people who think I am a machine. Which is funny, considering I have a degree in mechanical engineering."

We talked for a few minutes more, but it was a pretty sad exchange. Me, very sleepy indeed and wanting to go home...and him, very frustrated and, also, wanting to go home. At least mine was right down the street.

juli mccarthy
2.17.03 @ 10:54a

I once worked with a busboy whose income was twice that of his wife, a pediatrician in Mexico. He was an architect in Mexico, but found that he could do better as a manual laborer in America. We too easily take our country for granted, and too easily buy into the "us against them" propaganda. For some, it's too much trouble to think.

elena siprova
2.17.03 @ 6:30p

I think one of the themes of my piece has been missed. I have seen greater patriotism from many foreign nationals living here than from many US born citizens. We often take our freedoms and luxuries for granted. When you've grown up living on a rotating power grid and a constant threat of suicide bombers, you're a little more willing to fight for your future. We've also lived a long time without having any bloodshed on our own soil; we're quick to oppose war because we've prospered here at home without it. What will happen when this is no longer the case? When war and terror come here, what will be the peaceful solution? If we do not fight now to prevent it, we offer it an invitation to our home. What then? We rush to support the military that we have cast aside?

tracey kelley
2.17.03 @ 7:05p

Sorry - I didn't realize I couldn't comment on what I wanted to regarding your piece.

elena siprova
2.17.03 @ 7:47p

oh, I'm sorry - didn't mean to say you specifically missed it - I just wanted to put that out there in general - sorry :)

juli mccarthy
2.17.03 @ 11:39p

I don't think anyone missed the theme - in fact I addressed it directly - but there are other aspects of the piece that spoke to people. That's a good thing, when your columns reach people in different ways.

elena siprova
2.18.03 @ 10:20a

I am happy it reached people on different levels - the war issue has just been antagonizing me for weeks now and I really felt the need to address it without attacking any group directly - that's why I went with a fictional account - is anyone else feeling this same stress? Like you need to say something without being labeled a conservative war monger? On another note, even thought this story is fictional, it is based on a real situation - my husband is a Czech national and all of our friends are here from Eastern Europe - they work in this same environment and experience the same prejudices. It drives me crazy to see them all treated that way when they would give anything to become citizens.

tracey kelley
2.26.03 @ 9:30a

I think that ignorance of nationalities is the primary reason most of the world is in turmoil. Many nations - not just America - refuse to accomodate the differences of others.

adam kraemer
2.26.03 @ 10:02a

Well, it's the way it's always been. I'm not saying it's right, but a lot of new immigrants have been subjected to prejudice coming here. The thing is, their children will not be "foreigners" and their children's children will run companies. The promise of America is not freedom from persecution - we're only human. The promise of America is a better life for your kids.

jael mchenry
2.26.03 @ 12:06p

We've also lived a long time without having any bloodshed on our own soil; we're quick to oppose war because we've prospered here at home without it.

I'm quick to oppose this particular war with Iraq because I consider it wrong, not because I oppose war in general. And it's very concrete -- going to war in Iraq will increase our chances of being attacked here on American soil, and personally, I'm not willing to die for this "cause" which stinks of fabrication to me.

But other than attending protests and waiting for elections to come around again, I've got a limited number of ways to make my opinion known.

elena siprova
2.26.03 @ 5:23p

God forbid we ever live under a dictator. I think everyone has a right to agree or disagree with war. That's your right as a US citizen. But I also believe in the idea of liberation - most people here have never known a life of oppression. Try living on a rotating power grid in freezing conditions because your government would rather spend money on nuclear weapons than power for its people. Or try living in fear of your child's school bus being blown up by suicide bombers. Or try living as a woman in a country where you can't even show your face for fear of being punished. To me, this war is about liberation and freedom. It's also about ridding the world of a nuissance that should have been eliminated a decade ago. I do not think America should set up a puppet regime by any means, but I do think Iraq would benefit from a change in government. I'm just sick of seeing spoiled Americans whine about world peace when so many people in the world cower in their homes afraid of their own government. I'm also tired of seeing people trying to reason with insanity. There are some people that you will never get through to - you can't walk in with a power point presentation and expect a maniac to say, "well, I'll be damned, you're right, making biological weapons might not be in the best interest of my people. And using people as human shields, that's no good either." Ok, I've vented. Whew.....

[edited]

matt morin
2.26.03 @ 7:11p

I'm just sick of seing spoiled Americans whine about world peace when so many people in the world cower in their homes afraid of their own government.

Hey, where is it written that America has to go fight the fight for every country where people are oppressed? We already fought out fight - it was called the Revolutionary War. If other countries despise their dictators, go overthrow them.

I oppose this war, too. This will be the first proactive war. Saddam isn't directly threatening us, or anyone else at the moment. Yet we're going to war with him. Fabricated it the perfect word for it, Jael.

elena siprova
2.26.03 @ 8:13p

I do see your point that we shouldn't have to act as the world's police, but at the same time, I think about those who would perish without our intervention. Think about WWII and the Bosnian conflicts. I don't support the "turn your head" policy when it comes to human rights - and if that means we have to use military force, then so be it. I wish everyone in the sandbox would play nice, but they won't.

Oh, and they key point about Saddam is that he's not threatening us "at the moment." Does that mean we should ignore him while he builds biological,chemical, or nuclear weapons? Or that we should disregard any associations he might have with terrorist groups.

jael mchenry
2.27.03 @ 9:55a

We ignore human rights violations where it's convenient (China) and weapons-building regimes (North Korea) whenever we like and mass genocide (Rwanda) when intervening doesn't fit our needs. It's not so clear-cut. Besides, if we feel we can go "fix" another country, what's to stop them from coming to "fix" us? What makes the US the judge?

joe procopio
2.27.03 @ 10:52a

Oh man. WE make us the judge, by the fact that we've got this great track record of fighting for what's right - and if we don't do it, no one will. This country was built on freedom, never mind the current jingoism, and it's our duty to defend it.

Iraq is the single biggest threat to us right now, because of Saddam's influence in the middle east. The Iraquis will be dancing in the streets on his ouster. There are reports that say Saddam's regime has already killed more innocent Iraquis this year than any collateral damage we will cause.

We don't ignore China, we're just smart enough not to start WWIII. We ignore North Korea because it's the idiot middle brother of China and South Korea and they're handling it. But we are making noise in case they don't.

joe procopio
2.27.03 @ 10:55a

And Jael, I believe Al Qaeda tried to fix us in 2001. It's already going on, and has been for years.

jael mchenry
2.27.03 @ 11:14a

That's not what I meant by "fix." For example, I'm not going to get into a death penalty debate here, but some European regimes consider it a legitimate complaint that the US still enforces something that it considers wrong if any other country does it. Yes, of course democracy should reign all over the world. But killing innocents in the name of democracy is no better than killing innocents in the name of anything else.

joe procopio
2.27.03 @ 11:29a

Well, sure. But there's a big difference between killing innocents and aiming at innocents. Both are horrible. But we're not killing innocents in the name of democracy. We're killing innocents because there's no other way.

And where does the US denounce a legitimate death penalty? Or am I just misunderstanding you?

I know what you meant by fix, too. I was trying to be clever. Trying.

jael mchenry
2.27.03 @ 11:43a

Feh.

My death penalty sentence (!) was unintentionally confusing. My issue is that we sentence individuals to death for what we consider crimes. Let's compare that to China, where they've been known to kill individuals for dissent, which is considered a crime. Different crime, different process, same result. What I really have a problem with is that we try, convict, and sentence other countries' citizens, and when they do the same to ours (remember the caning kid in Singapore?) we raise holy hell.

matt morin
2.27.03 @ 1:13p

We should intervene when asked. Period.

elena siprova
2.27.03 @ 4:25p

Excellent points Mr. Procopio - I aggree with you - if we don't fight for what's right, who will? It amazes me that people believe in this theme when it's fictional, but when real lives are on the line, they'd rather "mind their own business." For example, I watched the second Lord of the Rings movie yesterday and was able to draw a bit of a parallel (forgive me - I can't remember the names of all the characters) Only the "Rohan??" are willing to fight for the future of their planet - the trees, the elves, and everyone else says, "it's not our problem." Then in the end of the movie, we're all cheering because every one finally pitches in to do what's right. The world is safe because everyone made a stand against evil. This is a freaking movie and we're all about standing up for justice yet we're willing to let real people live and die in tyranny. And for the record, I think we should be doing everything in our power to help North Koreans and Chinese. I hope that's a step we can make in time - right now, we can easily defeat Iraq so why wait until it becomes difficult. Ugh - if only the French were as intelligent as a bunch of trees.....

Oh, you asked what's to stop someone from coming to "fix" us - it's called the US military and the loyalty of all Americans. Whatever happened to the "let's roll" mentality??

[edited]

[edited]

matt morin
2.27.03 @ 4:37p

You're right, it's everyone's problem. And it'd be nice once in a while if everyone else pitched in with their fare share and helped, too.

sarah ficke
2.27.03 @ 4:56p

I think the reason we aren't all as willing to pitch in, Elena, is that we aren't sure we are fighting ultimate evil. In the movie, it is clear-cut, but in real life we know that often our government has an angle of its own and an agenda that we might not share. I don't know that I trust our government enough to take their words for gospel truth and back a war.

joe procopio
2.27.03 @ 6:16p

Propaganda alert!

Look. Do fifteen minutes worth of google on legitimate news sources with the words "Hussein atrocity." That's all you need. There is no secondary motive here. If we wanted their oil, we would have taken it in 1991.

However... ""The size of Elf [France's Elf Aquitaine SA] as a company would double overnight" with the stake it's negotiating with Iraq for the Majnoon field, says Roger Diwan, an analyst at the Boston offices of consultancy Petroleum Finance Co. And Majnoon is just one of Iraq's supergiants." - WSJ - 1998.

Makes you think, huh?

tracey kelley
2.27.03 @ 7:06p

I think it's like Russ' column
Russ'Columnindicated, however: being policemen to the world is not helping our own country. Since the majority of Europe is against us on this effort, what alliances are we protecting?

And frankly, we do have enough problems in our own country that need "fixing". Like parenting, you lead by example. We can't spoon feed democracy to other cultures when we don't have enough of it on the stove.


matt morin
2.27.03 @ 7:12p

Primary Bush Motive: Well, since I can't get the economy going, was President under the worst American-soil tragedy since the Civil War, then couldn't kill Bin Laden and in general, look like an idiot, I'll just start a war against someone who's not a direct threat, but who I know we can beat.

Then I'll at least look like I've done something during my four years and maybe people will forget about the jobless rate, the plummeting consumer confidence, the floundering stock market, the corporate fraud that I'm doing nothing about, the tax cuts for the rich I'm trying to slip through and the fact that I'm destroying foreign relations with every country in the world except Britian.

joe procopio
2.27.03 @ 7:23p

Oh my sweet pancreas. Bush looked like a hero before all the Iraq crap started.

And do you really think Iraq isn't a direct threat?

And by the way, the entirety of Europe except for France and Germany are behind us.

russ carr
2.27.03 @ 8:28p

Eloise and I already gave demonstratable proof in another discussion within the past three months that the current economic climate is not a product of the Bush administration. Bang that gong all you like, Matt; it's what knee-jerkers and the media want you to believe, and you're swallowing it. The economy doesn't turn on a dime, or even Alan Greenspan's arrythmia.

Besides, the reason you're not hearing anything about the White House (or Congress...remember them? the lawmakers?) and the economy: the economy doesn't sell newspapers or TV ad time. Why read about tax incentives or corporate responsiblity when you can read about duct tape and the latest sphincter-gripping paranoiac theory devised by Time, CNN, et al?

BTW: Elena -- excellent, excellent work. Tracey, thanks for the cross-ref.

I've been cleaning out my grandparents' house this week, found many old papers. You know, the French were pricks about our foreign policies 30 years ago, too.

matt morin
2.27.03 @ 8:35p

Joe, look at what happened today - even Turkey is hedging on helping us.

Russ, I'm not blaming Bush for the poor economy. I'm blaming Bush for doing almost zero to actually help the economy. I'm not asking for a reincarnation of FDR here. But something.

And it's hardly knee-jerk when the economy's been in the shitter for going on 3 years now. How long are you willing to wait? Maybe plenty long since you have a job and nice low mortgage rates. Lose your job like more than half my friends have, go on unemployment and try and support your family then. We'll see how fast you start wanting an economic turn around then.

joe procopio
2.27.03 @ 9:12p

Turkey shares a border with Iraq and, thanks to the Germans and the French - in a most foul display of either cowardice or greed, they may not get NATO support. I'd be a little twitchy too. The ENTIRE rest of Europe is on our side.

To call this war a diversion from our economy, you have to ignore many, many things.

tracey kelley
2.27.03 @ 10:43p

But, truly, what good does it do to have Spain and Italy on our side? When was the last time Denmark or the Netherlands fought in earnest? This will primarily be a battle of the US and Great Britian against Irag, because the rest of the Middle East is not that interested in participating. Granting us airspace and giving us soldier are completely different things.

While I don't agree with Bush in general, I have a lot of faith in Rice, Powell, and the rest of the inner circle. I'm still stunned that this is the only recourse.

And I'm sorry Matt - the economy will not be stimulated by an act of war, since the manpower and firepower required are far different than in WWII. The only reason there was economic stimulation during a time of war then is because the country was recovering from the Depression.

Even Bush isn't thinking about entering into war as a form of economic recovery. The fall of dot.coms and corporations creating tax havens in St. Bart's screwed the economy, not a change in the Oval Office.

matt morin
2.27.03 @ 11:00p

Oh no. I never meant to say that this war is supposed to get the economy going. On the contrary, it'll just make people more skittish, spend less, screw up any Wall Street recovery and postpone any real economic recovery.

My point is, we'd be a hell of a lot better off spending the estimated $100 billion this war will cost (Wall Street Journal Estimate) on programs here at home. Or to keep the national debt low (which is skyrocketing under Bush).

joe procopio
2.28.03 @ 8:52a

So it remains to be explained why Bush would start a war to make people forget about the economy when, as you say here, it's done nothing but make the economy worse and more evident.

And then what was Powell talking about in his speech two weeks ago?

And, Tracey, I'm not holding out for Italy and Spain to send troops, I'm just pointing out that the only detractors to this war who aren't current established enemies of the US have the largest oil contracts with Iraq.

elena siprova
2.28.03 @ 11:09a

Wait a minute, other European nations are contributing and are sending troops. The Czechs have already sent us their best chemical weapons defense units - they're recognized internationally for their expertise in this area - Vaclav Havel, their president up until a couple weeks ago, was also the only president to sign the agreement to use military force to disarm Iraq. For a country, the size of Virgina, they're contributing a hell of a lot. Many other Eastern European countries are sending troops as well - perhaps they're more eager to help us out since it hasn't been so long since we helped them with the Bosnian situation. We've earned they're loyalty. Now, Russia is another story, but when it's all said and done, I think we'll have their support as well. They're talking a big talk now, but I have faith that Putin will come through.

[edited]

matt morin
2.28.03 @ 11:56a

So it remains to be explained why Bush would start a war to make people forget about the economy when, as you say here, it's done nothing but make the economy worse and more evident.

Because then, instead of Dan Rather leading off every night with "Consumer confidence is at its lowest in 11 years" or "the jobless rate jumped .3% this month", those stories get pushed to the end (or more likely eliminated) by war stories.

Out of sight. Out of mind for the American public.

joe procopio
2.28.03 @ 12:08p

But Matt, that's out of the frying pan, into the fire. It's not as if the news stories about Iraq are glowing, or even positive. And the Bush administration knew that would happen and even said so at the outset.

Why would they use a war as a diversion? Wars are bad and they reflect negatively on leaders. You're skipping logic to force the proof of your theory.

And what about 1441? What about what Powell said? What about the ties to 9/11? What about the missiles? What about the public support for Al Qaeda? - all of which are perfectly good reasons to pound the snot out of an enemy that's been gunning for you for years anyway.

Look. I'm no hawk and I follow nothing blindly, but I've heard too many unsubstantiated theories about this impending war. I go back to what Elena said, everyone is all for freedom and being and supporting the hero until dirty work needs to be done. And I understand. It's like a fistfight. You think twice when you're actually standing chin to chin.

matt morin
2.28.03 @ 12:12p

Well, we all know I don't think twice when standing chin to chin...

If we want Al Qaeda, then go after Al Qaeda. Hell, places like Yemen have WAY more ties to terrorists, but we don't seem to be attacking them? Why not?

Look, the US has been trying for months now to make a case against Iraq, and it's so weak, the only real country supporting us is Britian.

jael mchenry
2.28.03 @ 12:18p

The news coverage I've seen has promoted a war in Iraq by making it seem inevitable for months now. And yes, the economy is getting less coverage because of it.

And about wars reflecting negatively on leaders: GB Sr.'s rating immediately after the Gulf War was 90-something and never went higher. Winning a war is good. Losing a war is bad.

The more I think about this stuff the more I realize it's all like a giant game of Civilization. No joke.

michelle von euw
2.28.03 @ 12:20p

Why would they use a war as a diversion?

Becuase they can. Wars, historically, have not reflected badly on seated presidents, but rather the opposite. The GOP strategists who ran Bush senior's campaign in '92 later lamented the fact that the Gulf War ended 21 months before the election.

It's not a tactic limited to the Republicans, either: Clinton was accused of doing it during the Lewinsky scandal.

steven goldman
2.28.03 @ 1:21p

And what about 1441? What about what Powell said? What about the ties to 9/11? What about the missiles? What about the public support for Al Qaeda? - all of which are perfectly good reasons to pound the snot out of an enemy that's been gunning for you for years anyway.

What about what Powell said? Didn't the Bush administration present a tape that "may" have had the voice of Bin Laden on it? The London Independent pointed out that the speech on the tape was pointed, going so far as to distinguish secular Iraq from its fundamentalist neighbors. The content was about throwing Iraq advice on resistance, suicide bombings, but that's like us rooting for one of our allies in a public address when they're fighting a fight we approve of.

So far, NO credible evidence has been presented linking 9/11 or Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein or Iraq, and frankly, it's pissing me off that people keep pulling that card. It was a gamble by the Bushies that they'd be able to scrounge up evidence linking the two, legitimizing it as a follow-up to their failed pursuit of Bin Laden, and it didn't pay off.

And doesn't preparing another attack on Iraq, one with a shaky PR foundation, make us even more of a target for Islamic terrorists than before, assuming a group of fundamentalists care about us attacking a secular Islamic government anyway?

joe procopio
2.28.03 @ 2:26p

Jael - preparing for war is bad - always. And I'm saying if you know it's going to happen, it slides way down on your list of diversionary tactics.

Further, I've seen a number of recent polls, Fox and CNN, that show American's are concerned about the economy, then war. About 42% - 40%.

Michelle - because they can is an answer but not the answer I'm looking for. Of course they can, but why would they? All signs point to the fact that it's a lousy plan. And Bush I could be called a PRIME example of how not to use a war to boost your re-election chances. We're 18 months out of the election. Again, not a good tactic.

Steven - I'm talking about the photos with proof of chemical and missle stores that have not been accounted for, and interviews with the scientists who document underground stores that haven't been accounted for. I don't believe we're going after Hussein as the next move in the war on terror, but we are indeed demanding he abide by 1441, and in doing so are protecting our own interests.

And someone please answer the Elf Aquitaine question for me. Why is no one questioning France's "peace" motives, including putting Turkey in ultimate danger, to protect their own economy.

steven goldman
2.28.03 @ 3:14p

re: 1441, I'd say that a worldwide groundswell of support for letting the inspectors do their jobs as thoroughly as possible before declaring Iraq in material breach is something to listen to, not to thumb your nose at, as Bush clearly did.

I can't speak to the validity of Elf Aquitaine because I haven't seen documentation of that in either direction. It wouldn't surprise me, but then, everyone in this little game has a vested interest in Iraq's oil, war or peace.

And Turkey is only in ultimate danger if a ground/air campaign begins. IF. France is pushing for a peaceful approach, which would remove the necessity of arming Turkey.

Is no one disturbed by the fact that we're paying far less attention to Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs, despite their being much further along than the remains of Iraq's chemical weapons programs AND having the means to deliver warheads?

matt morin
2.28.03 @ 5:32p

Steven, that's what I was going to say. If we're serious about getting rid of a real U.S. threat, why is there not a peep about North Korea? They lied about their nukes, they actually have them right now, and I already posted on the boards the story that confirmed they have the capability to reach the west coast of America.

I'll repeat myself. Iraq poses almost no direct threat to the United States right now. There are several other countries that do, but we seem to be conveinently forgetting about them.

matt morin
3.5.03 @ 11:39a

Ok, now France, Germany, Russia and Turkey are against us.

So much for "all of Europe" behind us.

erik myers
3.5.03 @ 11:53a

Are Turkey and Russia part of Europe, now?

russ carr
3.5.03 @ 2:13p

Actually, yes. Everything west of the Caucasus Mountains is considered Europe, I believe.

sarah ficke
3.5.03 @ 2:38p

Russia has a history of being some strange hybrid between Europe and Asia, but I think they've decided to be Europe now.

erik myers
3.5.03 @ 3:04p

They've decided?

Don't they have to move geologically or something?

I always thought Russia was part of Asia.

[looks at the map on his wall]

Good god. If Russia is part of Europe that makes Europe one HUGE-ass continent.

[edited]

sarah ficke
3.5.03 @ 3:30p

I meant it more culturally and politically than geographically.

elena siprova
3.5.03 @ 9:40p

Interestingly, Russia tends to stand on its own geographically and culturally. It is considered part of Eurasia - the term for the 12 new Independent States. Culturally,I would classify them as Eastern European before I would say Eurasian. I'm pursuing my Master's in Russian and East European Studies. Eurasian usually refers to the countries like Uzbekistan or Khazakhstan. My focus is on the Czech Republic though so I'm by no means an expert.

sarah ficke
3.6.03 @ 9:42a

Thanks, Elena. Erik and I were disputing about this all last night.



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