Performer: Pearl Jam
Songwriter: Bob Dylan
Original Release: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration
Definitive Version: none
An angry protest song deserves an angry political screed, don’t you think? If you in any way were pro-invading Iraq, you probably ought to skip this entry and come back tomorrow when it’ll be all ponies and rainbows and relationship follies, I promise.
Anyway, before there was iTunes, of course, there was Napster. Because this was prekids, Scott had more time for it than I did, and he downloaded practically the entire Internet.
I was a beneficiary of his open “theft” of music. Every couple of weeks or so, I’d get a package in the mail that included a homemade CD of tunes. I started to request certain songs, and at some point in 2000 or 2001—I can’t remember for sure—Scott sent me a rebuilt Freak.
I’ll talk about this later, but Freak was a makeshift Pearl Jam album I had Scott make for me years before. Through the power of Napster, Scott found all the uncollected Pearl Jam songs that had been on Freak and added several more that either had been recorded since then or that he had unearthed since then.
The version of this song from the Dylan celebration was included. Technically, it’s not a Pearl Jam song, of course. It’s Eddie Vedder singing and Mike McCready on acoustic guitar but also the at-one-time-ubiquitous G.E. Smith on mandolin. That was the band. I’m counting it as a PJ performance.
Naturally, I had this song on my playlist and my mind a lot after 9/11—particularly in 2002 when it became apparent that President Bush and his band of chickenhawks were going to use the terror attack as justification to invade Iraq, which had absolutely NOTHING to do with 9/11.
The ruse worked for a while, but it couldn’t hold. No, the guy who attacked us was in Afghanistan, so our Masters of War had to come up with a new ruse—weapons of mass destruction, billions of them, all ready to be used on us by the madman Saddam. The evidence was crystal clear; heck, even Colin Powell sold the fiction at the United Nations.
Chuck and I were nearly apoplectic in The Dispatch newsroom on a daily basis. The idea that Saddam was massing weapons to attack us was incredible to the point of insanity. The facts were simple: President Bush the Elder destroyed Saddam’s military—destroyed it—during Desert Storm in 1991.
President Clinton then directed flyovers both north and south of Baghdad during his entire presidency. I remember reading stories almost weekly about how if the Iraqis even trained their radar on U.S. fighter jets—let alone fired a missile—their radar installation was bombed to bits.
Given that, there just was NO POSSIBLE WAY that Saddam somehow had been able to develop—undetected, mind you—any weapons of mass destruction, let alone an arsenal. If two rubes in the Business Department of an urban newspaper could figure that out, why couldn’t anyone who could stop the inevitable march to war?
Those are questions certain parites will have to answer on Judgment Day, if it ever comes. It’s not up to me to answer them, although I certainly have my theories.
It’s often asked what lessons we learned from Vietnam. The answer is obvious: Get rid of the draft. I believe that because we have a volunteer military, people are far more casual about going to war. Hey, they signed up for this, didn’t they? Don’t worry, boys—and girls—I’ll just put this yellow-ribbon magnet on my SUV, because we support the troops. Well, how about we support the troops by not putting them in harm’s way for no damn reason (and then cutting their benefit programs when they come back home after)?
You can bet that if all those who recklessly—and some would say willfully—advocated and took us into a totally unnecessary war that cost 4,400 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqi’s their lives had a personal stake in it via a family member drafted into combat, the war NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.
So, yeah, the Masters of War got what they wanted, and they got away with it, because the alleged opposition party didn’t have the stones to hold their feet to the fire when they had the chance in 2006. Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the just plain chickens in the Democrat Party are equally culpable, perhaps even moreso than the warmongering GOP. Of course, warmongers are going to make war. That’s what they do. It’s up to those who should know better to stand up to them. The Dems didn’t, and they didn’t hold them accountable after the fact.
And people today wonder how we “suddenly” became a surveillance state. How, indeed.