want a list. I want a full accounting of every weapon in the
country. Not Iraq; I don’t give a fig about Iraq. It’s halfway
around the world, it has no means of threatening the United
States from its territory, its economy is decimated, it has
been disarmed more effectively than any other country in the
history of the world, its every move is closely monitored
by any number of other agencies and countries, and it knows
that any move to threaten any other country would be instantly
suicidal. There are plenty of threats to the safety of Americans.
Iraq is not one of them. Among all the American-trained dictators
plaguing the planet, he’s the least of our problems.
I want a list of our weapons.
After all, we pay for them—and pay, and pay, and pay. John
W. Snow, the CSX chairman nominated recently to replace the
loose-tongued ex-Alcoan Paul O’Neill as Treasury secretary
(great, just what we need—another titan of corporate America,
and veteran of the Ford administration, in Dubya’s cabinet)
was strident in the mid-’90s in his advocacy for a balanced
budget. I wonder what he’ll say now about his new boss’ infliction
of a giant sucking wound where the federal surplus of 18 months
ago once was? That money, yours and mine, went almost entirely
for weapons and the capacity to use them. I want an accounting.
It’s the United States, after all, that has proven it poses
a threat to not just its neighbors but countries anywhere
in the world—ask Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Serbia, Pakistan,
Sudan, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Panama, Libya or Grenada, all
countries the United States has bombed or bullied in the last
20 years. It’s the United States whose foreign policy is now
officially predicated on reserving the right to strike militarily
anywhere in the world, any time it likes, for any reason,
and without any backing by an ally or international body.
It’s the United States whose weapons are sold to one or more
sides of virtually every one of the five dozen or so wars
now raging in the world. It’s America with the oldest and
biggest nuclear-weapons program in the world, the United States
alone that has proudly used such weapons on civilian populations,
in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s the United States whose weapons
are now the weapons of choice for everyone from mentally disturbed
serial killers to jungle guerrillas to kleptocratic dictators
the world around. It’s the government of the United States,
including every embassy and consulate around the world, that
makes it a priority to pay for the marketing, credit underwriting,
and purchase of those weapons, and closes the deal. It’s the
United States that underwrites and trains intelligence agencies
and secret police the world over, including any number of
countries where state torture and murder are the norm. We
pay for it all. I want a list.
I want it in three weeks.
I want to know every single weapon or potential weapon in
the possession of the U.S. government. Not just the Pentagon
or the Department of Defense, but every single agency down
to the U.S. Mint and the Library of Congress. If the Library
of Congress assistant medical archivist carries a can of mace
in her purse when she goes to the parking garage, I want to
know about it. Not just what the government owns; I want a
list of every potential weapon government employees possess,
too. Every firearm John Ashcroft and his NRA-loving appointees
own, and everyone else down to the grade C-3 summer interns.
That includes dual-use weapons, like nail files, or certain
kitchen spices which when mixed with a nasal decongestant
can produce a certain redness in the eyes. I want the list.
All of it. Typed. Neatly. No typos, please.
But that’s not all. After all, it’s not just our government
that poses a threat to the world; corporate America does,
too, and as we’ve repeatedly witnessed (ask Mr. Snow), our
government is a revolving door with corporate boardrooms.
They’re all in on it together, and if Coca-Cola doesn’t constitute
an invading army (and a global menace), I don’t know what
does. Therefore, I also want all of the weapons or potential
weapons possessed by any business in the United States.
Let me clarify that: any entity that does business in the
United States, whether or not they’re owned by Americans.
Air Botswana, this means you. That includes all their employees,
and all of the subcontracting employees and agencies (like
Coke’s bottling plant at Ouagadougou) they work with. Can’t
be too careful.
You’ve got three weeks. And it had better be complete. Alphabetized,
please. With an index.
Of course, I don’t think you’ll cooperate. I don’t think everything
will be in the list that has been specified in my demand.
The Pentagon alone routinely can’t figure out what it has
done with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. Asking
it to account for every single paper clip—after all, it might
poke an eye out, and besides, at $90 per paper clip they’ve
got to be able to do something other than hold paper together
even during a nuclear war—seems like a long shot. And I expect
many companies won’t fully cooperate, either. They’ll claim
proprietary information or some other lame excuse.
We’ll have to inspect them, of course. Unannounced visits,
preferably accompanied by a battalion or two. When they object,
we’ll call it part of their sustained pattern of noncooperation.
Have I mentioned that I retain the right to shoot down any
aircraft that appear over the skies of Kentucky, Indiana,
Ohio or certain parts of West Virginia? They’ll probably pitch
a fit about that, too.
But then, that’s what you’d expect from people whose love
of power is so fierce that they would willingly endanger their
own people, right?
After all, by making America a country loathed by billions
of people around the world—some of which are virtually guaranteed
to be as omnicidally inclined as the power-crazed, money-poisoned
thugs now running our country—it’s you and I who are being
put at risk. We’re the ones who will be walking past the exploding
hotel or working in the office tower that collapses. We’re
the collateral damage.
And we’re paying for it. We’re filing the tax returns, we’re
getting the money extracted from our paychecks. We pay for
the carnage. Now, and later.
The least we can get out of the deal is a list.