The List

I WANT a list.

I want a full accounting of every weapon in the country. Not Iraq. I could give a fig about Iraq. It's dirt-poor, halfway around the world, almost completely disarmed, has no way to attack us, and knows that any move to threaten anyone would be instantly suicidal. America faces many threats. Iraq is not one. Among all the American-trained dictators plaguing the planet, Saddam is the least of our problems.

I want a list of our weapons.

After all, we pay for them—and pay and pay. And that was even before 9/11 and the giant sucking wound where the federal surplus once was. That money, yours and mine, went almost entirely for yet more weapons and the capacity to use them. I want an accounting.

It's the United States, after all, that poses a threat, not just to its neighbors but countries anywhere in the world. Ask Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Serbia, Pakistan, Sudan, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Panama, Libya, or Grenada—all countries we've bombed or bullied in the past 20 years. It's the United States whose foreign policy now officially reserves the right to invade any place in the world for any reason or none at all. It's the United States that sells weapons to one or more sides of virtually every one of the five dozen or so wars now raging. It's America, with the oldest and biggest nuclear weapons program in the world, the U.S. alone, that has proudly used them. It's the United States that has shredded the world's arms-control structure, the U.S. that breaks international treaties the way other countries fund health care. Routinely.

OURS ARE THE WEAPONS of choice for everyone from psychotic serial killers to jungle guerrillas to kleptocratic dictators the world round. Every American embassy makes it a priority to pay for the marketing, credit underwriting, and purchase of those weapons, and closes the deal. It's the U.S. 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 possessed by the United States. Not just the Pentagon. Every single agency, down to the Mint and the Library of Congress. If the Library of Congress' assistant medical archivist carries mace in her purse when she goes to the parking garage, I want to know. I also want every potential weapon government employees possess. 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 splotchy red rash. I want the list. All of it. No typos, please.

But that's not all. It's not just our government that poses a threat to the world; corporate America does, too. If Coca-Cola doesn't constitute an invading army, I don't know what does. Therefore, I also want all of the weapons or potential weapons possessed by any entity that does business in the United States. Whether or not Americans own it. Air Botswana, this means you. That includes all employees and all subcontracting employees and agencies. Like Coke's Ouagadougou bottling plant. Can't be too careful.

You've got three weeks. And it had better be complete. And indexed.

OF COURSE, I DOUBT you'll cooperate. The Pentagon alone doesn't know what happened to billions of dollars. Accounting individually for every paper clip—after all, they're pointy—seems unlikely. I expect many companies won't fully cooperate, either.

They'll claim proprietary information or some other lame excuse.

Weasels.

We'll have to do inspections, of course. Unannounced, 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, Ohio, or Indiana? 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'd willingly endanger their own people, right?

After all, by inspiring billions of people to loathe America, it's you and I who are put at risk. We're the ones who'll walk past exploding hotels or work in collapsing office towers. We're the collateral damage.

And we're paying for it, out of every paycheck. We pay for the carnage. Now and later.

The least we can get is a list.

Three weeks.

gparrish@seattleweekly.com

 
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