Monday, May 24, 2004

Wedding Tip #1: Don't throw rice, throw chaff.

American pilots have a real thing against weddings: 2 years ago they blow up a village in Afghanistan for celebrating nuptials and now they are at it again, shooting up a bridal party in Iraq. (As always, here's the outstanding BBC.)

Of course, there is no mea culpa from the Pentagon, just the usual ass-covering and fudging of details that has become second nature in this litigation-obsessed country. Just playing the board game "Sorry" is considered an admission of guilt and can get you sued over here, so don't hold your breath waiting for an American corporation or branch of government to apologise.

Mind you, I'm getting ahead of myself here and not withstanding the US military's long and bloodstained history of accidentally destroying the wrong thing (Iranian airliners, Afghan weddings, Chinese embassies, Canadian infantrymen training outside Kabul, British RAF Tornado aircraft*, countless numbers of their allies in many wars, Sudanese pharmaceutical factories, Japansese trawlers, and so on)the alleged wedding might well have been a legit target. To quote American Brigadier Mark Kimmitt:
""Bad people have parties too." Yes, Brigadier Kimmitt, yes they do; usually the best ones at that.

I think it is incumbent on me to offer advice to the good people planning parties and weddings in the greater Mesopotamian region. You've taken care of the invitations, you've invited your neighbors so that the loud uluation Fatima always ends up doing after midnight isn't going to be a problem, and you have used your connections in Jordan to score a couple of cases of Old Uncle Hashemite's Halal Non-Alcoholic Whisky Style Beverage. The very next thing you should do is demand that guests, however gleeful, should refrain from firing their weapons in the air.

Yes, I know the firing of guns at weddings and parties is a long standing Bedouin tradition and it has even been adopted in many parts of the United States. However, you might want to factor in modern attitudes. In the west, it has become common to stop throwing paper confetti as it is messy and environmentally unfriendly; many people substitute bird seed. In the middle east and central Asia, it seems that joyfully discharging a full clip from an AK-47 into the air invites missile attack from a US helicopter. Therefore, if something must be fired in the air, why not substitute Nerf balls?

It is an awful thing, to have to alter the way you live in order that the people who are allegedly in your country for your right to be free don't kill you. I know it is an affront to your ancient and proud culture. However, bear this in mind; many American aviators are from the Air National Guard. The Air National Guard in Texas considered George W. Bush to be adequately qualified to fly lethal warplanes. Do you want to gamble your life on the chance that your neighborhood patrolling American attack aircraft pilot is more sensitive to your traditions than George W.? Do you want to chance it and see if he stayed awake during the briefing on Arab culture? Do you want to be on the recieving end of a refusal to apologise?

*One of the few targets the much-hyped Patriot missile has ever been able to hit, making the USA safe from a repeat of the War of 1812.

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