by Geov Parrish
March 8, 2003
Dear President Bush, I write as a proud American and a resident of one of its many great cities: Seattle. You've probably heard of us; Space Needle, mountains, trees, salmon. Microsoft. When you owned the Texas Rangers baseball club, your team was in the same division as our Mariners. We stunk back then. We hope you remain grateful. Oh, and Boeing sends its deepest love.
Mr. President, I have an enormous favor to ask of you.
Could you bomb us?
Not just once or twice for show; I mean really bomb the city of Seattle, hard, like what you're planning for Baghdad, and probably for Pyongyang and Teheran and Damascas and whatever other 50 or 60 major world cities are on your Pentagon planners' current lists. I mean blast us back to the stone age. Make it hurt. Send us a message.
I'd prefer that you not hesitate or think too much about this; I wouldn't want you getting migraines or anything. But if you do, consider that we, too, are under the rule of a power-hungry leader we never voted for, one that's using torture and investigating political and religious minorities and disappearing people off our city streets and into a prison system from which they never re-emerge. That government has unthinkable numbers of nasty weapons and seems anxious to use them.
As for Seattle itself, well, Mr. President, we're in the "red" part of the country, the part that went for Gore, so I'm sure you'll understand that we've contributed more than our share of terrorists over the years. Those domestic terrorists arrested a few weeks ago for stealing top-secret plans from the military? Those were ours. We've been breeding them for years, from the D.C. snipers back through the Green River Killer and Ted Bundy and beyond. We "harbored" every single one of 'em. To your talented staff, making the case that we're an international menace should be a breeze. Just take some fuzzy satellite photos of our city and circle a couple of the cars. You'll find them sitting on I-5 in rush hour, any day now, once the clouds break for your cameras. Then let Colin do his thing.
In all seriousness, Mr. President, let's face it: the biggest threats to global security tend to come from the wealthiest and biggest countries, not the smallest. And if you have any hope of pulling them into line, you'll need to convince them that you'd take anyone out, even your own mother. Even your own city.
Hit us, say, with one of those big new post-daisy-cutter MOAB bombs, the ones whose name Edward Abbey would recognize as grimly appropriate, the ones that kill just like Hiroshima's nuke except with less radiation. Maybe drop a few hundred or thousand cruise missiles first to soften us up, or alongside to make sure the fireball extends all the way out past the suburban sprawl. Dumb, smart, whatever.
Doing this would give all Americans a far healthier respect for the new American empire that you are embarking upon. You see, the problem with obliterating Baghdad and its five million people is that they're just too far away. For most Americans, the handiwork of your genius is simply too abstract to fully appreciate. However, take out a place like Seattle -- a city they've probably visited, a place where they might have service memories or an old friend or two -- and it becomes much more real. What with the proximity -- only three time zones away from the networks! -- an attack upon Seattle will attract far more media than attacking some vowel-starved dictator's playpen. Then, you wouldn't need to rely on "embedded" war correspondents pestering your soldiers, and you could get the flashiest displays on live in prime time. Just ask; I'm sure the networks will cooperate. (Sorta like the shots they do of the football stadium, with the sun setting over the Pacific, but with big explosions! It'd be perfect for May sweeps.)
Even better, viewers will be able to more fully appreciate what your weapons do, because the survivors will look like them (except for the burns), even speak the same language (mostly), value human life just as much as they do. All of us here are just trying to get by each day as best as we can. But if you bomb here, our dilemmas will seem so much more vivid to our fellow Americans than the fate of 23 million stage props to Saddam Hussein. It'll make for some amazing reality TV shows.
Our proximity to you will make it easier for aid organizations, too, and for the shipments of medical supplies and relief workers and all that. And, of course, a wealthy First-World city like Seattle, with its big skyline and modern infrastructure, will mean trillions of dollars in rebuilding contracts after the war -- enormous windfalls that you can hand out to your corporate buddies as party favors at your next 2004 fundraising dinner.
Best of all, it's not like we have any way to fight back or anything. We could ask our local police, I suppose, but anything past pepper-spraying black motorists is out of their league. So if you ever get bored, you can just bomb us again! Bomb, rebuild, bomb, rebuild... now that's putting our economy to work!
All in all, Mr. President, I think it's a perfect fit for the new American empire you're constructing. It's an unprovoked attack upon a defenseless civilian population, based on crimes committed by either unaccountable leaders or psychotic individuals who, at one time or another, passed through town. It'll make your friends even richer, and it'll contribute, in a much more direct way than any overseas campaign could, to your re-election success next year. It's 12 less Electoral College votes for you to worry about. And we get a new freeway out of the deal.
Now that you've thought about it, Mr. President, I'm sure you realize that you can't back down. I trust Powell will be making the necessary presentations to foreign powers shortly. I think you'll be surprised at how many nations will be willing, even eager, to sign up to help with this one. Trust me.
Your patriotic friend,
P.S. I'm moving to Phoenix. Soon.
P.P.S. Damn! I just remembered! We don't have any untapped oil reserves. I guess that calls this whole thing off, huh? Never mind.
Geov Parrish is a Seattle-based columnist and reporter for the Seattle Weekly, In These Times and Eat the State! This article first appeared in Working For Change.com