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Is Bush listening?

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Millions around the globe turned out to show their opposition to a U.S.-led war on Iraq. But it may not matter. President Bush and his braintrust are talking as if they've made up their minds to go to war regardless of what Saddam Hussein does to disarm.

Yes, Saddam's sure to drag out the process. But if that involves disarming, then the world has what it wants. It's clearly not, however, all that Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld are after. They want to change the rules by which the United States, and consequently the rest of the world, have been playing. They want to put tactical nuclear weapons on the table as a part of a first-strike arsenal. They want to extend U.S. influence in a much more direct way--not just through military alliances and economic incentives, but through the imposition of American might abroad. They are turning the war on terrorism into another Cold War, trying to create American bases and satellite states the way we did 50 years ago in places like Spain, Great Britain, West Germany, Turkey and the Philippines. And they're planning to start by sacrificing the lives of thousands of civilians with a firestorm of missiles aimed at devastating Baghdad and destroying the Iraqi will to resist. It has a name: Shock and Awe.

And then what? The best-case scenario has American taxpayers spending billions of dollars to rule and rebuild Iraq. The worst-case is worse than anything we can imagine.

But until the worst happens, we have to assume we can change things. We can put pressure on our representatives in Washington. We can continue to make our numbers heard. There are a lot of us out there, as this week's coverage of the new faces in the anti-war movement shows.

To help get you going, here are some of the most clever protest signs we saw this week: "Bush is sending my brother to war; Let's send Jeb"; "Stockpile Duct Tape" with pieces stretched across Bush's mouth; "Axis of Evoil"; "Drunk frat boy drives country into ditch"; "Clinton had a few women, Bush is screwing the whole country"; "Bomb Texas, they have oil"; "How did our oil get under their sand?"; "Support our Troops: Keep them Here"; and my personal favorite, "Corporate News Media: Weapons of Mass Distraction."

And in the spirit of reaching out to understand the other side, there were a couple of good pro-war signs, too: "Ignorance is Blix," and "American soldiers protect your whiney hiney."

We've increased our level of media criticism lately, so it's only fair that we acknowledge three errors in last week's paper. We misspelled Capitol Hill in the Front Porch; wrote Old North Durham when we meant Old West Durham in a headline; and said the date of last week's anti-war protest was April 15. We've beefed up our proofreading this week as a result.

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