War Happens

Donald Paneth Jun 9, 2006

I’m on my way to the theater. Is any place safer than the New York City subways? Transit police are on duty. Crime is down.

An idyllic setting in contrast to the world stage. In Stuff Happens, David Hare scrutinizes historical and contemporary events and the perception of them by participants, playwright, and public. Hare begins with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s shrug as he considers chaotic, murderous occurrences in Iraq – “Stuff happens!”

Hare conducts us through the tragedy from collapsing New York skyscrapers to the Afghanistan invasion, both in 2001, from U.N. negotiations, which began Sept. 12, 2002, to the U.S.-British attack on Iraq, March 20, 2003.

It is an instructive exercise, which seeks to connect events both public and private. Hare imagines the closed-door treacheries which took place in the leadup to the current violence and impasse in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He demonstrates that negotiations cover up the ascendence to war and aeril bombardment. Embodiments of a blunt policy, Hare’s characters are undiplomatic types, without elegance, or urbanity, though dark-suited.

Colin Powell is a vacuous opportunist. Condoleezza Rice is graceless, bitter. Rumsfeld is a sociopath.

George W. Bush repeats emptily: I’m the commander, I don’t need to explain, I decide.

All is suspect. The authorities work unlawfully against the public weal. The people are misled; they are mute. And the mass media are complicit. It is a well executed con.

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