Let’s play a little game of pretend. For a moment, pretend that you’re a fighter pilot in charge of patrolling a United Nations no-fly zone in Iraq. You’re cruising at an altitude of 10,000 to 20,000 feet at close to Mach 1 when all of a sudden your warning system indicates that a SAM (surface-to-air missile) site radar has locked on to your aircraft and you’re now a moving target. Do you a) turn tail and run, b) maintain altitude and speed as if nothing is happening or c) blow the living shit out of the SAM site posing a threat with some HARMs (high speed anti-radiation missiles)?

This is the kind of scenario that American and British pilots faced on a daily basis protecting the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. It was the norm until last week when they rammed a few HARMs down Hussein’s throat. And now the U.S. and British are the bad guys, but according to who?

Let’s take a look at the Russian opinion on the matter. They claim the action was wrong, but who cares what the Russians think? Russia is a country that had a massive governmental failure known as “the collapse of communism.” It still provides Iraq with MiG and Sukolev fighter planes, as well as T-72 tanks so Saddam can build up his military. All this is paid for with aid dollars sent to Iraq to feed its people.

Besides, the Russians are too busy ripping Chechnya and its citizens a new asshole to be self-righteous or critical about anybody’s aggression. By the way, Russia provided Iraq with Scub B missiles that slammed into Israel during the Gulf War as well as the very SAM sites that lock onto U.N. patrol planes and got taken out.

Then of course, we have the French opinion, but who even gives a shit what they think anyway? Talk about a self-preservationist stance. All they’re worried about is terrorist attacks on them if they support the action. As if France has any room to speak.

All we’ve ever had in France as an “ally” is a country that we’ve had to bail out twice in a single century and that has been the worst colonizer known to man. Ever hear of Algiers? What about Lebanon? The reason those places fell apart was due to French colonization. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget that lovely little quagmire known as the Vietnam War that the French happily dumped on our lap at the cost of thousands of lives, American and Vietnamese. Let’s also not forget the fact that France has provided Iraq with Mirage fighter planes and Exocet missiles just like the one that accidentally attacked the USS Stark back in 1986. France’s hands aren’t that clean. The French can’t even handle their own problems and therefore have zero business dictating military protocol, rules of engagement or military action to anyone else.

For all of their criticism, the critics are forgetting that the action taken was executed well within the accords signed by Hussein and the U.N. coalition back in 1991 when Iraq effectively lost the Persian Gulf War. The rules state that certain areas will be patrolled and protected with whatever means necessary, even if it means the use of deadly force. So let’s face it America. Global condemnation of U.S. military action, even if within the prescribed requirements, will always be the norm since we’re the “Great Satan” in the eyes of those that disagree, usually out of envy, with any and all U.S. positions.

The amusing part of the criticism is that it comes from countries that will always turn to the U.S. when the shit hits the fan in their house. Be it money or military aid, you can bet that most of these critical nations will knock on our door when they need our help. But God forbid if America decides to take initiative or show resolve in a potentially dangerous military situation. We’ll never hear the end of it.

My only complaint about the attack is that civilian lives were lost, but let’s look at the reality of the matter. There are civilian technicians that work on military sites and if any were present during the strike they were there by choice. I also have news for Saddam on the subject of SAM site location: If you don’t want civilian casualties, don’t put SAM sites in residential areas. All it does is get civilians injured or killed.

Finally, let’s look at another source of criticism the U.S. receives concerning U.N. sanctions against Iraq. Under these U.N. ratified sanctions, civilians have died due to famine and disease. But where is the money that was supposed to be used to feed and care for the Iraqi people going? This one’s a no-brainer. Saddam had a choice to either feed and care for his people with the aid money, or build a multi-million dollar presidential mega-palace. He chose to build the palace.

So to those countries with plenty to say, such as France and Russia, the only words of advice on the matter of Iraq are: Either accept the actions taken by the U.N. pilots for their safety or stay the hell out of these matters, as you have no room to talk due to a long history of hypocrisy, lack of backbone or both. If you want the job of patrolling the no-fly zones, go for it and let us bring our pilots home safely. Just don’t come crying to the U.S. when Saddam starts to flex his military muscle at your efforts.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.