Sunday, March 30, 2003
Losing Our Religion
We've now been at war for 10 days or so. And it's an awful, awful thing. When I see on the news or hear that more people have been killed it upsets me. I'm not numb to it, and may never get that way. And the idea of American soldiers captured and under the control of Saddam and his sons makes me crazy.
I find myself sifting through all my friends' arguments against the war before it started. Especially those of the ones who felt there were alternatives, other solutions. But other than the "war is icky" argument--or, even better, the "it's all about oil" argument, which turns this enterprise into just another way for Bush and Cheney to make money--there weren't a lot of sound suggestions. Most solutions seemed to depend on Saddam voluntarily giving up power, or at least being "boxed in" (which of course means he has the weapons but according to Madeline Albright's magical thinking he won't use them). None of my friends seemed to understand this guy's nature.
And none of them understand the concept of international respect. There is this notion that the world is a congenial place where everyone--the community of nations--is sitting around in front of a fireplace sipping port and smoking cigars. According to this school of thought the U.S. action in going to war is some sort of indecent, inpolite behavior. Like we suddenly pulled our pants down and mooned the international community.
But that's not the way the world works. Some of it works that way: Western countries are like that, and so are other democracies. The U.N. is a bit that way. (Though it's more like a gathering around a fireplace in a gentleman's club to which a few grubby homeless people have just been admitted, with all present being excruciatingly polite: Libya at the head of the Human Rights Commission! How are we supposed to take these people seriously?)
That isn't how the Middle East works. (Is there some other way to express "Arab countries plus Iran"?) There, the foreign policy sensibilities are more like those in a maximum security prison: If someone does something bad to you and you do not retaliate, you will be killed because you obviously don't have any heart. You're not to be taken seriously. Both bin Ladin and Saddam were very impressed by the American reaction to Mogadishu in Somalia: American soldiers were captured, killed, and paraded through the streets. And we pulled out of there. What a monumentally stupid thing to do--not to mention the dishonor we did those Americans who died. Just as a tactical matter, it led to . . . well, 9/11, for starters (in conjunction with several terrorist incidents--after which we also turned the other cheek; there were around 800 Americans dead from Islamo-fascist terrorism before 9/11 even happened). And Saddam's notion that if there are only enough American casualties in this war, we'll take our dollies and go home. (Saddam's strategy #2: if he can convince the international community that we are incurring a lot of civilian casualties, they'll talk to us over port and cigars and convince us to go home.)
It's Pearl Harbor logic: just tonight my husband was talking about the miscalculation of the Japanese, who reasoned that we would absorb the Pearl Harbor attack. We'd enter the war briefly, and then--if they won a few battles against us--we'd withdraw and go back into our isolationist existence. After all, they thought, the Americans don't really have a martial culture. And we don't. But ultimately they were wrong, and bin Ladin was wrong, and Saddam is wrong. We are not easily provoked, but once roused we are a formidable force. One way or another, Saddam is going down. No matter how long it takes.
So I watch the news and I see that Iraqis are suffering and Americans are dying. I'm proud of the humane way we're conducting this. And when I feel my resolve faltering, I remember how we got here, and how few realistic choices we really had. And how much respect--a word that, yes, includes a little fear in it, along with prestige--we would lose if we backed down right now.
The only option left open is to win this thing as quickly and cleanly as possible. And then go home.
3/30/2003 04:12:00 AM
Saturday, March 22, 2003
As I write this the second Gulf War has started--Wednesay night in my U.S. time zone (early Thursday morning in Baghdad). It's sobering and glorious at the same time. We are--by all accounts--doing a good job of minimizing civilian casualties, and haven't lost too many American/English men so far. One finds oneself in the morally ambiguous--or at least aesthetically questionable--position of hoping Saddam died in that first attack on one of his many Presidential palaces. (Though it looks as if he survived, and one of his outlaw sons has died.) Such is war: morality can go topsy-turvy. I'm glad our military planners have kept their heads, and I'm grateful we have technology that allows us to keep as many innocent Iraqis alive as possible. I'm proud to be part of a country that makes human life such a high priority that huge numbers of Iraqis have been encouraged to surrender (which creates security risks for us, along with the logistical difficulties of feeding/caring for these men).
But here's what's on my mind. I really love the Israelis. As a nation. I admire the fortitude of a country that has been attacked multiple times by virtually the entire Arab world, and is still standing. I admire the determination to survive.
A friend of mine (well--my husband's best friend) tells me that prior to World War II, Jews tended to obey orders to leave whatever country was kicking them out. That there was an attitude of "oh, okay. We'll go now." And then came the holocaust, and everything changed. (Is it necessary to point out here that among the three dominant non-Eastern faiths--the "people of the book" comprising Christianity, Islam, and Judaism--the Jews have little blood on their hands? Okay: some ookey things in the Old Testament. But no crusades, no mass killings of that nature. That's real religion, people.)
So suddenly there was Israel, which is as I write the only democracy in the Middle East. (This may change soon, in Iraq.) When their athletes were murdered in Munich, Mossad tracked down every single participant and killed them. It took years, but the calculation was that Arab extremists had to know what they were up against. They had to know that if they commited acts of terrorism against Israelis, they would die.
For years Israel tracked Iraq's progress in developing nuclear weapons. Many of the Iraqi scientists associated with that project just died: car accidents, mysterious murders. Poison. Nothing that established a particular M.O. But people knew.
And then Iraq built its nuclear reactor, which was supposedly just for power. (Who believed that?--that one of the most oil-rich nations in existence would need nuclear power?) Like us, the Israelis wanted to minimize casualties--so they picked their time carefully, and acted before the reactor was "hot." And they bombed it in a daring raid in 1981. It was condemned internationally (including by us--after all, we had sold them the planes!). And yet, if they hadn't done it, Saddam would have had nuclear warheads by the time he invaded Kuwait. No first Gulf War. No Second Gulf War. No chance of eliminating Saddam. No democracy for the Middle East. And the certainty of blackmail in that region--and all over the world--for the foreseeable future.
But what if, instead of being a little country surrounded by hatred and prejudice, one is a large country with unparalleled wealth? What happens when the biggest guy on the block has to defend himself? In other words, what if it isn't Isreal acting to protect itself, but the United States?
The same thing. You go in. You do what needs to be done. You take the heat. And you wait for people to thank you later. Or never--that's fine, too.
3/22/2003 05:40:00 AM
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
A Not-So-Splendid Little War
The 48-hour deadline for Saddam and his sons to leave Iraq is seven hours from now. I hope Bush doesn't give another speech before we start dropping the bombs. There's been plenty of warning: let's begin this action at 8:01 Eastern time.
I've been reading about the first Gulf War, and it's rough going--not just because of my relative ignorance of military hardware ("*another* kind of plane?--how many do we need?") but because I can't bear human suffering and violent death. The death of a 20-year-old American Marine with his whole life ahead of him makes me weep. Multiply that by all the American and Iraqi lives, and it's impossible to even feel the grief. One is eventually just numb and vaguely depressed.
But it's also an exciting time to be alive--not because of the war, which is horrible (maybe slightly less horrible than in the past, with the targeting abilities we have now, but still just awful) but because of the possibility of Iraqi liberation. If Iraq becomes a democracy it will be the first Arab democracy, and the thought makes my heart sing.
They are longing for the torture to stop. They want to be able to speak their opinions without having to die horrible deaths for it. They are waiting for us. I hope it won't be long.
Everything is changing: the British House of Commons yesterday passed the bill supporting Tony Blair in his alliance with the United States--by a healthy margin. Labour leaders are throwing their weight behind the military action on humanitarian grounds, while Conservatives refuse to play politics, and also back Blair. British public opinion is swinging round: over 50% of Britons have at least some confidence in President Bush. This is a sea change from the 90% anti-war sentiment of two weeks ago.
There are 30 nations publicly giving us material help (vs. 34 in the first Gulf War), and another 15, Powell tells us, that are quietly assisting. That would give us a total of 45 nations on board in this particular coalition (vs. just over 50 in WWII).
I still weep for all the loss of life. But I exult in the end of Saddam's regime. I hope he and his sons are captured and tried. Or killed; killed would also be delightful.
Flee Baghdad, my Iraqi friends. And stay away from those power plants and military installations. We're finally on the way.
3/19/2003 10:08:00 AM
Sunday, March 16, 2003
There is a sense of outrage out there about the idea that America might become unpopular after we liberate Iraq. Not, apparently, on any moral basis--because everyone admits that this man has molded himself in Stalin's image. He is a guy who uses the boxes designed to hold bodies in morgues to confine living human beings, who are kept there until they go mad, die, or tell their torturers what they want to hear.
No. The objection is sometimes voiced as a psuedo-moral one, but it usually betrays itself eventually as a sort of aesthetic argument. And very often the core of it is that we shouldn't do anything that might make the rest of the world dislike us. And we may not have the right to do much of anything at all--not unless everything we've ever done has been brand spanking clean, and met with overwhelming success.
When you think about it, this is an extraordinary notion, for a number of reasons. Muslim fundamentalists around the world despise us not because of anything we've done (unless you count contaminating sacred Saudi soil with infidel American tanks, being used to save Arab lives). No. Just because of our freedoms, which of course many of these same fundamentalists use to come to school here. ("Blend in," they were told. So they shaved their beards, took up drinking, and hung out in strip bars. The commitment is astonishing: these men were willing to look at bare American breasts to fight the infidels.)
In September of 2001 thousands of Americans lost their lives on the East Coast because we're so popular around the world. And then silly American columnists wrote amazing little columns about how it was because we had dropped out of the Kyoto environmental treaty (bin Ladin being, apparently, a committed Green).
How important is it to be liked? Not very, I don't think. I live in a metropolitan area in Southern California which is regarded as second-rate and not-very-nice by another metropolitan area in Northern California. It is a famous one-way rivalry: those who live near the San Francisco Bay don't like Angelenos much because we're said to be shallow, or superficial. Or because we're stealing their water. Or because we have better weather. Or just because. No one here cares much about it: we still take our vacations in San Francisco and Berkeley. We still love those towns. We simply don't give a rip. And it isn't a lot different with the New York snobs, though when it reaches absurdity ("you can't get a good bagel in L.A.") I have heard an argument or two from my comrades-in-mellow-mediocrity.
That's my country, in microcosm. We're an optimistic, happy people. We are rich, as a nation--but we're not selfish. We want other countries to be rich, too. We're eager to help. It isn't part of our character to stand by while others suffer. If there's any practical way to stop pain and hunger, we will try. It hasn't always worked, but we've certainly learned several ways *not* do to it (including some infamous adventures in Southeast Asia, and our first instance of intervention in Afghanistan, when we helped them fight the Soviets--but left too soon).
Sure--this is perceived as a sort of smugness by some. And there's tremendous envy of both our wealth and our superpower status. But the argument that "I come from a small country, and we are not in any position to help the Iraqis. So I will resent it if you act and underscore my nation's impotence" is silly and immature. We have a legal and moral justification to do this, and we will save many lives in doing it. We will stop the torture. I fully anticipate that the transition to democracy will go much more smoothly in Iraq than it did in Afghanistan, because the Iraqi people are so supremely educated. If the ethnic groups can achieve a balance of power--and if all the remnants of the ruling junta are arrested or killed--it should be feasible to facilitate the establishment of a democracy there. And this will, in turn, place pressure on all kinds of other countries to make needed changes: from Saudi Arabia to North Korea.
I eat French fries. I eat French toast. And when this invasion is successful, and we've been instrumental in bringing freedom to people who sorely need it, I'll make a souffle. With French cheese. No apology needed: I'll understand if they just can't choke out the words. I'm a mellow, laid-back chick.
3/16/2003 06:03:00 AM
Friday, March 14, 2003
Anxiety in the Sand
In the deserts of Kurdish Northern Iraq, and in the Persian Gulf, and in Saudi Arabia, and in a bunch of other spots brave young men and women mass awaiting war. It is a war France may make more dangerous for them by seeking delays--as the moonless nights suitable for flying missions grow fewer before the brutal hot weather begins.
Meanwhile, people here and in Europe object to this war for various reasons--many of them good. The most interesting one, however, has to do with not wanting these young men and women to die. Some, pacifist on general principle--or because they've seen too much in other wars--simply wonder aloud how many of our soldiers will perish. Some reason that it isn't fair to have a voluntary army if people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to volunteer.
And lost in all this are the voices of those who volunteered. These are the people whose morale is decimated by the peace rallies, the cries of "no blood for oil," the descriptions of this action as imperialist aggression. These are the people who are there to free Iraq, and may well take abuse for it--just as Vietnam veterans were unappreciated both by doves who never thought that war should happen and a few hawks who regarded our soldiers as "losers."
Most of the soldiers are bewildered and angered by the outcry against the war. They are there to keep us safe, to deliver the Iraqi people, and--if all goes well--to facilitate the spread of democracy. They face the possibility of capture and torture by an inhumane regime--or the use of chemical weapons. Or biological warfare. They could use our support.
They are, I imagine, very angry at some of those who withhold their support on the basis of protecting them from harm--especially when that delays this action and puts them in greater danger (for every day, every week, every month that we wait, Saddam has more time to set booby traps of various sorts--and our soldiers are there in the desert, away from their families, growing ever more anxious).
What I am hoping is this: that some of you who oppose the war will be able to bring yourselves to support the troops once the shooting starts. That you will no longer "protect" these young women and men by making public your reservations about what they are doing. That you will regard them as adults who chose to take this risk for our sake.
That you will honor what they are doing, no matter what your personal feelings might be about the war.
3/14/2003 04:08:00 AM
Thursday, March 13, 2003
A Question of Trust
Why is it that so many of us who support this action tend to focus on the oppressive nature of the Iraqi regime? After all, Saddam isn't the only horrific dictator out there.
The easy answer is that I *can* get that information, so I tend to focus on it, rather than the threat Saddam poses to America's national security. (Shockingly, Bush invites me to very few security briefings. I've been complaining, but to no avail.)
Another answer is that it's important to emphasize the humanitarian aspect because those of us who think Bush should overthrow Saddam's regime tend to get painted in some quarters as yahoos who want to drop bombs on innocent civilians. (Sometimes this leads to a sort of brutal parody, an odd ironic position in which pro-war people start talking in the most bloodthirsty way, as if to say, "this is what you think of me anyway--why not go with the flow?")
One of the underlying questions is this, posed by a friend recently, point-blank: "Do you trust the government?"
Right now? Yes, I do. As a general policy?--I try to be skeptical, a good watchdog, a vigilant participant in democracy. But I can't help it: I trust G.W. Bush. Not a popular position in Northern California, or the greater L.A. area, or on any college campus, or in Manhattan.
The issue for so many who do not trust Bush is what they perceive to be his moral certainty on his chosen course of action. Of course, most of those who oppose the war are pretty darned morally certain themselves. (But, you know--it's okay to see things in black and white if it's the *right* kind of black and white.)
I'll throw in here the obligatory allusion to Clinton's various overseas adventures--the favorite example being Bosnia. That, of course, was *not* approved by the U.N., and no one at the time suggested that it ought to be. And it was an analogous situation, without the national security threat: a humanitarian mission.
It's hard not to get the impression that for many people the *only* reason for withholding support is the fact that Bush is a Republican. Or, to be more exact, a Republican who is also a Christian, and wears that on his sleeve. Apparently, Christian + Republican is a pretty potent combination. Christian + Republican + non-intellectual is terribly, terribly dangerous.
So, getting back to trust: why do *I* trust this guy? I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he seems to be a twelve-stepper. He's never said it out loud, but that just convinces me all the more that he is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous--whose adherents never pubicly identify themselves as such. To be involved in that program is to embrace paradox, to be able to see in shades of gray (in many situations). After all, one only attains some functionality through AA by "surrendering" to a Higher Power and, essentially, throwing up one's hands. The program eventually grants a certain amount of wisdom. It requires humility before this Higher Power--whether one identifies with the phrase "born again" or not. Whatever one's brand of religion, it demands tolerance and introspection. One cannot be part of AA and think one's judgment is infallible.
The April issue of *The Atlantic* ran a cover story on "how Bush makes decisons." The conventional thinking is that he works on intuition. But at least one person interviewed suggested he isn't using intuition so much as working off of past experience. He makes up his mind about people very very quickly, and moves on. He is, as the article points out, the only President to come to the office with a working knowledge of the White House from a lower-level aide's point of view--for he was this in his father's administration. He saw first-hand what didn't work.
This is the guy who has to face the judgment of history--whether it's because he didn't act and we suffered a chemical, biological, or nuclear attack on account of that inaction, or because he invades and things go terribly wrong: the struggle becomes protracted, or there is a massive retaliation by the Iraqi government. He's the guy getting the briefings and intelligence reports. Not me.
Remember when Time magazine's cover story (late '91, or early '92) was about how Colin Powell had no influence in this administration?--that certainly turned out to be untrue: we've spent many months and a tremendous amount of effort and money trying to go as far down the diplomatic path as we possibly can. I can see why we needed to try, though we may have waited too long, as our strongest ally wavers in its support and the hot months loom ahead, making the invasion more difficult. If we don't do it soon, the risk may be much greater: we've already lost just about any possible element of surprise.
But, fine: call Bush a cowboy if you like. They said the same thing about Reagan, who also turned out to be far smarter--and, more importantly, far wiser--than anyone realized at the time.
3/13/2003 12:39:00 AM
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
It's Just War
From time to time, I'll answer here some of the objections my friends and worthy adversaries (one set: friends who are worthy adversaries) send me regarding the war. Here is a snippet from an article forwarded by a dear friend's father, who likes to join our frays. It's from the *New York Times* of 3/6, and discusses the debate among America's Roman Catholics regarding the war. (It's worth noting, and the article mentions, that American Catholics often politely ignore the Church's teaching on birth control and the death penalty.)
"The principles of a 'just war' were first developed by St. Augustine in the fifth century and expanded upon by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th. For a war to be considered just, it must meet the following criteria: have a just cause, meaning that it confronts a danger beyond question; be declared by a legitimate authority acting on behalf of the people; be driven by the right intention, not ulterior economic or other motives; be the last resort; be proportional, so that the harm inflicted does not outweigh the good achieved; and have a reasonable chance of success."
Of course, G.W. Bush isn't a Catholic. His brother is, though. (Do you have your "Re-Elect Jeb 2012" bumper sticker yet? Order early and often.) But let's go through it, shall we?
1) Have a just cause.
There are two basic underpinnings to this war: the basic notion of protecting American lives from possible attack, and the secondary idea that we may be able to accomplish humanitarian objectives while we're there.
The first is tricky, because there could be a risk that we will *increase* the chance of retribution against the U.S. by Iraq (or even al Quada, acting in sympathy with Iraq--or taking advantage of our possibly being distracted). I do not think this risk will be eliminated. However, I do believe that we can get pretty close, due to the sophisticated nature of the weapons we have at our disposal. If we are fast and decisive, we should be able to practically eliminate the chance of reprisals by either Iraq or A.Q. Our weaponry is much more sophisticated than what we had during the first Gulf War. Hell--it's more sophisticated than it was in the Afghanistan War.
Humanitarian objectives: this should speak for itself. I'll be brief, since this has been and will be a major theme for me in this blog. Suffice it to say that if a country is suffering particularly egregious oppression and you have the opportunity/legal justification to free them, it's immoral not to act.
1b) Confronts a danger beyond question.
All my information suggests that Iraq is still trying to refine plutonium. So not only has Saddam not abandoned his biological and chemical weapons, he's still pursuing nuclear weapons. Quietly. We've all read the reports by his nuclear program director that explains how single-minded he's been in his pursuit of nuclear capabilities. I regard this as a serious danger--and deep down, I'll bet you do too.
2) Be declared by a legitimate authority acting on behalf of the people.
This legitimate authority is the United States Government. It can't be the U.N. Come on, folks--let's get serious. A body that just appointed Libya the head of its Human Rights Commission? That's a great premise for a sit-com, but not a great credential for an international legal organization. Particularly if France and Russia have arbitrary rights to veto a Security Council vote, notwithstanding their conflicts of interest.
3) Be driven by the right intention, not ulterior economic or other motives.
Here's where our little friends of the "oil, oil, oil" variety will speak up. They always suggest that there's some sort of control Haliburton will be exerting over the Iraqi oil fields. Other than a minor role in a possible cleanup if Saddam torches his own oil fields, I haven't seen any evidence that Haliburton will gain in any way from this (as opposed to our French friends, who have much more at stake). Can't we simply look at history?--we were told that the first Gulf War, in '91, was "all about oil," yet the Americans didn't take control of either Iraqi or Kuwaiti oil production. Show me something, here, you "blood for oil" people. Please. (Other than the tanker named after Condoleeza Rice. Serious allegations call for real evidence, not a vague circumstantial case.)
4) Be the last resort.
I don't know what else to call this. Saddam agreed to these restrictions 12 years ago, and has been ignoring them ever since. We've been pressuring him heavily for a year and a half to cooperate with us, and disclose/destroy his WMDs. He's basically been tap-dancing in a way that has grown more intense since the inspectors returned to Iraq. We've got Kurds in Northern Iraq wondering when the hell we're going to get there, and malnourished Iraqi soldiers trying to surrender to British forces. They want it done with. The stock market here wants it done with. Come to think of it, I want it done with. Enough is enough.
5) Be proportional, so that the harm inflicted does not outweigh the good achieved.
This is another sticking point for my "anti" friends. And also easy for me: the U.S. has done a lot of bad/inept stuff in its two-and-a-quarter centuries. But just as it's easy to improve on the Taliban, it's easy to improve on Saddam's regime. (There are, floating around out there, huge estimates of possible Iraqi civilian casualties in the event of another military conflict. But I believe these are based on the results of the first Gulf War. Keep in mind that most civilian casualties in the first war were the result of damaged infrastructure, which in turn emerged from miscalculations/miscommunications within our military. We now have the benefit of those mistakes, and should be able to avoid repeating them.)
Of course, the tendancy is to judge Saddam's regime a bit lightly, and any transitional regime administered by us a little harshly. That is: if anyone *isn't* being tortured by Saddam, things are tolerable in Iraq now. But if anything we install falls short of utopia--the skies aren't always blue, the birds aren't always singing--we've failed in our mission. I feel so dirty and . . . American.
6) Have a reasonable chance of success.
As my Democrat friends fear, the odds are overwhelming that it will be a quick victory for the U.S. And *then* what will they talk about in 2004? It's so sad. (Okay: there is still the risk that it will fail--that we will become embroiled, or that there will be a reprisal [or a well-timed al Quada attack] during this action. That's the political risk G.W. is taking.)
So there you go. I think it's justified, and I wish I could pull St. Augustine (Woody Allen-style) out from the sidelines to agree with me. Just be assured that he would.
3/11/2003 04:01:00 AM
Sunday, March 09, 2003
Blocking Things Out
In times like these, we all have to block out some portion of human suffering just to keep from going mad. I know most of my liberal friends block out a lot of the evil the Iraqi regime does. ("Yes, yes--we all know he's a dictator. But there are tons of them out there, and aren't a lot of the other Arab states just as bad?") And some people block out the possibility that a U.S. invasion might actually help the Iraqi people. That simplifies the analysis, doncha know.
I know I sometimes block out the realities of war. The notion of bombs killing people (or worse, not-quite-killing them) bothers me a lot--as does the likelihood of our pilots getting shot out of the sky and getting killed or injured that way. I don't like human suffering.
But I also believe in freedom. I honestly think when those madmen, the Founding Fathers, stood up to the British (who aren't bad, and weren't even that bad back then--but Madison et al. thought they could do better) they made something better than any system that had yet been invented. It was in some ways a continuation of Britain's parliamentary system--and in others, a vast improvement. And it ended our status as a colony. It was done, by the way, without deliberately targeting innocent civilians (aka "soft targets").
They were all men of property. They all stood to lose a lot--far more than just their lives. Their families would have suffered a great deal if they'd been hung in disgrace as traitors.
There are things that are worth dying and sacrificing for. One of them is freedom.
It's my impression that the Iraqis are ready to stand up to Saddam and get rid of him once and for all. It is, in spite of my country's mixed record in its military adventures, another chance for us to do some genuine good. Can we admit that every now and again we do some genuine good?
Some countries don't yet see this clearly, beyond the mental blocks (or, in the case of France, the financial motive). But they will. History will judge.
* * * * *
Editor's note: It might be worth noting that my husband vehemently protests my calling myself a "coward" in my last post. But one has to wonder. I'd say that if you're in a crowd of 5-7 people, all of whom disagree with you and most of whom are over-excited, good sense and politeness dictate what you say. But I'll let the word stand--mostly because I'm so pleased with my "call-back" to the term later on in the entry.
3/09/2003 11:10:00 PM
Saturday, March 08, 2003
People still assume--because of the circles I move in, because I'm creative, just because--that I'm against the war like any good person should be. They say the most vicious things about the Bush Administration at cocktail parties and art openings and other gatherings. They have no idea. I usually don't bother to correct them, because . . . because why ruin a good vibe? Or perhaps I'm a coward. I tell myself I'm being a good spy.
Today I want to look at the hypocrisy surrounding Bush 43's religiousness, which my liberal friends so love to harp on. I actually heard a grown man recently claim that Bush is pursuing the matter of Iraq because "he's a fundamentalist." Then he looked around as if expecting approval of this "insight." ("Wow," I should have said. "That's amazing. Can you do that again?" See "coward," above.)
I'm younger than a number of my friends, but I do remember the general flavor of the Carter Administration. Carter was--and was portrayed as--a terribly devout man. He spoke almost continually about God. I do not think that in any way he put on religion as a sort of air: I think he was very sincere about his faith--though that faith was also almost certainly refreshing to many, given how shell-shocked American society was by the Nixon scandals. (And I'm certain there is a corollary now: it's nice to have a man of faith in the White House after a particularly scandal-plagued administration.) But how is it that it's okay for a Democrat to be a devout Christian, but it isn't okay for a Republican?
There is this attitude out there that Bush wakes up sometimes in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, confiding to Laura, "God told me to kill all Muslims." Presumably, she then replies, "there there, Dear. Butcher them. Now go to sleep." The idea that he would allow his faith to affect his judgment--except in the general sense of pursuing the common good, and hoping it works out to the glory of God--is patently absurd.
Oh, those big bad Christians. Hope they don't come for me.
3/08/2003 03:34:00 AM
Thursday, March 06, 2003
Here's a story Larry Elder told yesterday over the radio.
A friend of his has a girlfriend who is from Bosnia. She now works for the public school system as a consultant; I believe she works on their computers. On assignment in an inner-city school where the kids are considered "at risk" yesterday morning, she was told that the students in that particular classroom were going to be walking out at 11:15 to protest the upcoming war with Iraq.
"Can I talk to them?" she asked.
Granted permission, she spoke to the class of 35 for perhaps ten minutes, telling them what it was like to live in a country where people "disappear" on a frequent basis, where one cannot venture even the mildest criticism of the government, where torture is used to enforce unfair laws. "Right now there is a young woman just like me living under these conditions--but she is Iraqi. I want you to think about her before you leave here and go out talking about Cheney and the oil companies."
The students were stunned. None of them went out to demonstrate against the war.
And here's the sad, tragic part: this woman got the distinct impression that none of those kids had ever been spoken to about the humanitarian aspects of this war. Not ever.
3/06/2003 04:10:00 AM
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
I wish people would do their homework. I wish half of those who think they oppose our impending invasion of Iraq would do basic things--like researching international law (if not "just war" theory), Saddam's atrocities, and the opinions of the Iraqis themselves, who simply want to be free. The protesters here in the U.S. rail against a government that is trying to make it possible for Iraqis to protest *their* government. As opposed to the current situation, in which Iraqis of any stripe can be imprisoned and tortured for breathing a critical word.
All the "arguments" I hear against the war so far--with the possible exception of one--have been patent nonsense. None have been based in fact. Unless you count the made-up "fact" that invading Iraq will somehow line the pockets of those in the administration who have ties to the Evil Oil Companies. The only pockets likely to get lined are those of the French and Russian companies who have contracts with Iraq and are scared that a regime change will be bad for business. (And then there are the French and Russian suppliers of material--and the French outright building Saddam a nuclear reactor.)
It's crazy. Children all over California today left their classes to demonstrate for torture. And they don't even know it. That's the amazing thing.
3/05/2003 07:34:00 PM