So now for my first post. Except for those of you unfortunate to be on my email list, this will be a repeat. I had actually blast mailed this piece over the weekend. So then, apologies to all of you who have read this, or at least got the email and then delated it.
Allow me, if you will, to vent my spleen a bit over the current state of the world. I am talking specifically about the current crisis involving Iraq. I've held back and been satisfied with passing along the thoughts of others who share my views. But over the past few days I have reached my boiling point and fear that without such a venting I might actually endanger some poor old leftie who happens to pontificate in my general vicinity. So.. here goes.
The problem with today's anti-war crowd are many. But first let me allow those who are true pacifists off the hook. As a practicing Buddhist I can understand your feelings and it is something that I myself struggle with. One can feel in your heart and soul that violence does not solve problems, yet the rational mind sees what is around it and comes to a quite opposite conclusion. At least for me that is the case. So I give a free pass to actual pacifists, as long as they are willing to decry the evil of Saddam Hussein, Kim Il Jong, et al.
Now, to the throwbacks from an era long gone. Take a look at the anti-war crowd. Aging hippies still fighting the war in Vietnam, US involvement in Central America and other sundry causes. Of course, they do have their younger devotees, mostly naive college students whose still developing minds have not attained the ability to discern and discriminate between fact and fiction. Like lemmings or sheep they are all too willing to follow leaders whose sermons jibe with their world view that America and multi-national corporations are all evil (I grant that some corporations are evil). If one is already predisposed to thinking America and her government are corrupt (again, I grant a certain level of corruption), then the easy explanation for war with Iraq is corporate interests and/or oil. If one already believes the President was not duly elected (god, are we still living in 2000?), then a handy explanation for his drive to war is his poll numbers. If one already believes the President is a dilettante with little intellectual power, then the rationale for war with Iraq is to avenge his father.
To the anti-war crowd (I hesitate to use the word Left, because there have been several Leftists who support the President) there can be no just cause for war with Iraq. They are content to continue the path charted by the international community for the past twelve years, which has been the UN passes resolutions and Iraq ignores them. Now, there are those in the anti-war gang who truly believe that containment is possible. They recall the Cold War and US efforts to contain a Soviet Union with imperialist designs. But we live in such a different world now. And it is not just the events of 9-11 that have changed the battlefield. Also, remember the conflicts we engaged in order to curb the Soviets- Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Cuban missile crisis. We should not forget the very real cost of containment.
But, I would argue that containment is no longer possible in today's world. The Cold War detente was predicated upon Mutually Assured Destruction. Neither the Soviets, nor the US wanted such an outcome in which no one would survive. For all their global ambitions, the Soviets also had the sense to survive. Such is not the case in the world we now inhabit. A world of suicide bombers. And we are not speaking of kamikazes who take out a score of enemy combatants. These are people who specifically target civilians, have no compunction about killing children or women. Saddam Hussein has paid the families of suicide bombers; he has used chemical and biological weapons on his own people. The world abhorred the Nazi experiments on Jews (and rightly so), but Saddam experiments on his own people! Does this really seem like a man we can contain through international agreements?
There also those who oppose war because they see no imminent threat posed by Iraq. Or that there is no smoking gun. Should we wait until American buildings are once again smoldering before we act? Would the world be better served by waiting until Iraq is finally able to enrich uranium and weaponize it? Do we hold off of defanging Saddam until he has once again threatened his neighbors? If someone is about to hit you, do you wait until the punch lands?
It is understandable that some people are not comfortable with a US policy that is willing to pre-emptively strike. It does have the potential for abuse, at least in theory. But in practice we live in a democratic society with checks and balances that would prevent any such occurrence. Those abroad who criticize such a policy are really bemoaning American hegemony and their own impotence. Those at home are blind to the realities of the age in which we live.
There are also those who are not comfortable with the US exporting our values abroad (these people live on the Right as well as the Left). They prefer the US work through impotent International bodies to address issues such as human rights and nuclear arms. Ask the people of Rwanda or Bosnia if they would have preferred unilateral US action. The UN that so many of the anti-war crowd adore failed to act or acted too late to save the lives of hundreds of thousands as genocide occurred right under the UN's nose.
This brings me to the international community and especially Europe. Those who most resist action on Iraq- France, Germany, Russia- all have economic interests in the country. Not to mention France's usual hostility to US interests. Let's keep in mind that this is the country who has seen fit to invite the thug Robert Mugabe to speak at a conference on Africa. Germany obviously has its own past to account for. Russia has lucrative oil contracts with Iraq that may be voided should regime change occur. And China is worried that if the US ousts Saddam Hussein, Kim Il Jong will be next and US hegemony will extend to the Korean peninsula, right in China's backyard.
The important thing to take notice of, though, is the wide support enjoyed by the US throughout Europe. France and Germany no longer speak for Europe. Letters of support have been sent by Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark.
If only the anti-war crowd would wake up to today's world, rather than in their tie dyed past.