Here’s my (somewhat lengthy) take on the current situation. What’s yours?
I think war is inevitable and I know G. W. Bush isn’t going to listen to my protest when he ignores world-wide protests. So, instead of dwelling on my anger over meaningless deaths (both of the U.S. military and innocent Iraqi civilians), I’m thinking about what this means for the future of the United States as a nation and for people around the world.
The U.S. is threatening war to avert the possibility of Sadaam becoming a real menace. We now talk about “liberating” the Iraqis (and some people are saying you are either “pro-liberation” or “anti-liberation), but there have also been attempts to justify the war by saying that Iraq (the government) was collaborating with Al Quaeda and those allegations have been disproved.
There is no imminent threat, so this must be a preemptive war. What does that mean?
Doesn’t this help to explain why France (and other “irrelevant” countries in “old Europe”) aren’t enthusiastic about our war with Iraq? The world was surprised when Japan threatened North Korea with a preemptive nuclear strike. We already have troops on the ground (with the final pieces of support coming in another month and a half), massing at the borders of a nation that has done nothing to provoke us, a nation that we have been continuously bombing for the past twelve years. When we act this way when there is no overt aggression against us, what do we expect from our former allies? Support?
So, assuming that we go in, defeat Iraq, even assuming there is a peaceful transition to a stable, independent government, what does this war mean for a nation that ostensibly values freedom?
If you aren’t for us, you’re against us.
The President has lumped a number of nations together as “evil”. His advisors have called those who object to our threat of war “irrelevant”. With this kind of diplomacy, we’re going to have a hard time keeping our alliances going. Even those nations with governments friendly to us will find it hard to live peaceably with us.
Another six years of the erosion of freedom.
Bush and his staff have been successfully chipping away at freedoms. Their allies in the media have much of the nation frightened of boogey-men dropping dirty bombs and gassing us (never mind that these highly unlikely incidents would be extremely localized).
Meanwhile, the only mainstream political opponents of Bush’s political party have curled up in a corner and gone to sleep. The Democrats have no viable contenders for the election in 2004. Someone could surface or Bush could make a blunder, but it doesn’t seem likely that he will lose the presidency.
Continued decline of the values that “make America great”.
Last year, I lost my license for a few days. A co-worker told me that I was committing a crime by walking around without identification. I remember “Your papers please” being one of the ways we used to mock the USSR, but he seemed to think it was normal US policy.
Americans are willing to forgo freedoms that they consider peripheral. And, although there will be some libertarian loud-mouths, the majority don’t even seem to need the excuse of “safety” to give up their freedoms. Gun advocates have been saying this for a long time about the 2nd amendment, but with the recent erosion of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th amendments, there has been no mainstream outrage.
Assuming Bush is re-elected, we can expect further erosion of rights by other presidents. They will ride on his coat-tails.
Decline of the U.S. as a “Superpower”.
Long term, leadership must be granted by those who are led. The U.S. spends an enormous amount of money on its military, so it can afford to impose its will unilaterally for some time. However, with anti-Americanism growing world wide — both because of the business practices of American-based companies and the military and political maneuvering of our government — support of the U.S. will fall rapidly. The coming unpopular conflict will only exacerbate the problem.
Conclusion: Senator Byrd for President in 2004
I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is “in the highest moral traditions of our country”.