There’s always Britain. When the wolves are crying, the French surrendering and the Germans howling, there’s always the British. Sometimes I think that if America decided that Australia just looked unsightly on all the world’s globes and needed to be wiped out ASAP by a tactical nuke, that Downing Street would say “Cheerio old chap, as soon as tea is over we shall join you in this rousing bombing”. Britain is America’s true ally, and contrary to letters being trotted out and protestations to the contrary by our commanding authorities – the only one besides us whose heart is really in to this impending war.
This is America’s War, one in which our president feels no guilt or cynicism about invoking the heartrending images of September 11th, an event that recast his presidency from the expansion of fundamentalist conservative ideology in our nation to a philosophy of American expansion into the middle east.
The Bush administration line is palatable to most Americans because it wraps its gnarly tendrils around grains of truth.
It is indisputable, to all but the most bright eyed and naïve, that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator of the highest order – one of the world’s worst, oppressive of his people, unashamed to admit that he wants to expand his regime beyond his borders, and one who openly brags of supporting Palestinian terrorists in their attacks on the people of Israel via suicide bombs.
There is no real argument that Saddam Hussein is a menace, and an entity that should not be allowed to have any weapons of mass destruction – nuclear or chemical.
The rhetorical leap our president makes is what should give rational people pause. By our president’s word, Saddam Hussein plans to (or already has) share his weapons with Islamic terrorists in their attacks against America or its allies. The evidence of this is scant, and quite simply conjecture without solid proof that has not been presented to American citizens or to the United Nations. If this evidence does exist, we must ask why it hasn’t seen the light of day. Since we cannot make foreign policy of this importance rely on “maybe”, this is vital.
I’m loathe to do it based on their track record to date, but let us give the administration the benefit of the doubt. And there are many doubts.
Is the prescribed remedy really the right course of action? Bush says that America’s goal is to disarm Saddam Hussein. The method to do this is to use the gigantic military force assembled at Iraq’s door, going in and destroying and securing Saddam Hussein’s arsenal. There is no question that the American military can pull off this task, with a somewhat moderate amount of casualties – military and civilian.
The question that follows is – what next?
“Regime change”, this summer’s mantra of choice has disappeared from the headlines of a complicit press, replaced by “disarmament”. But an invasion of Iraq and the destruction of its arsenal undoubtedly means that Saddam Hussein must be removed from power, either through an arrest or his death. Regime change will come to Iraq.
The administration’s spin is that Iraqis and the Middle East will welcome America’s expansion. But is it moral for America to expand via military means? The history of our country is intertwined with westward expansion, and while such expansion contributed to American superpower, the treatment of native Americans and African slaves in the course of this expansion was immoral at best – genocidal at its worst.
Many would prefer to ignore the response of the middle east to this incursion into their territory, but only the foolhardy would believe that the middle east will accept America as liberator – as the president has claimed. This is a region that sees America as an oppressor state, partly through their biases with regards to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but aided by America’s continued support of repressive or non-democratic regimes in the region. America supports Saudi Arabia, a state which supports terror, represses basic human rights, and has no belief in freedom of the press. America supports Pakistan, a nation ruled by an unelected military leader. These are just two examples, and reasons for why the blind Islamic Fundamentalist hatred of America finds a place among those who are most receptive.
Does anyone feel as if these feelings won’t be inflamed by an American occupation? I think we can expect increases in suicide bombings, as well as more violent action by Al Qaeda and other sympathetic organizations in the invasion’s aftermath. Are our armed forces sufficient to simultaneously fight an ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, rooting out Al Qaeda cells in other countries, securing Iraq, while also protecting American assets domestically and internationally? Iraq’s weapons may be secured, but at what cost of money and life? American military superiority since Vietnam has been an afterthought, but its forces have never had to fight against an enemy of this sort or depth.
There is also the matter of North Korea’s march towards nuclear capability, while India and Pakistan are nuclear powers with open hostility towards each other.
The administration does not seem to see all these events as intertwined, but instead as theaters unto themselves. But this isn’t true, as North Korea has chosen the exact same time as the Iraqi buildup to rattle their saber. Will other rogue nations like Iran sit quietly and bide their time, or will they take advantage of an America with its plate full?
The optimistic scenario is for Iraq to fall in line, with Saudi Arabia and the middle east experiencing democrat revolts of their own – to create a new world order. But the relatively short and warranted American incursion into Afghanistan has not produced envy of the joyous Afghan people. Opinions about American power, no matter how wrong their assumptions may be, remain the same.
There is also the question of how our President has goaded our country into war. Americans ache from a place deep inside about the events of September 11th, it changed us all for better or worse. Oklahoma City opened our eyes to the devastation terrorism can bring, 9.11 brought it home and into our living rooms and hearts. Consistently, Bush has spoken about heroism and terror and the battle we must engage in against evil. Firemen and police officers who perished in the line of duty are lionized in the name of tax cuts for corporations, increased surveillance and privacy violations, and ultimately for an expansionist American policy with some upside that could throw the entire world order into even more chaos than it is in. To be frank, the Bush administration’s misuse of the thousands of innocents killed on 9.11 – men, women, and children – for its own craven purposes will be a blight on our nation that may take generations to remove.
But terror cannot go without response. Iraq and other rogue nations cannot be allowed to possess terror weapons. Al Qaeda, Hamas, and other terror groups cannot be allowed to kill innocents in the name of “jihad” or other political beliefs with no moral grounding. America represents the idea and exercise of freedom, and in this case we should use our strength to rid the world of terror.
It is possible to deprive Iraq’s nuclear/biowar capacity without an invasion and occupation, possibly through a combination of air and missile strikes with support for Iraqis who come to us and seek help in forming democratic societies. The middle east, and the rest of the world, could see the example of an America aiding not despots and dictators – but “freedom loving people”, as the president likes to say. We can further our war on terror and those who support it, by making a stand – not supporting regimes who do not believe in basic human rights. Is the advantage of cheap fuel or a strategic military location truly worth America’s morality and soul? I don’t believe that, and our leaders shouldn’t either.
In the 21st century, we must end the cycle of supporting the lesser of two evils because it is expedient. Our culture grows in depth and understanding every nanosecond, yet our handling of the world and our place in it seems more regressive each passing day. America leads in ideas, and the willingness to implement them. We must not allow simple answers and blind aggression to retard the moral and spiritual growth of a nation. If our leaders always took the easy way out, the brute and the oaf’s path, we would not be the America we are today or the one we can look forward to tomorrow. To demand better of the world, the United States must take its role as leader and create an order that doesn’t oppress and subjugate (either directly or by proxy), but uplifts and educates from the poorest of the poor all the way up to the gilded gates of the elite.
These ideals, these concepts, these beliefs – are what this country stands for. Terror and fear will win when we allow the foundations of freedom to crumble.