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Monday, May 17, 2004

Why I am against the Iraq war 

Just wanted to clarify something raised in some recent comments.
Personally, I am more concerned about what the Iraq War is doing to Americans and the west, than to Iraqis.
Its great for Iraq and, I think, somewhat beneficial for that region of the world, that Saddam and his awful sons are gone. Israel may be a little safer now that Saddam's malign influence over Hamas and Hezbolla has been removed, so that there is no longer someone of his stature legitimizing suicide bombers. And some kind of change in the Iraq situation was likely inevitable at some point anyway -- the sanctions and the no-fly zones were getting more difficult to maintain every year, yet if they had been removed Saddam would geared up his weapons programs again. And given Saddam's history, there was likely no way to get rid of him without a lot of violence and disruption for the Iraqi people (though perhaps even he could have changed his spots -- look at Quadafi). And maybe now Iraq can establish some kind of society based on rule of law rather than another dictatorship.
But all of that, whether good or bad, isn't my main concern. No, what I care about is maintaining the strength of America as a moral, economic and social force. This has been endangered by the Bush neocons and their Iraq adventure, and I really don't think the relatively marginal benefit to Israel of ending Saddam's regime is going to be worth the damage that Bush and this war is doing to America's economy, to its military, to its social structure, and basically to its willingness to act as a world leader.
It took America more than a decade to get over Vietnam -- it was the mid-80s before America was willing to step forth again to exert influence in the world, and over the next 15 years,until 1999, it had tremendous impact in political, social, environmental, humanitarian and economic areas. This happened particularly under Clinton (saving Kosovo, sorting out Ireland, North Korea containment, environmental issues, NAFTA, economy, etc) but also under Reagan (the end of the Soviet Union) and under Bush 41 (creating the alliance for the Gulf War).
In the unhappy happenstance of history, Bush 43 was president on 9.11 -- it remains to be seen whether his ideological stupidity and the incompetence of his government contributed to that event, but it certainly contributed to the abandonment of basic American values which followed, exemplified but not restricted to Gitmo. Now America is mired in Iraq. Because of the Iraq war, and its terrible cost in terms of soldiers, money and international reputation compared to its relatively insignificant regional benefits, I am afraid that America will lose not only its willingness to provide leadership to the world but also its capacity to do so, and its credibility to establish the kind of peaceful political and economic alliances that the world needs. And Bush has taken Blair down with him, knocking out Britain as a world leader, too.
In a nutshell, this is why I care more about America than I do about Iraq.
Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together
I've got some real estate here in my bag
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner's pies
And we walked off to look for America
Cathy I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
Michigan seems like a dream to me now
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I've gone to look for America
Laughing on the bus playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said be careful his bowtie is really a camera
Toss me a cigaret I think there's one in the raincoat
We smoked the last one an hour ago
So I looked at the scenary she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field
Cathy I'm lost I said though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America
All come to look for America



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