Seriously, you gotta wonder how many of the people honking their horns at the “No blood for oil” signs are doing so from Ford Explorers and Toyota 4Runners. Ah, hypocrisy.
Anyway, here’s a subtle anti-war message from everybody’s favorite source for artistic subtlety, the Daily Trojan. (Note that Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers has apparently been replaced by Popeye the Sailor Man.)
Hee hee hee. Funny stuff, that. We must defeat the union of the two towers — Baghdad and Kabul!
In all seriousness, I wish George W. Bush’s conception of evil was closer to J.R.R. Tolkien’s conception of it. Tolkien saw evil as something floating in the ether, a force that can infect the hearts of good men as well as driving the war machines of the Saurons and Sarumans of the world. Indeed, even Sauron and Saruman were, initially, good. (I wrote about this in a DT column last year.) Rohan’s king, Theoden, was good, yet evil nearly conquered him; Gondor’s steward, Denethor, was good too, yet evil did conquer him when he burned himself alive (and tried to take his son with him) while his kingdom was under seige. (Attention confused movie fans: that happens in the third one.)
Evil in Tolkien’s world — and in ours too, I believe — works in many ways, and no one side of a conflict has a monopoly on it. If Bush agreed with me on this, he would understand that the force of evil can influence his own administration too, even when they are genuinely acting with good intentions. The steady erosion of civil liberties is a great example of this: the ethereal force that is evil, having failed to destroy our freedoms through brute violence on Sept. 11, is now attempting the same goal via another strategy, through well-intentioned but potentially disastrous reforms such as the U.S.A. PATRIOT act. We’re fighting a two-front war, but it’s not against Osama and Saddam: it’s against blatant evil abroad and subtle, unintentional evil at home. If J.R.R. Tolkien were president, he would have recognized this. George W. Bush does not seem to.
That said, my feelings about the potential war in Iraq remain fervently ambiguous and passionately confused. President Bush and the conservatives are entirely right when they say it makes no sense whatsoever to wait for an “imminent threat” (did any of us foresee an imminent threat on Sept. 10, 2001?) or a “smoking gun” (guns don’t smoke till they’ve been fired, so a smoking Gun of Mass Destruction would be a very bad thing). They’re also right that multilateralism for multilateralism’s sake should not be an excuse for inaction, if the action is just. At the same time, I remain profoundly uncomfortable with the prospect of the United States striking first, and perhaps striking largely alone, and starting a war basically because it decides it wants to. Check that; because its executive branch decides it wants to. (Congress has the war-declaring power, and does not, in my view, have the constitutional right to give that power away, as it did last year and has been doing since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.) The precedents we’re setting are bad, the implications of what we’re doing are bad, the whole thing just feels bad and icky, not to mention unconstitutional. Yet I don’t hear anyone proposing any reasonable alternatives to war. (No, “peace” doesn’t count. Peace is a meaningless word unless accompanied by some concrete alternative plan of action, some specific “peaceful” way to deal effectively with warlike foes like Osama and Saddam.)
So I just don’t know what to think. I simply pray that if war happens, which it apparently will, it goes well, and is over quickly, and leads to the fewest possible number of American and Iraqi casualties, and does not involve the use of weapons of mass destruction (by either side), and leads to something closer to democracy than chaos in Iraq and the Middle East. And I pray that the United States, in the end, lives up to its moral obligation to do right by the Iraqi people, and does not prove all the radical no-blood-for-oil buffoons right.
Oh, speaking of evil, did you hear which cabinet secretary was kept out of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, to preserve the continuity of government? Ah yes, that would be everybody’s favorite attorney general and destroyer of civil liberties, John Ashcroft. Thank God the terrorists didn’t pick Tuesday to attack. (Becky speculated that some Al Qaeda operative might have had his finger on the button, but thought better of it when he heard Ashcroft would become president.)