AS THE WORLD TURNS...
It feels like winter. Not that it's cold. For goddness sake, I live in Florida. No, I've just been experiencing a winter feeling of late - a need to crawl up into a tight fetal embrace and ignore most of the world. Being stupid busy with a new job, this is impossible to do. But with the nearly incomprehensible amount of craziness printed every day in the NY Times, I certainly have been feeling the need. And that's driven me indoors. Into my office at work - a small, windowless room built from cinderblocks. I imagine if I shut the door tightly, I might get a few extra minutes of air time in the event of a smallpox outbreak. Cold comfort, I know, but I've painted the place dark red and it looks nice.
I don't think I've ever lived through a period of time when I've been so aware that we'll look back at this and ask "What the hell were we thinking?" Every day, I get email from people claiming to be deposed African nobility stuck with many millions they just can't cash in without my help. The stock market (and all our retirement funds) is sinking faster than a snitch tossed off a boat in the Sopranos. Bush, having squandered the goodwill he earned by reducing Afghanistan to a finer dust, spends his days pre-selling a war which seems patriotic, inevitable and painfully wrong all at once. The noise level has been cranked up to an ear-shattering pitch.
About this war - doesn't anyone comprehend that this isn't going to be a war of contained battlefields? If 9/11 taught the Third World anything, it's that you don't the US face to face. You mingle within its crowds and strike at the heart of the society. Forget the Army. Let them set up tents and airports in the desert. Once the game starts, Americans are going to be shocked to find that an ocean and a general ignorance of the world won't protect them. The very thing that really made me afraid after 9/11 -how do you fight an enemy that's eager to die? - still troubles me. And as usual, I think our government is interested in fighting the last war better - proving they can do it right.
Oh...btw...should Iraq implode following a war, no problem. We'll just do a little nation building. And if a half dozen Arab countries burst into flame like kindling, don't sweat it. Those sleezy little dictatorships don't follow UN rules anyway. This march to war seems like a perverse modernization of Manifest Destiny. For those of you who forget:
In 1845, a democratic leader and influential editor by the name of John L. O'Sullivan gave the movement its name. In an attempt to explain America's thirst for expansion, and to present a defense for America's claim to new territories he wrote:
".... the right of our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federaltive development of self government entrusted to us. It is right such as that of the tree to the space of air and the earth suitable for the full expansion of its principle and destiny of growth."
Somebody in Washington has to have laid out plans that imagines a world ruled by America. Perhaps it's done under the guise of America Helps Stabilize The World, but it sounds like the expansion plans of Clear Channel Communications (Why stop at buying half the country's radio stations when we can own them all?). Like Wal-Mart stamping out small downtowns everywhere, America appears intent on being everywhere and eliminating all the competition because...well...Jeeze...if American doesn't do that right now, some little wank of a nation might try to cripple our ability to do that later.
PRO - Sue me, but I just don't see how Bush's war plans are much different from what the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor. We're planning to attack because we expect Iraq to attack us. That's pretty much what the Japanese said. I tend to think it is in the job description of World's Only Superpower that we require a substantial provocation to declare a war. Yes, we might have to take a nasty shot at the start of the war, but we will be united in fighting back. The big difference between the schoolyard bully and righteous combatant is who throws the first punch. And should we follow through on our Hit 'em first! mindset, why won't India and dozens of other countries follow our lead and start kicking the crap out of a neighbor?
CON - GWB, as long as you don't ask me or my family to police Iraq after you drop a few billion tons of bombs on it and send the place into chaos, you can do whatever the fuck you want to those folks. As I said many months ago, we liberals should be all for wars against fundamentalists and religious zealots. Frankly, I hope a lot of American Born Again types join the fray and give 110%. It's hard for me to get worked up over a war that's going to knock off a nation full of people who'd like to kill me because I drink, listen to music or watch TV.
You see...back and forth...all day long. I can't make up my mind. Luckily, there's always the calming effect of Harry Shearer's Le Show, which makes sense of it all for 60 minutes a week. That and work, which is hard and often spincter-tightening in its stupidity, but also satisfying when one causes a change or has an impact on a student.
Sorry I haven't been writing so much, but there's work to be done.