Why I Am Obsessed With War

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George
Bush was reinaugurated in Washington last week. Fittingly, the inauguration
parade route was lined the entire way with armed guards – so
many armed guards that they had to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. As
with the rest of America, Washington, D.C. was in a state of siege.

The
militant air of the entire affair was very much like a parade in
the old Soviet Union or even in Nazi Germany.

And
in
his speech
, George Bush proclaimed his desire for world domination
– to have the power and the right to decide who is good and
who is bad, who shall live and who shall die, what form of government
will exist in each nation.

He
made it clear that if he has a use for your government, you will
keep it – no matter how oppressive.

But
if your government doesn’t suit him, if it declares its independence
from the United States, we will "liberate" your country
and impose what we call "democracy" on it – no matter
how advanced your civilization, no matter how much or how little
your people may approve of your current form of government.

Of
course, by "we" he meant George Bush.

George
Bush is, in effect, the ruler of the world – more powerful
than the United Nations, more powerful than the countries of Europe,
more powerful than the Congress of the United States, more powerful
than the people of the United States – a majority of whom now
believe that George Bush was wrong to invade Iraq. But that majority
opinion has no effect on George Bush, who continues to try to impose
His way upon Iraq, and who most likely now has
His sights set on Iran
.

My
Obsession

If
you've been reading my articles or listening to
my radio show
, you may be aware of how much attention I've given
to this drive for world domination – dressed up as the "War
on Terror" and "Operation Iraqi Freedom." I've written
over and over about these wars.

You
might say I'm obsessed with war.

And
you'd be right.

I'm
obsessed with war because of what war really is. And because of
what war is doing to America.

Why
am I so obsessed?

Sacrifice

A
January 21st
editorial in The Wall Street Journal
summed up George
Bush's inauguration speech very neatly:

The
entire speech was about Iraq, as a way of explaining to Americans
why the sacrifice our troops are making there is justified.

Aye,
and there's the rub.

Troops
don't sacrifice. Only individuals can sacrifice. For some of them,
the sacrifice is a year out of their lives. For others, the sacrifice
is in living for a year or more in constant fear and danger.

But
for too many, the sacrifice is one's life. The loss of one's whole
life.

That's
not the same as giving a tenth of your income to the church, or
working 15 hours a week in a soup kitchen, or spending a day a week
helping out at a nursing home. When you sacrifice your life, you
give up everything. The world has ended. What you were no
longer exists. No more life, no more love, no more music, no more
sports, no more breathing, no more interest in anything.

And
when you've sacrificed your life, it no longer matters whether Iraq
is "liberated" or oppressed, because you don't exist any
more. It no longer matters whether George Bush is a great leader
or a megalomaniac, because you no longer have a life with which
to be affected by it. You are no more.

George
Bush can speak cavalierly about such sacrifices. He can say "freedom
is always worth it.
" He can speak with gratitude about
such sacrifices – because he is making no sacrifice whatsoever.

He
can tell young people that when you die "you
will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character
."

But
he is not the Messiah. He can't bring those dead people back to
life. He can not restore their ability to taste love, to enjoy fellowship,
to pursue a career, to bask in the sheer joy of being alive.

He
can't return to a mother her dead son. He can't return to a wife
her dead husband. He can't bring a dead soldier back to raise his
children. He can't do anything to restore what he has stolen from
people with his glib assurances about WMDs, mobile bioweapons labs,
unmanned planes dropping chemical weapons on the East Coast of the
United States, about freedom always being worth the price –
a price that to him is effectively zero.

The
dead are dead, and they can't come back. They won't dance at any
inaugural balls – or even attend their alumni reunions. They
won't attend presidential banquets – or even eat at the local
coffee shop. Not ever again.

They
are dead. And George Bush killed them. He killed them as certainly
as though he personally had fired a rocket launcher at their homes.

Who
or What Is He?

If
he didn't know that his plan to "liberate" people who
hadn't asked to be liberated, to bring democracy to people who hadn't
asked for democracy, would lead to the deaths of thousands of people,
he is not only incompetent and unfit to hold office, he is surely
psychopathic and needs to be incarcerated.

Only
a psychopath would stand in the midst of thousands of security guards
and speak of "the
force of human freedom
."

Only
a man so insulated from the real world by palace sycophants, by
little Napoleons filled with utopian fantasies, and by callous,
ambitious schemers to whom the lives of others mean nothing –
only a man so insulated could possibly speak of "the
expansion of freedom in all the world
."

Only
a man with no link to reality could start a war that destroys lives
and families and then say, "Every
man and woman on this earth
has rights, and dignity, and matchless
value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth."

Only
a snake oil salesman can rain missiles and bombs on other countries
and then say that no "human
being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies
."

Only
a man divorced from human reason can imprison people – possibly
for life – without due process of law and then say that "Those
who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves
."

Only
a liar can proclaim that he will decide which countries must be
remade and then say, "No
one is fit to be a master
, and no one deserves to be a slave."

Only
a devious schemer can announce a goal of "ending
tyranny in our world
" while he is imposing a new tyranny
in his own country – our country.

So
you tell me: what kind of a President do we have?

And
what has he given us other than wars, fear, and a state of siege?

Why
the Obsession?

Yes,
I have become obsessed with these wars.

Josef
Stalin is reputed to have said that a single death is a tragedy,
a million deaths only a statistic.

But
no matter how many people die in Iraq, every single one of them
is a tragedy – a tragedy I will neither ignore nor forget.
And that's why I'm obsessed with this war.

I'm
obsessed with each and every death – because in fact each and
every death is more than a statistic or a tragedy. It's murder.

I
will never forget the people, American or Iraqi, whose lives have
been irrevocably destroyed – the people who have been murdered,
the people who lost those they love, the people whose homes have
been smashed to bits, the people who are maimed for the rest of
the only lives they will ever live.

And
neither will I ever forget who it is that killed them.

They
were killed by a relatively small group in Washington who believe
they were put there by God to remake the world – not remake
it in God's image, but in Their own.

I
believe it is a crime to take the life of another person. And no
murder of an innocent person can be justified by saying it was necessary
to achieve some larger goal – whether or not that goal is claimed
to be a worthy one.

When
reformers create murder and mayhem, they justify it by saying, "You
can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." But it's
always someone else's eggs that get broken. And the omelet
never materializes – even after millions of eggs are broken,
as they were during the two World Wars.

Life

Yes,
I'm obsessed with war.

I'm
obsessed with war because I'm obsessed with life.

I
love life. I love my wife Pamela. I love being in love with her.
I love the 19 years we've been playing house together – pretending
we're grown-ups, just like our parents.

I
love music. I love food. I love reading. I love sports. I even love
sleeping. I taste and love so many parts of life.

I
don't ever want to die.

And
I don't want anyone else to die – except maybe those who treat
life so trivially that they can speak of the sacrifice of other
people's lives as being a worthwhile price to pay for some idealistic
goal they believe they will achieve – a goal that will give
them an exalted position in the history books.

Reformers
such as George Bush are like children playing games based on fantasies.
They see no reason to discover whether others before them have harbored
the same ambitions – and failed miserably to achieve their
goals. It's of no concern to them that without an understanding
of the history and cultures of other peoples, they have no hope
either to persuade or to dominate other people.

And
they pay no attention to the fact that in the process of "ending
tyranny in our world
" they are imposing a new tyranny in
their own country – our country.

Yes,
I'm obsessed with war.

I'm
obsessed with war because I love life.

And
so I will continue to fight against America's wars with every bit
of strength, with every bit of talent, with every resource I can
spare.

January
29, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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