Who's For War?

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away You know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away

The blip that Secretary Powell’s presentation to the United Nations registered on the War Party’s recorder has quickly become a distant memory.

Crossing the threshold of credibility perhaps one too many times, that drum beat is beginning to sound less like a respectable march to war than a red-faced bureaucrat pounding his desk.

They’re slipping.

To my surprise, I’m even hearing familiar voices, friends and family who have been loyal to the president, those whom I never expected to cast a shadow of doubt on his policy, at last reflect that the looming war might not be the best direction for this nation.

Our government and their paid ministers of wisdom can dismiss the broad and genuine consensus against the war as the subversive activity of Marxist revolutionaries, and virulent neocons can call for courts to be convened against patriots in the name of treason, but it just doesn’t ring true.

And when the president cannot claim support at home, he mocks support he should be seeking, and brags about support that doesn’t matter. Nearly every European state refutes him, every European nation reviles him, and even Middle East nations who despise Saddam Hussein are filled with dread.

Demonstrations subsequent to the administration’s best presentation of evidence were estimated at thirty million people worldwide; and even in the two most important Western states whose leadership backs the president, Blair’s London filled the streets with a million protesters, and in Berlusconi’s Rome, two million.

When nothing seems to be going right for the New Rome, it even appears that the bribe being offered Turkey is not sweet enough.

But as embarrassing as the president’s self-imposed position is, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seems to be doing a pretty good job of running interference. The Beltway boys have all been having great fun over Rumsfeld’s repeated derisions of France and Germany as "Old Europe."

But they didn’t know he was serious.

In response to Europe’s criticism of US foreign policy, Rumsfeld explains, "You’re thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don’t. I think that’s old Europe. If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the east." Lithuania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Poland? What on Earth is this man talking about?

Wherever the center of gravity is, who can forget that the proud ministers of Portugal, before joining the Economic Union, visited the grave of Charlemagne? No, the Old World isn’t dead yet.

Time for Dissent

Tim Russert, asking General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, about his plans to run for president, the general responded with the usual well-I-may-have-considered-running-for-president-but-during-this-crisis-is-not-the-time-to-discuss-it statement. He made it clear, based on the president’s imperial foreign policy, he couldn’t see himself running as a Republican candidate (besides, he’d have to wait another four years).

We’re at a turning point in American history here. We’re about to embark on an operation that’s going to put us in a colonial position in the Middle East following Britain, following the Ottomans. It’s a huge change for the American people and for what this country stands for.

This is an interesting statement from the Saladin of Serbia, but however cynical one might view the general’s statement, it’s obvious there’s a strong and growing anti-war sentiment in America upon which he hopes to capitalize.

How can this administration hope to survive in the face of this dissent, before even the first casualty?

Do they hope to wage war at all cost, to save face at the expense of national security, and at the expense of our finest sons? This reasoning is often entertained, but what kind of monsters adhere to this kind of calculus?

Isn’t that the greatest accomplishment of Vietnam — body bag after body bag — in order to save face? As this government recently sent scores of thousands of body bags to Europe in anticipation of their worst fears, are they willing to see history repeat itself?

What vital national interest is worth sacrificing the lives of our brave soldiers, innocents abroad, and victims at home?

Today I spoke to a young reservist who’s on his way, but he doesn’t know where — "Kuwait, Afghanistan, even Korea?", he said. And Ariel Sharon says the U.S. should also disarm Iran, Libya and Syria.

Just what is going to sustain this martial culture? Does the War Party imagine soccer moms as Spartan women, substituting the martial arts for Jazzercise, whose only passion will be to give birth to warriors?

What are they thinking? They’re always telling us that things are different now — cheerfully singing "It’s a Small World after All" — indeed so. So how do they hope to fulfill their own Wilsonian agitprop when every corner of the world is visible, and no temptation of their righteousness is hidden?

But no quarter should be given to any temptation of these hopeful masters, even when wild-eyed men fearful for war accuse patriots of being traitors.

The Time for Dissent is timeless — it’s never time to pretend you believe your government when you know you don’t, but especially when life is at stake.

February 22, 2003