Letter to a Conservative Friend

Allow me first to apologize for taking so long to respond to your letter of early April. Not a particularly long one, it read in its entirety:

Barry, my friend,

Just know this one thing please. It is far better to fight, kill and destroy these godless jihadist bastards over there in Iraq, than over here near the local mall. Their threat is very real. If you do not know this one fact, then you are not living in my reality. I’d much rather have militant Islamic [Oedipal expletive, plural] fight our trained soldiers and Marines in Arab lands than in your town, ya dig? I also disagree with many other aspects of your Open Letter to the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. But apparently unlike you, I’d fight to the death to protect your right to write what you feel. That is pretty damn pathetic, huh?

My immediate thought now is the same as when I first read this letter: It’s not every day you see the word reality modified by a possessive pronoun. But it’s the one statement I agree with completely. I live in the reality where a commission report, only a few days before your letter, exposed just how fraudulent the initial “intelligence” claims for the war had been, including that of a significant link between the Hussein regime – the most secular one in the Arab world – and the “godless [?!] jihadist bastards” of al-Qaeda. From day one, our soldiers in Iraq have been fighting overwhelmingly Ba’athists and “insurgents” whose own fight is against only the American invasion, not American liberty. These are not armed forces that were heading for Suffolk County before the Marines cut ’em off at the pass, so to speak. We were not attacked on September 11 by all Arabs, all Muslims, or even all “Islamists.” We certainly weren’t attacked – or ever threatened – by Saddam Hussein. So, was Osama bin Laden, the real culprit, too much of a “lone nut” to wage a “war” against? Did September 11, like November 22, require its own conspiracy theory? Did September 11, like December 7, require its own “Japan”? If so, then why Iraq instead of, say, Saudi Arabia?

I know: “weapons of mass destruction.” Actually, I’m going zip right by the issue of whether there was ever a legitimate question on the matter – because I consider it irrelevant, and I’ll tell you why. N., I assume you of course remember how we met. You overheard our FEE discussion group in the cafe at BORDERS and came over and introduced yourself. You picked up that we were libertarian, not conservative like yourself, but you mentioned that you liked our opposition to gun control. Well, N., this libertarian believes what every conservative worthy of the name knows: I am safer with a gun in my house than with the promise of gun control to disarm any and every would-be intruder. Against all potential threats, the best offense is a good defense. And what is wisdom for the security of our homes is wisdom for the security of our homeland. Hence the folly of preemptive war: Every resource given to international offense is a resource taken from national defense. Government must be, not the gun control that promises to disarm all rogue nations and every would-be terrorist in the world, but the gun inside our homeland that truly protects it.

The Bush Doctrine is nothing but global gun control. He has turned the U.S. military into Handgun Control, Int. and intends to use it to disarm every rogue nation out there: first, Afghanistan; now, Iraq; next, Iran, North Korea, and God knows where else. And what about all the terrorist cells that don’t provide us with an identifiable “Japan” to target? How will any of this prevent a monster from walking across our border and unstopping a jar of anthrax in a major city? How can we pretend that the military can disarm every rogue in the world any more than the police can disarm every rogue in the country?

You will notice, N., that the finding of no weapons of mass destruction hasn’t been taken by the White House as a reason to bring our troops home. On the contrary, it’s seen as a need to invent a new reason for their presence there: We must bring democracy, not merely to Iraq, but to the entire Middle East! Well, that’s good thing, right? No, not at all. N., we pay taxes for our Suffolk County police to fight crime here in Suffolk, not to go fight robbery in Cairo, rape in New Delhi, and murder in Berlin. It is no less a dereliction of duty for our national forces to do anything other than defend American lives and liberties.

But isn’t establishing democracy in Iraq, which hopefully will then spread to all the Arab and Islamic countries, a way to do just that? Again, no. Not only was Germany surrounded by democracies, it was a democracy – the Weimar Republic. That didn’t stop the rise of such parties as the Communists and the National Socialists, who joined to destroy German democracy. Does it take much imagination to see how easily Iraqi democracy could vote itself into autocracy or theocracy? And the argument that we eventually “got it right” in Germany means what – that we’re already preparing for a re-invasion of Iraq (and/or Afghanistan)? This is what in the present age passes for a “strong national defense”?

N., there is really only one thing to say to our president: “Sir, mind your beat!” He is this nation’s policeman, not the world’s. And what do I have left to say to you? Only this: Please don’t imagine that my liberty means more to you than it does to me. Saddam Hussein never threatened my “right to write” what I feel, and neither you nor the soldiers actually over there are fighting to protect any American’s freedom. Now that’s what I find “pretty damn pathetic.”

In Liberty and Security, Barry

June 3, 2005

Barry Loberfeld is a Long Island-based freelancer whose work has appeared in Liberty, The Freeman, and FrontPageMag.com.