War Is a Conservative Entitlement Program


Like many Americans inclined to believe that the news is important, I used to worry that too many of my fellow citizens were getting their news entirely from the late-night comedians. Now I worry about those who don’t get at least some of their news from those midnight merchants of mirth.

They don’t give you the full day’s news, of course, but neither do those smooth-talking, blown dry anchors and stylish "anchorettes" who supposedly give us "the world" in 22 minutes. And neither do the all- news channels that essentially give you the same 22 minutes of news and celebrity gossip over and over again. The world is a good deal bigger than that.

What the late-night joke jocks do is give you perspective. Jay Leno can give a news story more perspective with a good one-liner than all the solemn talking heads on the various news panels can in a day. There are many examples to choose from, but one will suffice. Take Leno’s observation that America has to stay in Iraq "until Iraq has a government that’s responsive to the voters."

The irony is delicious and immediately apparent. Ours is a government that does not, at least in the executive branch, respond to the will of the voters. If last fall’s election showed anything, it was that the voters were disgusted with George W. Bush and his war in Iraq. So like the groundhog who sees his shadow and gives us six more weeks of winter, Bush has emerged with a "new way forward" that gets us deeper into the Iraq wars and guarantees that it will be up to the next president, who will not take office for another two years, to clean up the mess that Bush and his brain trust have created.

By the way, can there be a less dubious honor in public life than to be part of the Bush "brain trust." That must be like what one reviewer said about Sabrina Duncan, played by Kate Jackson in the once popular TV series, "Charlie’s Angels." Sabrina was the intellectual of the trio, the reviewer noted, adding that in such company an "intellectual" need only be able to count past ten without taking off her shoes. It’s "all relative" as they say.

I know it’s easy, too easy in fact, to ridicule the opposition as a bunch of dolts. In fact, it’s hard not to when it seems so true. But their IQ’s are not the problem. I have no doubt Dr. "Condelusional" Rice could ace all the exams designed by those busy little beavers at Princeton for measuring school progress under the No Child Left Behind Act. And I am well aware that it was "The Best and the Brightest" who got us into the war in Vietnam, or "quagmire" for short.

So intellect is not the problem. A conspicuous lack of common sense is. This is the gang that not only cannot shoot straight, but knows not which end of the gun is the barrel. And it relies on faulty intelligence to determine where the targets are located. As the immortal CIA chief, George Tenet, said: "It’s a slam-dunk, Mr. President."

But listen to the Bush team and its supporters in your community, if you can still find some, when they try to defend this war. You can still hear them falling back on the argument that before the invasion, Iraq was firing missiles at our aircraft u2014aircraft enforcing a "no fly zone" in Iraqi air space. And I concede they have a point. After all, we didn’t fire any missiles at Iraqi aircraft flying in U.S. airspace. And U.S. airspace is quite extensive now, since Bush has lain claim to pretty much the entire planet.

Some months ago, I heard someone seated at the lunch counter at a local diner argue that Saddam Hussein "had been thumbing his nose at the United Nations for 12 years." Wow! That’s a serious offense. Or is it? It sounds to me like Saddam may have been auditioning for a prime time speech at the last Republican National Convention. But think about this: Here was, to all appearances at least, an average Joe American, most likely not a member of the Council of Foreign Relations or the faculty at Harvard. Yet he was more willing to commit American armed forces to enforce United Nations resolutions than the United Nations was. Is that the Bush legacy?

Here’s another thing about arguing with the supporters of the Iraq War, which, by the way, is not good for your blood pressure. If you ask them straight out, they will admit that Iraq was not behind the 9/11 attacks. But it’s not long before they start arguing as though just the opposite were true: "They took out two of our buildings!" Yeah, but you just admitted Iraq didn’t do that.

"I don’t care! We had 9-11!"

Okay, let’s see now. The folks who attacked us on 9-11 were Arabs from the Middle East. Iraq is in the Middle East and it’s populated primarily by Arabs. Close enough for government work.

"I don’t care! We had 9-11!"

That means I guess that we are entitled to attack and invade and occupy wherever we want, because, aw, hell, it’s Bush’s planet, anyway. (The Bush theme song: "It’s my planet and I’ll bomb where I want to…"). Bush’s warmongering is not without its compassionate side, so in addition to more troops for Iraq, the Great Decider has decided we need to spend $1 billion on a jobs program for Iraq. And the liberals thought Bush wanted to destroy liberalism. Hell, he just wants to export and "outsource" it.

Indeed, the whole Bush war-making operation is an expression of a couple of features of liberalism that conservatives have been scoffing at for decades. One is the entitlement mentality. Let’s face it folks, war has become the conservatives’ favorite entitlement program. We are entitled to a war of our own choosing. Why? Because we were attacked on 9-11. (Besides, isn’t good for the old economy?)

Which brings me to the second feature of liberalism that conservatives have clasped to their bosoms. America is entitled to all the status — and then some — of victimhood. We were victimized on 9-11 and therefore we are entitled to make any claims we wish. Other nations have been attacked, often by America, and suffered far worse devastation than we, but we are special. Our suffering is more authentic than theirs. If we want a war, we’re entitled to have one. Thousands of Americans will never return and thousands more have already been maimed for life. Tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed and maimed by this war. So what?

"I don’t care! We had 9-11!"

Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.