Sun Ra - Column for 3/10

Thoughts about War

So.

War.

I'm of two minds about our naked aggression against Iraq. One the one hand, it's naked aggression, which is inherently a bad thing. And it's for the benefit of Bush and his friends, and not anyone else, which is worse. On the other hand, Iraq will almost certainly be better off once the whole thing is over. It's not like removing Saddam is a bad idea. So I can't quite offhandedly condemn our president's (boy, I hate saying that) essentially groundless attack on his dad's old enemy. I'm caught in the frequent liberal dilemma of two wrongs possibly making at least a little right.

Of course, I'm that rare beast, a liberal realist. Rage Against the Machine makes (well, made) fine music, but their politics were almost more naive than one would expect from leftist rockers. The most murderous and terrible regimes in the world were leftist - just because the government is bad, doesn't mean their enemies are good. Sure, the Shah of Iran was a tyrant, but was the Ayatollah better? The same goes for Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao, Batista and Castro, the Tsar and Lenin. People are not inherently good and kind, even if they are revolutionary. In fact, particularly then. So I've no illusions about Saddam being some champion of the Arab people. He's a monster.

But there are lots of monsters out there (Mugabe, anyone? How about the ruling junta in Myanmar?), and we ignore them. We're not invading Iraq because of Saddam. We're invading because Bush wants to line his masters' pockets.

This whole war stinks of looking out for number one. Bush is invading Iraq because of money. Oil money, for his cronies. Weapon manufacturing money (see also Carlyle group), for his family. And the promise of more money for all of the above if the war can get him re-elected.

It boggles the mind how anyone can believe that Iraq presented some sort of clear and present danger to us. Their links to terrorism were tenuous at best, and more realistically non-existant. We had trounced them only a decade ago, and none of their neighbors were feeling particularly threatened. If we were really on a weapons of mass destruction witch hunt, we'd be gunning for North Korea (who seem desperate to provoke the U.S., and are damn near screaming about how dangerous they are), or Syria (pretty quiet on that front, eh? They have rather a lot of chemical weapons, but are apparenly trustworthy), or India... or Israel. Yeah, that'll happen. But why not Syria?

Because this whole war is a put-up job.

Of course, those opposing it the most vehemently are just as hypocritical. France... well, first of all, it's France, and you know they are the piggy that squeals the loudest while demanding the most mud. But they're just crying because of all those lucrative oil contracts French firms such as Elf have with the present regime. As if they give two shits of Perrier about the Iraqi people. And the Russians are the same - note how next door in Iran they are happily selling nuclear weapon making technology. They like the current Iraqi regime's money just fine. It's all about filthy lucre.

Okay, perhaps not all. Although the "red" center of America is blindly following their selected leader, the rest of the world has rather loudly been making its displeasure known. And it's not because most of them care about Iraqis. It's because they don't want the U.S. to just go ahead and do whatever the hell it wants. And the more George "What-ever" Bush disregards them, the more seriously upset they'll be.

Which is the most serious worry I have about this whole debacle. It's going to be a short, victorious war. We're not going to suffer many causalties (at least, in the war. The occupation is a different story.) A few nasty firefights here and there, but overall the country is just going to roll over. And in the short term, at least, the life of the average Iraqi will become better.

But America's credibility as the superpower you can live with will have taken a kick in the nuts.

We can do anything. Militarily and economically, we are the five-hundred pound gorilla. And that means, paradoxically, we have to watch where we step. Because, although we're the largest, it's a big jungle. And there's no quicker way to become mulch than to scare enough of the little gorillas. If the big gorilla shows a tendency to beat on them, rather than watching out for them, they'll stand together. They'll turn on him. And then he's in trouble.

But right now, we can do pretty much anything we want. Invade China. Don't think that, if we really wanted that wall of theirs, they could stop us. The Soviet Union didn't throw in the towel because they wanted our Rock and Roll. We are the most powerful country in the world. We could sail over to France and put all those snail-sucking hypocrites into McCamps, if we wanted to.

We don't want to. More importantly, we recognize the fact that we don't have the right. And we've spent fifty years proving that. Fifty years where we didn't seriously fight with other countries even when they pissed us off, because for some strange reason we felt that their opinions mattered.

Of course it was out of self-interest. Doesn't make it less restrained.

Now, just because he can, First Runner-Up Bush is throwing that away. Over Iraq, a two-bit nation that didn't really threaten us. He wants to invade them, and so we do. Despite a pretty clear message that everyone else doesn't like the idea.

It worries me. Because even when, as I say, we win quickly, easily, and with a minimum of casualties, and Iraq becomes a much more civilized place for a few years, we'll have conclusively proven that we're only one bad president away from unilateral action.

And the little gorillas will start getting nervous.

- Sun Ra

P.S. Hey, what the hell happened to Congress having to declare war? This sort of greed-driven jinogistic bullshit is exactly why the Constitution says that! When did that get written out?

Columns by Sun Ra