The Daily Brew

Thursday, February 13, 2003:


The Reason For War
(c) February 13, 2003
The Daily Brew

As horrific as war may be, there are circumstances where the alternative is worse. Living in a country like Iraq may well be one. The Bush administration, in its relentless marketing of its coming attack, has insured that there is no need to recount the hell-hole that is Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Suffice it to say that Iraq is in essence a prison, run by a sociopath who is given to attacking his neighbors and entertained by torturing his countrymen. While Iraq is hardly the world's only despotic dictatorship, if there is a list of countries that would benefit by overthrowing their government, Iraq is certainly close to the top.

Overthrowing Saddam, however, is not a legitimate end unto itself. If Saddam is simply replaced with another repressive dictator, the Iraqi people will have paid the terrible price for nothing. If that dictator eventually becomes hostile to the United States and seeks weapons of mass destruction, the United States will have gained nothing as well. Let us not be relativists in this regard. Not all governments are created equally. History has demonstrated that as flawed as it may be, democratic governance is superior to all other forms. As a general rule, democracies tend to be far less threatening to their neighbors and far kinder to their citizens. One may argue that Iraq is so rife with internal hatreds and incompatible competing interests that it cannot be transformed into a stable democracy. It is beyond contention, however, that were it so transformed, the lives of both the Iraqi people and the rest of the world would be infinitely better.

It is also clear that the Iraqi people have little prospect of ending the rule of Saddam Hussein and forming their country into a democracy on their own. Like most of the world's dictators, Saddam is sufficiently well armed that it has little to fear from his subjugated population. This is a bitter irony, as Saddam's dominance over the Iraqi people, as with the dominance of many other dictators in the world, is a direct result of weapons supplied by supposedly civilized democracies, and the world's largest arms merchant is none other than the United States.

Thus, the case could be made that the US government that assisted in arming Saddam Hussein should atone for its sins and attack him, and that such would be in the interest of not only the American public, but also the Iraqi people and the world at large. Unfortunately, the Bush administration is uniquely incapable of making that case. The Bush administration cannot justify an attack on Iraq because the Bush administration has shown nothing but contempt for the fundamentally American concept of democratic government that might actually make it worth it.

At the conclusion of the Gulf War in 1991, Bush's father openly encouraged the people of Iraq to rise up against Saddam Hussein in revolt. Both the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south responded, and in March of 1991, it was clear that they had a better than even chance of succeeding. It was at this juncture that the prior Bush administration lost its nerve and sold these rebels down the river. Fearing a post-Saddam Iraq ruled by the majority Shiites would align itself with Iran, Bush allowed Saddam to attack the Kurds in the north with helicopters, and allowed the Iraqi army to literally penetrate the US line in the South to put down the Shiites. Two years later, Bush had lost his job, but Saddam remained in power.

Is it unfair to tar the current Bush administration with the decisions the prior one? Perhaps, but it is worth noting that many of the players are the same. Colin Powell and Dick Cheney may have worn different hats, but there is no doubt that they were as instrumental in forming foreign policy then as they are now. There is also little doubt that Bush is even less comfortable with democracy, either in America or Iraq, than was his father.

Bush once quipped that "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - so long as I'm the dictator." The trouble is, he meant it. The evidence is simply overwhelming that the Bush administration has little use for the consent of the governed either in America or abroad.

Outside of the United States, the Bush administration has been overt in its contempt for democratic rule. From the Bush administration's giddy reaction to the military coup that temporarily ousted Hugo Chavez from the Venezuelan Presidency to the totalitarian government that was allowed to replace the Taliban in Afghanistan, Bush has repeatedly shown little affinity for exporting America's most precious value; our system of governance. The explanation for this reticence is that Bush simply does not share this most important American value.

Bush gained his office only by having his brother purge voters in Florida. Having freed himself from the requirement that he actually be elected, Bush relentlessly sought to free himself from other confines of democratic rule from the day he assumed his stolen office. Prior to 9/11, Bush began quietly by conducting the public's business far away from public view, hiding the activities of not only his administration, but also those of his father, via executive order. After 9/11, Bush was no longer content with merely running the government in secret. Constitutional checks on Bush's power were summarily revoked via the so-called Patriot Act, where Bush assumed a variety of dictatorial powers, including the ability to indefinitely detain American citizens, without any hearings, bail, or even charges. Bush is now proposing even more egregious changes to the Patriot Act, demanding the power to summarily strip Americans of their very citizenship. If the past is any guide, Bush will not only be given these new powers, he will then seek even more. From its inauspicious start right up to the present, the Bush administration's single guiding principle has been the continuous and ravenous concentration of power, the public be damned.

So as Bush plunges the world into an economic catastrophe to attack Iraq, we can be confident of only one thing. The only outcome that might possibly justify the death and destruction that lie ahead is the very outcome that Bush has absolutely no interest whatsoever in pursuing.

Common Sense // 3:31 AM

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Monday, February 10, 2003:

conservative
SYLLABICATION: con·ser·va·tive
PRONUNCIATION: AUDIO: kn-sûrv-tv KEY
ADJECTIVE: 1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

Given the definition of the word, I fail to see how the theocratic right's position on abortion can be called "conservative." As noted by every single Bush nominee to the Federal bench, a women's right to choose is now well settled law, and has been for some thirty years. Futher, it enjoys the support of the majority of the American public. The theocrats are explicit, they want to negate this right against the will of the public by judical fiat. Their strategy could fairly be termed "activist" "revolutionary" or "radical", but to term it "conservative" at this point in American history is nothing less than an Orwellian bastardization of the word.

Common Sense // 10:37 AM

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