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Some Impressions on the War on Terrorism

We are patriots and for the good that America can produce. In that spirit we hope President Bush made a good decision in going into Iraq and that the policy will win out. We hope to see a very stable government in Iraq and the happy people joyful in their freedom, and the riches of the nation coming back to help raise all the boats, men and women and children. We hope the terrorists see that this way is better than their way. We hope that the Islamic fundamentalist will recognize the power of a multi-cultural, constitution-driven nation where freedom is the shaper and not old, primitive beliefs. We hope the soldiers who have sacrificed much come back healthy and with honor and find their place in their own society. We hope for all of this and will not only be happy for the President but will praise him when it happens.

We have some nagging doubts; doubts many others raised before the invasion one year ago. We can summarize them as:

  1. The effect of the invasion, at this time, has been the removal of one man and his party. However, it's clear now that Hussein was a neutered quality because he was never going to put his own personal power in jeopardy. All it took was a bit of serious attention on him and he was a little puppy dog.
  2. The disgrace of the intelligence and WMD: A government losing its credibility so early in the contest is doomed to failure. This was one of the biggest intelligence blunders in memory and does not allow this administration to make any dramatic claims about any nation, anywhere.
  3. The invasion has made all those interests that surround Iraq heave with deep desire; Iraq is up for grabs. Every terrorist, every Islamic cleric, every Arab businessman, everyone with a stake in that region must now see Iraq as a country that can be gotten. All they have to do is wait out the United States and its impatient people.
  4. If America pulls out too quickly Iraq could explode in conflict that will endanger the region and put the flow of cheap oil at risk; something the United States would have to fight for in a very earnest manner.

Time will tell and the election this year will hinge on the presentation of these arguments. Kerry and the Democrats will have to present a very precise, thought-out plan for Iraq that is sensible to have a chance against the sitting President. Time will tell.

President Bush, whatever other qualities he may have, is not a "war President." Lincoln was a war President. Roosevelt was a war President. LBJ, even, was a war President. And look what a toll it took on those great men as they wrestled with life and death on a daily basis. I don't see President Bush moved one way or the other by this "war." I don't see the mark of woe on him that would signal that he is conscious of what is at stake. He was not the type of person to run a war against terrorism; he was the type of person to run a "time of ease and comfort." John Kerry will have to bring a lot of savvy to the table to convince the American people that he can, indeed, be the war President. And after the events in Madrid we know the war is not over.

The genius of the American system is that a new man or woman comes into office and can change policy and attitudes without the change losing face or credibility with the rest of the world. It matters who is in power; it is not an inhuman thing at all. And a new President could negotiate the U.S. back into the community of nations and take a real leadership role in the 21st century.

Posted March 25, 2004

We have two perspectives. One comes from the media since a camera is stationed along every visceral latitude known today. We get to see the bombs drop and the people wail in the streets. Had the Roman citizens been able to witness what was happening along the periphery of the Mediterranean Sea, would they have had different thoughts about Rome? Perhaps. Perhaps it would have proven to be greater entertainment than the gladiator games. We won't jump to the conclusion that a people who witnesses, through mass media, massive death will ipso facto, become corrupt. That would initiate a terrible pessimism we can't bear at this stage of things.

On the other hand we have history. And history is a kind of TV with a fairly large camera, as large as a good and generous mind. The camera is an inhuman thing that is meaningless in and of itself. The mind is the difference between peace and war; between barbarism and culture. And many times it is razor-thin.

The camera in our day has made things slow and dense since it utterly absorbs the mind blinking uncritically before it and presents a thousand conundrums that wouldn't be there otherwise. Text belongs to a man or woman of the world who knows a few things. The camera belongs to the Manchurian Candidate type of brain-wash so valuable in a market-driven political economy such as this.

Posted February 19, 2004

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David Eide
copyright 2003
March 27, 2003