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Speak Now or Forever Behold the Pieces
December 14, 2002
By Dennis Rahkonen

Last week saw the release of study findings from a Pew survey on international opinion regarding the U.S. and its policies. One of the most extensive and comprehensive polls ever undertaken, conducted in many countries, it revealed dramatic decline in our nation's standing in global eyes. Anti-American sentiment is rampant around the planet, rather than being a minority phenomenon. "Relatively few Americans have any idea of how critically we are seen around the world and the ways we’re criticized, and what we’re criticized for," said Pew center director Andrew Kohut, upon delivering the report to the White House.

So...what's likely to happen next?

Scenario: UN inspectors find no compelling evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. Bush maintains it's just because Saddam has "cleverly hidden them," and attacks regardless, just as warhawk Richard Perle blatantly admitted while in Britain that the U.S. would do all along. Rather than face slaughter in the open desert, Iraqi troops -- and ordinary patriots resisting unequivocal aggression -- retreat to Baghdad and other major cities, which are then attacked with everything in our abundant arsenal. Bombs and missiles rain death on the Iraqi capital, which has a population equivalent to that of Los Angeles. Civilian casualties will be staggeringly high, constituting a war crime of hideous dimensions, which (despite our censorship) will be sensationally reported throughout the world.

Justifiably enraged demonstrators will fill streets of cities on every continent. (There's already been a protest by numerous individuals from several nationalities in Antarctica!) The currently very tenuous and qualified "support" for war within the U.S. will melt like ice cubes in the August sun. The resulting tumult will have far-reaching, negative impact on U.S. interests and prestige. The stock market and economy will take punishing body blows. The presently pervasive view that Washington's true motives are based on oil, hegemony, and imperialist penetration will become an article of oracular faith -- everywhere. Objective debacle will become more complete and devastating the more successful our military is in its brutally bloody goal.

There'll be more hate-filled new militants and would-be terrorists waiting to join al- Qaeda than there were ticket buyers standing in line at all of the movie houses in America back when The Exorcist premiered.

There's one thing that can prevent all this from coming to pass. And that's YOUR opposition to this impending folly finally being loudly voiced. Yes, YOU.

All of you who've dared not separate 9/11 from its increasingly misdirected -- no, hijacked -- "response" ever since...who've consequently allowed a brigand band of right-wing extremists to make a mockery of U.S. values and ideals. And who will clearly be complicit in this nation's very definite downfall if you don't, at last, break your silence.

All it takes is a simple statement: "This is wrong. I won't support it any longer," accompanied by a public expression of your aroused conscience, audible to Congress and others.

Nothing less than our country's place in history is at stake. Don't let false pride and misapplied patriotism lead you to a wrong choice.

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, WI, has written progressive commentary and verse for various outlets since the ‘60s. He can be reached at

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