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Why I Can't Just Shut Up
April 4, 2003
By Tom Pain

Okay. So you want me to shut up and support the troops. I read the polls. I know that some ungodly huge percentage of Americans feel duty bound to support the war because they deeply feel the need to support the troops. Apparently we, as a people, have yet to understand that we can support the troops and oppose the war at the same time.

Like you, I support our troops. Unfortunately, it isn't helping them at all. They're still over there, in the midst of war, their lives at risk, even with my support. Here's an idea: let's actually do something for them. Let's agree to pray for the troops, and for their safety. I'll join with you in that most important action. There's real power in prayer, you know. It's the only thing we can do to support our troops that will really make a difference for them, other than get them out of there and bring them back home.

But I can't shut up about the fact that this war is wrong. As Americans, we have a duty to speak out when our government betrays the principles it's supposed to embody.

The United States is supposed to stand for international stability and peace. Of course, we aren't for peace at all costs. We will defend ourselves, and give our last drop of blood to kick anybody's ass who's dumb enough to take us on. This is precisely the reason there was so little opposition to (and so much international support for) going after bin Laden and his terrorist-scum cohorts in the wake of 9-11.

If Saddam really had been the force behind the terrorists, there would be little opposition to invading Iraq now, and our international support would have continued. However, this is not the case, as should be perfectly obvious to everybody, since some of our closest allies oppose our war-making. In fact, the administration has come up with nothing to back up its claims about Saddam's alleged ties to bin Laden. This is so, in spite of the fact that several of bin Laden's boys in our custody are singing like canaries. No one in the international intelligence community finds the alleged Saddam/bin Laden connection the slightest bit convincing. They aren't out to get us. They just know it's not true.

Nor is there evidence that Saddam still has any "weapons of mass destruction." Of course, lots and lots of countries do have weapons of mass destruction. So far, at least, we aren't pretending that we have a right to invade Israel, Russia, China, France, India and Pakistan, just because they have weapons of mass destruction (thank God).

Nor does it make any sense to claim that we've gone to war to enforce the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq. That argument went out the window when the U.N. Security Council refused to support this war -- even after serious lobbying attempts involving threats, espionage and attempted bribery of the nations that comprise the Security Council. For some time, the President has been saying that our goal in Iraq is a change of regime. Attacking another sovereign nation in order to change its leader(s) or form of government is a clear, direct, and overt violation of the charter of the United Nations, which we helped create and have supported until now.

Without a doubt, our President and his crew have lied to us, again and again, about the reasons behind this war they wouldn’t do without. Like an abused lover, we keep buying the lies, hoping for something better: we desperately want to believe that those who control our government have our best interests at heart.

Yet down deep we know that this war has marked Americans as targets of terrorism for generations to come. The course our leaders are pursuing will create more recruits for the bin Ladens of this world than anything they could ever have done. Our leaders are perfectly well aware of this fact, and it hasn't slowed them down in the slightest.

Unthinkable? What would you do to control $5 trillion in oil and become King of the World? Ask yourself: "What would I do?" If you answered, "Lie like a dog, for starters," then you, too, could be part of the administration's disinformation brigade. If you also said, "and kill as many people as necessary in the process," then you're in sync with the President's inner circle.

This use of aggression is also designed to control public opinion and to maintain high approval ratings, through our natural desire to pull together in times of a crisis such as war, and by use of feel-good news of victories in war, as well. These are the areas of expertise of W and his advisors, and the areas in which they feel most comfortable: the manipulation of public opinion, and war -- in that order. Apparently, they prefer them in the other order. None of this accomplishes anything meaningful to improve our national security; rather it accomplishes much to create unforeseen and dreadful consequences, which will surely undermine our national security.

Are we so blinded by tunnel vision that we simply can't see what this looks like from the Russian perspective? or that of Germany, or France, or China? If so, let me help you out a little. It looks like imperialism (i.e. like we are trying to build an empire). It looks like we think we're the last remaining superpower, and we're so arrogant about it that we actually believe we can do any damn thing we want, and no one can do anything about it. It looks like we think we have the right to change any regime in any country just because we don't like that regime. It looks like we're trying to subvert the United Nations, and destroy the concept of international law. Maybe it looks that way for the very good reason that it is that way.

So far, the administration's actions have severely damaged our relationships with our European allies, including Russia; they have done great damage to our relationship with China as well; and they have galvanized the entire Islamic world against us: moderate clerics who condemned the terrorism of 9-11 are now calling for jihad. These appear to be the actions of people who don't care whether we have any allies or not.

The simple fact is: this war is an act of pure aggression on our part. The last nations to launch a major "preemptive" attack against another nation that posed no immediate threat were Germany and Japan. Few would deny that it was German aggression that caused World War II, at least in the European theater. What will the end result of our aggression against Iraq be? No one knows.

Don't we all want to be able to be proud of what it means to be an American? Don't we want our country to support and abide by international law? Don't we want our country to engage in international diplomacy to further the cause of democracy? Do we really want our government to be concerned only about conquest and furthering American business interests, without regard to what happens to the people of the countries where our business interests are located, and without regard to how it affects our position in the international community?

Do we want to act like the new Roman Empire? That's certainly the road our leaders have chosen for us. Perhaps we'll continue to support going down that road, just as the German people supported the Third Reich. We may not care whether we still have any rights whatsoever, as long as our enemies fall under the heel of our collective boot. How will we justify ourselves then? How will we stand before God?

Arrogance is what always defeats those who would be the new Rome - even now, when the new Rome rises "in innocence" to rule its empire for the benefit of "freedom." Hide and watch. We should already know a little bit about that. Our failure to overwhelm a minor power isn't really that surprising, is it? Perhaps we've forgotten the lessons of the debacle in Viet Nam. I'm beginning to think our memory as a people is so bad we wouldn't know Viet Nam if it bit us in the butt again.

In the meantime, the really new gospel according to W (as related by Ari) says: after we blow Babylon to smithereens, we keep on going, right on through Iran, and probably Syria, too, and then take North Korea off the map as well (sort of like Genghis Khan in reverse).

Doesn't sound much like the gospel of the Prince of Peace, does it? Jesus, the savior, doesn't call us to war. Our president says he's a Christian. Yet, because of him, the dance of death is calling you. What will you do? Dance on?

I think I'll sit this one out.

Protest this war. Speak the truth about the evil being done in our name. Pray for peace.

Tom Pain is a starving writer working underground somewhere in central Oklahoma.

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