since we peaceniks lost the effort to stop the war, our
liberventionist friends have been telling us to look on
the bright side. We should all be pleased that a dictator met
justice, they say, no matter why the war was fought or what
its other results may be. It is in this optimistic spirit that
I point out another good that may come of the war and even the
terrorism it was supposed to eradicate: the death of the state.
state has the same advertised purpose: to protect its citizens.
(This was no less true in the dystopias of Hitler, Stalin, Mao,
and Pol Pot, though citizenship lost all legal fixity and became
a measurement of loyalty.) Modern governments offer ingenious
variations on this concept of protection (from
nature, from inanimate objects,
from oneself), but what people
really want is protection from criminals, both the micro
varieties. Since states can no longer convincingly claim to
provide this, the myth of their necessity fades. No one should
understand this better than Iraqis, Americans, and Israelis.
an Iraqi who lost loved ones in the war, whose supply of electricity
and potable water has fluctuated for months, who resents being
policed by invaders. He has seen, in U.S. broadcasts, the Husseins'
palaces, with their garish
American art, pet
bidets, and other touches that would embarrass
a Las Vegas pimp. Surely he wonders, with more rage than
any Westerner, where the hell those weapons of mass destruction
are hiding. Where was all that anthrax and nerve gas when foreigners
attacked? While Saddam paraded his missiles about and fired
shotguns off of balconies and growled that the neo-Mongols
would die on Baghdad's walls, he and his sons were partying
the nation's treasure away. In contrast, Kim Jong-Il doesn't
sit on the world's greatest petroleum reserves, but he has kept
North Korea's adversaries at bay and trembling. (In so doing,
he has also starved
his subjects, but, hey, politics is a zero-sum game.) Why
couldn't the Iraqi government fulfill its one valid obligation?
all states feign defense against hoodlums domestic and foreign,
what they really protect sometimes successfully, sometimes not are
the interests of elites. Yes, U.N.
sanctions are responsible for half a million Iraqi deaths
over the last decade; still, you'll notice that Saddam hasn't
missed any falafels. He wasn't the one withholding food and
medicine from "his" people, but he was damn sure gonna
get his before they got theirs. Ditto for Dubya, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Rice, et al. They don't fly coach on Democracy
Air, where the rest of us get a vigorous frisking before
boarding planes no
more secure than those departing on September 11, 2001.
Bien pensants sneer at "Fortress America,"
but have you checked out the moats
'round the White House lately? God forbid the serfs desire
a fraction of the king's safety.
that the kings and tinhorns of the world could give their serfs
safety, anyway. The World Trade Center somehow obeyed the laws
of physics, despite America's unequaled military prowess. (Trillions
spent on defense and only thousands dead at least it
looks good in an actuarial table, eh?) The citizens of hyperpower
U.S.A. and its scale model Israel sit helpless before invisible
armies. U.S. and Israeli leaders fondle their nukes as nobodies
with box-cutters and fertilizer and backpacks make paste of
civilians. Quite a racket ya got goin' there, boys, mopping
up the carnage you provoke.
bad you've lost the power to prevent any of it. What have you
done for us lately, Saddam, Sharon, and Bush? Politicians, consider
this your pink slip.