higher moral guidance to break the fever of self-absorbed hypernationalism
is sorely needed. The other day on the way back from lunch I stopped to pick up a prescription
at the pharmacy, my mealtime reading (The National Interest)
in hand. The pharmacist,
a competent and engaging man in his thirties, looked at the journal.
The headline the "The Future of Iraq" caught his eye.
"You know what I think," he said, lowering his voice. "Iraq
shouldn't have a future."
replied as if he meant divide it into ethnic cantons, perhaps impose
on it some sort of de-industrialization and pastoralization plan
like one of Roosevelt's advisors urged for defeated Nazi Germany.
But I think he was hoping for genocide.
was a man who would jump through hoops to find a way to fill a prescription
if an Iraqi mother with a sick child happened into his store. A
man who I don't believe has ever been in any way harmed by someone
from Iraq. The war fever does strange things to moral sensibility.
not just to average workaday people. Writing in The Progressive's web site,
Rothschild notes an item buried deep in the Bob Woodward's long
Washington Post series on post 9-11 decision making. The
Pentagon was preparing a slide show briefing for President Bush
on war options, and NSC advisor Condi Rice and her aide Frank Miller
came by to screen the material before it was shown. One
of the options the Secretary of Defense had prepared for W was "Thinking
Outside the Box: Poison the Food Supply." Rice and Miller objected
even before the slides were shown to the President
a biological attack on food would violate the Geneva Convention
and other treaties the US has signed.
thus challenged, Rumsfeld agreed. "You're right," he said. But Rotchshild
has a good point when he notes "Why this wasn't a major story
in itself is beyond me: The Secretary of Defense wanted to propose
to the President that he poison Afghanistan's food supply."
only chance the war on terror has of remaining a Just War is if
it is focused on the Al Qaeda terrorist networks and isn't transformed
into a crusade against the Muslim world. In this case a prudent
moral sensibility isn't at cross purposes with victory, but actually
is a requirement for it.
when you think through the alternative vision, the expanded war
against six or seven Islamic regimes pushed by Norman Podhoretz
and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, it truly is a
war without end with no prospect of success (the
likelihood of success is a key provision of of a war being considered,
by Christian Doctrine, a Just War).
the root of War Party's misconception is the superficial and ahistorical
notion that "bad" Muslim regimes can simply be uprooted
– presumably by very precise laser guided bombs and that
out of the resulting chaos, pro-Western forces can emerge and transform
the countries into pacific democracies. As evidence Podhoretz points
to the fact that the US managed in a few short years to transform
Nazi Germany and imperial Japan into capitalist democracies, and
that even in the "heartland of the evil empire" a similar
transformation seems to be happening in Eastern Europe and Russia.
He adds that there is ample evidence of yearning, in the Muslim
world, to be part of the global marketplace. The flood of interest
in Western videos after the Taliban fled Kabul demonstrates this,
this is not persuasive. Germany was not a part of fundamentalist
Islam, but a nation at the heart of the bourgeois West for many
decades before Hitler. What
was required after 1945 was de-Nazification (not so difficult since
virtually all Nazis were then trying vigorously to separate themselves
from whatever they might have believed five years previously). In
Japan, the process was more complex, and required a lengthy military
occupation on the heels of a horribly destructive war.
Russia and Eastern Europe were historically part of Christendom,
long before they were "the heartland of the evil empire." When
Podhoretz suggests that that radical Islam would be sloughed off
in a vanquished Middle East as easily as Marxist-Leninism was sloughed
off in post-1989 Poland, he sounds extremely foolish.
the World War IV advocates have in mind is the use of disaffected
local forces to topple the existing Muslim regimes. But as Paul Schroeder has noted (in an extremely
lucid essay in the aforementioned National Interest) it is
hard to imagine that any Pentagon imposed regime would long be experienced
as legitimate in the Middle East. Indeed, such regimes would soon
be viewed as little more than puppets of American intervention. The United States would soon face a sea of Arabs as hostile to the
New Order as the residents of the Gaza Strip are to Israel's occupation.
Anti-American terrorism, until now the work of comparatively isolated
fragment of bin Ladenites, would become pandemic.
all, the root of the hatred felt by many in the Muslim world for
America is the fact that we are deeply present in their societies. As
Schroeder notes, "No one can suppose that the attack was intended
somehow to convert Americans from their way of life to that of Islam. It
is because these terrorists and their sympathizers see their way
of life being corroded and eaten away by secular Western values
and customs that we are under attack." And
yet, an expansive victory in the war against terror the toppling
of six or seven Muslim governments would only bring the United
States into more direct contact with the region, and give America
a conqueror's responsibilities
already see the difficulties emerging in Afghanistan, where the
US is being drawn into feuds between competing warlords, and has
already inadvertently killed dozens of entirely innocent people.
The War Party wants to expand this problem to the entire Middle
East a counsel of sheer madness.
only printable version of this article
columns on Antiwar.com
Just War to Crazed War
the War: the Public Opinion Battle
the Yanks Gone Mad?
of the Union Bombast
War One – Reconsidered
An Open Letter to David Horowitz on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
War and the
Intellectuals: Facts and Fantasies
In the January
Campaign Is that All There is to Victory?
in the Land
Sneering at Powell, Flacking for Sharon
of the War Party
Hearts and Minds
Strategic Withdrawal Option
Open Letter to Arab Readers
Push for A Wider War
Bushes and the Palestinians: Act 2
Struggle Over War Aims
They Hate Us
Many Arabs Hate America
is Still Right
Real Plan for the Mideast
Just Mideast Peace
Liberalism on the March