It's hard not to be disturbed by the events transpiring in the supposed Holy Land. The other day on Meet the Press
, I watched Newt Gingrich make a compelling case for the inevitability of World War III which, at least in Newt's twisted vision, will involve the United States, Syria, Iran, North Korea, and presumably Israel. Of course, the Iraqi insurgency shows no signs of slowing, so we'll have to continue to be involved there as well. When asked by a bemused Tim Russert if our military entanglement in Iraq is hampering the ability of the U.S. to wage a larger campaign against the axis of evil, Newt replied, "Only in our minds." My friend, watching with me, scoffed. I decided to play devil's advocate.
"He's right, you know. But we'd have to have a draft. We won WWII, so it's not like we don't have the natural resources to wage and win a multi-front, global war."
"This isn't WWII, or III," my friend replied.
"I agree with you. But if Newt or someone like him ever gets elected, this will be WWIII. Shit, Bush probably wouldn't mind turning it into WWIII, if he gets a good enough excuse. It would take all the focus off Iraq. Imagine Iran gets provoked into direct action against Israel. Israel and the U.S. bomb the shit out of Iran. Syria shoots at Israel; Israel shoots at Syria; Iraq degrades into all-out anarchy and civil war, with an air war between the U.S. and Iran going on overhead, at least for a short while. The bigger missiles start getting fired. Iran threatens to nuke Israel, Israel considers preemptive nuclear strikes. That's not even taking into account the Northeast Asian front, where Newt is presumably going to be ridding the world of Kim Jong-il. That war will be the bloodiest, but it'll be over quick, after a military coup with Chinese connections takes out Dear Leader and replaces him with a more pragmatically communist regime. And then we'll be politely asked to leave and buy whatever cheap plastic doodads they choose to manufacture." I was engrossed with the vision, and for a brief instant had felt a kinship with Newt. We could
do it. Sacrifice for the empire, the fatherland--Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
. The feeling faded as I remembered the end result of such schemes.
"None of it has
to happen, and if it does, and they institute the draft for a Holy War, that's it. I'm gone. And you'll definitely get called back, so you better take off too." My friend is an unabashed leftist who opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. He's one of the few left with a conscience, and I have no doubt that it may force him into expatriacy before this is all over.
"I think I'd rather go to jail than flee my home. Why can't we all consider ourselves as citizens of the world first?"
"Oh shit, here he goes with the one-world-government spiel again..."
"It's the only way to arbitrate international disputes and truly end the ever looming threat of total war. Paradoxically, the one world government has to have real military muscle, and may have to engage in limited war. The end result, however, would be much fewer resources spent on weaponry, more on development, which would fuel the cycle of peace and prosperity for all the world's citizens."
"And it won't get the military muscle until it is seen to be totally legitimate by all the major players. I've heard all this before, but how does any of it relate to what's going on now?"
"Jerusalem. As part of a long-term Middle East peace settlement, military control of the city is handed over to the blue helmets. Some kind of international commission is set up to govern the city, made up of equal numbers of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic members. Israel returns to its original borders in exchange for normalized relations with all the Islamic states, which all agree to aggressively pursue and prosecute all extremists that continue to operate in their countries. Violence subsides, oil production increases, and revenues are used for development instead of armaments."
"Sounds like a pipe dream to me. Didn't I read something like that in a Tom Clancy novel?"
"Screw you. Now
who's arguing for the inevitability of war?"
"I'm arguing more for the depravity of man."
"Goddamn Puritan, nothing ever changes."
"I declare WAR!"
"Death to the Anglo-Saxon invaders!"
"Even if we're just joking, look what we've reverted to. There's really no hope, is there?" The absurdity of my hastily fabricated middle-east peace plan hit me. Israel will never agree. Iran will never agree. It's going to take WWIII.
"Might as well move to someplace like Switzerland and ride it out."
"Even that won't help us if global warming turns Europe into a huge freezer. Maybe someplace in South America would be a better choice. And what ever happened to bird flu? Notice how fast that one went away? Wait a minute. We're basing all these assumptions on TV. They just want to terrify us into watching the news. We're playing into their hands. The world isn't as bad as they say, and even if it is, it's not bad for the reasons they say. WWIII isn't even close, and we should turn off the news and do something enlightening."
"It's Turn on, Tune in, and Drop out, right?"
"How about: Pay attention to the worst problems first, if we're going to mess around in international politics. People are slaughtered and starved to death in Africa, and we worry about two dozen dead Israelis."
"It's all true, but this is a Holy War. No war is further from being utilitarian than a holy war."
"Our God is democracy."
"Even though our only stable partners in the Mid-East are repressive monarchies, and recent democratic elections in the region have brought radicals to power?"
"God works in mysterious ways."
"Our God isn't democracy. It's oil. Any cynic knows that."
"Yeah, I almost bought into the cause. Even democracy doesn't seem like a good reason to kill anymore. Those people waste it, because they've got too much religion. They're repressed, and they follow the clerics like blind sheep."
"Kind of like how we followed Bush into Iraq."
"Like I followed him into Iraq. You were against it, remember?"
At this point, the conversation turned away from the inevitability of war, and Meet the Press
had long since ended. I went to bed and had nightmares involving President Gingrich laughing hellishly over an image of Jerusalem disappearing in a mushroom cloud.
Today I woke up and turned on the news. More rockets were falling. Forty dead in Baghdad. The war drums beat on, and just when I think they can't get any louder, another joins in the chorus. Let's get it on and blow each other up, or stop blowing hot air and start disarming. What kind of paranoid freak needs an ICBM, anyway? A handgun suffices for me. The policy of non-proliferation (and its reactionary corollary, the 1% doctrine) is dead, because nuclear technology is potentially accessible to everyone, even third world backwaters like Iran and North Korea. Proliferation has already occurred. The new policy must either be "Nukes for all," or "No nukes for anyone."
Once our foreign policy makes sense again, we can take steps to make it a reality. Some neocons are actually arguing that the U.S. should give Japan nukes in order to further our supposed policy of Non-proliferation. Proliferate to Non-proliferate. It is a self-centered policy, and it's already failed.
Deproliferation is the safest policy to pursue, now that the possibility of radical organizations acquiring nuclear material is real. The reality of globalization makes the likelihood of superpowers waging war against each other extremely minimal. That remote possibility is certainly not worth the risk of having thousands of thermonuclear weapons sitting around, just waiting for the right madman to get his hands on one. The United States must lead by example, get Russia, China, and France on board, and then begin disarming others. U.N. resolutions with the threat or prosecution of force might be needed to disarm some. But if we're going to fight a world war, let's fight it for the only just reason--lasting peace. Not only for clarity of conscience, but because we will lose if we fight for the wrong reasons. Fight for the New Order of the Ages. Or one could fight for Newt. Obey Dear Leader, and do not question the cause, because the cause is just. If it comes to that, I'll either be in prison, or chillin in Rio with my friend. Last night I was leaning towards prison. Right now, I'm pretty sure it'll be Rio. But it won't come to that, because we're sane, rational people, us Americans. Right?