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Will It Be Worth It?

For you, I mean. Will the Iraqi War be worth it?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, October 02, 2002.

Ever since the Korean War in 1950, the Congress of the United States has surrendered more and more of its war making power to the Presidency. It has compensated for this by often trying to take over the diplomatic conduct of foreign affairs, the exact opposite of what the founders intended.

For the most part, excuses could be made for it, not the least of which is that the Founders had no clue about nuclear weapons, the invention that coincides with this depressing development. But underlying it is the basic cowardice of Congressional members, House and Senate, and their fear to make big decisions upon which much condemnation might fall. They want to be able to tell the voters that it was the cruel, dumb President that got us into the mess we’re in. Re-elect me and I’ll see what I can do to get us out.

By the by, the continuance of those folks in office is not evidence the system is broken. It’s evidence that the electorate is as cowardly as the Congress. That’s the pain of Democracy: the people pretend they know what they’re doing and have to live with it.

So now we have Iraq again. Nobody doubts that Sadaam would use nuclear weapons if he had them so long as he thought he could get away with it. He’s used gas and perhaps biological weapons against his own citizens as well as against Iran. He apparently planned to assassinate George Bush the first. He plays the United Nations like a cheap fiddle, and has now convinced the team negotiating for inspection rights that something might be allowed within two weeks. As the last decade has proved, this means nothing.

We also all doubt that Sadaam could bomb the United States, although he certainly could get canisters of bio weapons across our porous borders. The concern is that he’d use it against Tel Aviv, a dumb move killing as many Palestinians as Israelis. Truth be told, do ANY of the Arab governments remotely care what happens to the Palestinians? They sure haven’t indicated such in the last fifty years, and a lot less before that. Iraq might lose Bagdad, but would Sadaam care about that? He gives small indications his eyes moisten or his throat constricts at the thought of civilian deaths. Then, with two bombs exploded, the world would be in shock and forced negotiations begin. He could claim a few more bombs that’ll go off if he doesn’t start getting the world’s attention.

I don’t think that absurd; I think he’s quite mentally capable of it. The question is, can Iraq do it technologically? We don’t know, and our only source of information is our own administration, and I don’t believe a word most of those guys say. That doesn’t mean they’re not correct and selfless in their claims this time around. But I have big doubts.

I see the new A. Mitchell Palmer - John “Taliban” Ashcroft - in the middle of war rhetoric thinking it necessary to drape statuary at the Justice Department in togas lest the television audience see representations of women’s breasts, a sight they can see for real and in action on many cable networks.

I see our President belch out sentences so incoherent, so silly, and so scary in their conceptual implications that I have lost ability to laugh at him anymore.

I listen to Peggy “Daddy Issues” Noonan and Anne “I’m crossing my legs now” Coulter trumpet the Republican line. Noonan, to her credit, is unconvinced, but seems to think it’s a rhetorical flaw rather than a factual one. Coulter once claimed that conversion to Christianity would reduce Arab violence, a position that requires complete ignorance of history, human beings, common sense. She is now daily bordering on calling all Democrats traitors. That’s why she hates them, she says. They’re sorta like traitors for not blindly following an incoherent man and the sick elements of his administration into endless physical war for reasons we don’t have to know or understand. We’re only citizens who have no right to question the executive.

Do you know how many military personnel we have in Afghanistan any more? Do you have any idea what’s going on over there, or what our government is doing over there, or much of anything? Remember Omar, bin Laden, and all the rest, the people wanted Dead or Alive by Dubya? Where are they?

How are the legal cases going against the schmucks we have in custody? When push comes to shove, do we have evidence against them? No? Well, a successful war would sure take everyone’s mind off all that.

But my distaste for and about this administration is tempered by the fact that I don’t want a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iraq, or between anyone. If we kill fifty thousand Iraqis and lose a few thousand of our own but Tel Aviv and Bagdad are still healthy in four years, would it be worth it? Would it be worth it if Iraq becomes the ultimate Activity for future administrations: Nation Building with a Vengeance? Would it be worth it if, with Iraq a westernized country, women in repressive Muslim nations were able to vote and give the old man the finger if they felt like it without being legally killed by religious courts? Would it be worth any of that?

If the end result were that the Congress of the United States took back the powers that the Founders gave it so that issues such as these could be argued in public and consensus reached within itself and with the voters before launch, I think it worth that.