The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ousting Saddam

You know, when people say: "there were good reasons to oust Saddam, even if he wasn't an immediate threat..."  I have to theory.  But not in practice.  In practice, Bush Sr. knew that "taking out Saddam" would create a quagmire.  If every American child had free breakfast (if needed), if higher educations were more available to poor people (the cost of the Iraq war would have paid for how many full four-year college scholarships?), if health care were universal, if we'd had the resources and will to respond with swift efficiency to a disaster like Katrina and a few more things like that--

THEN I could imagine spending such a fantastic amount of our financial and moral capital on such a speculative adventure.   I find it fascinating that, in general, the people who are MOST in favor of providing these services to Americans have the least interest in the Iraq adventure, while those MOST in favor of our actions in Iraq seemed (to listen to them) to have the least interest in providing those governmental services to Americans.  This doesn't make sense to me...and as I've said before, it reminds me of the Civil Rights era, where those interested in the Civil Rights movement at home had (in general) an anti-Vietnam stance, and some of those most strongly AGAINST freedom marches and protesting for rights at home talked loudest about providing "freedom" for those overseas.  What?  There's something wrong with this picture.

Charity starts at home.  Those who think we should be in Iraq for the sake of Iraquis who ALSO believe in things like Universal Health Care and Education...well, they seem to be a tiny minority. My personal opinion?  Saddam was contained. He'd gotten his ass kicked--badly.  He was on the wrong side of his testosterone flush, and probably just wanted to enjoy his billions and his declining years.  In theory it makes great good sense to remove foreign dictators.  In practice, such attempts at nation-building strike me as hubris of the highest order.
It seriously troubles me that so many of those dedicated to "bringing democracy and freedom" to people on the other side of the world seem to feel our own government, here at home, should not be expected to provide basic necessities.  It is a bit like a guy whose own children go barefoot, but spends all the time visiting lovely widows to make shoes for THEIR children.  Wow!  The intentions may be good, but it is certainly reasonable to raise your eyebrows and wonder.
There are those who posit the "one reason" theory on either side.  We can agree that they are probably over-simplifying.  So those with better perspective might occupy themselves making a list of all the reasons--fair and foul--and then prioritize those reasons  as most to least contributory to the invasion and current situation.  Which ones would build a coalition in Washington? Which ones relate to the needs of the average American?  Which ones match the Neocon agenda?  Whatever the truth is, I can promise you it's a tangled web.
It is because the web is so tangled that it bothers me that Americans aren't being asked to sacrifice more.  Our volunteer army is, in my mind, filled with heros and patriots, as well as average Americans looking to make a better life.  But if this is the kind of cultural death-struggle Bush says it is, then we need to have a draft, so that EVERY American must face the spectre of his or her nephews and nieces, sons and daughters might be forced to fight and die.  Then, and only then, will people ask the hardest questions, and evaluate whether we should really be there or not.  I have simply heard: "they're all volunteers" too damned often, as if that absolves us of the responsibility to treat each and every one as precious and irreplacable.  If I was a soldier in Iraq, and my tour of duty had been extended as the lines get stretched thinner, I would PRAY that, back home, my fellow Americans were debating this issue.
If this is the kind of all-out war we've been told, there should be rationing, and sacrifice.  The  idea of tax cuts at such a time make sense to those who believe in Trickle-Down Economics, and no one else.  What percentage of the population is that?  And if TDE doesn't work, in whose interests might it be to promote the idea that it does?  Follow the money...
I trust America, but one truth of human nature is that we only pay attention to the things right in front of us.  "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."  Yes, I believe that a volunteer army allows many Americans to think the responsibility, the death, the risk, the tragedy is someone else's affair.  EVERYONE in American during WW2 knew people who were fighting in Europe or Japan.  It was intimate and immediate.  That just isn't true right now, and I think that's one BIG reason why it's taken so long for the country to wake up and realize they disapprove of this war.  That would have happened LONG ago, if on September 12th a draft had been announced.  Trust me. 

No comments: