We here at Tannerball have not spent much time dealing with the war in Iraq, mainly because others are keeping much better track of things than our schedules permit. However, something happened at the gym today that made me want to yell--and if I weren't such a genuinely nice person (i.e. big, fat sissy), I would have let these two have it.
I was lifting weights, and I overheard a conversation between two people that I know well enough to say hello. One of them had a child at my daughter's preschool last year. They were engaging in Charlottesville's favorite leisure activity--the loud conversation for everyone else's benefit. While I cannot vouch that I have accurately transcribed the words, I can vouch that the sentiment is pure Charlottesville:
"Well, that's terrible--I can't imagine having a child of mine join the military."
"Yes, well, that's what he wants to do."
"I mean, I really wish Bush and Cheney had to go do this stuff. I am tired of hearing the 'hurts me a lot more than it hurts you' crap from them."
"I know--it's the kids who are making all the sacrifices. Why don't they just thank the families for their sacrifices. I tried to tell him that there are better ways to serve the country--why not become a teacher? Or do something in the community? He's such a smart kid, but he wouldn't listen, though. THEY have him convinced that this is the best way to serve the country. Of course, it's not really even serving the country--it's doing the exact opposite. This will affect the world our grandchildren inherit. It's so short-sighted."
"I know--we've alienated a lot of people."
I about burst out "YOU MORONS!" then and there, but didn't. Frankly, I am ashamed of myself, and I am making a solemn vow never to let comments like these pass unpunished. Upon sober reflection, I wish I had said the following:
"You know, you're right. We have alienated a lot of people: terrorists, their supporters, western europeans, diplomats at the UN, you name it. I sure am sorry that we have alienated the French, since we now are forced to investigate all of their corrupt deals with the Hussein regime--remember, we invaded Iraq and interrupted their supplying Saddam with arms. And the Germans, well, I am sooo sorry that they took offense, since they are rapidly becoming completely irrelevant on the world scene. And the Russians? They, too, were illegally dealing arms, oil, and whatever else they could trade with Iraq, in flagrant violation of security council sanctions imposed after the first Gulf War. And let's not forget that we really alienated the Taliban--they can no longer harbor terrorists, destroy priceless works of art, stone gay people and young girls, or deny any sort of education, medical treatment, and basic human dignity to women under their control. Nor can they 'educate' their young to hate the West and seek its destruction by force.
How did we achieve such historic alienation? Because that cowboy idiot of a president of ours decided that the only way to deal with the terrorists that seek to do us harm is to destroy the regimes that support them, and attempt to foster democratic and representative governments around the middle east. This is, of course, imperialism of the worst sort--we go around, deposing crapulent, oppressive, and illegitimate regimes that harbor terrorists and seek to harm the citizens of the United States, and then we have the unmitigated temerity to insist that the succeeding governments govern by the consent of the governed. Good lord, how can we sleep at night!
And how did the idiot-chimp-draft-dodging president accomplish such alienation? By the use of the terrible swift sword of our military. Yep--democracy at the point of a gun. The results of our imperial adventures into Afghanistan and Iraq? Well, we have Syria fleeing Lebanon in the face of enormous and spontaneous protests by ordinary Lebanese, at great risk to themselves. We have Lybia admitting its WMD programs, and permitting inspections by both the UN and the US. We have a new leader of the Palestinians that appears to have his police forces actually trying to control the terrorists in their midst. Democratic developments in Saudi Arabia are occurring (although not fast enough or on a large enough scale). Pakistan can now be called an ally, and Pakistan and India are engaged in realistic and potentially productive talks to end their warring over Kashmir. Hosni Mubarak is apparently going to let opposition candidates for president of Egypt actually participate in the election. A new government is, under the circumstances, doing okay in Afghanistan. An investigation has revealed that the UN Oil-for-food program with Iraq was so hopelessly corrupt that it gave Saddam Hussein billions of dollars with which to build palaces and oppress the Kurds and the Shi'a. And, oh yeah, lest I forget, today a new and democratically-elected government was sworn in IN BAGHDAD!!
You're right, though--this all comes at a price. The price is the lives of our young and not-so-young soldiers who go off and fight when they should be at home teaching school or doing community projects. You know, they should 'Think globally and act locally' and 'visualize world peace.' Particularly the smart white kids from Charlottesville--their time could be spent so much more productively than in the military, fomenting democracy and bringing an end to regimes like Saddam's. It's much better to let the hispanics from the barrio and the blacks (excuse me, African-Americans) from the ghetto serve--I mean, what other opportunities do they have? And they really aren't worth as much as our precious white kids from Charlottesville, are they?
You're also right that the world our grandchildren inherit will be very different than the one we permitted to happen. They will inherit a world that, most likely, will be less violent and less dangerous for Americans. A world where representative governments are the rule, not the exception. A world where the UN has either lived up to its purpose, or been shut down. A world where Sudan does not have a seat at the table for the Commission on Human Rights. A world where the people of the Middle East, instead of blindly hating Americans because that's what they are told to do, will embrace their newfound freedom and join the 21st century. In short, a world where you folks don't have all that much to bitch about except the price of gas. How will all this be achieved? It has started already, because George Bush is president, and those volunteers in the military have the skills and the will to accomplish an admirable goal.
And, before I forget, f*!# you."
Now I am very angry at myself.