During George I's little Gulf War, I was in opposition, but that is because I am a pacifist, and as such a cynic about the possible good that can be wrought when governments kill people, wherever they may live. As much as could be possible, the case had been made for a "just war." At least as far as a war that is not in actual self-defense can be "just." There was an invasion, there were troops on the move and an occupation in place. I believe this is known as "provocation."
because of this, the world was in support of the adventure, and a huge percentage of the population approved. This meant that I knew my voice meant nothing, that I was merely in that "one in ten" minority that is bound to be found opposing almost anything, whether foolish or wise. So I pursued my pacifist course, expected to get into arguments with people both ignorant and thoughtful, and survived (unlike a lot of Iraqis).
This time around the story is very, very different.
I am opposed to the war because I am a pacifist, yes. I am also opposed to it because I do not think the case has been made for attacking a country without a shred of provocation. Those who think there is provocation cannot point to any evidence of such. I am opposed because in the absence of such provocation, there are so many ways to contain and limit errant leaders like Mr. Hussein (and Mr. Bush II...) that violence on a huge scale seems absurd.
(While I find absurdity amusing, the amusement isn't worth the price in human lives. The absurdity of watching our ex-coke-head, drunk-driving, born-again christian alleged president destroy every bit of past international cooperation and humanist value he comes in contact with also isn't worth the cost. He blames the institutions he is wrecking for their "demise" due to his inability to understand their history and value. NATO: useless, since our allies won't join us in a unilateral war. NATO is a mutual defense organization, not a unilateral attack support mechanism. The United Nations: obsolete, since they won't settle down and approve of Mr. Bush's proclaimed need to invade a country on the other side of the world without visible provocation. The U.N. is supposed to help prevent this sort of unilateral military engagement.)
Now, whatever my exact reasons for opposing this shenanigan are, I look around and see in the news and the polls that I am far from alone - this war carries no more than nominal majority approval, where it does meet approval, in any group of people in the world, other than perhaps Republicans in the United States, who support it at a level of eighty percent. Funny how they believe a president of their party implicitly, but for eight years they refused to even notice some of the good things achieved by a president of the other party.
Strangely enough, I do not see that voice reflected in the news media or in any sort of conventional opposition leadership (the sort of people who can give press conferences and be quoted by mainstream journalists). All I hear is the daily drumbeat of Mr. Bush's call to war.
Even as some criticism of the war policy and the president filters out of Washington DC, the bias is towards quoting the right wing reactions to the statements, not to quoting them as legitimate news themselves. They are legitimate news, since they represent the viewpoint of about half the population of the United States.
I went to a carefully organized candlelight peace vigil on the evening of March 16th, as did millions of people all over the world. On the front page of Monday's newspaper I saw no mention whatsoever of this event. The warmongers still, for some reason, garner the lion's share of the reportage and the sympathy in news analysis (ie, bias, or slant). I could understand this if the call for peace was coming from a very small number of people. When it comes from half the world's people ignoring it is a crime of journalism. Is Americna jourmalism still exercising the first amendment, or is it a wholly-owned subsidiary of those whose agenda it is to fight a unilateral, unprovoked war rather than do anything about the issues confronting the United States domestically?
I was not frustrated when I was a part of a tiny minority and we could not change the course of events.
I am terribly frustrated when I realize I am part of what is probably a slight majority and not only are we failing to alter the outcome, but our voice is not even being heard.
To be sure, over the last year, as this saga has unwound, a few commentators have slowly but surely - albeit very gingerly - stepped forward and started to try to make their arguments against this potential conflagration. In the meantime, the daily news is inundated by George II and his advisor's pronouncements, every brick in the wall goes uncountered in terms of the amount of attention its placement gets, and the opposition speaks in silence.
It is incredibly frustrating to see the so-called leader of a democracy completely ignore all thought that opposes, contradicts, or even seeks to mediate compromise with his own, when that thought represents a vast portion of the electorate, and the world's population in general.
There has been no provocation to violence, other than the alleged president of the United States' claims of things he knows, but is either unwilling, unable, too inarticulate, or too untrusting of the people to share with us.
There has been no legitimate debate, only the excoriation of those who disagree with Mr. Bush as traitors. There has been so search for solutions or answers to the potential danger of leaving Mr. Hussein in power, only the claim that if he is left there he will attack innocent people at some point. To this has been added the claim that he deprives the residents of Iraq many civil liberties, and even their lives and comfort. But this is true of many, many regimes on the face of this earth, and even, to an extent, it has become the nature of the regime that is subverting the United States government to its purposes.
Crisis? What crisis... regime change begins at home!
© Huw Powell