and it feels as if we're now doing everything possible to make things precarious for as far into the future as possible. Other countries have had to deal with terrorism and fear, and no one has destabilized the world as BushCo. is now doing. Rational argument means nothing, the media does little but reinforce the worst instincts, churches are either quiet or ineffectual in changing government policy, and none of this can possibly lead us beyond the terrible dynamics that put us here. Until the last couple months I had never seriously considered expatriating; I love the things the people in our country have achieved, the spirit of the new and the daring of imagination. But what once helped us invent and imagine--our lack of encumbrance by history--has now become so severe, not to mention concentrated in our political leadership, that it will likely lead us to do tremendous wrongs to innocents. This makes me question whether I can continue to be part of "the American experiment." We are now experimenting in a reckless and lethal way, in the process becoming what we claim to be fighting against. Change things from the inside? I'm wondering if the forces of American destruction are past the fail-safe point, and we have no other role to play except to pay our taxes and support the military industrial corporate media complex.
Letter to the NY Times. As yet not published.
To the Editor:
In 1992 Beth Osborne Daponte, a Commerce Department demographer, calculated that in the first gulf war American and allied forces directly killed 13,000 civilians. 70,000 civilians died subsequently from war-related damage to Iraq's infrastructure, including 39,612 women and 32,195 children.
Just-War criteria and international law confine lethal force to circumstances where aggression has (or is about to) occur against whole populations. Since Iraq has not invaded the U.S., it must be shown that aggression by Iraq against the U.S. is imminent. This has not been demonstrated.
What the world sees is a government willing to inflict numerous civilian casualties based only upon the gamble that this might prevent a possible attack on the U.S. by Iraq, even without any evidence that Iraq is even planning such an attack. Is it any wonder that most of the world's people think this gamble with innocent life is egregiously immoral?
It's a pretty awful idea, and just about everyone who supports war in Iraq will utter that exact phrase at some point. Then, they'll nod slightly and look for your capitulation in the argument. If they don't get it, a look of conviction (about you) will cross their face and you can bet your lunch money they're thinking "one of them."
It never seems to come up that "gassing anyone" is a pretty bad thing to do, and "gassing someone else's people" is execrable as well. In other words, the hidden logic to "gassing his own people" is that using poison gas on human beings can be ranked in some sort of least to worst order. But when we find ourselves making *those* sorts of distinctions, is there really any more "up" or "down"? Isn't that what makes it true that we're in an "abyss" in the first place?
A friend adds,
"For me, the most disappointing aspect of the war/anti-war debate (if you can
call it that) thus far has been the willingness of the American public to
accept the absurd proposition that Iraq can possibly prove they do NOT have
weapons of mass destruction. I'm no PhD, but I'm fairly certain that
proving a negative has never been successfully done before. The fact that
so many Americans have gullibly accepted that this "opportunity to prove a
negative" is somehow giving Iraq an opportunity to avoid war is so
frustrating to me. It's as if this country is trapped in a Monty Python
sketch. If the chances for death and destruction were not so great, I would
be laughing out loud over this absurdity."