You Call This a War?
We should stop talking about it as if it were a war. Its a clash of wills. The enemy is obscure, but cant be fought or defeated as if he were a state. He has no vital secrets or single mastermind that can be found by, say, taking, questioning, and torturing captives.
He, in fact, is a loose federation, not a centralized power. His numbers arent huge, but he has millions of sympathizers who share his hatred of us. He has no ambition to conquer us or destroy our freedoms; such talk is foolish. Democracy, if thats what you want to call it, isnt at stake. The enemy merely wants to harass and shock us until we stop irritating him.
And our government has no intention of doing that. It will keep doing what it does, and he will keep retaliating. This will go on indefinitely, since neither side can force the other to do what it wants. What costs can random acts of terrorism against a few civilians impose on the politicians who make the decisions? Dont such acts in fact reward and encourage them?
What incentive could cause President Bush to change his course? Every new terrorist act fortifies his determination not to change. Nothing he does gives the enemy any reason to change, either. He even profits by the stalemate. From his point of view, the Iraq war isnt futile.
For a time it appeared that Prime Minister Tony Blair might suffer political damage for supporting the war. But he survived his last election easily, winning by a larger margin than Bush did last November.
Does Bush feel the same frustration most of us feel? Somewhat, probably; but not enough to make him reconsider. He is a patient, stubborn man, but not the sort of creative thinker whose mentality is disturbed when reality doesnt yield to his will. What am I doing wrong? isnt the kind of question he asks himself.
Because he thinks of himself as engaged in war, he is content with old lessons of war he learned as a youth. For him this is World War II all over again, and his role is to act like the heroes of that war, Roosevelt and Churchill.
The same is probably true, more or less, of the enemy. He can wait. If his occasional strikes kill innocent people and cause an uproar, he has his reward; his conscience has long since ceased to bother him. He isnt trying to convert Bush, and he no longer cares, if he ever really did, whether the Western public changes either.
Both sides are adapting to a new way of life, in which neither victory nor defeat is a prospect. Each has made its arrangements and alliances; there is no turning back. The rest of us may as well come to terms with it, since, as James Burnham used to say, when theres no solution, theres no problem. This is just the way were going to live from now on.
Expensive security measures, most of them useless, will be a permanent feature of our lives and economies, like the huge military budgets of the Cold War. We are still paying hundreds of billions in taxes for weapons systems we never needed; more to the point, we pay most of the money for military salaries and pensions that have become an ineradicable part of modern existence, like a second welfare state.
Do you get a regular check from the government? If not, you may be missing the point of the whole thing. Government programs ostensibly begin with the purpose of protecting us from something poverty, old age, deadly enemies, carcinogens in the water and air. But our protectors keep on getting paid long after any danger has passed.
What starts as a means eventually becomes an end in itself. What we thought was only a specific emergency measure turns out to be a whole way of life. Some very brainy people never catch on to this.
|Copyright © 2005 by the
Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate
Archive Table of Contents
Return to the SOBRANS home page.
|FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.|