The Reactionary Utopian
                     April 18, 2006

by Joe Sobran

     I can't see our getting into a war with Iran -- not 
while both countries are led by such cool, reasonable 

     Of course at the moment both of them are snorting 
and pawing the earth with their forehooves a little; 
President Bush has indicated that he would be pleased 
with a little more regime change and fewer weapons of 
mass destruction in Iran, while President Ahmadinejad 
would be delighted to see Israel wiped off the map.

     But these are mere bargaining positions, the lofty 
dreams idealists bat around in idle moments. They'll both 
come to their senses, and all things shall be well. Peace 
will prevail.

     Back here at home, though, Bush is in big trouble. 
He isn't my idea of a conservative, but he's the 
conservative liberals deserve; they've brought him on 
themselves, and I have no pity for them. Without them, he 
wouldn't have been possible. For them to complain he's 
violating the Constitution is a joke for the gods; whom 
do they think he learned from? Who has been teaching us 
that the Constitution is a "living document" that keeps 

     Still, they are right about Bush, and the polls 
suggest that the voters agree with them in a general way. 
The idea that the country is evenly divided between "red" 
and "blue" states appears unlikely to survive this fall's 
elections. The day after his reelection Bush pledged to 
spend his political capital, and for once he has kept his 
promise. It's gone.

     Bush may leave office as the most unpopular 
president since Harry S. Truman. Though Truman is now 
widely regarded as a "great" president, this was far from 
the case in 1952, when he decided not to bother seeking 
another term.

     Truman's undeclared war in Korea was dragging on 
endlessly. He was usurping powers in defiance of the 
Constitution. The public was sick of him. Many were 
calling for his impeachment. So it is with the incumbent.

     Opposition to Bush has erupted in an unexpected 
quarter: the military, which feels he has bungled the 
Iraq war and fears he is planning even more disastrous 
military action against Iran, not ruling out a nuclear 

     Meanwhile, several retired generals -- who 
presumably reflect the sentiments of many active officers 
who don't feel free to pipe up yet -- are calling for the 
removal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld is 
the pinup boy of the neoconservatives, who feel such 
criticism of him verges on "mutiny," "revolt," and 

     How so? Well, the military is supposed to be 
submissive to the civilian leadership, don't you see, and 
this smacks of insubordination. True, the neocons 
concede, the retired officers have a technical right to 
speak their minds, but they find this exercise of that 
right unseemly. Coming at this critical moment, it could 
cause the Iraq war to be lost!

     Well, these officers don't want to lose the war; 
their whole point is that Rummy's conduct of the war is 
bringing defeat. But the suspicion grows that they think 
the war was misconceived in the first place, and that 
their real target is not Rummy, but Bush.

     Yes, professional military men are paid to kill when 
commanded to do so, but this doesn't mean they always 
enjoy their work. They also have minds and consciences of 
their own, and they may resent it when civilian rulers 
give orders they regard as stupid or immoral. What a 
clergyman sees as a holy war may seem insane to the 
soldier who has to fight it.

     Both Bush and Ahmadinejad, for all their piety, seem 
to think they are acting on behalf of the Almighty. Since 
they have clashing conceptions of the divine will, at 
least one of them may be mistaken.

     But Bush and Ahmadenijad and millions of others 
share one article of faith: faith in the state. That is, 
faith in the authority of organized force, and ultimately 
faith in war.

     Indeed, how many modern people can shake this faith? 
Very few, I'm afraid. Many men who can't believe in God 
find it nearly impossible to imagine society without the 
state -- the threat of force. The more the state demands 
of us, the more harm it does, the more inconceivable life 
without it seems to become.

     Sometimes I think our coins should bear the legend 
"In Caesar we trust."


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