My entry from March 18, the eve of World War III, has prompted some responses. A friend from Berzerkely writes:
"If you think there is *anything* besides the war on, every channel, 24/7 (and this has been the case for days), or that we don't watch the BBC here (it's part of the regular cable line-up) you haven't been in the US recently enough. I agree w/ most of what you say, but it is unfortunate that arguments about the war have to take shots at the stereotypes of American behavior. It entrenches those who disagree with the anti-war side, and alienates those who agree with anti-war sentiment."
Point taken, and I've changed my entry below to reflect that I didn't mean to make an attack on America's intellectuals, or to say that the information is not there (I'm a constant listener of NPR when I'm in America). It's just that most Americans, I believe, don't avail themselves of sources of news they have to go out of their way to get. 60% of the population voted for Nixon's re-election despite the fact that you could read throughout the campaign in Time or Newsweek (if you bothered to read Time or Newsweek) that the gun was all but smoking.
Another friend writes: "My goodness--is there any danger in Abu Dhabi, Vance? I'm shocked at the CNN footage I just saw. I hope you and your family will be safe."
Bush's action has created grave danger for expatriates and American interests everywhere in the Middle East. Basically he attacked the wrong country. Attack was the wrong thing to do in the first place. What I mean is he did not go after the country that everyone around here knows is responsible for instability in the Middle East, a country that also has weapons of mass destruction, and a country that uses these weapons against unarmed civilian populations (ok, and against a few stone-throwers and other pockets of armed resistance mingling among these populations). By going after an Arab regime and ignoring the other problem (oh yeah, there was this afterthought of a roadmap, so not ignoring maybe) he has implicitly supported and joined forces with the sworn enemy of the Arabs. In this part of the world they say 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. This is why there is a steady stream of taxis from Jordan even now, after the bombing has started, flocking INTO Baghdad in support of the Iraqi ruler and people, AGAINST what Bush has now confirmed is a second enemy of the Arabs. Bush is relying on the people of Iraq to rise up against the dictator and join forces with the Americans? It seems about as likely that Palestinians would welcome their Israeli liberators. People in Abu Dhabi are kind and peaceful and pose no threat to the safety of my family, but there are elements in this part of the world and everywhere that will use the moral capital that Bush has squandered after 9/11 to justify violence against Americans like ourselves who staunchly oppose the Bush government's betrayal of what we once understood were commonly shared values of liberty and justice for all. It seems that in Bush's world it's liberty and justice for the strong, rich, and greedy, and you can pick up any newspaper or tune in any TV these days to see how the strong, rich, and greedy inflict their brand of justice on the disempowered.
The upshot is that the SRGs in the world manipulate the rest of us for reasons that can only be explained by psychologists. How for example, can Bush possibly believe his own rhetoric about bringing ultimate peace to the region by putting in place forces of chaos that are endangering everyone throughout the globe, but especially in the Middle East? Saddam and Sharon and Bush have in common that they all have amassed weapons of mass destruction and all three are are equally willing to unleash their military might on innocent bystanders. They are in effect themselves the forces of evil their mothers warned them against, and they've become so confused with the mirrors they use to deceive others that they don't see when they point the finger it's reflecting back on them.
The problem for the people in the world is how to remove these leaders without attacking each other. Bush has made this an infinitely more dangerous world by providing extremists around the world with pretexts to hold the the millions of peaceful bystanders accountable for the crimes of their governments.
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that" - Martin Luther King, Jr., "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community" 1967
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - Mahatma Gandhi
"The deed is done, the dues can wait." - Gordon Lightfoot, Black Day in July