So war it is. Despite all the protests, Security Council machinations, negotiations and pundit clucking, predictions from six months ago that the US and Britain would invade Iraq in March will have been borne out within about 48 hours. Given the intractable arrogance of Saddam, and the mission George W. Bush has seen himself on since 9/11, what other end could there have been?
I was not a Bush fan before 9/11, didn’t vote for him or any other Republican EVER for president, but I believe his perception that the War on Terror is his “calling” is correct and of vast importance. Diplomatic, inertia-based business as usual is no longer acceptable. Bush sounded tired and drained in his speech last night, but he calmly hit upon all the key elements of why war is necessary, why it is our duty to ourselves and the world (whether the world wants it or not) to take forceful action now.
He explicitly mentioned the appeasement of murderous tyrants in the buildup to WWll, and I believe the lesson he has taken from history is correct: those who hate us and seek our destruction cannot be ignored or contained – they must be destroyed.
Much has been made of the fact that this will be America’s first “preemptive” military action; again, Bush provided the appropriate framework for this action. Saddam has not lived up to the terms of the cease-fire of the first Gulf War, 9/11 brutally demonstrated that such loops cannot be left open. This action is closure rather than preemption.
The “no war for any reason” throngs voicing their impotent discontent around the globe will note it not, but Bush also emphasized the fact that we will not be at war against the Iraqi people, or even the Iraqi military – whom he encouraged to get the hell out of the way – but against the regime. This is not some bloodthirsty warmonger, and those who label him so lack the will or the ability to distinguish any nuance between “war” and “no war.”
With debate on whether we should go to war now moot, let us turn our attention to the conduct of the war. ABC did a nice job last night with a series of reports after Bush’s speech on the planned strategy on the invasion and the status of our troops around the region. We will clearly overwhelm the opposition, but grave dangers remain, especially regarding Saddam’s use of weapons of mass destruction – you know, the ones he doesn’t have.
- What will happen, where should we go? Race west toward the oil fields of Kirkuk. There are reports that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has rigged them with explosives. There are reports that American troops will paradrop in–secure that area first. Or should we move south, toward Baghdad. Every correspondent knows there’s glory in that. We all remember, green with envy, the BBC’s John Simpson marching into Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. But it seems somewhat cyncial, unforgivingly opportunistic to feed a career on carnage of war. But we do. If I’m forced to rationalize it, I’ll do it like this–the motivation will make me to work harder to take more chances on the story.
The people that are here, that cover these thing are often the same faces I see wherever war is brewing or in play. It’s both an avocation and an addiction. A search for moral absolutes in uncompromising violence. War corrspondent Chris Hedges explains beautifully in his book, WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING.
The next phase is here.