War is a Tricky Thing

The cry of war keeps getting louder and louder. This past weekend millions shouted back with worldwide antiwar protests. Not that anyone expects George W. Bush to change his mind after a few million compainers, but Bush didn’t budge.

“War is my last choice,” Bush said in response to the global anti-war protests. “But the risk of doing nothing is even a worse option as far as I am concerned.”

War is a tricky thing because we can only determine the right choice with hindsight. World War II is such an obvious choice right now. Of course we made the right decision. But in 1940 it wasn’t so clear. Vietnam seems like an obviously bad choice right now. But in the 1960s that wasn’t so clear either.

Saddam Hussein is a not a nice guy. But bombing his country back to the stone age — a country that isn’t exactly up to worldwide standards — doesn’t seem so smart. Sitting back and letting terrorists have free reign isn’t very smart either. There isn’t a very clear choice.

But I find it deeply troubling when our government has no checks and balances. We have no sense of fairness. It’s perfectly okay for the U.S. to have whatever nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons we want. We can have them, we can store them, and it’s all good. Trust us. But if Saddam has them, that’s not cool. We’re going to squash him. Certainly Saddam is a bad example. But if what if Saudi Arabia had them? Or Kuwait? Or El Salvador? Do we trust any of them? Who is trust worthy and who is not? In 1988 we thought Saddam was pretty trust worthy and we gave him chemical weapons. He used them on his own people and now we want to punish him for using our weapons on his people.

The United States is a self-serving superpower. We’re a bully in the world playground, and everyone seems to realize this but us. We help those who can help us, and we hurt those who could hurt us. We’re not interested in who else gets hurt in the process. That’s why cheers went up on September 11. That kind of hatred needs to be considered when we think about waging war. Just because we’re the superpower doesn’t mean we can play the bully. Terrorism is about proving the big guy is vulnerable. On September 11 the world found out we can be hurt. Now we want to stir the coals and see if we can get burned again? It doesn’t seem to me like war is really Bush’s last choice.

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