Five Thousand and Twelve Reasons for War
Five Thousand and Twelve Reasons for War
[Translated by Francisco GonzÃ¡lez]
There are at least 12 reasons to support a war against Iraq: 1) Saddam Hussein is wicked; 2) he won't be able to put up much resistance; 3) we need a cheap supply of good oil; 4) the economy is stuck; 5) our missile warheads are rusting away; 6) new destruction weapons must be tested; 7) it would be good for Israel; 8) it would be bad for Russia; 9) we like a good intense show; 10) we like to feel civilized; 11) some Muslims don't appreciate all that we do for them; 12) in general, we have very high principles and very low instincts. We could name five thousand additional reasons, including the fact that the world is round, the orchid is a monocotyledonous flower, and Kafka was born in Prague in 1883.
On the other hand, there are only two reasons to oppose this war.
The first one is, if you will, altruistic. Unlike legal verdicts, moral ones must proceed summarily: if you see ten people brutally beating up one person, you don't pause to ponder weather the victim might be a pickpocket or a purse-snatcher: you react--or at least you are shocked by what you see--with the same swiftness and for the same reasons that would cause you to move your hand away from a source of burning heat. No one in the world with some moral rootage would remain indifferent to a lynching. If instead of ten people there are one thousand, endowed with a power against which there is no defense, and they proceed to lynch not only the alleged pickpocket, but also his kin and neighbors, the lynching is called a pogrom. If the pogrom is organized by a State and it employs ballistic missiles, cluster bombs and depleted uranium, and it threatens to use also nuclear weapons, then the pogrom is called genocide. Our ideology and beliefs are no longer important here: genocide is prohibited equally by God, by Ethics, and by the United Nations.
The second reason is perhaps more selfish, at least in comparison. The first World War did not prevent a second one, and the second one brought about new objective threats which generalized the awareness of the need to avoid a third one at all costs. The declared intention by the United States to operate outside the fragile international legal system created in 1945 (a system they themselves helped establish, and the rules of which they have often violated during the last 60 years, without withdrawing their formal adhesion) occurs within a technological and social context even more dangerous than the one in which Nazi Germany withdrew from the League of Nations in 1936. In a world devastated by hunger, misery violence and oppression, where the destructive power of weapons technology, as well as its distribution and circulation, have reached not just planetary but rather "universal" proportions, the assault on Iraq threatens to "globalize" insecurity at every level, without distinction of class or continent. After that, no salary, no home, no army, will be able to ensure our immunity.
But there is, lastly, a third reason. The terror of the U.S. hegemonic project (that "democratic fascism" mentioned by Brecht) seeks not only to ensure control of the world economy and reshape international relations; it also seeks to deactivate beforehand any alternative or political project that questions its objectives, from the pacifist members of ANSWER to the islamists of Al -Qaeda, also without distinction. The policy itself, in all its variants, is incompatible with the kind of insecurity and disorder that the lynching of Iraq would consciously attempt to establish: fear breaks all links and all forms of organization. That is also why we should oppose a "war" which, in reality, is the first act of a coup d'Ã©tat within the framework of an inevitably "global" world (the equivalent for all of us of what the bombing of the presidential palace represented for Chileans in 1973). Let us not be distressed or worried by the accusation of "playing Saddam's game". That burden must be borne. During the second World War, the left had to bear the responsibility of supporting, against Hitler, an imperialist like Churchill who had gassed the Kurds in the 20's, or Truman who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The left won nothing then, as it has little to gain now, except that it stands to lose everything. In circumstances such as this one, between Bush and Saddam, one has to choose the most moderate, the least dangerous, the least destructive of the two for the whole of humanity. The only possibility (as is acknowledged even by Iraqi communists who have been tortured and persecuted by their regime) to democratize Iraq is to prevent that Saddam be replaced by a pro-American clone of himself.
We have, then, 5,012 reasons to support the war and only two and a half to oppose it. Every one should decide how many reasons they want on their side.