One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.
Robert E. Lee
War is not nice.
Barbara Bush (wife of Fmr. President George Bush, and mother of current President George W. Bush)
A little over 12 years ago, I sat on the floor of my bedroom, watching in silence as the Gulf War burst into horrific life. I had been greatly saddened by the events, and greatly worried that our world was about to boil over into something much more serious.
Imagine my shock when I sat down to watch a little television tonight. At 19:45 MST, the White House spokesman stepped onto the podium, saying that operations had begun in Iraq, and the President would be addressing the nation in 30 minutes. I had planned to do some work. Instead, I suddenly felt 12 years younger, and a lot more worried about the future.
When Dubya went on the air a half hour later, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Except for armageddon, of course. Sure enough, through all the rhetoric, the message was quite clear: The “Allied Forces” (comprised mostly of America and British forces) had started their attack on Iraq. Exact details weren’t clear, but from what I could glean from CBC and CNN, the US had launched a barrage of missiles into Iraq as part of a “decapitation” strike, trying to take out Iraqi leadership.
No matter how you try and make it sound nice, a “decapitation strike” sounds about as appealing as a root canal without painkillers.
I can only imagine what we’ll see in the coming weeks. No commentator can agree on the details. Some think this will be a fast war, some think it will drag on for weeks, maybe months. Some say the Iraqis don’t have a lot to offer in the way of defence, others suggest that the Allied forces are outnumbered four to one. They are agreed on a couple of things: the US will spend countless billions to fund this war, and a lot of people are going to lose their lives. And it’s almost certain that the protests will begin tomorrow.
There are two sad ironies in all this. First, the US can’t really “restore” democracy to Iraq. If they do, it’s almost guaranteed that the electorate will vote in a follower of Islam, who would more than likely not bow to the will of the US. So Iraq will likely be run under a US-positioned puppet. At least until that person decides that they don’t want to listen any more, start doing their own thing, and bring the US military back in about two decades.
Second, terrorism will likely increase as a result. No-one seems to have considered this part. Striking an Arab nation (even one run by a despot) will only succeed in angering neighbouring nations. Most certainly, this will raise the fur on Al Quaeda’s back. We can only certainly expect a reprisal at some point.
It’s debatable whether the Iraqi people are going to be better off as a result of all this. Everyone seems to be speaking of them, but more concerned with their own self-importance and sword-waving. Only the United Nations seems to have a rational head on their shoulders. It’s too bad that legally, they’ll have no recourse against the US and UK. It’s all fine for the UN to crack down on a small rogue nation. But what do you do when two of your most powerful nations go renegade? The coolest heads seem to be coming from France and Germany: Two countries that know all-too-well the horrors of war and of occupation.
I find it interesting that 65 years ago, another nation that opted to force its opinion and will on others started the “War to end all wars”. It was horror the likes of which no-one had seen before, and has brought us 60 years of stories (fictional and non).
Actually, I take that back. It’s not interesting. It’s frightening.
‘Cuz we might end up with a front row seat.