Tuesday, February 11, 2003

For whatever it's worth—for the value of raising one more voice because I have a platform upon which to raise it, however small—I am coming out against the war today. Am I late to the party? Probably, but despite my mistrust of Bush, Cheney, and their oil-stained cronies, despite their obvious imperial ambitions, for a while there I was half-persuaded that war was the only way to end the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's criminal regime. He's guilty of horrific crimes against his own people, and yes, there have been hundreds of dictators who have done the same or worse and we've turned a blind eye—but why on Earth does that mean we shouldn't act now? Is there anyone of liberal sentiments not crippled by a reflexive and dated pacifism who doesn't think we should have intervened in Rwanda, or believe that the only thing wrong with our intervention in Bosnia is that it came years too late? And though it seems hypocritical for Bush and co. to rail against Saddam while making nice with Kim Jong Il ("Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems") the fact remains that if Saddam gets the bomb or even a tidy supply of anthrax we will be loath to intervene against him in the future when it becomes more urgent. So as much as I believed war was not the right solution, doing nothing hardly seemed like a solution either. I could not in good conscience join the full-throated monological roar of the ANSWER crowd.

But now that France and Germany have come out with their eminently sensible plan (many more inspectors; spy planes, which the Iraqis have finally agreed to allow; UN peacekeepers on the ground) and it seems to me that if Iraq agrees to it Saddam will cease to be a threat. I actually don't understand why Bush is so upset about this, since it seems unlikely from what we know about Saddam (can somebody explain to me why we always refer to the guy by his first name? Is the patrynomic first in Arab names?) that he would accept foreign troops on his soil, and then we'd have a bit more justification for going in. The hysterical tantrums thrown in the White House in the face of ANYONE—anyone who asks that we think more carefully about some aspect of our war plans or even just to slow down and take a deep breath—do not inspire confidence. I absolutely believe that Congress can and must vote for a declaration of war before the first cruise missile is launched. (It's not like Bush can argue that he wants the advantage of surprise.) And the illegal actions of Bush, Ashcroft, etc., in the case of so-called "enemy combatants" and other civil rights restrictions (secret arrests! suspension of habeas corpus!) persuade me that I'm right in following Kasey Mohammed's lead and providing links to www.votetoimpeach.org as well as www.votenowar.org.

I also contributed the short poem I posted last Wednesday to www.poetsagainstthewar.org and I urge my fellow poets of sound mind and even the faintest reservations regarding aerial bombardment to do the same.

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