There has been a lot of chatter
about what sort of President the USA (and the rest of us) will wind
up with after the November 2004 election.
Most of the talk consists of "We want Bush" or "We don't
want Bush." I don't remember anyone ordering any particular type
of President. So here is the kind I want.
Most important, a decent person.
Sound silly? But we desperately need somebody who will say "I'm sorry." Sorry for what? "Sorry
for the failure of the United States to lead the developed world to a
Mind you, we sanctimonious Canadians also could use a push in that direction.
We joined the U.S. in Kosovo, Afghanistan and, to a lesser degree, in
Iraq. That qualifies us as war criminals. A couple of years ago I suggested
to our recently retired Minister of External Affairs that we should go
to the World Court and asked to be tried. He went ballistic. But every
nation in NATO is by legal definition a war criminal and has engaged
in terrorist activities. So let's all confess.
There has been a lot of talk in this campaign about alternatives in
Iraq. Forget it. There is only one. Quit or grow more brutal. If the
soldiers who are there haven't quit fighting yet, they soon will. I was
in Korea and I saw American draftees who had made a rational decision
to keep their heads down. They were not going to die on foreign soil.
I didn't blame them, after all, we Canadians were there as volunteers.
They (the Americans) had not asked to be there. The same decision not
to die abroad is being made in Iraq by soldiers who may have started
as volunteers, but are rapidly becoming draftees. Who can blame them?
Every day the memory of Vietnam grows stronger. The troops in Iraq see
the same progression taking place there. Poor people, (American and Iraqi)
are being killed to make the world safe for rich people. Just as in Vietnam,
the forces are learning they have been lied to. Just as in Vietnam they
will soon refuse to fight and start fragging their gung-ho officers.
(Using fragmentation grenades to temper the enthusiasm for combat of
your leaders). When that happens things become plain: pull out or hire
even more mercenaries to do even more killing.
There has to be another way Here is the road map.
The new president should go
back and read Eisenhower's "Cross of
Iron" speech. Then read his speech warning of the military industrial
complex. When he has learned what the United States' foremost soldier
thought about war, he can legitimately defend the decision to halt the
practice of terrorism.
Some people will protest that being decent somehow implies cowardice.
Armchair warriors who have never seen or smelled the results of bombing,
shelling and napalm will claim that fighting is necessary to bring peace.
They can go somewhere and fight to their hearts content. Meanwhile,
let's take a look at the society a little good will from the world's
most powerful leader might bring about.We will use a time honoured device
from science fiction: The Alternate Universe.
It is now 1960 and John Kennedy has just been elected President. Like
Eisenhower, Kennedy had experienced war. John Kennedy was no angel, but
we will pretend he was.
After his inauguration he
flies to Cuba, puts his arm around Castro's shoulder and says "Good for you, Fidel, you got rid of those gangsters.
How can we help you?" Consider what might have followed. No Bay
of Pigs. No Cuban missile crisis.
The same generosity of spirit
might have led Kennedy to Vietnam. Not North or South Vietnam but Vietnam.
And again he speaks: "Congratulations
on winning your independence. We did the same thing a long time ago.
If we can help, just ask."
Just think. No bombing. No Laos, no Cambodia, no Mai Lai. No tens of
thousands of American dead, no millions of Asians dead. No thousands
of veterans committing suicide.
We could go on and on and on. No upheaval in Chile, or Nicaragua, no
Iraq, no Grenada, no Kosovo. Maybe even an uneasy peace in Palestine
Somewhere back there, in this
Alternate Universe, being decent became normal. The USA now supports
the UN. The rule of law determines international
conduct. As Winston Churchill said: "Better jaw, jaw, than war,
Imagine living in a world where the most powerful country is looked
at as a friend, not cursed. Imagine living in a world where poverty is
rare and hunger unknown. Imagine a world where a whole lot more money
is spent on teaching and caring for children than on killing children.
Imagine living in a world where fear is not ever present and is not one
of the main determinants in how we vote.
All this is possible. It only requires the good people in the USA to
vote for a good person. And for the rest of us to support those good
October 15, 2021