"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." ~ Blaise Pascal
Forgive Me, For I Have Joined the War Party
I have a confession to make.
Having been a vociferous opponent of the war on Iraq, and having spent many hours trying to convince friends and acquaintances that said war was a very bad idea for both Iraqis and Americans, I find'I am sad to report'that I have joined the War Party.
No, I haven't suddenly decided that waging an unprovoked war on an entirely non-threatening little country halfway around the world'a country that had absolutely nothing at all to do with 9/11 or any other terrorist attack against Americans'was a marvelous idea after all. In fact, I'm more certain than ever that not only was it a bad idea, but also it was completely counterproductive in achieving its stated aims (not that I believe for a moment those stated aims).
I have, however, joined the War Party to this extent: I recently began to look upon the deaths of human beings as instrumental in achieving a political goal and, thus, as a beneficial thing.
'How did this happen?' you ask. Allow me to explain.
It seems clear that it is slowly dawning on the American public that they were suckered into supporting a war on entirely false premises. (This, of course, will fail to convince them the next time that they're being suckered again, just as the history of presidents lying us into war over the last two centuries failed to convince them this time.) It also seems clear that the daily deaths of American soldiers in Iraq are contributing to the public's disillusionment with the war and its aftermath.
So it was that I found myself earlier this week actually becoming concerned that a couple of days had gone by without reports of new casualties in Iraq. I knew that if the guerrillas appeared to be losing, the War Party would loudly trumpet this success, and the public might begin once more to rally 'round the flag of Leviathan and denounce all opponents of this 'splendid little war' as traitors. So, too, did it come as a bit of a relief when the news returned to normal and U. S. soldiers were once again being picked off one or two at a time. Aha! The guerrillas weren't losing after all! Ol' Dubya will still have to watch his back'not to mention his right and left flanks, where war opponents are becoming ever more numerous.
Then it hit me: I was no different from the warmongers. They are the ones who view deaths (of anyone but themselves) as merely a means to a political end. They are the ones who don't care how many Americans or Iraqis or Afghans or Serbs or Liberians die, just so long as their goals'namely, power and wealth'are achieved. As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously put it, when asked about the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children as a result of U. N. sanctions: '[W]e think the price is worth it.'
The warmongers are the ones who have no qualms about sending others out to die in the farthest corners of the globe for reasons far different from those stated publicly'reasons for which no sane American would willingly sacrifice his life.
They are the ones who eagerly exploit any tragedy, including the loss of over 2,000 Americans on 9/11, for their political purposes. 'Terrorism' has been the excuse for the USA PATRIOT Act, humiliating and pointless friskings at airports, indefinite and secret detentions of 'suspected' terrorists who have never been charged with any crime, Total'excuse me, Terrorism'Information Awareness, and the destruction of two countries'and that's just scratching the surface. Nothing, perhaps, demonstrates the War Party's eagerness to exploit death for its real-life game of Risk better than Donald Rumsfeld's orders, just hours after the World Trade Center towers had crashed and burned, to find some way to pin it on Saddam Hussein and then to strike Iraq ASAP.
Here I was, taking some small measure of delight in the killings of American soldiers, just so that my political goal of humiliating and'one can only hope'destroying the War Party could be achieved. The individuals who died meant nothing to me; I didn't know any of them, and I couldn't even name one. They were just pawns in the great game of politics.
Fortunately, unlike those warmongers in Washington and their accomplices in the op-ed pages, on talk radio, and on Fox News, I have a conscience. It didn't take long for me to begin to feel some shame and guilt that I had stooped to the level of those sanguinary salesmen of slaughter. As a Christian, I first asked God to forgive me for treating human lives as mere means to an end, no matter how seemingly important that end might be. Were I a Catholic, I might also refer to writing this article as my penance for having committed such a vile sin. Consider it also fair warning to you so that you do not fall into the same trap.