|America: a Beacon, not an Empire||
How Many Enemies Do We Want? (and UPDATE-9/11/2001
|Americans Against World Empire Homepage|
By Joseph Sobran (who foresaw terrorist attack)
Washington, November 18, 1999 (and Updates, below, THE UNKNOWN ENEMY & THE SOLUTION IS PREVENTION
There is no popular demand for war with Iraq or anyone else, and President Clinton knows it. The pressure for war is coming from the usual quarters: those who, for various reasons, want the United States to dominate the Middle East.
The op-ed hawks are framing the issue as whether Clinton has the character" (read:guts) to bomb Iraq. If there is one issue where he is vulnerable, its character. He is easy to caricature as a draft-dodging hedonist who lacks principle and courage. And the caricature requires only slight exaggeration. Clinton is no saint, and the kind of saint he least resembles is a martyr.
As a young man, Clinton saw Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon devoured by a long, futile, unpopular war. That was Lesson One.
Lesson Two came later. As a presidential candidate in 1992, Clinton faced a president who had just waged war on Iraq. It was the opposite of Vietnam: a short, popular war that cost few American lives and ended in overwhelming victory. During the campaign Clinton himself was widely derided for his evasion of military service and for his subsequent lies about it. Yet he won, and George Bush, a decorated war hero, lost.
What Clinton learned from his own selection was that eve a successful war president can't count on re-election. At one point the polls had shown public support for the Gulf War at over 90 percent. Yet that support didnt translate into electability for the commander-in-chief the following year.
So the lesson of Iraq was added to the lesson Vietnam. What people will endorse passively is not the same thing as what they want passionately. Some of the op-ed warriors praised Bush for showing "leadership" in going ahead of the polls at an earlier phase, when those polls had shown most Americans reluctant to step up hostilities. Though the later polls swung in his favor, Bushs support was shallow. His political fate proved that 90 percent verbal approval isnt the same thing as 90 percent enthusiasm.
From Clintons point of view, Nixons fate is the worst-case scenario and Bushs is the best he could hope for. Furthermore, Bush was lucky. Nothing went wrong in his war, and he had enough sense to quit while he was ahead without toppling Saddam Hussein and trying to occupy Iraq, as some hawks had urged.
Right now the elites within the Beltway are eager for war. The cries for "action" against Iraq (and Serbia, ed.) are deafening. Just this past weekend various talk-show panelists, liberal and conservative alike, called for everything from "carpet bombing" (Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio) to "ground troops" (William Kristol of the Weekly Standard). Leaders of both parties in Congress want Clinton to act i.e., attack.
Yet there is no grass-roots pressure for war. Most Americans dont see their own welfare threatened by Saddam Hussein, however they may despise him. The European allies of the U.S. more precisely, the ruling elites of Europe dont want war either; they dread the hostility of the Arab masses and the wider Muslim world. And they may be thinking that if Iraq is crippled, Iran will become the dominant power in the Middle East in which case many of the same American voices who are demanding war with Iraq now will demand war with Iran later. Some of them have already named Iran as our chief enemy.
How many enemies do we want? We have the power to make an unlimited number, provoking terrorist retaliation in the short run and who knows what in the years to come. And to what end? American military domination of the globe? Why is that desirable? What could it cost us? (italics ed.)
As with Vietnam, the hawks are making it as awkward as possible for a president to behave with discretion and restraint. They threaten him with charges of cowardice if he retreats, while offering redemption if he attacks.
The real question is whether Clinton will have the guts to endure being called a coward by people.
Copyright 1997, Universal Press Syndicate
The Unknown Enemy
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> > For some problems, the only
> > "solution" is prevention. by Joseph Sobran, 10/10/01
> > My, my. Tempers after the 9/11 attack are
> > high, and I'm getting a lot of angry mail and
> > e-mail complaining about my negative and
> > unpatriotic attitude. Some of the more temperate
> > messages say that while my analysis may be correct,
> > as far as it goes, I don't offer useful "solutions"
> > for our present difficulty.
> > My analysis is the same one I've offered for
> > years, except that it may be too late to take my
> > advice. I've said our government's foreign policy,
> > especially in the Middle East, was asking for
> > trouble. Until a month ago, this was ignored. Now
> > that I turn out to have been quite right, some
> > people want me to explain how to get ourselves out
> > of trouble.
> > I really wish I knew. My point was that it's a
> > lot easier to avoid stepping into an abyss than to
> > climb out of it. It's a lot easier to avoid making
> > enemies than to defend yourself when they want to
> > kill you.
> > Let me put it another way. Suppose I warn you
> > that if you smoke, you may get cancer. You go ahead
> > and smoke; and sure enough, you get cancer. Then
> > you come to me and say, "Okay, you're so smart --
> > what's the cure for cancer?" I can only answer: "I
> > have no idea. If I knew of a cure, I wouldn't have
> > had to warn you, would I? I'd have told you to go
> > ahead and smoke, since if you got cancer I could
> > cure you."
> > The real irony of the situation is that Osama
> > bin Laden is essentially demanding that we live by
> > our own original principles. Not that he knows or
> > cares a whit for constitutional government, the
> > counsel of the Founding Fathers, and suchlike
> > infidel malarkey; but his demand for American
> > withdrawal from the Middle East would never have
> > been necessary if we had retained the modest
> > "republican form of government" that was bequeathed
> > to us. Instead the United States has become a
> > global empire.
> > And of course people like me are "anti-
> > American" for preferring the old constitutional
> > republic we've abandoned. And now, in order to
> > defeat bin Laden, we are moving, and moving
> > rapidly, even further away from a limited,
> > decentralized, constitutional system. By executive
> > order, President Bush has created a second
> > Department of Defense -- called the Office of
> > Homeland Security -- to do what the first
> > Department of Defense was supposed to do, but has
> > failed to do. And in today's parlance, a "patriot"
> > is an American who favors this unconstitutional
> > expansion of government power.
> > We are told that bin Laden hates freedom and
> > democracy. But he didn't ask us to ignore the Bill
> > of Rights, and specifically the Ninth and Tenth
> > Amendments; our own government, with popular
> > support, has been doing that on its own initiative.
> > It's been doing it for a long time, but in wartime
> > the process accelerates.
> > So no, I don't have a solution. I knew how to
> > prevent an incurable disease; but, as I say, it may
> > be too late for that. The last thing most Americans
> > want to do now is to restore the original
> > constitutional republic, with severely limited
> > powers, and with neither a huge welfare state at
> > home nor a military colossus abroad.
> > Does this mean "blaming America first"? I
> > don't blame the U.S. Constitution, which, if
> > adhered to, would have kept us out of the Middle
> > East cauldron that has now scalded us. I don't
> > blame ordinary Americans, who hardly know what
> > their government is and does. I don't even blame
> > our present government for the crimes of bin Laden
> > and his allies; the blood of thousands is on their
> > heads.
> > But I certainly do blame our arrogant, short-
> > sighted elites for putting this country on a
> > collision course with simple-minded fanatics who
> > don't distinguish between the innocent and the
> > guilty. It was foreseeable and avoidable, on our
> > own founding principles -- principles to which our
> > elites have no more attachment than bin Laden does.
> > The question now is whether the war on
> > Afghanistan will solve the problem or make it even
> > worse. It may destroy bin Laden and weaken his
> > network, without (if we're lucky) creating a wider
> > war and making us more enemies in the future; but
> > even if it succeeds in its immediate aims, it
> > certainly won't take this country back toward
> > constitutional government. It's already doing just
> > the opposite.
> > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> > Copyright (c) 2001 by the Griffin Internet
> > Syndicate, www.griffnews.com. All rights reserved.