Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Who Are The War Mongers?

There's a lot of war talk around these days. Every day we are served a feast of opinion in the media related to war; when will we attack, how will we attack, even who we will attack. Have you ever wondered why the most aggressive talk comes from life-long civilians and the more moderate opinion comes from current and former military personnel?

The most prominent voice for restraint before committing to combat is Colin Powell. He has acquired a reputation as a wimp in some circles as a result. His stand in favor of the "100 hour cease-fire" is also usually mentioned. Meanwhile, most draft-dodgers and former National Guardsmen favor a major preemptive attack on Iraq at the soonest possible time.

I like to think of myself as a rationalist. But there is no logic without context. As Ben Franklin famously said, where you stand depends upon where you sit. From where I sit, military action is the last option. But logic tells me that the Islamofascist movement will not yield to anything less than massive carnage and defeat. Then I think of my two pre-teen sons. So my absolutely last option is to have a shooting war, and a draft, ongoing in eight to ten years. Naturally my logical analysis will redound to finishing the bastards off in the next few years. But I shudder to think where this war will take us. Will the U.S.A. become the world's policeman? Will it be American boys who will have to fight, and possibly die, to squelch the military potential of the enemies of freedom around the world?

Meanwhile, the inevitability of war becomes ever more real. Jordanian troops taking over Palestinian Police commands and Assad of Syria telling its radicals to steer clear of Arafat (see this week's Debka File) points to an American attack in the region more clearly than any conversation you will see on Meet the Press.
The arrival of the Jordanian-Palestinian contingent brings to fruition the DEBKAfile July 22, 2002 disclosure of a dramatic process initiated in Washington for the phased transfer of security-intelligence control over West Bank Palestinians from Arafat’s Palestinian Authority to the Kingdom of Jordan, a transition to be coordinated closely with Israel.
Assad’s rationale is not entirely clear. DEBKAfile’s sources put forward some alternative explanations:
A. Tensed for the approaching US attack on Baghdad, he may estimate that the Saddam regime’s overthrow will lead to Arafat’s downfall and is preparing to take advantage of the upheaval of war to wrest control of the Palestinian camp.
B. It may emanate from the secret exchanges he is conducting with the United States in the run-up to the US offensive against Iraq.
So all of the talk may be academic. But I still believe that just as much can be accomplished by the belief in an impending war, as a war itself could do. At least in this instance. But that belief would have to be total. To inspire such total belief, we have to be absolutely committed to an attack. If Arafat and Saddam Hussein would just go away, would the warmongers tone down their rhetoric? Or would they just pick on another target to assuage their blood-lust?

Above all, when I listen to and read the opinions expressed on this subject, I always think about where the opinion maker sits. Rambo could accomplish a lot, but a lot can be learned about the texture of conflict when your buddy's blood and gray matter gets all over your uniform. No one wants to enter combat less than someone who has been there. That does not necessarily make him a wimp.