>From www.straighthoofd.com, a left-wing e-zine: (make of it what you
will; I post it because it does make some good points despite its
ideological assumptions)

America armed with patriotism

Friday, October 11, 2002

Commentary by Larry Solway

I am in Cincinnati, the heartland of Republican America, the home of
President Taft, Senator Taft and Governor Taft.

 It is where George Bush chose to make his latest shoot-em-up speech
about the inevitable war with Iraq. It worked. Not only because he spoke
before an audience of the converted, but because America was waiting for
a compelling signal, waiting for the call to their patriotism.

In America, unlike Canada, where we have trouble being patriotic, their
sense of being American falls somewhere between patriotism and hubris.

They are awash in flags, as if the showing of a flag marks you indelibly
as a true American. They are also at war with themselves, wanting to
believe that the Presidency is somewhere between sublime and superhuman.
They want desperately to believe that the war with Iraq is a holy war,
not only against terrorism but also against evil waiting to be visited
on a peace-loving world.

So they arm themselves with flags and love of baseball, with truth and
honesty, with words like transparency and freedom. So armed, they can
sally forth secure in  the knowledge that, not only is their cause just
and right, it is what the world needs.

 I am in no way un-American. I am devoutly anti-Republican and
anti-government-quick-on-the-draw. To the thousands of Canadians who
flock to  the Stars and Stripes forever, I say "Good luck and Godspeed."
I only hope their
devotion to the American ideal does not cloud their ability to think
clearly. Make no mistake about it: Saddam Hussein is a complete
scoundrel. If he thought he could get away with it, he would take over
the Middle East and reign supreme as protector of Islam. (It would be
his version of Islam, because most people know he is not devout, and
parades anything else simply for the sake of expediency.)

On the other hand, we have the axis of Bush-Chaney-Rumsfeld. What a
triumvirate. The President is a mental lightweight. The Vice President
is the evil power behind the throne, the man who walked away from his
insider misdeeds at Halliburton Oil. (Remember too that two of the three
of the sacred triumvirate are oilmen.) Then  there is Rummy. He has
visions of some kind of military sugarplums dancing in his head. He is
and was a devout right-wing fundamentalist who lost his senate seat to a
dead man's wife.

 Perhaps what irritates me most is that the Iraq war is an extension of
American vanity. In his speech Bush won even more hearts with his
"proof" of the duplicity of Saddam and the certainty that he has weapons
of mass destruction and unless he is stopped forthwith will arm
terrorists with them and those terrorists will attack the  entire free

 I feel sorriest for America when I realize that they have forgotten (or
seem to have developed amnesia) over the tragic sight of American boys
being returned in body bags. Is a possible threat worth a pre-emptive
war, which will cost thousands of lives on both sides? Is the
pre-emptive strike better than waiting to see if Saddam blinks and that
he will truly disarm? Or do we have to face the reality that what the
Bush-Cheney twosome really want is $20 a barrel oil.

I worry also that a country finds its "truth" in its dead. Watching Ken
Burns' Civil War on PBS I was reminded about how holy that holocaust has
become; how much tribute is paid to the sacrifices that created the
crucible in which a great and free America was built. Notwithstanding
that apparent truth, the South is still awash in Confederate battle
flags and racism.

One generation learns to fear and hate war. Another learns to honour it.
We are not immune. I still hear Canadians refer to the slaughter at
Ypres during the Great War that helped create our sense of ourselves as

We do not need it. Our fellow Americans do not need it. Mothers with
boys do not need it. But they cheered in Cincinnati.

Related addresses:

URL 1: www.straightgoods.ca/Surveys/021016.cfm

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

“We do not think that there is an incompatibility between words and
deeds; the worst thing is to rush into action before the consequences
have been properly debated…To think of the future and wait was merely
another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just
an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a
question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action.”
– Pericles about his fellow-Athenians, as quoted by Thucydides in “The
Peloponessian Wars”

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the
author solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the
author’s employer, nor those of any organization with which the author
may be associated.

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