Points to Ponder




Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Published Jan 23, 2003

God to the Rescue

If God saw people suffering in Hell he’d go there and rescue them.

When I was a kid this was my Congregational minister’s heretical theology. The current crisis over Iraq has got me thinking about this catechism again. I’m not a pacifist. I’m proud of America ’s involvement in World War II. That war is remembered by my parent’s generation as “the Good War.” If any war can be given that ironic title surely the war to stop Hitler’s subjugation of Europe and shut down his death camps merits that name.

Our subsequent wars have not enjoyed the same moral clarity as our mission against the original Axis powers.

Though we really didn’t want to be there Korea didn’t cause us much moral anxiety. We were fighting “Godless Communism” and had the support of the newly formed United Nations. Judging by the two Korea ’s today the war was well worth the sacrifice especially for South Korea which is now among the top ranked economic powers of the world.

Still, no one much remembers the Korean “Conflict” today with any fondness except for people who got hooked on the television series MASH. But MASH, of course, was not about Korea. It was about Vietnam a much more problematic war against communist expansion.

We didn’t win in Vietnam and the Vietnamese have paid a high price for their victory. It will take another generation for the Vietnamese to fully recover and catch up with their fellow Asian Tigers.

And now we have Iraq II. Just as it was with the anti-Vietnam War movement the opposition to our policies in Iraq is all over the map. I was recently sent photos of anti-war protesters at a recent San Francisco rally. The neo-conservative who posted them on the web was outraged at the silly and frequently distasteful, anti-war placards. Some protestors, still bitter over the 2000 Florida election results, impishly and irrelevantly noted that Saddam Hussein, unlike Bush, had won a popular majority. Yes, and he got 99.9% of the vote! Protesters also caricatured President Bush as a Nazi. Maybe that means that Heinrich Himmler wasn’t so bad after all. Book vendors were busy selling Mao’s Little Red Book. Ah yes, the Culture Revolution was a breath of fresh air for those who survived it!

The peaceful motivation of this anti-war Mardi Gras was thoroughly camouflaged by its flip off the establishment mentality.  As with the Anti-Vietnam protests of an earlier generation it was guaranteed to incite more opposition to the anti-war movement than to the war. Even a half witted conservative could quickly point out that a similar Baghdad protester would have had his tongue cut out for expressing any dissatisfaction with Saddam.

Once on the verge of modern, western, secular, middle class, prosperity Iraq has sacrificed a generation to Saddam Hussein’s megalomania. He is a tyrant from whom there is no easy escape. Foolish refugees who hoped a cross border flight might bring them freedom are sometimes mailed video tapes of their loved ones back home being gang raped by Hussein’s enforcers.

Saddam isn’t your ordinary, garden variety dictator. For years he has apparently modeled himself after Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin. To toughen his two sons and potential successors he took them on field trips to Daddy’s torture chambers. Watching their father’s enemies writhe in agony has turned them both into certifiable sociopaths, if not quite psychopaths.

Hitler flooded the Berlin subways in order to slow by a few hours the Russian advance on his bunker. The people of Iraq are of no more consequence to Saddam than the Germans hiding in the subways were to Hitler. I have little doubt that Saddam would put his own ego ahead of the lives of his people if he could gain some advantage from the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weaponry.  He has made Iraq a hellhole.

As a youngster growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust I was inspired by the Jewish declaration, “never forget.” In my naivety I thought the horrors of the death camps would never again be repeated. Instead such horrors have been shockingly commonplace in my adult life. Though not surpassed in scope they have been succeeded by killing fields in Cambodia, Ethiopia, the Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Angola,Chechnya, Kurdistan ,East Timor, Bosnia, Kosova etc.

There are a lot of lousy reasons for America to press an invasion of Iraq like, for instance, our addiction to cheap oil.

There are also compelling reasons not to invade Iraq. Who in their right mind would want to risk the possibility of replacing the defunct anti-communist Cold War with another fifty year conflict with the Islamic World? At least the Ruskies didn’t commandeer planes and fly them into our sky scrapers. Rather, we enjoyed the luxury of fighting proxy wars in third world nations and seeding their countryside, not our own, with landmines.

I want the United Nations to sanction our activities in Iraq. I worry about misunderestimating George W. Bush. And, like the rest of the world I can’t help but ask: “Who the Hell died and made America God?”

On the other hand I can’t help but think that if God saw people suffering in Hell he would go there and rescue them.

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at www.snowbizz.com

Points to ponder on engaging in Gulf War II