Years ago, at the Army Pictorial Center in Queens, New York, an actor would go in for a day’s pay and be a soldier. He’d go first to wardrobe, where a gruff army type would ask “U.S or AGGRESSOR?” before thrusting the appropriate uniform across the counter. Being English, I asked what the difference was, and he told me that I must be crazy, the U.S was always the defender, and the aggressor was always the other side.
That memory got me to thinking about what is happening now.
A classic war of aggression always ends satisfyingly with a winner and a loser. The best example of what happens then is World War II.
The winners (us as in U.S.) were generous because we could afford to be, and the loser aggressors, Germany, Japan and Italy, abandoned their reasons for fighting, accepting that a new and challenging reinvention was an option.
What did they do in defeat? As one, they reconstituted their political philosophy completely, and looked forward, and not backward. Nor did they stew in the present. (Unlike WWI which ended in armistice, not unconditional surrender. Then, Germany was treated unjustly by the Western powers that behaved as though they had won, and no one will argue that that myopic event did not begin the next war just 21 years later.)
All-out war, then, can be seen as a healthy tool for change. It is no longer available and the irony is inescapable.
The winners invented “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.
This means that any country, big or small, IF in the possession of such weapons, can threaten anyone else, and as we now see, can and will forfeit their lives in their pursuit of what they perceive as the attainable.
Iraq is what we focus on now. Neglecting to push for decisive victory against aggression a decade ago, a guerilla style resistance has sprung up, and the guerillas, unmindful of their own lives, won’t be stamped out. They reappear, like unwanted ants at a miserable picnic.
And now, we “victors” are about to supervise polls that will bring about a new way of life for them. And the U.S. is about to raise another 80 billion dollars to make sure the rabbit can be produced from the hat.
Not helping this process is the fact that we need to be sure that the new government gets in with the votes of a huge majority of the Iraqi population. But will they show up? Don’t hold your breath. At these polls, the guerillas will be watching, photographing, remembering, and. . . . waiting.
Regardless of the outcome, the Western coalition powers can’t stay forever, and will have to withdraw by and by, and the country will be left to its own devices, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see that it will go back to its old ways governed by its culture.
The answer to these questions, fundamental for the future of mankind’s very existence, is yet to be found. Shear power no longer means very much, and time takes its toll, and the balance of power can shift.
The durable answer probably will not be found in this generation, and possibly not even the next. Eventually, it will be found outside long memories, within the idea of world homogenation and world federalism, and an event in the shape of global response to a common threat, or joint effort towards a common goal. Inner and outer space comes to mind.
Meanwhile, we need to try and survive each earth-bound crisis as it arises, through improved surveillance technology and effective shared police action.
I personally am glad I am not one of my children, nor my grand-children.