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Getting a grip on the war with Iraq: The 'wrest' of the story...

by Greg Swann

The "Naked Men for Peace" have thrown down the gauntlet, so to speak, against the war in Iraq, perhaps to prove that it's not just unsightly women who can affect to believe that an inane nudity is in some sense a reasoned protest. Rob Robertson, whom I've known for some while, has objected to me, defending, if not the actual unsightly naked protesters, at least the elemental goodness of nudity as such. I wonder who can shower and yet abhor nudity, but that may not actually matter. On the subject of liberating the Iraqis, Rob insists, "Freedom is something to be wrested, not received." This was not the American experience. Our Revolutionary Warriors were decent-enough 'wresters,' but things might have come out dfferently without the help we 'received' from France and Poland.

And to set the record straight, neither the Marquis de Lafayette nor Thaddeus Kosciuszko are known to have been nudists. Nevertheless, to have attended a large Kosciuszko Day celebration is to have been cured forever of the compulsion to gaze upon unsightly women, naked or clothed. Perhaps that counts for something.

For those who can resist the urge to seize upon irrelevancy, no matter how ready to hand, how one feels about the forthcoming war--or what one does to protest it, even stitchlessly keeping the world in stitches--is not significant. There will be a war, perhaps as soon as this week, certainly within the next few weeks. To acknowledge this--to have thoughts, opinions and concerns about it--is not to endorse it. And to refuse to think about it, or to jerk one's knee or something nearby, is not meaningfully to oppose it.

Why will there be a war? Perpetually put-out protesters have contrived a raft of rationales, all wrong. We are not going to war for oil or to enrich evil corporate arms-makers. We are not going to war to avenge the President George Bush's father, nor to do a make-over on the blemishes left over from the last Iraqi war. We are not going to war because Bush is a stooge or a dupe or an idiot.

And the 'official' arguments for this war are equally false. We are not going to war to strip Iraq of 'weapons of mass destruction.' Nor to effect 'regime change.' Nor even to rid the world of an evil dictator and liberate, after a fashion, a decent people too long oppressed. All those things will happen as a result of this war, but they are not the reason for it.

Why are we having this war?

In order to scare the hell out of the world, generally, and Islam in particular.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, this war will be fast, clean and decisive. Very telegenic and very, very televised. A 'war on terror,' if we were having one, would be a job for policemen--sifting through clues, tracking down criminals, frog-marching them to justice. But we're not having a war on terror. We're having a war on anti-Americanism. Not anti-Americanism in the thoughts or feelings or opinions of people overseas, but in their actions. The Bush Doctrine, which will never be enunciated except by explosion, is this: "We will hurt you a lot worse than you can ever hurt us. We don't need to use our police to catch your terrorists, because you are going to catch them yourselves, to avoid being the sequel to this made-for-TV war."

Iraq is just the whipping-boy in all this. Whatever peril it poses to the U.S., that peril is nothing compared to that posed by Iran, by North Korea, by a re-Islamified Pakistan, recouped and regrouped, and, most especially by China. Iraq is to be punished far in excess of her transgressions so that she might serve as an example to others. Principled protesters can surely find cause to object to this injustice--provided they are willing to reject the exact same premises as they are applied to domestic criminal prosecution.

But wait: The Bush Doctrine is simply a modern instance of Imperial Roman foreign policy--Carthago delenda est!--and what could be more protest-worthy than imperialism? Americans who denounce Caesar and Augustus in favor of Cicero and Cato the Younger betray a profound ignorance of Roman history, but what is better suited to the least effective kinds of protest than profound ignorance? Who needs a thoughtful brownshirt--or no-shirt--anyway?

A more studied kind of wail might decry a Pax Americana defended by an imperium imperiorum, the complaint being that an imperial peace is not peace but slavery by tyrants. The trouble with that argument is that Bush, at least, is a pretty decent guy. I don't think he has any great understanding of The Good as it might be heralded by choirs and trumpets, but he does seem assiduously to seek the unassuming little good that he does understand.

The tragedy of this war is not the war itself. It will probably be all but bloodless on our side, and could well be bloodless on theirs--"A rational army would run away." The tragedy is that the 'regime changes' of the years to come, and there are likely to be more than a few, will result in governments that are called democracies, but will have precious little real freedom. 'Democracy' has come to mean the sacred right to vote for your ruthless oppressors.

After World War II, know-it-all American regime-changers gifted Europe, Asia and Africa with the parliament, a machine with two oscillating extremes of tyranny and no center of liberty. The current crop of know-it-alls like to set up Rotarian Kleptocracies just like the one we have back home. If you're wired with the right clique, some part of the state treasury is yours by right. If not, too bad.

This is a real mistake, one that is actually worthy of protest--thoughtful, reasoned, and, one would hope, clothed. The best state is no-state, but the next-best state is next-to-no-state, and it doesn't really matter how a next-to-no-state is constructed. It can be a democracy, a monarchy or a monkey-archy, provided it cannot change or grow in power. This is what the United States should be instilling and installing around the globe, if it presumes to change other people's regimes.

Why? To rid the world of terrorism, of course. The more shriveled the state, the larger the tree of commerce, and the deeper its roots. In a Rotarian Kleptocracy the tax and regulatory burdens upon entrepreneurs are virtually insuperable for the poor and unconnected. In a next-to-no-state, ideally ruled by a benevolent--and naked--monkey, anyone can go into business, and virtually everyone will. Group identity--the true 'root cause' of terrorism--prospers where self-interest is restricted. And while psychological-self-interest is paramount, not bodily- or pecuniary-self-interest, it remains that no one can discover the treasures of psychological-self-interest without having first reveled in bodily- and pecuniary-self-interest. Don't believe me? Ask a seven-year-old. What we should want, if we had brains enough to want wisely, is a world peopled by rationalists, egoists, individualists. A slow but certain way to achieve that is to give the world capitalism, which can be effected simply by dismantling the barriers to it. The world--left unmolested--runs by itself.

Tragically, this will not happen. And tragically, there will be a war. And tragically, young people from all over the world will die or be injured in that war. And tragically, America will be accused of building an empire, even though she isn't. And tragically, the countries she liberates will be afflicted with Rotarian Kleptocracy, which everyone will pretend is 'democracy.' And tragically, the incremental enslavement of the American people will proceed apace, in order to spread the doctrine of Rotarian Kleptocracy, code-named 'democracy.'

And tragically, no amount of protest, reasoned or not, will change any of this in the short term.

Not even unreasoned scarecrow protests by naked people.

Not even if they're really unsightly naked people.

Not even on Kosciuszko Day...

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