The Blob

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Memo to Tom Daschle

Dude: what the Hell were you thinking?

Memo to George

Okay, you won me over. I agree with you. Your speech last night was so very you: short and to the point. My hope is that common sense will prevail and 32 hours from now, Mr. Hussein, his families and cronies flee for the promised safety of asylum in Saudi Arabia. I'm sure Idi Amin lives quite comfortably there. As for you, George, I want you to worry. I want you to lose sleep. I want your conscience to be tested. You are about to unleash Hell (see my blog below), and with it, the fate of the lives of many young men and women of our armed forces, along with countless innocent lives, are on the line. Could we not have sent in hit men instead?

I agree with you. But war is a very blunt and crude way of removing a small number of people.

I worry too, that you are too emotionally invested in this. You have every reason to be angry that Saddam tried to assassinate your father. Yes, he is despicable in every way. But you have to consider that leaders like yourself are often not in control of events you set into motion. Consider the case of Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev. He tried to reform the Soviet Union, and instead led to its demise, which, in my opinion, was the best of all possible outcomes. My point here is that once the genie is let out of the bottle, there's no way you can go back. The same is true for the events that may unfold as a result. Instead of a modern day Crusade or Pax Americana, the events that could take place beginning in the next few days could set into motion a chain of other events, from ethnic cleansing by the Kurds, to growing influence by Iran over the region, to an outbreak of terrorism for a long time to come.

We have drawn our line in the sand. We are committed. And I agree that we can't let the forces of darkness fester and grow. But do be careful in understanding that what lies ahead will be anything but simple. The future will likely be your greatest test. I wish you well in this tremendous challenge. It will define your legacy and shape the lives of millions.

Let's roll. Let's pray. And let's hope that as a result of this, that we'll come out on the other side with a better world. Just know that it won't be easy.

Memo to Saddam

Dude: the clock is running. There is still time to do the right thing for your people. Will launching rockets filled with anthrax, sarin, VX or ricin make the world better? You've already starting opening the valves on your oil pipelines onto the desert, and you have dedicated soldier at ready, waiting to drop a match onto the pool. And what will that do? Buy you time? For how long? You've ringed Baghdad with artillery, AAA and SAMs. It did not work before, so why do you think this time will be any different? The more reprehensible your actions in the coming days, the more violent and merciless the response. Think about that. Your enemy has virtually no limits in the punishment they can inflict, if conditions warrant doing so.

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting that the outcome will be different. It won't. If you hope to outlast the Americans, it won't work. If you are willing to sacrifice innocent Iraqi lives in the trade, what will that accomplish?

You can run, but you can't hide.

Be smart. Take the offer and run. Perhaps having Idi Amin as your next door neighbor would not be so bad. Perhaps you could share notes on what could have been. It beats running for your life.

Do the right thing. Give up. Let your people go before your life, and the lives of those you purport to love end miserably.

Monday, March 17, 2003

On My Mark, Unleash Hell

Regardless of what side of the fence you're on - pro or con - on the matter of a pending war in Iraq, I think anyone who saw President Bush's speech tonight agreed that it was unambiguous. Simply put, Saddam Hussein has 48 hours to blink. After that, visualize what Russel Crowe said so matter-of-factly in Gladiator: "On my mark, unleash Hell."

At this point, I am not happy over what is about to happen. But make no mistake: I am with President Bush on this question. That said, I don't do so lightly. Allow me to explain.

I once was fortunate to listen to a speech by General Norman Schwartzkopf on the subject of war. He, like President Bush, was unambiguous. Schwartzkopf explained that no general worth his stars enters into war willingly. More than anyone else, he knows that young men and women, who represent the future, will be asked to sacrifice their lives because diplomacy could not be made to work in this case. (It is hard, if not impossible to make diplomacy work if one side refuses to sincerely participate.) War is often the failure of peace more than the lust for conflict. And it is often the diplomats to get us into the war, and the horrid task of the soldiers to get us out. Perhaps that is why President Bush looked noticeably older tonight. Only a madman would gleefully seek to commence hostilities. And that is what I did not see on the face of the President.

I've given all of this a lot of thought. We're picking a fight. But are we? After all, Saddam Hussein has basically given the world the finger for over a decade. He has refused to negotiate in honesty or sincerity. He rules a nation of incredible wealth and natural resources, and yet his people starve. He has squandered a vast fortune to make the most unthinkable of weapons, when he could have helped build a thriving nation instead. He has lavished himself with ornate palaces while his people squander and live in fear. The world may be divided about the war to come, but there is no disagreement about Hussein. It is sad then, that a country like France, which suffered so at the wanton brutality of Adolph Hitler, would acquiesce to standing against tyranny. Conflicts of interest? Perhaps. After all, Total Petroleum, a large French oil conglomerate, is owed billions by the Iraqis. They stand to lose this if a new post-war government in Iraq declares past debts null and void. Perhaps the feelings of the French and others like them are sincere that war should be avoided. And, we have to prepare for a violent, virulent onslaught of terrorism that could be the inevitable backlash of a U.S. led war. I've thought a lot about that. I've thought about how war is a crude instrument, regardless of how we try to sanitize it with technology and PR spin. Innocents will die. And Hussein could live for another day as a pariah. I sincerely doubt that the outcome will be exactly the way we want it, no matter what we do.

So should we give in and hold off on unleashing Hell? I wish it were that simple. I believe that if we try to seek peace in our time, as was once said by former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain at the start of World War II, Hell will not avoid seeking us out. Appeasement will not avoid terrorism or intimidation; in fact, it may invite even more. We now live in an age when even a two-bit dictator has the recipe for an atomic bomb, sarin or anthrax and the means to deliver it worldwide. In the mind of a dictator, appeasement is a sign of weakness. To paraphrase Nietze, that which does not destroy a Saddam Hussein may make him stronger.

I hate the decision I have made. But I am sure of it. If we choose peace, we invite terror. By choosing war, I offer no guarantees. But I know this: we cannot let evil grow stronger. We have to bring fear to the hearts of terrorists. We have to bring the fight to the forces of darkness. We cannot let darkness reign. It does not mean that we won't suffer terrible wounds. And I have grave feelings that young men, women and children, innocents all, will die. I am sure that another horrible terrorist attack is inevitable. But the good people of the world deserve better. In order to live in peace, we have to rid the world of darkness. I may never live to see this completely, but I know one thing: to stand aside meekly only gives those who hate us for what we are more time to try to bring about our destruction.

We have spent a decade trying to reason with someone who acts without reason or remorse. Someone who will use the next 48 hours foolishly. Someone who has refused to accept the agreements he pledged to live by. And now, that someone, and those like him, have to go. It won't be pretty. But it must be done. For the good of the rest of the world. I am fearful that in taking the steps we contemplate, that we will have many bad days ahead. But if we don't stop him and those like him, the world will fall into darkness. And I for one refuse to accept that.

I say this with great misgivings, but also with great certainty: On my mark, unleash Hell.