Thursday, 20 February 2003

This is from one of this week's NY Times. I received it through the Episcopal Peace Fellowship list-serv from the Diocese of Ohio. It expresses, to the best degree I have yet found, my feelings about the impending war in Iraq and the world-wide politics being played out right now.


The Protesters: Right for the Wrong Reasons

RAD, Israel — A wave of anti-American sentiment has risen across the
world — and with it a wave of emotional hostility toward Israel. Those
who see America as the embodiment of the Great Satan tend also to see
Israel as the Little Satan, Rosemary's baby. Lost amid the clatter is
that many decent people of enlightened and pragmatic views oppose an
invasion against Iraq, even many who supported the Persian Gulf war.

But these days the dogmatic and sentimental European left does not
hesitate to link arms with the reactionary and racist right in
anti-American vilification, some of it drawn directly from the scrap
heap of the Communists and the Nazis — all kinds of blighted slogans
about the "octopus tentacles of Wall Street" and "the sinister
Zionist-capitalist conspiracy to take over the world." My objection to
the war on Iraq is severely tested each time I hear these loathsome

And I do object to an Iraq invasion — because I feel that extremist
Islam can be stopped only by moderate Islam, and extremist Arab
nationalism can be curbed only by moderate Arab nationalism. America,
Europe and the moderate Arab states must work to weaken Saddam
Hussein's despicable regime — but they should do so by helping those
who would topple it from within.

An American war against Iraq, even if it ended in victory, is liable to
heighten the sense of affront, humiliation, hatred and desire for
vengeance that much of the world feels toward the United States. It
threatens to arouse a wave of fanaticism with the power to undermine
the very existence of moderate governments in the Middle East and
beyond. This pending war is already splitting the alliance of
democratic states and cracking the ramshackle edifice of the United
Nations and its institutions. Ultimately, this will benefit only the
violent and fanatical forces menacing the peace of the world.

Moreover, no one — not even America's intelligence agencies — can
predict what will emerge when the lid is lifted on Iraq. No one can
foresee the severity of the killing, the danger of the doomsday
weapons, or the validity of the fear that in a battered and crumbling
Iraq 5 or 10 Osama bin Ladens will emerge to take Saddam Hussein's

The protesters have it wrong: this war campaign does not emanate from
oil lust or from colonialist appetite. It emanates primarily from a
simplistic rectitude that aspires to uproot evil by force. But the evil
of Saddam Hussein's regime, like the evil of Osama bin Laden, is deeply
and extensively rooted in vast expanses of poverty, despair and
humiliation. Perhaps it is even more deeply rooted in the terrible,
raging envy that America has aroused for many years — not only in
countries of the third world, but also in the broad boulevards of
European society.

If you are envied by all, you should be careful about wielding a big
stick. After World War II, the Marshall Plan benefited the United
States and world peace more than America's old and new weapons put
together. The big stick is necessary, but it is best used to deter or
repulse aggression, not to "impose good." And even when the big stick
is brandished to defeat aggression, it is crucial that it be brandished
by the international community — or at least by a broad alliance of
nations. Otherwise, it is liable to redouble the hatred, despair and
lust for vengeance that it set out to defeat.

Amos Oz is the author, most recently, of "The Same Sea." This was
translated from the Hebrew by Ruhama Shattan.

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