War. Huh. Good God. What is it Good For?

I just realized, we're on war footing.

I realize, most of my readership is saying "well, duh, James! Where have you been these past two years?

But there is a difference between reacting in shock to the terrible events of September 11, and to the toppling of the Taliban regime to the current atmosphere surrounding our anticipated war against Iraq. And that word is the key difference: anticipation. Not too far off from dread.

Nobody questioned the need to respond to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Everybody agreed that the Taliban regime was one of the most brutal on the planet. Most everybody supported attacking Afghanistan, and despite mistakes, ongoing problems, and the risk of letting our attention to this beleagered country lapse, I think we've done a lot of good. We've started this country on the road to democracy, and I don't think starvation is an issue anymore.

But Iraq is a different kettle of fish. What's the urgency? What's the strategy? Is there an exit strategy? Why not?

The unanimity of support for the United States War Against Terrorism is starting to crumble as the Bush Administration turns it into a possible War Against Iraq. The international community is leery of it, and support within America is not nearly as complete and unconditional as the media paints. At long last, I'm starting to hear Americans in the mailing lists I belong to question the Bush Administration's urgency. Finally, questions are being raised over the health of our civil liberties. Finally, people are saying that mass arrests without charge are a bad thing. Finally, there is dissent.

But not enough. I have heard from at least a dozen Americans bemoaning the fact that they feel alone in their doubts, that there is no debate out there as to the next course of action. The news media won't report these doubts, they downplay dissent, and people are cowed by suggestions that doubt might be unpatriotic. There is resignation out there, in Canada as well as the United States, that the Bush Administration will declare war on Iraq, regardless of world opinion, or of the plain stupidity of the move. That's why I feel that we're on a war footing -- because everybody is now aware of the war, worried about it, but resigned to it.

Well, resignation is not the best strategy, dissent is. And dissent is not unpatriotic. To my American friends doubting the policies of the Bush Administration, you are not alone, either inside the country, or throughout the world itself. George W. Bush is not America, you are. And as citizens of the world's premiere democracy, you have a right to your opinions, even if they are off the mainstream. Just be brave, speak your mind, and don't let anybody shut you up. That's the American way.

Further Reading: Sane, Dissenting Voices

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