If you are a Tolkien-head like me you are probably enjoying the movies directed by Peter Jackson. One of the principle characters is Aragorn, a.k.a. Strider, a rightful future king of Middle Earth. Aragorn, in order to claim his throne, has to fight off and win against the evil forces of Lord Sauron. All hope is vested in poor Frodo and Sam, who somehow have to secretly get into the evil land of Mordor with the Ring of Power and destroy the ring, while not being corrupted by its evil influence and without Lord Sauron getting wise to their scheme. Meanwhile Aragorn has the dubious job of rallying discouraged forces to distract Sauron, who has armies many times larger than his. Finding hope in such circumstances is challenging to say the least. Many of the other characters, like Boromir, have long lost hope.
This is a similar time when it comes to our impending war on Iraq. In this case while Saddam Hussein is undeniably an unsavory fellow, we have the power of Lord Sauron to spread our dominion and forces as we see fit across the globe, largely unchecked. President Bush is gung ho to topple Saddam at any cost. Nearly 300,000 troops are massed around Kuwait waiting for Bush to say “go”. There is every indication that Bush will say go, no matter how much the rest of the world says don’t go, even if we have to go without any other support.
It’s a discouraging time for a peace activist like myself. Some of us feel strongly that such a use of power preemptively is deeply wrong for our country. In this case I believe it will actually make us far less secure by inflaming more Muslims against us. There has been a huge amount of opposition to this war. Tens of millions have demonstrated here and across the globe. Bush doesn’t seem to hear them, or if he does he just discounts them. He is convinced his morality is right and the rest of us are fools or are wrong.
Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, I believe that this unnecessary war can still be stopped. I have hope.
Cases in point: A new resolution is to be submitted to the Security Council by the United Kingdom that would at least delay actions. Delay is good because it at least buys time. The war is deeply unpopular in Britain and it is not clear that if it started Tony Blair would survive as Prime Minister.
But there is more. Pope John Paul, and by inference the whole Catholic hierarchy, and the Catholic Church here in the United States is against the war. (Also, the National Council of Churches.) John Paul has met with lots of leaders including Tony Blair and Tarik Aziz and is forcefully (for an 82 year old guy) coming out against the war. His representative met with President Bush yesterday to push for peace, probably the only one with the moral clout to actually get in to the Oval Office and discuss it with Bush face to face. This is not a guy who welcomes discussions of opposing views.
And students across the country left class and went to antiwar rallies yesterday. We’re talking hundreds or thousands of students in college campuses, but also in high schools and other schools, all over this country. These students know that they will likely be the ones who will have to fight this war against evil that Bush has proclaimed. And they understandably are not anxious to be dragged into it, particularly when Iraq is well contained and has a fraction of its military strength prior to the first Gulf War.
There is also the recent success of MoveOn.org’s virtual protest. Virtually every congressional and senate office was flooded with anti-war calls. We are being here.
Don’t give up hope. Continue to express your feelings to your neighbors, friends, family, coworkers. Keep calling your congressmen and senators. Write your local newspapers! Call a talk radio show! Put a bumper sticker on your car. Together we can do this! And in doing so you will not only keep a lot of people from needlessly being killed, but you will actually improve our national security too. Do we really need to make a billion Muslims hate us even more? Do we really want to vindicate George Orwell’s Big Brother that “War is Peace” and “Ignorance is Strength”??
Hang in there brothers and sisters. We can do this. We just have to stand up to the plate, shoulder our responsibility as citizens in a democracy and keep yelling.