After years of supporting war, invasions, occupations, limited skirmishes, and terse verbal exchanges, I have come to grips with the label lobbed at me by leftists like rocket-propelled grenades: I am a warmonger.
In fact, the antiwar contingent was aware of my warmongering tendencies before I was. Last fall, I wrote a column advocating that people get their heads out of the sand and acknowledge the need to do something about Iran. I never said exactly what that something should be, which could range from carpet bombing to harsh language to Jimmy Carter campfire singalongs. Yet a letter writer saw right through my lack of a war declaration:
You insane piece of s**t. You want endless war for the sake of all the oppressed peoples of the world?
Democracy in Iraq, Iran, or whatever foreign cesspool you would like our boys to die liberating isn’t worth the fingernail of one American soldier. If you had a conscience or even half a brain, you’d realize that.
I can try, futilely, to explain to these sorts the feelings of moral responsibility, national security, or just plain common sense that drive my warmongering, but it is to little avail. They’ve got my number. So it’s time for me to admit my machinations.
At least I’m not alone. Cindy Sheehan dubbed former POW and Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain a warmonger after a meeting last fall. Helen Thomas accused George W. Bush of wanting to wage war “from the moment you stepped into the White House.” Even warmongers rescuing Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages from terrorists did little to soften the pacifists’ anti-militarism: “We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq.” Surely if it weren’t for the warmongers, the Swords of Righteousness Brigades would be picking up where Mother Teresa left off instead of killing Americans.
Hints of my warmongering became apparent my sophomore year of high school, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. We felt really bad for the Kuwaitis. Thus, a grass-roots warmongering effort began on campus, with students scrawling “Free Kuwait” and “Saddam Sucks” on book covers and binders. One student, destined for the Cindy Sheehan Hall of Shame, made “Kill Saddam” buttons and handed them out.
One day after school I drew a big blob in the sand–an abstract Iraq–on a volleyball court. My best friend grabbed the mother of all rocks and bombed Iraq from above. On the way home, we stopped in front of every home that had an American flag displayed and loudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance. (Unbridled patriotism, I have been made to understand, is nearly as bad as warmongering.)
Fast forward from my delinquent juvenile warmongering to my far more delinquent journalism career. I was excited when the invasion of Afghanistan was imminent. I’d been outraged by Taliban rule since before al Qaeda attacked the U.S., and knew that toppling the Taliban would be like taking down a three-legged chair.
When we invaded Iraq, it was high times for antiwar demonstrators. As I and many others jumped up and down with glee in front of the TV after news broke that Saddam had been pulled from his hole, the anti-warmongers retorted, “But what about Osama?!?” Or, in equally sympathetic and angry tones, “Saddam didn’t do anything to us!” Some of us were just happy that Iraqis weren’t getting tortured, raped, or killed by Baathists anymore. (Some of us also believe Gen. Georges Sada when he says WMDs were moved to Syria, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of warmongering wax.)
All of this has been great for warmongers, but now, after three years in Iraq, three years of torched Bush and Blair effigies, it’s time to look ahead on the busy warmongering schedule. These imperialistic quests can be divided into two categories: threats to global security, and countries suffering from Invasion Ego (the overwhelming belief that the United States wants to attack you, and will drop every other pressing military need in order to do so). Sometimes these two overlap. Some countries are annoying ankle-biters and some are giant pains in the arse. All deserve close scrutiny from warmongers big and small.
Tops on the list is definitely Iran. I love the Iranian people, and global opposition to the mullahs is dedicated and vast, but that little Nazi turkey has to go. In fact, I wouldn’t just like to topple the regime in Iran, but I’d like to make Mahmoud Ahmadinejad my house slave. (That makes me a warmonger and an ACLU nightmare.) Lockdown at Gitmo would look like a Carnival Cruise after Mahmoud was finished buffing and organizing my shoe collection. Every day he’d have to watch Schindler’s List. And Iranians would be able to have fun again without fear of being smacked by religious police.
Let’s not forget Syria. Bad enough that they’ve been more than happy to shuffle terrorists into Iraq, but Bashar Assad is completely annoying. Just ask Lebanon. We can’t count out North Korea either: It’s pretty clear that Kim Jong Il is feeling left out because of intense international attention on the Middle East.
Most of all I’m looking forward to Venezuela. Hugo Chavez can’t wait, either. The Venezuelan pooh-bah said recently that the U.S. “should know that if it wants or someday decides … to invade any of our countries–be it Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, today, tomorrow or the next day–we would be there gathering together the revolutionaries to do battle with weapons in hand against U.S. imperialism.” This is a man who lies in bed at night fantasizing about the moment he can whip out a sword and play Simon Bolivar–then run behind the troops.
And a late addition may be Russia. The thought of them handing our battle plans to Iraq, as reported, is highly unpleasant. And as far as a military match-up, they can’t even get a sub off the ocean floor.
Then we could sack a good number of puny countries, just for the hell of it. It would be good for keeping our skills sharp–we don’t want to sink into complacency–and it shouldn’t be so difficult to conjure up some excuse. Not every country has oil, but we could probably use some copper or cobalt or something like that. That should get us through a good portion of this century, and who knows what new geopolitical considerations there will be then–the possibilities are endless. Things are looking up for us warmongers.
Damn the torpedoes.