Thursday, March 16, 2006

Winds of War, Winds of Change

the scribe was invited by Shaun at Kiko's House to join his three-year anniversary reflection on how the war has changed us as a country. We’ve linked to him as a new friend and to the The Howling Latina as well. If you go to Kiko’s, you’ll need to scroll down to read some of the interesting responses to his query because he posts pretty quickly. The flyer at left is from an anti-war rally the scribe attended prior to its launching. Seems like a lot of deaths ago.

And so how have we changed?

First, in the most concrete sense, we are short some 2,500 men and women who have died in the conflict. Their loss will echo across the years in the struggling single parents, the psychically wounded children, friends, lovers and acquaintances left behind to make sense of their deaths.

There are the thousands upon thousands who have returned home without limbs, eyes, hearing and any variety of ailments that will hamper them for what remains of their lives, which we can expect to be shorter.

There is the financial cost of taking care of them and the financial cost of what could have been spent here.

By way of example, there is a giant inland body of water known as the Salton Sea, located in the desert of Southern California. A stop-off for millions of birds along the Pacific flyway, it is also a vibrant fishery. But it is dying from rising rates of selenium. It would cost $2 billion to restore – roughly three weeks of war in Iraq – but the funds are not there and an environmental disaster awaits the region.

To our democracy, the damage is immense. At the outset of the war, when millions across the country protested, the President equated their “expressing their opinions” with a healthy democracy when, prior to this ghastly affair, the measure of representative democracy was the extent to which our leaders listened to our opinions.

Lying about the causes and threats to which we were subjected, the President set American against American, chose one of the divided sides as his own to lavish positive governance upon and sent the rest straight to hell.

The schism, rent along lines dating back to a civil war we had almost forgotten, will take years to close.

Finally, the President and his minions put an end to a post-Cold War order men died in the first Iraq war to establish. Bush pére’s new world order could not outlast his own offspring. Our power is no longer omniscient, nor is it infallible. The deck will have to be reshuffled once the next crew sweeps the cards up from the floor. The new hand dealt will see a humbler, poorer country rejoining the family of nations.

Perhaps the great conservative shibboleth that alliances and multilateral internationalism were for frou-frou girly men afraid to use our superior power to crush others at will may finally be put to rest, now that it has failed the test.

And that’s a positive change. A lone, positive change.

No comments: