By Arif Rafiq

‘To win without fighting is best,’ wrote Sun Tzu, the great Chinese warrior-philosopher of the 4th millennium BCE, and author of the treatise ‘The Art of War’.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,’ stated Jesus Christ, almost half a millennium later.

As the ugly smell of war from the West Wing and DOD becomes increasingly pungent, it unfortunately looks as if president Bush will ignore the wise words of the ancient Chinese thinker and Jesus, whom Bush stated in a December 1999 GOP debate was the political philosopher or thinker he most identified with.

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Most probably, Bush will follow the words of Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-conservatives, signatories to the Project for the New American Century’s statement of principles which calls for increases in US involvement abroad and in defense spending – a nice combination for war.

Clearly Christ is not the political philosopher with the greatest influence on our president — for if he truly was, we would not have protests against the Bush administration in Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Pakistan,Russia, South Korea; tens of thousands would not have poured into the streets of San Francisco and Washington, DC and dozens of prominent Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, and Muslim religious leaders would have not signed a declaration to say no to the potential war against Iraq; and 49% of Argentineans, 44% of South Koreans, 34% of French, and 35% of Germans, 55% of Turks, and 69% of Egyptians and Pakistanis would not have unfavorable opinions of the United States.

Rather, it is the team of Perle, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz (the new American Clausewitz) that have won over Bush’s mind.’ But their political philosophy not only clashes with the ideas of Jesus, it clashes with the values of middle America, with the hopes and aspirations of the downtrodden elsewhere, and it is leading us toward an ugly clash between our government and much of the rest of the world.

Oh, it’s not just a couple hundred pro-Taliban demonstrators in Baluchistan, Pakistan who are burning effigies of our president; similar evocations of anti-US sentiments are occurring in the streets of Berlin, London, Moscow, Paris, Seoul, and Tokyo.

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After September 11, the world outpoured its sympathy for theUS.’ The sight of the two towers tumbling and the innocent civilians jumping out to escape the horrendous heat and fire showed the world the extreme ugliness of violence.

President Bush should have recalled the words of the late Yitzhak Rabin, ‘Enough of the violence – Enough of the bloodshed!’ Enough!” Rabin, a military general, saw that violence has its limits, that it cannot solve the world’s endemic problems.’ He died in the name of peace, while Bush will probably send young Americans to die in the name of neo-conservatism.

He will isolate much of his electorate — in addition to much of the world — and will face a tough ride in the 2004 campaign.’ We will see if the president — whose approval rating once at 90% after 9/11 is now at 61%is a good juggler.’ Can he handle a war with Iraq, a crisis with North Korea, a campaign against Al Qa’ida, defending the homeland, tackling a souring economy, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a second presidential campaign all at the same time?

What if US troops get bogged down in the streets of Baghdad, and dozens are killed in street battles with militias loyal to Saddam?’ What if tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan rise once again, perhaps even to the level of war?’ What if North Korea tests an atomic bomb?’ What if more American cities or strategic locations abroad are attacked by terrorists?’ What if the war between the Israelis and Palestinians goes further out of control?’ What if Karzai or one of his vice presidents is assassinated and a power struggle in Afghanistan ensues? What if the economy tumbles further?’ What if there is a scandal in the Bush administration,or in a major corporation?’ What if there is a global boycott on American goods?’ What if Dick Cheney has another heart attack? What if all this happens at the same time?’ And what will this mean for future of civil liberties and democracy in this country?

Can our military handle a war on two fronts?’ What about three?’ What if one of those is the US – the homeland?’ Can the State Department effectively conduct diplomacy with a handful of major conflicts involving the US going on?’ What will the ‘Arab street’ think and do when they see the bodies of thousands of dead innocent Iraqis on Al Jazeera?’ And while all this is happening, how can the president do his real job – you know, making sure Americans have jobs and are able to put bread on the table.

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Call me an alarmist, if you will, but the realist in me tells me that something’s not right.’ Something is wrong — we are headed towards something ugly.’ And it’s about time we rid ourselves of the disease of complacency and bring some sense back to our government and how it performs for us and how it deals with the rest of the world.’ The realist tells me that we need to back to our ideals.

 

 

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