March 27, 2003 (Ira Pilgrim)

I Woke Up

When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

In my 2/27/03 column (, I related a dream which expressed the hope that my country would pursue a rational course with regard to Iraq. It is now obvious that the dream will never become a reality. I had hoped that the president would follow the carefully thought out counsel of Colin Powell. Instead, he has pursued the policies of the imperious Dick Cheney. Iraq has now been invaded. Now, the best that can be hoped for is that the Iraqui military will surrender in the face of the overwhelming might of the American and British military and that there will not be too many casualties.

The consequences of Bush's action will be catastrophic to my country and to the world. The usefulness of the United Nations as a means of preserving world peace has been crippled, probably beyond repair. If the most powerful nation in the world can ignore it, it is reduced to impotence. It is reminiscent of the crippling of the League of Nations by our congress's refusal to join the league after World War I. The aggressive action that is now being taken by the US and Britain is what the UN was designed to prevent. It was designed to prevent one nation from invading another, which is what the US is now doing. Since might makes right, the most powerful nation in the world is apparently answerable to no one. It is a very sad day for the world. The hope for a peaceful world has been shattered.

I would like to complement the sound judgment of the leaders of France, Germany, China and Russia, while pointing to my own country's leaders' incredibly poor judgment and lack of foresight. The weapons inspectors performed their job with care and integrity. It is a major tragedy that they were not allowed to complete their work.

The United States is now the target of every terrorist in the world. It will probably be years before the devastating blows to our cities happen. The terrorists will wait and will not strike until the vigilance of our homeland security has lapsed into complacency, as it inevitably will after many false alarms. We can be reasonably certain that terrorists will strike. The only question is when, and how bad it will be. My guess is that it will make the World Trade Center incident seem like a picnic.

The previous century consisted of one war after another. It is really no different from what has been happening since the beginning of recorded history. It now looks as if we can expect no improvement in this century. If anything, it is likely to be worse.

What is different from the past is that the world is now full of weapons of incredible destructiveness. One hydrogen bomb can wipe out a large city. When I heard that India and Pakistan had atomic weapons I thought that a hydrogen bomb or two was no big deal. Now I have read that Pakistan has 25-50 and India has 75-100. I assume that these aren't the firecrackers that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but multi-megaton hydrogen bombs. India and Pakistan could solve their population problems forever. They could wipe out most of the people and leave the remaining ones with horrible health problems. The rest of the world would be seriously affected by the fallout. All of the repression under British rule doesn't hold a candle to the potential horror that exists there today. Our own country has enough hydrogen bombs to destroy mankind.

Sooner or later, some maniacal leader will use one or more of those weapons. There never has been a shortage of madmen in high places.

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