"There is no neutral ground -- no neutral ground -- in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death." -- George W. Bush, Friday, Mar. 19, 2004
(Saturday, Mar. 20, 2004)
It is a natural tendency to want to divide the world into arbitrary categories: black and white, friend and enemy, good and evil. But reality is more complex. There is no absolute freedom anywhere, as long as arbitrary and irrational laws exist that restrict actions without a reasonable justification. There are actions considered "good" by some and "evil" by others, actions that have a mixture of "good" and "evil" consequences, and actions that are simply neutral. There isn't an objective measure you can apply to label something as "good" or "evil" in the same way that you can label something as a "bird" by seeing if it has feathers. There is certainly a broad consensus on some matters. Most people, for instance, would agree that killing people in general is "evil" (although some claim that it's okay to kill someone who's done something really, really bad, as long as it's the government who's doing the killing). But other matters are more controversial. There are those who see evil in the brief exposure of a breast or the mere mention of a certain word beginning with the letter "f", but others view the attempt to suppress these relatively innocuous things itself as evil. Everyone has their own biases, but most people recognize that other points of view exist. Can we trust anyone who sees the world in terms of absolute good and absolute evil, with "no neutral ground" in between?
A year and a half ago, George W. Bush was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq, when our attention should have remained on the terrorists we were supposedly at war against. He found his excuse when Iraq failed to list the "weapons of mass destruction" they supposedly had in large quantities. He tried to link Iraq with the al Qaeda terrorists, but others failed to see any such link. When asked directly about a link between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 terrorists, Bush responded "I can't make that claim". But he continued to act as if invading Iraq was vital to the war against terrorism, as he does to this day. I suppose the fact that al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are both "evil" must have confused him. After all, if they're both against us, they must be on the same side, right? Whatever his reasons may have been, Bush lost his patience one year ago, and went ahead to invade Iraq, despite the lack of evidence for Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Since these weapons have still not been found, after all this time, it should come as no surprise that Bush's recent speech only makes vague references to "United Nations demands" and "illicit weapons". Bush must be assuming that people have short memories and don't know how to use Google.
Does anyone really believe Bush when he claims that terrorists are "offended by our existence as free nations"? It seems more as if Bush is offended by the existence of nations that don't agree with him. Does anyone really believe that the world is safer now that Saddam Hussein is out of the picture? Not after the recent bombing in Madrid. Yet Bush perversely treats the Madrid bombing as another reason to continue his misguided war, rather than a symptom of its failure. The problem with "war on terrorism" in general is that it never ends. Unprovoked attacks on countries suspected to be remotely linked to terrorism only provide further justification for the terrorists to continue their activities and attract new allies. We need a leader who can admit that the Iraq invasion was wrong, and go on to rebuild our alliances with the other "free nations" that Bush has ignored. We need someone who doesn't divide the world into simplistic categories of "good" and "evil". Getting us out of the mess that Bush has put us in will be a formidable task.
Star Trek fans will be familiar with the old saying "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me". George W. Bush once tried to quote this saying, but couldn't quite remember it. Now it's clear that Bush misled the country concerning the supposed threat from Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction". And so it would be unwise to believe Bush when he claims that "We believe in the values that uphold the dignity of life: tolerance and freedom and the right of conscience". Take a close look at things like the PATRIOT Act. Is this the government's idea of "tolerance and freedom and the right of conscience"? Or has someone been trying to fool us?