Peace Porridge #34, 03/26/03: The Rage of the World  

         "The rage of the world has been ignited and that rage
         will manifest itself in ways that are uncontrollable,
         that are not neat and organized. The rage of the world
         will be chaotic, unexpected and unpredictable. The rage
         unleashed by the actions of a few men in Washington
         this week, ... will be unmatched. And how could it be
         otherwise. The world has said no. Has pleaded no. To
         expect peace now is to live in a world of denial."
         --- Magie Dominic, 21 March 2003

So much has been written in the few short days since war broke out, written by people who are so much wiser, better informed and more talented than I. What do I know worth adding to this discussion?

Up until Wednesday, I still believed the war would not happen. Even then, I said, ok a few cruise missiles, maybe they will say we've shown our resolve, and step back. It wasn't until Friday as the bombs fell in earnest that I had to tell myself that we crossed the Rubicon. Now there is no turning back. The battle is over, and those of us who have struggled so hard, and so long for peace have lost.

Its difficult to accept defeat. You keep clinging to that straw of hope. And finally, that final straw falls from your hand, carried off by the winds of war as you watch in horror.

There was the anger. How could this happen? The whole world said no, pleaded no, yet they did it anyway. How can a handful of men and one woman have the arrogance and the power to flout the entire world?

Then there was Kathy Kelly's dispatch from Baghdad, "The Illness of Victors," so calm in the midst of all my anger; and then Tuesday her dispatch, "Angry, Very Angry."

Yes, I am angry, and ashamed too. Ashamed that we let our brothers and sisters in Iraq down. Not only did we fail to lift the sanctions, we failed to stop the war. And the carnage continues, worse now than ever.

Why am I here? Why not in Baghdad, where the bombs are falling? Or in Basrah where the water has been cut off as the thermometer soars to 40 Celsius? Why did I not go back to Iraq with the Peace Team? Why am I here? I could be standing next to one of the water treatment plants I had a part in rebuilding - hoping that it will survive the onslaught, shaking my fist at the bombers and cruise missiles.


I read in the news that the war is "simply not going as well as expected." How ironic. What war ever went well? So many World War II analogies float about. World War II, gave us the nuclear bomb, the fire-bombing of cities, the beginnings of modern biological warfare, and organo-phosphate nerve toxins. How dare they call it the "Good War?"

And the 1991 Gulf War with its minimal US battlefield casualties - and now 10,000 dead and 200,000 disabled from toxic exposures, with the numbers still growing; the war that gave us depleted uranium, and economic sanctions as a weapon of war on a scale never before witnessed.

Yes, the war is "simply not going as well as expected." The Iraqi people were supposed to rise up and welcome their US and British "liberators." Doesn't anyone study history anymore? Don't they know the Iraqis beat the pants off the British colonialists? just as we in the United States did. Welcome the British as liberators? Time for a reality check.

And rise up and welcome the United States as liberators? At one time that might have happened - but not after their betrayal at the hands of the United States when they rose up in 1991, and certainly not after 12 years of the most devastating sanctions ever placed on a civilian population, nor after Madeleine Albright's infamous remark about the price of 1/2 million dead Iraqi children being worth it.

Yes, the war is "simply not going as well as expected." Well, Mr. Bush, (I refuse to call you Mr. President), Robert Fisk and others who know the Middle East well told you it wouldn't. So did your own generals and your own "intelligence" agencies. But you didn't listen. I tried to tell you too. But would you listen to me when you don't even listen to your own generals? I wandered about Capitol Hill, visiting congressional offices, talking to whoever would listen. Yes, many listened, but few acted.

There is the problem with arrogance. The arrogant don't listen, and sooner or later they begin believing in their own lies and omnipotence. Mr. Bush, it is not for me to question your arrogance. God has his own way of dealing with the arrogant.

The biblical writers of Exodus understood this.

         "And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh,
         and he hearkened not unto them."
             --- Exodus 9:12 (King James Bible)

Yes, today God still hardens the hearts of the arrogant. That is His way of destroying them. As he cast Pharaoh's army into the sea, so did he destroy former US presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, who arrogantly ignored world opinion and wise counsel and made war against the people of Vietnam. Both died in ignominy, disgrace, and defeat.

And will He destroy you too, Mr. Bush? For God abhors warfare. God has destroyed the world's mightiest armies. And, unless you bring your army home, will He not destroy them too? You have asked that I "support the troops," and I will support them. I would bring my military brothers and sisters home safely, rather than let you send them to their destruction. For no army can stand before God's wrath, not now, not ever. Of the Assyrian army of Holofernes, mightiest of the ancient world, it is written:

         "Here are the Assyrians, a vast force,
         priding themselves on horse and rider,
         boasting of the power of their infantry,
         trusting in shield and spear, bow and sling.
         They do not know that


         Shatter their strength in your might,
         and crush their force in your wrath; ...
         Your strength is not in numbers,
         nor does your power depend upon stalwart men;
         but you are the God of the lowly,
         the helper of the oppressed,
         the supporter of the weak,
         the protector of the forsaken,
         the savior of those without hope."
         ---Judith 9:7-11 (New American Bible)

In times of trial, I turn to God. I pray. I meditate. I read. I seek wisdom. And I act. Lately I have been going to a lot of anti-war demonstrations. Not just in the hope that my voice will be heard in the halls of power, but to draw sustenance and wisdom from others, for

         "Throughout time,
         Verily, mankind is in loss
         Except for those who believe,
         And do righteous deeds,
         And mutually advise each other with truth,
         And mutually advise each other to patience."
             ---Quran 103:1-3

Indeed, it is at anti-war demonstrations where one can find the children of God.


I opened this letter with a quote about anger from Magie Dominic. For I am very angry. I will remain angry for a long time. Yet I pray that I will not be blinded by my anger. I pray the world will not be blinded by its anger. Yet, I feel there is little hope of that. A handful of men and one woman have ignited in the world an uncontrollable rage. This rage has been building for years. Years of increasing poverty and disease for most of the world, while a few garner more and more wealth and power. The world has stood by and watched the destruction of civil society from Palestine to Nicaragua to Afghanistan. But this time the world has united and said, NO, and its rage will be "chaotic, unexpected and unpredictable." And until it runs its course, there will be no peace.

There is of course an alternative. We can bring the soldiers home from all the corners of the globe. We can build and strengthen the United Nations. We can establish a world order based on justice and hope; and an end to war, injustice, and the grinding poverty which engulfs so much of the world's population. We can put our best minds to work on solving the world's most serious problems like global warming, dependence on petroleum, and uncontrollable growth; instead of developing more and more horrible ways of killing each other.

We can do all these things. But the hour is late, and darkness eclipses the light. We may not get another chance.

We should have learned from our terrible experience of Vietnam, and said no to empire. We could have said no to support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We could have said no to creating the Afghan Mujaheddin. We could have said no to the invasion of the tiny island nation of Grenada. We could have said no to creating the Contra army in Nicaragua. We could have said no to the military buildup in the Reagan years. We could have said no to the bombings of Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Sudan, Afghanistan.

And we can say no now. We can still say no to war. But the hour is late. We may not get another chance.

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