||[May. 24th, 2004|10:20 am]
I was watching a programme about the Cold War last night. Anyone remember the Cold War? Most of the time I don't, but it was the horrid, black, looming thing in the shadow of which I grew up and had my infant psyche formed. I remember- at 17- explaining to a girlfriend (my first girlfriend) that war with Russia was inevitable. We would all be bombed to hell. She drank her beer and answered me monosyllabically and I could feel her dislike of me growing. We were already past the best and this was the true ending. But I did believe in it- the nuclear annihilation thing. How strange- to be assured of fiery destruction and yet so coolly accepting of it! What a jerk!|
I sometimes think that the "War on Terror" has been dreamed up for us by the old men in Washington out of pure nostalgia for the certainties of the Cold War. Them. Us. Good. Evil. Actually there's no comparison. Bin Laden isn't Kruschev, he isn't even Castro, he's just Carlos the Jackal on steroids. But there's a comfort, clearly, in making him out to be so much bigger than he is. How do we define ourselves, understand ourselves, unless there's a big evil out there that's the antithesis of all we pretend to be? Hope is a silver tree that flourishes in the shadow of Mordor. There's a poem by Cavafy about a Roman city waiting for the barbarians to attack and one day they wake up to the realisation that the barbarians aren't coming after all- and they're lost. They no longer know who they are.
Actually, that's a pretty common analysis here. There are a lot of people who see the War on Terror as rhetorically an attempt to move back to a bipolar world the United States knows how to deal with in order to smooth the pain of reorienting the United States militarily and diplomatically for the 21st century. In a lot of ways, Europe has responded much the same mode, actually.
Time to move on and recognise the current world order for what it really is
See it seems to me that Bush is mostly right on needing a "coalition of the willing" but he's wrong in that it will require a common international framework. What that framework is, I don't have a clue, I'm more of an economics and trade junkie and I'm mostly oriented to the Americas and the Pacific Rim, really.
keep in mind that the majority of officials in the bush administration were in power during the cold war as well. a lot of them served under reagan and bush sr. so it's really no surprise that they view terrorism as the new communism. our government isn't really going to move on or change its view of the world without having younger people in power.
Politicians almost always play safe- which means thinking in terms of last year's paradigm rather than today's. I'm not sure age has all that much to do with it. Bush and Blair are both young as world leaders go.
age would not be a factor if the people in the administration were capable of changing their ways of thinking, but they're not.
bush may be young, but cheney and rumsfeld are not. rumsfeld was secretary of defense under ford and a senior advisor to reagan. cheney was ford's chief of staff and bush sr's secretary of defense. and let's face it, bush isn't the one running this show.
Bush often speaks in diametric terms about good and evil, most probably as a result of his evangelical religious faith.
I'll be glad when he stops referring to what we're doing as a "War on Terror". That term's both best and worst feature is that it is wonderfully imprecise and allows for the inclusion of almost any target. Understandably, this lack of clarity is a major gripe for many.
Perhaps tonight he may provide some more finite direction as to how the War will continue, as well as who ends up with Iraq. I'm excited, this should be more fun than a church raffle.
It seems to me- maybe I'm quite wrong- that the coalition has been defeated- and that the main thing now is dress up the retreat as a victory.