OK, our president is George Bush, and he’s not a good president. According to some, of whom many historians, he is our worst president ever. I often wonder how he can be still standing after six years of blunders.
Why, for example, haven’t the mortal blows that our country, our people, our service men and women, as well as other countries and other peoples, have received on a daily basis, why haven’t these blows toppled our president and thereby enabled our country to begin again to relate intelligently and positively to other countries and peoples?
How is it possible that this man, a product of our very best families and schools, doesn’t see today, now into the fifth year of the war, the terrible price we are all made to pay for his mistaken policies and decisions?
Of all the many errors of judgment the man has made during his presidency the very worst one may very well be his apparent belief that countries and peoples can be fundamentally changed, made to order, by superior force. Then can't, of course.
This is a common mistake, although not often producing such disastrous outcomes as we are now experiencing in Iraq. Parents make the mistake with their children, teachers to a lesser extent with their students. Foreign invaders make this mistake with conquered populations. For people will be changed, if at all, not from without, but from within.
When most successful in their conquests the Romans used persuasion, not force. When they did use force it was so overwhelming that no resistance was possible.
There is no inbetween. By superior force alone one can no more control people’s movements, let alone their opinions, minds, and hearts, than one can keep expanding quantities of air or water within containers of fixed dimensions. The containers no matter what they are made of will burst under the increased pressure. And just as air or water, call it wind or tidal wave, will overwhelm everything within its path, so will peoples, determined to be free, overturn all obstacles in their way.
The greatest irony may very well lie in the fact that as Bush says he is bringing “freedom” to peoples who have never known freedom. In this instance the freedom he brings is most of all freedom to oppose him and his plans for the country.
In their new found freedom the Iraqis are not choosing to be like us, no more than children will ever freely choose to be like their parents. The Iraqis are clearly choosing to go their own way. Why doesn’t Bush get out of their way?
Again, why doesn’t Bush see the disastrous results of his mistaken policies? Bush would make people free, but the people only see in this as his attempt to have them under his control. The strongest force in the world is that of people freeing themselves from an unwanted yoke.
The Israelis and the Palestinians are another instance of the same thing. For Israel in regard to its treatment of its conquered peoples is no less mistaken than Bush in regard to Iraq.
Take, for example, the Gaza Strip. It looks well within the power of one of the world’s best armed forces to control. Why it’s less than the size of Philadelphia, and with fewer people.
How many Israeli soldiers would it take to control Philadelphia, say prevent the good citizens of Philadelphia from firing rockets and mortar shells across Delaware Bay into Camden, NJ?
Maybe none at all if the good citizens were not seeking their independence above all else. But if they were, if they were hell bent on being free, what number of soldiers could control some one and one half million people armed to the teeth? Israel continues to act as if to do so were within its power.
As the Romans did to Carthage, or the allies to Dresden during the second world war, one might “bomb” the city of Philadelphia into the Stone Age. But if you didn’t do this, and as long as you allowed some of the people to live, you would not be safe from their suicide or other attacks on your soldiers and other representatives.
Again, there is no inbetween. Why haven’t we learned that after Vietnam and now Iraq? Why hasn’t Israel learned that after more than a half century of conflict with the Palestinians?
Why doesn’t our president see that there is only one way that people change, say Sunnis and Shia giving up their ethnic hatred of one another, Al Qaeda abandoning its Jihad against the US, criminals walking away from criminal behavior, and that’s from within?
We need to reach other peoples who live on this earth and who do not share our beliefs but from within, if we would reach them at all, and not destroy them and us in the process. How do we do that? Perhaps first by putting away our guns.
We in Iraq, and the Israelis in Palestine, have only the choice between completely destroying the enemy (a choice that no one is now making) and talking with that same enemy.
The talk to succeed at all will have to lead to one side giving up positions of power, Israel, for example, giving up controlling rights to Gaza water supplies and air space, and the United States giving up its present military occupation of Iraq.
But that’s not enough. The other side, the Palestinians and the Iraqis, will have to begin turning more and more of their energies to bettering the lives of their peoples and thereby giving less of their energies to Jihad against Israel and the West.
Why doesn’t our president know that this is what has to happen, and that it’s not within his power to make it happen? Withdrawing is really all he can do. Taking away thereby the easy target he now presents to his enemies. Forcing them thus to look more at themselves, and less at him.