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03/14/2003 Archived Entry: "Voluntary Simplicity"

On the Political Front

Positioning for war in the next few days...

"The United States is moving about 10 Navy ships armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles from the eastern Mediterranean to the Red Sea, senior U.S. officials said Thursday. The move indicates weakening U.S. confidence that Turkey will grant overflight rights for U.S. planes and missiles." I believe American casualities will be high. The Manchester Times commented, "Low casualties in the Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan have led Americans to expect the sme in Iraq. yet military experts are quietly warning that the impending war will likely yield a high U.S. death toll." And every body bag sent home is a son, husband, and father -- a daughter, wife, and mother -- who read stories to children, laughed with friends, wondered what Christmas present to buy parents, complained about taxes...they had plans. I hate war. But I do not hate the troops that are poised to attack Iraq and I do not wish body bags. Somehow I think I should blame those who volunteered for the actions they are about to take...it makes sense to do so. But I don't...and I can't apologize for the emotions I do or do not feel. To act in a manner that will predictably kill other human beings -- many of whom you know will be innocent, e.g. children and other civilians -- you must be convinced that it is in self-defense. Somehow the troops are convinced that throwing lethal force at a cowed population that has never harmed the U.S. -- despite Bush's Herculean efforts to link Iraq with 9-11 -- somehow they are convinced that pulverizing a frightened population of ordinary people with high-tech destruction is a noble, necessary thing to do. I don't agree. I will never agree. And they will probably never understand my disagreement. I think it is a nontrivial point that my disagreement with them does not lead to innocent third parties dying as a result: by contrast, when they disagree with me, children are bombed.

In the short term, the UN may be irrelevant. The US will go to war on its own schedule. In the long run, international co-operation is absolutely necessary to minimize the damage involved in the diplomatic, cultural, military, ethnic, power-grab debacle that will be part of any Bush-induced post-Saddam Iraq. In this vein...why the American public views France as its enemy is almost beyond comprehension. Eric Margolis wrote a wonderful piece in which he lamented, "It seems at times that President Bush is even more eager to bomb Paris than Baghdad. In fact, the administration has been treating France like an enemy, rather than America's oldest ally and intimate friend."

Much has been made of the 1/2 century old (and self-serving) favor that the US did for France in WWII... A friend of mine wrote on the ifeminist.com BB "As for the U.S. saving their [France's] hide, that was in the past. If you believe in bringing up the past, if it were not for French Admiral de Grasse and Admiral de Barras and French General Rochambeau the U.S.A. might not have been established. Admiral de Grasse arrived at the Chesapeake Bay on Sept 5, 1781 and battled the British fleet. The British withdrew and then de Grasse withdrew. French Admiral de Barras arrived from Newport to occupy the bay and thus prevent Lord Cornwallis from re-supply or escape. General Washington and General Rochambeau arrived at Yorktown on the 28th and began the attack on Fort Yorktown on Oct 9. On Oct 19, 1781 Cornwallis had nearly exhausted his supplies and food and surrendered. Cornwallis did not attend the surrender cerimony and sent General O'Hara in his stead. The surrender ceremony was one of the most singular in the history of warfare. O'Hara filling in for Cornwallis who was supposedly ill attempted to surrender to Rochambeau, Rochambeau pointed to Washington, Washington defered to Maj. Benjamin Lincoln and thus Maj. Benjamin Lincoln has the distinction of accepting the surrender of the British at Yorktown which really spelled the end of the British in America. The French did accept the victory."

On the Personal/Movement Front:

David Theroux of Independent Institute -- my favorite institute -- sent this item my way.

I continue to be fascinated by Voluntary Simplicity. Perhaps it comes from a wish to divest myself of the tension and worries of the coming war by divesting myself of extraneous demands on my life. Why do I need so many consumer items?...am I really happier with the latest model car than with my 10-year-old friend I call Rocinante? I don't think so...tho' the world tells me I should be. Why should my husband prefer well-paid work that wears him down to no-paid work that delights him? Is the onerous payment necessary for us to thrive? If not, why pursue it? Because I have overvalued $$ and judged too many thing on the basis of it...I have become jaded about my own work. I have taken NO pleasure whatsoever in the publication of "The Debates of Liberty", which has brought no $$, even tho' it embodies about 20 years of painstaking work. I hold the book and I feel nothing. Whatever money or other advantage I "sacrifice", I think I must return to an emotional state in which I celebrate the weight of this book in my hand.

Best to all,

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