The "Irrelevant" in the Middle of the Living Room
What the Bush administration considers irrelevant is any organization or country that doesn’t have a meaningful military. Their military - and it is the Bush administration’s military, not ours – has the power to back up ultimatums. Their logic seems to be, if you don’t have a meaningful military you’re not worth dealing with; if you do have a meaningful military, you will be dealt with – one way or another. What will keep the world in a death grip is the logic that mega force should be allowed to move policy and shift ownership. Is it any wonder that there is a lust for weaponry throughout the globe? With the Bush posture aiming itself at the world it makes painful sense that leaders looking to stay in power, and countries looking to keep their sovereignty and their resources would buy, develop and build the weapons necessary to ease the sense of helplessness that Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld feel compelled to cultivate in the minds of various world leaders.
Bush says he does not want the U.N. to be weak as he does everything in his power to weaken it. Countries that oppose invasion and are committed to the process being orchestrated by the U.N., are considered disloyal. But in fact, those whose motives are questionable are the ones questioning their motives. The protests, which Bush has dismissed as something akin to “focus groups,” are giving a vote of no confidence to the man, whom this congress has given the individual, unchallenged right to unleash his “might military.” Congressional abdication has led to an international outcry against Bush being the man who controls the fate of the world. In their minds, he is not only not president but he is perceived to be a dangerous and thuggish commander-in-chief who can have the military do the bidding of an agenda that is both foggy and strident.
The secretiveness of the Bush backers as they make decisions and leak certain information, enflames suspicions. The equation of “with us or with the terrorists” could have a boomerang effect if he continues to promote his simplistic solutions for complex problems. Yes – it can all be reduced to simple measures – hit them before they hit us – but what the international collective psyche sees is a celebrity armada not in the service of a political philosophy or in defense of borders, but a quasi-mercenary force sent to collect payment due. Bush does speak like the Wasp version of a Mafia Don, and the rest of the world, and a few “focus groups” here, have the psychological strength to react to it.
As the coordinated efforts of diplomacy and military threats yield results the very people who called for these results reject them. It’s “process not substance” protests Powell. How else does one get to substance but through a process? The people who have taken the reins of our government and military want the magic bullet. World citizens have a mingling of fear and hope. They see Bush as irrelevant - and illegitimate. A North Korean soldier interviewed by the BBC says he hates Bush “because he called us evil.” As a writer it’s a stinging reminder to know how potent and damaging words can be.
The greatest power we have is the compassionate sense of identity that filled the streets of New York and other cities throughout the country. The world needed to see that. Baghdad and North Korea needed to see that. Bush’s prescription for protecting the American people doesn’t quite add up. His paternal concern seems neurotic, false and suspect. What the people did this past Saturday did more to protect us than all of Bush’s petulant and clumsy rhetoric.
The Iraqi regime may not have a change of heart, but it will change – it is being pressed to change. Protestors do not seem to be protesting this pressure, but they want it on record that they do not want “shock and awe.” It appears, according to Hans Blix, that incrementally Iraq is defending itself by exposing its neck to the dominant pack member and thereby saving itself. The dominant pack member doesn’t care to see this. It seems to want blood and the “irrelevant” protestors and the “irrelevant” U.N. is saying, “Wait” to the alpha wolf. The question that hangs in the middle of our collective living room is if the protestors and the U. N. succeed, who then becomes irrelevant? And can the fragile psyche and the bold plans of the Bush cabal be content to take a seat?
Beyond the inspirational display of humanity that Bush brushed aside, the other harbinger he might try to comprehend is that most of the country, on President’s Day 2003, was forced by Nature to declare a state of emergency.