FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War of Choice

by NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN

The arguments for and against the war have all been made, and nothing will be gained by repeating them, so let me begin instead with an old movie sequence, featuring the Indian comedian Johnny Walker at a halwai dukaan (sweetmeat shop).

“Let me have some laddus“, he says. As the shopkeeper begins to pack them, he says, “No…instead, I think I’ll have a pound of burfi.” The shopkeeper starts on the burfis. “Forget the burfis“, says Johnny Walker, shortly. “I think I’ll take the jalebis instead”. The shopkeeper suppresses his irritation and quietly packs the jalebis, which Johnny Walker takes and coolly walks out – without paying.

The shopkeeper runs after him, enraged.

Johnny Walker turns to look at him, puzzled.

“What about paying for the jalebis?” demands the shopkeeper.

“What about them?”, responds Johnny Walker. “I got them in place of the burfis.”

“Well, then pay me for the burfis“, says the shopkeeper.

“But those I exchanged for the laddus, protests Johnny Walker.

Says the shopkeeper, “So pay for the laddus“.

“I didn’t buy any laddus“, says Johnny Walker, and turns to saunter off, leaving the shopkeeper dumbfounded and mildly confused.

It is the opening day of America’s Iraq war, and one cannot escape the feeling that President Bush has pulled a Johnny Walker on the American people.

First he said it was the Iraq and Al Qaeda connection.

No no no, said the shopkeepers. There’s no evidence of that.

Well, he tortures his people, said the president.

True…but so do many other countries, and some of them are our good friends.

But he has nuclear weapons!

So they sent the Do Jasoos – Blix and Baradei, to check it out. While they were still rummaging, they were am-Bushed by an American administration which, like the White Rabbit, was in a great hurry.

We haven’t exactly found anything.

That only proves he’s hidden them well.

Well, we’ll find them if he has them. Just give us some time…

But he has connections with Al Qaeda! We can’t wait!!!

And this is the candidate who called Al Gore a ‘Serial Exaggerator’.

Like the shopkeeper, the American public has been left scratching its head – it knows there is a flaw in the argument somewhere, but before it can spot it, the administration has let loose the dogs of war.

What a difference a few chads make! An unelected president, leading a lame coalition, defying the overwhelming mass of world opinion, ignoring the counsels of innumerable wise Americans, has launched a war against a sovereign nation which had never threatened it. It has done so, it would seem, only because the opponent is an emaciated country led by a cruel tyrant. A robustly armed entity (North Korea) headed by an equally cruel tyrant is treated with all the assurances that America has no aggressive designs on it.

When it is pointed out to the administration that such unilateral aggression is unbecoming of the United States of America, Bush gives an answer roughly equivalent to, “But Osama does it”.

Little wonder, then, that Sen. Robert Byrd, the hero of the Senate whose impassioned warnings against giving the president unfettered authority fell on deaf Democratic ears, said that he “weeps for his country today…We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance…After war has ended the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America’s image around the globe.” (Read more of his magnificent speech at The Washington Post). A war is not justified alone by the certainty that we can win it.

Sen. Byrd called this a “war of choice”. What a great irony – the anti-choice president making a war of choice. Unfortunately, the American people, and the world itself, may be paying for their choice (or non-choice) for decades. As I type this, television reports as country after country condemns the attack. I recall another day, September 11, 2001, when the entire world rushed to America’s side.

To paraphrase Peter, Paul and Mary, “Where has all the goodwill gone?

Originally written March 19, 2003.

Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast. His new book, Reading Gandhi in the Twenty-First Century, was published recently by Palgrave-Macmillan. He can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 27, 2017
Darlene Dubuisson – Mark Schuller
“You Live Under Fear”: 50,000 Haitian People at Risk of Deportation
Karl Grossman
The Crash of Cassini and the Nuclearization of Space
Robert Hunziker
Venezuela Ablaze
John W. Whitehead
Trump’s America is a Constitution-Free Zone
Ron Jacobs
One Hundred Years That Shook the World
Judith Deutsch
Convenient Untruths About “Human Nature:” Can People Deal with Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons?
Don Fitz
Is Pope Francis the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Climate Stability?
Thomas Mountain
Africa’s War Lord Queen: The Bloodstained Career of Liberia’s Eleanor Sirleaf Johnson
Binoy Kampmark
Short Choices: the French Presidential Elections
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Monetizing My Mouth
Michael Barker
Of Union Dreams and Nightmares: Cesar Chavez and Why Funding Matters
Elier Ramirez Cañedo
“Let Venezuela give me a way of serving her, she has in me a son.”
Paul Mobbs
Cellphones, WIFI and Cancer: Will Trump’s Budget Cuts Kill ‘Electrosmog’ Research?
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Closing of Rikers: a Survival Strategy of the Carceral State
April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail