Here’s a chilling thought: what if we don’t go to war with Iraq? I know, that’s the kind of crazy pessimistic talk that causes people to drink snifters of benzene. But we need to at least consider the idea, if only from a distance, poking it with sticks to see if it will explode. Surely there’s no chance, you say. After all we’re already at war, in an informal kind of way, slipping into it gradually like a hot bath. We’ve bombed Iraq thirty-odd times this year, and with some countries, you bomb them even once and they would call it war, even if you were just fooling. This war could even be considered a resumption of hostilities from the last war. We never did finish that one, but left it lying around like one of those model airplane kits that turns out to be too difficult to build, but which is too expensive to just throw away. Or maybe the intervening decade was just an intermission. But the various appurtenances of a proper war, such as a rationale, a strategy, or an opponent, just haven’t materialized. There’s a fighting chance this war is not going to happen.
Only days ago, the odds of this exigency eventuating were at a neap. But now Iraq is willing, almost eager, panting slightly with lips moistly parted, to allow weapons inspectors to have their way with her– and the UN says it can have inspectors over there in a couple of weeks, complete with snazzy mission patches and logo hats. That justification for war is gone, and it was pretty much the only one left, unless we include George W. Bush, Jr.’s plaint that Saddam Hussein intended trucidation on his old man. As I recall George Sr. was also trying to kill Saddam right back, and the war took place much closer to Saddam’s digs than the Bush stronghold in Washington, DC, so this isn’t a great excuse. All the other reasons, like indisputable proof of the hypothetical possibility that Iraq could someday possess weapons of mass destruction if it was given some as a holiday gift, have evaporated. So unless we proceed to war on the basis that Saddam is a spoilsport, America is out of ratiocinations.
An optimist might suggest we could have a war anyway if, for instance, Iraq were to shoot down one of our bombers by mistake. We’ve been flying awfully close to Baghdad lately, and you know how these things happen, especially when the enemy army is mostly teenagers. You think they’re careless with automobiles, see what they do with an anti-aircraft battery! Then we could have one of those retaliatory wars like after the Vietnamese almost attacked us in the Gulf of Tonkin and we put the kibosh on their godless Commie selves. But what if the unthinkable happens, and we can’t even fake a reason for going to war? Then what? Damn your eyes, think! If we don’t come up with something, this entire nation could wake up to the ruin of the domestic economy, the destruction of our environment, our freedoms, and our futures , and then people would get really, really bummed out and be freakin on badness.
In this case the Republicans would probably lose by a landslide, which would mean savage retaliation by the White House and possibly the death of American Democracy as we know it (again). Without this war, the GOP is doomed, and that’s a nightmare waiting to happen- just ask the Supreme Court. What, then, are the options? We can’t just not have a war. Here are my suggestions, humble as they may be (unlike myself), to avert this fatal war-free collision with reality:
1. Start a war with some other country. The “Axis of Evil” includes Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and Drugs, as I recall. Iran is right next door to Iraq. We could use the same amassed troops we amassed over there, en masse. And Ari Fleischer could claim we never meant “Iraq”, we were always after “Iran”, but there was a typographical error. The names are so similar and all those dune goons look the same.
2. Create a new domestic crisis. Ideally of such immensity that it requires the elections be postponed. This could be as simple as having some out-of-work actor, like the guy who played “Harry” in the “Harry and Louise” anti-universal healthcare ads, dress up as Osama Bin Laden and attack the White House. Maybe Bush could even do a stage fight with him, like Harrison Ford in “Air Force One”. That would be so cool. He could like fight off Bin Laden and knock off his turban, exposing these like green pulsing brains underneath and then he beats the pretzels out of him. Then maybe we wouldn’t even need elections any more, because Bush is like so in charge, why not have him be President forever?
3. Lie about everything. Actually, this tactic is working pretty well, so maybe just stick with it. If “Osama who?” is an acceptable response, how about “Saddam who?” Just claim the Democrats made the whole thing up as a smokescreen to hide their favoritism for Negroes, women, the elderly, and other dangerous fringe elements of society. People will buy pretty much anything these days, why not?
I’m sure there are other approaches, but I can’t think clearly what with all this anxiety, the vodka bong hits, and the Dilaudin. I’ll make it through somehow. But the question is, how will we as a nation make it through? Such lofty American choux pastries as our economy and freedoms have already been devoured from the inside until they’re nothing more than hollow shells; a non-war might shatter the crust. Yet looking on the bright side, isn’t it better not to fight a war, if possible? Won’t a war damage the economy even further, and allow the domestic oppressions to expand, as often happens in such times? After all, without the war or any Republicans in office, maybe we could rebuild our nation. Realistically, what have we got to lose by giving up this ill-considered war with Iraq?
We will lose the most important thing of all, like falling headfirst into an industrial belt sander.
We will lose face.
BEN TRIPP is a screenwriter. He can be reached at: email@example.com