Do you support President Bush's war and
the "rapid successful democratization of Iraq?"
(While many people advised us to keep our
opinions to ourselves, we believe it is important to speak openly
about world-changing issues. Since this was written, the situation in
Iraq has worsened. Terrorism has been stimulated. Rights have been
degraded. And the schism within the U.S. has only deepened. The
following was originally posted 19 February, 2003. )
We [Chris & Natasha speaking for ourselves, not "Spiral
Dynamics" or the "Spiral Dynamics community"] are strongly opposed to President Bush's preemptive war against Iraq. We believe it is being undertaken without credible evidence, lacks adequate justification under international law, sets a terrible precedent for other nations going into the future, and is a precursor to global turmoil that need not be. In short, we think that Mr. Bush is dead wrong, that his advisors have misdirected him and the nation, that he is turning the US into a rogue state and bully, and that the long-term repercussions of this primitive approach will be horrific.
At a time when the US desperately needs the cooperation of civilized nations to deal with a very real terrorist threat, President Bush is undermining alliances, abandoning treaties, and demonstrating imperial arrogance that can shatter liaisons that are vital to global peace. The choice to initiate this war is a declaration of political and human
We disagree with many of the current administration's policies - environmental, social, judicial, and economic - and find them regressive. Unlike others in the SD community, we believe that the Bush regime, despite its moralizing and occasional flourishes of Presidential gravitas, is following a course to disaster, both through militant international unilateralism and assaults on fundamental rights and liberties domestically.
The US is flirting with a constitutional crisis and our congress has been negligent in allowing the executive branch to usurp powers as the Bush team has done while it has been shamelessly exploiting national fear and promoting perpetual war as a diversion. The assault on liberty by someone who is in office per juris after a corrupted election rather than by an honest democratic process may well prove more serious in the long term than anything Al Qaeda can do. In 1775 Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." This is a time for courage in America and the world, not for fear, blind obedience to authorities, and deception cynically tailored to stifle dissent.
The most chilling thing is the threat to use tactical nuclear weapons and statements reserving the right to execute thermonuclear first strikes, an act which surely belongs under either the header “Crimes Against Humanity” or simply “insanity.” The continuing military use of depleted uranium is, in itself, an irresponsible form of nuclear proliferation through redistribution of waste. Will the US next propose invasive force to disarm unpredictable Pakistan and North Korea, India, France, Iran, the former Soviet states, Israel, and the rest of the nuclear club?
The National Security Strategy of the US (Oct 2002) is a revival of the vision articulated by Bush 41 with his "new world order" and is a business plan for American world dominance, both on earth and in space. The lone superpower is technically, though not ethically, positioned to accomplish this. Now, rather than helping to bring about a more safe and peaceful world at a higher level of human existence, the rhetorical escalation by the Bush hawks is degrading it. This in-your-face language virtually requires other nuclear-capable states to continue weapons development rather than disarm – no way to achieve national security. It motivates those not yet in the atomic armaments club to speed up efforts to join it in space as well as on land – a terrible strategy. And it invites terrorists to use radioactive bombs to test the US government's resolve to strike back in kind – challenge the bully. While all of this might be good for the industrial merchants of death who supply the biochemical and nuclear means to The End, it places humanity at greater risk of uninhabitable cities or even nuclear winter than during the Cold War. The escalation in the name of 'peace' is madness.
Putting Saddam Hussein in check through meaningful diplomacy or preventive disarming and sustained inspection is a job for the UN, not the US dressed up as a cowboy. If the United Nations is ever to be functional as other than a social services and relief organization, this is the time. If it is only an argumentative rubber stamp which inevitably approves any US actions, the sham of a Security Council needs to be abandoned so the energy can go to humanitarian aid and education like other NGO's.
Saddam Hussein is not a clear and present danger outside of his own country; he is a potential one. He has not attacked the US or anybody else for a decade. After ten years of sanctions with continuing no-fly restrictions and regular attacks by US and British air power which have devastated the civilian population, plus partial removal of weapons in the early 90’s, the military strength of Iraq is not a dire threat – unless attacked.
Saddam's regime, if still armed with weapons of mass destruction, can be a serious danger in a region positively filled with them. If Saddam is threatened with invasion, and if he has chemical, biological, or even nuclear WMD’s, he might conclude there is nothing to lose - 'desperado aggression' - and set them loose. That’s a senseless game to play. Many veterans of the last Gulf War - nearly 200,000 - are sick and dying with strange illnesses. They continue to share radiation poisoning with their families from the depleted uranium and mishandled chemical killing fields in Iraq, a dirty semi-secret the US defense establishment wishes to play down. We are deeply concerned that this Bush administration is prepared to jeopardize another generation of young people from many nations in a war for oil we should not need, in a war in which nobody will actually win, in a war which will spread contamination introduced by both sides far and wide. Democracy in Iraq will not be implemented with bombs, no matter how smart they are.
Had the energy already put into preparations for a unilateral attack on Saddam's Iraq instead gone into creating a genuine coalition to reduce the dangers in the region by solving basic existence problems for the population and demonstrating peaceful alternatives rather than creating more barriers to change, we might actually be looking at something new in human affairs. Now the task at hand is to give the UN some teeth and a sense of real purpose, not to prove its weakness by allowing the Bush administration with its WB, IMF and WTO to march over the top of it. The problem is systemic and extends far beyond Iraq. Solutions cannot be achieved through unilateral militarism by anyone. Multilateral treaties are essential to ensure global security, and US policy has been compromising them.
Many in the "Spiral Dynamics community" would probably disagree vehemently, support preemptive US/British attacks in behalf of the "good of the Spiral" (just whose spiral, we always wonder), and then cheer the goal of a "rapid successful democratization of Iraq" into something more palatable to Anglophone tastes. That may well be the fantasy of President Bush and his advisors - democratization through coercion, world peace through intimidation - but it is extremely short-sighted and does not address the core issues of how to get conflicting worldviews into peaceful confluence for the very long term.
We believe this flawed approach is a throwback to an old worldview actually rooted in fourth and fifth level (D-Q & E-R, blue and orange)* presumptions and goals - "our way is the right way because we are more highly developed" - a resurrection of manifest destiny and an even a more simplistic might-makes-right philosophy wherein victory validates action and leads to political gains. It is a paradigm which views the world through the Anglo-American dominant culture's Judeo-Christian glasses and fails to recognize, much less understand, native peoples outside the E-R zone and other religious paths within D-Q and even B-O (purple). Along with the battle for preponderance of propaganda on the PR front, there is a much deeper religiosity component to this war, and the extreme Christian right's influence in American and British policy with the idea of tribulations before an inevitable Armageddon deserves as much scrutiny as Islamic fundamentalism's influence in the Arab world.
This conflict is part of the fourth level in operation, a D-Q on D-Q battle of ideologies that will be long, mean, and ugly. When the world is without enemies to provide a sense of meaning, purpose, worth, and oppositional energy, the D-Q inclination is to create some. This is a very real danger with an administration heavily laden with D-Q, whether American, Saudi, Pakistani, or other. It is also exploited by the disciplined missionary zeal of the entry into the fifth level – E-R – where making the world 'better' by converting it over to our own image, on our own terms, is a driving force in the expanding vision of ultimate free-market global democratization.
Assuming the US will "win" a war with Iraq, is it then to be quickly abandoned like Afghanistan, or will there be a long-term army of occupation? What if democracy is not yet the right thing for Iraq - in any of its forms? What if an enlightened constitutional monarchy is far more congruent at this stage, one that is not oppressive? Or a provincial republic? Dr. Clare W. Graves remarked that the road to democracy is through authoritarianism. What if we are actually derailing that emergent process with the imposition of too much too soon, a problem as great as too little too late? Or worse, that the US/British aim is to prolong authoritarianism in places where representative democracy would put vital interests at risk and direct democracy might lead to real nationalization and disrupt important markets.
The Iraqis have the right to choose their own governance and leadership rather than having a model imposed upon them by invaders - American, Turkish, or Iranian. The idea of a US-dominated occupation government run by a czar designated in Washington is repugnant and reinforces the argument that this threatened invasion is about energy politics and global control. No self-respecting population could accept such an imperialistic plan for long, despite a sophisticated propaganda onslaught to soften them up.
Perhaps the President recognizes that middle-Americans have already voted with their SUV's, regardless of what Iraqis might want or need, and that the winner in this election is control of oil supplies. Oil clearly mixes with water in this complex situation since both are essential in the mid-East, and water is the more precious. The Euphrates River is a historic line in the sand between cultures. The Israelis have an interest in diverting some of the flow from Iraq's rivers their way, and Syria depends on the water pouring out of the spigots in Turkey and arriving through Iraq. If ever there was a situation where nations united should play a role for the good of life on earth, this is it. The interface between Palestinian and Israeli interests should not be policed by terrorists and Israeli draftees but by a UN taking responsibility for the problems it created and hasn't resolved for half a century. The question is, how should that be done, and how can it be done to create an outcome that minimizes loss to anyone?
There is little dispute that Saddam Hussein is despotic and a manipulative bad guy of the first order. He is demonstrably cruel and oppressive, though Iraq has been more open and tolerant than many of its neighbors. Before we began the sanctions and bombing which have set the country back 100 years and done nothing to dislodge the dictator, Iraq had the most progressive attitudes regarding women in the region. Health care and education were available to everyone. Now, literacy has plummeted and health care collapsed in a country where half the population is under fifteen years old. Civilians have suffered horribly. Much blame for that goes to the dictator, and much also to the US and UN for bungled policies that achieved scant results.
Saddam was largely a creation of convenience for the US, reinforced to oppose Iran in that eight year war between child soldiers and to serve our interests. He had tacit US permission for his invasion to reclaim Kuwait, the causus bellum of Bush-the-Elder’s Desert Storm. It is now being reported that 1991 American Gulf War veterans claim to have started many of the oil fires in the Kuwaiti fields as part of the intensive PR effort to demonize the enemy and remove American doubts, not by the retreating Iraqis. Whatever the truth of history, Saddam is blowback, a guard dog snarling at its masters; so they've decided to put him down by machine gunning the whole kennel. And we, the people of the world, still don't know what's really going on.
Maybe Pres. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., are truly brilliant strategists and have been playing at insanity, bellicose rhetoric, and petro-plutocracy to keep a cunning adversary off balance to effect positive change in the world. They might be confident of clean victory through mere threat of overwhelming force, not its implementation - peace through intimidation and technology. Clandestine back-room diplomacy and the strategic political skills for which the Bush team is rightly famous might be resolving matters while many of us march for peace in a balancing diversion they need. The President might even be genuinely impacted by a few million people calling for a change in human nature - say no to war! Perhaps Tony Blair is not a manipulative imperialist poodle bent on English-speaking hegemony, but in a genuine Third Way that creates a sustainable planet instead of a more user-friendly political playground. The US might not really be in serious decline, both socially and economically. Maybe we're missing their complex wisdom and good intentions behind a smoke screen of poorly-explained aggression.
Or maybe they are just playing Saddam hoping to force his hand to make a big mistake – the long-sought material breach. That will justify the long-awaited 'coup de grace' the former Bush team botched when they last had the chance and a coalition to back it up. Now Bush-the-Son carries their family’s terrible swift sword, its blade tempered with young American and British and Australian lives unsheathed and ready to be dipped again in young Iraqi ones to slash at one 'evil doer' - Saddam Hussein – and slice him from power. Cut off the head of state and the state collapses into submission.
If the weak-kneed UN won't enforce its rulings to eliminate Saddam's purported WMD's after a decade and fill Iraq with an army of blue-hatted inspectors working on behalf of peace for human kind, then Bush and Blair will take a swipe it. They are the well-armed guardians of an ill-defined moral mandate. They now argue that Saddam and America's Most Wanted, Osama bin Laden, might actually be good buddies – as yet a wholly unsupported claim since they have basic ideological differences - so these wasted billions can be charged back against the Perpetual War of distraction, too. Never mind the Saudi factions and all the rest who support terrorism, too. An attack on Iraq closes out the family feud with the most expensive and risky "hit" in history. Maybe we're missing their macho cunning.
Or maybe it's not even cunning. Perhaps the Cheneys, Rumsfelds, Perles, Wolfowitzs, Ashcrofts, Roves, Rices, and Bushs are as regressive as many in the peace and anti-corporate globalism movements believe and this is more adventurism and short-sighted vengeance and chickenhawk aggression of the worst sort designed to convey a lesson to the world: comply-or-else we'll nuke you - tough-guy credibility. It merely fulfills a warped dream of dominator militancy that preoccupied the last century and will cause far more terrorism in this one than it stops. This is pure pragmatism: somebody will win and that’s going to be the USA. The time is now. Carpe annum. Blow up ancient marketplaces and replace them with modern shopping malls. The world (and the rebuilding business) will be the better for it. Rearranging the mid-East, itself a contrivance of international interference, is past due in their view, so it's time for a spring cleaning of troublesome regimes that have acquired too much deadly weaponry and/or sit on valuable oil fields, a process merely starting with Iraq and the mid-East.
They know that the war with Iraq would likely be swift, given US technological superiority, and a military take-over feasible, if not easy. Besides, it's been ten years since the defense contractors really got to try out all their new-and-improved systems under battlefield conditions, so a war for R&D is needed to test things like directed energy chip-buster weapons. Afterwards, the resupply phase will boost a sluggish economy, and officers needing experience to advance their careers will get tickets punched. With the military-industrial complex so well represented in the current administration and the armaments business crucial for prosperity in the USA where 60% of every tax dollar goes to warfare, an occasional large-scale operation which minimizes American casualties is almost essential.
Either the drivers of this charge to war don't believe that the global social disruption and economic fallout of their crusade will change life on this planet for decades, or else they're ready to gamble their children's future in a bet against inevitable payback and repercussions for a chance at a near-term smug victory. Alas, there is still no decent evidence to refute this third scenario, and the once reasonable-sounding Gen. Colin Powell has made a fool of himself trying. Nearly all of the evidence presented to justify this aggression has been circumstantial or speculative, and some was refuted by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix just before the Secretary of State’s UN presentation. More has been discredited by US and UK intelligence agencies as plagiarism of out-dated materials. The President who is so good at communicating to the mid-American people has failed when speaking to the world, and he doesn't seem to care.
The US is an uninformed and often lazy democracy, and that means an elite and influential few can sway policy to serve their ends. We are becoming a plutocracy. Deception and cover-ups have become the governmental norm; credibility is disappearing. With a corporate-controlled mass media establishment that is an extension of the propaganda arm of those same owners of the culture, Americans are not well-informed and often behave like compliant sheep: "Support our Commander-in-Chief (right or wrong)." "Asking questions is treason." An old and elegant paradigm is failing despite efforts to prop it up with fresh paint, brave new lingo, and intimidation. Instead of following the US constitution, there appears to be commitment to a preordained plan and a sense of divine obligation to impose 'good' over 'evil' as defined by a small class with a sharply honed ideology, as well as mano a mano hatred by the son against the enemy of the father. Rather than leading down a new road to a peaceful world, America (with Britain) is following the old path to warfare and has largely squandered the opportunity to move humanity up a notch after the tragedy of 9/11 by demonstrating a new way.
At the same time, plans laid out a decade ago are now being implemented against considerable popular opposition but in perfect accord with the interests of the 1% that controls the US economy and those who believe "we" are right and "they" are wrong because we have the power to intervene, a divine obligation to do so, and a vital interest in creating a world that meets our national objectives. This is not a scenario for escape from primitive human needs. It is anything but complex, high-order thinking. Rather it is the cementing of adversarialism, domination, unilateralism, and hatred for years to come. It is just more of the same, only more cynical.
Now is the time for the cautious and compliant members of the UN to show some grit and unity. The sensible nations must rally behind a healthy and sustainable planet and refute unilateral aggression – by anyone. While doing that, they must quickly give President Bush a way out of the pressing Iraq crisis he has created so that American credibility is not deeply undermined in the face of a serious terrorist threat and Bush and Blair do not face intolerable political costs, thus locking them on a course to war. The UN must step in and replace the amateur human shields with professional multinational peace-keepers to join the inspectors, allowing the US and other forces to withdraw gracefully while Iraq stands down.
Such solutions can move us up to a higher-level - bringing peaceful justice and safety to the world - rather than permitting either an unjustified war with awful repercussions or the appearance of retreat which would buttress a despot and empower terrorist movements to keep going because they see opportunity in fragmentation. As part of this package, the citizens of responsible nations must demand an immediate reduction to selfish and unsustainable environmental devastation that is killing the global commons in which we are all stakeholders and on which we all ultimately depend for a future. Just as the Saddams must disarm and step down, that is a price the kleptocrats in the US must be prepared to pay for this more peaceful, sustainable world. It is time for the social justice-loving nations to unite and to build out of the UN a whole-earth movement that actually deserves a prize for waging peace.
If there is no war...
...and the UN finally steps up to do its job on behalf of a civilized planet and creatively enforces peaceful solutions that have been slowly developing for 50 years so humanity can be sustainable, great.
If there is no war...
...and George W. Bush takes credit for having understood the principles of handling dictators and playing the life-or-death game cunningly from the outset, then finds a face-saving way to pull back, great.
If there is no war...
...and the millions of protestors world-wide claim credit for turning the tide toward peace and putting the rampant testosterone of Bush and Blair, Saddam and his ilk, and all the other hawks in check so they have to stop their experiments in aggression, great.
If there is no war...
...and they all claim credit, fine. So long as there is no war.
If there is a war, at this time, in that place, humanity has failed to move beyond D-Q/E-R despite all the talk of enlightenment. Warfare for peace is not transcendent. Slaughtering civilians - slaughter at all - is not "Second Tier" or even close to it. Killing is easy. Peace is hard.
Chris Cowan & Natasha Todorovic, 19 Feb 2003