We are in the middle of a round of war justification right now. The Bush administration has issued a statement that "the doctrine of preemption remains sound." To say this about a conflict that by general agreement is going disastrously seems unreal. How can preemption be sound before its results are even known? we must remind ourselves that if the Presidency is lulled by the fog or war, each of us can still wake up from it on our own. Peace isn't just a state of non-violence; it's a state of awareness that sees through the illusion of war as a useful tool of government.
The fog of war causes various degrees of illusion and affects people in different ways. Many people feel that having agreed to the Iraq war originally, they have no right to ask for it to end. They forgive the weapons of mass destruction debacle as a simple "mistake." They feel guilty and want to support their government. They believe American honor is at stake by remaining in the conflict. They still hope that the war will be won. They feel responsible for the fallen U.S. soldiers and believe it would be a betrayal to them if the troops came home now. Despite polls showing widespread disapproval of the war, this kind of reasoning continues to prevail.
Critics have demolished all these rationalizations, yet the fog of war is narcotic. Few of us personally know a combatant who has died or been wounded. We are able to shrug off the massive cost of the war since our tax rates aren't affected by it (yet). And fatigue with the whole argument makes us go limp and passive, as if swathing ourselves in vague distress amounts to a moral stand.
It doesn't, though. Calls for an active peace movement don't seem viable; therefore, each of us has to wake up individually. This is a painful process. How does it feel to know that the U.S. bombed up to 100,000 Iraqis unnecessarily, that we didn't even give their army a chance to surrender before raining down mass death. that we tortured prisoners, ripped a whole society apart, and opened the way for what could be the rule of religious fanaticism on a par with Iran?
It feels terrible, and there's nothing short of redemption that will bring America back to anything close to the moral high ground. We can only redeem ourselves by changing our present militarism into a force for global peace. Every citizen should seek out the new documentary, "Why We Fight," and listen to its central theme: this country is ensnared in the clutches of a military-industrial complex whose reach extends to every community. Militarism has made us its passive victims; we are addicted to a lifestyle that depends upon massive defense spending. We have learned to equate the good of the country with the good of arms dealers, arms makers, arms lobbyists, and a vast web of corporations who directly or indirectly profit form war. This is the naked truth, and however painful it is to wake up to it, the future won't be any different unless millions of people stop living in a fog and see what is right before their eyes.