(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Saturday, September 14, 2002

I've avoided writing explicitly about the apparently-coming War, so far, because I don't have any information beyond what everyone who pays attention already has, or anything else that might make my opinion useful to those who agree with me or to those who don't. But listening to Hunter Thompson's interview on CNN -- including an almost-comprehensible recounting of a recent conversation with Bob Dylan -- reminded me of Dylan's astounding performance at the height of GulfWarMania, when he played a raw "Masters of War" and offered a cryptic biblical reference about faith in our ability to change our ways. Though I don't take my political cues from Dylan (much less Hunter Thompson), that performance does a better job than I can do of summing up my thoughts: an innate distrust of those who urge war, and a faith that there is almost certainly a better way. You will see that there is just a little equivocation here -- i.e., not a principled strict pacifism, but a very strong leaning-that-way-in-all-but-the-most-extreme-situations. Put into more practical terms, it's something like "Is it extraordinarily clear that war will bring about good results rather than bad (or at least that we'd collectively rather die trying), and that every other alternative will not?" I don't think that anyone has directly and convincingly answered this question "yes" as to the present situation. And I do think that it's fair and right to put the burden of persuasion on those who advocate war (particularly "preemptive" war) -- and to make that burden an extremely heavy one -- because human history has shown that war is an option too readily chosen by the powerful, and that it doesn't make the world better nearly as often as our leaders promise. Do you care what I think? Probably not. But now you know.

UPDATE: Because I've lost a few braincells myself (though not as many as Hunter Thompson, I hope), it's hard to remember where I first saw the link to his interview. Probably from Atrios, where I get much of my news.

posted by sam 1:53 PM 0 comments


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