Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Dragon

I wonder if, like myself, you have some kind of special relationship with the saint whose name you bear? I got my own name--have I mentioned this before?--because I was born on the Feast of St. Peter's Chains. I understand, of course, that George is a family name, and I'm not sure about you evangelicals in regard to the saints. You don't make as much of them as the Catholics, I know, but maybe there's some kind of honor there?

Anyway, the reason I ask is because I do see the dragon-slayer in you, Bush. You went out there, sword in hand--well, that's a metaphor, I guess, for shock and awe--and took after that dragon. No doubt about it. Only problem: you didn't do too good a job in the slaying, let alone the clean-up. The result: this George has a huge mess on his hands. And I guess you could say, if you weren't too fussy about mixing metaphors, with egg on his face. Dragon's egg, that is.

Besides, as I think you'll acknowledge, it turned out that this particular dragon had no teeth, no claws, and no fire-breath. It was all hot air. And--to mix our myths a little now, too, as well as our metaphors--this dragon turned out to be something more like a Hydra, with a hundred new dragons erupting from the flesh of every one slain.

I mention all this in part because of yesterday's unsealing of the nuclear test facilities in Iran, in defiance of international opinion and the threat of sanctions. So, given the increasing dominance of religious Shiites in the government over there, it may turn out before too long that Iraq will get its hands on those nukes it never had by proxy, through the international brotherhod of Shiite fundamentalists. Wouldn't that be the ultimate irony, though?

I heard you speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday, Bush. The Shiites and Kurds, you said, "need to understand that successful free societies protect the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority." You added: "Because Sunni Arabs participated in a large number in the December elections, they will now have a bigger role in the new parliament and more influence in Iraq's new government..." Oh yes? "The promise of democracy," you went on, "begins with free elections and majority rule. But it is fulfilled by minority rights and equal justice and an inclusive society in which every person belongs."

I especially liked the bit in your speech that said that compromise, consensus and power-sharing "are the only path to national unity and lasting democracy." It made me wonder to what extent you yourself practice those democratic virtues. Over here in the U.S., you said, "There is a vigorous debate about the war in Iraq today, and we should not fear the debate. One of the great strengths of our democracy is that we can discuss our differences openly and honestly even in times of war." Again, oh yes? And how about all those strident accusations of disloyalty and lack of patriotism that have greeted your critics since the onset of the war?

Ah, yes, excuse me. Of course, you have the answer ready: "We must remember there is a difference between responsible and irresponsible debate," you chided. "And it's even more important to conduct this debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas. The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it. They know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil or because of Israel or because we misled the American people," you said. "And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right... When soldiers overseas hear politicians questioning the mission," you concluded, "it hurts their morale."

Ah, yes. End of argument. I see.

1 comment:

PK said...

I'd be curious to know what he thought in those "10 minutes". Loyal opposition, pointing out what was wrong, or defeatists who see nothing right. I really liked where you went with ol' George "The Dragon Slayer" today lol. Good post Peter.