Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Thursday, October 07, 2004  

Tom Paine's Blog (Not Bill Moyer's)

Tom has some strong language about the threat we face. (Via Joyful Christian)

Darkness at noon

Like James Lileks, I think I'm resigned to losing an American city to an atomic device.

It's a hideous thing to contemplate, to be sure, but the way nearly half the US electorate and a solid majority of Western Europeans are jamming their hands over their ears and shouting "La la la, I can't hear you" as radical Islam marches ever onwards, it's obvious we're going to drop the ball in this war at some stage.


Actually, come the terrible day when maybe a million or two people have the flesh flayed from their bones in an instant and an entire city is destroyed, those people may themselves have to run and hide. It may be that we are unable, as a socity, to sustain any longer the self-delusion that we are civilised, rational people who will never resort to violence to solve anything.

Because we are raging beasts beneath the surface, aren't we? Admit it - on September 11th you felt the same way I did. You had your teeth bared, and you were looking around for an enemy - any enemy - and a handy rock with which to kill him. Sure, we have more sophisticated weaponry these days, but the principle is the same.

Danger to the tribe! All warriors report to the chief! Bring weapons! Get the women and children into the cave!

Yes, we reverted to the ways of our primitive ancestors on that day, and frankly I feel perfectly okay with that. After all, we are the descendants of those who managed to survive, usually by killing their enemies before their enemies got a chance to do the same to them. We come from a long line of natural born killers. It's called the human race.


I was impressed with the Vice-President this week. I thought he debated well, and certainly seemed to win the event. But I noticed that many commentators seemed to think he was "dark" and had a message which concentrated on threats and how to respond to them. Personally, I rather think Dick Cheney would be an excellent wartime President, but I wonder if in fact he goes far enough.

What I'd like in a President is as follows.

1) I want him to declare war. Not on any nation in particular, at least not yet. Just declare war. A proper war. One which everyone can realise we're actually in. Mobilise society, aluminium drives, victory gardens, a huge military expansion, re-tool industry for the war effort, that sort of thing. Not out of some sinister plan to brainwash the public or bring back the ghost of Joe McCarthy or anything - just letting people know that we're up against it and now is the time when we have to pull together if we want to survive.

[Note: My position on the draft exactly matches Heinlein's. If a society can't get enough men to freely choose to defend it, it probably isn't worth defending. A military draft should not be introduced. Ever.]

(Ed. I disagree with this because it means the best people will be getting killed while the scoundrels enjoy a safer life chortling about patriotic fools. The loss of the best people is irreplaceable under such circumstances. Better to spread the casualties across the board.)

2) I want him to apply the Bush doctrine harshly and without any mercy whatsoever. Any nation that supports or harbours terrorists is to be regarded as hostile. Not every Syrian supports the Baathists? North Koreans have no ability to change their government? True. And irrelevant. This is survival of civilisation we're talking about here, and perhaps one or two salutory bloodbaths at the start will save many more lives further down the track when our enemies realise we're in deadly earnest. Innocent people are going to die in this war, as many already have. The least we can do is make it as quick and decisive as possible.

3) I want Darth Vader in the White House. I guess Cheney would do in a pinch, but I want a Dark Lord sitting on his Throne of Blood in the situation room, commanding vast carrier battlegroups, legion after legion of grim-faced troops and waves of aircraft so thick they darken the skies over enemy countries. I want a President who will say things like "I find your lack of faith disturbing, Mr Spanish prime minister" and "You have failed me for the last time Mr Bremer". I want the President to go on "The Daily Show" so he can toss a drinking cup made from Saddam's skull into Jon Stewart's lap, just to laugh at how green Stewart would go. I want the heads of terrorists impaled on stakes at the entrance to Congress. I want the mere prospect of having the President pissed off at them to make Chirac and Schroeder soil their silk underwear.

4) I want a President who will outline what sort of victory we require, and what we will need to do to achieve it. And then I want him to do whatever is needed to achive it, and if anyone feels like sabotaging it in any way because it offends their delicate post-modernist sensibilities I want him to personally sign their execution warrants. Think I'm extreme? Take a look at how Abraham Lincoln tossed the constitution into the shredder for the duration of the Civil War and then tell me I'm extreme. He suspended free speech and had people who encouraged young men not to enlist shot, and he was right to do it.

This is not a game. We are not playing. The survival of human civilisation is at stake here. This isn't a war like all the others though. It will be fought militarily, economically, politically, culturally, ideologically and most important of all, religiously. A front in this war can be a jungle encampment in the southern Philippines, an airliner in the skies of Europe, a skyscraper in Sydney, a crowded market in Yemen, a synagogue in Haifa, a TV channel in Dubai, an internet chatroom in cyberspace...almost any setting in fact. The combatants are you and me.

I know you think I'm painting in the darkest possible colours as a way of trying to make a point. And that's probably true. But although I'm sounding extreme now, wait until you get a phone call from a friend in tears who says "Oh God, it's horrible! Turn on the TV! They did it! The actually went and did it!" and you switch to CNN, your heart full of dread, and you see....well, I tried to imagine how I would feel when they nuke a city, as they will, and I couldn't do it. I just can't imagine the unspeakable rage I will feel when that happens. But for me, that red mist descended on September 11th, and has never lifted. I'm not sure it ever will. I may go to my grave feeling this way.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 6:55 PM |