Patty looked up from the newspaper with a worried frown on her face. “Did you see this, Ace? President Bush went to California to talk about war with members of the Hoover Institution.”
“So the president went to a meeting. He goes to lots of meetings.”
“But the Hoover Institution has been pushing hard for an attack on Iran. It has a lot of pull on the country’s editorial pages. Guys like Thomas Sowell.”
“Patty, the president’s not crazy enough to attack Iran! We’re stretched too thin in Iraq and Afghanistan without taking on somebody else, for cryin’ out loud. Even I can figure that out. A lot of troops are already going back for their third tour of duty, both countries are trying to stave off chaos, Iraq is sliding into civil war, and some people are projecting now that the war there will cost over a trillion dollars. You’d have to be nuts to start another war when you can’t win two that you’re already in!”
“Ace, remember what you said before we invaded Iraq? ‘The president will give the weapons inspectors a chance to finish the job,’ you said. ‘That only makes sense.’ ‘Diplomacy will be the first option,’ you said. ‘No sane person wants a war,’ you said.
Three billion women in the world, and I had to marry one with a tape recorder in her brain.
“Okay, so no sane person wants war, and these bozos at the Hoover Institution want to start a war with Iran…. I can do the logic on that,” I said. “But why would he go and have a private powwow with them? You don’t suppose he’d take them seriously, do you?”
“Well, they take themselves seriously. And even though they’ve been wrong again and again on Iraq—in fact, they have an unbroken streak of being wrong for the past five years—they’re still the standard talking heads. You claim an attack on Iran is unthinkable, but there are people thinking it, and they have a lot of influence in the media and with this administration.”
“Look, Patty, I know I blew it on Iraq, but there’s no way I could be wrong about Iran. If Bush hit Iran, the Shi’ites in Iraq would go berserk! All the factions in Iraq have had the devil of a time trying to put a government together, and Sunnis and Shi’ites are slaughtering each other in the streets. It’d take an idiot to pull that house of cards down right now.”
“Maybe you’re right,” she said. “I sure hope so.”
“Sure I am,” I said. “Muslims around the world would go bananas. Pakistan would go up in flames. And China just signed a big oil agreement with Iran. If we attack Iran, we’ll be into it with Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan, all at the same time, and who knows what the Russians and Chinese would do with their oil supply threatened?
“Besides, who’s left to support us?” I went on. “Tony Blair is hanging by a thread in England. The Italians just booted out Berlusconi. One after another, everybody’s pulling their troops out of Iraq. If we bomb Iran, the ‘coalition of the willing’ will be Utah, Mississippi, and Alabama.”
“The scary thing for me is, I’m not sure it matters,” said Patty, her voice choking. I looked at her, and tears were welling in her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked in alarm.
“I just feel like such an idiot,” she sniffled. “Growing up, I really did believe all they taught us in school about ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ Now it seems more like ‘government of the people, without the people, despite the people.’ I think the overwhelming majority of people in this country want something saner and more decent than they’re getting from their government —Democrats or Republicans. I’m so frustrated that our political leadership carries us along regardless of what the majority of us think and feel. But more than that, I’m just plain angry. I don’t see many politicians willing to speak truth to power, or to the people either. It feels as if the government has a mind of its own. A mindlessness of its own.”
“Gee, Patty,” I said, “that’s what you’re always saying about me.”
© Tony Russell, 2006