AN APOCALYPSE IS JU.S.T WHAT THIS SINFUL OLD WORLD NEEDS
by Lionel Rolfe
American Reporter Correspondent
Los Angeles, Calif.
LOS ANGELES -- I don't like to hang out in large crowds, but there I was on a recent Saturday, one of some 75,000 or so people who marched along Hollywood Boulevard in a spirited effort to tell Mr. Bush that we don't want his stinking war.
It was a moment of history I wanted to be a part of, and that, I think, is what others around me felt as well. There were equal contingents of young folks and old hippie Bohemian types like me, who came streaming out of the Red Line stop near Hollywood and Vine.
I heard somewhere that many of today's children believe Germany was an ally in World War II, not the enemy. Maybe, most unfortunately, they are on to something. Maybe, there's more truth than fiction in that notion.
These youngsters, though, seemed conversant enough with politics and history. I know some of us seniors could not help but compare this with Vietnam-era war protests. Some of us males missed the abundant display of flesh and sex, the defiant consumption of contraband substances, and the general sense of rebellion that existed three-plus decades back and does not seem as strong now.
Back then we were all much more optimistic about the future, and we could love and dream a bit, even if the threat of nuclear war was always there; today it is nearly upon us.
Today, the presidency is claimed by a man who seems not to understand that threatening tactical nuclear weapons is somehow beyond the pale.
Even Nixon wasn't anxious to give such an order, except after 6 p.m. Because he was a drunk, after 6 p.m. he was usually so plastered the only order he could think to give was "Nuke the F--kers" to any questions posed to him. After 6 p.m., his aides carrying the red button were ordered by Kissinger to stay away from him. Kissinger wanted all decisions going through him first. No doubt Nixon would have regretted starting World War III in a drunken stupor - this new guy doesn't seem to have that level of comprehension.
Nixon was smart enough he cut a figure of Shakespearean dimensions. But even if President Bush begins a nuclear war, as he seems bent upon doing, this present "president" would always be seen as what he obviously is - a mean, venal and stupid man.
His followers think we should hate the French. Our aircraft manufacturers should not go to the Paris Air Show. But I think the French and the German argument that you don't "get Hussein" by killing hundreds of thousands of his denizens - even if they are Iraqi - has a lot going for it. To be against President Bush is not to be against God - only a supposed president, and there's a lot of reasonable question about whether he's even that.
There's a whole lot of Americans who believe you can't say you're going to get Hussein and civilian casualties will be minor, as if calling them collateral damage changes the facts of the case. But if you are going to knock out water and power facilities just for starters, that is bombing civilians - just like the Germans did to London half a century ago. That is meant to demoralize, injure and maim mass populations.
The history is that bombing often produces the opposite result that the bombers want. It produces anger and hatred and a desire for revenge. Every one but President Bush seems to understand that.
Maybe there is some spark of decency in this president, or we would have hoped there was in Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell was a human face of this administration, but he has to have known that the most honorable thing he could have done was quit the Bush administration in protest of what he was being asked to do.
It looks like it's too late to stop the conflagration. We can only hope that in the course of this war, the Pakistanis and Indians and Israelis and North Koreans don't start lobbing nuclear weapons at their enemies. In President Bush's mind, that's just collateral damage of the coming Apocalypse. It's as if he wants that Apocalypse. It's part of what he believes.
Of course, money is at the heart of the President drive for war as well. The family is literally in the business of war - and oil, of course.
But don't underestimate that strange and sinister ideological component. Because of it, he has painted himself into a corner, his army ready, his trigger finger itching; it's too late to stop.
Perhaps without realizing it, President Bush seems to be trying to bully the world as he has his own country. He joked about the inconvenience of democracy when the presidency was stolen for him, "joking" that he knew he wasn't being made the dictator, only president. By how he said it, you knew that he was expressing what was really on his mind.
For some reason, many Americans have not resisted the crude attempts by this man to overthrow this nation's constitutional democracy. But for the rest of the world, he comes across as just plain bullying - and the administration attempts to deny the bullying are hypocritical lies. A lot of Americans are waking up.
Even - especially in those countries whose rulers support Bush the most - only the leaders, not the people, support him.
President Bush is a Taliban - it's just that he's a Christian one instead of a Moslem one. It's in everything he does, in every decision he makes. His vision is that of a Christian fundamentalist, whose ideology talks of peace but makes war because of a zealousness to convert. They hate the Moslem fundamentalists because they are each a mirror image of the other - the stuff that Holy Wars are made of.
And as we have seen, it's dangerous that this self described "crusader" is the guy with his hand on the button. It's like something out of Jonathan Swift, when the Yahoo is the ruler.
Lionel Rolfe is the author of Literary L.A., Fat Man on the Left and the forthcoming Yaltah and Willa: The Story of Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather. A new paperback edition of Death And Redemption in London & L.A. is being released as well.