Why is it that I hate the idea of war so much?
I have defended my stance repeatedly to people I am around. They have tried to convince me about the need to go into Iraq and destroy the Hussein regime. They point out the many atrocities he has taken part in.
I agree with these points. But I still hate the idea of war. I hate the idea that people have had to pack up their homes and flee to makeshift shelters. I hate the idea that thousands of Iraqi soldiers have been taken prisoner by our forces and that has not been shown on the television coverage, too. I hate the idea that thousands of people walk the streets around Iraq when any moment one of the bombs I have supported with my tax money may take their lives.
The Bush regime has chosen to take the classical realist reaction to the Iraq situation. In classical realism the actors in the international system are states. So for many in the field, the representative of a state becomes an individual. Leadership personifies the state itself.
The state is also treated in the same way it is perceived. For example, we all agree that Saddam is a bad guy, so it is perceived that his country should be bombed to destroy him individually. And to the rest of the world Bush exemplifies United States policies. Remember all the protests and anti-Bush propaganda that we have seen sound bites of only periodically?
Another major tenet of realism is its emphasis on power. For the Bush administration the explanation of taking weapons away from other countries is to maintain the “balance of power” and destroy the “axis of evil.” It is interesting that in reality power is far from balanced in the international community. Just ask the representatives sitting at the UN.
My major problem is that I am not a “realist.” I do not believe that Hussein personifies Iraq, the Middle East, terrorists or Muslims. I think that he is a dictator that will fall when the people of his country have had enough and either turn to the world for help, or take care of the situation themselves. But instead of helping the Iraqis to make these moves and seize the power over their own situation, the U.S. is perpetuating the realist tenet of power (and maintaining all of it) and the personifying the Bush administration as the representative of all Americans.
I disagree with several premises of classical realism. The world is made up of many people, groups, organizations, religions and so on. In reality the world is no longer as simple as a state system. We are not in the same state-dominated international community that we were in during the world wars or even the Cold War. There are organizations that have been joined by countries to work together.
We have seen the EU grow from an idea to a reality. We are seeing more countries in Latin America coming together to share benefits. The UN itself has taken on more responsibility (which it loses many times to the U.S.).
There is also much more to the Hussein and Bush regimes than the individuals. They may be the leaders, but behind them are many more voices. They have advisors. They also have expectations of other departments and institutions that take part in the government. Even more importantly, both leaders have citizens that they want to please to maintain their own leadership roles.
The situations of the Middle East, Iraq and terrorism are very complex. This complexity has to be explained and accounted for in making decisions. But both of these are missing in explanations for the war. This missing piece is what makes me fear and hate war.
I know it is not as simple as sound bites and individuals. I am afraid that the world will perceive the actions Bush has made as the actions that I, as an American, agreed to. I have not. I want to use the understandings of complexity to explore alternatives to war and understand why decisions have been made. I only wish Bush (and all of his advisors) had chosen to do the same.
The repercussions of his realist reaction may make the U.S. the individual country left with the blame and the hate.