Last week I was home sick on Thursday and Friday afternoon, and it turned out that ran a two part show about the coming war in Iraq. She took comments from the audience, and had a number of guests including Tom Friedman and Jessica Mathews from the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. What I found most interesting were a series of man on the street interviews from all over the world, including France, South Africa, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia, Iraq itself, and several other countries. The large majority of the people they showed were against war. Obviously the sample was not scientific, but one assumes that they showed a representative sample, and indeed most of the polls I see seem to indicate that people all over the world are opposed to war (except in America).
I found it generally encouraging that as a rule, most people’s reflexive position is to oppose war. Absent a compelling reason why war is necessary, people around the world seem to be united in thinking that war sucks. And I really do think that there’s something to the line of reasoning that most people around the world are less enthralled with war than Americans because they have more first hand experience than we do. America has fought in plenty of wars, but it’s been about 140 years since we’ve fought on our own turf. I read a comment by a European last week who explained the difference between the European point of view and American point of view by simply saying that Americans have never had a World War I. Could it be so simple?
In any case, I think that’s why it’s important to truly reserve war as the last possible resort, and why it depresses me that the Bush administration so obviously doesn’t see things that way. If people around the world thought that Bush and his cronies regarded war with the horror that they do, they’d support war with Iraq. I really believe that. But the impression I get from the big shots like Donald Rumsfeld and the members of the shadow government like Richard Perle is basically, “Let’s go for it.” And I think the message they send to other Muslim countries is, “You could be next.”