January 25th, 2003

abstract butterfly

Donald Rumsfeld should be played by an understudy

We rented The Good Girl last night, and enjoyed watching most of it. During a snack break, though, we somehow got diverted onto Son of Sinbad, whose camp take on the old Sinbad stories amused us until we were too sleepy to watch anything anymore. I got two books on art history in the mail from half.com sellers, and am browing through those bit by bit. I also got a very nice bit of mail art, a book of sketches, for which I will need to send something appropriate in exchange. This weekend I want to do my only pending nervousness exchange, for which I must create a scrapbook of pictures and crudely done drawings--this is always fun for me. I noticed over at mailart someone was advertising for a regular mail art penpal, but conditioning this solemn position of trust upon an earnest pledge not to send unicorn stickers. Although I have some sympathy with this line of thinking, my immediate impulse is to advertise for a regular correspondent who will only send me sparkle, My Little Pony decals and letters written in purple ink. Fortunately, I rarely follow my impulses.

This week marked the furor abroad when our US Secretary of Defense, the Cold War era Donald Rumsfeld, made yet another alienating public comment, suggesting that our allies France and Germany are of an "old Europe" which no longer "speaks for Europe". Just prior to September 11, Mr. Rumsfeld's job was on extremely tenuous footing, in large part because he has essentially no tact and no ability to work with others to get a job done. I believe it is time for him to retire from the scene, as he is a detriment within our government. Meanwhile, the US needs to listen to our allies in the UN this time, and work to build an international consensus on the issue of how to deal with Iraq's failure to live by the mandates established after the 1991 war. I am not an extreme dove, but I am still convinced that the planned US/UK/handful of joiners military action would be a tremendous mistake (albeit a mistake that militarily would probably go our way). This situation is entirely different than Afghanistan, and I do not know why the Bush folks can't see the difference. I see that America is finally beginning to lose confidence in Mr. Bush's administration. I am concerned, though, that we will nonetheless be committed prematurely to a foreign adventure.

The students of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, by contrast, write that war causes massive disruption and death, as if this were a new revelation. I have every confidence that war is a horrible thing. But articles which present statistically the horrible and needless loss which war causes still beg the question a bit. When I was younger, I was a pacifist, who believed in non-violence in all situations. But the moral question inherent in World War Two still rears its ugly head. In that situation, it became apparent that the Nazis were slaughtering ethnic minorities internally and conquering neighboring states externally. Had a pacifist approach been adopted, it is likely that all western Europe would have fallen into the hands of a madman. When we look back on World War Two, the appeasement strategy pursued by Chamberlain seems wrong. It's true that the allied invasions of France, Italy, and the countries east of Germany caused immense death and horrible suffering. But was there really an alternative to fighting the Nazis? I don't think so. Rather, I should say--there was an alternative, but we none of us would wish to live in the world that would have resulted had the Nazis kept on taking over Europe.

I see the Iraq regime as a merciless oppressor of its own people, but as one which is in all likelihood contained. Accordingly, I don't see the point of a war about it at this time. But I cannot say that war is always avoidable, or that military action is always wrong.

Mr. Bush's team, with the exception of Mr. Powell, seem to hunger for war in a situation in which a concerted international effort would be far wiser. I am concerned we are all going to reap the whirlwind before this is all done, but time will tell. Meanwhile, of course, our domestic stock market continues to languish, as investors understandably are not thrilled about the economic outlook when an expensive and uncertainty-causing war looms at hand. Of course, when the market is down on such a basis, it may actually be a good time to buy stocks, so I may have to look into an index mutual fund soon. I am not a big investor, but I do know that in my adult life, whenever the market is low and everyone is filled with gloom, that's the one time one can have fun going into it. Maybe, though, I'd be better going to one of those Hollywood Stock Exchange type "invest in celebrities" websites. I would probably sell Jennifer Garner and Russell Crowe, buy Salma Hayek and Diane Lane, and hold Jennifer Jason Leigh. On second thought, maybe I'll make mail art involving unicorns instead.

I now have a sore throat and a mild cough. I hope that weekend of rest and staying warm will solve it. It reminds me that too many late night flights and too much climate change still make gurdonark a rather dull boy.
abstract butterfly

let them eat cake

"Many are called, but few are chosen"--Matthew 22:14
"Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you shall find the Kingdom; because you come from it, and you shall go there again"--
Gospel of Thomas, saying 49

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    "Wondering Where the Lions are", Bruce Cockburn