The drums are beating once again, ever so faintly, deceptively distant, as they were in prelude to Afghanistan and Iraq.
This time from another direction, but they are the same drums, and they always start softly, then too often crescendo into mass carnage, carried along by the encouragement of defending freedom, spreading democracy, patriotism in general, and nowadays topped by the hot icing "weapons of mass destruction."
Yes, that was a lie last time. No matter. It was a very effective lie, one to keep handy for the next opportunity, and the next, until perhaps the final one.
And, in fact, this time the heads are beginning to nod again to the rhythm of the same drumbeat, and we again hear responses from the audience, generally that we must defend ourselves and humanity from the terror that the drums announce.
There is as much here that is strange as it is horrendous. Is it not strange -- however consistent with this variety of historical malignancy -- that the world's oldest "democracy" at this time again calls our head of government COMMANDER-in-Chief, and the person immediately in charge of history's deadliest offensive arsenal the Secretary of DEFENSE?
Someone must be fooling us. Or are we fooling ourselves?
Most adults remember Vietnam. We remember the 60,000 American soldiers who died there, and more faintly, perhaps, the millions of Asians, mostly innocent civilians. But does anyone know what we won, what we gained?
Some of us also remember even Korea, where
now after sixty years the drums are beginning their roll once again.
Does anyone of us know why we have 750 military bases in 120-odd countries around the globe? Was anyone concerned about the announcement of our new AFRICOM on the dark continent, and did we ask our government why it was there? "Defending democracy," again? "Freedom's on the march," evermore?
And when the drumbeat heats up for Iran, will our streets once again feature the explosion of bumper stickers
urging all to "Support Our Troops" against a people
two oceans distant from our coastline? Will once again our flag-waving and sloganeering "patriots" encourage the warlords to pursue their treachery, with among the first to be sacrificed, those very same Troops?
Yes, Iran is on the program for the drums, as is North Korea. Will China be next? Russia, again? And is there already a faint tapping for Venezuela, perhaps from the recently contracted-for bases in Columbia? Ah, now just recently, Haiti appears to be eminently eligible to be "saved." How long is the bloody list anyway? Is Luxembourg to appear on it?
Do the bumper-sticker zealots recall who said: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"? Do we? Do we believe it? Will we ever do anything about it? Will we persist to permit the next War of Lies, and the next, and....
Based on our record, the prospects for our intelligence, integrity and courage to rise to this challenge appear to be bleak indeed. Some of us will likely be aware of, perhaps even denounce the new treachery, but equally likely then to retreat to our moral sanctuaries, keyboards, weekend mini
parades and sign toting on the Mall, and permit the evil seeds to germinate and blossom once more.
And all this while knowing that history is above all else the record of grand war makers always ultimately defeated with horrific consequences for their own subjects.
Listen now for the drums. Be aware there are choices.
One choice is to leap in with the blitheringly moronic war-boosters who would sacrifice their own children in their zombie zeal to "Support Our Troops."
Another choice is to inspire others in sufficient numbers to stop the mad march to mayhem. Mind you, those numbers must be quite large, that is sufficiently formidable to inject hesitation in the arrogant resolve of aspiring war makers, perhaps even concern they may be held accountable for their treachery.
The only choice remaining for those who hear the drums and know their meaning, may be to be afraid. And if this is our only recourse, then we must be afraid enough to protect ourselves and to protect our families.
It's O.K. to be afraid. To be afraid is not cowardly, but rather to be aware of the threat and the dangers of on the one hand addressing it, and on the other hand the consequences of ignoring it.
In fact, if enough of us become afraid, we might just achieve the critical mass and the determination required to confront the treachery and to thwart its ambitions.
So be afraid. Be very afraid.