Bad Wars Make Bad Deaths
Editor's Notebook, March 2003
Those of us who are seduced by motor sports carry a complicated relationship with death around with us. We know that death is out there on the race track, waiting for a mistake or an unlucky move. Successful drivers, by sheer force of will, factor death out of the equation in their decision-making. It is this glorious transcendence that, according to Hemingway, raises automobile racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing into a category above other athletic endeavors.
|do not employ death to reach trivial objectives...|
Drivers and their fans understand death, respect death, accept the inevitability of death, do not capitulate easily to death, and value each moment of time, on the track and in their lives, that precedes death. We know that death has its own purpose and its own rhythms and we do not employ death to reach trivial objectives.
When you read this, George Bush's war against Iraq will be in full swing, or it might be over, or it may never have begun. It doesn't matter. His great moral crime is that his policies and his administration are trivializing death. Their comments and their actions demonstrate a lack of respect for death.
I believe there is such a thing as a good death. A good death in motor racing expresses the magnificence and the limitations of human endeavor, driver and machine pressed just beyond endurance. A bad death in motor racing results from stupidity, blind aggression, arrogance, and a lack of respect for the life of others and, therefore, for one's own life.
|stupidity, blind aggression, and arrogance...|
I believe there is such a thing as a good war. A good war expresses a people's willingness to give the last full measure of their devotion to save the best that is in us all. A bad war results from stupidity, blind aggression, arrogance, and a lack of respect for the life of others and, therefore, for any life.
George Bush's war is not about weapons of mass destruction (which he has approved for our use in Iraq). It is not about the viability of the United Nations (which he is stripping of any authority). It is not about freeing the people of Iraq (which he will do by a massive bombing of their homes).
George Bush's war demonstrates an overwhelming arrogance that I had hoped would not surface in our country. It is a war of blind aggression. It is a war that, in all its stupidity, has severely damaged most of our international relationships, will beget millions of new enemies, and is having a disastrous impact on our economy and sense of safety. It is a war promulgated by a small group of people who do not value the lives of others and, therefore, do not understand the value of any life.
George Bush's war is a bad war. It's origins are political. It's guiding principle is hubris. It's ending, even if we win swiftly and convincingly, will leave us reaping the whirlwind.
This is a bad war. It will create bad deaths among the people of Iraq and bad deaths among the people of America.