Thursday, April 20, 2006


Nothing is more important than stopping the strategic use of nuclear weapons against Iran.

by Stephen Gyllenhaal

As Iran's nuclear controversy heats up one thing seems abundantly clear. George Bush cannot be allowed to use nuclear weapons to solve the problem. There is no more pressing issue on this planet, not the civil war in Iraq, not the crises in our immigration laws that have brought so many brave souls into the streets, not the voting machines that are dangerously uncheckable, not the nightmarish rollbacks of environmental laws that skew our resources for the benefit of a few desperate corporations, not the tax laws that rape more of our hard working citizens every day, not the decimation of the constitution by the Patriot Act and the domestic spying scandal, not the fading rights of women and working people.

Nothing is more important than stopping the strategic use of nuclear weapons against Iran, because if we open this pandora's box again it will surely be used against us in due time. Never mind the ethical issues, never mind the legal issues or the spiritual and psychological issues, let's talk about saving our own skin. We are the only nation on earth who has so far slaughtered fellow human beings with atomic weapons. Last time we barely got away with it, remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? This time I don't believe it will be so easy, not that the balance of terror between the US and Russia was easy. But this time there is simply no way we will be able to guarantee our safetly after an attack on a sovereign duly elected Islamic nation. Thousands of Muslims the world over will surely feel it's their right, in fact their solemn duty, to destroy New York, and/or Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington with a similar weapon. We will from this day forward be a justifiably terrified nation. The Republic, already at risk because of our security fears, will cease to exist. We will have no choice but to become a military state.

Is this what George Bush and his people want? The end of democracy? Clearly they are not comfortable with the democracy in Iran. Most of us aren't. Most of us are no longer comfortable with what democracy has wrought here (George Bush's popularity rating being what it is), but does that give us the right to nuke him?

I don't believe George Bush is an evil man, or that even the people around him are evil (the "evil-doer" concept when applied to the complexity of a human being is hard for me to swallow.) I have watched them in office for the past six years and have come to realize they are nothing more than lost boys, frightened and therefore pugnacious, uninterested in sifting through conflicting, complex data because it makes decision making nearly impossible. It's pretty much impossible for all of us, none of us is handling the issues of our lives and our world very well and, frankly, I respect this administration for even trying. But in the end they have come at it like boys playing war, releasing their fears and frustrations at not being big enough by banging around and pretending with guns and posturing and dreaming of cowboy movies.

I don't know if President Bush really believes in the Apocalypse where the end of the world delivers the good souls to heaven and throws the evil ones into hell. I don't know if he believes, as it implies in scripture, that this Apocalypse will start with a fiery conflagration in the Middle East. I do know that there are millions of good people in America who believe it, good Christians who have supported George Bush with all their hearts, minds and pocketbooks, good people who have been brave and effective in ways that all the brilliant left-wing elite could only dream of.

But I also believe that these good-hearted decent Christians need to think twice before they participate in the nuclear slaughter of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of fellow human beings.

And the rest of us need to think twice too.

Whatever happened to turn the other cheek? Whatever happened to the deepest loving precepts of Christ? Isn't it possible that the book of Revelation is really about an internal Apocalypse? An Apocalypse of personal rebirth, a spiritual rebirth that brings us to the Divine? And isn't it Christ that said the Kingdom of God is within us? Aren't many of the most profound and powerful aspects of being human "within us?" And I have heard it said that in fact the real concept of Jihad is not an external war against evil, but an internal one. Shouldn't we first purge the evil within ourselves?

He who is without sin, cast the first stone.

But these are difficult concepts, adult concepts and there's a difference between a boy and a man. Between a girl and a woman. These are not concepts that children are supposed to understand, children are supposed to play, that's their work. And to play properly they must be supervised. By adults. And if children are not supervised they are lost. And it appears to me that both sides of this emerging nuclear conflict between the Middle East and the West are monumentally lost and childish, just as nearly all the leaders in the past who have blundered their nations into war have too often been proven by history to be deluded and infantile. Wars have slaughtered billions of innocent men, woman and children, ending so many lives, torturing and maiming so many more and leaving a population on this planet dazed, frightened and hopelessly frozen in the kind of childishness that believes that the end of the world will save us when in fact it's the end of being childish that will save us. Isn't that the kind of Apocalypse that the wise men of all religions and philosophies have been trying to talk about, an Apocalypse from childhood into adulthood?

Of course there are no easy answers to any of this. That's one of the terrifying realizations of adulthood, of wisdom. There will never be easy answers. Adult answers are not easy. But at this moment. At this particular moment there is one easy answer, an adult answer to some very lost, very frightened children: a very clear, very firm. No.


No, George Bush, you cannot use nuclear weapons against Iran. No. Absolutely not and if you won't listen, then we must pour into the streets by the millions. If you can't hear us, we who are sitting generals must be as brave as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We must fight back, we must speak out, if necessary we must resign loudly. If you and your administration can't listen, we who are in Congress must stand up like the men and women we were elected to be. Real men and women. Like the men and woman who have stood up with wisdom down through history. And history will remember. And our moment in history is now. This moment. We must help George Bush and those around him understand that the answer to this very complicated grownup issue is a very simple, unequivocal --


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