My Turn: When ‘if’ becomes a tricky word
October 4, 2007
If. Who would of thought that such a tiny word could have such massive consequences?
It can plague your decision-making process, life becomes a chess game of possibilities. If I do this, that might happen and if I do that, this might happen. Taken too far it can make you neurotic, stewing in the fear of your own decisions.
Lately our foreign policy has been based quite a bit on this little word. If Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, he might use them against us. That is, if he could reach us and if he was stupid enough to understand the consequences of that.
If Saddam did use WMDs against us, we would retaliate with our own bombs and blow his country up ” no questions asked. Would Saddam be that crazy? Like he was a lunatic suicide bomber, but instead of explosives attached to his waist, he had them attached to his country.
Yes, yes, some would say, just like that. Really? A world leader is going to purposefully blow up their own country, which they are in power of, and worked their whole life to get. The power element involved here is overwhelming and needs to be considered.
A dictator’s entire being, his very heart and soul, is inherently tied to accessing and maintaining power. It is highly unlikely that Saddam would have ever used WMDs on us, even if he had them.
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But then there is the aching question; what if he did use WMDs against us? Many of us would die. Oh the threat, the sweet threat, to our national security. The world hangs in a delicate balance these days, they say. It could all end tomorrow. Go buy stuff now. Geez, I just had a ’50s flashback moment. Should I build a bomb shelter?
Anyway, fast-forward to the present ” Saddam is so last year. Let’s pose the next if.
What if Iran develops WMDs? What if President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to blow up Israel? For those of you just tuning into foreign policy; Israel is like our baby. We stare adoringly into its eyes, coo at it, feed it, change its diapers, and do anything for it ” anything.
So what if Iran blew up our baby? That question is like a hundred ifs deep on the If-O-Meter. But according to a foreign policy based on ifs, however illogical the ifs may be, our government starts to built its case.
Slowly at first, planting doubt and worry, turning it into what feels like informed concern. With every if, the fear grows, and grows. Eventually the media will get on board and then it is mission accomplished. The media will fuel and feed all the right stories based on fear.
Preemptive action is the only way to solve these ifs, right? Justification of invading another country (bombing its babies, this time literally) lies in the fear that is generated from some gigantic force of power, always pumping, always feeding, always manipulating.
This week, Newsweek magazine’s main article outlines how Israel could invade Iran, if it wanted to, and if we approved.
If I had my way, the word if would be used to harmonize the world, not justify its destruction. What if we focused on ending starvation? What if we addressed human rights? If we all worked together we could make unprecedented, positive change. If only everyone had enough.
Ha, ha, ha, you laugh. Those things are not logically possible, you say. Was it logically possible Saddam had weapons and was going to, in the very near future, use them on us? If we actually had learned something from our past experiences, maybe our approach to foreign policy would be different.
If we spent a moment to reflect, analyze, and evaluate our own quite-recent histories, maybe we wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes.
If that is indeed what people really want. If only I knew.