Ask not what your citizens can do for you
I meant to write about this Saturday. The State Department is having trouble filling all its staff positions at its embassy in Baghdad. This strikes a particular chord in my heart because it was around this time last year that I thought of applying to the State Department, until it quickly became clear there was a good chance employment would be contingent on working in Iraq…and I think my mother in particular would rather I mooched off my parents the rest of my life than went to Baghdad. I like how the State Department has “sweetened the deal” with monetary incentives. I understand the logic behind it, but don’t kid yourself, foreign service employees: the State Department just put a price on your life. I’m not particularly happy with my life right now; there are times when I feel like I could take it or leave it; but it’s certainly worth more to me than 80k a year.
At first I felt a little guilty about that attitude. I thought about all the American soldiers who were over there doing precisely what I refuse to do, and I felt pretty unpatriotic. And then I thought, What the fuck? Why should I be patriotic? Maybe I’d feel a little more patriotic and willing to serve my country if my country had expressed a little more (or any) interest in getting my input before we invaded Iraq. I’m not even saying it had to follow the exact course I personally subscribed to (although that would help). But I remember at the time, and the more I read about the build-up to Iraq the more it becomes clear, that the warhawks generally and this administration specifically was clearly uninterested in hearing from anybody who disagreed with them. It was certainly one approach to take. But JFK was wrong—governments should ultimately exist to serve their people, not the other way round.
For real, where are all the people who supported the war? Where is this intransigent 33% that will not be swayed from their belief that President Bush is doing a great job in Iraq? Why aren’t they showing up to help? I’m not saying you always have to put your money where your political mouth is (although Toby Zeiglar says: it’s easy to be principled when nothing’s at stake). After all, I support some form of military intervention in Darfur but probably won’t be getting on an airplane to the Sudan.
But I have to endure all these pro-Bushies with their extremist political language, demanding of me whether I want another 9/11. They’re coming for us now. We’re spreading freedom. Etc. Okay. If you really think this is about preventing another 9/11, why don’t you go over there and help stop it? Do YOU want another 9/11? ‘Cause you’re not doing much to support the strategy you think will prevent it. And if you really believe we’re spreading freedom, why don’t you help? Do you hate freedom so much that you don’t want to be a part of its spreading? See, I don’t show up to help, because I don’t believe any of that. And I refuse to be reduced to an enabler for a failed policy.