I Can't Believe It's Not Blogging

The Message is Medium Rare

Hot Tub

Mar 21 2003

It was my birthday party. We were sitting in the hot tub at Dan's place, bathing in warmth, light conversation, candlelight, and the hint of a spring evening. And then it came up.

"I'm wondering what you all think of the war," Hilary said.

"Maybe we should keep the conversation on something more agreeable," I said.

"I'll bet that you're against it -- you seem like you'd be one of those people."

I sighed inwardly, and began to explain. I don't think it's necessarily really about what Bush says it is, I said. You mean you think it's about oil, she asked? No, it's more complex than that, I replied, and then I tried to explain what I knew about the competing visions of American foreign policy. I tried to explain the New American Century Project, the views of the neo-conservatives in the current administration, and the views of pragmatists like Powell as I understood them, and the hopes -- borne out of much political interests as well as some sincere idealism -- of those in Europe for international law and intergovernmental institutions. I didn't get farther than midway through the mexican bus-driver theory. The conversation derailed into non-sequiturs, and eventually, to general social conversation again.

I often worry about the direction the Bush Administration has chosen. I wonder if during attempts at diplomacy, even while using Powell's tactics, the incompatibilities with Wolfowitz' goals showed through and scuttled what could have been a larger coalition. I wonder how much a singular attempt to reshape the world -- and that's what I believe the war with Iraq is in large part about, though it's only a start -- will cost American society. Some of our allies may have been unreasonably stubborn, but then again, our diplomacy hasn't seemed particularly reason-inspiring, and the loss of goodwill capital with many of those who have been aligned with us seems like a high cost for an initial casualty. But I also see the arguments of the neo-conservatives. They might be right. Now that the war has started, I hope they are.

But most of all, the words that lingered with me after that conversation were Hilary's. Those people, she said. Hilary is one of the sweetest people I know, a kind friend who's rarely made me believe anything but the best about myself, and she listened attentively to what I had to say. But those words: those people. Even if the world is indeed a complicated and sometimes dangerous place, with harsh and hungry people for whom graciousness is only another opportunity take advantage, I couldn't help but wonder if the feelings behind those words might, in fact, be the better part of an underlying problem.

Leave a Reply