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RANT FROM APRIL 2003
"Just to Make Sure"
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     Some cynics state that the reason the U.S. has attacked Iraq
is to gain control of the world's second largest known oil
reserve.  "The war would be unthinkable, if there were no oil in
Iraq," one stated recently.
     Hundreds, no, thousands, of people in many nations and in
many languages have carried signs which state, "No Blood for
Oil!"  The American TV audience has watched Bush, Cheney,
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz all state flatly, looking the camera
straight in the eye, "This war is not about oil."
     I think we should make sure.  Bush's lack of understanding
is a bottomless abyss.  Cheney is capable of lying, especially
about oil, because he has done it before.  And the other two are
insane, mad dogs, rabid for blood, perhaps more interested in
blood than oil.  So, their assertions should not be taken at face
value.
     The United States at this moment has a tarnished national
reputation.  The world thinks that pre-emptive strikes, what we
used to call "sneak attacks," tarnish national reputations.  It
would polish off some of the tarnish, perhaps, if the U.S. could
make absolutely certain that this war is not about oil.  How
could we do that?
     Some of us remember a propaganda tactic used during World
War II.  "No one is going to get rich off of our boys' dying,"
stated the slogan.  In order to see to it, an "excess-profits
tax" was imposed on the profits that resulted from military
contracts.  The formula was a little complicated, trying to
define "excess" in the phrase "excess profits."  One could assume
that there was some cheating, although the public was totally
unaware of it in the small town I was a boy in then.  At any rate
the idea was very good for morale.
     We could use some morale-building here and now to go along
with some tarnish removal.  Here's a proposal, based on the World
War II idea, but simpler.
     Let Congress enact an excess-profits tax on any profits
resulting from U.S. handling of Iraqi oil.  Let there be no
complicated formula, no loopholes, no exceptions, but instead
perfect simplicity.  A one hundred percent tax on any profit any
U.S. individual or corporation may make on Iraqi oil.  Let there
be no secrets, and let cheating be dealt with severely.  Announce
it to the world immediately -- a one hundred percent confiscatory
tax on all profits from Iraqi oil.
     This would help the tarnished reputation of Congress at the
same time.  Throwing away the constitutional responsibility of
declaring war is now generally seen as a bad idea.  If Congress
could recover its constitutional responsibility to raise taxes to
pay for necessary expenses, those elected representatives of the
sovereign people would be once again worth noticing.
     G. K. Chesterton wrote a poem early in the 20th century.  It 
was a prayer and appeared in some church hymnals.  Poets 
have remarkable insight sometimes - this one has such a modern 
ring to it, it makes a body shiver.

          "O God of earth and altar,
           Bow down and hear our cry;
           Our earthly rulers falter,
           Our people drift and die.
           The walls of gold entomb us,
           The swords of scorn divide,
           Take not Thy thunder from us,
           But take away our pride.

          "From all that terror teaches,
           From lies of tongue and pen --
           From all the easy speeches
           That comfort cruel men --
           From sale and profanation
           Of honor and the sword --
           From sleep and from damnation,
           Deliver us, Good Lord."

     Sale and profanation of the sword is what we are right in
the middle of just now.  Honor seems to be long gone -- the trail
of broken treaties took care of that.  But now the monopoly on
violence, which the state claims a right to, appears to have been
sold.  It will take courage and persistence to reestablish any
kind of legitimacy.  Chesterton saw it clearly, but his writing a
poem/prayer, to say nothing of my writing an essay like this,
appears to be a futile effort.

                            *   *   *
Copyright © 2003 Harry Willson

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