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War Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card March 03, 2003

Turkey and Germany and "Kill-Crazy" Leaders

It was wise of the Turkish parliament to separate themselves from us on the invasion of Iraq. It was the outcome I expected -- indeed, I expected us to be smart enough not to ask.

That's why I wrote, more than a year ago, that we should move against terrorist-loving Syria first, so we would have a staging ground for invasion of Iraq, since I did not think Turkey should even be considered.

There are sound political reasons for leapfrogging Syria, however, and this invasion is still do-able. But the risks are greater, the cost higher.

Do not condemn Turkey, however. Unlike France, Germany, and Belgium, Turkey isn't holding out in order to show how important they are -- or to protect business connections.

And the money they were requesting was not a bribe or extortion. It would have covered only a portion of their costs -- Turkey expected to pay much of its own way, but simply could not afford to pay for it all.

Not only that, but Turkey is in a horribly conflicted position, since it faces its own turbulent conflict with Kurds, who as a minority in Iraq are our allies. Liberating Iraq's Kurds from Saddam's control can only lead to greater unrest inside Turkey. Wherever your sympathies are on the question of a Kurdish homeland, you can't ignore the fact that our interests and Turkey's are not identical in this war.

Turkey stands on its own knife-edge balance between secular government and powerful Muslim forces, and it is more important for us -- and for the world -- that Turkey's secular, mostly democratic government remain stable and in control than that Turkey let U.S. forces launch an invasion of another Muslim country from Turkey's soil.

Turkey is still our ally -- not a pretend ally like Saudi Arabia, but a real one. Unlike France, they are on the cutting edge of this war as they were on the cutting edge of the Cold War. They need us. We need them.

So the contempt we properly feel for the hypocrisy and posturing and anti-Americanism of France and Germany should not spill over into our feelings toward Turkey.


I recently received an email from a German schoolteacher -- an educated person, who provides us with a fascinating picture of how America is being portrayed by German media.

I have frequently been rather shocked about the views and opinions you have expressed in your "War Watch" column, this German schoolteacher writes. How can you write such uninformed articles about the current US administration and their plans for a second Iraq war?

I know that after 09-11 the American psyche has never been the same and that the American media suffer from self-imposed censorship on an extreme scale, but still, it must be possible to collect more accurate and more balanced information even in the US.

Lately, there have been excellent documentaries on both German and French television about the background, course, and aftermath of "Operation Desert Storm", as well as about George W. Bush's political career and the motivations for an intervention in Iraq.

I will not go into detail here: But they were extremely scary - "President" Bush is pretty scary, period. I have no idea how an extremely intelligent and generally moral writer such as yourself can support such a kill-crazy "President" and his crooked political agenda, which (contrary to what you say in your article) ONLY serves special-interest groups, namely his clan of oil-billionaires and other rich industrialists. I would have expected more from you.

I was fascinated that their media are apparently telling them that our media are hiding the anti-Bush truth from us. The fact is that their media and our media are all the same culture, and we have been bombarded by every speck of hatespeak about Bush that they have gotten. And not just from Molly Ivins.

The difference is that in America we also have other voices that provide us with different information. We also know how America works, and we know President Bush in a way that they simply don't.

Kill-crazy President? This is "more accurate and more balanced" information? This isn't immediately recognized as slander?

It doesn't seem to cross this educated German's mind that maybe the American people have more, not less, information than is available in Germany.

As to our "psyche" being damaged by 9/11 -- maybe we weren't damaged. Maybe we were merely awakened to our responsibility in the world. After all, if we're going to be punished for intervening, maybe we should go ahead and intervene.

Anyway, here is the answer I wrote to this German correspondent:


My opinions as expressed in "War Watch" may be wrong, but they are certainly not uninformed. And far from being shocked into my present views by 9/11, I was shocked into them by reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich when I was about twelve years old.

It was the story of Hitler's Germany that first made me aware of the danger of evil in the world, and how easily nations seek the illusion of peace by appeasing the monsters.

I support President Bush's careful, measured response to Iraq's flagrant violation of the agreements that ended hostilities in 1991 for the same reason that I wish Britain and France had intervened immediately when Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland or, at the very least, when he engineered the takeover of Austria.

It is better to fight monsters before they are stronger than you are; and don't you think German history would be far less shameful if other nations had saved the German people from themselves in 1936, 1937, or 1938 instead of waiting until it was too late?

But then, I also think that America should have intervened to stop the genocide in Rwanda and in Bosnia.

It's worth pointing out that when America intervenes in other countries, they remain self-governing entities after we put a stop to the tyrants' illegal activities. We don't colonize, we don't conquer, and I think our track record on how we treat defeated enemies is the best in the history of the world.

How would Germany score on any such scale? And is standing idly by while a tyrant builds up his power to rule over others really promoting "peace"?

As to the "excellent documentaries" on German and French television about Desert Storm and George W. Bush's political career and "motivations for an intervention in Iraq," I can only laugh. It's easy to make accusations about someone's "motivations," but hard to know how one would "document" them.

I think you are too easily influenced by propaganda. I'm a Democrat who supports Bush's position in Iraq because I think it would be insane and immoral NOT to intervene when there is still a chance to put the genie back into the bottle.

What's weird is the way German and French television have to look for some nefarious motive for Bush's decisions, as if there weren't sufficient motive in the fact that Saddam Hussein has proven his eagerness to conquer his neighbors, using whatever terrible weapons he has managed to develop; he has not kept a single treaty obligation; he fires on U.S. aircraft regularly and has done so for 12 years; and defectors have made it clear that his weapons programs have gone on uninterrupted during all the years he pretended not to have them.

Maybe Bush's "motivation" is that he doesn't want to be condemned by future generations for letting Saddam get the nuke that blew up Tel Aviv. Or, for that matter, New York.

But I will confess that the behavior of the French and German governments makes me wonder if the U.S. might not be better served by withdrawing from NATO.

French and German hatred for the United States and for the good and decent man who leads us now suggests that perhaps there is no longer any basis for regarding those nations as our friends. Especially since I have heard no condemnation from French and German sources of Saddam.

On the contrary, this murderous tyrant is apparently perfectly acceptable to the Germans and French, while George W. Bush is regarded as the monster from which they must protect the world.

What is the motivation for that, I'd like to know? Perhaps French and German television can prepare an "excellent documentary" explaining why they think Saddam can be left alone, but America must be stopped.


End of letter.

Let me point out that my German correspondent was not the creator of the information he was depending on. Nor could he have known that every shred of "information" about George W. Bush that German media provided was simply a rehash of the phony charges made by America's own lunatic left.

German media hasn't discovered anything we haven't heard. It's simply dumb enough to believe unsupported and unsupportable slander -- or malicious enough to know it's slander and pass it along as deliberate false propaganda.

However, intelligent people in Germany are not helpless victims of their own media. If George W. Bush really were "kill-crazy," why didn't he make even the slightest warlike move until after the war was brought to our shores?

Why did he listen to Colin Powell and take the matter to the U.N. when he already had Congressional authority to go to war?

Why did he direct the military to go to such elaborate lengths to keep civilian casualties in Afghanistan to an incredibly low level, by any rational standard?

There are kill-crazy people in this world. Saddam Hussein, for instance.

But maybe in Germany they aren't shocked by kill-crazy dictators, having seen so many of them up close. Maybe they're only shocked by democratic leaders who are determined to put a stop to kill-craziness, even if they have to do it without the allies who have most cause to be loyal.


And for those who are eager to assure us that their vilification of George W. Bush doesn't amount to "anti-Americanism," let us make this plain:

George W. Bush is our President, and he is acting with the consent and support of the majority of Congress and the majority of the people. We are at war -- a war not of our choosing -- and when you repeat vicious lies attacking our commander-in-chief, don't expect us to interpret your invective as anything but an attack on all of us who support him.

We were there when Germany needed us. All those years that West Berlin and the rest of West Germany were free came because tough American Presidents did whatever it took to keep them that way.

But when we needed Germany, not to help us, but simply not to trip us up on our way to battle, we found out just what German friendship is worth.

And after they trip us, they piously say, "Oh, we're not doing this to you, we're doing this to your monstrous President."

You're not fooling us by saying that. Are you really fooling yourselves?

Copyright © 2003 by Orson Scott Card.

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