The world today sits at a dead end: weeping over "Hotel Rwanda" and clueless about what to do. Many who weep may be found among the European and American elites who oppose the Bush Doctrine, which argues for what is called "preventive war."Back in the Dawn of Time, when I was in college, for extra credit in a history class, I watched Alain Resnais' brilliant film Night and Fog on the camps. I sat through it twice, and during the second showing I think I was the only person in the auditorium. The closing images of Auschwitz in the fall, panning across the beautiful landscape onto the still standing guard towers, haunt me to this day. The narration is amazingly understated..."there are those who think a dragon is buried beneath this land...they are wrong...who is on guard in these lonely towers to warn us of the coming of the new executioners?"
Setting aside the Eurocynics and bitter-enders whose opposition to George Bush is an involuntary reflex, those who resist preventive strikes against "rogue states" disagree with the Bush government that these rogues pose an imminent or significant threat. If so, it is little wonder that a Rwanda or Darfur don't move the needle. Rwanda or Darfur pose zero threat to anyone beyond their borders.
Why don't the more thoughtful Bush opponents seize the opportunity at hand to address the mitigation of genocides and mass murder? They ought to pocket the accumulating moral and political success of the U.S. intervention in Iraq and build on that toward a military doctrine for preventing the next Rwanda or Darfur.
The realists are right that you can't save everyone (a calculus made unapologetically clear by the writers of "Hotel Rwanda"). But the attractive proposition George Bush is attempting to put before the hardwired, all-news, 21st-century world is that we can't--literally cannot--shut our eyes to evil anymore. Saddam is Rwanda is Darfur.
And so they have come, again and again. In Bosnia, in Iraq, in Rwanda, in Darfur. I have to say that every time I hear an impassioned plea for the elimination of civilian ownership of firearms — like, say, from our pals at the United Nations — I see those lonely towers.