“Simple perception of good and evil has pitfalls”

From Asahi Shimbun: “U.S. President George W. Bush keeps repeating the word ‘evil.’ Perhaps its closest equivalent in Japanese is ‘jaaku.’ This is the enemy America is fighting now. The Americans claim, of course, that they are on the side of ‘justice.’ Such a simplistic perception of good and evil is nice and easy to follow. But there are pitfalls too. What bothers me most now is that if we agree to say this war is against ‘evil,’ we would not be able to tell when it will end, if ever…. America’s obsession with waging a ‘holy war’ is apparent from the language that has been used to date-from Bush’s ‘Wanted: dead or alive’ comment to his ‘crusade’ gaffe, to say nothing of the initial code name of ‘Infinite Justice’ that was later changed to ‘Enduring Freedom.’ I just hope the Americans are not deluding themselves into believing that since theirs is a ‘holy war,’they can be forgiven for making some mistakes…. They must not allow their collective conscience to be dulled in their fight for ‘justice.’”

I don’t think Americans’ collective conscience will be dulled; Americans don’t want to fight this war. We worry about the Afghan refugees, we worry about civilian casualties — heck, I’ve got friends who didn’t even want to call it war.

It was clever, though, of the Arab revolutionaries to make this a “war”, in so many words, by pinching the very centers of the financial and military nerves in the central nation-state of the global economy. A nation state has no way to articulate the activities of the necessary response except as a “war”.

On the revolutionaries’ side, they had already declared a “holy” war (whether or not their declaration was truly Islamic or not); it was a bonus that Bush responded perfectly with language that expressed the response as a “holy war”.