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Earthdate 2003-01-03


The hue and cry over the "double standard" that the United States and the Bush Administration are supposedly perpetrating with regard to North Korea vis-�-vis Iraq is quite underwhelming.  It would seem that people raising this charge have been too isolated all their lives to have heard President Lincoln's wise dictum "one war at a time" (if at all possible to arrange).

Besides missing out on that piece of eminent good sense, perhaps those enthralled by this "double standard" idea simply cannot see the difference between one country run by a megalomaniac dictator who is nonetheless still capable of being restrained from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (how tame those words sound!) or of being overthrown altogether, and a nation run by a (slightly differently) mad dictator who already has a few nuclear weapons and so must be treated with kid gloves, like a child with, well, atomic bombs.  It's not sensible, in my opinion, to treat these distinct cases as identical, worthy only of identical response.  (Lest someone yell "double standard!" — horrors!)

It can be observed that quite a number of people reflexively opposed to the likely forthcoming war with Iraq are basically more anti-American than antiwar — though perhaps anti-capitalism and anti-modern world is a more correct way of characterizing such people's "ideals."  These are not polemics on my part but demonstrable fact.  Long-time The Nation editor David Corn (hardly a rightist) has documented how the leaders of ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism, the front-face actually putting on these antiwar rallies) are in truth also leaders of the Workers World Party (WWP), basically a communist organization (yes, such still exist) dedicated to overthrowing capitalism and liberal democracy, with the intent of replacing these "historically outlived" systems by such states as (I kid you not) North Korea.  Dictator Kim Il Jong of North Korea is actually one of the WWP's heroes.

Many people opposed to war in this country are not in favor of the Workers World Party, of course, nor, I imagine, do very many know that the WWP leadership guides the antiwar movement.  Despite people's ignorance, however, the WWP dominates the message that antiwar rally attenders individually hear and which, across the country, is fed to the media by way of these antiwar demonstrations.  Corn's piece well describes how this corrupts the entire agenda of the antiwar movement and any alternatives to war it might be tempted to sponsor.

As for folks perhaps not enamored of the WWP's anti-American and anti liberal-democracy "values," but who still find themselves persuaded by the (false) "double standard" equating of the situations of Iraq and North Korea, well, I'm reminded of the leftists George Orwell wrote about the better part of a century ago:

The underlying motive of many Socialists, I believe, is simply a hypertrophied sense of order.  The present state of affairs offends them not because it causes misery, still less because it makes freedom impossible, but because it is untidy; what they desire, basically, is to reduce the world to something resembling a chessboard.

(George Orwell, pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair, The Road to Wigan Pier, 1937.)

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