Ann Snitow Responds

Ann Snitow Responds

Regime change now? It would be wonderful if Saddam Hussein were gone, the miserable, old-style totalitarian thug. But do we want the new-style U.S. techno-thugs, smooth and increasingly precise, to take charge? Perhaps we’ll look back at communism and rogue states like Saddam’s and say, “What brutish amateurs!”

I am not saying that, in contrast, it’s the United States, with its part-illusion of an ever slicker war machine, that is the real evil empire. That’s too reductive a way to talk about the rival interests and motives that shape U.S. policy. But the United States makes no secret of its growing will and capacity to police populations at home and abroad by all sorts of mechanisms, from out-and-out war to repressive surveillance. “Regime change” and “preemptive strike” are the current Orwellian terms for the coming, expensive, overblown U.S. military buildup of the twenty-first century.

I’m one of those activists-and very out of favor we are now, in public discussions on both right and left-who think that the major work of the twenty-first century is not the war on terrorism but the establishment of a demilitarized internationalism. Our beleaguered group is skeptical that violence can deliver either safety in the long run or a polity we want. “Military solution” is our latest comic oxymoron, replacing the old one about “military intelligence.” Military power can never be the name of our desire.

Ann Snitow is a feminist activist who teaches literature and gender studies at New School University.

Other responses: Marshall Berman, Mitchell Cohen, Todd Gitlin, Stanley Hoffman, Kanan Makiya, James B. Rule, and Ellen Willis