Marshall Berman Responds

Marshall Berman Responds

I dread an American attack on Iraq, and I completely oppose it. Smart as our bombs may be, in a country with a regime famous for using its people as human shields, there is no way we can avoid killing thousands of innocent civilians. But that will only be the start. If Saddam Hussein is a murderous madman, as we think he is, and if he has developed “weapons of mass destruction,” as we think he has, and if he feels us closing in on him, what will stop him from setting off his monstrous weapons? I don’t want to imagine what floodgates our bombs could open, in what is already the most explosive part of the world. Eighty years ago, in his poem “The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats asked,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

There are more rough beasts out there today. They’re big with oil money and the best bombs money can buy; they don’t slouch, they’ve learned to fly; they’re sure their hour has come round at last, so they needn’t keep time; they don’t care when they die, so long as they can kill. Will Saddam Hussein go down in history with them, and take millions of people with him? I hope some combination of the UN and some regard for his people’s welfare-an idea he has laughed at till now-will hold him back. I can’t imagine what outer or inner forces will hold back George W. Bush.


Marshall Berman, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at CCNY/CUNY, has been working for some time on Times Square.

Other Responses: Mitchell Cohen, Todd Gitlin, Stanley Hoffman, Kanan Makiya, James B. Rule, Ann Snitow, and Ellen Willis

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