March 17, 2003

Within 48 hours, possibly 24, we will be at war. A simple message, then, to the people who represent us.

We cannot win alone. Not against what we now set ourselves against. I speak not of the immediate military conflict, but of the struggle it sets in motion. But you have relentlessly worked to make us alone, or nearly so.

We cannot win alone, not against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or acts of terrorism, because as we have been told so repeatedly, they can be made simply by almost anyone who has the will to do so. September 11th could have happened 40 years ago: there was nothing technologically novel about it. Planes into buildings. Simple. As simple as mustard gas or smallpox. All it took is someone willing to do it.

We can only win against that if we figure out a way to make a world where few would even think of doing such a thing, a world where if they do dream such a terrible dream, everyone around them, from their mother to their lover to their leaders to their children, would treat them as anathema. We cannot kill them all, not with all the bombs in the world, much as anyone who might think or desire to do such things deserves death. I will weep no tears if Osama bin Laden dies, nor mourn Saddam Hussein.

We cannot kill them all. No law, no matter how just or righteous, holds any power if many people ignore it. There are not enough police nor enough jails nor enough guns to give such a law power.

We cannot win alone. Not against tyranny. Because tyranny is a cage built by the prisoners themselves, brick by brick, and we cannot win if there is a general will in the world to make or tolerate such cages.

We cannot win alone. We need people of good will everywhere to join us, and believe in us, and hold us close in their hearts and desires, to want the dream of freedom that we can embody. Our guns are at best only the key that unlocks the door: they will not help us be at home once we cross the threshold.

There are people of good will waiting to join us. They will not unless we join them. Remember what the American revolutionaries said in rejecting the tyranny of an overseas monarchy: no taxation without representation. No governance without representation. Listen to all the people in whose name you now act, and whose future you now shape, both here and abroad. Make this their struggle, our struggle, not just yours.