"oderint dum metuant"

Most of us hardly need to hear much more argument or even more real eloquence on the subject of an Iraq war and the murderous political cynicism behind it, but career diplomat John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation is exceptionally representative of both. An excerpt:

. . . this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?
Later in the body of this letter to his superior, Colin Powell, Kiesling asks, referring to our reckless swaggering before the world, "Has 'oderint dum metuant' really become our motto?" A translation of Caligula's words would be "Let them hate so long as they fear."

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Published on March 6, 2003 3:10 PM.

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