Harvard Square Observer: Iraq and the Social Contract

Ernest Cassara

As I have said before, President George W. Bush has wrecked an ancient civilization.  Day after day, we hear of internecine bombings, and other mayhem in Iraq, as the social contract that held the nation together has been fractured.

Thinking about this, I recall what I wrote in my book, The Enlightenment in America, on the subject.  Of course, I was writing in the context of American history, but, the idea of the social contract is one of the products of the Enlightenment on both sides of the “pond,” as we say. If the social contract is obliterated, folks return to a “state of nature.”

That appears to be what has happened in Iraq.  Group against group; faction against faction.

It may be best illustrated in very simple ways in our own lives.  Presumably, you do not drive your car on the sidewalk.  You stick to the street.  You obey traffic lights.  You pay for what you have picked up in a store.  Etc., etc.

Of course, you may counter that some folks don’t do these things.  Yes, and they are not praised, but, if  “caught,”  punished.  For they have violated the social contract.

Now, you see why I point to Iraq, where the social contract that been broken.

If one is to believe the polls, it appears that we Americans are fed up with President Bush’s war of choice.  We now  realize that we were sold a bill of goods, that Mr. Bush led us into war half way round the world under false pretenses.

‘Twould be nice if the Democrats had the guts to start impeachment proceedings, but Ms. Pelosi, as the Speaker presumptive of the House, spoke out against it, even before taking office.

Incidentally, I was enthusiastic when, with the election of a majority of Democrats in the House, it was confirmed that she would become Speaker.  Now, I am having doubts.  Without even having seen Jimmy Carter’s new book on Palestine and Israel, she denounced it.  Just another example of the claim of Walt and Mearsheimer that AIPAC has too much influence in Washington.  

With Christmas on the way, I am tempted to end on a cheerful note. Some may remember that I shared the following with you last year. Some of the slips of paper that, along with our paper crowns, tumbled out when we pulled the bands of our crackers:

What clothing does a house wear?

What did the necktie say to the hat?
“You go on a head and I’ll just hang around.”
“Doctor, I keep thinking I’m a bell.”
“Take these pills and if there’s no improvement in two days, give me a ring.”

Man: “Please call your dog off.”
Boy: “But, sir, I always call him Spike.”

How many feet are there in a field of 300 sheep, 2 cows, 7 horses, a farmer and 3 dogs?
Two (2) ? all the rest have hooves or paws.

Customer: “Do you serve crabs here?”
Waiter: “Please sit down sir, we serve anyone.”

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Harvard Square Commentary, December 18, 2006