• In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 60 minutes)
    Most users ever online was 616 on Thu Jan 18, 2024 7:47 pm

May 2003 - Post-war (Special Edition)

A forum dedicated to friendly and civil conversations about domestic and global politics, history, and present-day events.
Forum rules
Do not promote books in this forum. Instead, promote your books in either Authors: Tell us about your FICTION book! or Authors: Tell us about your NON-FICTION book!.

All other Community Rules apply in this and all other forums.
User avatar
Chris OConnor

1A - OWNER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 17008
Joined: Sun May 05, 2002 2:43 pm
21
Location: Florida
Has thanked: 3504 times
Been thanked: 1308 times
Gender:
Contact:
United States of America

May 2003 - Post-war (Special Edition)

Unread post

This thread is to discuss Massimo Pigliucci's Special Edition Rationally Speaking column for May 2003 entitled Post-war.Quote:N. 37, May 2003/bPost-warThe war against Iraq is over, and it is time to pause to reflect about a few points that seem to have been lost in the shuffle, as well as a few new issues that are already emerging in the aftermath.First and foremost, I have heard plenty of people ridiculing the antiwar movement reckoning that, after all, there were very few casualties (on the American side, that is), and that everything went smoothly. This irritatingly misses the point of the antiwar sentiment. Just because things went according to US plans, that doesn't make it right from an ethical perspective, unless one is ready to accept the Machiavellian position that the end justifies the means. Even then, one can still ask if the end is a good one to begin with. And here is where another common misunderstanding of the peace movement comes about. In that movement nobody ever defended Saddam Hussein. Nobody in his right mind thinks that having an Hussein-like regime anywhere in the world is a good idea. But remember that removing dictators, or even aiding democracy, has never been a real goal of American foreign policy, despite the rhetoric. The US has put plenty of dictators in power when it was convenient for it to do so, even at the cost of overthrowing democratically elected governments (the case of Chile, the murder of its elected president, Salvador Allende, and the ensuing pro-American dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet come to mind).No, the only real goal of US foreign policy has always been the goal of any nation's foreign policy: "national interest." The trouble is, national interest in this case was defended with the idea that it was justified for the US to wage a war of preemptive action against an hostile government prepared to use weapons of mass destruction. Besides the obvious question of why not applying the same logic to countries that really have been threatening the United States, and that really do have weapons of mass destruction (Korea comes to mind), the fact is that -- so far -- no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, not even after American troops have taken complete control of the country. Now, this is an empirical matter, and it may turn out that such weapons do in fact exist, but even Bush doesn't seem so sure anymore (was he ever?). Very recently he said that it is possible that the Iraqis destroyed the weapons during the war! Why on earth would they do that? Indeed, why did they not use such weapons against the invading American and British armies? What is it good for to have weapons of mass destruction if you don't use them as a last resort to defend yourself? What did Saddam Hussein have to lose by holding back?Other interesting things are emerging during the aftermath. The anti-American sentiment is already running high among Iraqis, which -- quite understandably -- are asking themselves why don't the "liberators" go away now that their job of liberating them has been done (perhaps because that wasn't what the liberators set out to do?). In fact, the US is now complaining that Iran is allegedly attempting to "interfere" with the "internal politics" of Iraq, something that the US cannot and will not allow! I wonder if anybody in the Bush administration even gets the irony of such position. I guess a full scale invasion of another country doesn't count as "interference" with that country's internal politics.What was wrong with the war on Iraq (and with the possibility of others against Iran, Syria, and Korea, to mention but a few of the other countries that have been casually threatened by one or the other of Bush's officials during the past few weeks) is not that we should condone or protect the dictatorships or repressive regimes of those countries. It is that no other country has the right to act as a self-appointed policeman, circumventing the due process of international law as established by the United Nations. Yes, of course the UN is slow, bureaucratic, and often impotent. But that impotence is largely the fault of the United States, which keeps using the UN whenever convenient, and undermining its authority or cutting its funding whenever the rest of the world doesn't want to follow what the American government decides to do. Not always been able to get one's way is the obvious price of democracy, but the self-declared best democracy in the world doesn't want to pay that price. Let me try to clarify the problem with an analogy. We have all seen movies in which the police can't do anything to stop a criminal because of the due process of law and its many loopholes and slowdowns. In those movies, there usually is a hero who finally takes things in his (it's normally a male) hands and simply gets the job done, and we all cheer. But in real life, we don't want vigilantes to roam our cities, we prefer the slow and inefficient machine of public justice, and in fact we insist in putting strict limits to that as well. Why? Because once you bypass laws, the only rule is that of might makes right. Today perhaps this may appear acceptable because it happens to be a democratic country that is able to play bully. But what if (when?) the cards on the table will change? Who is going to protect the world from a vigilante out of control? That is why the war on Iraq was and remains wrong. Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 7/19/03 3:11 pm
Jeremy1952
Kindle Fanatic
Posts: 545
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2002 2:19 pm
21
Location: Saint Louis

Re: May 2003 - Post-war (Special Edition)

Unread post

Just this morning, I wrote a letter to a friend who mentioned that she and her husband support the war, which touches on many of the same points. Here's my take:I'm not radically anti-war. I'm glad it went as well as a war can be expected to and certainly wanted the United States to win - I consider myself a patriot, in fact. From my point of view the best thing to come out of it is that Hussein won't be bribing families of suicide bombers any more. There is also no question that the Hussein regime was horrid and the world is better off without him and it.My hesitiation is/was based more on broader principles of international cooperation. There is a standard in the nuclear age that says one country should not launch an unprovoked invasion of another, no matter how unpleasent their internal situation is. This is exactly why the '92 war was justified: Iraq attacked, we retaliated. But with a precedent of, "if we're bigger and stronger and don't like what you are doing we are going to invade", where does it stop? Human beings are no where near conensus on what evils are bad enough to justify force to stop them. Jerry Fallwell would invade Florida if he were in charge.I am also unclear that this invasion served my (or your) self interest. We are supposed to be fighting a war on terrorism, on the people who attacked us. We were ready to persue Bin Ladin to the ends of the earth. Al Quida is a shifting, elusive, difficult target, but a 100% legitimate one. Attacking Iraq looked like a giant distraction from the harder task of rooting out terrorists. And I agree with Mubarak: the U.S. invasion will breed numerous more terrorists.Lastly, the Bush administration set off every "liar" alarm with the blatant refusal to spell out a specific reason for the war. If we really wanted to find weapons of mass destruction... or really knew that they were there... why not keep looking until they were found? Why carelessly or mendaciously publish faked evidence? And for all his rhetoric about "not being anti Muslim", this had the feel of a religious war. Frankly, Bush's theocratic actions and attitudes scare the shit out of me, and I can plainly see how they hopelessly alienate moderate Muslims.
Timothy Schoonover

Re: May 2003 - Post-war (Special Edition)

Unread post

I have from the beginning argued that the declared intentions of the current administration do not represent the true nature of their motivations and I think this is becoming more and more apparent as the results of these actions become more and more undeniable. As public naivety washes away in the unexpected and increasingly visible images of post-war Iraq--images that do not affirm white house rhetoric--the so-called patriotic support for our military aggression in the region seems to be dissipating. Can you feel it? The ground is crumbling away beneath our very feet, and we are forced to examine what we have done.What has bothered me most, however, is how dissenting opinion has been wholly marginalized and summarily dismissed. The 9/11 attacks and the subsequent Anthrax threats summoned a profound and lurking fear from within the depths of the American psyche. In a disgusting and gratuitous manner, the media played up these events, inflating them in the minds and emotions of the population into this larger than life foreign hostility that inimically opposes the self-evident goodness and ideality of the west. Americans recoiled, unable to believe that anyone could seriously doubt the greatness of the US. We didn't know what to do, we just stood there dumbfounded, absorbing the chaotic images flooding into our homes, businesses, and communities. This is the watershed, the point that determined the course we would take and how we as a nation would react. We were blindsided by the events of 9/11 and knocked off balace, but instead of rationally contemplating the why's and wherefores, we unthinkingly demanded retribution. Within hours individuals were cruising the streets with flags attached to their cars. Upon hearing the news my girlfriend wanted to race to Wal-mart and buy a flag for her car. She was eager and excited to participate in this manner, but when I questioned her motivations she became irrate and defensive. On a national level, people were giving themselves over wholeheartedly to an emotional reaction, and when asked to temper their passions with reason, they would have none of it. In this way the voice of opposition was silenced. Those who objected stood in the way of solidarity, those who raised eyebrow at american foreign policy were labeled anti-american, those who felt compassion for our 'enemies' instead of rage were scorned. Our voice was taken away. There was no such thing as dialogue. We could not express our concerns without being slandered and targeted by our own fellow-citizens....and passion carried the day.Then suddenly, out of no where we realize that Iraq is an 'immanent threat' to national security. Despite the fact that there are numerous other nations more militarily potent and internally brutal. But the voice of concern was still mute among the throng of frenzied patriots. America, in her greatness, must liberate the Iraqi people and cleans the world of the threat of WoMD. And so we plunged ahead in our 'atruistic' mission. But now that WoMD have failed to materialize (and even if they do) and the Iraqi resentment becomes more and more apparent, the very grounds of support crumble beneath the bush administration. Now that the fervency of passion has dissolved we are forced to examine what we have done and address the voice of concern that will no longer be repressed.I spoke earlier of a profound and lurking fear buried in the depths of the American consciousness. There has been much talk on this issue, and most critics agree that it is fear that has characterized our mindset since 9/11. While I agree with the critics on their analysis, I differ on the nature of the fear which pervaded and continues to pervade the american mentality. Americans are not so much afraid of the physical threat foreign hostility presents as they are that the image we have cultivated for ourselves in a national identity will be exposed as false. Americans desperately need to believe that our way of life is ideal, that we represent what is right for the world, and that our example is commendable. In a sense it makes our lives meaningful and wards off the emptiness we all experience. But really, deep down inside, even though we struggle so hard to prove otherwise, we know that all is vanity. We know that the 'greatness' we attribute to ourselves, the gods we believe in, and the values we hold don't mean a damn thing. 9/11 was an attack on our way of life. It dredged up unbearable fears in the falsity of our projected identity and caused us to lash out in self-righteous fury.
User avatar
Chris OConnor

1A - OWNER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 17008
Joined: Sun May 05, 2002 2:43 pm
21
Location: Florida
Has thanked: 3504 times
Been thanked: 1308 times
Gender:
Contact:
United States of America

Re: May 2003 - Post-war (Special Edition)

Unread post

This subject will be an excellent focus for our upcoming July 17th chat with Massimo. My opinion is that the US had better locate these weapons of mass destruction or we're going to have some negative repurcussions. I was seriously under the impression that our government knew exactly where these weapons were stored and that within a few days of liberating Iraq we would have them exposed. This isn't happening.Chris
Jeremy1952
Kindle Fanatic
Posts: 545
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2002 2:19 pm
21
Location: Saint Louis

Re: May 2003 - Post-war (Special Edition)

Unread post

If we knew where they were, couldn't we have told the inspectors and saved a lot of lives and money?
Timothy Schoonover

Re: May 2003 - Post-war (Special Edition)

Unread post

Can we assume that this administration's guiding motivation is to save lives and minimize military expenditure?
Post Reply

Return to “Current Events & History”