March 29, 2003

HISTORY

Life during wartime.

There’s nothing I can say about the parade of still pictures, the faces on the television – except, perhaps, that they all seemed to share a fierce pride in their eyes, photographed for the first time in their Marine Dress Blues. Surely their families are proud of them. I certainly am, and I never got to know any of them. And now, I never will.

Names scroll in little yellow letters across the bottom of our glowing screens: Sergeants, and Captains, and Privates. These men have died for us. More will follow. We asked them to go, and they went.

All across this nation -- here and there, sparkling across the map like fireflies on a summer night – sedans are slowly rolling to a stop outside of small, modest homes. Men in uniform emerge, straighten their tunics, and walk slowly up driveways. Doorbells are rung. Maybe here and there smiles will evaporate in shock and surprise as doors are opened, but more likely the face will be one full of stunned realization that the very worst thing in the whole world has happened. And children will be sent to their rooms. And the men will speak in somber, respectful tones. And sons and mothers and fathers and wives will be told that the one thing they love more than anything in this world has been taken away from them, that their sons and daughters will not be coming home, that their fathers or mothers have gone away and will never come back, not ever.

Why do we do this? What could possibly be worth this?





The war is an abject and utter failure. What everyone thought would be a quick, decisive victory has turned into an embarrassing series of reversals. The enemy, -- a ragtag, badly-fed collection of hotheads and fanatics – has failed to be shocked and awed by the most magnificent military machine ever fielded. Their dogged resistance has shown us the futility of the idea that a nation of millions could ever be subjugated and administered, no matter what obscene price we are willing to pay in blood and money.

The President of the United States is a buffoon, an idiot, a man barely able to speak the English language. His vice president is a little-seen, widely despised enigma and his chief military advisor a wild-eyed warmonger. Only his Secretary of State offers any hope of redemption, for he at least is a reasonable, well-educated man, a man most thought would have made a far, far better choice for Chief Executive.

We must face the fact that we had no business forcing this unjust war on a people who simply want to be left alone. It has damaged our international relationships beyond any measure, and has proven to be illegal, immoral and nothing less than a monumental mistake that will take generations to rectify. We can never hope to subdue and remake an entire nation of millions. All we will do is alienate them further. So we must bring this war to an immediate end, and make a solemn promise to history that we will never launch another war of aggression and preemption again, so help us God.






This was the condensed opinion of the Copperhead press. The time was the summer of 1864.

Everyone thought the Rebels would be whipped at Bull Run, and that the Confederacy would collapse within a few days or hours of such a defeat. No one expected the common Southern man to fight so tenaciously, a man who owned no slaves and who in fact despised the rich fire-eaters who had taken them to war.

Lincoln was widely considered a bumpkin, a gorilla, an uncouth backwoods hick who by some miracle of political compromise had made it to the White House. Secretary of War Stanton had assumed near-dictatorial powers and was also roundly despised. Only Secretary of State William Seward, a well-spoken, intelligent Easterner and a former Presidential candidate, seemed fit to hold office.

After three interminable and unbelievably bloody years of conflict, many in the Northern press had long ago become convinced that there was no hope of winning the war, and far less of winning the peace that followed. After nearly forty months of battle and maneuver, after seeing endless hopes dashed in spectacular failure, after watching the magnificent Army of the Potomac again and again whipped and humiliated by a far smaller, under-fed, under-equipped force, the New York newspapers and many, many others were calling for an immediate end to this parade of failures.

It took them forty months and hundreds of thousands killed to reach that point. Today, many news outlets have reached a similar conclusion after ten days and less than fifty combat fatalities.

Ahhh. Progress.





A few years ago, I made up my mind to visit for the first time many of the places I had come to know so well. So before my 1996 Christmas trip to visit my father at his house adjacent to Valley Forge – another place rich with ghosts and history -- I made a tour of as many Civil War battlefields as I could, driving northward through Virginia, seeking out the unremarkable hills and fields that I had followed with Shelby Foote through more than 2,300 pages of his magnificent Civil War trilogy.

It was bitterly cold the day I walked up the steep embankment where Hood’s Texans broke the Union line at Gaines Mill, and then I thrust my hands into my pockets and walked a few hundred yards and three blood-soaked years away to the lines at Cold Harbor, where the remains of the opposing trenches lay almost comically close.

As I walked from the Confederate to the Union positions, the green pine forest was as peaceful and serene a place as is possible to imagine. And there I stopped, halfway between the lines, listening to the winter breeze swaying the trees, and looked around – at nothing. Just a glade like any other in the beautiful back woods of Virginia. And yet here lay seven thousand men – here, in this little clearing. Seven thousand men. The Union blue lay so thick on this ground that you could walk from the Confederate lines to the Union ones on the backs of the dead, your feet never touching the grass.

You can see them, you know. Not that I believe in ghosts, or the occult. But when you stand on a field like that, in a place like that, with a name like that – Cold Harbor – you feel it. You feel the reality of it. This happened, and it happened right here. The history of that ground rises like a vapor and grabs your imagination by the neck, and forces you to see what happened there.

The next day, I stood in a tiny rut, a small bend in a shallow, grassy berm, where for sixteen hours men cursed and killed each other at point-blank range, where musket balls flew so furiously that they cut down a foot-thick oak tree. Here, at the Bloody Angle of Spotsylvania, the fighting was hand-to-hand from the break of dawn to almost midnight; uninterrupted horror that to this day remains for me the most appalling single acre in human history. There, on that unassuming, peaceful, empty field – it might as well have been the back of a high school -- men had become so agitated that they climbed the muddy, blood-slick trenches, clawed their way to the parapets to shoot at a man a foot or two away, then hurled their bayoneted muskets like a javelin into the crowd before being shot down and replaced by other half-mad, raving automatons.

What trick of time and memory, what charm or spell does history possess, that can turn such fields of unremitting violence and terror into places of religious awe and wonder? Why are some people called to these places, in America and around the world, to stand in wonder – not only at the brutality of war, but at the transcendental, ennobling power of them? How does slaughter and death turn into nobility and sacrifice? Why can we recite the names of places like Roanoke, Harrisburg, Phoenixville, Marseille, Kiev, Vanuatu and Johannesburg with no more passion than we muster while reading the ingredients on the back of a cereal box, while names like Antietam, Gettysburg, Valley Forge, Verdun, Stalingrad, Guadalcanal and Rorke’s Drift thunder through time as if the earth itself were being rung like a bell?

Today we are at War. The future is dark and filled with uncertainties. We are at a time of great peril and momentous decisions are being made by the hour. We know history is being written before our very eyes. No one knows how things will turn out – only history will know.

We can, however, step back from 24/7 embedded coverage. We can in fact gain what is most missing in these anxious days -- perspective. Like all worthwhile journeys, this will take some time.

First, we need to go to the one place that could perhaps best make sense of all this blood and terror and waste and pain.






I found it, finally. As with all the other places I had visited, I had great difficulty realizing where I was because the reality was so much smaller than what I had imagined. Off in the distance stood Seminary Ridge, where Pickett and Armistead and the rest would march into history – but that was not what I wanted to see.

I had made my way over the boulders of The Devils’ Den, caught my breath when I found myself in a small alcove where a dead Confederate had lain in one of the most famous photos from the war. And finally, I found the marker I was looking for, and walked – such a small distance – down and then up again that little stretch of hill.

This was it, all right. This was the place. I was standing on the exact spot where the very existence of the United States of America, where all of our lives and our history, all our subsequent glory and tragedy, turned on what lay in the heart of an unassuming professor of Rhetoric from a small college in Brunswick, Maine.






One of the most subtle distortions caused by history’s telephoto lens is the sense of predetermination. We know the Allies won World War II, as decisively as any conflict in history. But in London, 1940, such an outcome would have seemed unthinkably optimistic. The fact is, it was a very, very near thing.

We look back on the Union victory in the Civil War with the same sense of it being a foregone conclusion. But it was not. By the second day of July in 1863, the mighty armies of the Union had been beaten in every major battle except Antietam – and that had been not much better than a tie. And they had not just been defeated. They had been thrashed. Whipped. Sent reeling again and again and again by a half-starved collection of scarecrows in homemade uniforms.

None of this was lost on the Union men that morning, not the least on that Professor of Rhetoric from Bowdoin College. He had seen, first hand, the disasters at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. For those men, as for us today, the future was dark and unknowable. Yet history can often show where we are going by showing where we have been, in the same way that a ship’s wake extending to the Southern horizon is a sure sign of a Northward course. And that course, for the Union, for the United States as we know it today, was bleak.

Were the South to win that July day, the first northern state capitol – Harrisburg – would fall to the Confederates. Nothing would stop them from reaching Baltimore, and Washington. If the Army of the Potomac lost yet again on this field, the South would very likely take Washington, the British would enter the war on the side of the Confederacy and the mighty Royal Navy would break the Union blockade. In the words of Shelby Foote, the war would be over -- lost.

The Federal position was strong, but it had a fatal weakness. At the southern end of the Union line were two small hills. The smaller and nearer, called Little Round Top by the locals, overlooked the entire Union position. Artillery placed on that hill could fire down the entire Union line, wreaking carnage on the men below. The entire position would become untenable.

No one was on Little Round Top.

Across the ground that Pickett would cross the next day, this did not escape the eye of Confederate Lieutenant General Longstreet. He knew that if he could get some guns on that little hill the battle would be over. Indeed, the war would be over – won. He asked Lee if he could send his toughest men, John Bell Hood’s Texans and Alabamans, to take that hill. Lee agreed.

Back on Cemetery Ridge, the Blue commanders realized, at long last and to their abject horror, the danger they were in. They immediately sent some regiments down the line to hold that hill, extending the left of their line up Little Round Top. And there, on the afternoon of July 2nd, 1863, history and the Professor of Rhetoric collided.






Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was an amateur. And everything he knew about tactics he had read, on his own, in a little book he carried with him in case it would come in handy. He knew that his 20th Maine Regiment was the extreme left of the entire Union army. In fact, he could look over to that man standing there, the one with the neatly trimmed beard: that fellow, right there, was the end of the line.

Chamberlain knew the significance of his position on the field. He knew if he failed the Union left would roll up and crumble the way the right had a few weeks before in the disaster at Chancellorsville. He knew the Union could not bear another defeat of that magnitude.

Up from the valley below came Hood’s men: fierce, shrieking, caterwauling demons, the same pack of wolves that had shattered the Union line at Gaines Mill and whipped and humiliated their opponents every time they had taken the field. They came up through the thin forest yelling like furies.

Chamberlain casually walked the line, keeping his men cool, plugging holes and moving reserves while showing the utter disregard for his own life that commanders of both sides were expected to show during those horrible brawls.

Repeated and steady volleys drove the Southerners back, but not for long. They came again. Again they were driven back. Again they came with their weird and terrifying Rebel Yell, and again they were knocked back by withering volleys from the 20th Maine. The Northerners were holding on, but by sheer guts alone, for each charge and counter-volley knocked more men out of the line, heads and arms and torsos exploding under the impact of the heavy lead musket balls. Worse, they were by now almost out of ammunition.

The Confederates were skilled tacticians. When the men from Maine showed more determination than expected, they looked for a way around them, to hit the line from behind. Quickly they sent their men sideways, to the left, trying to get around the corner and attack from the rear.

Chamberlain saw this. Armies could readjust themselves, but there was nothing in the little book about what to do with a single regiment. So he planted the flag, and on that spot, he sent men off at a right angle, like an open gate, to confront the flanking Confederates head on.

Again they came on, getting right to the lines this time. Again they were shot and clubbed back down the hill. Again they massed for another charge, their determination to take that hill as strong as the 20th’s was to defend it. Only now, Chamberlain’s men were completely out of ammunition. During this latest repulse the Rebel veterans had staggered back down the side of Little Round Top under a hail of rocks being thrown by the exhausted men in Blue.






And so we come to this exact time and place. It is the 2nd of July, 1863, just south of a small Pennsylvania town. You are on a small hill covered with thin pine trees. Your face is black with gunpowder: it burns your throat and eyes, it has cracked your lips, and you are more thirsty than you believed possible.

All around you are dead and dying men, some moaning, some screaming in agony as they clutch shattered arms or hold in their bowels. The field in front of you is covered with dead Rebels, and yet the ground looks alive, undulating, as the wounded Confederates try to crawl back to safety. In the woods below you can hear fresh enemy troops arrive, hear orders being issued in the soft accents of the deep South. You have no more musket rounds. There aren’t even very many rocks left to throw. And you know that this time, they will succeed.

These men have never been beaten, least of all by you. You are a professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. As you walk what is left of your line, you know you have fought bravely and well, done more than could ever be asked of you. You have no choice but to fall back in orderly retreat. Your men are out of ammunition. To stand here and take another charge is to die. It’s that simple. These men are your responsibility. Their families depend on you to bring them home. Many have already died. To not retreat will likely condemn many more wives to being widows, not the least your own.

You look down past the dead and dying men to the bottom of the hill. Masses of determined Confederate men are emerging, coming for you. They are not beaten. They are determined to have this hill. Off to your left stands Old Glory, the hinge in your pathetic, small gate.

You know that this is a war to preserve a Union, a system of government four score and seven years old. Many said such a system of self rule could not possibly survive. If you retreat now, today will be the day they are proven right.

You cannot go back. You cannot stay here. Your men look at you. You utter two words:

“Fix Bayonets.”

You can see the reaction on the faces of the men. No, that can’t be right. He couldn’t possibly mean it.

But you do mean it. You know history. In the middle of this shock and death and agony, amid the blood and stench and acrid smoke, you have the perspective even now to see what is really at stake here.

As Chamberlain walked his line one last time, he smiled, and shouted, “Stand firm, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!"






Today, the United States is at war with Iraq.

Before the Civil War, we would have said, “the United States are at War with Iraq.” Before the Civil War, the United States was plural, a collection of relatively weak, sovereign nations. After the Civil War, we were welded by fire and death into a single, indivisible nation. There is a marker, in a forest, on a hill, to mark that transition.

We are a nation because the Rhetoric professor did not retreat. He did not tire, he did not falter, and he did not fail. As the Confederates charged Little Round Top to take the hill, the battle, and the war, the schoolteacher from Maine drew his sword, and swung his gate around like a baseball bat, hitting the Rebels on the side as they leapt down upon the shocked and awed Confederates who promptly broke and ran.

There would, of course, be two more years of blood and carnage: Pickett’s Charge was 24 hours in the future; the Bloody Angle and Cold Harbor further down that dark, unseen road. If you told the men of the 20th Maine that day they had saved the Union on Little Round Top, they would have looked at you as if you were mad. It was, after all, a relatively small engagement in the biggest, bloodiest battle in the history of the Western Hemisphere.

But you have to ask yourself if perhaps Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain might have had a glimpse of the future. “Not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!” he had shouted. He knew, on some level, that this history being written large, that the actions of a small, battered regiment, indeed, the actions of a single man, would determine whether we would live in one country, or two.

In 1865 the issue of American Slavery, an issue dodged in 1783, an issue compromised in 1850, and an issue that tore us apart as a people was settled once and for all, by force of arms. By War. Secession was settled, too – settled most emphatically.

War settled whether the Mediterranean Sea would be a Carthaginian Lake or a Roman one. War settled whether Jerusalem would be Christian or Muslim. War determined whether a surrender document would be signed aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay or on the Yamato just off Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. War determined whether France would be living through four years, or a millennia of darkness under Nazi supermen, and a weird, ghostly war determined whether or not there would be Englishmen and Scots and Americans living and dying in gulags in Siberia.

And four years of unimaginably brutal war determined whether or not the United States of America would in fact be a land where all men are created equal. War determined whether the fatal, poisonous stain of slavery would split the nation into two irreconcilable camps, or whether the blood and sacrifice of men at Little Round Top and The Angle and Cold Harbor would, in part, wash away that stain and put right that which was unable to be put right at the birth of this awesome experiment in self-rule.

We have markers on the fields at Gettysburg because there men died so that men and women like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice and Vincent Brooks and Shoshana Johnson and millions of other African-Americans would have a chance to experience the American promise as full and equal members. Having walked these fields of slaughter and murder, I now know that the marble and monuments are not glorifications of death, but reminders of the sacrifice of men determined to fight and die to do the right thing for people other than themselves.

Lincoln’s purpose at the beginning of the war was to preserve the Union. “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

But if our Civil War was started for the most pragmatic of reasons, by the time it was over the motivation had changed. When Grant took overall command and swung the Union armies into the south like a sledgehammer, the war took on a brutality and carnage unbelievable even to those jaded by the previous horrors. And yet as the Union armies marched through the south singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic, the voices of the men would swell in choked emotion as they sang:

As he died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.

Sacrifice and death transformed that War, and remade the nation. Abolition, at the outset a position taken by a vocal minority in New England and the Midwest, became the great cause of liberation and freedom for all men.

Back in 1996, when I walked those fields, I did not know how such a thing could have happened. But now I do. For I see exactly the same thing happening today in Iraq.




No sane person wants to fight a war. But many sane people believe that there are times when they are necessary. I believe this is one of those times.

For it seems to me that if you are against any war – if you believe that peace is always the right choice -- then you must believe at least one, if not both of the following:

1. People will always be able to come to a reasonable agreement, no matter how deep or contentious the issue, and that all people are rational, reasonable, honorable, decent and sane,

or,

2. It is more noble to live under slavery and oppression, to endure torture, institutionalized rape, theft and genocide than it is to fight it.

History, not to mention personal experience, shows me that the first proposition is clearly false. I believe, to put it plainly, that some people have been raised to become pathological murderers, liars, and first-rate bastards, and that these people will kill and brutalize the good meek people, and steal from and murder them whenever it is in their personal interest to do so. You are, of course, free to disagree about this element of humanity. I, however, can put a great many names on the table. History is littered with people and regimes just like this: entire nations ruled by murderers and thugs, savage and brutal men who could herd grandmothers and babies into gas chambers and march to battle with guns in the backs of old men and teenage girls for use as human shields. I believe these people are real, and that they cannot be reasoned with. I believe that there are entire societies where dominance and force are the norm, and where cooperation and compromise are despised and scorned. Again, history gives me quite a sizable list, and that list is evidence of the first order.

There are people – pacifists – who do not deny this, and these are the people who I really do find repulsive and deeply disturbing, for these are people who acknowledge the presence of evil men and evil regimes, and yet are unwilling to do anything about them. These are the people who cling to fantasies about containment and inspections and resolutions, people who acknowledge that barbarism and torture are rampant but who desperately cling to these niceties as long as nothing bad happens to them. When you point out to them that 9/11 showed that bad things can happen when you ignore such people, they simply point out that Hitler or Stalin or Mao is not as bad as all that, that they haven’t done anything to us yet, that action against them is unconscionable and illegitimate.

There are also people who say “better Red than dead,” people who would rather face the possibility of slavery – for ourselves or others -- than the certainty of a fight, with all it’s attendant blood and misery.

I’m sorry to say it, but to me that is nothing but sheer cowardice and refined selfishness.

We fight wars not to have peace, but to have a peace worth having. Slavery is peace. Tyranny is peace. For that matter, genocide is peace when you get right down to it. The historical consequences of a philosophy predicated on the notion of no war at any cost are families flying to the Super Bowl accompanied by three or four trusted slaves and a Europe devoid of a single living Jew.

It would be nice if there were a way around this. History, not merely my opinion, shows us that there is not. If all you are willing to do is think happy thoughts, then those are the consequences. If you want justice, and freedom, and safety, and prosperity, then sometimes you have to fight for them.

I still don’t know why so many people haven’t figured this out.






Growing up a sci-fi nerd has a few – very few – advantages. One of the greatest was getting to read the Time Guardians series of novels by the late, and deeply gifted Poul Anderson.

These stories were the cream of a hoary old sci-fi genre, that being the idea of parallel universes, histories where interference or accidents caused the chips to fall in very different ways. Poul Anderson showed me worlds in which the Chinese discovered America, where Carthage defeated Rome. Other writers have taken us to worlds where desperate Americans vie for jobs as household servants to the occupying Japanese administrators after the American loss in World War 2, and to a 1960’s Nazi Germany where all evidence of the Holocaust has been buried and destroyed. I’ve read accounts of Winston Churchill emerging from behind the barricades of 10 Downing Street, Tommy gun in hand, being cut down in a hail of bullets from the invading Nazis at the collapse of street-to-street fighting in London. There are many others.

All of these stories have a common thread: someone has gone back in time, tinkered ever so slightly, and produced a horrific world in which, for example, the Nazis and the Japanese divide their American possessions at the Mississippi. In them, something has gone horribly wrong.

But I have often wondered, what if this history, the one we know as reality, was the one gone horribly wrong? For example:

In the fall of 1999, the Clinton Administration took the hugely unpopular decision to invade Afghanistan to root out Islamic terrorists organized by a largely-unknown fanatic named Osama Bin Laden. Operation Homeland Security cost the lives of almost 300 servicemen, and did long-lasting damage to our relations with NATO, the UN, and especially Russia. President Clinton, at great political cost to himself and the Democratic Party, claimed to be acting on repeated intelligence that Bin Laden and his “phantom” organization – whose name escapes me – planned massive and sustained terrorist attacks against the United States. Peace protestors gathered between the towers of the World Trade Center in September, 2004 on the five-year anniversary of the illegal and immoral invasion, calling on President Gore to pay the UN–ordered reparations to the Taliban Government.

Or:

Today, April 20th, Germans again celebrate the birthday of Adolph Hitler with a parade down a stretch of the autobahn, one of his greatest achievements. Although forced from office in disgrace when a platoon of French soldiers contested his entry into the Rhineland in 1936, his rebuilding of Germany following the ruin of the Great War, and his subsequent lobbying for American economic support, culminating in the Lindbergh Plan and Germany’s spectacular economic growth through the forties and fifties, so rehabilitated his reputation that he remains one of the greatest and most revered figures in German history.

And we can go on like this for a very long time.

I see history as an unimaginably huge and complicated railroad switching yard, where by moving a pair of steel rails a few inches one way or another, the great train of history can be diverted from Chicago to Atlanta. These switches may seem ridiculously small at the time, but the consequences are often immeasurable.

So when I stood on Little Round Top and walked down that little hill for the last time that day, I saw more than dead and dying men littering the ground. I saw two nations where today there is one. I saw a Second Civil War, perhaps in 1909, or 1913, for these two countries would never peacefully co-exist – not with people as proud and energetic as we. I saw not seven thousand dead at Cold Harbor, but 70,000 cut down in an hour by machine guns in the Battle of Tallahassee, saw the gas attacks along the Cleveland Trenches that left half a million dead and dying. I saw, perhaps, the dimmest outlines of a Third American War, fought perhaps in ’34 or ’37 with millions of civilians killed in great air raids over Washington and Richmond. Of course, these millions never died. They lived long and full lives, most of them – and had children, namely us. They didn’t die, these millions, because the men at Cold Harbor and The Angle and Little Round Top did.

Now it seems fair to say that you can boil down the opinions of many of those opposed to the War in Iraq to a question uttered by leading anti-war activist Susan Sarandon, who asked, “I want to know what Iraq has done to us.”

There are two reasons to fight this war. One is so that History will never be able to answer that question. I don’t ever want to read about the VX attacks that left 16,000 dead at Atlanta Hartsfield airport. I don’t want to see the video of makeshift morgues inside the LA Coliseum as more anthrax victims are emptied from the hospitals. And I don’t want to look at helicopter shots of a blackened, radioactive crater where Times Square used to be, or of millions of dead bodies burning in funeral pyres, like columns of failure, dead from starvation and disease in the worldwide depression that such an attack on New York would produce.

I’m sure Miss Sarandon, and others, would criticize this response as fantasy. I’m also sure that had President Clinton taken military action against Bin Laden in the 1990’s, the idea that planes could be flown into skyscrapers, that thousands would die as the New York skyline collapsed upon them would be seen as equally fantastic and absurd. Preposterous. Paranoid. Impossible.

But the fact remains that History will be written one way or another. Saddam’s crimes are well documented, as are his ambitions and his WMD programs. Are they worth stopping with force, before they have been used? I say yes, emphatically, and that anything less from the President is a dereliction of duty.

Many do not see it this way. I have to ask those people if they would have supported a military invasion of Afghanistan, with all the consequent upheavals, UN condemnation, and protest, in order to get Osama Bin Laden before he made 9/11 a symbol of disaster and death. The howls of protest that such people would have put up at such pre-emptive action are exceeded only by the shrieks from these same people that something wasn’t done about 9/11 before it happened.

Here is what I personally believe:

I believe that after September 11th, 2001, the Bush Administration sat down and took a very cold and hard look at what was going on in the world. I believe that they came to the conclusion that the post-WWII policy of depending on a strongman, an Attaturk or even a Nasser, to lift the Middle East into the modern world was an abject failure. I believe that they saw a region so steeped in despair and failure and repression that it would continue to generate, through asymmetrical warfare and weapons of mass destruction, an intolerable threat to the United States.

I believe that they came to realize that even if we were to pay the price of living in a police state, we cannot stop terrorists with flyswatters. Despite our best efforts, sooner of later, some of them will succeed, either with jet-fueled airplanes, or smallpox aerosols, or Sarin-filled crop dusters, or a suitcase nuke in Times Square or the steps of the capitol. As long as the failure of Arab nations generates such rage and hatred, they will keep coming. There is no end to the numbers a swamp like that can generate.

I believe that the United States government has taken a very bold decision to take the first steps to drain that swamp, and that this War in Iraq is the throwing of a railway switch to divert us from a very terrible train wreck lying ahead in the dark tunnel of history yet unwritten. Surely they know full well that this action will, in the short term, cause even more hatred and anger to be directed to us. But I see this as a chance – perhaps our last chance – to eliminate one of the states capable of and committed to the development of such weapons, and in the bargain establish a foothold of freedom and democracy in a region notable for its resistance to this historic trend.

Furthermore, I see it as a means of averting such wars in the future, for it shows in the most stark terms available that we are serious about this issue, and more than anything, when we talk about the safety and security of the United States of America we mean what we say. Entire wars have been caused by miscalculations of an enemy's resolve. As Tony Blair made clear in his ringing speech before Parliament on the eve of the war, to back down now, to show ourselves incapable of action, would have made all subsequent diplomatic efforts essentially meaningless. Showing that we will fight -- and fight all the way -- will make it far less likely that our enemies will miscalculate the way we allowed Saddam and Bin Laden to miscalculate.

As national policy, it is risky, and it is extremely dangerous. It is also an act of astonishing courage and leadership, because the alternative is horrible beyond contemplation. We are in the very early stages of a great and difficult campaign, one fraught with many setbacks and much loss. Although chaotic and uncertain to us today, it is a campaign that makes sense only through the long lens of history, for despite the blood and destruction, and the faces of those brave men and women held up to us nightly, it is the course most likely to steer us through these reefs into the open waters of security and a peace worth living under – a peace based on real security, on a free and democratic and successful Middle East, not the petty and false peace of inaction and denial in the face of the threatening storm. The world faced this choice in the late 1930's, and chose an easy 'peace' -- "Peace for our Time."

History records our reward.

Those who oppose this war may not be willing to face the pages of history that will forever remain unwritten by us taking this action in Iraq. But two things we can be assured of, and both of them are worth noting in these anxious times.

First, while we cannot say that Weapons of Mass Destruction will never be used against the United States, we can -- because of this courageous action -- say that they will not be Iraqi weapons. A swamp littered with chemical weapons shells, with anthrax-dispersing jet aircraft, and with a robust, stubborn and dedicated nuclear weapons program is being drained nightly before our eyes. That is a great victory.

Second, while the long-term outcome is hard to see through the fog of war, we are in fact sending our own children to die to set a people free. When Saddam’s murdering henchmen are dead and gone, when he and his psychopathic regime lie burning and shattered like his posters and statues, we may – or may not – see people emerge from three decades of horror to greet us as liberators, once they truly realize that doing so will not cost them their lives.

But even if they don’t, it does not matter. The Japanese and Germans saw us as conquerors and occupiers too, not to mention the people of Alabama and Georgia and South Carolina. All of these people fought, and fought hard, for regimes that had kept them in bondage. Nazism and Japanese Imperialism fell away relatively quickly and painlessly. American racism was a deeper problem; it has taken more than a century to remake this society, and while that war is not yet over it most certainly has been won.

We may or may not have prevented more attacks on the United States. We may or may not have generated a greater short-term threat from terror. I personally think that recent history has shown that resolute action, that taking the offensive, has been a great deterrent to terror, and that the operation in Iraq will do much more in that regard. I could be wrong. History will tell us, soon enough.

But of one thing I am absolutely certain. Despite all the switches in the rail yard, there is a flow and a direction to history that cannot and will not be denied.

It is the slow, uneven, grasping climb toward freedom. There are markers on Little Round Top, on the beaches at Normandy, and in the sands of Nasiriyah that show us where men have fought and laid down their lives, and willingly left their wives without husbands and their children without fathers, all for this idea. It is an idea bigger than they are, bigger than self-centered movie stars, bigger than cynical and bitter journalists, bigger than Presidents and Dictators, bigger, in fact, than all human failure and miscalculation.

It is the idea that people – all people – deserve to live their lives in freedom. Free from fear. Free from want. Free from despair and hatred.

My country has, again, taken up that banner, and the behavior of our young men and women under unimaginable stress and provocation has filled me with fierce and unremitting pride. We fight, nearly alone, alongside old and true friends, British and Australian, themselves decent and honorable people, long champions of freedom who have their own Waterloos and Gallipolis and cemeteries marked with fields of red poppies, rolls of sacrifice and honor that should fill all American hearts with pride. For friends like this are worth having, and I will always prefer the company of one or two solid, dependable friends over legions of fashionable and trendy and unreliable ones.

And someday, centuries from now, in the world we all hope for but which only a few will fight for, all of this death and destruction will be gone. All that will be left will be small markers in green fields that were once deserts, places where Iraqi families may walk someday with the same taken-for-granted sense of happiness and security I had in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

And perhaps they will read the strange-sounding names, and try to imagine a time when it was all in doubt.









+375 comments was getting to be a little hard on the bandwidth, so I have turned them off. Thanks to all who wrote in.

I had many questions about the source of the Civil War 'quotes' regarding the failure of the war and the unfitness of the President. These italicized paragraphs were meant to be taken as a summary of attitudes in the press at the time. There were not direct quotes, and therefore were not presented in quotation marks -- but they do accurately reflect the general anti-war, anti-Lincoln attitude of the Copperheads and the Democratic Party platform that McClellan ran on in 1864. You can find many attributed examples in The Civil War by Shelby Foote, and The BattleCry of Freedom by James McPherson, among many others.

Posted by Proteus at March 29, 2003 3:37 PM







Welcome to the Eject! Eject! Eject! commenter community. Please read and understand the following:


1. This is not a public square. This is a dinner party on personal property. Good conversation is not only tolerated but celebrated here. But the host understands the difference between dissent and disrespect, even if you do not. Louts will be ignored until the bouncers can show them the door.

2. This is a voluntary online community. Your posting of any material, whether in comments or otherwise, grants to William A. Whittle, Aurora Aerospace, Inc. and their affiliates, a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, sublicense, reproduce or incorporate into other material all or any portion of the material posted, for commercial or other use.

3. If a comment does find its way into a main page essay, print, or other media, every effort will be made to credit the individual making the comment. So chose your screen name accordingly, SLNTFRT33@yahoo.com!

Now let's see some distributed intelligence and basic human decency! Don't make me come down there every five minutes!




Comments



You've done it again. I think I may give up writing.

Nice historical perspective, no matter how much changes, it's always the same. I would guess that 150 years from now, maybe, someone will look back at our time and this war, perhaps to point out the similarities with their own current war. I'd like to think that it won't happen, can't happen, that people will all behave themselves so war is no longer necessary. But I don't think people will behave, and war will come again. Let's hope this one will stand as an example of "doing it right."



As He died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free.



Magnificent. I only wish I could force every peace-at-any-cost nitwit in this country to read it. Thank-you, Bill for another wonderfull disertaion. Can't wait for the book.



They didn't die for me; I asked them not to go.



Freedom calls her sons to war and will allow history to be the final judge. Very well said, sir. Very well said indeed.



Eloquent and heartfelt. Thank you.



@#!%# brilliant! Again! It would be amazing to see what you'd come up with if you had nothing else to do with your time but write. SOMEBODY PAY THIS MAN! WELL! This should be mandatory reading for anyone over the age of sixteen. And someone should deliver a leather-bound copy directly to Ms. Sarandon's door. Keep up the great work, have a safe trip back to California, and I'll see you at the Sun n' Fun fly-in in Lakeland next week.



Damn! I just...damn!

Thank you Bill.

Oh, and "brent?" They died for you anyway. In spite of the fact you asked them not to. Respect them for that, if you can't bring yourself to do it for any other reason.



Amen! Well Done!!



I remember those "Time Guardians" novels very well.

As for the essay, I have no words that are adequate to the task of commenting.

I'll just settle for tryng to get everyone I know to read it.



I wanted to add:

I've read Harry Turtledove's alternate histories of what might have happened had the South won the Civil War. His vision of that alternity is dark, and vile, and eminently logical. Very difficult to read, but very educational. I've not read the "Time Guardians" books, but I may have to now.



Another great essay.
My kids need your book!



I wish I could come up with the words to thank you that had the same eloquence you used to instruct, enlighten and entertain me. You are a gifted, GIFTED man, and I salute you!



Very nice. Our News Networks need to hire someone who's at least read a book about a war, even if they won't hire veterans. Now our military is switching to fighting some of the asymmetrical attacks of the Fedayeen Saddam. Some of our doom-saying pundits are acting like this is a type of enemy tactics we've never encountered before. In truth, we could dust off an American small-wars manual from the 19th century and still clean their clocks.



Beautiful essay Bill. One of the best overviews I've read.



Superb.



I too agree this war is right, but I'm worried about the post-war situation. I'm afraid we're not being adequately prepared for the extent of the effort and the difficulty ahead.... Would love to hear your thoughts. I have no confidence that there are enough Arabs who will fight for it, nor that our will is strong enough to stick with it for a generation or more while suffering a terrorist war waged by some of the same Arabs we are trying to set free. It won't be easy.



Wow! Fabulous job, as always. I've loved absolutely everything you've written.



I've just discovered your website through a link at Michael Totten's website. This History essay is breathtaking! Thank you for writing what I've been thinking for the past week--I was conflicted right up until the first bomb was dropped, not because I failed to realize that Saddam needed to go for the sake of the Iraqis, the Americans, and the World, but because I wanted there to be a third way (assassination, coup) to avoid the uncertainty of regional consequences. But as I've read news accounts of the past week, I realized that there was no other choice and there would be no possibility of a third way because the problem isn't merely Saddam, but an entire, cancerous regime that needs to be rooted out. And I could see a reflection of myself and the evolution of my own thoughts in your description of the evolving rationale for the Civil War. How true! I've have moved from hesitant acceptance for President Bush's decision to a certain belief in the rightness of this course even if things get worse before they get better.

Thank you for making my day!



Well done, old chap!
well done!



:~)





Thank you, thank you. It helped so much to read this. Its hard to push back the mood and state of mind of an era. I think thats why some of the young conservative writers sound so blustery and hostile sometimes. It helps to beat back the foolishness and craveness of our time for them and for some of us who read them.
But you, sir, educate us in why it is in fact right to fight this evil and that we ourselves are not evil to do so.



Brilliantly said.



Whew! Thanks, Bill



I envy your "Situational Awareness" and wonder how one person can enjoy its insight in more than one subject.

Once in a great while, I *may* realize a taste of the same only in the activities that I'm most proficient at -and only if I'm very lucky.

How you can be so posessed of such insight for all of the subjects that you write about, is beyond me.

You must be one hell of a pilot.



Brilliant! Truly wonderful. Thanks Bill.

Brent, they did in fact die for you. Until you are willing to give up your US citizenship, their blood sewed the seed of your freedom.



Superlatives fail me.

I mean, I knew you were going to write on History and, being something of a student thereof, I was looking forward to your take on it, but damn that was good.

Bravo.

OK, you know the drill: 5 copies of the book, and your choice of Adult Beverage should you ever swing through Raleigh, NC.



Superb. Required reading for the idiots up here in Canada who figure they can appease until our lights go out. You rock.



Bravo!

A remarkably cogent, articulate essay about our struggle against terrorism!

Encore, maestro! Encore!



Brilliant.

I can barely type through the tears the truth brings. May I PLEASE buy you a beer when you're back in the land of sun and wind?

Either way... five copies of the book on my account.



If I may use another science fiction author:

"Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay--and claims a halo for his
dishonesty."

-Robert A. Heinlein



Dude.

It rocks.



Wow Bill you did it again. I'm still looking forward to sending your book to both of my sons. I truely feel that we are in the same situation that Europe was in the late 30s. We either do it now or do it later at a much greater cost. Your tying the current war to the Civil War brought up a whole new way of understanding todays reality. The ONLY way we will lose is if we, as a people, do not have the will to accept the cost of success.
Thanks sir, you put my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs into words better than I ever could.
Ed Campbell



Bill,

Thank you. I find myself more and more realizing your essays are my thoughts put onto paper, only much much more eloquent than I could ever hope to sound.

Thank you for your support of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, our Commander in Chief, and above all else, the ideals on which this great nation was founded.



Bill, I'm absolutly speechless. I have never read a piece that has so crystalized a moment of history at the crossroads such as yours has. It should be required reading in every school in the country.



This essay must be sent, priority mail, to Jean Chretian, the Prime Minister of Canada. In light of the HISTORY between Canada and the USA, how can he refuse to support the liberation??? GRRRRR!
From a Canadian reader: thank you for your excellent work. You will always be welcome on my hockey team!



Thank you, sir.

Speaking as a member of the air force deployed to wage this war, I want to say that your words have refreshed my sense of purpose.



I just e-mailed the URL of this essay, and some brief but hopefully pertinent snips, to Rush Limbaugh's e-mail address.

I hope he reads it.

I hope he reads the URL where this essay can be found on the air.

I hope that his 20+ million listeners all come here to snag a copy of this masterwork for themselves.

And I *really* hope that the bandwidth bills won't bankrupt anyone. *eg*



You've really captured a great deal, here. Thank you.

You knocked me over by "Stand firm, ye boys of Maine", and spoke my mind with "the behavior of our young men and women under unimaginable stress and provocation have filled me with fierce and unremitting pride."

"We fight, nearly alone, alongside old and true friends, British and Australian... For friends like this are worth having, and I will always prefer the company of one or two solid, dependable friends over legions of fashionable and trendy and unreliable ones." Too true.

I arrived here almost by accident, and now wonder why I've not visited sooner.

Keep up the great work.



I'm reminded of a story: when the trumpeter Miles Davis first heard the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett play, he asked, "What's it like being a genius?"

The same interrogative appies here.



"As he died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free
Our God is marching on. "

Wonderful, and true.

-Jeff



When I grow up, I wanna write like you Bill. Alas, I'm already grown up. But I ran across this snippet of a speech recently given at a pro-troops rally I wanted to share.

If you want to see true human shields, walk through Arlington Cemetery. There lie human shields, heroes, and the BRAVE Americans who didn't get on television and talk about being a human shield -- they were human shields.
-- Beth Chapman



Bill,
It might have been sheer luck, but in February when my Brit journalist friend offered me the 6 videotapes of the 9-hour, "The Civil War", I jumped at the chance. He and I live in Bangkok, Thailand, expats both and writers of some worth... perhaps. The timing was serendipitous, indeed.

My wife and I speak only Thai in our home, but our two sons, aged 7 and 9, speak Thai and English fluently and watched much of the tapes with me, asking meaningful questions and trying to understand how I, Daddy, could be so upset as to be crying while watching still pictures of men mauling each other, time and again, and again, and yet again... in those far-off American settings... are THEY the bad guys, Daddy?

So patiently I helped them understand what I was struggling to come to grips with, that they are here, branches of two wonderful freedom-loving roots, one Thai-Lao and one Swedish-American... and how the American part of their heritage is steeped in freedom, just as the Thai roots are sprung from freedom...

But Daddy cries, because he knows that men, like Daddy, with Daddy's name, Hooper, served in the Union infantry and cavalry, and were incarcerated at Andersonville... there, that prison, see it? And Hoopers also served in the Confederate Artillery, and Cavalry, and were there on both sides at the Battle of Gettysburg...

And this was sinking in, deeply for me, the beginning of a long process for my sons, but coming home to me in ways which I never imagined when first I committed to watch the tapes...

Those soldiers, believing in their rightness, seeing around them the reality of the pain they were inflicting, the horror of their unresolved conflict, yet chose to give all rather than give up.

My sons asked if my service in Korea was like this... no, I said, but when I served on that island just south of the North Korean border, I learned and accepted that freedom is NOT FREE, and that Semper Vigilis (Ever Watchful) is more than just the motto of the intelligence-gathering Agency I served with. It is a need, an onus and a duty which falls to men and women of good conscience, when there IS conflict and when there seems NO conflict. If all around us were trustworthy, good and honorable, there would be no need for Arlington and those who shield, with their efforts and their bodies, the rest of us. We would not need to give our last full measure of devotion to America...

And I learned further, Bill, that as painful as it was at times, I did it willingly, as a volunteer serviceman NOT under duress. And I learned, while there, that there IS a DISTINCTION between the Kim, Jong-ils, the Saddam's and the Maos and the Hitlers of the world... and the George Bush's, who -however reluctantly- stand to carry out their oath of office and protect 'the land of the free, and the home of the brave.'

It was not easy, in the VietNam era, returning to a society rabidly spitting on me and my uniform as I tried to duck and weave through Sea-Tac International... It is not easy now, accepting that every nation of the world is potentially enslaved by the fear of the real terror which can be wrought by a tiny handful of dedicated sociopaths and ideologues... It is not easy to read posts by naive, well-meaning youngsters and long-time leftists and others who use their American-government-protected 'right to free speech' to speak poorly of their country, but it IS part of the process, and I DO TRUST that our higher nature, our positive strengths and our essential nobility will shine through... both during and after the War with Iraq.

KDean Hooper
Dr O'Kay



Another excellent and moving essay, Bill.

But we do have some other friends besides the British and Australians who are helping us out, like those Polish Special Forces guys, and a lot of others whose nations may be less inclined to put their contributions in the spotlight. As you wrote, the yearning for freedom is universal, not just something for us English-speakers.



Bravo, Bill. And thank you.



Very nice essay, as usual. I too have been very conflicted about this war, and have been forced to do a tremendous amount of soul-searching - right up until the day the bombing started, in fact. Eventually I decided that the war was necessary, however unfortunate; this essay says, eloquently, many of the things I have clumsily pieced together for myself the last few weeks in order to come to that conclusion. If it had been out a little earlier you would have saved me much torment.

The majority of my internal strife has sprung from the suspicion that this war was being fought primarily for personal gain on the part of a select few of our leaders. Your essay provides excellent perspective on that concern; regardless of the initial motivations of our leaders, this war has become a war for freedom for the Iraqi people, just as the Civil War turned into a war of freedom for our slaves. When the war ends, many people will get rich off of the Iraqi oil, but the Iraqi people will also have won their freedom. At the worst I suppose it is a win-win situation; but since nations don't act out of altruism, I suppose that is the best we could hope for.

The only problem I have with your "time line" argument is that it works both ways- this invasion could very well be the lighting of the fuse, the action that sets events into motion which culminate in the horrors you described. Unfortunately you can say the same thing about any action, or indeed, any inaction- only a fool would claim to know in advance the full consequences of their actions. None of us are prophets. All we can do is determine what we think is right, and then act with conviction to make it so- damning the torpedoes as we go.

Anyway keep up the good work. I can't wait to buy your first book.



As fine a peice of writing as I have ever seen on line. When I saw the du Toits' emoticons I thought they were insufficient; I have tears leaking from _both_ eyes.

Others have promised you a drink if you make it up their way. If you make it to Milwaukee (hell, I'll bring it to Oshkosh if you come to the fly-in) I'll offer you the Signatory 20.



Bill,

Congratulations. Cheers. "Bloody well done" as my Brit friends would say. Once again, sir, you have struck the nail on the head. You drive the points home well and deeply. You enlighten those who see your words by merging thought and perspective, leading the others to see events unfolding today in the light shed by those who struggled so 140 years ago.

Little Round Top has been identified as the key point of the Battle of Gettysburg. Yet what many don't know is that this key terrain was unoccupied by any line troops on the morning of July 2, 1863. The Chief of Engineers for Gen. Meade, Brigadier General (BG) Gouverneur K. Warren, was walking the left end of the defense, checking positions when he saw that Gen. Sickles had moved his entire corps, leaving Little Round Top undefended. Without prompt action by BG Warren, the outcome of Gettysburg would have been completely different.

I first really came to understand how important BG Warren's actions were when I taught leadership to young NCOs in the Army's Primary Leadership Development Course. His actions were shown as an example of someone stepping into the breach and taking immediate action without necessarily waiting for specific orders to do so.

The course where we studied BG Warren was titled Duties, Responsibilities, and Authority of the Non-Commissioned Officer. I always identified strongly with this course, as I felt the subject was the bedrock wherefrom the strength of any leader flowed.

If you examine the actions of BG Warren from almost any position other than that of a leader, he grossly overextended his nominal authority. He was a staff officer, albeit a key one. He had no command authority over any single commander on the battlefield. Yet he sent out his staff in a desperate effort to get some troops to the hill. He saw identified a critical issue, and took immediate steps to come to grips with it. One of his staff members found Colonel Vincent Strong marching his troops to support to join Gen. Sickles. Despite his orders, he saw the weakness presented by Little Round Top and marched his brigade to the position. There, he placed the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment on the left flank, with Colonel Chamberlain in command. The rest, as you say, is history. But what set the conditions so necessary for us to prevail in that terrible battle?

Duty. Responsibility. Authority.

BG Warren's duty led him to examine the defenses for his boss. When he found a decisive point of terrain undefended, he took responsibility to immediately find forces to occupy that terrain and deny it to the enemy. While the set of the defense was within his authority, he had no authority to re-task a brigade to occupy it. He and Colonel Strong used the authority of leaders in general to remedy a key defect. Without the efforts of these two leaders, and the courage, valor, and committment of Colonel Chamberlain and his men, the outcome of the key battle of the Civil War would have been greatly different. As you say, it is unknowable what the difference would have been. We live in a society that is a result of the actions of those men, who acted in accordance with the dictates of duty, responsibility, and authority.

I have argued in another thread on your site that America has acted in accordance with our national self interest to intervene in Iraq. I firmly believe that we came to that position based upon our duty, responsibility, and authority to the world in general, and our people in particular.

As you said above, in the light of September 11, 2001, our leaders had to take a long, hard look at the world around them. They saw what you detailed. I believe this is the point where they started making decisions that would effect us all.

The National Command Authority (NCA) is made up of the President, the Secretary of Defense, the major Combatant Commanders (i.e. the Commanding Generals of CENTCOM, USCINCEUR, CINCPAC, etc.), the Service Secretaries and the Chief of each Service. The NCA has the duty as well as the responsibility to protect America and her citizens. These duties and responsibilites are delineated within the Constitution, and the Annotated Code of the United States. The oath of office, as well as the oath of enlistment, cites

"...to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."
This key phrase sets both the duty and responsibility of dealing with opponents to our national interests, as well as providing the authority for them to do so.

It is the duty of the NCA to protect and defend America. The President and his staff have followed their duty and identified a threat to our vital national interests. Whether or not they have clearly elucidated their reasoning is immaterial. They have the responsibility to make such determinations, and have done so. The positions they hold both oblige them to act as they deem appropriate, and responsible to us a nation for their actions or lack thereof. Finally, the President has the authority granted by the constitution in his role as Commander-In-Chief, to take such military actions as he deems appropriate and necessary.

He has done so in the case of Iraq. Our troops are now engaged in deadly battle against the forces of a maniacal despot who murders, assassainates, and destroys any and all opponents. He takes these acts without any check or balance; there is no rule of law applicable to him, only his whim applies. If he is feeling merciful, he puts people into shredders head first. Otherwise, he puts them in feet first.

The constitution places a check and balance on the President's military authority by placing the power of the purse in the hands of Congress. Congress agreed with his reasoning back in November when they passed the bill authorizing the use of force in Iraq. They are now in the process of approving additional funding for this military action, further assenting to the use of force against Iraq.

America as a nation has been thrust into a leadership role amoung the other nations of the world. We did not strive directly for this position, but rather assumed it out of necessity. We are now acting as a leader does. Perhaps not with exact knowledge of all possible outcomes, nor with other than a reasonable guess as to the duration of hostilities. But we are acting as a leader does.

According to the tenets of those three imperatives: duty, responsibility, and authority.

Sapper Mike



Absolutley beautiful, Bill. I wish I could shake your hand.

Thank you.



I may have to read this post every week, just to remind myself that the brave, inventive, and above all else, GOOD people who made America what it is today have not completely disappeared. Its hard to remember that watching anti-war protesters and CNN. :(



Excellent job, Bill! As a Desert Storm veteran, I have a different perspective than the mob of antiwar protestors who follow agitators that tell them whom to hate. I sneer in disgust when they claim to "support the troops," since many of them are the same people who spit in the faces of Vietnam veterans over 30 years ago. Before I retired from the military, I learned to be an expert at assessing risks, and know that making decisions that may place another service member's life in danger is one of the hardest of all. But the cost of inaction is like a debt to a loan shark that compounds daily at an astronomical rate. Unlike the sheep who attend antiwar rallies without thinking, just about everyone in the military weighs the consequences and impact of our actions - their lives literally depend upon paying careful attention to these things. And when a war is thrust upon us, we become more than fellow employees, but brothers and sisters in a common cause.



After a morning of reading and watching the relentlessly defeatist war coverage in The New York Times and on CNN, I felt the black cloud of depression starting to close in on me. That's something that each of us can ill afford right now, so I turned to the blogsphere for bucking-up. By happy chance, I stumbled on your essay "History."

Thank you. You are incredibly eloquent. God, there are people out there who can write! I know that everything you say is true, but to see it put with such passion and eloquence is a great morale booster.

On the subject of morale, let me also say that you are doing very important work. So is everyone who who writes (in the press or on the web), e-mails friends, challenges stupidities uttered by friends, aquiantances and strangers, and generally speaks up in support of our country, freedom and the truth. This is a small contribution, but it is one we can all make.



May I direct your attention to Richard Moe's book entitled "THE LAST FULL MEASURE" starting with pg 268 for who really saved the Union that day, namely the First Minnesota.



The Brent's of the world will always be taking and not giving.



The Brent's of the world will always take and not give.



Bill,

Yup. I was right. It was worth the wait. Excellent job, as usual.

May I add my name to the list of those waiting to buy you your favorite beverage? Anytime you're in Salem, OR, give me a shout and I'll stand the round.

You keep writing like this, you may not ever have to buy a drink again!

Orion



Spot on, excellent, and well-said. As always.



I don't think there are enough superlatives in the thesaurus.



It always seems unlikely that your next opus will be even better than the last, but we've come to expect the unlikely from you. You may single handedly be the "renaissance" of the essay, long overdue and greatly undervalued. Your observations and perspectives on history may themselves become history of note.
Please continue, and Godspeed.



Excellent, absolutely excellent. Bravo, Bill.



Thanks for a very moving essay. I just discovered your site.

If you're looking for an opening quotation, may I suggest:

"The noblest fate a man can endure is to place his mortal body between his loved home and the war's desolation." (Robert A. Heinlein, "Starship Troopers")

Such, indeed, are the *real* human shields.



That's swell. Who did this kid die for?



As marvelous as the essay is, many of the comments are also worth printing for distribution.

I know many combat veterans of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam and a some other "minor" spots who would applaud all of you if they were able, or alive.

Thank you. All of you.



I recognize the likely futility of attempting to offer a dissenting view to a bloodthirsty choir disguised as a thoughtful forum for ideas (as long as they agree with the preacher?s). At the very least, perhaps I?ll give you someone to attack, so you don?t have to keep slapping each other on the back. I think that?d get boring after a while.

For the sake of the discussion, let?s say that a primary reason for our invasion of Iraq is to free those oppressed peoples. I think that Americans generally believe that FREEDOM is an absolute value who?s definition is something we all agree on. Ask any ten people anywhere in this country for their definition of what freedom is (and how close to that ideal they personally feel they exist) and I submit you?ll come up with ten fairly diverse opinions. Even those of you here who argue in favor of the war are likely not in agreement about it. Yet, not only is that not an open topic for discussion, you?d suggest that we all rally around some variant of ?freedom? as being such an inarguable benefit that it licenses us to attempt to enforce it elsewhere. And whether your definition of freedom agrees with your neighbor?s or not, to suggest that it can be ENFORCED on potentially unwilling subjects is antithetical. If freedom doesn?t allow for its rejection, then it can?t be called freedom by anyone?s definition.

That said, the fact that ?freeing the Iraqis? seems to be the most prominent argument in favor of war would appear to evidence a very successful exercise in mass hypnosis. I submit that anyone who doesn?t realize that this invasion is all about a desperate attempt to hang on to a standard of living that this planet doesn?t seem likely to sustain is kidding themselves.

So here?s how I see your argument, folks: If I don?t fall for the misty-eyed rhetoric that legitimizes killing for the sake of another two years of being able to fill up those three car garages, then I?m hatefully unpatriotic. And if I complain that my rights are being withdrawn on a daily basis, supported by the propaganda that you all buy to feel better about the fact that you?re condemning untold numbers to death, I truly am the villain, huh?

Sing a few notes of THAT tune.



John 10:11 a.m.,
That poor boy died because his "president" is a magalomaniac who cares more about billion dollar palaces and pursuing unbounded power than he does about being a real leader of his people.



Bill St. James,
If protecting my country and my way of life is being bloodthirsty, so be it.
If you think this is all about OILLLLL!!!! at this late date, I don't know why I'm bothering to reply at all.
If you cannot come up with a consistent definition of freedom, and believe that justifies fascism, you are just sick.
Get over your white liberal perfectionist guilt syndrome (WLPGS).
You seem to think we are going to overheat or blow up the earth in a few years anyway. Why wait-avoid the rush and kill yourself now!



Bill,
Wonderful work. Can't add much to the platitudes above. Sorry about the following.


dfarmer,
I'll call you neither unpatriotic or a villain. Just a dope. There is nothing in the planning or implementation of this action that outlines the ENFORCEMENT of freedom. Only it's possibility, something impossible under the strangulating grasp of the only bloodthirsty person in sight - Saddam.

Your arguments are unconvincing:
1. The Iraqi citizens are not rushing headlong into the streets supporting us, therefore we oughtn't be there (I doubt the average Iraqi citizen has a very well-rounded view of the issue, due to having had some relative put thru a plastic shredder by the very folks that will shoot them in the head if they show anything but blind support for the madman that runs their country, nor the freedom to do so for the same reason.)

2. "another two years of being able to fill up those three car garages" - standard "it's all about oil" and class warfare rhetoric, all rolled up into one neat phrase - extra points awarded for brevity.

3. "my rights being withdrawn on a daily basis" - you're awfully self-important, aren't you?

If you really read and absorbed the essence of the piece, that there's something more than self and almost nothing higher than selflessness, it'd be worth slapping you down. But your real desire is be recognized as the squeaky wheel that you are. Great to live in a country where that's possible without having your tongue cut out and watch yourself bleed to death.



Bill St. James,

I defy you to find a single American- a single Iraqi, a single ANYONE- whose definition of "freedom" involves being brutally tortured, violated, and murdered by a government which calls itself above the law.

I defy you to find a single American willing to live in the chains of true tyranny, where all ability to change the fate of the nation- buying political advertisements, organizing recall campaigns, and criticizing government, have been legally nullified.

And I defy you to find a single sane Iraqi who will reject the freedom and prosperity America at least TRIES to provide, and instead take the barren malice of the Islamists, or the cynical exploitation the French use in ALL of their oil deals. Hell, I'd be extremely surprised if you can name ONE nation who America "robs" of oil in the manner that the European Union- same colonialists, new methods- uses.

If we buy Iraqi oil for anything less than world value I will be astounded. America is NOT in danger of growing poor, you deluded simpleton. America is in danger of being destroyed by a psychopath who has stated his goal of destroying the one check to his power in some of the most explicit and vile fantasies since Mein Kampf, and who possesses some of the worst weapons in human history.

Sing a few notes of that tune.



Could someone clarify the source of the historical quote above:

"This war is an abject and utter failure. What everyone thought would be a...."

Thanks



"I submit that anyone who doesn?t realize that this invasion is all about a desperate attempt to hang on to a standard of living that this planet doesn?t seem likely to sustain is kidding themselves. "

I can understand why you buy into the "unsustainable standard of living" line, but you really ought to get hit by a clue stick.

Human welfare is getting better worldwide. We aren't running out of resources. In fact the price of resources in terms of human time has been declining since recorded history. That decline hasn't reversed, it has accelerated.

You shouldn't worry about filling your gas tank. Your grandchildren won't have to worry about filling their tanks, either.



And to Bill Whittle: I am exceptionally privileged to call myself one of the first people to read your writing, at Rachellucas.com. There is zero doubt in my mind that you could write for whatever publication you desired to work for. You could charge $100 for your book, and it would still be the most undervalued text since the $10 Bible.

You have surely noticed that your kindness, brilliance, abilities, and goodness have been remarked on by what I'm sure are hundreds of thousands of individual Americans and citizens of the world by this point. To keep your writing in this relatively less-travelled website is a crime akin to wrapping the beauty of woman in a suffocating burqa, locking an innocent and young puppy in a bare, fetid cage, and hiding the light of the world underneath a bowl.

I can't think of a being whose texts I would rather read, save for God's. For humans, you are one of the greatest writers we have ever seen. If your ego was proportional to your ability (unlike the arrogance of people without your dignity and grace)... I shudder to think of what an evil Bill Whittle could do.

God bless you and yours, my friend.



Mr. St. James (10:41 a.m.),

You are most certainly correct in that no two people will give an exact reply to what ?Freedom? (sic) is. But therein lies the subtle idea of freedom: It means different things to different people. To some, it means being able to say what they want, without many limitations. To others, that they be able to protest what they think are idiot notions that should be stamped out. The possibilities are myriad, and right for each individual. Because in its basic form, freedom is an individual thing.

You posit that the war in Iraq

"...is all about a desperate attempt to hang on to a standard of living that this planet doesn?t seem likely to sustain..."

Certainly, this planet cannot sustain such "ravages" for more than the next century or two. The actions of the early industrialists come to mind for sheer rapine. However, had we not learned a little stewardship over the years, I think there would already greater problems than we have. I am also equally certain that our children and their children will improve the technology and standard of life for themselves and their children.

Yes, Mr. St. James, I think this war is justified, and the fact that we are engaged in it now rather than at some later time is a good thing. I have fought in our armed forces, and understand the cost of such effort. I also recognize the cost of failing to make that effort. The cost is incomparably higher when we fail to act.

Sapper Mike



Looks like Bill St. James missed the whole point. I visit many blogs, and I haven't seen anyone arguing that the only reason we're in Iraq is to liberate the Iraqi's -- that's merely a secondary benefit to the people of Iraq. The main goal is disarmament of Saddan through the only means he has left the world, and by the world I mean the world led by the U.S. because most other nations have abdicated said responsibility.



As always, it was well worth the wait, and for the first time, you've got a following here at my school that agrees. Get the book out quickly, the natives are restless!



Dear Patrick

Thanks for your reply. I reckon just about anyone who reads different stuff, assigns different credibility to it and comes to different conclusions than you is a dope.

There absolutely IS an enforcement of freedom. If Iraqi citizens try to defend themselves in the face of the force that's delivering freedom to their door, they will be killed. That is force and it doesn't allow for discussion.

It seems you folks want it both ways. Either the people of Iraq are too stupid or uninformed to know what they should want or they DO know but we have to show them we know better (because they aren't choosing us and that by definition, means they're wrong). And I'm not basing any bit of my argument on the fact that we're not being welcomed with open arms. That would be a very easy way to point out a way in which our foreign policy since the Cold War has been defective...in school we were always authoritatively instructed that the people of the USSR and China would welcome us in a similar way...which in turn has fed our sense of being beyond reproach in whatever way we choose to deal with the rest of the world.

I appreciate your response to my suggestion that oil is the issue. Instead of offering any sort of argument at all either that it ISN'T the issue or that resources are running out (documentation of which I'd be happy to provide, but I'm guessing you'd dismiss because it's not what you want to believe), you just say everyone says that and apparently you feel as though my argument is rendered untenable. Good work.

The Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act are eating up YOUR rights too you moron. The fact that you'd choose to see my statement as a demonstration of my isolated self-interest indicates that a) you don't really have much to say in rebuttal and b) you'd rather attack me than my beliefs.

The "piece" appeals to your emotional sensibilities. You're trying to overlay a logical argument on something your heart responds to. And in order to get there you have to cut corners of logic by proclaiming certain opinions as FACT. Why don't you just admit that instead of trying to appear to be the voice of reason and authority?



excellent as always. keep up the great work and hold a copy of your book for me as soon as you get it published.



For Jon Davison:

1) I think the people in the pro-war camp would have different (from one another) views about why we're really fighting in Iraq. I haven't seen any one overriding consensus.o
2) I suppose that the fact that George Bush, Colin Powell and Tony Blair have all been caught citing forged documents in order to support their claim of Saddam's capabilities (and admitted it) means nothing at all.

Which point did I miss?



Mr. Whittle,

I have read all of your essays on this site and am awed. There is a power, a magnificence, an understanding of human nature that far outstrips the mere words strung together by others.

I realize that your schedule must be filling up awfully quickly with offers of free food and drink, but I will add my name to the bottom of that list.

Should your peregrinations ever bring you to the East Coast (NYC, Boston, or...Newport, RI), please advise as to the when and where. I would consider it a signal honor to shake your hand, and a distinct privilege to share a meal and a toast with you at the location of your choice.

Please add me to the list of folks waiting to purchase multiple copies of your book when it is published.

Thank you - for the higher vision and the ennobling thoughts.



Bill St. James,

I assure you: the ONE reason Iraqis do not support us is because America sold them out the last time, on the behest of the "coalition" of the useless. Your proclamation that Iraqis want the prestige or the dignity of Saddam in power, or the sight of simpering French diplomats cutting a new deal with the next tyrant in line, is so counter to intuition that it boggles the mind.

http://www.iran-daneshjoo.org/

These people, for instance, may prove the fact, evidently delicate in your mind, that people may not only welcome Americans, but welcome them more than you would.

Again: if the world runs short on oil, rest assured the United States will offer better prices for it than anyone else. And that they will go further towards solving the problem- eg. fuel cells, hydrogen cars- than any other nation, with perhaps the exception of Japan for cars. Of course we don't want nations who have betrayed us and worked against us to compete for the oil contracts, but our allies (Britain, Australia) are fair game. One last time: it's not the OIL, it's the fact America is the one thing between Saddam and his dreams of power, and therefore he wishes our destruction. Not since Lindbergh have I seen such blindness towards the obvious.



For Craig:

I'm very sorry, I didn't receive the propaganda packet that proved we're not in Iraq for the oil. Perhaps "at this late date" you pro-war folks have spent too much time circle-jerking to get that word out properly. In any case I sure appreciate that you'd even respond to a dunce like me.

I didn't say I can't come up with a consistent definition of freedom. I said that on this planet and among Americans, you're going to find many different opinions of that. And YOU didn't respond to the idea that freedom can't be enforced, by definition.

Boy do you have ME pegged. I'm anti-gun control, against tax and spend and for reducing national government control...to name a few.



For trevalyan:

I'm not going to attempt to name one person who believes that freedom includes the qualities you mention. But it's pretty typical of the responses here...be obtuse about the points being made (or pretend to be) so you don't have to really respond substantively.

I SAID that since we all don't even agree among ourselves exactly what freedom is, how can we use this abstract notion as LICENSE to shove it down someone else's throats?

I also said that if freedom doesn't include the ability to reject it, then it isn't freedom by any definition. At this moment what we're doing in Iraq doesn't offer them any choices but to allow themselves to be subjected to whatever we offer (and we're not sure what that is, so how could we expect them to endorse it?) or be killed.

Is our motto in this war,"Be Free American-style or Die?"



Sorry...one other thing. This deluded simpleton is awed to be in the presence of such superior thinkers and I appreciate that you put up with me. But I wonder on what such bile-inspired authority you (trevalyan and all others who are in the club I've been left out of) can claim that our resources will be around for generations? I have evidence right here that not only proves otherwise but that the Bush gang is also well aware of it. But since none of you have seen it or recognize its veracity, I must be the one who's full of crap.

Strength in numbers. If enough of you can just laugh with each other and agree that you're the True Righteous Defenders Of Freedom" then golly, you must be.



Once again, I regret the terribly biased and relatively unimportant things that are taught in American history classes around the United States these days. Were more children to learn this way, with the things that you have mentioned and being instilled with an understanding of the "why" of the issues, perhaps we'd be a people better off. Instead, they are taught to be proud of the accomplishments, knowing little of what was the aim for most of the things that were done. It's tragic, really.

One thing I can say about humans and war; many die, but always, no matter what, humans as a species survive and recover. What sets us apart from animals is that we hold in our hands the ability to destroy one another, but that we can choose what we are fighting for. Our higher ideals, our thinking... It is what defines us. Wars may come and go, but then... There's always people. It makes me feel good to know that we still can care for one another enough to fight and die freeing fellow people.

Thank you for a moving and incredibly informed read.

All the best! - Jacinta M.



For Rohan:

Excuse me. When did I proclaim anything like

"Iraqis want the prestige or the dignity of Saddam in power, or the sight of simpering French diplomats cutting a new deal with the next tyrant in line..."

Nice. Now we're resorting to extreme misattribution in order to win an argument. Is that the best you can do? Respond to what you wish I would have said?

By the way, can you provide me with the documentation that demonstrates Saddam's "dreams of power?" His diary, perhaps? As far as I can tell, he's a pretty unsavory character and likely capable of actions that would make most of us shudder, but I tend to regard reports of his quest for domination over us as convenient triggers designed to get people like you to knee-jerk a response. And it works great too.

Your unbeliveable misquotiing of me suggests your unreliability as an objective correspondent. I won't spend any more time thinking about your dumb post.



"But I have often wondered, what if this history, the one we know as reality, was the one gone horribly wrong? "

I'm certain that there exist alternate Americas by whose standards ours has gone horribly wrong.

What if there had never been a New Deal or a Great Depression?

What if "the Space Age" had been our second Manifest Destiny rather than a collection of expensive publicity stunts?

What if medical technology had advanced so rapidly that there still lived a handful of Civil War veterans?

Is there a single pivot point that might have made the difference? Maybe, maybe not. But this is not the best of all possible worlds, not by a long shot.

Here's one possible scenario, pulled out of thin air:

Teddy Roosevelt wins the election of 1912. Two to three years later, he announces that the United States is joining the "Great War", three years ahead of (our) schedule.

He is impeached and thrown out of office. His progressive platform is discredited along with him. 19th Century laissez faire economics becomes the order of the day.

The Federal Reserve, which figured heavily in the Great Depression, is dismantled. A few historians will remember that one of the periodic downturns in our economy occured from 1929-1931 or thereabouts.

Prohibition never happened. No one has ever heard of a "gangster".

The rapid-fire introduction of groundbreaking new inventions that characterized the 19th century continues uninterrupted, builds on itself, and accelerates throughout the 20s, 30s, and beyond.

No one has seen a ground car in decades, except in museums.

The Federal Communications Act, if anyone had dared to introduce it, would have been rejected as a socialist plot, and as an intolerable affront to the First Amendment. Instead, rights to the radio spectrum have been bought and sold as property for decades, opening up opportunities for innovators to introduce new uses for wireless communication without playing Mother May I with the (non-existent) FCC. No one has seen a wired telephone in several decades either. Computer (wireless) networks sparked general excitement, a short period of irrational exuberance, a burst bubble, then a recovery and the beginning of a long period of continued development - in the 1950's.

During the 1930's, the Supreme Court finally declares that the states are not permitted by the 14th Amendment to run segregated school systems. Several states respond by eliminating all of their public schools. This practice eventually spreads as those states experience improvements in the educational attainment of their children.
As technological development proceeds, free market private schools drastically shorten their breaks and adjust their curricula, thereby allowing most children to continue to become self-supporting adults by age 18. The rate of unwed teen pregnancy never becomes much of a problem.

The US military plants the flag in Earth orbit, and builds up an unbeatable presence while the Kaiser and the Soviets are busy duking it out, and while the Japs and the Chinese are similarly locked in combat. By the time the dust settles over there, the United States of America owns outer space.

We spend the rest of the century embracing our new "Manifest Destiny". We welcome immigrants in staggering numbers, go on breeding like rabbits (since the real and imagined limitations of Earth's resources and environment aren't an issue), and take over the Solar System.

Our flag end up with 150 stars, with more undoubtedly to be added throughout the 21st century.

The gold standard finally becomes unworkable when we come up with a working fusion reactor. Instead, we rely on "networked bartering", where automatic agents negotiate complex trade deals on our behalf. If we have gadgets and want widgets, our agent trades first for thingamobobs, then thingamobobs for doohickeys, and finally doohickeys for widgets - all in fractions of a second with other peoples' automated agents.

No one needs permission to buy and sell medicines. No one has ever heard of a "prescription". People are still annoyed even to this day by bogus cures that sometimes appear, and sometimes even call for Washington to "do something". It never occurs to those people that, had Washington taken that advice a few decades ago, their anti-aging treatments would not exist, and they would find themselves subjected to a horrible death in less than a century!

Global temperatures plunge throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, after we stop using obsolete and inefficient fossil fuels. There are calls for the government to spend scads of money pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but nothing is ever done. Agriculture moves to space and under domes, and life goes on.

Feel free to poke holes in this rosy scenario at will.



Mr. St. James,

You say your rights are being taken away from you. Can you please list for us here, anything that you cannot do today that you could do before January 20th, 2001? What right, in particular, has been taken from you?

Secondly, do you honestly believe that Saddam Hussein can be trusted to not provide access to the vast stores of chemical and biological weapons he currently possesses to groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

Thirdly, is anything worth dying for to you? Are you willing to risk your life to prevent your daughter from being raped? Are you willing to do so for your neighbor's child?

If you hear the man in the house next door beating his wife, after weeks and weeks of hearing her screams as he beat her before, but this time you hear him swear that he is going to kill her, will you go dashing in to help even though you know she might, for some reason or other, not appreciate it?

What astounds about your position that ordinary Iraqis are fighting the US military because they don't like freedom is your complete lack of acknowledgement that many of them are doing so because a gun was pointed to their childrens' heads.

Your first comment here was prefaced with a blanket condemnation of the supporters of this war as being a bloodthirsty choir so do not try to claim victim status by trying to make it sound as if you simply offered an opinion and are being attacked for it.

Either way, you are just as "bloodthirsty" as the rest of us. Saddam has tortured, maimed and murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people. And he has not shown any sign that he would stop doing so. His two sons, one of whom will succeed him, have both played major parts in his blood-soaked continuing reign of terror.

You cannot deny this. So advocating doing nothing, as you do, would result in years and years of more Iraqis tortured, maimed and killed. At least those of us supporting the war consider stopping this worth some sacrifice, sacrifices as great as the lives of our soldiers who are our brothers and sisters.

This shows that we who support this war believe the lives of Iraqis are worth something. A pity it cannot be said about you.



for Sapper Mike:

Thanks very much for your thoughtful response to my post. Although it appears that most people who've responded aren't particularly interested in addressing what I actually said with the sort of gentle logic you employ, my intention was to try and find some common ground with people who have a different view than I.

I respect your belief that this war is (was) inevitable. And although I don't agree, I have no aspirations to change anyone's mind. But it seems to me that the reasons we're there are NOT the reasons we're being told we're there. I'd suggest we've had many opportunities in our history to confront horrible dictators who potentially held the power to damage us and left them alone. There are such people in power now that many would suggest are more dangerous than Saddam. All I'm trying to do is to get through the civics class bull**** that I believe the preponderance of Americans bought in the 7th grade and have never questioned since. I think that lots of folks take comfort in the idea that the people they elect to office become automatically endowed with intelligence, selflessness and good will just by virtue of a democratic vote.

Judging by most of the responses I've seen, it doesn't look like many people on this site have advanced to a place where they can think clearly past their programming.

I would suggest that there might be some misinformation being accepted as fact as regards our reserves of natural resources and our stewardship of the planet, which would be a separate issue if it wasn't for the possibility that it's driving war policy (in spite of the smug, derisive responses I've seen today). Did you hear George's message to the Iraqi people two days before the invasion? "Keep your hands off the oil wells, or else."

Thanks again, Mike... It was refreshing to get an actual human response.

Bill



Thanks Bill.
*****************
People, don't feed the trolls. They just eat up Bill's bandwidth with circular logic that serves no other purpose than to stroke their egos and give them the self-congratulatory jerk material they need.

We all know, if they find the views here repugnant, they can leave the area. They are here to get a rise out of you and to insult Bill.

Give them the attention they deserve: None.



I am one who had serious reservations about the wisdom of going into Iraq without much greater support from the world community. We may yet rue the day, but a difficult decision had to be made, and we now have to proceed, for a while at least, as if we had no alternative.

Your essay is profound and gives a very important perspective that every citizen should contemplate. I do hope that all of us will remember that communicating is 50% conveying and 50% listening.

An interesting paraphrase from Gandhi:
Even a pacifist must have the courage to give his life for a loved one, to place himself between his wife and children if they are about to be shot.



Another fantastic essay Bill..........!!!!

You should be George Bush's speechwriter.....not that the current one he's using is bad mind you....your words are simply magnificent.

I am a former Candian soldier who served as a UN peacekeeper for 6 months in the Middle East. I also sat in a tank in Europe for 6 years during the "Cold War" doing my duty to protect us from the "Brent's and Bill St.James's" of the world, who have apparently resurfaced here on your site after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in 1990. Your commments about GWB sitting down and deciding to "take out the trash in the world" (my words) after 9/11 hit the nail on the head.

Something to note for future reference, if you are so inclined, is a small list that I call the "5 Pillars of Liberal/Left-Wing Politics"

You will undoubtably, if you have not already done so, come across them in some of the responses to your writings......due to a lack of factual, logical, verifiable rebutals from the left wing....they will resort to the following tactics, in no particular order.....

-Hysteria
-Thought Control
-Name Calling
-Projection of Guilt
-Denial of Reality

Keep track it some time.......

Keep up the good work. Unfortunately your words may fall on deaf ears, as those people who could most benefit from a thorough read of your site are barely able to remember anything that's longer than 3-4 words, doesn't have any mor ethan one syllable and rhymes with oil.



A few days ago, after years of avoiding political discussions, an old, close friend and I got into an argument about the present war. It was short but bitter and as he walked out I thought it might be the last time I would see him.

Here is a message I just sent him after reading your brilliant essay:

Hello Cliff,

The piece linked below is so eloquent, so powerful and moving it almost convinced me that this war is a just cause.

I sincerely request that you read it. Reading the first paragraphs you may think I have tried to trick you into reading an anti-war essay, but it's not a trick--you need to read several hundred words before you see just where the writer is taking you.

After reading this I understood why you and I disagree over this war, and I see that our opinions are really not so different. I think BOTH of us believe in the noble cause so beautifully described in this essay. Our only difference is that you believe this war was started by men and women who are determined to uphold that noble cause and I have a more cynical view of their motives.

It's long but I think you will not want it to end.

I hope we can meet again soon.

John



For Martin Knight:

I truly appreciate your considered response.

The Homeland Security Act and The Patriot Act have made it possible for my phone to be tapped without my knowledge and without due process; similarly, ISP's can be forced to provide access to all internet communications all without my knowledge. I'm not going to attempt an exhaustive list, but I think you'd have to agree that history shows that upon entering such a slippery slope, that a significant act of God is required to reverse the trend. And if your point is that I should just wait until I'm in prison for something before I complain, I'm not inclined to follow that strategy.

I'll share one product of this new policy that I'm aware of: In my locale, an American citizen of Arabic descent several years ago made a contribution to an organization that has just now popped up on the radar screen as being a "possible" terrorist sympathetic front. He's now being detained somewhere, whereabouts and condition unknown to his family without being charged with any crime.

Since much of the definitive evidence that's been used to demonstrate Saddam's warchest has been revealed as being forged, I'd ask what specific stores you're referring to. And by who's authority can you claim that the information is correct? I guess all those chemical and nuclear weapons being used against our troops would do that.

Yes, absolutely there are things I would die for. I resent the implication that you'd suggest otherwise. However, I reserve the right to determine my own values..neither your sensibilities nor those of the mob carry the cachet of righteousness.

I didn't understand the first part of the sentence which ends with Iraqi people fighting because of having a gun put to their head. As if that were completely unacceptable to you. It may surprise you to know that I'm a Viet Nam era veteran of the Air Force and I'll tell you unequivocally: Americans were sent into battle in that conflict by the ultimate authority of a gun to their heads. So please don't give me that "Saddam is a monster" stuff or these people are only fighting us based on fear of Saddam based on that.

I'm not claiming victim status...I'm decrying the inability of most respondents here to make a cogent argument devoid of jingoism or sentimentality.

Characterizing me as bloodthirsty because my position might allow Saddam to continue his alleged (oh wait, we've already tried and sentenced him, the American way) inhumanity is quite a stretch...and certainly beyond the bounds of any logical analysis. I could as easily say, why haven't you gone over there yourself and blasted his brains out personally? And since you haven't you're as guilty as you accuse me of being.

Please show me where, in any of what I'vew written today, I advocate "doing nothing?" Again, making your OWN version of my case for me so that you don't have to respond to what I actually have said. I guess I'm allowed to do that too. So, the only two alternatives are doing nothing or kicking ass, eh?

Mr Orwell would be so proud. The fact that we're over there killing them means we care about them. And the fact that I advocate not killing them means I don't care about them.

Very cute. But also kind of creepy.



In an effort to show how easy the peace activists logic can be applied to any situation, I must ask a few questions. I may have to write a little program to generate this kind of mindless drivel automatically, just by inserting the name of the appropriate war.

"How can we arrogantly use FORCE to shove our view of freedom on the south's blacks? They didn't ask for their homes to be invaded and burned! Who are the REAL victims of Lincoln's megalomania? Is his grab for power, over the voices of the people, worth ONE innocent black child blown apart by a yank cannonball? Yet these things are happening every day in the sieges of Memphis, Atlanta, and Richmond! But the corporate media won't report THESE images, because it would hurt their profits. If the northerners actually CARED about the plight of the blacks, why do they show no compunction about killing their helpless children in siege after siege?

Not that any of you war-mongers have ever bothered to ask these questions, because you don't actually care about anything but siezing the resources of the southern states. You don't care how many young boys have to die to feed your mad dreams of empire. You don't care how many innocent victims you create.

Go spew your FREEDOM spiel to the people of color in the South and the border states who are homeless and starving because of your mad quest to force your FREEDOM down their throats. That is, if they haven't been killed or shelled yet, as "collateral damage" in your illegal war. They didn't ask for your help, and don't want your help, but all you listen too is a handful of colored activists who are only popular because they tell you the lies you want to hear. They get to travel the cocktail party circuit and make up stories about how they were "abused". Maybe there aren't any slave revolts because they know they're better off with those Southerners than being insulted and humiliated by the Yankee's patronizing hand-outs. Yankee's who just want to use them as cheap labor to feed their profit making imperialist war machine.

Wake up people! Take those blinders off and see what Lincoln's cabal has in store for you! He's already buried Habeas Corpus, trampled the Constitution, and that's just the beginning. You're losing your precious FREEDOMS, all so his minions can fulfil their grandious visions of an American empire and fill their pockets. Is their nation the kind of place you want to live? You have to act now to take back your country! What the north needs is its own "regime change", and hopefully someone will see the TRUTH and stop Lincoln and his illegal junta of banditos."

So what we have to write is the Universal Anti-War Logic generator, version 1.0. You just fill in the rhetorical blanks and can save all that "deep" thought. It should enable a quicker turn-around time between protests, since you won't have to rethink the message.



Forgive the bad pun, but if you read the article, you'll see that he's not dead, Jim.

If he had died, he died for these people.

If he had died, he would have died because of this man.

Now go troll somewhere else.



Damn, it was John, not Jim, who posted that link. Ah well.



Uhh, John, since the caption says merely that the child was wounded, don't you think it's a little premature to debate who he might have died for?

And yes, Bill St James, I did hear a message from President Bush about the Iraqi oil wells, but it wasn't the same one you heard. In the version I read (it was widely reported in the press, after all) the message was directed at the Iraqi leadership, and the warning was to not sabotage the oildfields. Too bad that doesn't fit in with your All About Oil theory.



Very nicely written. I do have a couple of remarks though.
On this point: "I personally think that recent history has shown that resolute action, that taking the offensive, has been a great deterrent to terror"

It didn't seem to work like that in Northern Ireland or Israel. So although I fully agree they did need to act, I am not 100% sure that the offensive action always works. The future will show if it works in this case. I have to admit that I honestly do not see how they could have avoided taking the offensive though, as Saddam did not want to comply with anything. I fully support US-led effort to end Saddam's reign, and really hope that this will bring a brighter future for the people in Bagdad.

This brings me to my second point. I really hope the US has decent plans for post-war Iraq. All too often I hear promises of aid, but they fail to materialize later. I refer for instance to the rebuilding of Afghanistan. I do not see major efforts being put in to rebuilding that country, even though help in rebuilding was promised for the post-Taliban regime.

Thirdly, how will the US act towards other countries in the "axis of evil"? I mean, removing Saddam is one thing, after all the man has disregarded 12 years of UN resolutions, but dealing with countries like North-Korea will be a whole different ballgame. Admittedly the US does not seem to be willing to act unilateraly in this case (at least not yet), but if they did I think the international community would not just disagree, but it would create a major crisis. This would be the so-called pre-emptive war, for which as far as I can see there is absolutely no international legitimacy. This does not mean that I disagree with the fact that it should be possible to remove leaders from power in case they threaten the whole region/world. The problem is that there is no international framework that allows this. There also is almost no possibility of such a framework ever being created by an organisation like the UN, someone would veto it for sure.

Fourth : If one allows the US to act unilateraly (even together with a coalition of the willing) outside of an international organisation like the UN, then how do you react when India, China, Iran... also want to act unilateraly towards a country that they consider a threat.

Fifth : I honestly think the US is right when it comes to the war in Iraq, but can someone please tell the administration that there are certain rules to diplomacy. I think Donald Rumsfeld hasn't even heard of something called "elbow feeling". He just seems to say what he thinks, without considering the consequences. Calling Germany and France "old Europe" might be a correct assessment (I agree with it), but it is not the sort of insult you want to sling if you are still going to need France's vote later in the UN. It is also not a good idea to tell the UN to "either agree with us, or we'll ignore you". You either put something to the UN and go with what they decide, or you go it alone, without going to the UN. By going to the UN and then disregarding them, the US is showing that it doesn't think much about the value of the UN (which frankly after the total stupidity that was on display there, I can understand) making it irrelevant. The French aren't any better though. They accused the US of hijacking the process by saying "you're either with us or we'll go it alone", only to turn around and say that whatever the US was going to propose, they were going to veto it. This shows that the French were hijacking the process in return.

Last point: I am not sure how permanent the damage done to the UN and NATO will be, but i'm pretty sure they both got damaged in the process. If we can learn on thing from all of this, it is that Saddam has succeeded to bring to the front divisions in how the US (and Britain) and Europe (France, Germany, Belgium) react to international crises. Europe seems to want a future where it has it's own defense strategy, that is not necessarily the same one as the US strategy. France (together with Belgium) especially seems to think this is very important, but chose an especially bad time to make a stance for the right to an own point of view. I for one sincerly hope that the damage France has done by taking this course will not permanently have damaged the international community as we know it. As someone said "The UN might not be much, but it's all we have". I hope this doesn't become "It was all we had".

Anyways, thanks again for your excellent essay.
I hope you liked my input.

Kind regards from Belgium
(I obviously do not agree with the position of the Belgian government, and since Belgium is a free country, I also enjoy the right to express that opinion. I guess I am one of those that did not forget how many people came to Belgium and died for our freedom)



Mr. St. James,

You stated in your original post that we are trying to, in essence, maintain an unsustainable life style. I assume you are referring to our energy consumption, and not moral decay. I'll leave morality to the clergy, but I will address the energy issues.

Our energy requirements are basically covered as electrical generation, petroleum, or natural gas use. Electrical generation stations use either coal (38.8%), natural gas(12.2%), nuclear generation (12%), and petroleum/natural gas (6%). Renewable energy sources, primarily hydroelectrical, provide the rest. Quoted figures come from Department of Energy's information sheets.

So far as coal is concerned the Department of Energy estimates that there are enough coal reserves for over 200 years of use.

The Department of Energy estimates that well over half of the natural gas in the US is classified as undrilled recoverable natural gas. They did not give a yearly usage or foreseeable lifetime number. Current usage worldwide is about 84 Trillion cubic feet, with the US using about 25% of that number.

Given the political, economic, and ecological concerns, nuclear generation will likely not increase, and only decrease as older systems come off line. No new nuclear generation systems have been brought on line since 1978. Increases in efficency has accounted for increased production levels, but this number will go down in the future.

As far as petroleum is concerned, after accounting for yearly useage, we retain about a 22 billion barrel yearly reserve, or approximately 69 days on-hand, without additional drilling to replace useage. The DOE does not provide a total of how many foreseeable years of supply are available. I have heard on news reports numbers varying between 15 and 50 years of foreseeable supply, but I can only take that as anecdotal.

None of this takes into account new sources of energy. When the hydrogen fuel cells now being refined are put on the market, crude oil usage will decline sharply. As the technology improves and is stabilized, natural gas and coal requirements should also likewise lessen.

So, according to what I see, our standard of living is not only very sustainable, I believe it will improve. I'm just a layman reading a government report, but since the DOE is reporting to Congress, I feel confident taking their word for it.

What is your data?

Sapper Mike



Keith Sawatsky - Here are a couple more pillars to add to your list:

Unwillingness to Learn from Experience
Arrogance

Brent and Bill St. James have done nothing to make their cause more inviting, rational, or humane to us. Even this Bloodthirsty Warmonger, while in the military, had to accept Responsibility and make decisions affecting the welfare & safety of his troops - after all, they were my friends, and I would risk my own life for them.



For Kirk Parker:

I heard the words come out of George's mouth. They were preceded by "I have a message for the people of Iraq."



for George Turner

Impressive, but you might want to correct the numerous misspellings before you turn it into software.

Why are these peace people trying to ruin our fun?



Also for Bill St. John,

Thank you for your kind words. Debate may (and likely should) be heated, but should always remain genteel.

I had to take time to feed the kids, clean up afterwards, respond to emergencies, and research my numbers, so I did not see your original reply. I often seem arthritic trying to keep up with chats, so generally respond only via email or posts.

Sapper Mike



For all you blowhards who are so willing to send our kids to clean up the mess our foreign policy wonks have created I might suggest you call Feed the Children and ask for offer 16 which will send food to our troops' families who are left here at home with half the income they had, losing their homes, can't pay the rent, etc. By the way, nice review of the movie Gettysburg. You should read Oates version of that climb up Little Round Top after a twenty mile forced march with no water. Course he lost and had to later argue with Chamberlain about whether or not his brother made it to the top before he was killed. Both men became Governors of their respective states. You gotta love this country. The number to Feed the Children is 1-800-538-5255. I'm going to call Larry Jones and see if he got a spike of donations from any of you great americans at this site. Better not hold my breath, huh?



Bill St. James,

While I may have reacted more vehemently than prudence would have cautioned, I stand by my earlier words. While I certainly understand that people have different definitions of freedom, and understand that most people throught the world may in fact have wildly differing definitions of freedom, I submit that the only "freedoms" that can be practiced in a Stalinist dictatorship: the role model of Saddam Hussein: are very minimal indeed. I believe that as it is impossible to determine the true desire of the Iraqi people from Saddam's "minders" following our reporters, that simply saying Iraqis want freedom from outside intervention, even when one of the consequences of said intervention from Saddam, that fighting that helps free them is not a completely bad thing. As the "ability to reject freedom" in favour of an Islamic republic, for example, is simply not a practical idea for the security of the United States against ideologies that wish us harm, we get into the paradox of not being able to permit a jump into one of the old dictatorships: as an example, would you let Bin Laden win a new election in Pakistan, if the people chose him as the majority leader? (God forbid).

I also suggest that not believing Saddam's own press releases, in which he calls for the genocide of Israel, support for suicide bombers working for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of his invasions used in attempting to establish a state, adn his continued rhetoric about being the new "Saladin" of the Middle East, in his attempt to conquer the entire area and bring it under his sway, shows Saddam's expansionist nature to all who can see.

My remark that you support a French deal with the new generals of Iraq, or Saddam's continued rule, was rhetorical, in that if you actually want peace and justice for the Iraqi people, it's hard to see how leaving Saddam in power advances justice by even one millimeter. In fact, if you truly advocate a different course of action that would have an effect on Saddam ("doing something") I would very much like to hear it. Because the fact remains that most people against the war simply have zero desire to actually consider the reality that Saddam has weapons capabel of causing severe damage through the United States (via smuggling) or allies like Israel (via Scud). Some say Saddam is "containable," but that is about as wise as holding a bear in a wooden cage: simply put, he WILL break out at a severe cost to America and her allies.

As for trusting in the goodness of George W. Bush: talk about misrepresentation. No, I hardly expect that he is offering to rebuild Iraq and build democracy in the Middle East simply out of the goodness of his own heart. He does it for the simple reason that a democratic, prosperous Middle East is the ONLY way to prevent further terrorism/ war against America in the future. If he fails, I can assure you that all the United Nations resolutions in the world will not protect Ameriac from our enemies.



Mr. St James,

If I corrected the mispellings it wouldn't look authentic. Remember, most of these protestors think Hitler was a wild-eyed capitalist.

The protestors have many problems. If a war-monger had secretly hijacked their planning sessions, he wouldn't change anything that they're doing. They've bet the house in supporting one of the most questionable regimes on earth, which apparently likes to make video documentation of its atrocities. They've also ignored the fact that the time between their protests and outrageous claims until this documentation is unveiled is likely to be weeks or months, not several years, as had occured in WW-II.

They're continuing their protests even though our troops are under restrictive rules of engagement, and the Ba'athists will likely be using the most sadistic and desperate measures imaginable. The atrocity stories will inevitably become more and more lopsided as the war goes on.

For decades after WW-II the peace movement was discredited by their own Berkeley pro-Hitler rallies, and the subsequent unveiling of his regime for what it was. Somehow they've again been tricked into marching under banners emblazoned with the words "HITLER", "RACIST", "MURDER", "JEWS", and "KILL", while flying swastikas and Iraqi flags.

They've probably been fooled by their own mythology about the effects of their Vietnam protests, which were actually counterproductive. They've not stopped to look at the successful civil rights marches, which didn't use insulting signs and generally put an American flag out front. In a battle for hearts and minds, the images of their protests are absolutely toxic.

They allowed their events to be sponsored by major communist organizations, even though this would be discovered and reported in small town papers across America. This alone has probably cost them the support of many millions of people. It was a $5 dollar mistake with very serious consequences, and shows that even their top leadership isn't quite playing with a full deck.

Occassionally some of them question their tactics, but thanks to the anonymity of the internet, any pro-war advocate gets to shout those suggestions down. They can't tell agent provocateurs from actual anti-war advocates, because the plans offered are the same.

Recently they had a blow up because they were being infiltrated by actual NAZI party members, but the accusations fell apart when the politics of the various sides couldn't be distinguished. It boils down to whether you advocate stopping the imperialist American war machine and killing just some Jews, or all Jews in general. They also forget that when the more ardent among them make continual posts calling for the death of all U.S. troops, millions of Americans might read it.

In some ways, this is sad, because if they blow their credibility by supporting one of the worst regimes on earth, who will believe them in a truly questionable confrontation?



Another possible turning point of the Civil War may have been effected by Chaimberlain. His "Salute at Appomatox".
http://www.civilwarhome.com/chamberlainsurrender.htm

That gesture was remembered in the South for a long time.



With all due respect, sir, I can't really say that your arguments mean very much to me. I think that people in the halls of power have done a remarkable job of using patriotism and the call for "freedom" as a means of justifying this war, when their reasons are a little more... ummm... mercenary. And I can really say that I'm ashamed to be an American when our President can use such flimsy arguments to persuade two-thirds of the American people.

Let me tell you how this war *should* have been prosecuted if we were concerned with human rights and the dignity of the peoples under Saddam's rule. When the Shia and Kurds rose up in the weeks following the first Gulf War, we should have supported them, instead of leaving them to be slaughtered by the Hussein regime.

Now if we were truly concerned about the spread of democracy in Afghanistan, the Bush Administration would have allocated *some* money to reconstruction, instead of leaving it completely high and dry in the latest budget. If we were concerned about humanitarian issues and freedom, and willing to use force to back up our ideals, we would have invaded Sudan, Libya, North Korea, Mozambique, etc. a long time ago. If we were really concerned about fission bombs getting into the hands of terrorists, we would be launching attacks against Iran and North Korea *first*.

Given the fact that George Bush can't even seem to explain himself in a press conference except through jingoism (and that Tony Blair has been doing a much better job in putting a face on this whole initiative), I'll give you another quote by Abraham Lincoln, regarding Polk and the Mexican-American war:

"[L]et the President answer the interrogatories I proposed, as before mentioned, or some other similar ones. Let him answer fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts and not with arguments... But if he can not or will not do this, -- if on any pretense or no pretense he shall refuse or omit it -- then I shall be fully convinced of what I more than suspect already -- that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels the blood of this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him."

(Abraham Lincoln, speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Globe, January 12, 1848)

Overall, I don't think that there has been the necessary kind of debate in our society to figure out whether this war is just or not. Antiwar protesters seem quick to equate George Bush with Saddam Hussein, downplaying Iraqi human rights abuses while exaggerating American offenses. Prowar camps seem eager to kick ass and take names, without any thought as to the side effects in the rest of the world.

Both sides, in my opinion, suffer from an extreme lack of intelligence and reason. Question things, dammit! Think about what you're supporting, instead of blindly following every word of FOX News or Mother Jones. Stop shoveling "freedom fries" into your mouth, stop making those silly paper-mache protest puppets, and think critically.

(Yeah... and I'm planning on posting a prowar post to an anti-war website, just in case you think I'm biased towards the pacifist position.)



for trevalyn:

You guys are wearing me out.

Stalinist dictatorship. Have you heard Saddam say he yearns to be Stalin? Maybe so, but I haven't. Wasn't Stalin an ally of ours despite what we knew about his treatment of his own people?

An Islamic country that wishes us harm? How many frickin ones of those do you suppose there are extant? How many more might there be every single day?

Is that the same bin Laden whose family has been in business with the Bushes for quite some time? Are you suggesting that the regime that presently exists in Pakistan could be a hell of a lot worse?

If protecting people from their leaders is the Ultimate Good, then why are we so selective? Why have we waited so long, abstained so long and only chosen this particular venue to make our point?

If protecting people from their leaders is the Ultimate Good, what message do you have for the families of the people massacred at Waco and Ruby Ridge?



I'll deal with your last point first: Don't vote Democratic. How many Americans has George Bush had killed?

Second last, if we don't start protecting people from their leaders, we will die. Containing people in hell turns them into demons. In an age of near incalculable power, that's suicide.

Bin Laden's family has mostly been in business with Saudi Arabia, which has relations with America. I firmly believe if this changed, leftists would squawk about the "war on Islam" for the next 1000 years. If Bush doesn't do something about the government of Saudi Arabia after this war, I will be supremely annoyed. Happy?

Could the government of Pakistan be worse? Gee, let's think, could Islamic fanatics who would gladly donate nuclear techonology to Al-Qaeda be worse? Don't answer that.

Again, we have to STOP Islamic countries not liking us. For many of the same reasons we inevitably would have had to stop Hitler from conquering Britain.

Stalin was only an ally to destroy Hitler. Any other course of action would have resulted in a loss to the Nazis, especially considering how near-run the fight was in the first place.

Finally, if you haven't learned about the myriad ways in which Saddam idolizes Stalin, then your cynicism towards any knowledge propagated by the Western media has reached the point of utter ignorance, where ONLY what is given to you from socialist/ America-hating organization hold any credence to you.



for George Turner redux:

I'm one of the protestors and I'm literate thank you very much. Underestimating your opposition is a primary sinkhole of people who're likely to lose. You might find that many protestors are more intimately familiar with what Hitler did than you are.

Where is a house being bet? YOU are the one betting and you're betting human lives. And you have the audactity to suggest that it should be on me to have to make a case NOT to do that! Besides the obvious, (a negative can't be proven) it makes you and yours sound very cavalier about the things we KNOW FOR A FACT are at risk. The rest of this is just speculation. You speculate Saddam's state of mind, his intentions, his capabilities, the state of mind and desires of his people, the veracity of the information we are fed and STILL you say, apparently unblinkingly, "let's go to war." If I were your neighbor, I'd steer completely clear of you even if you claiimed to be in trouble, based on the hair-trigger for violence that you seem to not only have but also that you appear to be proud of.

I'm not going to be held responsible for the organization or undertaking of the protests. I didn't do any of that. It's YOUR opinion as to the lack of success of the Viet Nam protests and if you're telling me that the tactics of protestors now haven't swayed YOU, well...DUH. As to how they're received by anyone else, I'm not willing to accept your anecdotal analysis. To quote a famous American, "you hear what you want to hear and you see what you want to see." I'm not going to change that and neither is a protestor. They're EXPRESSING themselves. You can argue that they're shooting themselves in the foot, but to proceed very far down that sort of road is more of the same, "let's not talk about the lives we're sacrificing, let's talk about the (perceived) lack of character and intelligence of those who oppose such killing." Not buying it.

Unlike you, I'm not comfortable trying to analyze any of these people...pro or con. But I can speak for myself when I say that being against this invasion of Iraq is NOT me lending support to Saddam Hussein. I recognize that that would be pretty convenient for you and you might say that it's either one or the other. We disagree. I think there are a myriad of possibilities in between. But as long as your point of view is the one that's being acted on, I'm at a disadvantage.

As far as I'm concerned, we're being lied to, and it's my opinion that you're so hot for war that you're willing to fudge on that. I don't believe you can claim principle as your guiding light when you realize that you're letting your buttons be pushed by people who instead of looking out for your best interest, are lying to you.

(And so I don't have to field a whole bunch of other crap about "what lies?", please refer to some of my earlier posts)

Thank you.



Mr. St. James,

The fact that "freedom" may have a broad positive connotation does nothing to belie the additional fact that most everyone CAN mostly agree on what freedom is NOT. And moving against such non-freedoms as terrorist attack and psychopathic murderous oppression not only can be ethically enforced, western liberalism itself demands it's enforcement for it's own survival. After all, ethical is as ethical DOES.

As for your "unsustainable lifestyle" comment, this is unfortunately not an appropriate forum for addressing such economic illiteracy. I would suggest a college or university; look for the classes marked E-C-O-N. This is the 21st century, and capitalism IS economics. If what you're asserting is true, then as evidenced by the historical and current price of oil, the laws of supply and demand don't apply to petroleum. I suggest that this is probably not the case. But don't take my word for it--- enroll!

Regards/
Jackson



Beautifully written! Far better than anything I might have done.



I am seventeen years old, currently taking an AP english class titled "the Personal Essay" in my senior year of high school. I have read a few of your essays and, to say the least, I'm impressed. This last essay on the war with Iraq was particularly intriguing and I plan to use it as an example in my class of how excellent current essayists may be. More importantly I am certain that it will lead the class into a productive discussion about the war.
Thank you for a great essay and I look forward to linking it to other classmates.



for trevalyn again

Ahhh...wonderful. The Rush Limbaugh School Of Rhetoric. Republicans are blameless of anything, everything evil that's ever happened in the world must, by definition fall at the feet of the Democrats. Anyone who defines himself by a political party and further uses that affiliation as proof that he's righteous is beyond my ability to argue. When the distance between Republicans and Democrats is (in my view) only millimeters apart from one another and worlds apart from me, your argument falls on deaf ears. If you think that I'M going to accept that Waco and Ruby Ridge are the product of a political party as opposed to the (mostly) unquestioned use of violence by a government against its citizens, you're mistaken. What a way to deflect an argument and escape responsibility.

Please offer support to your statement that if we don't protect people from their leaders we will die. I mean it scans nicely and I expect it's the kind of statement that no one else here would make you back up (everyone knows these things)...but to me it just sounds like more of that "don't think too hard, live your life by the platitudes we provide" sort of stuff.

I confess, I think you've finally convinced me though. I can't think of any better way of endearing ourselves to the people and countries of Islam (particularly considering our long-standing fawning over Israel) than to engage in exactly what we're doing.

I'm sure the fan letters are on their way.



Beautifully written! Far better than anything I might have done.



one thing I forgot, trevalyn, I've worked for the mainstream media for over 30 years and I've long since learned that to expect "education" from us is big-time wishful thinking...



Regards Jackson

Undoubtedly your sources of information are the only ones worth anything and I would be cringing at your smug, snide suggestion of assumed superiority were it not for the fact that I recognize you for what you are. I appreciate that nowhere in your nasty attack do you actually try and backup what (apparently) everyone you regard as intelligent already knows. Good solid arguing tactics. Ad hominem always works when you are at a loss for reasonable logic and information.

So check out this link if you want, though I won't hold my breath:

http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/030703_us_intentions.html



HOW are the Republicans possibly held accountable for a Democratic Attorney General's incredibly poor use of force, exactly? I'm Canadian, frankly, but you still haven't pointed to examples of the Republican party having other Americans murdered because they didn't know how to properly use force.

Republicans and Democrats identical... HEEEEEEEEEE! Yeah, nothing says "realistic perspective" by showing how you see through their complete and total similarity.

Ahem. Let's try one more time for those in the back: If their leaders are PROMOTING AN IDEOLOGY THAT WISHES OUR DEATHS, and GETTING WEAPONS TO BRING ABOUT SAID DEATHS, then that is BAD for us.

Did Churchill particularly wonder about the German people liking him, no matter what Hitler did? Did he look for fan mail from within the Third Reich? No, his concern was not getting killed. Which was not accomplished by declaring "peace in our time," but actually fighting. In the same vein, I am certain you noted the vast array of predictions, which screamed "quagmire," and "failure" against Bush, for three out of the three months in which the Afghanistan campaign ran for. Face the facts: war has PREVENTED us from being killed by organization hostile to our interests. More importantly, while it is very, very noble that we try to care about civilian casualites, we also have to at least TRY to win the war.

We're trying to win by reducing the ability of Al-Qaeda to operate, NOT by eliminating the fact illiterate wannabe terrorists "support" them. Trying simply to "win hearts and minds" by showing how very SENSITIVE we are to Muslims simply will not dissuade the members of Al-Qaeda and all those who want America destroyed even one millimetre. Why is this so hard to understand?



The best writing and rationale I've seen in years, the source of which must be a conscientious heart as well as a brilliant mind. No wonder it has the "peace at any cost as long as we don't make anyone mad at us" crowd frothing at the bit. Keep up the excellent work.



Dear Sir,

Just a few thoughts that seem to resonate with your brilliant essay. Please accept my warm congratulations on your moving remembrance of things very much present.

Best Wishes,

Alex Kroll Jr

THE FIGHT’S PICKED

People look at you like you’re crazy when you don’t try to run a red light. That says a lot about the exciting time we live in. People are not just running red lights. They’re running scared, and when you run scared you run selfish. I’m in a hurry. Anyone’s sense of liberality and fairness ducks when advised to stockpile duct tape and batteries. "ME first."

Self-preservationist thinking underlies much of our political debate. Here, too, we need to feel safe. But we too often confuse feeling better with actually getting better. Political stances are taken to narcotize the ever-sharper and chronic psychic pains of deep spiritual uncertainty.

Thus, the Marxian psalm often misinterpreted as, All for everyone’s good, becomes a crutch for low-survivablity-position thinking On War such as, Let’s not do anything about it; "Maybe they will go away;" "Perhaps if we just quit, the game will be over."

"Perhaps the game will be over:" It will not be over, and it is not a game. This fight can be blamed singly or together on Clintonian malfeasance, twelve years of the Reagan-Bush caliphate; Bush II’s intransigence, oil, SUVs, payback etctera. If this regime of blame assumption were administered as consistently to one’s self as well as to others, it would be profound and curative. Almost invariably, though, this medicine is instead applied topically, tactically and to someone else. Instead of a thinking man’s game, it is a blame game.

A thinking man would perceive that no matter what the reasons for this fight, the fight is provoked and there is nowhere left to run. Recall Columbia, STS-107.

Recall a rote lesson of history: unlike Kamikaze Jihadis, the Jews of Europe weren’t shooting and auto-detonating in the Bierstube. Further, despite waging a two-front war, German fanatics still managed to build and man vast death assembly lines until the bitter end.

There is no backing away. The eight-year sleepwalk through a president’s bedchambers helped bring us to this destination and now we as a civilization have arrived alive at a hinge of fate; one of history’s pivots. It is July of 1776, 1863; June of 1914, 1940.

"We didn’t ask to get to this point." True enough. But now’s when you, yourself make your choice: Between American, Constitutional government, a commonwealth geared to protect the sovereign citizen, or a human molecule lubricating the transmission belt of the Leader-State.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

To make this choice means to choose yourself, and choosing yourself means accepting the responsibility of caring for the material you, whether such care entails pain or not. Practically, that means a sober assessment of your surroundings and correctly assessing who is trying to kill you in an environment crowded with potential targets near and far. Quoting, "We’re a pack. Not a herd." The battle is joined as foretold and now we’re all on the front line.

"With malice towards none..."

The time of division and recrimination must end. For Americans and for those who think like Americans; for freedom-lovers of every stripe it is time to act and act unilaterally in the interests of Liberty.

"Useful idiots."

Now we close ranks, for the fight is here.

"Let us now brace ourselves to our duty..."

This War of History is actually the Door of History. This door is in motion, swinging our way, packing the mass of the planet and the momentum of five millennia. The gap between door and frame narrows and the lunatic forces on the other side are trying to slam it, sealing us for a hundred years...

"... into the abyss of a new dark age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science."

Forward, then, all together. "Me first."



Bill St James

"I have evidence right here that not only proves otherwise but that the Bush gang is also well aware of it. "

This line of reasoning is much less effective when we cannot see the gesture of you clutching your crotch.



Mr. St. James,

What do you want me to back up? The laws of supply and demand?, I wish you were kidding. From the wilderness indeed.

Bummer/
jackson



Bill St. James,

    The Homeland Security Act and The Patriot Act have made it possible for my phone to be tapped without my knowledge and without due process; similarly, ISP's can be forced to provide access to all internet communications all without my knowledge.

This doesn't really make sense. The Acts still require a judge's signature on a warrant to have your phone tapped and house searched without your knowledge. This takes care of due process. How is this different from warrants issued to police investigating organized crime? And prior to 9/11, with the advent of the communications capabilities provided by the internet, warrants could also be issued to force ISPs to provide access to internet communications ... all without the target's knowledge.

What the two Acts really do is explicitly spell out these new situations and explicitly grant the Federal law enforcement agencies the power to fully investigate these crimes, with an emphasis on prevention rather than reaction after the fact. In case you didn't know, the real aim of the two Acts was to collapse the walls between the nation's investigative agencies that played such a huge part in preventing the connection of the dots that could have prevented 9/11. i.e. Prior to the Acts, the FBI, NSA and the CIA could not share information regarding an individual. Now they can.

    I'll share one product of this new policy that I'm aware of: In my locale, an American citizen of Arabic descent several years ago made a contribution to an organization that has just now popped up on the radar screen as being a "possible" terrorist sympathetic front. He's now being detained somewhere, whereabouts and condition unknown to his family without being charged with any crime.

I'm a Muslim so this strikes close to home somewhat. But I do ask you to be cautious here. Remember the case of Sami Al-Arian, who was defended by every Left-Wing polemicist as being targeted for his race, religion and/or support for Palestinians when he was first approached by the police. Now it turns out that he is the one Islamic Jihad's top operatives. I move in Arab and Muslim circles, and I doubt you know as much as you think you do.

    Since much of the definitive evidence that's been used to demonstrate Saddam's warchest has been revealed as being forged, I'd ask what specific stores you're referring to. And by who's authority can you claim that the information is correct? I guess all those chemical and nuclear weapons being used against our troops would do that.

Forged? Now you are beginning to go someplace odd. And by the way, the tonnes of botulinum, VX, Sarin, disease growth media, etc that Saddam is known to have was documented by the UN's inspection teams in the 1990s, right after Saddam's son-in-law defected and led the inspectors to them. Not even France and the San Francisco city council can deny that Saddam has these weapons. You are the absolute first person I have met, (excluding Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark) who has actually denied that UNSCOMM has actually seen and documented them.

    I didn't understand the first part of the sentence which ends with Iraqi people fighting because of having a gun put to their head. As if that were completely unacceptable to you. It may surprise you to know that I'm a Viet Nam era veteran of the Air Force and I'll tell you unequivocally: Americans were sent into battle in that conflict by the ultimate authority of a gun to their heads. So please don't give me that "Saddam is a monster" stuff or these people are only fighting us based on fear of Saddam based on that.

Vietnam veteran you may be ... but you must be seriously deluded if you honestly believed that the US government would have killed your family if you had refused the draft. You might have been imprisoned, yes, but executed? Many people dodged the draft and were caught by the authorities, yet they live as freely today as you do. A lot of them felt secure and confident enough to stage protests in the streets and in front of the White House. One of them actually moved into the White House for eight years. I think there is a real problem if you honestly believe that the pressure on draftees during the Vietnam War in any way equates to having a gun literally put to you and your families' foreheads and told to go out and fight, as the Fedayeen are doing in Iraq right now.

    I'm not claiming victim status...I'm decrying the inability of most respondents here to make a cogent argument devoid of jingoism or sentimentality.

You have not yet made an argument devoid of cynicism, drawing outrageous equivalences, conspiracy theory and affectations of moral superiority. You called everyone here a "bloodthirsty choir" and then claimed, when everyone countered you that you were being "attacked". WTF??

    Characterizing me as bloodthirsty because my position might allow Saddam to continue his alleged (oh wait, we've already tried and sentenced him, the American way) inhumanity is quite a stretch ... and certainly beyond the bounds of any logical analysis.

Characterizing those of us who support this war as a "bloodthirsty choir" because our position might involve some casualties is stupid ... and since you did it without acknowledging that we all believe that dealing with the Saddam regime now would cost far less in lives and resources than dealing with him later ... also certainly beyond the bounds of logical analysis and pretty much goes into name-calling.

Again, you're the only person I have encountered who actually questions the fact of Saddam's inhumanity. Not even Ramsey Clark denies it. Search the archives of any international human rights organization. Look for an organization called INDICT. Google search "Halabja" and "Chemical Ali". Speak to Iraqi exiles living in America. Some of them actually had their family members killed on Saddam's orders. And after the war is over, if you could, visit Iraq and ask them about Saddam. You could learn something new.

    Please show me where, in any of what I'vew written today, I advocate "doing nothing?" Again, making your OWN version of my case for me so that you don't have to respond to what I actually have said. I guess I'm allowed to do that too. So, the only two alternatives are doing nothing or kicking ass, eh?

Excellent. What is your alternative, Mr. St. James? How would you have gotten Saddam Hussein to disarm himself of his WMD? Remember that diplomatic pressure, sanctions, years of no-fly zone enforcements, etc have not worked after 12 years. Even with hundreds of thousands of troops at his borders and an very strongly worded unanimous UN resolution against him, he continued to dissemble, decieve and cracked down even harder on Iraq's citizens. An alternative could be sending Martin Sheen to make love to Saddam Hussein but only so long as it leads to him disarming. Otherwise it has the same effect as doing nothing. So what would you do that would not have had the same effect as doing nothing? What is your suggestion? Please answer this question.

    Mr Orwell would be so proud. The fact that we're over there killing them means we care about them. And the fact that I advocate not killing them means I don't care about them.

No, I think Orwell would be disappointed in you. He bore a serious contempt towards the many pacifists who advocated "peace" i.e. letting Hitler have his way, during World War II. They said there was no proof that Hitler had ordered the massive perpetration of atrocities on Jews and native populations. They said that attacking the many SS bases that doubled as Concentration Camps meant that the Allies were also killing Jews and therefore couldn't possibly have their interests in mind. So no ... Orwell would be very disappointed with you indeed.



Bill Whittle:
In response to your excellent essay; you brought a tear to my eye, a chill to my spine and a stronger purpose to my heart. Now if we could only get you a teaching position at Columbia U...



Brilliantly done, your grasp of history is to be admired.

It's easy for some to be cynical and to belittle what braver, stronger people fight for. It's about courage and the determination to do what's right, even if you don't get any credit for it.

All the arguments aside, it all boils down to the future, ours and the people of Iraq's. It can't help but be better, if we are to be judged, let the people of Iraq judge us in 30 years. I would be willing to bet that the future grandparents who are alive today will know the answer. As they love their grandchildren and remember what it was like before the war, the choice will be easy.



Trolls and Flamers, how I despise them. Too lazy, too poor, or too inept to showcase their wonderful talents, inescapable logic, infinite wisdom, artful persuasivness, and their gentlemanly behaviour on their own websites.



To Bill St James:

You had your say, now can we please move on?
I think you knew fully well what you were doing when you posted your original message, you only wanted to provoke. I've seen this happening a few too many times. I personally prefer speaking my mind (If you scroll this page, you'll find my post), and if others disagree, that is their right. I do not see what anyone has to gain by getting into mudslinging contests. That said, next time at least try to make a point. Let me recap you original post :
1. insult (call everybody bloodthirsty choir)
2. freedom can't be defined
(freedom from Saddam is not that hard to comprehend. I would disagree if our western way of life (if that's what you meant by enforcing freedom) was enforced on the iraqis though).
3. slight insult (we must be mass hypnotised)
4. It's about the standard of living
So without Iraqi oil the whole economy will colapse? I doubt that very much.
5. rights withdrawn.
I live in Belgium. I walk around with an ID-Card. I have to present it sometimes. Do I need to start crying about it now?
6. Challenge (sing a few notes...)
Obviously asking for an attack ("At the very least, perhaps I?ll give you someone to attack")

A bit obvious, wasn't it?
Anyways, that's my two cents. You had your say, I had mine. Please keep it at that.



This essay will be enclosed in my next letters to two young soldiers pressing north through Iraq as I write. Your eloquence makes my seperation from them and fear for them more bearable. Thank you.



Thankyou for an enjoyable and knowledgeable essay, but I think you should double check some of your core assumptions.

You wrote:
I believe that after September 11th, 2001, the Bush Administration sat down and took a very cold and hard look at what was going on in the world. I believe that they came to the conclusion...

You should probably add this to your reading list:
Rebuilding America's Defense's

What you'll find is a blueprint for the Bush's adminsitrations post- and pre-9/11 military strategy. You'll find very specific items from cancelling the ABM treaty and renewing research into low-yield nukes, to a pattern for global troop deployments -- all faithfully followed to the letter.

Even 9/11 puts in an appearance:
Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor.

I'm not suggesting that anyone wanted 9/11 to happen, but that when it did, the people who wrote this book knew exactly what to do with it. And they did.

Within months, we had forgotten all about Al Qaeda and we rallying around the idea of attacking Iraq -- an idea that makes little sense in the "war on terror" but is explicitly spelled out in the writings of these guys.

This book is out from the Project for a New American Century. Most of the Project founders are in the Bush administration. You seem like an intellectually honest person, you should really read this book and consider that the agenda for our activities in the Gulf was written in 2000, not 2001.

And who knows, you may find yourself endorsing it.



A marvelous essay, thank you for sharing your eloquence with us.

You mention a fascination with alternate histories (a particular interest of mine as well), and a revulsion towards the pacifists who wish to sacrifice their freedoms (and ours) at the altar of their notion of moral hygiene. Might I suggest that you dig up a delightful Harry Turtledove short story entitled 'The Last Article'... I won't ruin it for you with a synopsis, except to say that it provides a most interesting cumuppance to one of the 20th centuries most overrated ideologues...

All the best, and if you find yourself in Dallas, TX with time to spare...allow me the privilege of entertaining you...



Bill,

Excellent Essay. It is up there with Courage: I can't say which is your finest. What makes these two so good, is that part of you (flying in the first, and your interest in hitorical battle grounds in this) is in them.

If you're ever in Boston I will show the spot where the bloodiest fight of the first day of the revolution (you know the 18th of April in 75 hardly a man is now alive) took place. It's a mere 200 yards from my house in Arlington. The interesting side note is that Arlington used to be called Menotomy, but changed its in name to honor the national cemetary.



Bill St James, I suggest your premise that we'll kill Iraqis if they don't accept/embrace the freedom we enforce on them is false. Rather, we are disabling their oppressors so they may be free.



Incredible essay. I don't particularly like Americans, and their arrogance, but I find basis for this war.

As an Asian who has no particular bias for or against either US, Palestinian, or Arab interests, I applaud the rationale for pre-emptive action to remove Saddam from power.

It's not just Bush pulling for the war, though. I had the privilege of hearing Blair make his case to Parliament, and I am glad that the governments of US and UK have the moral fortitude to make the world a safer place.

I'm disappointed, however, that peace protesters have taken it upon themselves to demoralise those who have put their lives on the line. The decision has been made for war. To stop now would encourage those who would deliberately seek to inflict suffering and pain on innocent civilians (e.g. Bali, 9-11, planned attacks throughout Asia) that the world has no resolve to stop them.

Anyone who thinks war is always avoidable lives in a fantasy world. Anyone who thinks that a just rationale for war is to be struck first is a fool. If peace protesters had their way, I'd be unsurprised to see America eliminated in a single fatal government-sponsored (e.g. Iraqi, Syrian, North Korean) first strike. As Condoleeza Rice said in an interview on CNN, "You don't want to wait for the proof to come in a mushroom cloud over Washington".

Maybe US does have ulterior motives, but this is all corollary to the necessity of the war. Peace? Have been reading voraciously for both cases for peace and war, but have found no credible case for peace.

It is an irony that had they been Iraqis protesting for peace with Iran they would probably have been rounded up, raped and tortured and put to death.



Winston Smith, Rebuilding America's Defenses was quite prescient wasn't it. The fact that it was written before 9/11 makes it no less germane.

Another great essay, BW. I'll read all you write. Just keep 'em coming.



Martin,

Perhaps I can answer some of the questions you pose to Mr. St. James.

    Not even France and the San Francisco city council can deny that Saddam has these weapons.

Your verb is misconjugated. The correct tense is had. Saddam had these weapons. They have largely been destroyed.

    And after the war is over, if you could, visit Iraq and ask them about Saddam. You could learn something new.

First of all, much of Saddam's atrocities have been committed either against a background of American indifference or American complicity. Second of all, Saddam Hussein isn't even the worst guy ever. He was actually eclipsed by the Shah of Iran, an American installation, if you check your history. He never exported torture, as we did in South America.

This is not to say that taking out Saddam doesn't have a moral justification, but it strikes me as curiously naive to think that America suddenly reversed 50 years of foreign policy -- particularly when the crew in the Whitehouse now are the same guys who pulled the troops back in 1991 and watched 200,000 Iraqi rebels get slaughtered.

    How would you have gotten Saddam Hussein to disarm himself of his WMD?

This is a logical fallacy called "begging the question." The question assumes that Saddam Hussein has some significant store of WMD. You need to prove that first, then you may ask this question.

    [Saddam] continued to dissemble, decieve

Why doesn't the UNMOVIC team -- the recipients of said deception -- back this up? Why to they instead claim they were mere months from completing their mission?

    An alternative could be sending Martin Sheen to make love to Saddam Hussein but only so long as it leads to him disarming.

[Clap. Clap. Clap.] Brah-voh, Mr. Knight, for holding the high ground.

What makes you think we wanted the inspections to work? What would have happened if "Saddam was disarmed," anyway? I haven't heard anyone explain what was in it for Saddam to "disarm" or what America's next move would have been. (Actually, I know the answer, but I'm curious to see what you think it is.)

    Hitler have his way, during World War II.

Why does this comparison endure? There is no comparison between the Iraq and Nazi Germany. Furthermore, laying the rise of the Third Reich at the feet of "pacifists" is dreadfully ignorant. I'd say it had more to do with the people who knew exactly what he was doing and were quite happy with it. This included many prominent Americans.



Bill:
I loved it. And I thank you.
I have been reading Emanuel Swedenborg who was read by Abraham Lincoln in one book it said, "Everything is created with freewill. And that those who cannot exercise free will is a slave."(I am paraphrasing) Abraham Lincoln Read that. And I know that those Iraqis are under Saddam cannot exercise freewill. And our men are giving them Liberation!
God bless them
and
God Bless you.
~Taney



Bill:
You say: "YOU are the one betting and you're betting human lives". This is true, but so are you. You would bet millions of current and future lives that leaving Saddam alone will not result in great disasters down the road. Maybe you're even right (although I doubt it), but don't pretend that what you advocate carries no risk.



Larry,

    America's Defenses was quite prescient wasn't it.

My point was that it is not prescient. It isn't a prediction, it's a blueprint. It's obvious that it's a blueprint that's being followed.

    The fact that it was written before 9/11 makes it no less germane.

Indeed, it demonstrates that the current strategy has nothing to do with 9/11. It was pre-existing. As the book itself explains, 9/11 is just an accellerant.

Sorry to be repeating myself, but it seemed that I hadn't made my points clear.



Brilliant. I intend to forward this to everyone I know. And to follow up on Larry L's comment above, NBC showed a piece this Sunday morning of an American Marine who fled here from Iraq after the 1991 uprising. He ran into his uncle in the streets of Nasariyah whom he hadn't seen since he fled. He attempted to calm the frantic crowds, assuring them that "Saddam was no more," and that they were now free! Their response: "What is freedom"?



Brian,

    You would bet millions of current and future lives that leaving Saddam alone will not result in great disasters down the road.

The logical fallacy, known as "An appeal to fear," presupposes that there is some reason to believe that Saddam had any designs that would cause such danger. Before you trot out the usual canards -- "he gassed his own people" -- I suggest you spend a few hours with a detailed history book.

Allow me to suggest some interesting reading. Here's is a 1984 memo suggesting we open Iraq for nuclear exports:
1984 Nuke Memo

I would prefer Iraq remain under the IAEA inspections it is under now, but apparently, the Reagan administration felt that Saddam wouldn't pose risk of "great disasters" even if armed with nuclear weapons.

That's nuts!



Another 'keeper', Bill! Good show. I don't think you know this, but Lucy (that's my wife, folks) has two first-cousins in Iraq right now. Neil and Nick Khonke, USMC. Brothers. One is a Capt. and one is a NCO.

If you find yourself at the Univ. of Alabama, take a look at the giant rock in the middle of the Quad, in front of the main library. It's actually a monument to the smattering of cadets that tried to defend our University from a large, battle-seasoned Union force ~3 weeks before the end of the Civil War. I mean, "The War Between the States".B) I think you'll appreciate it. Damn I love my Alma Mater.

I love my home state of Oklahoma too. I never thought I would live here again. There aren't a lot of Pharmaceutical Chemist jobs in this state, but here I am. And the company I work for is actually Japanese-owned???? It's all true. I wonder if I would be here if the USA was really a country of heartless bastards? "Imperialists"? No, there is no State of "West Hawaii".

We have a poster at work with the 6 names of deployed soldiers that are related to my co-workers. Before the war broke out we all signed large posters for each one to send to them. We also have boxes to collect military-recommended 'luxury' items. Seems like gum, sunflower seeds, and beef jerky are high on the request lists (along with toiletries). Kind of a small price for me to pay, isn't it?

Lastly, since I'm back in Native America, I am proud to say that American Indians are once again showing up for the fight. Just as we have done for every single international conflict this country has been engaged. Here is link for the AICC, but check out the links too...they are for soldiers in general and have useful information on sending packages to our troops. You've probably seen that packages to "any soldier" are not being accepted at this time. This site, and the links, will help those who wish to help the opportunity to do so.

Wado (thank you) Bill!

Ron Bowen



Oh yeah, I guess actually including the URL would help.B)

http://www.aicco.org/Troops.asp



I read your moving essay and now write this with tears on my face---in all of my 80 years I have not read such a touching and truthful look at this history of our world--when visiting the Civil War places you tell about, I have also felt the ghosts of the past surround me but could never put it into the moving words you have the ability to use--the pride I have always felt of serving at Normandy on that 6th of June, with some of the true heroes of that time, I will carry to my grave knowing we held evil at bay for at least a season--thank you and may the Blessings of the Almighty go with you



Another poignant and resounding piece. Thank you for writing it. I still owe you a drink and a handshake, my friend.



Excellent essay, Bill. You have talent that I can only dream about.

I'm sure someone on the White House staff is reading this. (They're not complete idiots. Daydreams of the Democrats not withstanding.) Hire Bill as a speechwriter immediately.

As for those who are expressing the opinion that this war is about Oil. My reply is, so what?

Do you think that the Iraqis and the world in general would be better off if we used our military might to ensure that the oil staid in the ground? Why would it be a good thing for the United States to grind to a halt, for businesses to fail, for millions of people to be unemployed? Do you think those closed businesses would have much use for software engineers or that colleges with no enrollment would hire professors? Do you think that people in apartment blocks would suddenly start growing food on their non-existant balconies?

No oil? you're not talking about peace, love and bunny rabbits, you're talking of hunger, riots and a total breakdown of civil society. Do you think that you would somehow be exempt? That everything would be the same but for happy people riding their bicycles and recycling their waste? I don't think you have ever really considered it.

The result woudn't be paradise; it would be Hell.



    As for those who are expressing the opinion that this war is about Oil. My reply is, so what?

Well, it's not our oil.

I don't know about you, but I was taught that you should pay people for their stuff and that taking their stuff at gunpoint was a crime.

Even if you condone armed robbery, the Iraqi's might have another view.

Remember the optimistic scenes of Iraqis cheering our arriving troops? Part of the reason that this has not become reality is that many Iraqis suspect we are there to steal from them, not liberate them. So you're saying, "We're just there for the oil and the liberation is a cover story," and then asking, "So what?"

And you need an answer?

    Do you think that the Iraqis and the world in general would be better off if we used our military might to ensure that the oil staid in the ground?

When did that become our only other option?

    Why would it be a good thing for the United States to grind to a halt, for businesses to fail, for millions of people to be unemployed?

If that's what it took to maintain a world where people's rights -- including property rights -- were sustained, then I guess we'd just have to "suck it up." I don't want to live in an economy based on international piracy any more than I want to live in an economy based on slavery (as if there were a difference).

    Do you think that people in apartment blocks would suddenly start growing food on their non-existant balconies? ... That everything would be the same but for happy people riding their bicycles and recycling their waste? I don't think you have ever really considered it.

Energy independance? Sure, I've considered it a lot, but apparently, it's just too hard.

In 1961, President Kennedey set a goal to reach the Moon by the end of the decade. No one had the faintest idea how that would be done -- but America rose to the challenge. What happened to that America? What if George W. Bush went on TV and challenged America to be energy-independant by 2024?

No, you'd rather hold people at gunpoint so you can keep going on yesterday's technology. Is that America today? I'm ashamed.



I was genuinely startled to read that you fekt "ashamed" in your last comment. What you've written to date seems pretty shameless to me, and I'm still looking for a cogent answer to the rhetorical question, "And the point is...?" We do not deny that you are as free as a bird, and even birds have a choice of fouling someone else's nest - or building their own.



Sorry, I wrote "fekt" instead of "felt." Some food for thought: I challenge all "peace" activists to analyze this story from scrappleface.com:

Hell needs another new wing for the anti-bush protesters and the media that doesn't cover the atrocities they're committing.

My step-son is a Marine stationed at Twenty-Nine Palms. My daughter-in-law told me that when she and the other wives go on base, they have had to go through the protesters while the protesters yell horrid things like "I hope your man dies".
Yeah, real peaceful and loving like. While my son stands ready and waiting to protect their freedom, these freakish cowards show their true colors.

My first reaction was a deep desire to kill them all and let God sort 'em out. But then I realized that the left are collectively exposing themselves. No more masks. No more shades of gray.



St James -

Lindsay? Is that you? I thought you were doing vo in LA?



    What you've written to date seems pretty shameless to me,

Because...?

    and I'm still looking for a cogent answer to the rhetorical question, "And the point is...?"

What parts are unclear?

    birds have a choice of fouling someone else's nest - or building their own.

I didn't see a notice to the effect that disagreement was not welcome here. The link I followed to this article bypassed the front page. I had some comments on the essay and I posted them under "comments." There were some open questions from other posters and I provided some answers. From the tone of these other writers, I expected some kind of substantive response.

I'm genuinely stunned that your little snit was the best this forum could produce.

    yell horrid things like "I hope your man dies".

That's inexcusable.

    My first reaction was a deep desire to kill them all and let God sort 'em out. But then I realized that the left are collectively exposing themselves. No more masks. No more shades of gray.

That's paranoid psychosis.

Well, uh... have a nice war.



Bravo !!! Magnifico Well said!



I'd like to reiterate what Salam Pax, the "Baghdad Blogger" said recently:

"No human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life... how could “support democracy in Iraq” become to mean “bomb the hell out of Iraq”? why did it end up that democracy won’t happen unless we go thru war? Nobody minded an un-democratic Iraq for a very long time, now people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! how thoughtful. "



Fantastic read, well written and very thoughtful.

A lot of lives have been lost in various wars and conflicts around the planet, through the years. Some that had to be fought at any cost others for less honerable reasons but I think anyone given the chance to go back to 1930 and put a bullet in Hitler’s head would not give it a second thought, and no one can deny that Saddam is an evil dictator that the world would be better off without but to claim he is a direct threat to the US or Britain is just fear mongering.

Could Saddam ever become another Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot? I think he achieved that status when he gassed the Kurds but to say he is a global threat is untrue.

Iraq is made up of three ethnic groups and would probably have disintegrated into a civil war long ago if it wasn't for his murderous regime creating the fear keeping the country together. Look at Tito in Yugoslavia. Not a nice person but the only one keeping the place together and we've seen what happened in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

The war with Iran shows that Islamic fundamentalism is not the driving force behind Saddam's actions the way Bin Laden's warped version of his religion is.

I'm certain that local dominance would have been Saddams goal if he hadn't made the mistake of invading Kuwait and then watching most of his armed forces get obliterated in the dessert by US missiles and jets.

Would he have tried again? I think it's a fairly certain bet if he had been given the opportunity to rebuild his army. Would he have invaded Kuwait again or maybe a second go at Iran or possibly revenge against Saudi for supporting the US? Who knows? Thankfully he never had and never will have the chance.

But for anyone to say he is a direct threat to the security of the west either works for the arms industry or an oil company because if we're honest about it that is what this war is all about. The US wants to downgrade its reliance on Saudi oil, remember where the Sept 11 hijackers came from and where Bin Laden was born and raised, but to do this the US needs another base in the region. Iraq has plenty of oil, Saddam's an evil dictator let's kill two birds with one stone.

Killing thousands of Muslims, creating martyrs, is not a way of prevent fundamentalist terrorists; you're just fanning the flames of hatred, creating more willing suicide bombers.

Even after the war is won there will still be people willing to strap a bomb to themselves and walk up to a US manned check point. Why has this war not been won already? Why are there not thousands of Iraqis in the street welcoming the American GI's? The US is hated in the Arab world for its support of Israel. There, plain and simple and a fact that won't go away no matter how much food aid you give.



Very good essay, indeed.

Now I’d like to ask all the people who posted here: if you do support this war and believe it’s right thing to do, what will be your next step? Wage another war on Saudi Arabia (Bin Laden is Saudi-born), Egypt (some of 9/11 terrorists came from this country), North Korea (WMD program is under way there) or Germany (again, some of 9/11 terrorists used the country as their European base to plot this massacre)?

Maybe I didn’t get the whole point right, but such “preemptive” wars against “possibly” hostile governments/regimes/countries is something threatening not these countries/governments/etc. but the whole American order, as I see it. The order people died for during the Civil War and WWII (examples from the essay).

Let me explain. Saying “If I could save the Union” Lincoln meant (the way I understand it) that if there were any means at his disposal, the war could haven’t started. No solution was found and the war began. Yes, the great price was paid and the outcome of the straggle worth it. We know it from history. BUT this war was just the very last mean to reach Lincoln’s “paramount object”. AND if we don’t try all the means to reach a peaceful consensus (which we didn’t before this war, I believe) what does make us different from Iraq, North Korea, Nazi Germany? They didn’t bother (Germany in 30-s and Iraq in 90-s) to achieve their goals (world/region dominance thru strong economy) but simple seized what they wanted, brining deaths with them..

Tell me where I’m wrong….

D.



To Winston,

I think the most salient fact, is that first major effort to make ultimate invasion of Iraq a plank of US international policy was first put on paper in a letter to President Clinton on January 6, 1998:

http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

Many of the signatories on that letter, are the people making the decisions today.

To Bill, You solicit comment on your essay: A few rhetorical questions which I will not discuss, or go into detail here...they are simply food for thought for you to ponder, Hence putting them in question form. Yes, they do imply that there are alternative explanations. Whether you wish to pursue the issues, however, is up to you.

In your well-written essay you give only two positions that someone against this war, would make in your opinion.

What makes you think that all intelligent people who are unhappy about the premises upon which this war are predicated, would take either of the two positions you put as valid? Are there not other more sensible positions than either of these two?


Secondly, Why do you assume that the USA only had the options it looked at at hand. (UN or unilateral action)? Were there other options which they chose not to take? (Perhaps you should talk to the diplomatic corps about them... before assuming that there was no other course they could have gone down.)

Thirdly, as Winston intimated, Why do you assume that the thinking done, as a result of 9/11?

If you look at the letter (URL above) you will notice that many of the people who signed that 1998 letter, were the same people who approved of the USA backing, funding, and assisting with the organising of the Iran/Iraq war, and some are now calling the shots in the USA.... Some are also implicated in the decision to provide Iraq with both chemical and biological WMD seed stock.

Further delving into the history of these people, their parallel involvements in other industries and issues, may broaden the scope of your analysis.

Yes, we are in a situation where something is being done now. However, some study of what should have been done then, and why, and other methods by which the problem could have been solved, might have been useful to you.

I do not doubt your knowledge of your history.

I do, however, see flaws in your analysis, and in the parallels you draw. Were you to present your essay to peer review by historians around the world, they could broaden your scope of analysis considerably, which may ultimately cause you to rethink some of your assumptions.

To the other posters. I have not come to discuss my views, or justify my comments here with anyone other than the posters named, who may pursue them wish me privately, if they so wish.



Proteus:

Thank you for reminding us.

Dok Millennium:

Re: Salam Pax

Once another way of living is instilled in Iraq, and you no longer have to fear for your life and the lives of your entire family, including cousins and step-relatives if Saddam was to stumble upon who you really are, posting these Blogs from Baghdad, then you can tell us how thoughtful this war may have been.

When you can stand on the corner of your street in downtown Baghdad and shout at the top of your lungs that "Saddam sucks, remove him from power!" and not be shot/executed for that on sight by his loyalists, but rather POSSIBLY be arrested and detained for 24 hours for disturbing the peace of your neighborhood, then you can tell us how thoughtful this war may have been.

One cannot judge the future by the present.



Oh, and I want to add.

Today, March 31st, on this day in 1972, I was born into this world.

My father wasn't there to see my birth. He was being flown back from Vietnam, where he was injured by an exploding mortar shell.

He didn't want to go to that war, but he went anyway, because he was told that he could make a difference by his family.

What am I doing to celebrate my 31st birthday? Well, I'm calling the Air Force recruiter, and I'm enlisting.

I do not want to goto war. I do not wish that war would ever happen again. I do not wish that humans would ever, EVER, need to do this to each other anymore so that all people in the future of this planet/universe could live together peacefully.

But I believe that this particular war is necessary, in order to protect my family, and the families of my friends, and larger than that, to preserve the rights of freedom and equality for all humans, regardless of sex, age, or religion.

For that cause, I'm willing to lay down my life.



We fight wars not to have peace, but to have a peace worth having.

Thanks Bill, for your clarity as much as everything else.



Mr. Smith,

    Your verb is misconjugated. The correct tense is had. Saddam had these weapons. They have largely been destroyed.

No, the correct tense is has. I was right the first time. Saddam has these weapons. The tonnes of VX, anthrax, etc. that the UN identified in the 1990s were never confirmed to have been destroyed. Saddam ordered a halt in co-operation in 1998, before that could happen.

Saddam has said that he has destroyed them. You may trust Saddam, but quite frankly, I (and most people) don't. His word has to be verified. It is an incredibly easy thing to prove that he has destroyed these weapons ... he just needs to give up his records and point out the sites of the destruction. You don't dispose of VX without keeping records. It's too dangerous.

But he started out by denying ever having the weapons that the UN saw and documented. And here you are saying they have been destroyed based on Saddam's word. Forgive me if I seem naive, but I choose to trust the President (whoever he is) and our intelligence agencies more than Saddam Hussein.

    First of all, much of Saddam's atrocities have been committed either against a background of American indifference or American complicity. Second of all, Saddam Hussein isn't even the worst guy ever.

I know many Iranians ... and I have read quite a bit about the Shahanshah and quite frankly, you are talking out of your *ss, with all due respect. He was a brutal bastard, true. But he is nothing compared to Saddam Hussein. I have not yet heard of his regime running prisons for children, levelling whole villages of people, and employing rape squads. The fact that he was very closely allied to the West is not enough to make him worse than Saddam Hussein.

Second, the extent of the US's support for Saddam is far less than you would like it to be. He has no weaponry that originated in America and the support given him in the 1980s against Iran consisted of not much more than intelligence, i.e. sattellite pictures. And even if America does not have a perfect record in Iraq, it still doesn't mean that America is wrong to deal with him appropriately now. Britain had friendly relations with Hitler up until 1939. That did not make it "inconsistent" or "immoral" to fight him.

    This is not to say that taking out Saddam doesn't have a moral justification,

Glad to see you acknowledge that. Your assertion that he "isn't even the worst guy ever" had me worried there for a minute.

    ... but it strikes me as curiously naive to think that America suddenly reversed 50 years of foreign policy -- particularly when the crew in the Whitehouse now are the same guys who pulled the troops back in 1991 and watched 200,000 Iraqi rebels get slaughtered.

The Cold War is over. And it's a different President. There's no law that demands that Doctrines must be followed forever. And back then in 1991, the United States did not go in to finally depose Saddam because the UN Security Council limited the action to only removing him from Kuwait. Bush the First did exactly as the "Peace" movement today wants his son to do ... hand over control of US military and foreign policy to France, Russia and China.

    This is a logical fallacy called "begging the question." The question assumes that Saddam Hussein has some significant store of WMD. You need to prove that first, then you may ask this question.

You trust Saddam's word. I, most of the people here, the President, even the President of France, don't. If you noticed, even Chirac does not claim that Saddam has no weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair stood before all the leaders of Europe just this February and challenged both Chirac and Schroeder to tell him that their intelligence agencies believe that Saddam has disarmed. None of them did.

    Why doesn't the UNMOVIC team -- the recipients of said deception -- back this up? Why to they instead claim they were mere months from completing their mission?

Their job was not to comb Iraq looking for WMD. The burden of proof was on Saddam to fully co-operate and he was given a deadline to do so. This was after a period of twelve years of defiance that you cannot deny. Read UNMOVIC's own reports. Saddam failed to comply. Blix and El Baradei both denied that Saddam was co-operating ... and recently, even Blix said that without Saddam's co-operation, their job was not worth doing.

    [Clap. Clap. Clap.] Brah-voh, Mr. Knight, for holding the high ground.

[Bowing] Thank you.

    What makes you think we wanted the inspections to work? What would have happened if "Saddam was disarmed," anyway? I haven't heard anyone explain what was in it for Saddam to "disarm" or what America's next move would have been.

I heard the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Vice President and the PM of Britain all tell the world that the troops would have been withdrawn the instant Saddam co-operated. But he didn't. Your point only works if one trusts Saddam more than Bush. I trust President more than I trust Saddam, so it doesn't work for me. You trust Saddam, so it works for you.

    Why does this comparison endure?

Because it is apt. Expansionist megalomaniacal dictators? Violating clear international obligations? Brutal regimes terrorizing huge segments of their nation's population? Feckless international organizations too corrupted to live up to their own obligations?

    There is no comparison between the Iraq and Nazi Germany.

Yeah ... after all, Saddam has only killed two million people.

    Furthermore, laying the rise of the Third Reich at the feet of "pacifists" is dreadfully ignorant. I'd say it had more to do with the people who knew exactly what he was doing and were quite happy with it. This included many prominent Americans.

So America was somehow responsible for the rise of the Third Reich? Alright. Whatever you say. Considering it is your position that America is somewhat responsible for the rise of the Saddam regime and for that reason we should not fight him, I'm assuming for the sake of consistency, you're saying we shouldn't have fought Hitler either. Cool.

And by the way, no one blamed pacifists for the rise of the Third Reich. We are slapping them around for lacking the courage to see that a problem must be confronted before it grows and we are forced to deal with it. And then for claiming, during the war, that seeking a peace with Hitler had any element of honor, justice or future in it.



Life given up for the greater good...
like all history there are voices to both sides of the story.....one fights for the peace the other fights for the destruction of peace...but to understand that history depends on which side of the story you were told about....for those here in America we know life as an American but for those half way around the globe we are only americans are we giving up life for our own greater good? or for the greater good of this world? we will know as the story unfolds



I have struggled to explain to people why I believe our President and our mission is a just cause, my reasoning and words are never so eloquent. I read your article, it should be required reading in all HS History classes and college for that matter. God truly blesses America because in times of need we get the leaders we need. God blesses Americas becuaseour country is filled with people who understand that the price of freedom is high in both treasure and in blood. Our Founding fathers put everything on the line to secure freedom. It is debt that can never be paid in full until all in this world are free from tyranny. Thank you for such a wondeful essay.



Winston, please connect the dots. If you're not able to, I suggest you're merely a Bush/PNAC hater. I say they were right. You say they couldn't be right because they anticipated?



Hi, my name is Jean François and I am an Antiamerican.


Back in the 70s, in high school, I was your avergae left-wing teenager, I believed Soviet Union was the anti-imperialistic power, I sided with the NorthVietnamese, I rejoiced when Saigon fell. A few weeks later I rejoiced when Phnom Penh fell. There were reports of atrocities but I discarded them


A few years passed, I went to University and one day two smiling Asians clad in black handled me a leaflet. I took it. It was from the Khmer Rouge embassy. About one month later Vietnam clashed with Cambodia and french magazines began talking of Cambodia's killing fields and how Khmehr Rouge had dealt not only with people they disliked but with the children of those people: with Khmer Rouge, like with Nazis, you were guilty by the simple act of being born in the wrong place and in the wrong family. But then I remembered how the two Khmer Roge I had met hadn't been challenged by anyone (this was in a French university) and I wondered what would have happenned if they had been members of the American embassy handling pro-USA propaganda: at the very least they would have ended in hospital. Then I felt that by accepting Khmer Rouge wandering in my University, by taking that blood stained leaflet I had put blood in my hands.


Years passed and I began noticing how indifferent the left was for the dead in Afghanistan, for the thousnds and thousands Lebanese killed by the "progressist" Syrians and the equally "progressist" Palestinans or by any third world dictator as long he was against America. I began to loathe those antiamericans who were ready to fight America until the last Vienamese or Cambodian or whatever.


And then there was the shock: Rwanda. THe planned extemination of an ethnic group. And learning that my country had supported the racist Rwandan government despite the periodic pogroms it had perpetrated, and my impotent rage when learning that my country's army had been sent to cover the retreat of the genociders, that "Radio Mille Collines" was calling for the murder of Tutsi children without our troops, less than 10 miles away, making any attempt of shutting it. Now, the genociders we saved in 1994 are again hard at work. But, when Mitterrand (ie the French president who ordered all of this) died hundreds of thousand of Parisian socialists went to mourn him at Place de la Bastille, and the left had no shame into naming monuments and streets by his name. But for the french left a million Rwandans dead is just a million niggers dead.


And then was 9/11 and a certain left who rejoiced at it and another left who began presenting bin Laden as a modern Robin Hood feigning to ignore his part in South Sudan genocide, his projected extermination of Jews, his indifference to the misery of Afghans or that in his vision it is OK to enslave and steal from Christians and Shia Muslims (like the oil in animist and chritian South Sudan or like in Saudi Arabia whose oil comes from Shia regions and is stolen by the Wahabis). Then we had the demonstrations against war in Afghanistan and "pacifists" fainting just at the thought of a US bomb going astray while remaining indifferent to the deaths due to Taleban's policies or the cleansings them and their Al Quaida friends perpetrated routinely whenever they advanced, specially in Shia regions.


Now it is Iraq and we have "pacifists" yelling about war for oil. And then what? Oil is not the thing you put in SUV's for recreational trips, it is the thing who is used for heating appartments, for making most synthetic-based clothes, the thing who moves tractors (no oil, far less food) and the trucks who bring food to markets. No I don't want a single nation controlling 3/4 of world's oil production (through conquest) and be able to raise price as much it wants. If you feel differtently I suggest you go without heating, without clothes and with only the food you can grow or hunt.


When we talk about weapons of WMD in Saddam's hands the anti-war are quick to point to America's or Israel's ones. But if we take out Hiroshima and Nagasaki (an invasion would have claimed millions of japanese lives given their habit of suicide when defeated in battle) when has America used WMD's? Has Israel ever used WMD's? Has it even threatened to use them? Like "give those Palestinians a homeland in YOUR state and we want half of your oil and, ah yes, a yearly tribute of 10,000 virgins or...". Israel is a state whose existence is perpetually threatened and don't think Arabs would content with putting Isrealis in a boat and ship them to Europe and America: a number of them want the entire Isreali population exterminated that is why Isreal has WMDs my pacifist and hypocrit friend.. For Saddam, WMDs are instruments of conquest and repression to be used whenever it suits him. Far more often.


Now let's talk about the Iraquis. No, America isn't going to war for saving the Iraquis. And you? Would you accept to lose half your money and risk life and limb for saving a drowning person in a shark infested area? Nations don't go at war, have their soldiers killed and their treasure depleted for philantropical reasons. But at times there are collateral benefits. In your hate agaainst the USA you would be claiming "It is all about cotton" if we were in 1864, "it is all about steel" if we were in 1941-42. You would also tell "wither the niggers" "wither the Jews who are pushing us to war". If you were really concerned about Iraquis you would ask yourself a simple question: how many of them will be killed by the war versus how many of them would be killed if we let them in the hands of Saddam? America's motives are not a factor, we are taliking of Iraquis so just ask yourself: "How many?" versus "How many?"


Now if you have a kind of Oedipus complex who makes you hate America for being your country or for being the world leader I suggest you take a psychotherapy. But Vietnamese, Cambodians, Afghans or Iraquis don't deserve to pay a high price in blood in order you can fulfill the void in your life. Then wash your hands of the blood who has accumulated in them through supporting every monstruous dictator just because ha was pissing America and repeat after me "Hi, my name is ... and I am an anti-American".



JFM,

Your English and typos could do with some work ... but your sentiments are beyond excellent.

Lovely bit of work!



Your essay is extraordinarily well written and stirring. That's often the problem with war, it is stirring, emotional, moving. And it has to be, to get young men and now young women fired up on both sides, to kill and to die.

The South was right, in a fundamental way the American Civil War was the triumph of industrialism and mass society over agarian and elitist society. We are heirs today, most of us Americans, of the Northern way of thinking, things over people, numbers over quality, secular over religious.

But even more than that, this country often wins the war, and loses the peace. Certainly the Civil War was a good example, likewise WWI. I hope we learn a lesson and don't let the big oil, big money grab the peace from Iraq after the war. They have allegience only to money and profits. People are nothing more than a means towards the ends of power and domination. That is the great fear on the left, that the war is nothing but a grab for oil and for domination in the Middle East for corporate BigBusiness.

The confusion is that American policy is often clothed in high sounding, moralistic terms, for it is these ideas, as you so well argue, that drive men into battles. On both sides, defense of Islam, defense of homeland echoes today in Iraq, and Iran, and Syria, and Palestine. We will lose a religious war with a resurgent fundamentalist Islam, this is primarily a secular country and many religious people prefer it that way. We haven't the tools to fight a religious ideological war, only a mechanized stand-off equipment rich low-death-tally quick war.



People, people, please don't feed trolls. Perhaps you missed this comment by Monsieur St James:

one thing I forgot, trevalyn, I've worked for the mainstream media for over 30 years
That should pretty much say everything you need to know about his opinions of the US military and those who support them. I'm sure Peter Arnett would be very proud of M. St James.

Bill, another excellent essay. I'm still waiting for an advance order form for your book!



St. james and winston smith may be the same individual writing under 2 aliases to rob bandwidth. Their attempted rebuttals are the sputtering gasps of desperate individuals who don't know the difference between right and wrong. When I gave an example of the abuse the "peace" movement heaps on families of Iraqi Freedom fighters, I was anxious to avoid the kind of reception our Vietnam veterans received when they returned to the states. Instead of launching ad hominem attacks on us, he should go back to his own camp and plead with the antiwar folks to welcome our Iraqi war veterans in the spirit of peace and forgiveness when the fighting is done. They will make us look like gentlemen (and ladies) on the field of honor.

I have no sympathy for Peter Arnett after hearing that he got canned. After all, he brought this on himself.



[i]if we don’t try all the means to reach a peaceful consensus (which we didn’t before this war, I believe) what does make us different from Iraq, North Korea, Nazi Germany? [/i]

What means remain untried? 12 years of sanctions, diplomacy, low level military action, inspections.. All have failed. What remains?

[i]Tell me where I’m wrong…[/i]

Willful ignorance of the past decade and some.



Osipov

In the context of my rejoinder, the media was something to be educated by and I was being faulted for being cynical about it. A smooth demonstration of how, if someone disagrees with you, you can use both sides of an argument to batter him.

FYI, I know of NO ONE in all my years of working in the media who has anything like the political views I have. It may surprise you to learn (altough you probably won't because you already have all the information you need) that the very large majority of people I know in the media really believe the press release version of reality they report. And they do recieve alternate sources of information that they discard routinely.

Your ability to peg me based on a few words or a few posts seems a shining example of the sort of mentality that thrives on perpetuating an "US vs THEM" world. Don't really know anyone, because if it appears they don't agree with you, they're by definition a lesser species than you and you can wipe them out with impugnity.

I see all these people here taking offense at being characterized as bloodthirsty. But like many of my detractors here, I've been offered no evidence whatsoever that the "no one likes war" rhetoric is anything more than just that.

Killing people is pretty personal in my estimation...and all your attempts to absolve yourselves of the attendant criticism you receive (and, I submit, guilt you feel as witness uy the vehemence of responses) is done by trying to remove any personal component in taking someone else's life. And if you say you can muster up tears for Americans, but find it harder to do it for our "enemies" then I'd suggest this is precisely that divisive thinking that means you get your wish. We WILL have war forever.

and to dirk...sorry to have messed up your personal lovefest



Wow..........
you have a enviable talent Mr. Whittle.



Bloodthirsty Warmonger

Yeah, I understand your problem...two people speaking for peace against thousands applauding war...the odds are getting too great aren't they? Talk about paranoid.

If you're the guy who gets to unilaterally decree what right and wrong are, you're completely correct, I lose.

If some war protesters are condemning our soldiers or their families, attacking them, making their lives difficult or anything like that, they're not doing it on my behalf. And regardless of how events play out, I will not support any such treatment when they return. To paint all war protesters with that brush is convenient but wrong.

It'd be like if I said that all pro-war people only hold that position because the prospect of a real-life X-Box game made their d*** hard. And I won't say that.



Bill,

As a former Marine, I salute you sir. You remind me why I'm proud to be an American!



And my comment was to the original Bill.



Plain and simple: if you don't think freedom is that important to die for, leave this great country and live in a communist country like China or Cuba, or dictatorship like Rhuanda,Iraq or Libyia. Give up what rights you enjoy now for
what little you'll be getting in return. In time you'll try to return home. I'll bet the farm on it! The LOUD Leftist political wing in this country has no clue why were really over in Iraq, and never will. Very sad and unfortunate indeed.



Another amazing essay. thank you so much for sharing it with us. You took me back to many, many drives through the hills of Tennessee and Virginia, where you really can feel the history all around you. There is one spot, about 20 miles north of Chattanooga, where every time I am there I expect to see long-dead soldiers marching along the next bend in the road. After one of those many drives I wrote a poem about the surroundings -- the first line is "There are faces in the hills of Virginia." I was referring to the rock formations on the sides of the hills that have been cut away for the highway -- if you look hard you can almost see the men who marched over them.



I'd like to read all of 170-odd comments, but my time is short, so I'm not going to try. Anyway, my own little interjection is about my suprise that Bill, an obvious Civil War enthusiast, hasn't yet mentioned William T. Sherman in any of his recent writings. For me, Sherman perfectly represents the attitude that America should take concerning war. "You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will," he wrote to the leaders of Atlanta, shortly after capturing it, "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace."



to all of you people who are getting tired of seeinky posts, I apologize...I tried making this a private email to Martin Knight, but his email address doesn't work.

I'm a Muslim so this strikes close to home somewhat. But I do ask you to be cautious here. Remember the case of Sami Al-Arian, who was defended by every Left-Wing polemicist as being targeted for his race, religion and/or support for Palestinians when he was first approached by the police. Now it turns out that he is the one Islamic Jihad's top operatives. I move in Arab and Muslim circles, and I doubt you know as much as you think you do.


Mr Knight

Unlike you and most of the other people responding to me, I don't claim to know a lot. I'm sure your fellow Muslims would be heartened to know that "this strikes close to home somewhat." But you pretty much blow that out of the water with your next statement. Since you obviously don't know anything about the case I'm citing, your admonition to be cautious means less than nothing. You know and I know that all I did was state the facts of the case as I know them. They were provided by the guy's employer who is a non-Muslim white American. I didn't draw inferences nor did I ask that YOU draw inferences about what is happening in that case beyond the actual words I said. I reported it in that context as documentation of a specific event...one that, I suspect a vast majority of Americans would feel comfortable saying, "that doesn't happen here." Regardless of who this person turns out to be, this sort of action is antithetical to what Americans are supposedly fighting to defend.

I'd say most of the people on this site are unusually defensive about their position which is pretty strange given the odds that are in your favor in this forum. I suggest it might be evidence that you folks are not as sure of your righteousness as you pretend to be. And I further suggest that that's why you mimic our current foreign policy by becoming belligerent when someone asks for clarification beyond cut and paste propaganda nuggets.

And it's also breathtaking how selective you people are in your choice of which information to believe and what to discard. Do I really need to dig out the documentation that clearly shows that intelligence reports and documents used by George Bush, Colin Powell and Tony Blair to demonstrate the WMD capabilities of Saddam were to some degree forged? And that all of these people admitted that was the case? I honestly can't believe you've missed that. More likely, since it didn't further the objective you already have in your mind, it didn't make the radar screen. For me, this clear proof that the people forcing this war are willing to lie to pull it off, puts in question ANYTHING they say. And if you dismiss this as untrue or irrelevant, then anything YOU say will likewise suffer from loss of credibility.


Bill St James



An excellent dissertation,you are a brilliant and very eloquent writer.As a Canadian,I'm personally very disappointed with the decision our Prime Minister has made to not support our best friend in this time of war.I know we can't provide much military might of any significance,but I feel very strongly that we should offer all that we can without hesitation to such a close friend and neighbour.....we all know that you'd help us in a time of crisis without question,that the Americans are on speed-dial if we ever get into a scenario that we can't handle ourselves.I am convinced beyond all doubt that Saddam and his bastard regime must finally be decimated,and I'm glad that America,Britain and Australia have the fortitude and balls to get this thing done and take serious action against this mass-murderer of his own people.That being what it is,I know we're in very good hands and that history will show us how important it is to liberate the Iraqi people and rid the world of this tyrannical cancer NOW,not later.



Amazing. Never before have I heard some one sum up the situation so succinctly. Absolutely brilliant.



Hello Bill,

Could you please footnote the source(s) of your historical 'quotes'. The first one that mentions 'shock and awe' is a bit... suspicious.

Thanks.



Mr St James

If you want to know why we are for war (besides because we don't want our children dying in a cloud of VX) I suggest you take a look at the "Price of their peace" animation at http://thedissidentfrogman.now.nu

Your peace has a price. We can't afford it. We don't buy it. Keep it.



Bill-
That was amazing! Chamberlain is my favorite from the Civil War.

St. James-
www.blogspot.com



St. James, are you still doing Flashback?



Bill Whittle, you've outdone yourself again. Thank you for your thoughtful and eloquent words. I look forward to buying your book.



Joe...are you spamming me? You want me to buy a web site? Huh?



Here's an appropriate commentary from that well-known rabid rightwinger Nat Hentoff in a Village Voice column entitled "Why I Didn't March This Time." Interesting excerpts:

I participated in many demonstrations against the Vietnam War, including some civil disobedience—though I was careful not to catch the eyes of the cops, sometimes a way of not getting arrested. But I could not participate in the demonstrations against the war on Iraq.

I did not cite "weapons of mass destruction." Nor do I believe Saddam Hussein is a direct threat to this country, any more than the creators of the mass graves in the Balkans were, or the Taliban. And as has been evident for a long time, I am no admirer of George W. Bush.

The United Nations? Did the inspectors go into the prisons and the torture chambers? Would they have, if given more time? Did they interview the Mukhabarat, Saddam's dreaded secret police?

An Iraqi in Detroit wanted to send a message to the anti-war protesters: "If you want to protest that it's not OK to send your kids to fight, that's OK. But please don't claim to speak for the Iraqis."

In The Guardian, a British paper that can hardly be characterized as conservative, there was a dispatch from Safwan, Iraq, liberated in the first days of the war: "Ajami Saadoun Khilis, whose son and brother were executed under the Saddam regime, sobbed like a child on the shoulder of The Guardian's Egyptian translator. He mopped the tears but they kept coming. 'You just arrived,' he said. 'You're late. What took you so long?' "

The United Nations? Where Libya, Syria, and Sudan are on the Human Rights Commission? The UN is crucial for feeding people and trying to deal with such plagues as AIDS; but if you had been in a Hussein torture chamber, would you, even in a state of delirium, hope for rescue from the UN Security Council?

The United Nations? In 1994, Kofi Annan, then head of the UN's peacekeeping operations, blocked any use of UN troops in Rwanda even though he was told by his representative there that the genocide could be stopped before it started.

The letters section of The New York Times is sometimes more penetrating than the editorials. A March 23 letter from Lawrence Borok: "As someone who was very active in the [anti-Vietnam War] protests, I think that the antiwar activists are totally wrong on this one. Granted, President Bush's insensitive policies in many areas dear to liberals (I am one) naturally make me suspicious of his motives. But even if he's doing it for all the wrong reasons, have they all forgotten about the Iraqi people?"

Apparently. Read the whole thing.



Let's try that URL again: "Why I Didn't March This Time"



Thank you Bill. It's amazing that a single human is capable of wrapping all of the emotion and facts of this situation into a single essay that is so succinct and readable. I'll second the desire to buy you a drink. You can collect the next time you pass through DFW ... if you're still thirsty after everyone ahead of me in line buys you one. I'll also second the book request. Let me know where to order and I'm good for at least three.

John Parker



Bill,

You're essay was worthy of gravity of the topic. Well done. I await your book.



Mr. St. James - I don't own an Xbox, and you sadly underestimate my ability to make intelligent decisions about the fate of nations. But that's OK - I don't mind your numerous visits to this Web site, because every time you do, you are attracting new recruits to our cause. The people who read Bill Whittle's essays and our reactions are not stupid, and I trust in their ability to make the right choice after seeing our viewpoints side-by-side. Do you?



Nice writing, but it doesn't even begin to make a watertight case for the necessity of war.

Consider this: if the goal is indeed to bring freedom to the people of the Middle East, why start with Iraq? Why didn't America start by transforming its putative allies, who are more likely to be amenable to US pressure? Allies like Egypt, Jordan, Saudia Arabia and Kuwait? How about Saddam when he was America's friend, or the Shah before he was deposed? The unfortunate fact is that the United States has never been interested in encouraging freedom and democracy in Middle Eastern states when the incumbent dictator was already pro-Western. That's why you have to sympathize with those who are suspicious of US motives.



Thank you - would that I could issue a copy of this to all real Americans - thank you!



Superb.



If we are marked to die; we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honor.
God's will I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have.
O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

-Before the Battle of Agincourt, 25 October, 1415
Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3

And ...
To those who fight for it, life has a flavor
the protected shall never know.

To say you oppose the war but you support the troops is (how to put this?) ... an oxymoron?



I think Mr. St. James needs to patch the foil in his hat.



First off: your italicized paragraph beginning "This war is an abject and utter failure..." -- Would this be a quotation from a Civil War-era news source, as your italics make it seem? Where, then, is the attribution? Or is it your interpolation? I think very much it's the latter. If you want to make a comparison with the Civil War and this war, I'd appreciate it if you gave coherent historical attribution rather than rhetoric. But of course you give rhetoric rather than attribution, because the comparison between the Civil War and Gulf War II can ONLY be made in a grand historical superstructure of "striving toward freedom."

Now, if these boys are dying "for all of us," as you say at the top of your essay, how can that be when we already had our Civil War to strive for freedom? No. These boys are dying for the liberation of Iraqis. Let's at least get that straight. They're not dying to protect ME. Let's get THAT straight. Not when Al-Qaeda pledges new terrorist attacks to support the "Iraqi resistance" of American arms. As much as you might think yourself a "Star-Spangled Banner" Conservative, you might just be horrified to find yourself a radical liberal in reality -- you are advocating the liberation of an oppressed people while risking MY security. My army is not protecting ME, and you know what? I come FIRST. The security of THIS COUNTRY comes before the liberation of any OTHER country.

Freedom. Fighting for freedom. Well, why haven't we deposed Mugabe yet? I mean, he's a hell of a weaker target than Saddam, even if we make our prognostications of military success in Zimbabwe as pessimistic as our military planners in Iraq were optimistic. Freedom. How free do I feel now that we're threatening enlarging the war to Syria, while Saudi Arabia sells us oil with one side of the forked tongue, and shpeals anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric with the other? Freedom. The Roman Empire, and the Napoleonic Empire, both used the stick of war in order to beat down their conquered countries to accept the carrot of citizen rights. Seems to me that both Napoleonic Europe and the Roman Empire's fringes didn't feel too happy with the freedoms that were being forced upon them at the tip of sword or musket. I urge you to consider THOSE histories as well in your analysis.




Bloodmongering Warthirster

I have no estimation nor did I express any concerning your ability to make intelligent decisions regarding the fate of nations. I said if you are the person in charge of determining right and wrong, then I lose. And anyone who claims to be able to easily deal with all the challenges in his own life, much less those of the entire planet is someone from who a continent's separation might not be enough. My own sh**-detector immediately eliminates from consideration ANYONE who makes such claims. Sorry, I'm not one of the sheep who's looking for a Daddy to make up my mind for me. I submit that the prevalence of such people accounts for why so many blindly follow a Hitler, Hussein or Bush. Or you.

Since, in theory this forum is being read world-wide, I presume your choice of nicknames is an indication of such ability to make intelligent decisions. I'm sure it brings a smile to the face of those you hope to impress.

How I'm responsible for bringing people to this site, I can't imagine, but thatnks for the encouragement anyway.



'drain the swamp' a catchphrase for our times. How long before that creeps into the main stream. Great essay.



All I'm trying to do is to get through the civics class bull**** that I believe the preponderance of Americans bought in the 7th grade and have never questioned since. I think that lots of folks take comfort in the idea that the people they elect to office become automatically endowed with intelligence, selflessness and good will just by virtue of a democratic vote.

Mister, I resent your implications. I found myself increasingly dissatisfied with this great nation, swallowing hook, line and sinker the notion that the United States of America was the greatest evil on the face of the earth.
Then I did some research when I got to college, and found out that I was wrong. This is merely one woman's testimony, but I'm sure that there are others who have been through the same thing.

Also, I find your posts disgustingly self-centered and narcissitic. It could be that I have misjudged your character in that regard (if so, I apologize), but I doubt it.



(Skipping over the trolls and back to feedback)
The article was fantastic. I have goosebumps. Thank you!



You are all a bunch of morons for arguing this with each other. You will never change the other persons opinion and are just stroking yourself trying to make you feel better & more important. This how war starts in the first place, people who cant just STFU and get along.



jamesbertrand

Well, damn. A guy who can cut and paste Shakespeare. I guess I'm put in MY place. Sorry for speaking up...I didn't realize I was up against such amazing facility.

Have you been in the military? If so, when were you consulted as to where you went and what you did when you got there? How many kids who are there now joined with the idea that going to war would be cool? Some may well have, but I guarantee you many did not. Regardless, I respect each of their decisions to do what they believe is right in the environment in which they exist. For all the lip service paid by their commander-in-chief and all those who parrot his version of patriotic propaganda about what a major sacrifice they're making, I remain unconvinced that the decision makers really grok this war as having much to do with human beings. It's a left-brain calculation and the people fighting and dying could be any widget that gets the job done.

The policy that puts us in a war and the people fighting it are not one and the same thing. You should be ashamed for presuming the intentions, complexities, aspirations and hope held by the people who are dying by suggesting that they are all the mindless killing machines you project.



Great essay! And Minstrel has it right, Bill St. James does come across as a belligerant narcissist. His smarmy insults and instant leaps to victimhood, his personal attacks on those who disagree with him, his attribution to others of the characteristics he wants to insult (characteristics, which almost universally seem to describe him better), without any basis, are the most unpersuasive tactics I can imagine.

I think he could make the case for his point of view in a dispassionate and logical way if he wanted to, but he doesn't seem interested in that.

From this, I can only conclude that persuasion isn't his goal and that he is interested only in being an irritant, as evidenced by his first post.

That being the case, I recommend to all here that his posts be ignored completely, however insulting and provocative, unless and until he wants to engage in civil discourse.

I just came here to read the essay on a friend's recommendation, and have now done so, thread included, so it's quite unlikely that I'll see whatever response, if any, that Mr. St. James may choose to make. Still, I think your lives will be happier if you follow my advice and just skip past his stuff henceforth.

Cheers.



Minstrel

I would have answered you personally in order to preclude another of my disgusting, self-centered narcissistic posts but your link doesn't seem to lead to an email address.

I was hopeful that someone really WOULD respond to the quote of mine you used, because it's something that's bugged me for quite a while and I've never gotten a good argument about it.

Regardless, I understand that my words upset you and for that I apologize. If you read the stuff that's directed at me, coming far faster and nastier than I can possibly respond to, I'd hope you'd be inclined to give me at least a small break. Although I recognize that if you see considered even-handed truth in others' responses and merely self-centered crap in what I write, I understand that they speak what you believe and I don't.

You seem to believe the only two choices are that the "US is the greatest evil on earth" or a place where one must unquestioningly follow whatever path one is told to. I subscribe to neither of those ideas.

I DON'T believe this country is or represents the greatest evil on earth. I certainly DO question our Divine Authority to make those calls for everyone else however. I recognize that I'm in the minority in that regard...I think folks on both sides of this issue have their own ideas and some amount of confidence and righteousness about their right and ability to impose those on someone (everyone) else.

I'm not one of those. I don't presume to have a lot of answers nor do I feel anointed to force my beliefs an ANYONE else. My interest here was to see if people could provide actual evidence that they have made considered choices. I've been met with a couple of well-spoken pro-war people whom I engaged privately and many that choose to attack for daring to ask a question.

Not many answers have been forthcoming. (I don't count foaming at the mouth as an answer).

Again, I apologize if you felt personally insulted. I'd be happy to continue this elsewhere if you like.



Good content, poor delivery. I understand and I agree, but temper your passion with technique. More words is only more words, not a clearer point. If you're not citing your historical accounts, then you're just "making it up." You're not likely to change perspectives if you can't get anyone to wade through such a thick commentary.



Dorie Gold says there is 100X as much oil in the earth compared to known reserves.

In America we have at least as much oil as Saudi Arabia in the oil shales. Canada has 1.5 times as much as America.

Gold says oil is a product of hydrocarbons from space not heated and compressed vegetable matter. These hydrocarbons were collected during planet formation.

Bjorn Lumborg says we will be off the fossil fuel energy standard due to advances in technology by no later than 2100 and more likely by 2065.

If it is about oil it is about the declining value of oil:

July 2000: Sheikh Yamani (Saudi Oil Minister 1962-86) says world oil prices will plummet in about five years, and later crash durably, because of competition, chiefly from hydrogen fuel cells. "This is coming before the end of the decade and will cut gasoline consumption by almost 100 percent," he says, noting that Saudi Arabia will have "serious" economic difficulties. "Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil-and no buyers," Yamani adds. "Thirty years from now, there is no problem with oil. Oil will be left in the ground." Ford vows to improve its sport-utilities' efficiency (av. 18 mpg) by nearly five mpg over the next five years, with similar gains in vans and pickups.

from:

http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid414.php



Bill St. James:

Nobody who looks this way on purpose should think he knows anything about policy.

http://www.wdrcobg.com/people/hart.jpg



Dear UNK:

Why, what a pompous, superior, nattering little cockalorum you must be.

I think if you left grad school for a few months and got a job or did almost anything, really, you know, even picked up trash along a highway with one of the those pokey things, it could hardly fail to do you a world of good.



UNK, this is rhetoric not an academic work so don't hold it to that standard. I thought the delivery was great -- a very well crafted argument that introduced themes, left them to simmer and came back to them when they were ready to be integrated into the whole. Perhaps it doesn't fit most Web-based attention spans, but that's all the more reason for a book!

But I would also like to know the source of the "American Press" report...



Walt Lear

Man I agree! Who the hell is that? My picture IS on the web, but you'll have to work harder than that to find it. I'm impressed that you must have done a search on the name.

1) Where's your picture?

2) Where do I make a claim of knowing anything about foreign policy? I've gone out of my way to say otherwise...it's most everyone else who claim expertise.



Superb, as always.



Firstly let me say BRAVO to this brilliant essay. As a military historian in my own right, I'm awestruck by this piece.

With limited respect to those like Mr. St.James, your right to voice your opinion is certainly valid, as is the right of those to oppose it. "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it." - Alexander Hamilton. I'm not going to say that our troops overseas are fighting for YOUR right to say it... they're not. But they ARE fighting for the rights of those people IN Iraq who do not have that right. And for that, they ARE fighting to the death.

Of course, opposing the war naturally brings the "blood for oil" argument. Honestly, if it were about oil, we could buy oil from Iraq much cheaper and at much lower cost in human lives if we really wanted that oil. Not to mention that 60% of our oil comes from Venezuela, we produce 20% ourselves, and the remainder comes from countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. So we don't need Middle Eastern, let alone Iraqi oil, gimme a break.

And this term that's become standard around here..
Pro-War. NO ONE EXCEPT MAYBE SADDAM IS PRO-WAR.
No one wants to go to war, least of all those who actually have to fight it. But they go because they believe in what we're trying to do, and they're doing quite well.

This campaign has accomplished in twelve days what took four months to do in WWII with remarkably low casualties. In WWII we were losing 12 DEAD an hour. Here we've lost less than 75 total in 12 DAYS. We've advanced 300 miles inland. That distance wasn't reached until October of 44. So yes, the war is going VERY well in terms of progress.

I was not initially convinced that we needed to go to war. I had my doubts and certainly saw much bigger threats out there besides Iraq. But after analyzing the situation further and learning all I could possibly learn from numerous sources, my position has changed significantly.
But we're in it now, and for the right reasons. We've found enough chemical weapons material to incriminate the regime (vats of chemicals, chem suits, the Al-Qaeda training camp where the London Ricin originated). Come on, the connection's been made.

And god help em if I see a serviceman or woman getting spit on by a protester, which I've heard has already happened.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Bernstein
author- US Army AH-1 Cobra Units in Vietnam



Thank you very much for a brilliant essay. I could barely finish through my tears. I will encourage everyone I know to read it.



An excellent essay. But, I don't totally agree with it. The essay was linked from another forum - the World Wide Rant -
http://citadel2.ezboard.com/fbrownsinsiderfrm12
which is where I posted the following comments, without having read any of the comments here:


A well written and stiring piece. But....
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
there is a contradiction that I see in the essay, and it is one that has bothered me in relation to this war.

I agree - Liberty is preserved with the blood of patriots. We went through a crucible in our wars, through our sacrifice of American lives, and it made us a better people.

Now, let's play the alternative history game the author plays, but not stack the deck. Let's give a couple more Iraqi-type examples:

What is the U.S. like today, if Britain had noted the tensions between the North and South, and stepped in to militarily free the slaves. What the hell does the U.S. look like if that had happened? I think the United States are (not "is") a little different, and not in a good way.

Or, take a look at some of his examples from a current perspective. Yes, the United States and Britian freed Germany and France from a cruel dictator who visited unamagineable horrors on the World. And, in return they have joined us, standing shoulder to shoulder in our current difficulties.... Oh. Shit. Nevermind.

How can our blood and sacrifice serve as Iraq's crucible? And, where do you draw the line, differentiating a merely nasty leader that we tolerate, from one we go in and make the sacrifice of young American lives to topple? In answering that question, remember the citizenry of that country is not willing to shed it own citizens' blood to remove the bastard.

Just as importantly, why would any country's citizens make the kind of sacrifice necessary to remove a true bastard by force of arms, when they can sit at home, hoping that the United States of America will do it for them? That is a dangerous lesson to teach the World. Liberty can be preserved by the blood of the patriots of other idealistic countries.

And, where is the point where we have to go in and make that sacrifice because if we don't we will appear weak, and not be respected? Where does that "tipping point" happen? As I have stated, I acknowledge that once we went into Iraq, we clearly reached that point, and we now have to win, in the same sense that civil war hill had to be defended by the Union forces. Today, there is no choice. My answer would have been much less certain in the months before we went into Iraq.

So, the second part of the author's answer - and my questions - comes down to: did we need to do this for purposes of self defense, or was Afghanistan enough. (To me, Afghanistan was a much easier case). And - to complete the obvious thought - how many more times do we have to do this, and to whom, before we've shown sufficient resolve.

The author sees the WMD issue as clear cut. It may prove to be so, as the evidence comes in after we win. But so far, unless the author has security clearance sufficient to see all the evidence the general public is denied, I can only note that the evidence wasn't sufficient to convince those two nations we shed American blood to liberate.



The US Civil War was also fought in places other than the East Coast and the record of Union victories is somewhat more substantial than none, even before Vicksburg, which happened at the same time as Gettysburg.

A minor point in an otherwise interesting essay.



That's swell. Who did this kid die for?

Posted by: John on March 30, 2003 10:11 AM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cheap shot, John. No one supporting this war likes war; no one likes to see innocent children killed. But to say the death of one child, however horrible it is, can make a war indefensible is to retreat into the self-absorbed cynical pacifism that Bill Whittle decried. What of the thousands who have died under Saddam's regime -children included- without the benefit of a news photographer? What of those killed in the most gruesome ways by Saddam's sadistic sons? What of the thousands who died in WTC, and the thousands more innocents who I believe will die in the future if Saddam's WMD programs are not stopped?

Yes, the death of the child is horrible. But who truly killed the child - the US or the ogre regime under which that poor child had to live?

Also, in your trite comment you ignore all the other points Bill made. Children died in WWII and in the Civil War - does that mean that these wars were ipso facto unjust? Do you really wish you were living under Nazi or Japanese imperial rule? Do you really wish that slavery had continued even longer in the South? The cost is often terrible; innocents die; but do you really mean that this cost is never worth paying? Or is it just this war's cost you oppose? If so, then make that argument - don't abuse that poor child once again by using him as a shield to hide behind with your true agenda.

Mike Lutz
Rochester, NY



Bill,

You may be out of altitude, but you're clearly not out of either airspeed or ideas.

What a hell of an essay!



Here's a list of the countries that the U.S. has bombed since the end of
World War II, compiled by historian William Blum:

China 1945-46
Korea 1950-53
China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-99
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998
Yugoslavia 1999

In how many of these instances did a democratic government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result?

Choose one of the following:
(a) 0
(b) zero
(c) none
(d) not a one
(e) a whole number between -1 and +1



I read that essay, very well written and a very interesting perspective. I want to read those Poul Anderson books. I will feel allot better when I see hard and not just circumstantial proof of WMDs. I disagree with the author where he said "no one disagrees that they exist" many many people disagree.

I also think that waging war significantly increases the chance of a suitcase nuke in times square or a crop duster full of anthrax. Then again I am just a layman and still trying to educate myself. As the essay pointed out, we will not know until the truth becomes history. I truly hope I am wrong.

-Cole



Mr St. James,

    Unlike you and most of the other people responding to me, I don't claim to know a lot.

Oh yes you do.

    I'm sure your fellow Muslims would be heartened to know that "this strikes close to home somewhat." But you pretty much blow that out of the water with your next statement. Since you obviously don't know anything about the case I'm citing, your admonition to be cautious means less than nothing. You know and I know that all I did was state the facts of the case as I know them. They were provided by the guy's employer who is a non-Muslim white American ...

I couldn't possibly care any less as to the religion, race or nationality of who you heard your little anecdote from. Considering how far removed from the event you are, you know far less than you obviously believe. And since that is the case, my admonition for you to be cautious about throwing wild accusations about America being a police state still stands.

    I'd say most of the people on this site are unusually defensive about their position which is pretty strange given the odds that are in your favor in this forum. I suggest it might be evidence that you folks are not as sure of your righteousness as you pretend to be.

Nah ... I think we just do not take it lying down when someone calls us a "bloodthirsty choir". It may shock you that people respond negatively to name-calling but it usually happens. i.e. just because the guy you just called a child-molester punches you in the nose doesn't mean he's being defensive because he really has something to hide.

    And I further suggest that that's why you mimic our current foreign policy by becoming belligerent when someone asks for clarification beyond cut and paste propaganda nuggets.

You didn't ask for clarification, Mr. St. James. You outright denied that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, something that is documented, something that not even the French deny. You claimed that draft dodgers and their families during the Vietnam War faced the same fate from the US government that ordinary Iraqis face today from the Fedayeen (torture, rape and execution). You constantly dismiss documented facts i.e. Halabja, etc. as "propaganda". And you lob insults left, right and center and claim surprise and shock when you're replied to in kind.

So if there's anybody who requires psychological examination from you, I respectfully suggest you look in the mirror.

    And it's also breathtaking how selective you people are in your choice of which information to believe and what to discard.

I could say the exact same thing about you. I give credence depending on how credible the source is. If Colin Powell and Noam Chomsky say something about the United States military, I'll give more credence to Colin Powell. If Barbra Streisand and George Bush say something about Saddam, I'll heed the President far more than Barbra Streisand. I also tend to give more credence to Donald Rumsfeld's assertions than Saddam Hussein's. This is largely because of Hussein's mass murdering ways. I'm quirky like that.

    Do I really need to dig out the documentation that clearly shows that intelligence reports and documents used by George Bush, Colin Powell and Tony Blair to demonstrate the WMD capabilities of Saddam were to some degree forged? And that all of these people admitted that was the case?

Go ahead. You apparently seem to have access to intelligence that rivals the nation's intelligence chiefs' that proves that Saddam has been telling the truth all along. If you would share it with us, I guarantee you most of us would thank you for your generosity. You were obviously being admirably modest with your claim of not knowing much, weren't you, Mr. St. James?

    I honestly can't believe you've missed that.

Maybe I did miss it. I might have been ill and not seen it the day Colin Powell stood up at the Security Council, rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly and said, "Look guys, it's really all about oil." Post me some links.

By the way, you didn't answer. What is your alternative, Mr. St. James? How would you have gotten Saddam Hussein to disarm himself of his WMD, keeping in mind that diplomatic pressure, sanctions, years of no-fly zone enforcements, etc have not worked after 12 years? If it would help, try as hard as you can to imagine that we are currently in an incredible alternate universe where Saddam Hussein is not telling the truth about having no WMD.



The ONLY Bill St. James that's been in "media" 30 years is Bill Hart. (I just checked with AFTRA)

Now Bill Hart/St. James isn't a bad Voice Over Artist (in fact, his email address is VOA@attbi.com) He does voice over credits for TV land, Nick and Night. But the last thing he learned about policy (domestic or foreign) was "Question Authority."

Here's my picture http://www.ahajokes.com/cartoon/nerd.jpg



Sir - you have my deepest respect and admiration for this magnificent essay.

I have forwarded it to my parents and brother in Ohio (who don't understand why I refused to retire from the USAF after September 11 2001, even though I had 20 years of service and was eligible the following March) and to my family in Nebraska (to help my 12 year old son understand why I accepted a year-long remote assignment to Korea, with the family separation it involves).

I have also made it a “must read” for the junior airmen I supervise, to remind them why we are here, thousands of miles away from home, and to clarify for them why we are fighting in Iraq.

I only wish I had your gift of writing and brilliant clarity of vision. Please keep it up.



The author is just.. brilliant. This was actually quite moving. I say ignore the trollers. They just feel the urge to irritate everyone else with self-righeous opinions supported by essentially personal attacks on anyone who views the situation differently. I applaud Bill for this mangificent article. G'day.



to Bill St James:
"the media was something to be educated by and I was being faulted for being cynical about it". Excellent point. The media, even if not just spouting propaganda for one side or another, will always show a certain amount of bias. That can't be helped I guess.
"And if you say you can muster up tears for Americans, but find it harder to do it for our "enemies"".
Yeah, when they bombed that building with 200 Baath party members around Basra, I couldn't help but think that they just killed 200 people. They might be the enemy, but they are still fellow humans. Somehow it hurts anyway. If you ever come to Belgium, a visit to a graveyard full of Germans that died over here is well worth it. It reminds us that the enemy has a face, and that the enemy is flesh and blood, just like us. That does unfortunately not change the fact that they are the enemy, since they are fighting for the opposite side. Let's just hope and pray that the human cost of this current war is as low as possible.
PS : I still think we are right in going after Saddam. You were right in pointing out that used documents were forged. What you did not mention is that the UN and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute have been documenting Saddam's use of chemical and biological weapons since the Iran-Iraq war.
(http://projects.sipri.se/cbw/research/factsheet-1984.html)
Another things is what Hans Blix said in his report to the UN, is states (quoted) :
"It, therefore, seems highly probable that the destruction of bulk agent, including anthrax, stated by Iraq to be at Al Hakam in July/August 1991, did not occur. Based on all the available evidence, the strong presumption is that about 10,000 litres of anthrax was not destroyed and may still exist. As a liquid suspension, anthrax spores produced 15 years ago could still be viable today if properly stored. Iraq experimented with the drying of anthrax simulants and if anthrax had been dried, then it could be stored indefinitely."
(http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/documents/cluster.htm)
I guess sometimes it's ok to agree to disagree. I'll respectfully disagree with you on the issue of Iraq.
Greetings from Belgium



I salute you, I respect you, and I thank you. I thank you for articulating how myself and many I know feel about this challenge we as a nation now face.

To that I will add.. America is a great nation because she has the fortitude and the motivation to do the things that are difficult and unpleasant. The things that other "nations" are afraid to do. The things that must be done so that she can be free, and more importantly... So that others may have a chance to know freedom.

This is our responsibility as the most benevolently powerful FREE nation on earth.

Not an hour goes by where I do not think of our men and women in Iraq. They are in my thoughts CONSTANTLY. I know the threat they face and what they feel, having had my go round with Hussein in '91. I thank them from the depths of my soul for what they are doing and the sacrifices some have and will make.

God bless America and all her brave sons and daughters!



Thank you Mr. Whittle, thank you.





This is so beautiful. An essay of ideas and meaning, written with elegance and poignancy and simplicity. You, sir, are a great writer. I am entitled, as an author, to feel somewhat jealous of such outrageous talent.

I'll be sending this essay on to my family and friends. I'm adding my name to the free beverage list, but I'll throw in a meal too, so when you're in Denver make sure to look us up.

Needless to say, I'll be buying the book. Several times.



I see the light! It is futile to argue with anyone who fails to see the irony in the handle, "Bloodthirsty Warmonger." I will not post any more comments to this thread, but will continue to visit Eject! Eject! Eject!

The bottom line is: all glory to Bill Whittle, who has done it again. I can't wait for the book to come out.



I just wanted to comment on Dirk's posting. I'm glad to see someone outside of the US taking such a stance. NO ONE wants to see human beings killed. But the written evidence is there, and as our troops are finding out as they uncover more and more of these facilities, the tangible evidence is there as well.

Well said, Dirk.

Jon



Simply outstanding. George needs a better speechwriter, and you have demonstrated unmatched skill.



Bill,

After 221 comments, I don't expect you or anyone else to read this but want to say, as usual, you have nailed the core issues of the day with such conviction and history that only if the repressed peoples of the Arab world could read all your essays, we might truely be headed for a better world.

It is so sad that even recently free countries will never read such perfection and will continue to be poisened by lies through even supposedly free press. Bravo, keep up the great work and please publish your book before the world loses interest in the subjects of your writings for this is truely a time a change and we need all the amunition we can get to spread the word of sanity.

Sincerely,

Jody Green



WOW! What can I say? I stood in awe at those very places years ago. I still carry a buckeye seed from a cemetary there. Your writing took me back there.



1. This essay is well spoken and I enjoyed reading it. Please add me to the list of those who would like to buy you a drink and shake your hand.

2. As a military wife with previous Active Duty service myself, I would like to point out I do not think we are "Pro War" if we are not protesting the war. It is not war we are supporting, but the men and women of our Armed Forces and our Commander in Chief. No one wants to go to war, but I see it as the lesser of the evils. Once the decision to send our troops was made, it became imperitive we stand united behind them.

3.Jonathan Bernstein excellent points, sir. If you are ever near Camp Lejeune I would be honored to buy you a drink.

4. the Sarge ... kudos to you! People like you make our nation strong.

5. To all the active duty, retired military and their families who make the sacrifices to live the life of the Armed Forces, Thank you.



Mr St. James:

Why should we listen to your rhetoric when a main motivation of yours is to gain access to underage iraqi prostitutes who are currently living as refugees in Jordan?

What does this have to do with your claims that this war is largely about oil? They're both unlikely and completely unjustified. It's not our job to prove that's not about oil or maintaining an unsustainable lifestyle, it's your job to come up with the (very significant) evidence required to justify so unlikely a claim.

Moreover, have you even read Bill Whittle's WAR essay, in which he explains in great detail why its necessary to fight this war? (hint: many of his pro-war readers at least substantially agree with him.) The case for this war is complex (since there are many reasons that together justify it) and cannot be made completely in a few sentences. It's ridiculous to expect people to recite it to you when you give no indication of having read Bill's essay about it.

Btw, if you're serious in your occasional assertions at not being a troll, there are few ways so good at making people not taking you seriously as declaring (in essence) that you're not going to be convinced by anything that they say.

Oh, I nearly forgot: when the other side is playing with weapons of mass destruction and is well known to kill and torture large numbers of "its own" people, every side of the debate is betting human lives on whether or not they're right.

Oh well. Does anyone around here understand the irresistable impulse to feed trolls and why it's exacerbated by them saying in the most ridiculous tone that they can muster "I was just politely asking a serious question"?

Bill (W), do you have any insights into this that you might be able to put into another great essay, TROLLS? Why do we feed them? (my own guess is that it stems from a belief that we might not be able to do anything about the trolls themselves, but that we might be able to save the people that the trolls have bitten before the first full moon hits and their fate is sealed...)



Thank you for this excellent writing. You have dealt the infectious tide of ingratitude that has washed over our nation a severe blow.

not to have peace, but to have a peace worth having

I get it. Bill Whittle gets it. Why don't they?



Brilliant!



From my own website, written for friends and family...http://www.greenhoot.com/toppage11.htm

.....someone who would explain what I want to say better than I ever can. His name is Bill Whittle, and I don't know him, except from his exceptional website, which I've copied and quoted before, and which reveals the clearest soulmate-in-ideology that I've ever found. He's promised to collate these essays into a book, and when it's available, I'm going to give it to my kids, and friends, and save some for my grandchildren.

Whittle has written THE piece....the one I had in me to say, but could never get out... even the same vivid experience of Gettysburg, where I, too, was rendered speechless, and cried like a baby at the very place Whittle stood and remembered the same thoughts......the very same appreciation and understanding of what THIS war is about. A professional writer would give his blood to be as good as Bill Whittle.



Unfortunately the roots of the liberty tree must periodically be watered with the blood of patriots. The brave men and women in Iraq deserve the same recognition and appreciation as the brave patriots at Bunker (Breeds Hill) and Lexington and Concord.



That's a remarkable quote at the top of the essay ("So spoke the American press. The time was the summer of 1864."). I was wondering if you could provide the source?



So, er, "Little Round Top" was Gettysburg? That wasn't made crystal clear. I kept waiting for the confirmation. Anyways, great essay again, Bill! (a couple of spelling errors tho: early on you wrote "far" instead of "war". and there was another one...I forget what it was. christ I'm anal....



As a son of the old south I have but these words to say, "Damn your good"!



Mr. Whittle, Thank you for that excellent essay. I may be home-schooling my 8th-grade daughter next school year, and if I do, I'm sure she'll read some of your book sooner or later.



A very eloquently written piece that makes an strong appeal for support for the war. I think it reaches too far, however, by implicitly attributing the nobility of the actions of courageous soldiers with the nobility of the cause itself. The sad truth is that in the course of war men have made ultimate, heroic sacrifices that stir the blood of all of us, even when the cause they fought for was fatally flawed. Many German, Japanese, Taliban and now Iraqi soldiers have acted with disregard for their own lives and sacrificed for the lives of their companions and for the country which sent them to fight and die.

The underlying issue BEFORE we are sucked into the emotional maelstorm of a war, and even afterwards, is whether the cause is just and if it is, whether war is necessary to achieve the end or, in fact, is an effective means to achieve the end. In the case of Iraq it does not advance this argument to suggest that this is a 9/11 situation which could have been avoided by a preemptive strike on Afganistan. That argument reaches much too far and has few limits. It would justify aggression against almost any sovereign nation that is anything other than an ally of America. There are many potential dangers in the world and we cannot "kill" them all with preemptive strikes. This is particularly true in today's world where the greatest risk is not from the actions of rogue nations that have much to lose but rather from terrorist individuals and groups that have nothing to they are not willing to lose, including even their lives. In exercising our power offensively against Iraq, we may well increase the dangers for both ourselves and our children. Much like the Israelis and Palestinians who passed up an imperfect solution for conflict, the continuous escalation of hostilities and the resulting hatreds my well lead to a darker, more dangerous world for all of us.

The 9/11 analogy fails for yet another reason; as remarkable as it may seem to most here, I cannot accept the proposition that we had the right to overthrow a lawfully constituted government BEFORE it had acted against us or had exhibited both the means and the current intent to do so. Even after 9/11 we had no right to act until we had information that the Taliban had abetted the act or ratified it by it's support of the terrorists following the attack. We gave them the opportunity to disavow the terrorists and turn them over to us for trial and only when they refused did we act. That was a rational decision of the Bush administration and I approved of both it and the resulting war. The cause for war in Iraq is much less clear.

Here's a tongue in cheek post I made on a message board that sets out some questions concerning the justifications for the war in Iraq:

"Zeeker, I imagine you're hoarse from cheering our "liberation" of the children in Iraq. Sure, it's the right thing to do and, of course it's not about oil. We don't care that Iraq has enough oil reserves to satisfy our current import needs for the next 100 years. It's about those poor oppressed Iraqis. The same ones, in fact, that our first president Bush watched Saddam slaughter by the 10k's or 100k's back in 91. Of course they were chanting the name of some Islamic radical. Thank goodness we can now be sure they no longer support a fundamentalist.

A cynic might say it's about breaking the power of OPEC, or even assuring that the vital energy resources of the Middle East aren't controlled by the Chinese, French and Russians or those misguided governments of the countries that actually own the resources. That cynic might even say that we need to be sure that our multinational oil companies aren't frozen out of that market.

That kind of thinking is hogwash. Although Bush did say that the world had to solve it's own problems without us being the world's policeman, that was before the election. Since the time of the election Bush and his handlers have become so much more touchy-feely when it comes to the poor oppressed peoples of the world that they simply can't stand by and see their suffering any more. Soon they may even cry and bleed for the long-suffering peoples of other countries who just happen not to be sitting on a huge lake of light, sweet crude. Let's see, there's the Palestinians, most of Africa, much of Asia, a few countries in South America, the Cubans of course, and many countries in the Middle East, although these are our allies so that may make things a little more difficult, but what the hell, let's decide whether they need our help. If they do then let's just mass on their borders and offer them our help, or else. What's the joy of having the most powerful military in the world if you don't get to play a little war?

The apparent unwillingness of many of the Iraqis to be relieved of the burden of their oppression is a little troubling. It's just a minor detour on the road to their salvation, however, and we may have to kill more of them to save them than we had intitially planned. That's just a symptom of how oppressed they are. They are so oppressed that they are unable to accept their free choice to choose the non-fundamentalist government we will appoint. Foreign nationalism is really overrated, don't you think?

Hey, the nice thing about this is that we won't have to hear those "Bush is a wimp" statements any more. Just because a man uses a little influence to bump someone out of the National Guard during a time of war doesn't mean he wouldn't have gone himself if there wasn't some way to avoid it. Besides, the guy he bumped out of the guard may not have even had to serve in Viet Nam, and if he did he may have made it home ok. The point is that anyone that can salute as crisply as a former national guard man AND SEND OTHER PEOPLE TO DIE, can feel confident that he's not a wimp. Haven't we heard over and over again how hard it is to send men and women to their potential deaths. Of course that's not as hard as dying cause at least you get to repeat that onerous task. Why can't people forget the past and recognize that physical courage is far different from the type of courage exhibited by those that stay home and "feel our losses."

The sad truth is that if the Iraqis hate us when this is over and we've "won." then we are literally screwed. The world will never again view us as a "safe" world power and will arm quickly to offset our military superiority. (Can you say "China?") We'll become a prime target for every radical looking for a cause and we'll all live in a more violent world. We're betting a lot on the outcome that was promised by the "Iraqi Freedom" proponents. I hope they knew what they were talking about."

As you can see from that post, I'm not a fan of the war although now that we're committed I hope to win it as soon as possible. I have the utmost admiration for the men and women, whatever their personal beliefs, who are risking and sometimes losing their lives for this country and in compliance with the orders of the President. The question of whether or not this is a just war or a wise war does not diminish their sacrifice and bravery, any more than it did the sacrifices of our men and women in Vietnam. I hope that my misgivings are ill-founded and that history proves this to have been both a wise and a just war but logic points me in a different direction. Time will tell and we will all reap the benefits or the costs of what we are doing today. Good luck to all of us.



An Excellent Piece, Mr. Whittle!

And thanks to Mr. st. James for inspiring a topic at my blog, the Crusader War College. More on YOU later.

In the meantime, Mr. Whittle, When you get your book done, I will get three copies, one for myself, one for my brother in law, and one for my Father in law (a 4th Marine Divison Artillery man at Okinawa).



RE: Derekl
CC: Dedalus

Yes, these 12 years of sanctions, low-level military actions, etc. all failed. And yes, most likely, Iraq still develops WMD (UN inspection didn’t find any, however). But it does not mean we must fight it!

Why?

Take a look at Russia, for example. They do have these nuclear missiles and they’re POTENTIAL threat to US. But we don’t (and didn’t neither back in 80-s nor in 70-s or even 60-s) go to war with them. We have always tried to settle any dispute in a peaceful way, including the most serious one like the Cuba crisis…

PS

You didn’t answer my main question: what will be our next step anyway?

PPS

See Dedalus’s comments, too



Great essay. Somebody above asked for the source of the quote from the press in 1864. Has anyone found a source for this? I apologize if I missed the answer, but I could only get about 1/2 way through all the comments above.

One other point, Bill St. James asks whether there is a connection between Saddam and Stalin: yes there is. Saddam has an entire room in one of his palaces dedicated to his hero, Josef Stalin. This was all documented in a recent (French? Canadian?) documentary shot on location with Saddam.

As for the people who claim Saddam is "secular": he had an entire Koran created from 22 pints of his own blood. He also claims to be descended from Mohammed.

Stalinism mixed with Wahabbism. What a combo. How frightening that the Left is not particularly put off by any of this.

How about that quote? Somebody on another site claimed it was too good to be true and must have been contrived. I doubt Whittle would do this, but I'd really like to know where it comes from.



the fact that you compare lincoln and the civil war and to bush and this grasp for land and oil is deplorable, one was trying to hold together a still fledgling nation, and one is a fucking moron who is looking out for his own best interest
what do you think will happen after the war is over? iraq will be split up and we'll get more oil fields, that's all this "war" is about



DSevosty,

Your Cold War analogy falls far short and is really a poor attempt at justifying your position. The nuclear standoff between the US and USSR from 1949 (when the Russians exploded their first atom bomb) through the collapse of the Soviet Union was based on a premise that they valued life as we did and neither side wanted its people annihilated.

The principle of "massive retaliation" ensured that if the US were attacked with nuclear (that's NU-CLEAR, not Nu-que-lur, sorry George) weapons, we could retaliate and take out Russian targets, thus ensuring "Mutually Assured Destruction"... something NEITHER SIDE WOULD ACCEPT. Thus, we reached detente.

This current world situation is about lawless, renegade terrorists and regimes who do not CARE about their people being annihilated except when it furthers their cause. Then they're all too quick to run to CNN or the UN to cry "look what the US did to us".

Once they do get these weapons (nuclear specifically) they WILL USE THEM. In fact, a little reported speech by the Vice President of Iran last fall advocated for the proceeding in their nuclear program with all urgency, as they would be able to destroy Israel with a single strike, while Israel would not be able to retaliate on a large enough scale to destroy all of Iran. This report appeared on CNN.com for about two hours before being pulled. I wonder why? If Iraq had the nuclear capability, do you honestly think they would not use it?

These are the times we live in. US vs. USSR was so much simpler and safer. Sometimes its hard being the biggest kid on the block. Everyone wants to see if they can kick your ass. Well, its about time we started kicking back.

Jon



Bill:
My uncle was a carpenter, a good carpenter, a skilled carpenter, a proud carpenter.

You too, Bill, are a skilled carpenter, one who swings his hammer hard, hits every nail right on the head and drives it in with a few swift blows. You build, first the foundation, then the structure, and when you're finished nailing the last plank in place, we find a sturdy argument that is unassailable by these fatuous blowhards who would sacrifice our own liberties by first giving those liberties of other nations away.

When the time comes, they'll be too timid to stand firm for their own liberty. Some of them even act the part of heroes, but that is all they can do...act the part. They're incapable of living it.

Thus is liberty lost. And, as a friend (whom I met in Norway, newly freed from Nazi rule, in 1945) wrote recently, "You don't really appreciate freedom until you've lost it."



As for the gentle-being (unattributed author) who posted a question about Little Round Top, please do a google search yourself on the subject, or visit the following site: Gettysburg National Military Park - Little Round Top where you can read the history yourself.

If anyone doubts the press was tremendously against Lincoln and his efforts, kindly remember that the press praised Edward Everett for his two hour speech, and totally disdained Lincolns spare prose. As far as the presience (sp?) of the press is concerned, I have studied the civil war, and still had to research Edward Everett's name. Every school child knows of the Gettysburg Address.

Sapper Mike



Pure propagandizing poppycock of the blackest hue.

The fact that you base your utterly one-sided argument upon your own selective, manipulative and irrelevant interpretation of the American Civil War (I noted the absence of any French involvement, since we're talking about old friends), without so much as paying lip-service to the Iraqi culture of those you supposedly wish to forcibly "liberate" that stretches back beyond Babylonia, merely serves to confirm your own blinkered cultural perspective and mediocrity.

Since it makes you feel good to view the entire world in terms of Shiloh and Lafayette, here's another one for you:

White man speak with forked tongue.



RE: Jonathan Bernstein

Jon, yes, it’s very hard to be the biggest kid on the block and yes, there are other kids (not everyone!) who want to see if they can kick your ass (children are cruel creatures by nature). But it does not mean that you start hanging around and fight them “in advance”. ‘Cause if you do, you’ll be that bad guy ‘everyone’ (sic!) hates and afraid of. Am I wrong?

Using such a logics, we have to engage Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Germany, and God-know-who-else (see my first post)… I don’t think it’s right thing to do.

D.

PS
We are not kids but ‘full-grown’ human beings and have/should/would use our brains, not the fists.

PPS
Please, don’t take everything I put here personally



Yusef,

"White man speak with forked tongue."

Problem is, many Iraqis can't speak because they HAVE NO TONGUES... Saddam or his henchmen cut them out. That's what we're fighting for.

Jon



It truly amazes me how thoroughly the "no blood for oil" argument has been trounced, and yet people still bring it up.

It's been run over with a steamroller, people, it's NO LONGER VALID.

Of course, I'm talking to a wall, so why do I bother...?

Excellent essay as always, Bill. It nearly brought me to tears, and that's saying something.



Well at least Mr. Bernstein YOU have the good sense to cite an example of direct contemporary relevance, rather than spout cheap rhetoric in order to appeal to an illogical, patriotic fervor as the author of this masturbatory piece does.

We all know that Saddam is a vile dictator. We all know about his crimes against the Iraqi people.

He should and could have been disposed of in a far less damaging way than this. Just one 9mm round in the back of his head and the world is a happier place.

The problem is that it is becoming increasingly clear that those you wish to forcibly enslave to the American way of life want no part of it. The Iraqis are a proud and ancient people. It may interest you to know for example that the Iraqi Shi-ites refused to fight alongside their Iranian Shi-ite brethren in the IRAN/IRAQ conflict, when Iraq was still your pal. No, they preferred to fight for their country.


If you wish to pick a fight with every murderer on the block then you will very soon have a world war on your hands. If you haven't already started one, that is.

What you people simply do not understand is that the Iraqis do not share or desire YOUR cultural perspective. Maybe if you made an attempt to learn about or understand THEM their view of America would change.

If the author of this naive, conservative rhetoric had even made the slightest effort to present an analysis of modern-day Iraqi culture then I would not have taken issue with his piece - irrespective of the stance he takes.

But he chose to talk about what he knows and understands - himself and his history (minus the glaring omission of the fact that, had it not been for France, America would not have become a republic).

Stick to what you know.



Yusuf wrote:

"If the author of this naive, conservative rhetoric had even made the slightest effort to present an analysis of modern-day Iraqi culture then I would not have taken issue with his piece - irrespective of the stance he takes."

I don't think the average American gives a rat's patoot about Iraq, it's culture or it's people. At least not in the sense that you suggest. What they do care about is that Muslim Arabs have been screaming "Death To America" in their fetid, staggeringly backward "nations" for a long time, and that all that rage culminated in 9/11 and may well get far worse if we do not stop it by force.

We killed 900,000 Japanese civilians in the last 5 months of WWII, not counting Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was horrible, but we had no choice. This time we are trying NOT to kill civilians, but our patience only runs so deep. The message to Arab world from America is clear: "Don's Tread On Me".



Bill,

Thank you for the patriotic statement that this essay brought forward. I am a American airman fighting for OUR country, defending the freedom that the American people practice without retribution from our government. Before we began this campaign of liberation the people had no hope of a "Free" democratic nation. Our bombs and bullets will provide these opressed people a hope, and dream that we practice everyday. I am proud and willing to give my life to preserve the great nation that I call home. Would the doubters be so willing to give themselves to this cause? History does have a way of repeating itself, sometimes in a different light, but always in way that can be recognized. I will not pimp your essay to much but it did send a wave of pride,joy and satisfaction to know the very freedom that I defend everyday is practiced and preached and that it is left in more than capable hands. Good on you!, and please continue to inspire the American people as we breach the present and hope to bring a new and more bountiful future to the people of Iraq.



Just beautiful. Absolutely eloquent and erudite.

yousef - you seem to know a lot about what Iraqis want. Are you there amongst them? Or perhaps you're fulminating from a safe distance in the the diaspora where 'the pursuit of happiness' and charters of rights still benefit the individual?




Mike,

Our bombs and bullets will provide these oppressed people a hope? C’mon, you must be kidding! Did you read what Yusuf had said? What makes you think that Iraqi people want to dream the way we do (sorry if it sounds a little bit … er-r-r… speculative, this ‘dream’ I mean)?

Again, if we use this logic, we will have to bomb Saudis because they oppress their women (not allowed to work, to wear mini-skirts, treated like nothing more than just salves by their husbands etc.). Are you, personally, ready for this?

D.



If your essay did not carry the whiff of of the far right's hatred of Democratic presidents, I would agree with you completely. Unfortunately your foray into history slid past one of the greatest obstacle to doing anything about Afghanistan during the late 90s and that was the rise of the Tom Delay--Ken Starr--Trent Lott Republicans. These latter day Lindburghs led their party towards isolationism and a greater hatred for Clinton and the Democrats than for Milosovic, Saddam and Kim Jong Il. Clinton, (and to his credit, Bob Dole) finally pushed through the policy of bombing Milosovic out of Kosovo while the right whinged about wagging the dog. They bayed even louder when Clinton bombed Saddam and confronted North Korea over nuclear weapons.

The military that is flattening Saddam now was built by Clinton. Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff is a Clinton appointee. Since anything Clinton is reflexively hated by the right, Rumsfeld ignored Shinseki's warnings about how many troops would be needed to do Iraq right. The young men and women who died in the 507th Maintenance Battalion paid for that little bit of hubris with their lives and freedom.

It was Clinton who, over the objections of the neocons who planned this war, shifted the military to lighter, more mobile divisions. It was Clinton who first oriented the military to counter terrorism and who made bin Ladin the CIA's highest target. And it was Clinton who used the military in 90s (Haiti, Kosovo) to fight 'three block wars': fighting a conventional war in one city block, a counter-insurgency war in the next and delivering humanitarian aid in the third. This is, of necessity, how we are now fighting the war in Iraq and it was a model loathed by the neocons who longed for the Cold War and dreamt only of heavy tank clashes in the Fulda Gap.




Thank you Mr. "Minigun" - the very name screams hatred and violence - for admitting your cultural ignorance before the readership of this board.

I agree with you entirely, however. The average American clearly couldn't care less for Iraqis, Arabs or Muslims. You do not care, therefore you do not learn.

Please, understand that NOT EVERY MUSLIM HATES THE USA. Innocent Muslims were also murdered in the World Trade Center by those bastard fanatics, eternally burning in Hell for their crimes.

Indeed, were it not for the tacit goodwill of a number of Arab states presently acting as hosts to your army, none of your good actions would be possible. Bombing that market place in Baghdad the other day was, incidentally, a pure miracle worthy of Jesus himself.

I have taken the time to learn about about you and your culture. I respect it but choose to live elswhere according to a different set of values.

If you ever REALLY want to achieve peace in Iraq then you are going to have to become less lazy and return the courtesy.



To American Killer -
No one, myself included, who has ever fought one of you fanatics, in the streets or in the battlefield, is scared of you. We know what kind of people you are and your threats don't frighten us.



Yet another superb essay.



To Yusef -
I'm an American who has in the course of my life become acquainted with more Muslim people than the average American has. I even spent two years renting and sharing part of a home with a Shiite family from Iran. Your previous entry, in which you ended by saying "...return the courtesy..." really struck a chord in me. What I learned from my friends is that the emphasis on courtesy and mutual respect in Muslim culture made it easy for even a devoted sinner like myself to live with this Shiite family, who to this day I think of many times. Every other aspect of our relations, national and international, can one day be so good. I'm convinced of it. It's just so unfortunate that there has been apparently so little cross-cultural experiences similar to this for the average American. That would allow people to see that our common human experiences of family/home/work make a bond of commonality that is stronger than the cultural window-dressing that we put on it.



Yusef

"Bombing that market place in Baghdad the other day was, incidentally, a pure miracle worthy of Jesus himself."

I guess that producing such a miracle shows the holiness of Saddam? (I do hope that you've been following the news enough to know that it was an Iraqi explosive, not an American one, that went off in that marketplace.)

Anyhow, aside from the fact that many Iraqis are welcoming us and helping us (e.g. people in Basra are helping to locate the Fedayeen for the brits to kill), let's grant your point (which I don't otherwise) that Iraqis come from a different culture where they do believe that they all belong to Saddam and where they don't believe in liberty and freedom and will resist, at all costs, democracy.

What's your recomendation, then, since there is still the problem of Saddam's WMD and terrorist links. Kill them all? Pull out the coalition, nuke Iraq with a few ICBMs and call it a day?



Yusef,

Firstly, let me say thank you for raising intelligent debate without degrading to name calling and other such nonsense. I'm always happy to discuss issues, even heated ones with well informed opponents whom I can seek mutual understanding with.

Being a New Yorker living out of state, I was helpless on September 11th as I received several dozen calls on my cell phone in the middle of class here in Texas. I literally hopped in my car and began to drive to NY, only to be talked down by friends and family asking what I planned to do when I did get home.

Since then I have tried to gain further insight into how this could happen to innocents at a landmark that I had so many fond memories of. As a military historian, I was well aware of the situation and the implications of the military campaign to come.

As a Jew, it has been doubly difficult reconciling these events. Throughout my research into this, the overwhelming response of Arabs is that they deplore our support of Israel. However, what is not stated is the fact that Arab countries like Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, have stated that their goal is the annihilation of Israel. Were we to stop supporting Israel, no one else would (after all, its just another bunch of Jews), and these nations would once again, attempt to wipe Israel from the earth.

Now granted, I am no 100% supporter of Israel either. I believe the settlements to be wrong and there is definitely a need for a peaceful coexistence between Israeli and Palestinian in separate but mutually beneficial states. However, with this threat of annihilation from without and within, can you not see how Israel may be hesitant to give up land that has the strategic potential to split the country in half?

I certainly would like to see those states living together in peace. But with 4,000 Palestinian suicide bombers headed to Iraq, I think that dream is all but lost.

As far as Iraq goes, we should have done the job right the first time. I realize that the average Iraqi does not want to have "American Democracy" thrust on him. That's not the point. This regime has violated the cease-fire ending the Gulf War for twelve years. Do you think that if North Korea violated the cease fire ending the Korean war, that we wouldn't have gone in there and continued from where we left off fifty years ago?

I was not convinced that we needed to go into Iraq this time. I believe our president made a poor argument as to why, when a very good argument along several veins could have been made. But then again, I'm no big fan of our president either. BUT I am a staunch supporter of this nation and its military and once I was able to understand the reasons why we were going, I couldn't agree more.

See, what people of the Arab world (those who claim to hate us) don't realize is that we are by nature a peaceful people who try to do the right thing. It may not always turn out that way, but we do our best to make everyone happy. No nation gives more to the UN, no nation supplies more in humanitarian aid around the world, and no nation cares for the people of the world more than the US does.

If that were not so, then we'd have flattened Iraq instead of being cautious so we can cause as little collateral damage as possible and we wouldn't have photographs of people like PFC Dwyer carrying a wounded 4 year old child to safety in the middle of a firefight.

We're not out to kill people. We're out to make a difference in this world.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Bernstein



Well, here you are Douglas, trying to have it both ways.

Clinton "confronted" North Korea over nuclear weapons? He offered them a bribe to be good, which they promptly took and still continued to develop nuclear weapons, in secret. X42 did not even seek to verify that their side of the bargain was being held up. That was just feckless. And the fact that Clinton's announcement of the start of all these wars coincided each time with his personal crises' high peaks somewhat justified the accusation of him trying to wag the dog. And never once did he go to Congress and seek their counsel as a President is supposed to before committing troops to action.

And it is really despicable that you would try to blame the deaths of the 5O7th POWs on Rumsfeld. They took a wrong turn, something that would have happened no matter how many troops we had in the field. And besides, since Clinton, according to you, "planned this war", why are blaming Rumsfeld? And, by the way, Shinseki is not really that respected in the Army (too PC and political - Sen. Inouye is grooming him to take his seat in the Senate), so citing him in front of an Army man would only earn you rolled eyes.

And as for your claims that Clinton built the military, you are trying to have it both ways. You criticize Rumsfeld for not bringing in more troops while not acknowledging the fact he has a smaller military to deal with than Dick Cheney had in 1991. Defense spending fell in absolute terms in seven of eight years of the Clinton Presidency. Out of the 310,000 jobs Clinton cut in the government, 280,000 of those jobs were at the Defense Department. Clinton left Dubya a military 40% smaller and with older equipmment than the one he inherited from Bush the First.

What's even more astonishing is that you are crediting Clinton with shifting the military to lighter, more mobile divisions, and criticizing Rumsfeld for the war plan being based around these same lighter, more mobile divisions. Consistency, anyone? And the fact remains that Clinton had numerous chances to grab Bin Laden (like when Sudan offered), which he simply didn't take advantage of.

It's all well and good to build up Clinton's legacy, Douglas. Just don't lie about it.



To Eric Blair/ Martin Knight:

    And back then in 1991, the United States did not go in to finally depose Saddam because the UN Security Council limited the action to only removing him from Kuwait.

Sure.

    National Security Directive 54
    Issued February 15th, 1991
    Signed by President George Herbert Walker Bush
    Declassified 6-Jun-1997
    Excerpt, point #10:

"10. Should Iraq resort to using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, be found supporting of terrorist acts against U.S. or coalition partners anywhere in the world, or destroy Kuwait's oil fields, it shall become an explicit objective of the United States to replace the current leadership of Iraq."
I love the Freedom of Information Act. Of course, that's because I love Freedom and Information. How 'bout you, Eric?

-- Winston



Bill -

As an Israeli, allow me to request that you count us among those few stalwart friends you see. We come to the current situation from a different direction than you do, and the circumstances do not allow us to fight alongside your brave soldiers - not directly, anyways - but most of us are rooting for you, and are confident that if you stay the course, the world will be a better place.



Someone asked earlier, but I'd also love to see the source for the quote from 1864. Is it in one of the Shelby Foote books?



Winston,

Very cool. I'm struck by the wording of the resolution. Why does it say "it shall become an explicit objective of the UNITED STATES to replace the current leadership of Iraq." In 1991 it was the UN that was supposedly removing Iraq from Kuwait?

Most likely because when the UN can use the US to do something it has no ability to back up, that's fine, but when the US needs backing we all know we can surely count *cough cough yeah right cough cough* on the UN.

The UN certainly has become a joke in all of this.
Maybe they'll condemn us and Israel for something else now too...

Jon



Brilliant article, absolutly brilliant.
~Rob



One of my friends referred me to your write up, calling it a "must read". I concur; this is a very well-written and well-thought-out piece.

Thank you.

Take care & God bless,
dave



Absolutely wonderful piece. Many many thanks.



Comments are just that - comments!



Winston,

Good bit of research. You just proved that Bush the First had the right idea the first time before he went to the UN. However, and unfortunately, in the course of forging the coalition to take on Saddam Hussein, he had to promise that once Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Kuwait, he would not go forward into Iraq to depose Saddam. This was opposed by all the Arab governments, barring the Kuwaitis.

It was the price he had to pay for the UN resolution in support of the Gulf War. And of course, it turned out to be a mistake. Which is why Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have made it a point to constantly repeat that the administration does not consider the gathering of a coalition to be anywhere near as important as achieving the objective of disarming Saddam.

Capiche?



Douglas (3:46 a.m.)

The problem of the troops in the 507th Maint. Co. was a common one across the spectrum of Combat Service Support (CSS) units in the army: map reading skills. Soldiers are exposed to map reading in Basic Training. Technicians such as they and other CSS soldiers rarely are trained further in map reading until they are looking for promotion to NCO ranks. Then they get about 32 - 40 hours of map reading training in the Army's Primary Leadership Development Course.

After those four or five days, the only map reading they may do is in Field Training Exercises (FTXs), and these occur rarely for maintenance troops. GPS receivers would be held by higher level leaders, so that means of getting around was beyond them.

If they were part of a convoy, somehow they got out of position, broke contact with the rest of their element, and made the wrong turn.

It was just circumstance that got them.

Sapper Mike



Whoops! Sorry Winston,I goofed. I thought your excerpt was from a UN directive, not a US one. My bad. My feelings toward the UN still haven't changed, though!

Jon



The military that is flattening Saddam now was built by Clinton.

Ha. Haha.

Clinton reduced procurement in actual dollars to nearly Carter levels. Accounting for inflation, he effectively cut appropriations to seventy percent of the level seen in the Carter administration.

This, after expending quite a bit of ordnance in Kosovo and Iraq. Sure, Clinton singlehandedly made our military into the fighting machine it is. We're damned lucky we have anything to fight with.



Superlative essay Bill, though I have learned that that is to be expected when you put fingers to keys.

However, I wish to make two somewhat tangential points.

First, I disagree that Saddam and Bin Laden miscalculated. Certainly they made the wrong decisions but "calculating" with the available data and making reasonable judgements it appears as if they, at least up to a point, calculated fairly accurately. It was only, as you say, the dynamic nature of constantly unfolding history which changed that equation. The more I think on it the more I am astounded at the way we in the western world perceived terrorism during the past few decades. Again and again terrorists would kill tens or hundreds of our countrymen and our soldiers. Hundreds of marines and civilian US citizens were killed in Beirut, we withdrew. Hundreds were killed on Pan Am 103, we took Libya to the world court and after over a decade we got next to nothing. They bomb a nightclub and we kill Qhadafi's child and put some craters in his country. Hundreds were killed in Kenya and Tanzania, we spent part of a day to drop a few Tomahawks on empty terrorist bases in the desert. They tried killing thousands in New York and tried to blow up the World Trade Center and we put the FBI and the courts to work and got a few convictions a few years later. They assassinate presidents, prime ministers, and kings in their own countries and we do nothing. They blow up an army barracks in Saudi Arabia, kill over a dozen US soldiers and injure hundreds more and we add that to the FBI's "to do" list. They kill more US soldiers and leave a Navy warship dead in the water and we leave another post it note for the FBI. That's hardly the full breadth and depth of it but the character is clear. Kill westerners, civilians and soldiers, and you need not fear war, maybe there will be a response, but it will be survivable.

They had been killing us and working against us in sizeable increments throughout the world and throughout the decades and we did nothing. Only when they visited great disaster in a single blow on us on 9/11 did we sit up and take serious notice and resolve to take serious action. Even then though, even then there was substantial opposition to anything other than a "proportionate", limited, temporary, useless response. Had the president or his cabinet been different we may never have gone after Bin Laden with full force, and we more than likely would not now be in Iraq. Had the president and his like compatriots not risen to the responsibility of providing leadership during our time of challenge after 9/11 he might not have had the public and political support to go to war in Iraq. The calculation by Bin Laden and Saddam was not inaccurate, it was the exact same calculation made by themselves and many others which had succeeded so often in the past, it had just, by chance almost, expired. Had only one plane crashed into the WTC and had it, by whatever chance, not collapsed. Had the death toll and the damage been only similar to that of other terrorist attacks (a few hundred maybe) what would we have done then? No one can say that we would have done what we did because we likely would not have. We likely would not even have shut down air travel after the attack, not for days certainly, probably not even for an hour. We would have muddled through as we always did. Maybe we would have made a more serious effort to go after Bin Laden, but it would have ended there. And a little while later more dozen or hundreds would be killed again, and we'd respond as we always had.


Second, slavery. It's interesting how America had the most serious and fierce fights over slavery. There were no "wars of emancipation" in the rest of the world as there was in the US. In fact, many European countries abolished slavery long before the US fought with itself to end it. For them it was a relatively simple matter, they passed a law and had done with it, and there were few difficulties. However, that is a misleading characterization of history. Because at the time the US was the only western, modern country with explicit and "above board" slavery. Slavery in America was very direct and transparent, slaves were slaves and called such. However, we must remember that the character of the American nation during the 19th century was substantially different from the character of the rest of the western, modern countries. Specifically, America did not have an empire, whereas all the rest did. And it doesn't take long to look at the empires of the great European powers (among others) to see underneath the outlines of slavery in everything but name. In India, for example, the Zamindars owned the land that the peasants fed on but they didn't exactly own the peasants. The peasants, however, were share croppers and they could not feed themselves or their families without working land they did not own, so they were tied to the land and to the Zamindars as tightly as any slave. And the Zamindars payed their taxes, gathered from their tenants, to the British crown. All the while, it is abundantly clear in custom and law that Indian peasants and British citizens exist in substantially different classes with substantially different levels of power in relation to each other. There can be no question but that in nearly all European empires the peasants of the colonies were subserviant to the citizens of the ruling country and that the peasants performed essentially involuntary labor to the benefit of the citizens of the ruling country. It may not have been explicitly named slavery but it certainly had all the salient features of slavery.

Now remember that despite most European empires "outlawing" commercial slavery in the early to mid 19th century, the nature of the European empires did not change substantially until the mid 20th century, after WWII specifically. Now I think you see why it was so easy for the European powers to get rid of slavery earlier than the US. They got rid of a thing they called 'slavery' but they kept most of what was their true equivalent to American slavery. The US ended slavery after 4 long, bloody years of warfare fought mostly by white men against other white men. Europe lost its colonies in revolts against their rulers in battles of natives vs. Europeans. Americans settled the problem of slavery of their own accord, Europeans had the issue of empire settled for them. It was as long between the Emancipation Proclimation and the end of the European colonies as it was between the founding of the USA and the Emancipation Proclimation (four score and some-odd years).

Many people look at Europe as it exists now and see many similarities with America. Many people think that America and Europe are substantially the same. This is not so, and history proves it is not so.



death be not proud.

he died. what he died for only history will decide.



Brilliant. You DO rock, Dude.

To Ben: Yes the soldiers did fight for you. You didn't have to ask them. It was there job.

To Craig and John: Facts please. No propoganda. The captions says injured, not dead. War is not a picnic.

Bill St. James: I believe the documents you mentioned were forged. Here was my first clue:

".......I am seeking someone to help me move 6 billion dollars in US dollars. I am a member of the royal family in Nigeria and through an audit error have been granted an enormous sum of monies. I need someone in the states willing to give me access to their bank account so I may deposit it for a time. Please send your bank account to me at the following fax and I will deposit the total amount. In return you will get to keep 5% for your trouble....."



Yusef:

Unless I missed something, there was no French involvement in the American Civil War. Are you referring, perhaps, to the American Revolutionary War? Apples and Oranges.



I am honored and humbled to have read such a great rendering of historical logic. I have also walked the "Bloody Lane" at Antietam and sat on the rocks at Little Round Top and contemplated the circumstances and the men who gave their all for both sides. I have never read such a clear and concise link between the decisions of men and the march of time and history. Bravo. I will be back for more.



Bill,

The letter posted by Melissa is a well known scam.



I was moved when I read this. Then I read the comments, and I was moved to anger by some of them, the sneering, superior ones. I started a smoldering retort but never posted it. The pseudointellectual elite love it when they make you mad.

It occurred to me later what offended me so much about these responses. I had been reading it it yesterday in C. S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man in the first chapter, Men Without Chests.
It's about the malpractice of teaching, but it hits on what astounds me about the anti-war position.

"There are two men to whom we offer in vain a false leading article on patriotism and honour: one is a coward, the other is the honourable and patriotic man," writes Lewis. He is talking about the difference between good and bad literature. By trying to show what bad and bathetic writing is, educators have given the impression that all emotions are not to be trusted.

This is the money quote from Samuel Johnson: 'That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona." One might add "surveying the scene of a Civil War battlefield."

Those who don't understand the feelings of reverence for men like Chamberlain, and can only respond with the hackneyed slogans and distortions of anti-war demonstrators, are men without chests.

They can say they despise Saddam Hussein and feel sympathy for the Iraqi people, but their position on this issue would leave him in power to continue to murder them and steal their patrimony, and reward the perfidy of the Russians and French for violating U.N. sanctions. They don't really feel anything they are claiming, only resentment for those who are proud of our troops and our country for trying to deliver an oppressed people from a 30 years nightmare.




No onder our economy sucks , your all wasting your time with your psuedo-philosophical debate and not working like you should be, STFU and get back to work. Who cares what someone on here posts, i'm sure they dont care what you posted.



Eric/Martin,

    You just proved that Bush the First had the right idea the first time before he went to the UN.

UN Resolution 661 was issued on 6 August, 1990. The quoted NSD was 15 February, 1991.

15-Feb-1991 is before 6-Aug-1990?!

    in the course of forging the coalition to take on Saddam Hussein, [Bush 41] had to promise that ... [the US] would not ... depose Saddam.

This coalition was in place by late November 1990. Again, "before"?
    It was the price he had to pay for the UN resolution in support of the Gulf War.

Would that be Resoltion 661, drafted over seven months before NSD 54 was issued, or Resolution 678, which preceeded NSD 54 by only two and a half months?
    Capiche?

Not so much.

Does this episode involved the Whitehouse travelling back in time, or is this a holodeck malfunction?

Seriously, though, your replies have been thoughtful and display a sincere effort to be well-informed, but you have to realize that there's a great deal of misinformation surrounding the actual events of GWI. Many of these misapprehensions are bound into a cozy tale that glosses over some troubling questions -- several of which should have been brought up before we sent troops back into Iraq.

Your statements about our level of support to Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war are just plain out of touch (or is the proper expression "You are talking out your *ss?") You don't need to launch any FOIA queries to find plenty of authoritative information -- much of it obtained under oath -- detailing our rather active support for Saddam Hussein's NBC efforts in the 80's. I recommend you take a second look into it.

The silver lining is that whether you think the current administration are the knights in shining armor, or you think that they are a bunch of scheming liars who make Slick Willie look like Honest Abe, we can all agree (I hope) that Saddam Hussein is a very bad guy who won't be missed. Additionally, I think anyone with a brain wants to give our troops anything they need to bring the current conflict to a quick conclusion, with as little additional loss to either side. Finally, we all hope that the best intentions for the Iraqi people become reality.

I'd sleep better if I shared others' confidence in the leadership team, but I can't justify it personally.

Cheers,
Winston



Fred,

Gee, apparently you took the time not only to read, but to actually post as well. Hmmm...

We historians tend to be lucky in the fact that we get to read this kinda stuff for a living.

;)

Jon



Winston,

"You don't need to launch any FOIA queries to find plenty of authoritative information"

Can you cite any of these sources? The world is a bit too full of people claiming that there's information supporting their claims if only others go look for it to actually bother follow through without specific sources cited. Claims without citation are just too easy to make relative to the work of doing undirected historical research.

"Many of these misapprehensions are bound into a cozy tale that glosses over some troubling questions -- several of which should have been brought up before we sent troops back into Iraq."

However, we have a different president now then we did then. Whatever former presidents did, the only important question is what will this one do? If many of his staff are the same people who were involved in GWI (which GWB said that he was concerned about, initially), what of it? They take their orders from and serve at the pleasure of the POTUS.

I guess that you could believe in some sort of big conspiracy theory in which GWB doesn't have the real power, but if that is the case then there's no point in our discussing it, is there? If the real power isn't held by the elected representatives, what can we do? Vote in a new set of puppets? (note: my addressing this point is not meant as a claim that you believe or would maintain it.)



Your whole article is full of glib wrap yourself in the flag fascism crap. None of it true. All distorted lies and rightwing neo-fascist stupidity.

Remember the 20 million gallons of Chemical Weapons we dumped on the innocent people of Vietnam? Remember the 3 million of them we murdered for the same sick reasons we're in Iraq right now? Remember the nuns we murdered, the union leaders, the civil rights activists? Remember El Salvador and the atrocities there? Remember Guatemalan death squads trained and funded by the U.S.? Remember the 350 people recently disappeared by the U.S. from Pakistan and how we are torturing them even now?

Can't remember because your fascist mind doesn't deal with the facts that the U.S. is murdering people around the world?

Yes, that's it isn't it?

I am a Vietnam Veteran and worked in the mortuary at TSN.

I saw the results of liars like you.

You make me ashamed to be an american, for the 10th time today.

Your philosphy is fascist and sick!!

Shame on you!!



Obviously Fred E wasted his time in school, and that could be another reason the economy sucks.

All in all, the discussion keeps moving along in a very orderly and well-toned manner, including Yousef's views as well.

Gadzooks, it runs to 108 pages so far!



Well done! You truly captured the Es Spree De Corps! I truly believe we are in Iraq for the best of all. If we didn’t go and another 9/11 happened with worse results (and it would) all the “nay sayers” would then ask, “How come we didn’t do something before this?” The world is not a nicety, nicety place where everyone will use reason. Oh, how I wish it were, but with some force is all they understand. Such is Saddam as he has not understood 12 years of reason, but has supported the very terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 of our own without provocation or cause.

If I can say but one thing it’s this. I will gladly give my life so all the anti-war demonstrators can have the freedom to protest what it is I do. I/we (the armes services) protect your God given rights against man and regime like Saddam, Al Qaeda, Hamas, etc. who would like nothing more than to take them away. As well as give others the chance to have the same rights, i.e. the Iraqi people. So, please protest all you want. Even if I don't have your support at least I know I have not failed in my duty!



If a Major out ranks a Lieutenant why does a Lieutenant General out rank a Major General?



Bill -- Great stuff, especially the part about Little Round Top. But, for God's sake, would you please shorten these?? As I do most of my blog surfing on my company's time, I can't devote the hour it takes to get through one of your posts without getting busted.



Howard.......you L00Z3R waisting yur time on 108 pages of crap. Did anyone change your mind or even sway it yet? or are U just copping wood at the mental masturbation going on?

for yur information i got an A+ in gym & sex ed (probably due to your moms tutoring)



I just stumbled on your site today. Wonderful commentary. What I've been thinking all along but so much more eloquently stated then I could ever dream of saying it.

Well Done.



Excellent essay, and one chock full of that defining skill that is so very lacking in so many people around the world today: critical thinking (instead of how to think, it's what to think that's educated much of the world's population, with predicatable results...an issue that even myself is imperfect with). Ok, ok, and writing ability too, but if one can't think what to write (other than the latest and greatest slogan), it's moot.

Thanks for making the effort.

Semper Fi.

Chris Williams



Niko your grammar is worser than mine is. umm excuse me i dont think they want to take away our rights, they just want to kill us. Plus didn't your oath include "foreign & domestic"? So why aren't we using the national guard to hunt down all the internal terrorists?

ps. Mark .. go wipe your nose ya got some on it



I'm not sure if I qualify as one of the pacifists you've been talking about. I was wishing that the US working together with the UN would have done something about the situation in Afghanistan long before 9/11, even up to and including invading the country. However no one in the US cared about the situation there as long as it was a human rights isuse. The US government got along just fine with the Taliban up until 9/11.

Invading Iraq is not necessarily a bad thing, however I disagree with the matter in which we have gone about it. War solves things, but it should be a last resort. Once Saddam saw that we were willing to go to war over the issue he suddenly started caving in to UN inspectors. However instead of letting the successful inspections continue, we went to war anyway, alienating almost every one of our alies as we went.

We should have kept the pressure up until Saddam was disarmed or he started trying to stop the inspections again. At that point we could have negotiated with the UN to get authorization to use force in a way that would have seen the majority of the countries in the world agreeing with us.

Some say that the UN had ten years to accomplish that and did very little, however the US _is_ a part of the UN. US complaceny was just as responsible for the delay as anything else.

If we'd taken some time, we could have used politics and diplomacy to engineer a multilateral invasion of Iraq, quite possibly one that would have involved our Arab allies as well, thus circumventing some of the inevitable backlash that's occuring throught the Muslim world.

Instead of faking reports about collusion between Saddam and the Al Queda, the US could have instead worked towards showing everyone how bad things truly are in Iraq under Saddam, thus generating popular support for the war.

The world could have seen us as the head of a righteous army intent on freeing Iraq from brutal impression. Instead, whatever the true motivations are, much of the world sees us as a dangerous rogue nation that's insulted and driven away it's allies, created deep fractures in the noble institutions it once helped found, and invaded Iraq in revenge, in search of oil, out of hatred for Muslims, or all of the above, depending on who you ask.

That's not really the way I want my country to be seen. I think it's a shame that so many people believe that it had to be this way if we want to get rid of Saddam, and I worry about the consequences of these actions down the road.



Another revisionist dissertation about the Great American Civil War and how noble a project it was. Afterwards, the South was in turmoil and poverty for the remainder of that century (and most of the next as a result) and with criminal carpetbaggers taking advantage the destitute (mostly women) in raping the resources of the South (like buying plantaions and large tracts of land for pennies on the dollar). The newly freed slaves were not welcomed in the North, and there is ample history about race riots and killings because the boys who "freed" them, mostly immigrant Irish and European, were looking for work themselves.
It is great that there are writers who can wax eloquent and say things in wonderful ways, but this teary eyed treatise is fraught with misconceptions and lies, and frankly I avoid reading this kind of propaganda.
As for somehow comparing this WAR ON IRAQ with the the American Civil War is pure bunk. GWB had his eyes on IRAQ from the moment he was appointed Pres. That was long before 9/11 and any perceived threat emerging from IRAQ. Its the oil stupid, and the resources in that country could no longer be ignored. THat is why they tried to get the UN to buy in on the WMD argument and when failing to convince the UN or being able to bribe the necessary security council members, we invade IRAQ and WE started this damn conflict. DOn't get me wrong, I am a veteran of VietNam and wholy back our military when they are defending this country. We are not defending this country we are "liberating" IRAQ or maybe just killing the Baathists bastards, who by all account are sons of bitches who deserve what they have dished out, but to illegally invade a country under these circumstances is an act of criminality. Who do you think will get the most benefit from Iraqi oil, the Iraqi's? Better think again. Waging naked aggression like this is immoral, no matter how someone wants to describe it in noble terms. It doen't work for me..



Excuse me when was Vietnam "defending our country"? we pulled out of that one and is everyone eating rice or speaking russian?

Plus the troops are clothed so its not "naked agression"

I say give em hell "dough boys"



Outstanding.

I would like all the anti-war protestors to read this before they take to the streets.

Keep up the good work.



Mr St. James -- Although I disagree with your opinions, initially I applauded your courage for marching to a different drummer in this forum. However, when YOU insult people who disagree with you as "morons" and "circle jerks" you discredit the position you claim to stand for and illustrate your comments are not sourced of reasoned thinking, but the shallowness of mean-spirited insolence.



Winston,

I guess I goofed up on the time line. But either way, it makes no difference. The UN demanded that the US stop once Saddam's troops had been chased from Kuwait.

And Bush the First, being the multilateralist that he was, stopped.

PS: Nice arguing with you too. I still disagree on the level of US support for Saddam though. Links please?



Robin Goodfellow--

Your writing about bin Laden suggests that he is not getting the response he anticipated. But this is exactly the response he wanted: an attack on a Muslim people, especially some who had nothing to do with 9/11. Now his recruitment efforts can go forward full steam.

Here's the embarrassing links on the plagiary in the UK dossier and the forgery of the uranium-from-Africa evidence.

In general--

Regarding oil, of course it's only a convenient secondary benefit of this war from the domination-works-USians point of view. And of course, the US will pay for the oil, although 1) in $ rather than Euros (another, much-neglected , secondary issue), 2) the foreign profits will go to USian companies, and 3) the local profits will go to trusted lackeys (but the US military presence will remain, because they won't really be trusted).

For the truly domination-works-USians -- which i'm guessing almost none of you are -- the global strategic purpose of this war (as well as the Afghanistan invasion which "required" military bases in the central Asian republics just between Russia and China) is to establish that the US govt will act unilaterally, when and where it wishes, and to put more military bases in formerly dominated-by-others areas, to generally solidify our military dominance of the world (the sun never sets on the American military), and particularly keep Russia and China in their non-superpower place. This is not a conspiracy theory, Rebuilding America's Defenses (the New American Century document that Winston Smith linked) to and the National Security Strategy are public documents.

Just briefly on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. It seems to me that containment & inspections were working just fine, certainly as far as the threat of their local use, and there is a distinct lack of clear evidence (please provide links otherwise) connecting Hussein's government to terrorist groups that threaten the US. I do not support action with obvious negative effects without strong evidence of positive effects.

All of us have heard this term 'preventive war' since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time...I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.
--President Dwight Eisenhower, 1953 (upon being presented with plans to wage preventive war to disarm Stalin's Soviet Union)

The outcome (if achieved) of freeing the Iraqis would of course be wonderful. As others have pointed out, it is difficult for people to truly get freedom that they have not worked for themselves. However, articulating strategies for supporting it as outsiders in some way -- other than war with all it's nasty consequences -- is something that many peaceniks have, quite honestly, not done. The difficulty is that supporting others' freedom does not lend itself to grand action of the sort that all of us have been trained to believe is necessary and workable.

What could have (and still could) help along these lines? All the great nonviolent revolutions in the last century (we live in a remarkable era of nonviolent change -- India/Pakistan, eastern Europe, Phillipines, etc.) depended on the middle class and civil society. We could fiddle with the Iraqi sanctions so that they don't crush the middle class. We could as individuals build, and as institutions support the building of, relationships with the people of the Iraqi middle class in Iraq and in the diaspora, support them to be brave, go back, and work for change (having friends on the outside makes a big difference, look at Amnesty International's work).

It would not be fast. Many people would die and suffer in the meantime. But it would not have any of the unintended negative consequences that always come with war (e.g. attitudes between northerners and southerners are still a problem in the US). And the freedom would be their own, and all the more solid for it.

Here's a couple of links to some other thoughts, some of them more of a compromise.

This stuff is hard! As someone pointed out here, when peace supporters throw angry judgements at military folks they are ironically fall back into violent patterns. Nonviolence takes persistence and creativity for those of us (nearly the whole planet) who have grown up in cultures with such a deep history of violence. Like freedom, nonviolence cannot be forced, and like freedom, it ultimately has more to do with our relationship with ourselves and those around us as well as our larger political systems.

He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

--Edwin Markham (1852-1940)

It is more important to root out the violence latent in the structure of society than to make peace when open violence breaks out.
--Jayaprakash Narayan, introduction to Vinoba's Third Power

In 1989, thirteen nations comprising 1,695,000 people experienced nonviolent revolutions that succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations ... If we add all the countries touched by major nonviolent actions in our century (the Philippines, South Africa ... the independence movement in India ...) the figure reaches 3,337,400,000, a staggering 65% of humanity! All this in the teeth of the assertion, endlessly repeated, that nonviolence doesn't work in the 'real' world.
--Walter Wink



It was a beautiful essay, that's for sure. Proteus can really write, but I cannot agree with his line of argument.

I am always compelled and horrified by America's capacity to sentimentalise, cannonise and simplify. A logic of Good and Evil seem to underly so much otherwise intelligent discourse. A more thoughtful historical perspective would not frame things like this, historic or contemporary.

This war is not about good and evil, it's a conflict between two self-interested regimes. Both coerce, manipulate and lie to their people to further the ideological, strategic, and economic interests of their ruling cabal.

Only when America's national psyche moves beyond
a Good & Evil paradigm will we be spared their terrible crusades.


I am not a peace-nik and I belive that there can be cause for just war. That said, war is almost always the machiavellian pursuit of power of the ruling few. 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' has nothing to do with justice, human rights, or indeed freedom - a thoughtful historical perspective informs us that it's just more of the same.

Aaron



You've done a very clever exposition of the situation. Congratulations.



"Only when America's national psyche moves beyond a Good & Evil paradigm will we be spared their terrible crusades."

So, let's see...we're dealing with a region that is caught in the heat of a neo-facist movement based around their religion that believes that they are destined to control the world and slay the unbelievers, and we're the ones with the national psyche problem?



John Abbe:

"But this is exactly the response he wanted: an attack on a Muslim people, especially some who had nothing to do with 9/11. Now his recruitment efforts can go forward full steam."

This is just nonsense (barring some propaganda circulating around the middle east, but it's somewhat difficult to control the spread of lies in foreign countries). Can you explain how having a large portion of his organization decisively crushed while we helped one side in the Afghani civil war was a net win for Bin Laden (presuming he's still alive)? If you're going to claim that Al Qaida is stronger than ever but isn't doing much of anything because they're extremely patient, please provide supporting links.

"Just briefly on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. It seems to me that containment & inspections were working just fine"

It doesn't seem that way to me. It didn't seem that way to our govern or the British government.
It didn't to Hans Blix (who said time after time that Saddam wasn't actually cooperating). It didn't even seem that way to Chirac (whose government repeatedly called for Saddam to actually cooperate).

Oh, about the oil: can you offer supporting links (or other proof) that oil profits will not substantially benefit all of the Iraqis far more than they're doing now? Proof that much of the profits won't go into rebuilding Iraq?

If you accept that a lot of money from Iraqi oil is going to go into rebuilding Iraq and making it better and more prosperous (building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.), then the most that you can argue is that the effects being worked towards range from neutral to good. If so, what's your point? Are you so concerned for the state of George Bush's soul?



Aaron:

Um, Iraqi Freedom has nothing to do with liberty, freedom, and human rights. I think it's a little premature to pass that judgement.

Unless, of course, you were in the presidential meetings deciding the matter.

You have no leg to stand on. Like the rest of us, you'll have to wait 5 or 10 years to see whether or not liberty, freedom, and human rights had anything to do with it. Until then, both sides, the aforementioned values are/are not the reason for going into Iraq, are just baseless opinions.



Big Dog:

I'm not seeking to excuse or endorse fundamentalists or neo-fascists.

Without wishing to descend into a tit for tat hawk vs. dove grudge match like everyone else on the internet, I was just wanting to point out that while Proteus and many hawks like him are clearly capable and intelligent people, they are still caught in this bullshit rhetoric of good vs. evil.

The world is so much more complicated than that!

Saddam evil Bush good. Really ? Whoever's side you choose, you're wrong because neither of these regimes have God on their side, they're both pursuing their own agendas, neither of which have much to do with freedom or justice.

The U.S. clearly has a problem with this archaic idea of good vs. evil, especially when it's most intelligent and educated people, such as Proteus, are blind to it.

The logic of good and evil is the wellspring of fundamentalism of all descriptions, be it the fundamentalism of Jihad or PNAC, they both claim to have God on their side.



Melissa-you go girl. I think I saw those documents as well. They were e-mailed to me.

Good Lord! You mean I could have cracked that case wide open!!!!???

Love the article here. I understand that the US has done some things in the past we should not be proud of, but if there is a country that has not, please point it out. Good, bad, pretty or ugly, this is still the best place to live because of the freedoms we enjoy.



Bill, I will likely get seriously drunk with you before you see this, but I had to say it in public.

Art is craft which inspires passion.

From the reaction, "History" is one hell of a piece of art.

The first Muzzleloader's on me.



Ronni Taylor,

Before insulting everyone here with your commentary, how about taking an objective, calm stance like the rest of us. As a Vietnam Veteran, I would expect that of you. I have worked with HUNDREDS of Vietnam Veterans, and to a man NONE of them complained about their service and were proud to have done it, regardless of the shafting that people like you gave them when they returned home.

Of course, not being a combat troop, but a REMF who was probably stealing the gear and personal belongings of those men up on the front lines, you wouldn't know anything about that, now would you?

Millions of tons of chemical weapons dumped on South Vietnam? Hmmm... if you're referring to Defoliant Operations, well, I suppose AO could be considered a chemical weapon. But then again, that was not targeted at people and was not intended to harm. (OUR guys have suffered more because of it than the Vietnamese!)

Tell me, what about the atrocities that the North Vietnamese committed throughout the war to both South Vietnamese AND Americans? Have you ever heard of the Hue Massacre? Look it up. We're dealing with a regime now that has a similar mentality. You don't go with the program, you die, that simple.

THE US IS NOT LIKE THAT.

Go crawl back to whatever rock you came out from under, you sad excuse for a human being and don't you EVER disgrace the Veterans of the Vietnam War again.

Jonathan Bernstein



Aaron –

I know that this may sound simplistic, but if someone wants to kill me, my family and everyone I know (Americans in general), I think they’re evil. I know I’m being biased, judgemental, and subjective, I know that my psyche is trapped within the ideological paradigm of the current ruling cabal, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

If this man who wants to kill me has been torturing his own people and has murdered a couple hundred thousand of them, well that just confirms my dumb old commonsensical point of view. My simplistic views of good and evil have kept me alive all these years, and I see no reason to change. Sorry.

How can you read this wonderful, insightful and original essay and then proceed to prattle on about the paradigms of the ruling cabal and the machiavellian pursuit of power of the ruling few? Those clichés died with Trotsky. Talk about simplisme.



Big Dog & Aaron:
"If it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
--Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn

Chris:
"This is just nonsense (barring some propaganda circulating around the middle east, but it's somewhat difficult to control the spread of lies in foreign countries). Can you explain how having a large portion of his organization decisively crushed while we helped one side in the Afghani civil war was a net win for Bin Laden (presuming he's still alive)? If you're going to claim that Al Qaida is stronger than ever but isn't doing much of anything because they're extremely patient, please provide supporting links."

I imagine bin Laden doesn't care much about al Qaeda per se. He wants the U.S. out of his home country, Saudi Arabia. To accomplish that, he wants to rile radical Islamic opinion against the U.S. This invasion, which provides ample material for "propaganda circulating around the middle east" against the U.S., is fast on the way to accomplishing that. I'm not saying this will get him what he ultimately wants, but that to the extent we play along we support a cycle of violence.

Me:
"Just briefly on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. It seems to me that containment & inspections were working just fine"


Chris:
"It doesn't seem that way to me. It didn't seem that way to our govern or the British government.
It didn't to Hans Blix (who said time after time that Saddam wasn't actually cooperating). It didn't even seem that way to Chirac (whose government repeatedly called for Saddam to actually cooperate)."

I suppose it depends on what we mean by "fine." To me it's fine if Hussein's regime manages to hold onto a small and declining percentage (bio/chem-only) of the truly ugly WMD arsenal they had when the inspections began, as long as they don't actually use them. Which they weren't, over a 12 year track record. The inevitable regime change will solve the problem in the long term. That's how containment works. It sounds like to you "fine" is zero WMDs, now? My question then is how much bloodshed and how much damage to intra- and international relationships are we willing to see in order to get the last few percent in a hurry?

Chris:
"Oh, about the oil: can you offer supporting links (or other proof) that oil profits will not substantially benefit all of the Iraqis far more than they're doing now? Proof that much of the profits won't go into rebuilding Iraq?"

"If you accept that a lot of money from Iraqi oil is going to go into rebuilding Iraq and making it better and more prosperous (building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.), then the most that you can argue is that the effects being worked towards range from neutral to good. If so, what's your point? Are you so concerned for the state of George Bush's soul?"

As has been pointed out elsewhere it is difficult-to-impossible to prove a not, especially as in this case a future not. My point is not that more-than-now of the profits will go to (re-)building infrastructure in Iraq, but that the current United States top leadership is happy for the economic fringe benefits that the war brings to their companies, and perhaps the United States in general. But more to the point, i was distracting from my main point by even mentioning oil.

And you've allowed me a beautiful segue to part of my main point. Yes, i do worry about the state of George Bush's soul. I am part of that small but rapidly-growing wing of the peace movement that is committed enough to the ideals that i apply them to my relationship to my "enemies" as well.

"Listen to your wife, your husband, your father, your mother, your children, your friends; to those who love you and those who don't, to those who bore you, to your enemies. It will work a small miracle. And perhaps a great one."
--Brenda Ueland [and listen to yourself, too]

Listening a bit behind your questions, i'm guessing you really want honesty, and for the benefits of resources to go to all. Cool. Me too. I hope you also want some shared understanding, which we could maybe get, on the "fine" discussion above and...

Now, i have a couple questions:

Can anyone here give good reason for believing that a significant part of this U.S. administration's strategic purpose is not as outlined in their Rebuilding America's Defenses and the National Security Strategy documents? (strategies which i believe they are following out of insecurity and distrust, not out of 'evil')

What do you think of the stuff that is my main point -- that nonviolence has been phenomenally successful in recent decades, that there are nonviolent strategies we could have pursued in Iraq (and compromise ones we could still try), that pursuing such strategies elsewhere could prevent future tragedies?



Great work Bill, truly brilliant. When you publish the book, I'm buying copies for friend and foe alike.



Bin Laden is most definitely not getting what he wanted. Yes, he wanted to start a war between the west and the Islamic world. Specifically he wanted the entire Islamic world to rise up and fight tooth and nail to the last man against the democratic, modern west. And he wanted them to win as well, and to cut the western world out of the Islamic world so that it could continue in its traditional ways without fear of terrible, terrible progress. That uprising of the entire Muslim world has not yet arrived, what Bin Laden got instead were devastating military and police attacks against his bases of support and operations. Al Qaeda has been bloodied, disrupted, and scattered, Afghanistan is no longer under Islamic fundamentalist rule, that counts in the "loss" column for Bin Laden. And now we are finally digging into the heart of the cause of the disease of Islamic militancy with our efforts in Iraq. We are drawing out the terrorists and we are dealing many of them terrific blows. Once Iraq has been conquered and put under the rule of law and under increasingly consensual governments we will be better positioned strategically, culturally, socially, and politically to deal with other sources of militant Islamic agression (such as Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, Hizb'Allah, etc.) And that too is most definitely not what Bin Laden wanted.

Bin Laden wanted victory, he has been handed defeat (and likely death), which I suspect was rather quite a lot less to his liking.



SparcVark - not so much apples and oranges as inspiration, cause and effect:

"The Confederacy could win by prolonging the war to a point where the Northern people would consider the effort too costly in lives and money to persist. The South had a compelling example in the American Revolution of a seemingly weaker power defeating a much stronger one. The colonies had been at an even greater material disadvantage in relation to Great Britain than were the Confederate states in relation to the North, yet the colonies won, with the help of France, by dragging the war out and exhausting the British will to win. If the North chose not to mount a military effort to coerce the seceded states back into the Union, the Confederacy would win independence by default."

You might also want to read about the purchase of Louisiana.

In any case - none of this bears any direct relevance to the present bloody conflict in Iraq. To pretend otherwise preposterous.

Its about the people you are attempting to win over.

For your information Jonathan, myself and many Muslims are not anti-Semitic. We all know however that the issue you raise is far more complicated than that.

There is blood on everybody's hands which makes finding a solution all the more difficult.

When the bombing stops perhaps the dialogue can begin again.



Robin Goodfellow:
"Bin Laden is most definitely not getting what he wanted. Yes, he wanted to start a war between the west and the Islamic world. Specifically he wanted the entire Islamic world to rise up and fight tooth and nail to the last man against the democratic, modern west."

I guess we simply have different predictions. I believe this is a more likely future today than it was on March 15.

"And he wanted them to win as well, and to cut the western world out of the Islamic world so that it could continue in its traditional ways without fear of terrible, terrible progress. That uprising of the entire Muslim world has not yet arrived, what Bin Laden got instead were devastating military and police attacks against his bases of support and operations. Al Qaeda has been bloodied, disrupted, and scattered,

"Afghanistan is no longer under Islamic fundamentalist rule, that counts in the "loss" column for Bin Laden."

Right, most of it is in the hands of warlords, the ones whose rule made the Taliban seem like a good idea to many Afghanis. It might help if the U.S. administration would put it's money where it's mouth is about supporting Afghanistan (they offered no humanitarian funding for Afghanistan in their latest budget).

I do not doubt the sincerity with which anyone here wishes freedom and prosperity for the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed the whole world. I question the sincerity of some in the U.S. government who say this is of primary interest. And i question the effectiveness of the strategies that the United States is pursuing in achieving freedom and prosperity (for the United States and the whole world).

Robin again:
"And now we are finally digging into the heart of the cause of the disease of Islamic militancy with our efforts in Iraq. We are drawing out the terrorists and we are dealing many of them terrific blows."

Hunh? I've seen reports of links between the Iraqi government and one small fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group in northern Iraq. This makes Iraq the "heart of the cause" ? If you have evidence that Iraq is significantly involved in fundamentalist terrorism, or that the US/UK/Australia are dealing with significant numbers terrorists in Iraq, please do post it.

"Once Iraq has been conquered and put under the rule of law and under increasingly consensual governments we will be better positioned strategically, culturally, socially, and politically to deal with other sources of militant Islamic agression (such as Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, Hizb'Allah, etc.) And that too is most definitely not what Bin Laden wanted."


This (in spite of the U.S. administration's preoccupation with overarching military dominance -- and minorly, oil) does in fact seem a possible future to me -- with colossal quantities of tragic stuttering along the way, in the form of terrorist responses in the region and around the world, and regular setbacks to less consensual forms of government (especially if the U.S. continues to support dictatorships & oligarchies in the region). As i said, i did not offer this line of discussion to say that bin Laden would get what he ultimately wants. My point is that 1) as long as we respond violently, we continue the cycle of violence, and 2) that there are many nonviolent alternatives, and that there could be many more if we would only put more energy into creating them.

Is no one going to address my main points at all? I'm bored with discussing war. Discussing nonviolence would be much more interesting.



John Abbe:

"What do you think of the stuff that is my main point -- that nonviolence has been phenomenally successful in recent decades, that there are nonviolent strategies we could have pursued in Iraq (and compromise ones we could still try), that pursuing such strategies elsewhere could prevent future tragedies?"

What non-violence are you talking about? Surely you can't be referring to the cold war in which war was averted by "do anything and we kill every last one of you, right before you kill all of us back". And both sides really meant it. If that's non-violence, then what we're doing in Iraq at the moment is extreme pacifism.

Btw, what I meant is that no one pretended that the inspections were actually accomplishing anything (non-negligible), let alone serving as a meaningful deterrent. And don't forget: everything changes when a country gets nukes. I don't suppose that you read the op-ed in the WSJ (published on opinion journal) by the former head of Saddam's nuclear weapons program?

Oh, and the eventual regime change would have been for one of Saddam's two evil and maniacal sons, Uday or Qusay. That's not an improvement.

But would you really have been willing to say to the Iraqis, "fuck up and we kill every last one of you" knowing how much they're the pawns of the dictator in charge of them? Especially knowing what terrible judgement the dictator in charge of them has shown in the past?

I'll be impressed if you can successfully make the argument that years of his secret police followed by having to wipe Iraq off the face of the earth because Hussein violated one of the deterrence lines-in-the-sand is better than the minimal bloodshed going on now.

Remember: you're talking about the moron who defied the US military right up until the cruise missiles and bombs struck and we've only seen stock footage since. Does this really seem like a man with judgement you want to trust all 22 million Iraqi lives with (in the sense of trusting him to actually be deterred by threat of nuclear annihilation)?



Fred E Mac:
I see you are at a loss of words with what I said. Why else would you try to personally "attack" me? I’m sorry for my misspelling of Es “Sprit” De Corps, maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “nicety”, and I see a few places where I should have used colons. But that is neither here nor there. Your insecurity makes me smile and pity you, as I too was once so petty.

If you wish to make a lasting remark that will change the way people think, then stop the personal attacks and give strong founded evidence to support your beliefs. Personal attacks only invalidate your reasoning.



Douglas, what brand of crack are you smoking? If the Clintonites had their way we wouldn't have enough military strength to fight a Girl Scout Troop, never mind a real war.

The military that we have now wasn't built by clinton, it was partially dismantled by him.



Niko

No one cares what the others point is, they are so ingrained with thier thinking they will not be persuaded & would sooner argue till they die than change thier mind. But then again if this is neither you nor anyone else will admit this & i am just waisting my time so i choose to just write only the personal attack (like others) and leave my point of view on the subject out of it.

ps ya momma's teeth are so yellow , I cant believe its not butter



Well at least Lincoln won his election unlike the buffoon in the white house who stole the 2000 election with the help of his party and the 5 conservative clowns on the Supreme Court.

Ironically Caligula on the Potomac Harkens back to the confederacy that Lincoln defeated. Bush to me appears as a crypto racist, crypto anti semite and crypto oppenent of the poor, elderly, disabled, veteran and police, fire and other union member. Bush provoked the 9-11-2001 attacks over a failed oil pipeline deal with the Taliban in July 2001.



Further proof of how intelligence, history and a facility with language can be perverted.



Well Buck you sound like a crypto bleeding heart, crypto flaming liberal, crypto Ted Kazynski. why dont ya go mellow out & have a drink with Ted Kennedy (just dont let him drive near bridges)

ps. the opium pipeline still works, they should be happy with that



Fred:
I do care about other points of view, as it helps me refine mine, see and understand other’s points of view, and sometimes change the way I think. I just prefer to have an intellectual debate, which excludes name-calling and presents only factual evidence.

The heart of an intellectual debate is not to get others to think like you. Rather, it is a means of gaining a better understanding of the situation by listening to what others have to say, refining your own point of view (strengthening or changing), and at times finding a middle ground on which to agree. I believe Ben Franklin said something like: only fools surround themselves with people that "only" agree with them. I prefer to keep an open mind while stating what I believe to be true. If I am wrong then I openly state it and change my thinking (however much it hurts) ;). This was a quick reply (as the others) so forgive any grammer errors.



Niko

hmmmmmmmm you said you pity me for the personal attacks due to my "insecutity" but yet you make no reference to the other points i made in the post and turn around and attack me. Sounds like your a hypocrite who should be pitying himself.
You need to stop & think what you say before you open your mouth & do exactly what your bitching about.

ps. "its better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth & prove it"



I'll respond to the other things Chris wrote, but in the long run, this is the part that really matters.

Chris:
'What non-violence are you talking about?'

I'm talking about the non-violent revolutions in Poland, India/Pakistan, Czechoslovakia, Indonesia, South Africa, Russia, the Philippines, etc. All of these were dramatically less violent than almost anyone would have dared dream.

I'm talking about the nonviolent strategies for regime change i've linked to three times now. It's a bit long and actually incomplete i guess, so i'll excerpt the best bits and links and add my own comments:

The foreign policies and citizen diplomacy of democratic nations can nurture the conditions for the growth of democracy in oppressed nations. Nurturing an educated middle class and exposing them to the tactics and strategies of nonviolent revolution are FAR more effective strategies of "regime change" and "democracy building" than supporting dictators, impoverishing their populations, and invading them with "shock and awe" devastation. --Randy Shutt

The nurturing Randy writes of can come in the form of supporting Amnesty International. Better, it can come in the form i suggested before: building personal relationships with people of the country you would like to support. It can even be done by going there directly to help safeguard their dangerous, risky work, as the people of Peace Brigades International do.

Take a slow look through this list of 198 nonviolent strategies. Imagine a few people in a domineering nation bravely trying some of them. These 'early adopters' may be killed. Their families may suffer. But the movement persists. Imagine ten, then forty, then half or more of these activities regularly going on all over the country. Many of those who participate are tracked, harassed, defamed, assassinated, etc. It sucks. But it sucks less than war. The movement persists. "Stand firm, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!" Eventually the movement becomes unmanageable; most of the participants do not suffer consequences. There are shifts even among the people in the ranks of those in power -- they join, or at least stop acting against the movement. The regime falls.

This is not idle dreaming. This is not a theoretical proposition. That such strategies work is a matter of record, even in brutal dictatorships (for example Indonesia).

Significantly, there is far less recrimination and resentment than there would be in a violent revolution. Even more significantly, people in such movements are in a much better position to sustain their gains in freedom than they would be if it was handed to them from the outside.

That the people of Iraq have not managed to accomplish such a revolution, that those of us outside that country have failed to support them in doing so, is a tragedy. I hope that we can learn from it.



"John you ignorant slut." (my appologies to Dan Akroyd for taking liberties with his lines)
Do yo really want to wait another 20 years for this so called movement to take hold. It only took what 40 years in russia, 20 & counting in China. It takes a long time for people to accept that they may die for thier beliefs. It may be better for them to do it that way but not for the rest of the world , given what he has already done to Kuait & the Kurds
But if you want to go help them start a revolution be my guest, other wise STFU & go hug a tree



Chris:
'What non-violence are you talking about? Surely you can't be referring to the cold war in which war was averted by "do anything and we kill every last one of you, right before you kill all of us back".'

This was a heck of a lot less violent than the pre-emptive war that Eisenhower was encouraged to start against the USSR. Violence is always relative.


Chris:
'Btw, what I meant is that no one pretended that the inspections were actually accomplishing anything (non-negligible), let alone serving as a meaningful deterrent.'

"Accomplishing anything" is like "fine" in our earlier exchange. A tremendous number of people (government leaders, people in the streets, national majorities) were satisfied with the progress being made without war, or at the very least satisified to leave the decision up to the Security Council, which going by its decisions, was satisfied so far. Why would they be satisfied? Because Hussein was, non-negligibly, deterred for 12 years, and no one has produced evidence (that didn't turn out to be fake or otherwise non-credible) that suggests that was about to change.

If the question is how we can support something better than mere deterrence (which has been hell for people under domineering governments involved), then my suggestion is that you take another look at the numerous creative and successful nonviolent strategies for this that do not involve so much "collateral damage".

Chris:
'And don't forget: everything changes when a country gets nukes.'

We've been asking the president, and i ask you now, where's the evidence? (and if "everything changes" means we have to go to preemptive war, i refer you again to Eisenhower)

Chris:
'I don't suppose that you read the op-ed in the WSJ (published on opinion journal) by the former head of Saddam's nuclear weapons program?'

Nope, please tell me about it or link it.


Chris:
'Oh, and the eventual regime change would have been for one of Saddam's two evil and maniacal sons, Uday or Qusay. That's not an improvement.'

I agree that wouldn't be an improvement. I am writing of more radical regime change than that. Something more along the lines of the Philippines, Poland, etc. (see earlier comment). Nonviolence has a proven track record, and we mostly ignore it.


Chris:
'But would you really have been willing to say to the Iraqis, "fuck up and we kill every last one of you" knowing how much they're the pawns of the dictator in charge of them? Especially knowing what terrible judgement the dictator in charge of them has shown in the past?'

What did i write that you're responding to here?

Chris:
'I'll be impressed if you can successfully make the argument that years of his secret police followed by having to wipe Iraq off the face of the earth because Hussein violated one of the deterrence lines-in-the-sand is better than the minimal bloodshed going on now.'

Again, if the outcome was that, i would agree (even though it's way too early to tell how 'minimal' this bloodshed might end up being). But the outcome i and many others strive for is something more like in Czechoslovakia, India/Pakistan, South Africa...you know the drill.

Chris:
'Remember: you're talking about the moron who defied the US military right up until the cruise missiles and bombs struck and we've only seen stock footage since. Does this really seem like a man with judgement you want to trust all 22 million Iraqi lives with (in the sense of trusting him to actually be deterred by threat of nuclear annihilation)?'

1) He was being deterred -- from attacking his neighbors, and from WMD support for terrorism. 2) Other excellent goals such as freedom for the Iraqi people, i believe i have addressed.

Still waiting to hear from anyone about whether they believe this administration's strategic focus differs significantly from their New American Century (paper) and National Security Strategy documents. This is important, because to the extent they're focused on that, they won't be doing as good a job as they could be at applying nonviolent strategies, or supporting freedom.



From the same nonviolent regime change link, to dream a little:

we might even explore what an effective nonviolent invasion force would involve. If people are willing to die to kill people, what if they were willing to die to free people. What would nonviolent "special forces" be like, who "invaded" disguised as tourists and suddenly did -- what? -- to stimulate a nonviolent revolution that had been prepared (how?) in advance...? Or 300,000 peace soldiers amassed in the desert whose primary job was to love and reach out to the oppressor's army even as they, the peace soldiers, were slaughtered. Would the oppressor's army continue forever? What would happen to global opinion? What would happen to opinion in the oppressed country as word inevitably spread (even in oppressed countries, word spreads). --Tom Atlee

Also see the Nonviolent Peaceforce and the civilian-based defense.

You may say -- that's ridiculous! It can't work! But isn't that what a lot of people said about all the nonviolent revolutions of the past few decades? Achieving freedom without war always demands creativity. Let's be creative, and keep finding more and better means for positive change.

A few more Nonviolence Resources.



Can we talk about something else now please? Its getting really boring.

How about Britney Spears' ass?

I think she beats out Aguilera every time.



Jim ...... ^5s
Aguilera is too much of a skank ho now to be considered hot in anything. Shakera now that is a fine boo-tay and she has just the right amount of hoochie but doesn't come off as a ho-bag.



John,

From the same nonviolent regime change link, to dream a little ... we might even explore what an effective nonviolent invasion force would involve. [Pretend] 300,000 peace soldiers amassed in the desert whose primary job was to love and reach out to the oppressor's army even as they, the peace soldiers, were slaughtered. Would the oppressor's army continue forever?
Briefly, yes, they would, not that they'd have to. They'd surround the poor, misguided fools and let them starve, and in the meantime the status quo ante would kill even more of the poor souls the "peace soldiers" went to save. It is really pathetic that you'd rather let 300,000+ people die to no effect when the mission could have been done right, to certain effect and with far fewer casualties, by 200,000 armed, trained real soldiers. In the end, you really have no idea what you're talking about, and that ignorance is a blessing bestowed upon you by veterans.



Fred E Mac:
'"John you ignorant slut." (my appologies to Dan Akroyd for taking liberties with his lines)'

No comment.

Fred E Mac:
'Do yo really want to wait another 20 years for this so called movement to take hold. It only took what 40 years in russia, 20 & counting in China.'

So i'm hearing that you really want the upsetting shit Hussein has done to be acknowledged, and that you'd like to see something done about it.

I'm with you 100%.

This war like others, whatever positive things it achieves, causes much harm on purpose, and has unintended consequences. If we become aware of them (and they're not all obvious, so that may take some work), we're likely to find these consequences equally or even more upsetting.

Fortunately, nonviolent alternatives exist, and if they are supported from outside they need not take 20-40 years to succeed. Even better, one of the defining features of nonviolent actions is that their unintended consequences tend to be positive rather than negative.

Fred E Mac:
'It takes a long time for people to accept that they may die for thier beliefs.'

It is an interesting common requirement for success in war and nonviolent action. It's the reason Gandhi offered for the incredible success of Abdul Ghaffar Khan's nonviolent movement among the Pashtuns of present-day Afghanistan & Pakistan.

Fred E Mac:
'It may be better for them to do it that way but not for the rest of the world , given what he has already done to Kuait & the Kurds'

If it would be "better for them to do it that way" and there is no clear evidence of hazard to the rest of the world (share it if you got it), then why not go for it and try the well-worn nonviolent path?

Fred E Mac:
'But if you want to go help them start a revolution be my guest, other wise STFU & go hug a tree'

Thanks. The nonviolent freedom revolution, on a personal-to-worldwide basis, is in fact my life work. My writing here is among other things my miniscule, way-too-late attempt to support the Iraqis. And sorry, but against the "pacifist" image, i have little interest in STFUing (though i have been known to hug trees :).

The most challenging aspect of compassion is being compassionate toward those who are, at this moment, not being compassionate. --John Abbe



John

while i may not agree with you, i can at least respect the fact that (if that is what you do) you are backing up your beliefs with concrete action unlike these "protest de jour" social event so called activists.

ps i still think your wrong =p



Fred:
If I insulted you in anyway in my last response then I apologize. However, I really don’t see any name-calling or degrading comments in my last response. Please point these offending sources out.



Bob Osipov:
'Briefly, yes, they would, not that they'd have to. They'd surround the poor, misguided fools and let them starve...'

Okay, i'm getting that you would like me to wake up & live in the real world. So, in the real world, we have more than a billion people served by nonviolent revolution in recent decades. No argument there, right?

Now in what you're responding to, i said i was dreaming, didn't i? Successful mass radical nonviolent action in the middle of a shooting war probably requires something more subtle than standing around and getting shot. Let's be aware we're leaving the cold, hard world of nonviolent fact and take an imaginative voyage into the realm of nonviolent science fiction:

Let's start with -- what would the soldiers be eating while they wait for the peace soldiers to die? What if no one in the country they were invading would feed them? What if the people stopped all activity besides basic needs and devoted themselves to actively blocking supply, and destroying roads, airfields and other resources rather than let the soldiers use them? And communicated with the invaders -- in-country and back in the homeland? Sentiment in favor of the war at home might well shift. In any case, supply and engineering requirements would become impossible. In the end, no conqeror can succeed without some cooperation from the conquered (including of course their own people).

Given present-day cultural training throughout the planet, soldiers generally find someone who will cooperate rather than die. Others tell themselves at least they are not actively cooperating and go about their daily lives, supporting the invasion through inaction. I am not blamin them, but our science fictional populace has different cultural training, and bravely resists to the Nth, making their country not worth owning. The invaders' best case scenario is to get the land, drenched in blood.

Back in reality, we see that nonviolent action has again and again led even those who are trained in violence to stop killing, and stirred sympathy among the folks back home that led to a change in policy.



John Abbe:
"Hunh? I've seen reports of links between the Iraqi government and one small fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group in northern Iraq. This makes Iraq the "heart of the cause" ? If you have evidence that Iraq is significantly involved in fundamentalist terrorism, or that the US/UK/Australia are dealing with significant numbers terrorists in Iraq, please do post it."

You must not be following the news well. Iraq has had close ties to international terrorist organization for decades. This is a well known and well accepted fact. If you wish to dispute it is you who should provide the evidence. Nevertheless, I will point out that Iraq has repeatedly provided sanctuary for fugitive terrorists (such as Abu Nidal) and has provided direct financial sponsorship to many terrorist organizations (including Hamas and Hizb'Allah, both of which have been responsible for the deaths of many US citizens, Hizb'Allah, for example, has killed several hundred US citizens). Additionally, as this war has progressed we have seen several terrorist organizations express their support for and common cause with the Iraqi regime. Thousands of terrorists from many countries (including Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories) representing many terrorist organizations have come into Iraq to fight on the side of the Iraqi regime, and the regime has welcomed them. What's more, the evidence that the al qaeda affiliated terrorist group Ansar Al Islam is an active arm of the Iraqi regime has grown to near incontrovertible heights. To see evidence of US forces tangling with terrorist groups in Iraq you need only open your eyes and access a news source. That Iraq is in bed with terrorist organizations is and never has been in dispute (except, perhaps, by those ignorant of even the most basic facts of the matter). The link with Al Qaeda in specific was less than solid but is now nearly beyond doubt.

As for the "cycle of violence", that has some truth to it but is often misapplied. It should be renamed the "cycle of proportionate violence". When two sides battle with each other in a way such that neither is ever soundly defeated then indeed a "cycle of violence" can be created and continue indefinitely. However, when one side uses sufficient violence to defeat the enemy and destroy its ability of retaliation, then the cycle of violence is ended. Consult the lessons of history, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Empirial Japan, these were potent dangers to the US and they had visited violence on the US on a regular basis, but they were defeated soundly and never again posed a threat of violence against the US. Winning wars stops violence. Refusing to defend one's self does not and never has stopped violence, it has only, as history has shown, brought about the "peace" of subjugation, tyranny, and oppression and, in the worst cases, genocide.



Niko,

and i quote from your post "Your insecurity makes me smile and pity you, as I too was once so petty." so do you now admit that your post was hypocritical & i am the pimp-daddy-mac?

and to quote Monty Python "you tiny-brained wipers of other peoples bottoms, be gone or i shall taunt you a second time"



yeah John didnt you hear about the $25,000 reward Sadam offered to the famalies of suicide bombers? No link to terrorists eh?



Bill,
Superbly written! I must agreee with your statement: "If you want justice, and freedom, and safety, and prosperity, then sometimes you have to fight for them."
So many of our brave young men and women have done so.



I was stating I know where you are coming from because I was that way too. I never knew the act of pitying was to be critical. Rather, to have pity is to have compassion.

Ok, we’ve dwelled long enough on the “non-topic” things; can we get back to the topic at hand, the war? At first I thought you were against the war. However, with your response to John it sounds like you’re supporting it. I’d like to hear your views either way.



Niko,
If you cant see the error of your ways then I wont tell you my views =p Saying that i have insecurities or attacking my character is on the same level as name calling, if you want to split hairs and say it isn't then then you have proven my point that you cant see things other than your own way and i win again(hehehehe)
I'm not here to share my views , im just here to rip everyone equally & to bait & taunt.

ps now do you smell what the rock is cooking?
now grow a brain or i will have to "shock & awe" you with more "your mama" slams



Fred E Mac:
while i may not agree with you, i can at least respect the fact that (if that is what you do) you are backing up your beliefs with concrete action unlike these "protest de jour" social event so called activists.

Thanks. Yes, my concrete actions include writing, living simply (to some degree), coding free software (just started), supporting others (with $ and time/energy) who work for radical nonviolence, building bridges between people with disparate world views, giving away trainings in nonviolence, and putting a lot of effort into making it real in my own life. This is the hardest part -- most of the world's religious institutions imho screw it up by trying to force us to be good to one another. Understanding for why we don't want to be good to one another (and especially ourselves) is the aikido trick that makes nonviolence work.

Similarly, i won't make much headway by judging such religious institutions or the people in them. Better to try to understand them.


Fred E Mac:
ps i still think your wrong =p

I'm not surprised. Explaining nonviolence is not nearly as effective as living it with people, which is hard to do in an asynchronous, text-only, debate-style forum.

But given that we're in an asynchronous, text-only, debate-style forum :), i'd love to hear more about why you think i'm wrong.



Fred:
The insecurity remark was not a personal attack. Obviously, from your comments it was the truth. Generally people who consider themselves an adult and want to hold an intelligent conversation don’t cut people down with remarks like the ones you’re making. So, go on with your petty ways and have fun. If you ever want to hold an intelligent debate maybe our roads will cross again. It’s too bad as I think you might have a lot to offer, but until then I’m not going to waste my time.

Regards,
Niko



John

I still think you are wrong because i want to be like 90+% of the posters on here and see things only from my point of view. Well that and your postings are so long i fall asleep.

ps please try to limit them to 8000 words or less or you too will reave mama taunting



John,

I’ve read your posts and the links you provided. I was just wondering – have you ever experienced life under a dictatorship, first hand? While your ideas sound very nice on paper (onscreen?), they just don’t sound like they would be effective when dealing with dictators and armies that have no problem with slaughtering thousands – possibly millions – of people.

I’m just thinking of the human shields who may have traveled to Iraq with the best of intentions, and who returned shocked and dismayed by the cruelties of Saddam’s regime. They just didn’t understand what it was like.

What percentage of any population is willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause, to refuse to cooperate when their lives or their family’s lives are threatened? It’s a fairly small percentage.

If what I’ve heard about the homicidal and genocidal nature of dictatorships, these ideas would result in mass death and failure. Still, it’s a good idea for you to write your ideas down. Someday, (hopefully) we may evolve to the point where those ideas can be applied.



glad Niko is flexable in his thinking taunt=insecure. You my friend are truly a dullard

now to make good on my word

your mama is like a doorknob , everyone gets a turn
if your mama had as many sticking out of her as she had stuck in her she would look like a friggin porcupine

ps i can type slower for ya if your havingtrouble keeping up.



Bill, thank you for another winner. I've already circulated this one to as many people (on BOTH sides of the issue) as I could. Keep writing.



there are 10 types of people in this world.......those who understand binary & those who dont



Fred, yo mama's so ugly, she has to sneak up on a glass of water to get a drink! Yo sistah's such a ho, someone once said to her "A penny for your thoughts," and she went around for weeks afterward thinking "your thoughts" was slang for a blowjob.

You ain't got game, fool.



golly gee Steven ya got me there

ps your dick is so short you piss on your balls



Hi Bill,

I've been reading your work for awhile now, and once again-- I am just in awe of your brilliant work. Thank you so much for sharing the innerworkings of your mind with us. Truly noble of you, and I hope you realize how much I appreciate it.



From the first line of history till the last the price of freedom has and will always be the shed blood of those willing to fight and die for it.

I find your writing to be on the mark.

Thanks for taking the time to make the point.



"If your essay did not carry the whiff of of the far right's hatred of Democratic presidents, I would agree with you completely. Unfortunately your foray into history slid past one of the greatest obstacle to doing anything about Afghanistan during the late 90s and that was the rise of the Tom Delay--Ken Starr--Trent Lott Republicans. These latter day Lindburghs led their party towards isolationism and a greater hatred for Clinton and the Democrats than for Milosovic, Saddam and Kim Jong Il."

Clinton lobbed some cruise missiles at Iraq, but failed to follow through. Clinton lobbed some cruise missiles at bin Laden, but failed to follow through. Clinton's failures to effectively take on actual threats to the United States were not the fault of Republicans.

"Clinton, (and to his credit, Bob Dole) finally pushed through the policy of bombing Milosovic out of Kosovo while the right whinged about wagging the dog."

Too bad he wasn't willing to expend the same force against regimes that actually threatened us.

"They bayed even louder when Clinton bombed Saddam and confronted North Korea over nuclear weapons."

Confronted? Surely, you jest. And it wasn't the Republicans' idea to launch a half-assed attack against Iraq or bin Laden.

The point is that Clinton reduced the strength of the military and piled on missions that involved everything but dealing with actual threats to our security. And I think the right, and everyone else, has to bitch about that, especially now that we actually need to use military resources that are not as plentiful than they would have been if he hadn't cut them and wasted them.



"And I think the right, and everyone else, has a right to bitch about that", I should say...



Me:
"Hunh? I've seen reports of links between the Iraqi government and one small fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group in northern Iraq. This makes Iraq the "heart of the cause" ? If you have evidence that Iraq is significantly involved in fundamentalist terrorism, or that the US/UK/Australia are dealing with significant numbers terrorists in Iraq, please do post it."


Robin Goodfellow:
"You must not be following the news well. Iraq has had close ties to international terrorist organization for decades. This is a well known and well accepted fact. If you wish to dispute it is you who should provide the evidence. Nevertheless, I will point out that Iraq has repeatedly provided sanctuary for fugitive terrorists (such as Abu Nidal) and has provided direct financial sponsorship to many terrorist organizations (including Hamas and Hizb'Allah, both of which have been responsible for the deaths of many US citizens, Hizb'Allah, for example, has killed several hundred US citizens)."

My bad -- my intent was not to claim that Iraq has no involvement, or even no significant involvement, with terrorist groups (i was prob'ly thinking about evidence of WMDs going to terrorists). I was responding to your statement that invading Iraq was getting to the "heart of the cause" of U.S.-threatening terrorism. I have not heard anyone, including those in the current U.S. administration, suggest that Iraq itself is at the heart of Islamic terrorism. If you're thinking of Iraq as the stepping stone to a larger strategy of transforming the political systems of most of the nations in the region, i'll address that below.

Robin Goodfellow:
"Additionally, as this war has progressed we have seen several terrorist organizations express their support for and common cause with the Iraqi regime. Thousands of terrorists from many countries (including Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories) representing many terrorist organizations have come into Iraq to fight on the side of the Iraqi regime, and the regime has welcomed them."

Terrorist organizations supporting Iraq after the war starts seems to support my position far better than yours, no?

Robin Goodfellow:
"What's more, the evidence that the al qaeda affiliated terrorist group Ansar Al Islam is an active arm of the Iraqi regime has grown to near incontrovertible heights. To see evidence of US forces tangling with terrorist groups in Iraq you need only open your eyes and access a news source."

Now you're the one talking about a new and different claim, so i'm hoping you'll find it reasonable that i ask you to be the one to go Googling.

Robin Goodfellow:
'As for the "cycle of violence", that has some truth to it but is often misapplied. It should be renamed the "cycle of proportionate violence". When two sides battle with each other in a way such that neither is ever soundly defeated then indeed a "cycle of violence" can be created and continue indefinitely. However, when one side uses sufficient violence to defeat the enemy and destroy its ability of retaliation, then the cycle of violence is ended. Consult the lessons of history, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Empirial Japan, these were potent dangers to the US and they had visited violence on the US on a regular basis, but they were defeated soundly and never again posed a threat of violence against the US. Winning wars stops violence.'

Absolutely. Sufficient violence ends that particular cycle. But it often sows the seeds for the next cycle. For example, WWI Germany. And if you're going to say that it wasn't sufficient violence, this points up a problem with your strategy -- short of genocide, you never know until later whether you applied enough violence.

More to the point, 'sufficient violence' has ripple effects on the full spectrum of humanity, from individual people to the neighborhood on up to the international level. Soldiers from both sides come back home and commit suicide in disproportionate numbers. Prostitution and drug abuse rise, with consequent negative personal & social effects. Populations fed on propaganda nurse resentment and distrust. Civil liberties suffer. Resources are diverted from life-serving applications. These effects can last for generations, and are what trouble me about the "enforce democracy on the Middle East by military means" strategy.

Sufficient nonviolence represents an alternative. It also ends particular cycles, with the difference that it is accompanied by fringe benefits rather than the above negative unintended consequences.

Robin Goodfellow:
'Refusing to defend one's self does not and never has stopped violence, it has only, as history has shown, brought about the "peace" of subjugation, tyranny, and oppression and, in the worst cases, genocide.'

'Refusing to defend one's self' has indeed stopped violence, again and again. Not always the violence against that individual (many of them die for the cause), but against their people, who would suffer worse in an armed uprising. I have listed some of the nonviolent revolutions of our times. How large would the armed resistance in any case have had to be to do 'sufficient violence' quickly enough so that there would have been less total violence & suffering (unintended consequences included)?

'Refusing to defend one's self' is an inaccurate label. Not attacking back is only a tiny part of what's involved in nonviolence. Without the rest it's mere pacifism. With the other strategies it is defending oneself, by declaring the injustices, loudly and clearly and creatively and unrelentingly. By provoking enough humanity in enough of the attackers that the attacks end.

Was anyone here ready to dismiss me (not my words, me) at first? If so, have you shifted, even some, on reading enough of my words to realize that there is a real human being on this side of the keyboard, no doubt flawed, but worthy of respect like anyone else, just because i'm here?

We can achieve a world in which the vast majority of us offers deep understanding when someone reacts anger, and listens to them. Rather than (if the anger was at us) attacking back, or (if the anger was at themself) giving desparate reassurance, or (if the anger was at another) joining them in their anger, helping it to escalate into physical violence -- or worse, the kind of institutionalized violence most of us live in today.

It's going to be hard work. There will be losses, and compromises, and setbacks. We will get there. Stand firm...

(steps off soap box)



John:

How can you say a violent overthrow doesn't last Russia was communist for what 70 years. The boxer rebellion was when? and......and.......and...... the US is over 200 years old, so im guessing i'll have to agree & say true change & stability doesn't come from violence

ps. fill in your own personal/sexuality/mama slam here ( i dont want to upset Stevie he is the king and made me look foolish earlier)



Nah, Fred, I didn't make you look foolish - you'd already done that yourself. I was just trying to show you that your silly, schoolyard taunts weren't much - ANYONE can do them.



mary:
"I’ve read your posts and the links you provided."

Cool!

"I was just wondering – have you ever experienced life under a dictatorship, first hand?"

Closest i've been is living for a few months now in the north of Sri Lanka, an area that in the early 1990s was under very tight-fisted rule by militants/terrorists (accepting for the moment the usual definition of terrorists). Before and since it has been under two different occupying armies (India's and Sri Lanka's). The Sri Lankan army (under which there was until recently torture, disappearances, etc.) is still here, and the LTTE exerts a very powerful influence, even when they are not in direct control.

The resulting widespread fear and lack of initiative is depressing. The resilience people have to go on is amazing. My respect grows for those who could have left but stuck it out and remained active or kept speaking up in some way (some of course died). My compassion grows for those who have stayed or become quiet, or just get out if they can. At the same time, i'm frustrated when i think about those who 'gave up'. Slavery and freedom are both self-fulfilling prophecies.

Before now i lived in the United States, where violence is nearly as widespread, if not quite as blatant, or compounded -- imho the most brutal violence most people suffer under is their own internal violence.

mary:
"While your ideas sound very nice on paper (onscreen?), they just don’t sound like they would be effective when dealing with dictators and armies that have no problem with slaughtering thousands – possibly millions – of people."

Have you checked out Indonesia's Suharto regime and the revolution therein?

I think this 'no problem' idea is a big part of the perception problem. The vast majority of participants in dictatorial regimes do have problems carrying out their orders, and getting them to do so takes all kinds of nifty language tricks, plus explicit and implicit threats, on top of the violence-works background people in most cultures grow up with.

In Nazi Germany for example, Eichmann explained there was a language of "office speak" consciously instituted, with phrases like "I had no choice", and "I was under orders" and so on. This helped to ease consciences enough that combined with the threats, and general belief in violence, many went along to get along. It was the apparent success of this kind of languaging that led those running the post-war trials to emphatically deny that "just following orders" was a valid defense.

Those who "don't have problems carrying out their orders" of course actually have the most serious problems, and need a lot of help. Convincing people to kill people is not easy, and 'success' at it really twists people up (hence ex-soldiers' high suicide rates).


I'm blathering (sorry Fred E :). The point here is that nonviolent actions, historically, have been very successful at supporting people who have been supporting a brutal regime, to wake up and smell the coffee.

Anyone know a good book on Indonesia?

mary:
"I’m just thinking of the human shields who may have traveled to Iraq with the best of intentions, and who returned shocked and dismayed by the cruelties of Saddam’s regime. They just didn’t understand what it was like."

The nonviolence movement's edges are crowded with people who don't fully understand what they're getting into. Here's a post mortem from one 'human shield' who seems to have his head vaguely on his shoulders.

mary:
"What percentage of any population is willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause, to refuse to cooperate when their lives or their family’s lives are threatened? It’s a fairly small percentage."

Too true. Given today's violence-works upbringing -- in nearly all cultures -- convincing people to kill has seemed easier than convincing them to, still willing to die, act bravely in other ways.

The amazing thing is that despite this, nonviolent movements have had such success.


mary:
"If what I’ve heard about the homicidal and genocidal nature of dictatorships, these ideas would result in mass death and failure. Still, it’s a good idea for you to write your ideas down. Someday, (hopefully) we may evolve to the point where those ideas can be applied."

Well, nonviolence has already been successfully applied in all of the countries i've listed and more, including the dictatorships. I sure hope it keep spreading.

(I may be off-line for a few days and not responding, but as Aaarnold would say...i'll be back...)



Simply outstanding.



My initial response was very emotional and very positive. Believe it or not, you almost swayed this unreconstructed southerner into thinking that losing the war was a good thing:-). I too love history, especially military history. Those that say war doesn't change anything are twits, but there is one truth within the lie, that needs to be emphasized, and it refers back to your 1st point of what those opposed to the war must believe (people are basically good and reasonable).

War does change things, ALWAYS, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Slavery was an issue that probably would have been resolved before the turn of the 20th century, and possible with less long lasting racism. Almost certainly without losing 600,000 American lives. But, maybe not. We can speculate all we want, propose all the alternate scenarios we can dream of, but we will never know.

It comes down to trust, and there is only one place where I place my trust absolutely: That is in God. I support Bush in this war, not because I am certain he is right about the war, he may not be, and he will certainly make mistakes even if this is the right decision; I support him and I voted for George Bush because I am convinced he places his trust in that same God. I also trust he has far more pertinent information to make decisions than I possibly can. He shows character in a position where it is difficult to do so. I trust him more than any other president in my lifetime (my first vote was cast for McGovern). As a result I support the war and pray that the benefits outweigh the sacrifices.

The best we can do is grieve for and with those hurt by the war, and rejoice with and for those that get their first taste of freedom as a result of the sacrifices our young men and women make.

The worst we can do is make self-righteous statements (like I'm doing) without considering the thoughts and feelings of those with whom we disagree (which, hopefully, i'm not doing), claiming that we absolutely know what is best.



Another Essay that has left me in contemplation. Thank you Bill!

I think back to when I was about eight years old and my Great Uncle Charlie was alive. He was a tall, quiet man with a scar under his chin and another on his cheek. He would sit and watch me and my younger brother play at my grand parents house. Immense pride and joy in his eyes.

In hind site, over twenty years later I now know why.

During the Great War (WW1) this man lost all three of his brothers and was lucky to come out of the trenches alive. Shrapnel saved his life by passing up through his jaw and out of the side of his face, without killing him. It then sent him home from the front.

Here he was now, alive in the 1970's and in his eighties. In the same room as his sisters great grand children. Who where benefiting from the freedom that he, his brothers and all their comrades fought for all those years ago, and the sacrifice that so many young men and women gave.

70,000 people died on the first day of the battle of the Somm. How can we demand the return of our troups? When so much has been achieved and so much more can be gained with the relatively few losses the coalition forces have seen so far.

We cannot stand by and do nothing! How many millions died in Cambodia at the hands of Pol Pot because the nations of the world would not get involved.

We have taken action against Saddam Hussain, but I hope we will not stop there! Will we continue to ignore the regimes of Burmah, China, North Korea and the many others that transgress the basic rights of their citizens?

Regards,

Mike Holding (Warrington, UK)



"The past is prophetic in that it asserts that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
-Martin Luther King

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but morally treasonable to the American public."
-Theodore Roosevelt



The most beautiful speech in the world (and that was a magnificent specimen) does not justify anything at all, when it is based on false premises.

Any way you dress it up, each "casualty of war" is murder, attempted murder or at best criminal negligence. The only people who can reasonably justify such things are those defending their homes and communities against invaders.

No one has made a case that Iraq was any threat to the USA or the UK. The inspections were working, there were little if any WMDs. The alleged Al Qaeda links are nonexistent. The Iraqi people were already starving and sickened by sanctions and poisoning and two long brutal wars. The vast majority of Iraqis have shown by inaction or by opposition that they do not want to be "liberated" yet again by another invader.

As for all these "justifications" based on Saddam being a brutal monstrous dictator - yes he is, but let's not forget how he got and stayed that way: with initial and continuing *direct* US (and other govts) support even during the infamous gassings, with greedy corporate arms sales, with sanctions that prevented his own people from thinking about a change of regime. There were other ways to bring down his government a long time ago and there still are.

As for righting injustices and addressing unenforced UN resolutions, there are a few dozen for which the USA and Israel need to be taken to task, before they can credibly preach again in that arena. Further, this US administration has done more to set back the rule of law both internationally and at home than any other regime in history. Heck, they've even made it legitimate (by speaking about it and actually attempting it) to assassinate their own heads of state!

Please set aside the emotional and patriotic rhetoric for a moment, and seriously think about the stated reasons for the war - you will see why so many all over the world and in America have heeded their conscience and said Not In Our Name.



After reading History I am not only speechless but have tears in my eyes. GREAT.



To Bill St. James:

I hope we can all agree that one consistent definition of freedom involves being free from having one's children raped in front of one by representatives of one's government, from being fed either feet-first or head-first into a plastic shredder, from having one's tongue cut out and being left to bleed to death while onlookers are forced to watch, etc., etc., etc. You might want to read Nat Hentoff's column in the Village Voice to hear a principled point of view from a left-wing writer who still loves that undefined "freedom." Staying out of this war would guarantee that the Iraqi people would remain subject to the certainty of torture and violent death if they try to exercise what most of us recognize as "freedom."

As for you, Bill Whittle, this is simply the best thing I have seen written on this war. Thanks.



my compliments on a brilliant essay. wish i could say i wrote like that.



you got in pinned down right where I see it. awesome job.



John –

When I asked if you had ever lived under a dictatorship, you answered “Before now i lived in the United States, where violence is nearly as widespread, if not quite as blatant, or compounded -- imho the most brutal violence most people suffer under is their own internal violence.”

The United States is not a dictatorship, and it's absurd to compare it to one. I've asked many pacifists and many Bush=Hitler zealots if they can name a country that offers its citizens more rights and freedoms than the United States does. They have never named one.

I’m afraid I’m not as eloquent and precise as Bill – my words are easily misinterpreted. When I said that we would someday evolve to a point where these ideas can be applied, I was talking about a very distant future. This pie-in-the sky nonviolent resistance idea is as dangerous as the idea that anarchy represents freedom.

Like anarchy, pacifism allows the strong to completely overpower the weak. As James Madison once said of anarchy, it would work "if men were angels” Nonviolent resistance only appears to succeed, but usually other factors (economic, social) have caused the change. When we have evolved into the equivalent of angels, pacifism will. Until then, confronting dictatorships with nonviolent resistance is likely to result in mass death and failure.



Chris & Martin Knight:

Chris:: Can you cite any of these sources?
Martin Knight:: I still disagree on the level of US support for Saddam though. Links please?

I'm a little short on time right now, but I can certainly give you guys a running start on tracking down some of this info.

This article is a pretty good "summary" -- It's a little disorganized, but there's a lot of ground to cover for just one article. The New American has a Libertarian slant.

Making of a Monster: How the U. S. Helped Build Iraq's War Machine
,
New American, September 1992

Here's a reprint of a fairly lightweight New York Time article:

Officers Say US Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas

Very good, detailed Washington Post article from 30-Dev, 2002. You should read this just to catch a reference to insecticide.

U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup

Anyway, here's some of the good stuff:

Sworn Statement by William Teicher
, 1995. Reagan NSC staffer names names (like "Rumsfeld").

Remember that insecticide reference from the Post? Here's the secret side of it -- very creepy.
Cable from William L. Eagleton, Jr. to the Department of State.

Iraqi Warning re Iranian Offensive
, February 22, 1984.

These last two document are taken off the following page. 61 smoking guns with varying degrees of smoke -- plus commentary. You'll
thrill at the memo where Reagan Administration officials consider letting the Iraqis obtains nuclear materials! Great picture of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam at the top of the page.

It would be hilarious if our countrymen weren't fighting in the desert right now.

Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984>

Here's another page from the same archive project:

Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction

I'm also going to recommend this book by Noam Chompsky. I've seen him takes a lot of vicious abuse from people who don't want to hear what he
says, that doesn't make him wrong. I think that he writes in a straightforward no-nonsense way and he scrupulously supports everything he says. This book illustrates the modern use of
propaganda. It answers the question of how and why in common-sense terms -- no "conspiracy theories" or alarmist rhetoric
about secret totalitarian cabals.

Deterring Democracy

Chris: I guess that you could believe in some sort of big conspiracy theory in which GWB doesn't have the real power, but if that is the case then there's no point in our discussing it, is there?

Sure there is, because you don't need any such "conspiracy theory." I could certainly rag on GWB, but let me see if I can make this point in
a positive way. Let's just say that GWB is the kind of leader who puts together a team of strong subordinates who he gives wide latitude to get things done. Sometimes the most effective thing you can do with power is to delegate it to an effective lieutenant. This doesn't mean GWB has no power, but it does mean that "the usual"
suspects has the latitude -- even more than under GHWB -- to assert themselves.

See? No mysterious conspiracies or mean-spirited Bush-bashing necessary.

Chris: If the real power isn't held by the elected representatives, what can we do?

Well, we still have the ability to vote for in a new representative who hasn't sold out either to blind greed or blind ideology. Now's not a good time to ask me because my opinion of my fellow American's ability to think critically is at an all time low. I think we need to make some cultural changes; we need to re-learn how to have
honest disagreements.

This "win at all costs" political environment was epitomized by the 2000 election. By the end, it didn't matter which candidate became president, because we had already lost the important battle:
preserving the integrity of our democracy.

Look at the name-calling on this forum. That needs to go away. If you want to see what I'd like to see replace it, read on:

Knight: I guess I goofed up on the time line. But either way, it makes no difference. The UN demanded that the US stop once
Saddam's troops had been chased from Kuwait. And Bush the First, being the multilateralist that he was, stopped.

Bad news: I'm still sure that you're wrong about the UN featuring in the issue -- even in the right order, it still doesn't make sense.

Good news: I think I found another sequence of events that does fit your view. In effect, we're both right.

In the declassified DIA Gulf War chronology, DAT-6 (the Middle East DIA Attache) is asked to canvas coalition partners on their views on air attacks. The air attack start on 15-Feb, the day NSD 54 went into effect. This was also the date when Bush called for uprisings and generally made it clear that we supported Iraqi-lead regime change.

On 22-Feb, DAT-6 gathers the consensus on coalition members' national interests for "post-war Iraq." At that point, there could have been a general call not to depose Saddam. (At the time of GWI my guess was that the Turks nixed it). Anyway, that would explain point #10 in the 15-Feb order not being followed when the ground war started on 24-Feb. Also, if you look at administration statements,
you can see that by that time, they were back-pedaling from the call for uprising.

So there's no call for conspiracy theories -- it looks like a set of last-minute shifts in a volatile situation. When you re-visit the
events in light of these behind-the-scenes events, you see the glaring reality that Cheney, Rumsfeld, and -- sadly -- even Powell will tell outright lies with a straight face. I'm not saying they don't have their reasons, but I've seen way too many arguments recently that are predicated on the belief that we can take the Administration at face
value.

After all the fuss over Clinton's honesty I'm stunned at the lack of criticism Bush 41 and Bush 43 have gotten. In 1991 they insisted that
they'd never planned on deposing Saddam. Not true.

What if they'd told the truth and said, "We had a resolution to depose Saddam, but the consensus we reached our coalition partners was that we should not pursue it." Wouldn't this latest conflict have been that much easier to sell? That wouldn't have had to make the preposterous connections to 9/11. The dishonesty about that, I
think, is going to undermine the anti-terrorism efforts -- it's an ongoing screwup that would be solved by something really simple: honesty.

Mr. Knight: PS: Nice arguing with you too.

Thank you. I don't think I've seen this particular sequence of events -- regarding our true intentions for Saddam in GWI -- explained
anywhere else. I think we've actually come up with something new on this important and relevant historical topic. Good work!

Cheers,

Winston




Interesting read. I'm curious as to the origin of the attribution to "The American Press." It appears on second reading to be not an attribution rather a fabrication constructed for dramatic effect.

If it's a quote from some journalist of 1864 I'd be very pleased to get a reference.



I continue a year and two months later to be skeptical as Dan Stephans was about the source of this quotation. Because a source was never produced by Bill at ejectejecteject, please consider this quotation a complete fabrication. Let's stick to the facts and not prove our ideals with false history.

Again - if there is no source, this cannot have originated in 1864.



To all Brents and St.James,

This war is not about Irak, it is about freedom, mine and yours. For freedom allowing you to say all these stupid things and be alive. It is not exaduration, I have been born and lived under communism (till 30y old escaped from that paradise) so I know what I am talking about.
As for fighting and daying for freedom, the saying popular in Eastern Europe at communist time summarises it all:

"IT IS BETTER TO DIE STANDING THAN TO LIVE ON YOUR KNEES"

Bill thanks, it is magnificant and powerful.
Michael



(todays date: 28th july 2005):
can someone write a song about me ??? i saw bob dylan, at THE FILLIMORE, in DENVER, COLORADO, USA, on the 28th 29th MARCH 2005: LOVE:
david c, miedzianik xxx say..med-gen-nick:
rainmanhallelujah@hotmail.com
ROTHERHAM, SOUTH YORKSHIRE, OLD ENGLAND, UK
ps. i got back to OLD ENGLAND the aniversary of HITLERS BIRTHDAY APRIL 20th 2005: POPE BENIDICT a GERMAN POPE got elected while i was on the way to ALTANTA GEORGIA, USA: i must have been in mid-air at the time:
he was born on my mums death day 16th april 1927 i think ??? my mum was born 27th january 1926:
my 49th birthday, 24th july 2005:
bob dylan's birthday ??? 24th may 1941 i think ?? 64 now anyway: