Two reactions to the article:
- Your argument against preemptive aggression is convincing but more importantly for me, for the first time I realised its enormous, gaping flaw, namely: if you are going to strike something before it becomes truly harmful, then the first thing to do is find out why it is an enemy. There is time to change the relationship at this point and using the last measure of force is truly inappropriate. This is obvious, of course, but for some reason I never saw it so clearly. Of course also, changing the relationship means examining one’s own role therein, not purely wishing the other to conform to one’s own preconceptions. In the case of Iraq, we helped to create Saddam Hussein and then we also imposed brutal sanctions on the Iraqis. We should have lifted the sanctions, continued the military blockade and helped establish a democracy either by forcing him to resign somehow (special ops?) or by waiting for his death, etc.
- You mention that you don’t understand how people think that creating a democracy by bombs would work. I agree with you its a foolish and tragically immoral approach. But to explain how those in support feel, you just have to listen better: the Iraqi people were brutalized by a dictator who killed 300,000 of them burying them in mass graves etc. So they are glad to be liberated and understand that there must be some collateral damage. I read elsewhere that including (mostly teenage) conscripts, about 55,000 people have been killed in Iraq this past year. And that doesn’t count the tens of thousands more who will be dying in the next 10 years or longer from radiation poison. People who support the policy DON"T WANT TO SEE these figures because they put the lie to their rosy libations scenarios. That’s why you and I are right and they are wrong. The only way for democracy to take root in Iraq is for the occupation to end and a new form of security force be put in place largely containing Iraqi personnel who are a judicious intra-squad blend of the various political, religious and tribal factions in the country.
Strangely enough the events in Fallujah might have helped for now the Iraqis are uniting as Iraqis, perhaps for the first time, against a common enemy: us! Maybe we are succeeding after all, although probably we will get a modern Muslim state out of this at best, which is not the same as a democracy.
But then: the Republicans want a republic, not a democracy, as they demonstrated last election. Indeed, the last election demonstrated that the US is not a very pure democracy (like most European states for example) anyway and in fact is set up as more of a republic. I don’t know what the Bush administration has in mind, but probably more of the same. Some sort of elected oligarchy that can both control the votes on some level within reason and also be malleable to international corporate influence, especially US ones.
Alan Bock replies:
Thanks. You’ve helped to clarify my thinking as well about the possibility of changing the relationship with a country one perceives as a potential, down-the-road-someday-maybe real threat against which one might be tempted to launch a preventive war. I’m not sure I would have advocated precisely the same steps toward Saddam’s Iraq that you outlined, but certainly something similar. I’ll let the idea percolate for a while, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I based a column on it fairly soon.
On a macro level, the way to go, of course, would be for the United States to change its own foreign policy from being policeman-sheriff to the world to serving as an example of how freedom facilitates prosperity and happiness the friend of freedom everywhere but the guarantor only of our own. That seems unlikely now and even if we did change our policy and started bringing troops home and demobilizing them it would be years (maybe decades) before the rest of the world believed us. But even beginning this process would change dozens of relationships to less hostile ones.
Short of that large-scale change in attitude which might be remotely possible if things continue to go as badly in Iraq and elsewhere as I fear they might, and we continue to make the case there still are bound to be potential conflicts that could be defused by active efforts to change the nature of relationships. It’s worth some thought and attention.
As one of your avid readers and admirers, permit me to protest your comparison of Bush with Napoleon. May I remind you that Napoleon was a soldier (not a draft dodger) who rose to the top through his brilliance and perspicacity without his papa’s influence. He liberated his countrymen from the tyranny of the terror whereas Bush terrorizes his countrymen with the patriot acts and suspension of their civil rights. As the first among equals, Napoleon did not start preemptive wars or wars of conquest, but defended the budding French republic against constant interference and naked aggression from the surrounding monarchies.
May I remind you that England, Austria, Spain and later Russia were all determined to eradicate revolutionary France less it’s ideals spread like a contagious disease. It was not Napoleon who started the so-called Napoleonic wars! France was constantly under attack. And when Napoleon sent his armies to war to defend the nation, he did not remain in the comfort of a White House or Camp David back in Paris like Bush and his cabal of neocons, but was on the front-line with his grenadiers and dragoons to achieve the magnificent victories of Austerlitz and Wagram against overwhelming odds. When he pursued the British in Egypt, his great love for science, culture and his thirst for knowledge inspired him to bring along the finest scientific minds he could assemble that ultimately revealed to the world, for the first time in more than a millennium, the splendors of Egyptian civilization and history. He did not destroy civilizations like Bush and his cabal are trying to.
So my dear Justin, a comparison of Bush with Atilla the Hun would perhaps be more adequate. But then even that is inaccurate and unfair since Atilla is remembered and is part of our vocabulary after fifteen centuries, whereas Bush and his cohorts will be in the garbage can of history and forgotten within a couple of decades!
A Country Destroyed
I constantly read and pass on Dr. Roberts’ articles on the war, economy, etc., because I think he is right on in every one of them! As a patriotic American, I truly thank him for being a, perhaps THE, voice of America. I won’t be able to vote for an American president in this election because neither of them stands for what America stands for. What in God’s name have we come to? When and where did we start losing our way?
Paul Craig Roberts replies:
The Internationals and the Mobs: Kosovo’s Moment of Truth
Excellent article! Finally someone without rainbow glasses, seeing things as they really are. Congratulations!
Christopher Deliso replies:
First of all, here’s a definition of a word APARTHEID.
Apartheid a social policy or racial segregation involving political and economic and legal discrimination against non-whites; the former official policy in South Africa.
Well, maybe you understand this issue as much as you understand the definition of words that you use?!
Ran HaCohen replies:
A precise definition indeed. Since in Israel (and outside it) Jews are conceived as whites and Arabs as blacks, the term Apartheid as you define it is perfectly applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Where I can I find the basic tenets of the Libertarian Party? It is my understanding that the Libertarians are BIG supporters of the 2nd amendment and would have everyone pack a pistol. And yet you are antiwar? May I have clarification? I either have wrong information or I am not understanding what seems to be mutually exclusive ideals. Thank you.
Eric Garris replies:
First of all, we are not affiliated with the Libertarian Party. We are a nonprofit organization and not affiliated with any partisan political organization. Antiwar.com is a united effort of a wide range of political views, which includes pacifists who do not support gun rights.
It is correct, however, that most of the people who run Antiwar.com are philosophical libertarians, and I will summarize our position. We do support the Second Amendment and the right of individuals to own weapons. We support a strong defense limited to protecting the country. That is in conflict with a military that is focused on trying to run the world. There is no better example than 9/11. Here we had a "defense" spending a large percentage of our gross national product on a military unable to protect us from terrorism, but which instead spends its time creating an empire that invites terrorism to our shores. Could stronger gun control prevented 9/11? Clearly not, no guns were used.
Only a well-armed populace can hope to keep an oppressive government in check. And only a well-armed populace can protect itself against danger where an incompetent and misguided government fails.
For further reading, I suggest the works of John Lott, noted libertarian gun rights advocate.
Finding Local Events
We need a one stop shop to find local events.
Maybe based on model from fundrace.org.
I have been desperately trying to find local groups protesting the killing in Iraq with very little luck.
I went to Earth Day in Santa Barbara, and much to my dismay there was not one booth devoted to protesting war. Clean water and perpetual war?
Although there is a group VeteransforPeace.org who every Sunday setup Arlington West beside the pier.
Eric Garris replies:
United for Peace has an excellent listing of local groups and events: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/.
"f*ck human rights, f*ck Salam, f*ck Zeyad, and f*ck you, Iraq. Indeed."
Great article. I would like to mention a similar progression from humanitarianism to brutality : the character Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. By the end of the book we find Kurtz scrawling in his notebook "Exterminate the brutes!" In a sense Kurtz was the world’s first warblogger.
The claim Derek Pardue made is erroneous. The dead contractors were not safeguarding nor bringing "FOOD" (convoy) meant to feed the people of Fallujah; rather according to a Blackwater spokesman, the men "were guarding a convoy on its way to deliver food to troops under a subcontract to a company named Regency Hotel and Hospitality" (Washington Post, "Slain Contractors Were in Iraq Working Security Detail").
Collapse of the Conservative Movement
This is a general comment stimulated by a number of columns. There seems to be a persistent theme presented at Antiwar.com that the traditional conservative approach of limited government and limited foreign entanglements has been sabotaged by this Bush administration. One reads this is Alan Bock’s columns, Justin’s columns, and also Patrick Buchanan, among others.
My question is, if this is the case, where is the in-house Republican opposition to Bush? Why haven’t any of these traditional conservatives challenged Bush in the upcoming election? Why is Bush running unopposed in the Republican Party if his policies are actually so at odds with traditional conservative views? Why are they all just sitting on the sidelines grousing? To acquiesce in this administration’s policies is to allow Bush and the Neocons to completely redefine the conservative movement; and the traditional conservatives will have no one to blame but themselves.
It is ironic. The liberals have as their gadfly the green party, and various opposition candidates such as Ralph Nader. At least the liberals have generated some sort of opposition to Kerry whose public statements promise to simply carry on the war in Iraq. But the conservatives have generated no such opposition (I don’t count the Libertarian Party here, it is just too self indulgent to be taken seriously). If traditional conservatives are genuinely opposed to Bush’s policies, both domestically and in terms of foreign policy, why haven’t they moved to present an actual alternative in the form of a candidate? Have they become so disempowered, or just so plain depressed, that they can no longer take action?
Kim Petersen writing from Okinawa (USMC, Navy?) bemoans the fact that Iraqis collaborating with an invader risk being shot. Question for Ms. Petersen: if you saw your fellow Americans collaborating with those who had invaded America and were attempting to occupy your home, how would you treat that collaborator, kiss ’em?
I read Antiwar daily and contribute to its existence. I love it and I love your articles. As a teacher of the mild learning disabled, I think you should know that not learning from your mistakes is NOT a common characteristic of the learning disabled. Students and adults often struggle with the processing of information, and may forget and/or need multimodal presentations to their dominant mode, as well as many repeats to remember. But in their daily lives, if they get in trouble, they usually correct the behavior and improve. This neocon administration is too arrogant and downright evil to be honored by the name learning disabled.
I didn’t send a big check, but I did add Antiwar.com to my monthly bill list so I can send some each month. I thought about this year’s election and had a mental debate about where my money would do the most good.
I thought about sending money to the Kerry campaign or maybe to MoveOn.org, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that War is what I think is America’s biggest problem.
Like most if not all antiwar people I think getting George Bush out of office is the logical thing to do to lessen the tension in this world. Then I realized that John Kerry really isn’t any kind of an anti-war candidate and that no matter who is elected, Antiwar.com will be just as important next year as it is now.
I know you people have Fund Raising Week every so often, but I don’t always have that "extra" money when you want it, so a monthly check works best for me. I see on the Donation page that you try to make it easy with PayPal and Credit Card use, but I have this hang up about using my credit card on the web.
So, sad to say I think you guys are going to be needed for a long time to come. I also think you are doing a great job in an age where the American media seems to be embedded with the White House no matter who lives there.
Thank you for your hours and hours of work.