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April 04, 2003

War talk-ahh....

Well, these blogs take up little time & few neurons-so one more-I was in Starbucks today re-reading a JSP/Servlets book I have had for a while, and overheard the 10th conversation in a week about people 'losing friends' over the war. As someone that is ambivelant about the war (on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being The Weekly Standard, 0 being The Nation, I am 55ish, +/- 10 on any given day)-I can kind of relate. The problem for me is that there are two types of wackos out there, both pro & anti-war.

On the anti-war side, those who are anti-war because they believe that America is the "worst oppressor of them all." You know what I mean. Then there are the pro-war people who probably support this bill that would jail disruptive anti-war protestors for up to 25 years in my fine state of Imbler (don't say we're not polarized here!). I could add more points, you know, the types that talk about how America is going into Iraq "for the oil" or think that some of the 9-11 bombers were Iraqi. There are morons on both sides-and no matter what their political position, morons will justify it in an asinine and offensive manner because that is their basic nature [1].

What thoughtful supporters and opposers of the war should realize is that the wacks do not represent everyone, even the mainstream, of the other viewpoint. Many pro & anti-war people get worked up and angry at the ridiculous charges hurled and assertions made by morons on the other side ... but the key point is not their position on the war, these people are morons! People are forgetting that their friends are often just as intelligent and moral as they are, and in fact usually share the same values and morals. So you disagree on the war. Big deal. Don't assume that so & so is bloodthirsty like some of the more jingoistic wacks that want to "nuke Iraq & anyone not 'with us'" just because they support intervention. Likewise, don't assume that someone is an America-hating Commie who should be tried for treason and wants to undermine the republic-they might actually believe they are trying to save the republic, just as you do.

At worst, friends view friends as misguided and uninformed, that's nothing to lose sleep over and to share harsh words because of.

Anyway, I support whatever is best for this country. I'm not always sure that I know what that is-and sometimes I just have to choose without all the information. Many others are faced with the same problem, and sometimes, they land on different sides of the line on various days, and people with common values can come to divergent conclusions.

Those that assert that this war is going to be a catastrophe for the republic-or perhaps those who believe that it will save the republic, might either be right. I don't know. I've had both types of individuals angry at me for not being able to pick, because they believe that the choice is so crucial. Unfortunately, my powers of cognition are just too muddy on this issue, the world has passed me by-the choice might be crucial and earth-shaking, but should i just roll the dice in my head and go one directon? I'm not ready yet....

Of course, the tanks are rolling into Baghdad, so this is all pretty useless. It seems that the anti-war people are particularly intense and angry about all of this. I don't know, I guess now they know how the pro-life minority of this country feels about having to deal with a tepidly pro-choice majority that is complicit in mass-murder but seems more worried about paying for a second car than the lives of the unborn (I'm pro-abortion-rights, just putting the cap on of the other side). 70% of Americans support the war, but the 30% that oppose it do with a vigor and zeal that I suspect most of the 70% don't even realize. And those 30% who oppose the war don't understand how the 70% can go on their merry lives, business as usual, while murder and mayhem reigns abroad.

Such is life.

On a final note, I wish more on the Right could reflect on what we could do to improve this republic and be true to its core values-liberty, equality before the law and consensual politics. Those on the Left should remind themselves as they strive for the ideals of universal justice sometimes one should appreciate what one has before continuing further down the path. The genius of the West is its pluralistic politics-and for that, I give thanks, no matter in whose hands the levers of politics reside.

[1] You know, kind of like those losers that go from hedonism to religion to hedonism to religion, making a mess of both activities. Just because they are fuck-ups, it doesn't mean that people can't be balanced and be hedonists or religionists, some individuals just can't manage either.

Posted by razib at 11:11 PM

The bill you cite is flawed, so says the bills author. He rushed into introduction and did not consider all the ramifications. That being said I am ambivalent on this bill, I don't like the state infringement on free speech, but some of the anti-war protesters (a small black and grey clad minority who hide their faces) are their simply to cause trouble. We all know this and something must be done when protestors step out of line, plus it would be kinda nice to jail those anarchist punks (again the small minority of rabble-rousers).
You should also mention the credible rumors of anti-war leadership silencing anti-Saddam, anti-war protestors ( not letting them speak confiscating their placards if they condemn Saddam).
Anyway, on your scale I would probably be a 70 +/- 15 points. I must go now Bill Kristol and my other zionist masters are calling for me.

Posted by: scott at April 5, 2003 07:35 AM

check out this article in the right-leaning New York Post that sounds like it came from the Nation


This war did have the potential of being another Vietnam

Posted by: scott at April 5, 2003 07:44 AM

Not many people have made the effort to learn the things one would have to understand in order to make a reasonable judgement on the merits of this war. More exactly, few know those subjects well enough to make critical judgements: well enough to sort informational wheat from chaff, which is a particular problem in this case.

Posted by: gcochran at April 5, 2003 08:09 AM

I dont know where I land on a scale of 0-100
While I dont believe a word of the reasons Bush gave for going to war I see the removal of Saddam as a blessing.
The other good that comes out of this is that it shows the UN for what it is...a worthless expensive machinery when it comes to taking firm decisions.
Most pro-war demonstrators are the typically ignorant americans who know little about the world outside America and therefore will believe media-fed rubbish like Al-Qaeeda and Saddam work together, that america is the only utopia on earth and everyone else is out to steal her wealth and therefore pre-emptive strikes are justified. Rather than confronting them head-on I find it easier to teach them facts not told by CNN. As for the anti-war demonstrators I dont any of them truly believes he/she is going to make a difference but bored housewives need something to kill time and students need organizational experience to put on their resumes as well.

Posted by: PawanThampi at April 5, 2003 10:46 AM

Paleocons like me don't approve of this war. One thing I personally don't like about it is the way conservatives are being painted with the same brush as all being supportive of the war. Personally I fail to understand what making the world safe for Israel has to do with conservative principles. Many of the neocons who have usurped conservativism were self-proffessed Marxists and Zionists. They're still self-proffessed Zionists, but they now proffess to be conservative as opposed to Marxist. (This shift occcured after the Soviet Union became anti-Zionist and started to support Arab regimes such as Syria) Contradictions bewteen Zionism and Marxism don't matter to them. As Joe Sobran said, when a double standard is proffessed, it simply implies that an underlying single standard is in effect. The underlying single standard in this case is "what's good for you know who" and that turns out to be Marxist social policy in America such as civil rights law coupled with an aggressive war-mongering foreign policy designed to further Israel's power in the Middle East.

So for the record let me state that when leftists say that this war is being fought on account of rightists they are *wrong*. This war is uniformly opposed by all *real* conservatives. "Liberating" the middle east and foisting American-style democracy on people at gunpoint is completely at odds with conservative principles.

Posted by: Sporon at April 5, 2003 01:49 PM

well-i understand scott's point. some of the anti-war protestors are wack anarchists. but there are laws for disturbing the public peace, assault and what not. this reminds me too much of the 'hate crimes' legislation, though now the shoe is on the other foot....

Posted by: razib at April 5, 2003 01:59 PM

I have been semi-officially designated the pinko on this site, which is not far off.

The Imbler bill, as I remember, put the sentence for "terrorist" demonstrations at 25-to-life. Terrorism includes traffic disruption, for example.

My position on the war is actually quite common -- I haven't made my mind up about all the specifics of the war, I just don't trust anything George W. Bush does. But since, based on what I do know, this war is optional, rather than forced on us, and not as urgent as Bush claims, I'm against it.

The hard core of pro-Bush pro-war Americans is obviously more frightening to me than to most of you, but if you look into it more many of you might end up agreeing with me. A lot of the dispensationist, charismatic, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians are just plain nuts in a frightening way. Until you know them it is hard even to imagine how small their world is, and how ignorant and aggressive they are.

The same goes for the neo-Confederates (who are mostly NOT nice intellectuals like yourselves who have strong opinions about the heritability of intelligence, but are much meaner and stupider than that). You also have a big contingent of war-loving, gut-thinking xenophobes. Few of these people know the facts of the case or care about them.

Note: I grew up in the country and know what I'm talking about.

I'm mostly against the war because I understand it to be the first of a series of wars intended to reconstruct the world on a monopolar model. Beyond that, I frankly do not understand what Bush's economic plan is, or his government fiscal plan, but they both look like utter disaster. He also wants to end legal abortion and bring Christianity to the center of public life (two bad things to me). I also have other reasons for not liking Bush which few here would share.

Sure, this is all paranoid. But almost all of it is based on **things Bush has said**. I don't think I can be blamed for taking the guy at his word. (And looking at the new powers Ashcroft now has in his hands, paranoia makes even more sense).

Posted by: zizka at April 5, 2003 04:18 PM

One other thing I should add. The sort of bellicosity now displayed by the USA is creating enemies. We live in an imperfectable universe where there is no limit to the number of enemies one can acquire. It is physically impossible to beat up everyone who disagrees with you about this or that. That policy would result in more and more enemies being acquired and sooner or later there would be too many enemies to contend with.

It seems to me that there is some commonality between what is moral for an individual and what is moral for a nation (a group of individuals unitied by things like culture geography and genes). America cannot continue on this course if it wishes to remain America in any recognizable sense.

Posted by: Sporon at April 5, 2003 11:24 PM

Sporon wrote, "Personally I fail to understand what making the world safe for Israel has to do with conservative principles."

Dear Sporon:

Nobody said that this war is being fought to make the world safe for Israel except you paleocons. Even the Arabs have more geopolitical sense than that. They understand that Israel serves the United States -- not the other way around.

Paleos are experts at spinning excuses for opposing wars. Indeed, the only wars of which you approve are those which happened long ago, and in which taking sides presents no personal danger to yourselves.

Had the Founding Fathers of this country been paleocons, there would have been no revolution. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that there ever would have been a European colonization of North America to begin with. Paleos would have shrunk from the "imperialist" incursions on Indian land which began the moment white men set foot on these shores.

Though you style yourselves neo-Confederates, the fact is, Robert E. Lee would never have taken the field had he been a disciple of Murray Rothbard. Rothbard's advice to "libertarian" peoples suffering foreign invasion is to avoid pitched battle and sue for peace.

No paleo would have had the guts to fight the Revolutionary War; nor the War of 1812; nor the Mexican War; nor the many wars against the Indians; nor the Civil War -- which, by the way, was largely caused by meddlesome foreign powers provoking and financing the South, in order to break the power of the United States, and to re-open the Western hemisphere to European expansion.

The Civil War created a power vacuum, which European monarchs hastened to fill.

While North fought South, France's Napoleon III took advantage of the situation by blatantly violating the Monroe Doctrine. He installed the puppet Emperor Maximiliano in Mexico and landed a French army in Mexico to support this foreign regime. England likewise built up its forces in Canada to a dangerously provocative degree, and deployed them for action against the Union.

Both France and England pressured Lincoln relentlessly to allow them to arbitrate a peaceful settlement. By "peace," they meant dismemberment of the United States. France and England both favored the South, because a divided America -- and a Southern Confederacy indebted to European masters for its very existence -- would be impotent to thwart their designs in the Western Hemisphere.

The only thing that saved America was Russian intervention. At Lincoln's request, Tsar Alexander II sent the entire Baltic fleet to the U.S. Half of the Russian fleet docked in New York City and half in San Francisco. They remained in U.S. waters for eight months, as a warning to France and England not to intervene.

Under the umbrella of Russian protection, the tide of war finally turned at Gettysburg. With the South in retreat, France and England backed down from their belligerently anti-Union, pro-Confederate stance. Only then did the Russian fleet depart. The moment of danger had passed.

In short, Sporon, the Confederate victory that you paleos love to dream about would not have resulted in an aristocratic paradise a la Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. Its effect would have been quite the opposite. It would have re-opened North America as a playground for the imperial ambitions of European monarchs, and completely undone the American Revolution -- precisely as Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address.

The real problem with you paleos is that you lack the stomach for war without which no nation can survive. You are, in fact, parasites, whose existence is only made possible by the fact that better men than you are willing to fight your battles while you sit at home and wag your heads in ersatz moral disapproval.

In this Darwinian world, those who shrink from battle do not promote peace. They simply announce their submission to whomever come who may.

Power abhors a vacuum. If you lay down the sword your forefathers left you, someone else will pick it up.

Soon enough, some vigorous new master, filled with the lust for life that no longer throbs in your tired old veins, will come along to accept your offer of fealty. And you will be his slave.

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 6, 2003 06:49 AM

Sometimes I used to enjoy the visitors from other timelines, back on h-bd. Remember the one from the line where Alexander the Great died in battle? But after a while it palled, because for some strange reason, they were all unusually stupid.
Evidently the same is true here. Maybe the transition fries their brains - probably some quantum mechanical effect.

Posted by: gcochran at April 6, 2003 09:04 AM

Poe's comments re the civil war are irretrievably stupid. It might help if you knew anything about the relative size and power of the Russian and British fleets in those days- it's like comparing a lion with a dachshund. A dumb dachshund like mine. The Russian fleet could no more have deterred, or influenced in any way, British intentions towards the US than the man in the moon.

Posted by: gcochran at April 6, 2003 10:26 AM

I actually am from the country up north, almost in Canada, and in a liberal state too. But the religious nuts are everywhere. Some people I knew quite well speak in tongues, and when the engine block of my brother's truck cracked they prayed for it. That goes way beyond holistic medicine and the power of positive thinking.

Hatred of politically correct hippies is quite understandable to me -- I'm a left-liberal, but a very crusty one -- but in my opinion it's no better as a foundation for a political theory than strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is as a source of sovereignty.

Posted by: zizka at April 6, 2003 10:46 AM

Re: russian fleet

I have to agree with gc#2 about the russian fleet. the british had total naval supremacy during the nine-teenth century. It usually isn't a good idea to use history as a model to inform modern unrelated wars- either for or against

Posted by: Jason M. at April 6, 2003 10:47 AM

...and I don't say that with disrespect to Mr. Poe who makes a good point about inscrutable paleo knee-jerk pacifism.

Posted by: Jason M. at April 6, 2003 11:49 AM

qcochran writes:

"Poe's comments re the civil war are irretrievably stupid. It might help if you knew anything about the relative size and power of the Russian and British fleets in those days- it's like comparing a lion with a dachshund."

Actually, I am well aware of England's naval superiority during the nineteenth century. Who isn't? However, it is irrelevant to my point.

The Russian fleet served as a deterrent in 1863, just as the Swiss militia successfully deterred German invasion in 1940, despite the vastly superior size of the German Wehrmacht.

By "showing the flag" in U.S. waters, the Russians made an implied threat that they would side with the Union in the event of any attempt by the British and French to intervene in favor of the Confederacy. The Russian fleet deployment thus increased the potential cost of intervention for France and Britain and -- in my view -- tipped the balance of power in the Union's favor.

P.S. Please note that I managed to counter your argument without calling you stupid. This is how gentlemen conduct debates.

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 6, 2003 12:32 PM

The British wouldn't have lost a single warship. Contrariwise, the Germans would have lost tens of thousands dead if they'd invaded Switzerland in 1940.

Only a really stupid person would think the two situations very similar.

Maybe I shouldn't use the word 'stupid'. Somehow it doesn't seem strong enough.

Posted by: gcochran at April 6, 2003 12:53 PM

Mr. Malloy wrote:

"It usually isn't a good idea to use history as a model to inform modern unrelated wars- either for or against.

I must disagree.

History provides a powerful antidote to present-day folly. There is none better. And who has the wisdom or authority to say which historical examples are "related" or "unrelated" to present situations?

The examples I raised are all relevant to the "Paleo Question." The example of the Civil War is of particular relevance, because most paleocons defend the Confederacy and vilify Lincoln.

They ignore the intrigues of foreign powers during the Civil War, because to focus on those intrigues would be to admit that the final effect of the Confederacy's secession would have been the destruction of the American Experiment. This is precisely what Lincoln fought to avoid.

To ignore this issue, as the paleos do consistently, is to ignore the question of national survival -- the gravest question facing any patriot.

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 6, 2003 12:53 PM

Sporon writes:

The sort of bellicosity now displayed by the USA is creating enemies.

Any and all forms of assertiveness create enemies.

Getting rich generates enemies. Marrying a beautiful woman generates enemies. Being physically more attractive than other people can generate deadly hatred from those not similarly endowed.

Shall I go on?

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 6, 2003 01:06 PM

The British wouldn't have lost a single warship. Contrariwise, the Germans would have lost tens of thousands dead if they'd invaded Switzerland in 1940. Only a really stupid person would think the two situations very similar.

Had the Russians invaded West Germany during the Cold War, it is well-known that the frontline American troops in Germany were hopelessly inadequate to stop them. Their mission was to fight and die. They were deployed in West Germany not to stop the Russians physically, but to make the symbolic point to the Russians that any invasion of West Germany would mean war with the United States.

Russia had reason to fear war with the United States, even if it did not particularly fear our ground forces in West Germany.

The Russian fleet deployment in 1863 served a similar purpose. It notified France and Britain that an attack on the Union would trigger war with the Russian Empire.

Unless you are prepared to argue that Hitler had more to fear from Switzerland in 1940 than England had to fear from the Russian Empire in 1863, your point about British naval superiority remains just as irrelevant now as the first time you spoke it.

It will remain irrelevant no matter how many times you repeat it.

Posted by: Richard Poe at April 6, 2003 01:21 PM

Me:"It usually isn't a good idea to use history as a model to inform modern unrelated wars- either for or against."

Rp:"I must disagree."

Well, it's not like we can't learn from history, it's more the way it's referenced in practice to political issues that I find it unreliable. For instance Pat Buchanan often makes clumsy analogies to WWII to make points about war. Buchanan was against the Afghanistan operation, and decided it was our fault for its terrorist camps. To make an analogy to WWII he blamed America for backing Japan into a corner by cutting off its access to oil resources so that it had no choice but to desperately attack Pearl Harbor!), which often involves conveniently forgetting not to over-extend the metaphor. The distinctions between two events often invalidate the comparisons being made. For instance the pro-war crowd often annoyingly points to the democratization/opening of the markets in Germany and Japan after WWII to support what is going to happen in Iraq, w/o ever stopping to wonder why that comparison might not be very applicable.

I think there are far better ways to analyze an issue/defend a position than through historical analogies. That's not to say they aren't colorful or can't be used appropriately, its just that they often aren't a very substantive approach.

Posted by: Jason M. at April 6, 2003 08:44 PM