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A Personal Opinion by N. David King - March 2003

(The following document was originally written before the President's speech giving Saddam 48 hours to leave the country.  )

I keep getting asked what I think about the impending war with Iraq.  I guess people don’t believe me at first.  Coming from both the world of academia and the world of art and entertainment, it seems the foregone conclusion is that I accept all of the reasons people are floating for why we should leave Iraq alone.  The normal response from the protestors I've spoken with is, when one issue is addressed but before that response is complete to quickly insert another using the "Yes, but..." approach to debating in order to keep you confused and off balance.  

Therefore, because I think this is an extremely critical time in our lives and in the life of the country, I’ve tried to sit and put my thinking into some logical order by itemizing the normally given reasons against the action and then analyzing them one by one.  So before a reader raises their first "Yes, but..." be sure to read the list of issues I'll be covering (it's just a few paragraphs below) to see if your about-to-be inserted argument is already being covered somewhere in the document. 

 One thing, however, is clear even before I start.  I have just watched (on 03/07/03) the presentations and speeches at the United Nations.  I confess that I am unable to believe what I was hearing.  No one could read the salient resolution 1441 and hear the latest reports of Drs Blix and Barradei and for a moment conclude that Iraq was even the slightest forthcoming with their willingness to disarm or even aid the disarmament process much less that they were actively disarming.  

( By the way, before we go a word further with this discussion, you have read it haven't you?  If not, what basis do you have for entering this discussion at all since it is the pivotal document around which this whole issue is evolving?  Have you just listened to the excerpts and sound bites that suit you?  Well, before you continue, here is a URL for it on the U.N. site that will open in a new window.  After you have finished (but not before lest you throw away any right to rebuttal) you can simply close the window and continue.  http://www.un.int/usa/sres-iraq.htm  )

In spite of the clear wording of that resolution that they voted for, the French, pathetically desperate to protect their interests in the area and to prohibit the U.S. from, in its view, being too powerful, still clung to the position that Iraq was complying and that the inspectors were being successful.  Germany and Russia, for similar reasons, also fell into lock-step public denial of reality.  They all seem to argue that compliance was a tricky, complex action for the Iraqi government and would take time to do.  I was stunned. This was sophistry of self-serving reasoning beyond the pale even for them.  

The Spanish and English ambassadors, by comparison, spelled out an incredibly logical and precise litany of the facts demonstrating that compliance would be incredibly simple and speedy were it being done and that nothing had happened that had not been dragged out of them by the threat of force.  Iraq gave a great recitation of the anti-war rallies and avoided carefully any discussion of his country’s disarmament efforts that would have given him a very short speech to make.

But that collective and self-serving denial of reality is not limited to the Security Council.  We saw it in our streets this past week as students from the schools where I teach, along with others, filled the streets to protest a war with Iraq.  Bush said we were in a titanic struggle between freedom and fear and that freedom was winning.  He was wrong.  It appears, at least among the young, that fear has already won. 

Along with that win by fear is the failure of history and education to keep us from repeating the errors of the past.  FDR was right that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but we’ve failed to overcome the fear itself and its ability to paralyze our brains.  I can think of no other conclusions that make sense of the facts.

Yet the protestors seem to act as if their positions make sense or have even the slightest backing in logic, history, or any other perspective.  I believe that the stakes in this "game" are enormous for the whole world and that critical future issues, relationships, and perhaps even global success may be riding on the actions that happen next.  We have got to take this seriously and openly discuss ALL of the issues at play.  

The issues listed below seem to be the major objections voiced by the protestors; at least as I have heard them.  I ask you, the reader, to carefully consider  my thoughts on them both in the specific and then in the collective.  I do not believe we live in a one-issue world anymore and further that it is the collection and interplay of issues, each influencing both the next and the aggregate, that we must see and upon which our conclusions and decision must be made.  if you want a simple or simplistic answer then this document and this whole debate is not for you and best needs to be left to better minds.

The List of Issues

Here then are the arguments and positions I'll be covering.

  • We should not start a pre-emptive war
  • Hussein hasn’t done anything to us
  • We don’t know if they even have this stuff (WMDs)
  • Iraq is trying to comply and they and inspectors just need more time
  • War would mostly hurt the innocent people of Iraq.
  • The War will make the Arab/Muslim world angry at us
  • The War will create a greater threat from terrorism
  • The war with Iraq is taking our attention away from the War on Terrorism
  • We should not go to war over oil
  • We should not be trying to take over another country
  • Bush is a cowboy and seeking personal revenge
  • We should only act within the U.N. framework
  • There’s no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda
  • We gave Iraq the biologicals in the first place so we are hypocritical now (except above is the assertion that have none and have never had any).
  • We should be paying more attention to North Korea than Iraq
  • We should listen to all the people against this action

    and finally…
  • What I personally think (which may surprise you after reading my analysis) and the issues for the future.

On the face of it that is an impressive list of objections, some of which, if true, would be important issues.  


We would be, for the first time, starting a pre-emptive war.

Nonsense.  A marginal knowledge of relevant history would deal with this one.

In  1991, with a UN mandate and a huge coalition, we led an international force to drive Iraq from Kuwait, a sovereign neighbor nation that it had attacked and overran.  Operation “Desert Storm” was a success despite a world of Nay Sayers and quickly had Iraqi soldiers surrendering to journalists.  The retreat of the Iraqis quickly led to what can only be described as a rout and a massacre.

In the face of that rout, and fearing for his own life and regime, Hussein sought to surrender.  The coalition and we agreed to his call for a cease-fire contingent upon his agreeing to a number of conditions including complete disarmament of all of his weapons of mass destruction.  He agreed to the terms and we stopped.

 This is an incredibly simple and important point and both the U.S. and the world has seemingly forgotten it and been lured into a farcical debate because of that lapse of memory.  Let me restate it clearly:  that U.N. mandated action known to one and all as Desert Storm was never over.  No truce was signed, no final dispensation was declared, only a cease-fire, an armistice, based on the condition of Iraqi disarmament in return for which Saddam was allowed to remain ruler.  After signing the armistice, he then did not do as he agreed and insisted openly he would not do it ever.

Without doing as he agreed to, there is nothing in international law to prohibit the “winners” from simply going back to the point where they stopped and completing their mission and actions.  But because we wanted to be the nice guys, we stupidly went to the U.N. as if this were some new thing.  Twelve years later, not a shred of compliance from Saddam as promised in the cease fire, and we let a forgetful world look on this as a new act of aggression not a failure of a sadistic cruel regime to live up to its own terms of surrender. 

 There is nothing pre-emptive about this.  This is less about pre-emption of what he might do than a response for what he has not done.

 But what if it  actually were a pre-emptive strike?  Is the argument really that the attack against us must be launched before we can take action to prohibit it?  That sounds like an old west code of honor position where the other guy has to draw first.  Of course it never really existed except in dime novels and television.  If Bush really were the cowboy he is accused of being, which would be his position.  But in reality we not only allow, we encourage pre-emptive strikes all the time in our normal lives.  We expect law enforcement, for example, to arrest people and disarm them from carrying prohibited weapons whether or not they have done anything with them illegally.  Tell me exactly what the conceptual difference is in this case. 

 The only counter argument is that the protestors would rather let someone like Saddam build his arsenal and then hope that if he decides to use it, or sell it, we’ll somehow be able to ward it off once it is on the way to us.  I confess, that is not an acceptable approach to me and mostly because I know enough of delivery systems (both ballistic and personal) to know it can’t be done.   The only other option for the protestors, believing he will build it but not use it flies in the face of his own behavior.  A different leader of the country might well have the weapons and not use them but not Saddam.  A different leader who accepts that he only needs defensive weaponry would, on the other hand, be doing as the U.N. asked without having to be asked.

In the end, however, the fact remains that there is nothing pre-emptive about this.

Hussein hasn’t done anything to us. 

Well, it is true there is no hard evidence that Saddam has done anything directly to us or, for that matter, plans to.  Therefore, the argument goes, we should not do anything until he does.  But is that lack of action, by itself, enough to completely take him off the hook in the face of other issues and questions?  Let’s see.  Let’s hear from Saddam himself. 

 He has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to be seen as a modern Saladin driving out the Crusaders.  This is also a theme finding resonance with Bin Laden.  And in all of their rhetoric, the chief Crusader in their sights has always been the U.S.  Since he makes such a big thing of it, it bears further scrutiny.  This history also bears a direct relationship to Arab views of us, and the Muslim world’s anger at us, also covered below.  So first, here’s a quick historical overview about Saladin.

Islam expanded rapidly and militantly from its beginnings in Arabia. The Seljuk Turks had conquered Jerusalem in AD 1071 and, by 1095, threatened Constantinople, the home of Eastern Christianity.  A plea for help brought an army dedicated to saving the holy land from the pagan invaders.

On July 15, 1099 Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders after a five-week siege and the victors proceeded to massacre the city's Muslims and Jews. After 460 years of Muslim rule the Crusaders restored Jerusalem to Christian hands, and declared the city the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.  Not content with taking the holy Land, their declared reason for the war, in 1168, the crusaders also attacked Egypt. 

  Saladin, a Kurdish warrior from Turkey, became the Sultan of Egypt and champion of Islam.  He set up his own dynasty in Egypt, the Ayyubids, and built up the Citadel which has dominated the city of Cairo since the 1100s.  Saladin was supported by his Kurdish soldiers and Mamluk-slave guards. He led his men to the Holy Land, where they retook Jerusalem.

In 1187 Jerusalem fell to Saladin putting an end to the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. The great golden cross that rose above the Dome of the Rock was toppled and shattered, to be replaced by the crescent, the symbol of Islam. The city was gradually restored by Saladin, who built numerous public structures.

In the latter years of the 1180s Richard The Lionheart, (Richard I of England) and Saladin fought to a stalemate over the city and agreed to an armistice in Acre in 1192.  Richard had failed to retake Jerusalem but secured a pledge to allow Christians to visit the sacred sites in the city.

Saladin rebuilt the city fortifications and expanded them to include Mount Zion. He died in 1193.  In 1212 his nephew Al-Mu'azim Issa, ruler of Damscus, continued the building and added inscriptions in his honor in the walls. Seven years later, however, in 1219 he pulled down the walls, fearing that the Crusaders were liable to return to Jerusalem and make use of the fortifications. Jerusalem remained an unprotected, unwalled city until Sulleiman the Magnificent rebuilt its defenses. Following Saladin's victory Jews returned to Jerusalem, and were joined by immigrants from the Maghreb, France, and Yemen.

The Ayyubids brought orthodox Sunni Islam back to the country instead of Shii Islam which was brought by the Fatimids, and made Egypt a center for Islamic learning and culture once again. 

Ignoring that Saladin was a Kurd and not an Arab, he still is a major icon in the western mind for his confrontation with Richard I and as the leader who beat back the Infidel Crusaders.  A people with long cultural memories, the Arabs are in a quandary these days.  As detailed and explained below (in the section on terrorism) they see us as the reason their once magnificent civilization and nearly global empire is a thing of the past.  Their mullah’s consistent rhetoric calls them to Holy war against the west and reminds them constantly of the glory days of Saladin, Sulleiman, and the Ottoman Empire.  

 Well, that’s fascinating, you say, but so what?  Well, who do you suppose often speaks of himself as the modern Saladin?  And who often tells followers that he will be the one to restore the Muslim world to its former empire ala Saladin?  You guessed it: Saddam Hussein.      

Additionally Saddam likes to point out that Ancient Sumer and Babylon, located in Iraq, ruled the entire region from the Mediterranean to the Gulf and under his leadership will again.  In that view the Persians (Iranians) and Assyrians (Syria and Jordan) are mere Johnny-come-latelies to be brought back into the fold.

 And just how would you imagine he plans on doing that while sitting quietly in Baghdad minding his own business?  Would the desire to gather weapons of mass destruction and missiles that can reach well beyond his borders have anything to do with this often pledged goal or do you think he just likes to play in the arsenal like Scrooge McDuck in his vault of coins?  And with whom would he not ally himself (from his perspective) in the pursuit of that goal? 

On 09/10/01 Osama Bin Laden’s people hadn’t done anything to us either.   Slobodan Milosevic had not and likely could not ever do anything to us but we went after him because of what he represented to parts of his own country.  The Taliban Regime per se had not attacked us when we deposed them for their support of those who had.

 This is no longer a world in which we can sit back and let the people who hate us shoot first.  At this point Saddam certainly has not attacked us (except for trying to arrange the assassination of the first President Bush) so I’d not be putting all my faith in this reason for action.  But it is a factor that has to be incorporated into the overall picture.  The situation is too complex and too multi-faceted to ignore any of the potential influences upon it.  By itself it is not predictive.  Taken with others it might be at least worth considering.

 This next bit of data is not directly on point but fascinating anyway.  In the Muslim world, prior to very recently, Saladin was mostly known from western accounts that held him in such high esteem.  In their own literature it was instead two other medieval rulers, Baybars and Kalavun, that took the limelight. These Egyptian sultans successfully led their slave armies against the Christians of the Crusader Kingdom, brutally crushing all resistance, massacring entire cities after promising to spare their lives, and finally eradicating all traces of the Crusaders in Palestine and Syria. Those are the exploits that are still celebrated in the Middle East.  But if Saddam openly focuses on Saladin then it is important to have reviewed who he was. 

A corollary point often thrown up is that containment has worked thus far.  

Really?  Well, if we do go to war, and if we do find the stuff he denies having, then I want to revisit this point and see just how containment has worked to keep him from doing prohibited stuff and made him do what was demanded.  And if we do NOT find it, I will concede the point.  But it is not the only point that is part of the overall situation.  And to deal with this properly we have to address all of the salient points of this very large and complex picture.  

Meantime I would suggest that the Kuwaitis, the Kurds, and the Iranians are not particularly impressed with the success of that containment.  

And, if you still hold with the position that we shouldn't do something till he does something to us, should a local gang open a crack house next door but keep the music down and are polite to the neighbors, don't even think about calling the police.  You have no business worried about the death they deal to those "other" people or whether or not their activity is illegal or prohibited by the authorities.  True it might blow up and set fire to the neighborhood, and true too someday there might be a shootout that injures you but it hasn't happened yet and until it does you have no right to take any "pre-emptive" action.

We don’t know if they even have this stuff

 Really?  I understand blindness, even voluntary blindness.  But this carries willful purposeful ignorance to a new height and can only be seen as a political not a realistic statement.  Why would I say that?  Do I know of a “smoking gun” no one else does?  No, but, I know of a smoking gun they ALL know about and refuse to accept.  Actually I know of several…  

Smoking gun 1:  The Kurds.  Several thousand villages obliterated with the use of both chemical and biological agents.  And we should include the Shiites he has also gassed.

Smoking gun 2:  The Iranians.  Thousands of Iranians were gassed in the greatest use of gas since WWI

Smoking gun 3: UNSCOM.  The first UN Inspectors documented that Iraq had ten thousand liters of Anthrax and large amounts of Mustard Gas, plus some VX.  He clearly was making it.  For what?  Just to see if he could do it?  For termites and scorpions?

 So we know, KNOW, that in the early 1990 he had a LOT of the stuff and that fact has never been seriously questioned.  But to date, not a single credible bit of evidence has been forthcoming that he destroyed it; in fact he now denies EVER having it.  Listen to that uncontested fact ring in your ears for a moment: he denies having the very stuff we all know he used on his neighbors and his own people.  Is that credible to you? When, if war comes, he threatens to use chemicals which he also says he does not and has never had, does that not seem just a touch inconsistent?

Now, you tell me why the obvious conclusion is NOT that he still has it and would use it?  You tell me why we should believe ANYthing he says in this regard?    Let’s say that I am standing alone in a room with nothing around me and with a book in my hand, but am blindfolded and with my ears plugged.  If I let go of the book I do not have to see or hear it hit the floor to know that it did.

But, OK, there is no hard evidence at this point so on what do we rely.  Well according to the Woodward (no lover of Bush) book, when the CIA director went to Bush and said it was a "slam dunk" that IRaq had the stuff, Bush was not sure.  So he asked the allies, the British in particular.  MI5 assured him that to the best of their knowledge yes they had biologicals and gas and were trying to develop nuclear capabilities.  Still unsure, Bush asked his then new bud, Putin, what the Russians believed and was assured that GRU (Russian foreign intelligence; KGB is actually for intenal security) too was confident Saddam had these materials. 

Now I ask you, if both your own and your friend's and your former enemy's intelligence, all agree they have it, do you not have some reasonable standing to believe they probably do, in fact, have it?

Iraq really is trying to comply with the UN and they and inspectors just need more time

 This is possibly the most inane of all the arguments and completely misunderstands what the resolutions demand and the nature of the inspectors, not to mention the facts.

First, re-read the resolution itself and see if it is ambiguous to you or there is any question what it would take in order to comply.

The salient point re the inspectors is that the inspectors are not there now, and were not ever there originally, to engage in a seek-and-destroy mission.  They were and are there only to verify the destruction of those already identified weapons.   

In fact, although it would appear that the protestors think that inspectors are sort of 'detectives' needing to ferret out Saddam’s weapons, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Every demand made of Saddam has been consistent in its requirements: he is to provide evidence of his compliance to the inspectors and they verify that what he says happened HAS happened.  At no time were they charged with investigation.  In fact when they started to seriously do just that in the early 1990s, they were charged with spying by Iraq.  

Well, of course they were.  But that is exactly what a spy does and it was the only way they were going to find what they were supposed to be seeing.  Spies are sort of like international detectives trying to find information about the other team.  Saddam was right, that was not what inspectors were supposed to be doing.  But it is now precisely what the protestors want them to do.  Doesn’t the illogic and circular reasoning of this sequence start to reveal itself to you by now?  It really isn’t that complex or difficult to grasp.

Neither the protestors nor Saddam nor the U.N. can have it both ways.  When the original inspectors got close to his weapons Saddam kicked them out as spies.  So if you exchanged the current inspectors with real “detectives” do you think Saddam would stand for it now when he didn’t then?  Especially now that he has made a public denial to the world of having the stuff or ever having it?  Seeing the antics of the French and Germans willing to ignore all provocation to avoid the war, he has little more to fear if he kicks out the inspectors again than he did the first time. 

Or do you want the inspectors to work regardless of how you define their role?  If so, then you need to get behind the power that is the only one applying pressure to him to do as he agreed and make Saddam believe we are unified behind that requirement.  If you really wanted this to happen you would add your voice to all the pressure possible to get Saddam to act properly.  So why aren’t you?  Is it because you really are supporting Saddam?  Because you really are opposed to the U.S. and think America is inherently the bad guy here?  Before you try to distance yourself from that position I’d ask, additionally, why you are joining your voice in events initiated, planned, and promoted primarily by the CWP and some other organizations that have, as their avowed purpose, the downfall of us and our whole system.  The CWP?  Oh yeah, it is the Communist Worker’s Party.  Didn’t know that’s who bankrolled the major protest events?  Why not?  Are you so politically naïve that you don’t care into whose bed you climb so long as it give voice to your one issue?  If that is the case then throw away any claim to knowing or caring to know the broader issues at play here.

The inspectors were not chased from Iraq by the U.S. (despite what some would have you believe).  In fact we were instrumental in getting them there in the first place. They were blocked from doing their job when they started to get close to the truth by the Iraqi dictator who then charged them with spying.  The U.N. pulled them out of Iraq when it started to fear for their safety and it was clear they were absolutely prohibited from doing their job. For over a decade since then, Iraq has had a chance to do as ordered but they did not make the slightest gesture, even a phony one, to make it appear as if they were interested in compliance.

So instead of complying, Iraq took those years complete its programs and then to hide its evidence. In diddling around to decide if it had the nerve to uphold its own directives, the U.N. managed to give them even more time certain in which it only worked to clean up its evidence, not to disarm. 

The French would have us believe that Iraq cannot comply in a short time period but that is utter foolishness.  All Saddam has to do to stop the whole thing is to show us some evidence that he did as he promised.  All he would have to do is say he has changed his mind and wants to come clean and start delivering records of weapons and lab locations to the inspectors and records of weapons destruction.  We now know that the Iraqis keep careful and detail records so if those actions were every truly taken there would be records that could be delivered.  Heck they could even fabricate them at this point and we’d probably accept it but they haven’t even done that.

Iraq should start destroying the stuff and inviting them to watch: not 16 of several hundred missiles that aren’t even part of the Weapons of Mass Destruction that are the point of all this, but real destruction of the missiles and the facilities of construction AND the WMD stuff. 

Saddam could start that process and stop the war in an afternoon.  That is essentially what South Africa did when told to dismantle their weapons.  They said O.K., here they are, here’s what we are doing to destroy them, please come verify it.  And that is what happened.  It did not take 12 years, it did not take 4 months, it did not take weeks.  The process was started in a matter of hours.

Of course, in the end, Saddam is supposed to not just say he did it, but also show us with some historically believable evidence such as photos, invoices, records, journals, ANY thing. That might take some time to put together but the process can be seriously started nearly instantly. Yet he provides an old document that doesn't even address the issue or acknowledge the very history he agreed to.  This is not compliance or even the promise of compliance.  It is avoidance and denial.  And it is accepted by some who can only be in even greater denial. 

On Sunday following the latest report by Dr. Blix, the Iraqis held a press conference in which they stated that Blix, in the U.N. had said they were fully complying.  He said no such thing; he said they were showing “some signs” of compliance.  He further said that they were destroying some missiles but were doing it only for political reasons, not because they accepted there was a problem.  Now, of course, the Al-Samoud missiles are not even part of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that previous inspectors and at previous times even Iraq itself, said it had and now denies utterly EVER happening.  Then of course some small amounts of chemical weaponry was found and they said, oh, well, it was only for defense.  Then some more was found and they said oh, well, but it was a small program and was destroyed.  Does no one get it that both of those re-steps absolutely contradict their first position and the one they now hold again? 

And then an interesting thing happened, Saddam threatened to use WMD on US if we attacked.  Does no one notice a contradiction in the position that denies having something and then threatens to use that something if a fight starts? 

The bottom line is that there is not the slightest indication that Iraq intends to voluntarily comply with ANY of the now 18 resolutions from the U.N.  It is the ultimate act of denial towards geo-political reality to pretend otherwise.  The only way anyone could argue that this is a rush to war has been asleep for 12 years.  Or they've been in a cave for the last 18 months.  O.J. was still leaping counters for rental cars when Saddam was required to disarm by the U.N. so how on earth could anyone contend this is a "rush" of any kind?

War would mostly just hurt the innocent people of Iraq.

 There can be no soft-peddling it:  innocent people are always hurt and killed in wars.  It is one of the many tragedies of war that innocent people caught in harms way are often caught up in the chaos and danger.  It has been this way from the time the first nomads charged across the steppes through the villages of their foes.  But there is a difference.  Until very recently, non-combatant deaths were either part of a strategic plan to terrorize and demoralize the enemy and done on purpose, or were part of collateral damage considered to be an unfortunate by product but basically unavoidable in full scale conflicts.  At least now, we—and only we—are making efforts to minimize the cost to innocents caught in the line of fire.  It is Saddam, not us, who uses human shields and places military targets near and sometimes in places such as hospitals and mosques. 

 But in many ways that really begs the point.  In order for this argument to have any weight, it has to be based on the premises that after the smoke clears, the Iraqi people, in the aggregate, would have been better off had we done nothing than they will be if we go in and remove Saddam and disarm their country.

So, to aid our inquiry, let’s have a recounting of some historical facts that are pretty much not in dispute…

ü      It is not the U.S. that dropped gas on the Iraqi Kurds and Shiites alike.  It was Iraq’s dictator.  And the victims were his OWN PEOPLE.  And while we're on it, it is NOT the U.S. that uses human shields of its own people.  It is Iraq.  And it is because Saddam knows, which you apparently do not, that we are far more concerned about hurting the Iraqi people than HE is.

ü      It was not the U.S. that invaded—with an eye towards conquering and holding forever—a neighboring nation and when driven back set ablaze that nation’s only resource out of spite and with criminal disregard for the broad ecological disaster that might ensue.  It was Iraq.

ü      It was not the U.S. that used poison gas—including mustard gas—on another neighbor in a ferocious attempt to overrun. them. It was Iraq. And it was not the U.S. that used the same gas on its own people to put down dissent.  That too was Iraq.

ü      It is not the U.S. that Amnesty International says daily tortures, maims, kills, and intimidates a huge percentage of the Iraqi population to stifle dissent, gain information, or purely for sick and evil pleasure. It is Iraq.

ü      It was not the President of the U.S. that killed members of his own family who dared to oppose his ideological and military views. It was the dictator of Iraq.

ü      Nor is it the U.S. President, no matter how much you dislike him or his policies, that is so depraved that he revels in listing to tapes of screaming torture victims and worse, enjoys watching the torture itself!

ü      It was not the U.S. that, in the midst of a conflict, launched missiles at a neighboring country who was steadfastly remaining out of the fray. It was Iraq.

I’m sorry to impose some reality on the reveries of the protestors, but it is not the U.S. that is visiting pain and suffering on the people of Iraq, it is the dictator of Iraq and no one knows that better than the people of Iraq themselves. So if the protestors truly feel for them and their pain, then you need to aim your care and your protest at the real source of their misery: their own leader.

Let’s get real!  Is it even remotely possible that you think that any American President has ever treated or currently treats his own people or even those of other countries as the current President of Iraq treats his?

Have you read your world history lately? What other country in the history of the world has spent the kind of effort and money the U.S. routinely does to rebuild the countries of the enemies it has defeated?  We have thus far spent over $690 million to help rebuild and stabilize Afghanistan after defeating the Taliban.  Is it possible that you think that you, who can engage in a public protest over policies of this country and choose whether to be hungry or not are in worse shape or have fewer freedoms or human rights than the citizens of Iraq? Or, for that matter, the citizens of most of the third world that you seem so concerned about?  It was a common cliché that even led to a movie (The Mouse that Roared) that what a small country should do is declare war on the U.S. and then quickly surrender so we’d build/re-build the country and economy.

And therefore I have to ask you all, “Is it even remotely possible that you wish for the people of Iraq a continuation of what they now have and, more, for us to share the same treatment?”

I'm asking that seemingly absurd question because of the seemingly absurd impression your position leaves that you seem to have far more sympathy for Saddam’s government and his policies than for ours.  That you think he is a more humane ruler than Bush.  If you truly believe that then you truly need to immigrate to a better place.

 It is clear also that while we are trying to minimize innocents from loss of life, Saddam is busily trying to put his own people in the maximum jeopardy hoping we will be revolted by it.  Well I am revolted by it, but by HIS actions not ours.  And I am completely un-persuaded that continuing life under such a regime is better than what will await them when we have ousted Saddam. 

 Have you all not read your own history?  Do you not remember Patrick Henry’s famous speech?  Liberty and freedom are the core foundation for meaningful lives.  There is more to live than simply staying alive.  While students were marching downtown, Iraqi exiles were themselves holding a rally.  If you cared so much for them why weren’t you at THEIR rally to hear what they really think, not what you want them to think.  You would not have liked to hear them joining voices to plead with us to do whatever we had to do to free them from Saddam’s brutal regime.

 A stunning thing happened when I watched a reporter who, two days before reporting from Baghdad, had told of the fear of the locals facing attack, was now out of Iraq and told the audience that he had been surrounded by handlers and could not speak freely but the truth was the Iraqi people were asking him when we were coming to free them. 

Setting aside for the moment the ethical cowardice the reporter exhibited by reporting the first segment or the ethical poverty betrayed by having at least one of those reports being a bald-faced lie,  it shows that the probability is that the Iraqi people are so brutalized by the regime that in their minds they rather risk death by accident than continue as they are.

 I know that for soft Americans and Europeans who have no concept of what the Iraqi people endure daily, they cannot conceive of a situation that is worth than death.  And I am happy for them that their lives have been so protected from evil they’ve never had to think about it or face it.  But the ugly truth is that evil exists and when you live under it, you reach a point where dying to free yourself, or even by accident in that attempt, is better than what you have.  I pray, for the protestors, that they never have to face a life that brings that awful truth home to roost for them.

And if we do quit now, what do you think, based on recent history of the same players (so this does not require a lot of research on your part), Saddam will do to his people then?  and do you seriously think they will be better off if we simply stop and pull out tomorrow?


The War will make the Arab/Muslim world angry (or angrier) at us

 I know that most students these days are completely unburdened by knowledge of history generally, much less that of the Middle East, especially as it stretches back over the millennia to the days of the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, et al as well as the history of the Muslim empires some of which is mentioned above. 

 There isn’t time or space for too many details here—that would take several volumes— but I can at least point you to the salient topical areas and bottom lines.  If you don’t agree—or don’t want to agree—with my comments then I recommend the very available historical and theological literature that will give you the facts from which you can properly judge my conclusions.  And I would suggest you will never understand this until you read the Qur'an for yourself.  Don't accept what I or the apologists for Islam say, read the document for yourself; it is easy to get and is even translated in several versions online. 

I once argued that you didn’t have to read Mein Kampf to understand Hitler. He was simply a hate-filled simplistic thinker with a great gift of oratory.  But in this case, because the logic is so alien to us, it is almost impossible to believe the bottom line without reading the premises first hand. Besides, we were already at war with Hitler in a single focused conflict.  But the conflict between the Muslim and non-Muslim world is a larger issue and will not go away with a victory or loss with Iraq.  It is, I believe, imperative that we understand the foundations of this larger and future conflict.

Remember the discussion of Saladin above?  It started saying how Islam had spread quickly.  From the very beginning, Muhammad’s warrior history was evident in his writings.  He grew up in, lived and believed in that warrior ethic and the Qur’an is infused throughout with it.  

Surah II, 216 states clearly, “Warfare is ordained for you though it is hateful to you. It may happen that you hate something that is good for you or love a thing that is bad for you.  Allah knoweth, you know not.” 

And it worked.  Under Turkish leadership Islam expanded enormously.  The Moors claimed southern Europe and Sulleiman The Magnificent expanded Muslim rule will into middle Europe.  The Ottoman Turks brought Islam to a major portion of the world from Europe to India.  It had embraced the knowledge of the world in science and most arts (though icons and portraits were forbidden as idolatrous). 

Islam made a bold promise to the believers, for example: 

Surah XXIV, 55.  Allah has promised such of you as believe in him and do good works that He will sure make them to succeed in the earth  even as he caused those who were before them to succeed. (XXXIX, 10) O, my bondsmen who believe! Observe your  duty to your Lord.  For those who do good in the world there is good, and Allah's world is spacious.  Truly the steadfast will be paid their wages without stint.

Allah would give them the world, the Imams and Mullahs told them, if they were just willing to live a righteous life and fight in his name to achieve it.   And until the growth of scientific knowledge began to bump into theological tenets of the Prophet, it seemed to be working extremely well and providing a reinforcement of the rightness of the beliefs. 

At that point the western world began its slow climb into the modern era and the Muslim world sat on the plateau it had reached.   As the western world continued to grow, expand, and progress, the world of Islam began to shrink and fall away because economically, scientifically, industrially it could not longer keep up.  Mired in an obsolete world view that essentially let fundamentalists ignore half the population’s brain power and potential contributions and who rewarded dissent with grim death, it had no chance.  Islam had, in some senses, failed to learn the lessons of its fellow theologies in that when scripture that, in context, referred to man's cosmic, heavenly goal was interpreted to daily life, all manner of aberrations could be done in the name of the scriptures and of God.

 But when you believe, as the followers of Muhammad were told, that if you obeyed the Prophet’s words that you were destined to greatness,  only heresy (which was a danger that made the Spanish Inquisition seem like child’s play) could make one even think that perhaps the problem lay internally in the system.  Therefore, by definition and by faith it absolutely had to come from outside.  From them.  From those people who were somehow getting ahead and had to be doing it by the work of Satan since it was the only workable explanation.   From us.  We are the ones seen as persecuting the believers and waging an insidious covert war specifically keeping them from their promised glory.  Their sacred text allows for no other conclusion.  No fundamentalist interpretation need be applied here, only a simple reading of the words and an acceptance that they mean what they say just as the followers of Islam believe them to.

 Well, happily for them, the Qur'an has a solution for the problem.  And it is a simple and incredibly effective one.  Kill the infidel who is holding back the Faithful.  Don’t forget, that’s us.  And it’s a very difficult position to face since there is no room for negotiation. 

 You don’t believe it?  Would you believe the Qur'an itself?  Let’s see what, in addition to the section above, it says with a few examples…

 Surah III, 196-197.  Let not the vicissitude of the success of those who disbelieve deceive thee.  It is but a brief comfort.  And afterward their habitation will be hell, an ill abode.

 Surah V, 10.  They who disbelieve and deny our revelations, such are the rightful owners of hell. .. (14) And with those who say, “Lo, we are Christians,” we made a covenant but they forgot a part of that whereof they were admonished.  Therefore we have stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection.  (51.) Oh ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends.  They are friends to one another.  He among you who takes them for friends is one of them.  Allah does not guide wrongdoing folk. 

 Surah VIII, 12-13.  … So make those who believe stand firm.  I (Allah) will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve.  Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.  That is because they oppose Allah and his messenger.  Lo!  Allah is severe in punishment.   (38-39) Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease from persecution of the believers that which is past shall be forgiven them.  But if they return thereto, then the example of the men of old hath already gone before them for a warning.  Fight them until the persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah.  (65) O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight.  If there be of you (believers) twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred and if there be one thousand steadfast they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah.  Allah is with the steadfast.  It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land.

 Surah IX, 36. … Wage war on all the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you.  And know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him. (123) O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him.

 There are 114 Surahs in the Qur'an.  And from X to CXIV they continue with this same hatred and encouragement of violence against the disbelievers and those who, in their view, persecute them.  Don’t be fooled by people trying to put a polite spin on this.  Islam is a VERY peaceful religion if you are also Muslim AND of the correct sect.  But if you are not; if you are, by their definition, a disbeliever, then it has no patience, no room, and no quarter for you.  if Sunni and Shia are anxious to kill each other over subtle disagreements in dogma, why would you not think they would delight in killing complete disbelievers?

I’m not exactly sure how you get angrier than that.  Nor am I sure how to make them LESS angry except by throwing away our intellects, our industry, and reverting to a feudal society so they can get ahead again.  And less you fall for the “out of context” argument, that war between believers and non-believers IS the context in which the entire text is framed.  Such a war was happening when it was written and it formed the framework of its core thoughts and ideas.  They were, in their minds, fighting for their lives and beliefs and there could be no quarter in such a conflict with such high cosmic stakes.  And for them, they still are.  For the brief period when Muhammad was gathering forces in Mecca he preached tolerance to keep a low profile.  But by the time he arrived at Medina with his Muslim armies, all pretense was thrown away and the merciless brutality of actions against the non-believers was unrelenting.    

That is an essential understanding required if we are to make any sense at all of the actions of the Muslim world about both this and other actions.  We in the secular west are wont to give short shrift to theology ourselves and therefore, in our hubris, to other cultures as well.  It is and will continue to be a huge, potentially catastrophic error.

Of course, there are other failings of simple observation and logic that are hard to comprehend.  Saddam has killed, outside any even stretched authority of the Qur'an, over a million and a half fellow Muslims.  How the rest of the world of Islam can ignore that in what has to be a voluntary act of supreme denial, and not be thrilled that the only country in the world that could bring an end to that horror show, is coming forward to take on that task, is beyond me.  But the answer is simple.  When it comes down to it, even marginal muslims are preferable to non-muslims.

 Corollary:  They just don’t understand us and we need to show our good side. 

In a word: Bull Puckey.  Every one of the 9/11 Hijackers lived in this country for several years and in the west, including Europe, for even longer. Most of the Qaeda operatives including Bin Laden were educated in the west, many in the U.S. They knew what we had, what we offered, and they rejected it completely.  Now partially their thoughts were helped by the educators in academia who also seem to think and teach that the U.S. is an awful place and the heart of all things ill in the world.  That is an issue for another day, but the bottom line is that they had plenty of opportunity to see who we were, see our best side, our aid to others, our desire for peace and democratic ideals, and they rejected them in total. 

It is hard to face the fact that they don’t want anything other than for all of us to be dead and gone… so long, of course, as we leave behind some mechanism to continue making payments to prop up their countries.  But that is the ugly reality of it.

 Nevertheless, some of that wide spread anger is exaggerated for the effect of backing us off.  When we went into Afghanistan there was wide spread reports in the mainstream press of major riots in Pakistan against our actions and the support of their government.  Those reports were based on tapes from the Arab New Service Al-Jazeera.  The tapes showed in nearly cinematic glory, what appeared to be thousands of people in an angry mob demonstrating their protest.  The cameras moved in and with the crowd with great face shots and chaotically cut images of shouting people and banners.

 But at the same time, a British news crew was in the same town and perched on a balcony and they shot the riot too.  And what their taped showed was a staged rally of maybe fifty to 75 people with the ground level cameramen moving in and around them and isolating the shots.  One cannot say with any certainty the Al-Jazeera footage was not shot at a protest and that the people in the footage were not opposed to the U.S. actions.  But one can say that the footage, brilliantly shot and edited, gave a very different sense of the even than the simple reality of it when seen from above.

 I believe the Muslim world would like to see all non-believers removed from the planet and sees us mostly as simply a terrestrial skin cancer that Allah will someday cleanse from the world.  But that is a far cry from believing that this action will galvanize them to rise in instant revolt and become even angrier at us than they already are no matter how carefully their systems and PR people (and some of ours) try to portray it.  It could well come to that but I do not believe it is inevitable in t he short term.

The War will create a greater threat from terrorism

 To make this argument stick you have to assume that somehow, a prescient Arab knew we were going to go after Iraq early in 2000 and planned then attacked us as a pre-emptive strike.  Oh right.   Then, of course, you have to extend that argument to cover Lebanon, Kenya, The Congo, and even the FIRST attack on the World Trade Towers with a bomb and the USS Cole.  It stretches credulity to the breaking point. 

The “terrorists” appear to be a loose coalition of Muslims who take the views of the Qur’an we have already noted as leading to the inevitability of a conflict, and have simply ratcheted up the call to instant action.  These days we have taken to using the label “fundamentalist” in a negative sense, but the truth is, it merely means the individual in question believes in the words he reads in his Sacred Text.  Moderates parse and play with the words hoping to give them new, flexible meanings and from that come new religions or sub-orders or denominations in a given religion.  The fundamentalist simply says if we all accept what a word generally means then that is what it means in the text. And further, that in order to be a believer; one has to accept that word as law.

 If anyone continues to believe, or act as if, the Holy Book of Islam does not teach of the inevitability and propriety of the Believers making war upon and eradicating the non-believers then they are not only living in a liberal dream world, they will be completely unable to understand and deal with the actions of that part of the world.  And they will be utterly vulnerable to the terrorists whom they will never see coming. 

Given the Muslim world view, and the Arab mind-set based solidly in their theology and Tribal Warrior foundation, what has consistently and openly created the greatest danger from terrorism historically is ANY act that demonstrates, from their perspective, weakness which is something they despise and assume we have at our core.  Recent events have given them a reason to believe that and in each case they responded with an attack.  True, a show of strength does not necessarily obviate the activity; but a show of weakness virtually guarantees it.

 In my mind the single thing we can do to elevate the overall and long term terrorist threat is to show weakness of any kind.  Legitimate arguments can be made that we should not have drawn our line in the sand, but that is purely academic at this point.  We have.  And now we have to deal in the world where that line is drawn whether we like the line or not.  We simply cannot erase it without showing extraordinary weakness.  We simply cannot openly back off without showing that same level of weakness.  If Saddam demonstrates a “win” from his and the Arab perspective (not from ours and our world view) then I think we will open the floodgates for terrorism in the same way we were hit following other weak-kneed responses to provocations.

 Terrorists have seen they can hit us.  And they will continue to do so anytime they can.  It will be a constant fight requiring constant effort, probably from now on.  But the only way this action will increase it is if we drop our guard looking for it and more gets through.

The war with Iraq is taking our attention away from the war on Terrorism

 This line would imply that a country with the resources of the U.S. couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.  And, of course, it also ignores the ongoing efforts that have, in cooperation with other countries, resulted in some major successes capturing or killing major Al Qaeda operatives. But in case you do not want to take reality as determinative, let’s put this in some logical perspective. 

 This summer, in San Diego, we had a media circus involving a major kidnap-murder case.  It completely occupied the news on TV and the papers.  To rely on the news media for information would have led you to believe the city virtually came to a halt during that period.  And indeed it did occupy a major portion of the city’s attention via the DA’s office and the Judicial Branch.  But all the time the investigation and trial was happening, in the background, as always, other bad guys were being tracked down and captured, speeders were still stopped; the general war on crime went on with or without media attention.

 But, the cry goes, we don’t hear much about it anymore.  After re-reading the paragraph above, think about this.  In the day of the Internet and instant, worldwide proliferation of data, why on earth would a detective tell the news how he was solving a major case?  The crook would hear of it and go to ground.  Why is it different in the case of Bin Laden and his group?  Why on earth would the parts of the government charged with hunting him and his people want to chat with the press and let them know what they were doing or planning?

 I’d suggest the War on Terrorism is far more like a city’s war on gangs.  It is not something for daily coverage and massed troops but a slow, behind the scenes, mostly covert action that is mentioned only when a success cannot be kept quiet or has to much positive political impact to keep quiet.  The problem with covert actions is the need for secrecy.  Remember, it took the Mossad, arguable the best intelligence agency around today, quite a few years to get the identified and small group of terrorists from the Munich Olympics.  And we heard nothing about it except that those terrorists simply started disappearing and turning up dead.  That approach, I suggest, is how this war is being operated and that requires little or no conflict with the resources needed to run a normal military action of nearly any level.

 A bigger question is why, given past history (that unfortunate word again) just prior to the removal of the Taliban Regime in Afghanistan, where Bin Laden was commonly on tape rallying the troops and telling us we were inept and evil, has he not now been constantly on tape spitting in the eye of people unable to get him?  Would his cause not be better served with that action where his people could root for him and see us as stupid and inept?  A great, scornful “Nyah nyah, you missed me” videotape would solidify his hero status better than anything.  So why hasn’t he done it?  He said he was willing to die for his cause.  I’d suggest that is nonsense; rather he was willing to see OTHERS die for his cause. 

 We did get an audiotape that, although we accepted it as real, a subsequent Swiss lab said it was not Bin Laden but perhaps a relative.  We then got a second audiotape which, again, we said was “probably” real but is, as this is being written, is still being tested.  But the question is, why audiotape?  All of the previous ones were video so we could see him.  Doesn’t that suggest some interesting possibilities?  Not the least of which is that Bin Laden might be buried in a cave in Tora Bora?  Or that maybe he did escape but his very fragile health finally failed or, at the least has him so sick or ill-looking he is afraid to show himself on tape for fear it will discourage followers?

 If he is alive then sooner or later his time will run out as it is running out for most of the top echelon of his leadership cadre.  Most of the world thought Hitler survived and went to Brazil with Mengele.  Even knowing Eichman was there it took a long time to track him down and capture him.  Some U.S. criminals take a long time to hunt even with every law enforcement department in the country involved.  And usually the methodical work of tracking is not very good news footage, has no good sound bites, and is basically incredibly boring.  Worse, in this case, it does not serve the philosophies of the news bureaus.

 So, on one hand, the action against Iraq has no negative effect on the War on Terror. And on the other, in the event that Iraq really has been or intends to help back and support terrorist organizations then it will actually help.  And since we know without question that Saddam sends huge monetary stipends to the families of the bomb-murderers of Hamas and Islamic-Jihad, it is very hard to argue he does not support terrorist activities.  

We should not go to war over oil

I could not possibly agree more.  But why on earth would anyone think this whole thing is about oil?   Doing so ignores the well-documented (at the time) fact that Saddam offered us nearly unlimited access to Iraqi oil if we would leave him free to do as he wanted in the area including his taking over Kuwait and Iran which he claimed as proper suburbs of ancient Babylon and therefore his by historical right anyway. The U.S. could have had cheap oil forever had we agreed to that. And it would not have meant any fighting on our part. Please "get it" once and for all: this is not about oil.  It has never been about oil!  It is about the idea that someone in the world has got to stand up for the idea that a dictator cannot torture and kill his own people or threaten his neighbors as his whim directs and get away with it.

We should not be trying to take over another country

I’ve heard this one used in some desperation when other arguments are failing. But what historical reality or empirical research would lead anyone to think we have even the slightest interest in doing that?  

We are a capitalist, mercantile oriented society of merchants and traders and that is what we have always been.  It is the mind set of that class that has brought us our wealth, prosperity, and living standards to which people from everywhere aspire and few if any are standing in line at our border wanting to get out.  

In fact and to the contrary we have more illegal aliens hiding here than in virtually any other country in the world. How can that possibly be the case if we are such terrible people with such a horrible government? Especially since so many of those hiding here are coming from countries you seem to believe we are ruining?  If this administration were so consumed with wretchedness as you suggest, why is there not a rush to the border to flee the terrible burden of a US-based domicile? All that army of illegals would have to do to go home was let the I.N.S. know where they are and the US would pay the fare to send them home. They could return home FREE, no questions asked.  How many Iraqis have you read about recently going to the INS office wanting to be sent back home?  How many “undocumented” (why can’t we just say illegal?) people in this country seem to be turning themselves in for the free deportation back home?  Show me photos of the line at the I.N.S. of people trying to get out of this awful place.

But be honest now, that’s not happening, is it? Instead, they would rather go on hiding as illegal fugitives in this country than go home. My God, doesn’t that tell you all something? 

What it ought to tell you is that we don’t want to "take over" a country. Do something really radical: think about it. It is too costly and there is no profit in it for us.  And we certainly do not want to create a broken country or destroyed one.  I hate to ask this again, but think about it.   Rather, it is it not clearly in our best interests for them to be profitable and industrious. Why? Oh isn’t it obvious? So we can trade with them, buy from them, sell to them, perhaps even cheat them a little now and then, but all for a profit.  And if we want a profit that means, for those unfamiliar with Basic Economics 101, more money coming in than going out. And that means the countries we want to trade with have to HAVE some money with which to buy from us. And where can they get it if they have no working, stable economy of their own. Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

Bush is just a wild cowboy wanting a fight and seeking revenge

 This attack shows an utter lack of information about cowboys and about history—this time recent history—so there is no excuse.  It also shows the nature of the political polarization that has taken place in recent years.  There are many stupid, unethical, deceitful things a politician and President can do and most have been done by Presidents of the past.  But to accuse a President, the Commander in Chief of our military forces, of sending Americans to their possible death on a whim, a proclivity for action, or for purely personal reasons is an incredibly slanderous, scurrilous statement it bears some extraordinary proof.  So is there any such proof of any sort?  Or is it simply an extension of one’s personal feelings about a person they dislike?

 And, to those who bought into the mantra of Bush “rushing to war” then I’d have to ask, why, if that was or is true, he seems to have done everything humanly and politically possible to give Saddam the opportunity to do the incredibly simple thing that as being demanded of him and still continues to do so. 

 I agree that Bush’s style has been problematic from a foreign policy standpoint.  His demeanor and words imply that he sees the U.S. as the only remaining super power and the old European nations as increasingly irrelevant for much of anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the view is accurate.  But openly expressing it by the President has a truly negative effect, especially in the minds of those citizens for the other nations who feel they are being publicly marginalized by the U.S.  I think that much of the opposition to us from other nations’ citizens (as opposed to the governments who make policy from economic bases not ethical or simply ego-related ones) comes from that perceived insult to them and their place in the world.

 But the approach makes him impolitic and less than diplomatic but that is a far cry from the “cowboy” image with which he is branded (unless by cowboy you mean someone who speaks what they think is the truth and lets the chips fall where they may). 

 But how about the “revenge” accusation?  Well, it is important to ask the question: revenge for what?   Two items are usually focused on for this argument, both involving his father.

 The first is less truly a revenge issue per se than it is a case of completing old business, namely the halted removal of Saddam.  When the Desert Storm forces were enroute to Baghdad and Saddam, routing and slaughtering the Republican Guard and taking surrendering prisoners at an unprecedented rate, Saddam saw his world collapsing before his eyes and begged for a cease-fire.  The coalition, composed to a large degree of other Arab nations, required that we accept that request.  In retrospect it was a bad decision, but at the time, if maintaining the coalition was important, and it was, the U.S. had no option but to accept it.  It was not his idea and he had—and has—nothing to feel bad about.  There is nothing the younger Bush can do to change that and he knows it.  This isn’t about unfinished personal business but it is about unfinished actions that Saddam promised he would do way back then.

 The other issue usually cited is Saddam’s failed attempt to have Bush Sr. assassinated.  The younger Bush even mentioned it as one item among a longer litany of items when asked why he had no use for Saddam.  So, the argument goes, that comment betrayed the fact that the only reason Bush is going to war is for personal revenge for the attack on his father.

Well if he were truly a cowboy or old western gunfighter his code would not let him do it that way. He’d have to strap on his guns and go do it personally.  He might shoot him in the back but he’d have to do it himself.  That does not appear to be what is happening though it does present an interesting mental image.  That leaves only the conclusion that he is so psychologically unstable that he is willing to take a country to war and risk world stability, national defense, and all of those lives on both sides, for a personal grudge over a failed incident. 

 Only Bush himself really knows the truth of that but if it is true then the least of our problems as a nation is the outcome of this war.  I don’t believe that level of derangement would have escaped the election process.  And therefore I do not believe it is true but I can no more prove it than the holders of it can prove their side.

 There are also a couple of corollary ideas sometimes trotted out that are also based on personal reasons unilaterally held by Bush specifically. 

  • Corollary Idea 1: This is to solve the economy since war boosts the economy.
  • Corollary Idea 2: This is to take our minds off the economy.

Oh Pu-leeeeeeze.  Long-term wars or those that completely take over the major industrial output of the country may help a marginal economy as they did in WWII and helped pull us out of the tail end of the great depression.  But just as often they destroy a country’s economy, so it is not anything certain.  And in this case we are talking about a short conflict in which the actual costs are the military costs for that period, most of which we are already paying anyway. 

A boost to the stock market may take place as soon as a decision, either decision, is made and the uncertainty is removed.  But the stock market per se is not the economy and not even a good marker or indicator for the economy in general.

And for such a short term conflict, with a longer term period of re-building that everyone admits is likely and which would openly challenge the economy, no one can intelligently hold that we would get into this thinking we could fool the populace into ignoring the realities of their daily lives especially with a hostile press pointing out the problems on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.   

 So those arguments simply won’t wash either.  Oh I suppose you could argue that Bush is simply rock stupid or so unconcerned about the populace that it doesn’t matter.  But that would run counter to the same arguments portraying him as brilliantly evil or deceitful.  It can’t be both.

It is probably true that if we get into the war, and if it goes really well, and if it is over in a short term, that the stock market will do very well.  But it’s the effect of certainty versus uncertainty more than specifics on the war.

We should only act within the U.N. framework

 Why?  Let’s review a bit, shall we?  Here’s a history test.  Which of the other permanent members of the Security Council have gone to war or invaded another country without the OK of the U.N.? 


Russia invaded Afghanistan, France and England invaded Suez, China invaded Tibet.  Need we go on?  Now, lets ask which conflict, since its inception, the U.N. has managed to diffuse or resolve peacefully?  I’m waiting…

Hungary? Poland? Ruwanda? Congo? Angola? Sudan? Somalia? Yugoslavia?  ANYwhere in the Middle East?  Tibet?  India-Pakistan?  I’m still waiting…

 And how is that bastion of world peace dealing with the current North Korean problem?  It’s a fair question to all who think the U.N. is the key to peace, that we should only do as they sanction, and that the Korean problem is an even greater threat to world stability than Iraq.  Well the answer is they have refused to even take it up as a discussion.  In fact in order to avoid dealing with it at all they want the U.S. to deal with it alone.  What?

 Let’s continue to review.  The U.N. demanded Iraq disarm 12 years ago and has continued that demand unabated.  He has spit in their face.  How come we are supposed to do as they say but it is OK that Iraq does not?  The U.N. Security Council unanimously said Iraq should disarm “actively and immediately.”  What is there about immediately you and they do not understand? 

 Now I understand that if you could buy former President Clinton’s parsing of the word “is” you would nearly have to let Saddam parse the word “immediate” let alone “Active.”  But for the parts of the known universe that saw the former as part of the actions of a pathological liar I’d like to know why they don’t see the same thing now.

 The U.N. may have value as a place to get together and chat in an amiable, comfortable environment, but as an arbiter of national policy, it has become a squabbling point for every anti-American regime in the world.  When it can, with a straight face, establish Libya and its leader Kaddafi as the arbiters of human rights and Iraq’s Saddam as the arbiter of weapons proliferation, how is any thinking person to take it seriously anymore?

 Unless you agree with those decisions, agree that other nations can and should be able to determine our policies, agree that our interests as a nation are subservient to those of countries who avowedly hate us, then it is ridiculous to argue that we should worry overly much about whether or not the U.N. sanctions our actions.

And for those who argue that we are pushing toward breaking old friendships and alliances with this, especially with, for example, France, I would argue that friendship has already been broken—and they did it.  To preserve their abilities to continue their economic interests with Iraq which include the sales of nuclear facilities (remember, it was a French facility that the Israeli’s bombed in the late 80s and which is credited with being the only thing that has kept Saddam from having a nuclear capability today) France has, all by itself, cast off the mantle of friend and ally.

There is no proven or even likely connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda

 This argument, in the face of some evidence to the contrary, is generally based on the theory that Bin Laden is a religious fanatic and Saddam is a secular maniac and the two would never have anything in common.  To propose this one, again, has to ignore history.

First they do have a common bond: though secular in construction, Iraq is a Muslim country.  The followers of The Prophet consider that among themselves there is a bond we simply do not understand.  Largely that’s because we have not read their Holy  Koran and do not, therefore, recognize the requirement of Muslims to support Muslims no matter what.  Iranians who were attacked by Saddam, gassed, and faced with horrid weapons, and are a theocracy to boot, have every reason to want to see Saddam’s head on a pike—and largely do.  Still they are opposed to any outside non-Muslim forces attacking a fellow Muslim country because in that context their instant response is to see it as an attack not on Iraq but on Islam.  We can deny that all we want and know, because we know our own motives, that it is not true.  But we have to understand that they believe it and accept it as gospel.  In a way, it is.

 Secondly, the history of the region, both ancient and modern, is rife with occasions when theocracies have combined their energies with very secular regimes or groups to deal with the momentary threat of a common enemy or to join efforts for a common purpose even if temporary.  Egypt is a secular regime but one of the major strongholds of Bin Laden’s followers.  How can that be?  Simple, there are shared foundations and interests.

We gave Iraq the chemicals or biological agents in the first place so we are hypocritical now

It does appear that we, the U.S. gave Iraq some of this material when they were in their conflict with Iran because at that time Iran was calling us the Great Satan and openly advocating Jihad against us and against American interests and people wherever they were found.  I was opposed to that at the time and continue to think it was a stupid, horrid mistake.  But assuming we did it, that is the reality we now face: he has it because we gave it to him.  The fact that we were stupid in the first place does not mean we should continue to be stupid by allowing him to keep them.

And we certainly did not give him anywhere near the amounts that the U.N. themselves said, in 1988, he had.  At that time he did not deny having it.  In fact he was proud of it.  Now, of course he pretends that documentation never existed or that no one will remember it, and says he never had it and therefore cannot destroy anything.  What?

Is it not at least revealing that he denies having something nearly everyone concedes he has (and he at one time admitted having)?  If that material was truly there just for defensive needs then he’d have no reason to deny it.

And in the end, if we were responsible for stupidly giving him some deadly materials, who bears more responsibility than us to go take it back or destroy it?

We should be paying more attention to North Korea and less to Iraq.

This argument shows an appalling lack of knowledge about the protagonists, the history of the region, and both the political and military history of the Korean Peninsula and of the North Korean dynastic regime.  

Since the cease-fire that stopped the open hostilities on the Korean peninsula, there has existed a shaky truce and a no man’s land around which the shooting has never actually stopped completely.  Little known to the American public is that a hundred or so U.S. soldiers are killed every year protecting that border by sniping or skirmishes on the line.  It is not a safe place to be under the best of times.  The north is constantly testing the strength of the line and has been from the start.

During that time the results of a capitalist, democratic regime compared to a Marxist communist Dictator have rarely been more clearly demonstrated.  The south has prospered and become a major economic and military power throughout that region of the Pacific Rim.  The north has descended into poverty, misery, and abject failure.  It exists only because it has been propped up and funded by China.  The people starve but the bizarre little dictators build weapons, rattle their swords and strut themselves on their little stage with major visions of grandeur.

And the dictator of the north has a single vision, the spreading of his regime to the south so he can reap the wealth from its industry and productivity.  It seems not to occur to him that he could have the same in the north if he ran the same type of government and economy and that if he imposes his same approach on the south it will quickly wither and die, as has his own country. 

So why doesn’t he just go for it?  Because though he is a megalomaniac he is not suicidal. He likes the adulation of his enslaved people even if that adulation is forced.  But he can’t even get phony obeisance if he is dead and his country is a smoking crater.  Unlike Saddam, he will gain no martyr’s status for his efforts.  As a Marxist Atheist, he has to get his strokes in this life no virgins are waiting for him in his next plane.  He would have no reason to act in such a way as to nearly guarantee his own destruction and that of his country.  But he is, as was his father, a past master at brinkmanship.

Enter China.   Here’s another country that wishes we would just disappear.  Not for any theological reason, but because we are the one force on the planet that holds it back from reclaiming Taiwan and from re-establishing China as the pre-eminent power in the world.  And we are the major competitor for oil resources they now desperately need.  It may even be inevitable that they will someday regain that position and the world will have come full circle.  But they would very much like to have it happen as of last week.

But the Chinese are pragmatists of the first water.  And they control North Korea with their funding.  There is no doubt from any quarter that they will use the North Koreans to prod us, goad us, keep us pre-occupied, and hurt us anyway possible.  But they are not ready for a war with us yet and have no intention of letting North Korea start one in which they might be dragged into it prematurely.  Their time will come but it has not yet quite arrived.  South Korea too has a huge vested interest in this since it is likely they would suffer incredible loss in the early days of any conflict on the peninsula.  But that works not only against them, it also works against the North’s need for their productivity.

I believe this whole thing is about the North, unsophisticated in polite discourse and diplomacy, desperately needing for sanctions to be lifted and needing our aid (of which we already give millions and millions each year) to increase so the dictator does not have to worry about giving up any toys to feed his people.  He lacks the sense and temperament to do it like a civilized person, so he creates a threat and thinks he can blackmail us into giving him what he wants.  He is playing a dangerous game.

We simply cannot fall for it.  Because if we do then we are telling the world that if you get a big stick with which to threaten us, we will reward you with goodies and further facilitate your regime.  If we do that then we will need to start basically and simply taking care of the entire world for free.  I’m not willing to go that route.  It would seriously cut into our ability to take care of ourselves and would ultimately bankrupt us.  And what party to this would stand to gain most from that?  China.

This is a shell game folks.  It is a very dangerous one for all of us, but it’s a game nevertheless.  We cannot afford to blink. Nor can we afford to be precipitous and risk massive destruction of the peninsula.  China will never admit to restraining Korea or agreeing to do it openly.  But in the background and out of sight, they have to because going to war with us at this point would be, in the end, suicidal for them and maybe too for us so no one really wins.  

They have all read their basic Sun Tzu about war.  If you really want to understand this game then you should too.  And it would be instructive to also learn a little about the Confucian views on the State and the role of the parties and of war.

Bottom line, yes, it is a dangerous situation; there is no doubt about it.  But our best policy, in my opinion, is simply to hold fast and refuse to give in to their attempted blackmail.  They need energy and power and if they put online an energy reactor of a type that does not produce weapons grade byproducts, then we need to both let them and encourage them to do it.  But if they actually put a reactor on line that lets them produce weapons grade plutonium then I think we have to take it out as the Israelis did to Iraq. 

And if we take out the reactor and they retaliate by striking the south, especially with nuclear devices, then we need to instantly and without further comment or warning, turn the capital of the north into glass while telling the Chinese simply and emphatically to sit this one out and wait their turn and the right time.  But that can be done without raising an extra dust devil in the sand around the actions in Iraq.

We should listen to all the other people who are against this action

Thank God the founding fathers had the wisdom to create this country as a Republic instead of a Democracy.  They did it after a great deal of thought and debate carried on via voluminous letters and essays as well as fiery oration.  In the end they agreed with Plato that basically a pure Democracy is the “Rule of Fools.”  Well, OK, the founders were considerably more circumspect in their language, but the concept was the same.  They were afraid that a true democracy would allow a large body of people with nearly terminal ignorance of the important issues but no lack of opinions about them and with a blind eye toward common good while focused on personal good, to set policies.  Therefore, they reasoned, they would get together to elect representatives to discuss and determine policy.  The idea was that once in a locale and position to get the real data and understand the intricacies of the issues, these representatives would be wise enough to make the correct decisions.

It is times like these that reinforce for me the wisdom of those early planners.  Of course we are in a country where dissent is a right.  More than that it is encouraged as a means of getting important discussions out in the open where the decision makers can hear them and factor the value of their views into the knowledge and intelligence they are gathering from other sources and then make a decision.  Accessing that systemic collective intelligence is a foundation concept for us.  But rights are not a free pass to escape responsibilities that flow from the actions based on those rights. 

Let’s be clear on this: I’m not in the least arguing against people’s rights to voice their opinions.  But rights, all rights, always, ALWAYS, carry responsibilities.  For example, I have a right to own a gun but if I fail to act responsibly and abuse that right and kill someone then I bear the responsibility of paying the price of that abuse.  Rights do not exist in a vacuum therefore there are some practical and reasonable limits to nearly ALL of them.  There is a law school dictum that states I have an unfettered right to swing my arm but that right stops at the end of your nose.  I have already addressed the reasons I’ve heard that are being put forward by the dissenters and found them wanting on nearly all levels.  Disagreeing with them is my right too.  But what responsibilities am I talking about?

I believe that the volume of American dissenters is giving moral support to Saddam and encouraging him to keep stalling on the disarmament of his weapons.  He believes, and has every reason to believe that we will back off because of this outcry and if that happens he will not have to do anything but sit back and claim he won… which, of course, would be the case.  He has done the few things he has only because of the pressure of U.S. troops on his borders.  If he thought the country was behind the President completely, I think he’d have moved a lot faster to disarm.

It is clear that this President pays no attention to the protestors.  And that means that the policies he makes, whichever way that goes, will be based on the information he gets from his serious sources not from the streets.  So the only effect their actions can have are on Saddam not on Bush.  And if they steel Saddam to resist more and stall more instead of doing what he is supposed to do then the truth is they will have done far more to insure that this war happens than even the President who keeps begging Saddam to simply come clean.   If the protestors truly wanted to stop the war then they ought to be protesting Saddam’s stonewalling of the U.N.  So why aren’t they?  The only possible conclusion that matches all of the points is that they think more of Saddam than they do of Bush.

Well, that is their right too.  But the responsibility for what happens next will rest as much, perhaps more, on their shoulders as on anyone else’s.   And we also need to be clear on something else.  There is a point where rightful dissent becomes something else.  When it reaches a point where it can be seen, legitimately, as giving aid and support to an enemy, then it ceases being a right and becomes treason.  The concept is simple to understand.  As noted above, I have an absolute right to swing my arm.  But that right stops at the end of your nose and if I go on and flatten said nose, then my additional movement onto your nose is no longer my right, it is criminal battery.  Most of us understand that and have no trouble with it.  The trouble arises when someone wants to carry a right farther than it should go but get away with it by hiding behind the Bill of Rights.  But it won’t work. 

But, you say, what about the other countries against us in this?  Well let’s consider them one at a time..

France.  Well, in the last French election, 25% voted communist, a system that has yet to prove itself viable in an industrial society anywhere on the planet.  20% voted for LePin who makes the Nazi’s anti-Semitism look half-hearted.  And the majority of the rest of them voted for Chirac spouting Gualist policies bearing as their prime thrust, the return of France to center stage and world prominence such as they were when we made them a world power following WWI and then again following WWII.  Since then they have supplied Iraq with most of their nuclear facilities and have major deals with them that would be in jeopardy if a war happened.  How likely is it that they would want to see this happen?  Plus they have now blackmailed smaller countries with threats of withheld aid if those small countries backed us.  Sorry, that is, to me, over the top outrageous. Because of these ill considered policies backed by a socialist sponsored national laziness their economy is in shambles and sooner or later the people will wake up and say they have had enough.  But in the meantime this is not a group to take seriously and allow deciding our policies for us.  

Germany.  Half of the population wants to return to the East German model of misery because they didn’t have any personal responsibility for actions and had a government that did the thinking for them.  The latest Premier won running on a virulent anti-American platform.  And we want to let THEM decide what we should do?  They’ve even been openly opposed to us (at least they’re more honest than the French) but why would we allow a country openly opposed to us to decide for us how we should act?  Is it not likely that a country with  that openly avowed purpose would want to have us do the worst possible thing for ourselves? German companies have supplied most of the Iraqi chemical resources with no apparent interest in the use, benign or otherwise, of those materials.

Both France and Germany have been open in their desire to see the U.S. "put in its place" which really means that we should acknowledge them as powerful and important States in this evolving, post-Soviet world.  Given their actual abilities to either help or hurt us in terms of materials and military resources, we have to admit they are only legends in their own minds.  They are also blithely in supreme denial about the shift in European dynamics and power centers post Soviet Union.  Rather than see our willingness to NOT need their help as relieving them of a huge potential economic burden at a time when they could ill afford it anyway, they have chosen to see it from an ego-centric view as an insult.

What that tells anyone willing to look is that diplomacy aside, one can never rely on the position of a State that views allies and relationships in terms of personalized ego instead of enlightened self interest.  They have their own interests and agendas which are in conflict with ours.  Why are we spending a moment wringing our hands about that?  And more importantly, why are we spending a moment wanting to align our interests with theirs?

China.  Now here is a country with our interests in their hearts, wouldn’t you think? If so, I have one word for you: Taiwan.  And then think about who keeps it from being invaded and enveloped into the mainland.  Ok, I have a second word for you: Oil.  And then think about the fastest evolving user of oil in the world (China) and their biggest competitor for global resources (America) and tell me again how they have our best interests at heart.

Russia.  Their entire system cratered in competition with us.  We did some truly stupid attempts to force democracy instantly on them and not only failed but in some ways may have actually hurt their economy in the short term.  Why on earth would they, led by an ex-KGB operative trained and inoculated in cold-war rhetoric and attitudes, want to have us appearing as good guys in the world? And now we learn the truth: Russian businesses have been merrily selling weapons to Iraq, some of them prohibited by the U.N., something about which they surely would have liked the world to remain ignorant.

So the countries against us all have reasons to dislike us and want to see us fail.  They have vested and serious interests on business and economic levels in seeing us fail, lose our status as a powerful country, and even have an openly expressed desire to see us humiliated.  Now ask me again why I don’t give their positions a lot of credence or considerations.  Their decibel volume does not enhance their credibility.  A gathering of 100 or a million stupid or self-serving people is still not likely to achieve brilliance as if by reaching some critical mass.  Lots of people robbed banks, but if you got them all together to vote on it that still would not make it a legitimately legal activity—or a wise one. 

I know we live in a day and age when the mantra of the secular humanists regarding situational ethics would like one to believe that right and wrong is a matter of a vote.  Truth, by that view, should be relative and based on the number of believers.  I do not and will not accept that.  Perhaps the number is small, but there still remain a few things in my view that are intrinsically right and intrinsically wrong. 

The legal world has long recognized this in viewing actions that are mallum in se (bad in-and-of themselves, like murder) or mallum prohibitum (bad only because we say it is, like jaywalking).  I believe that murder, torture, terror, degradation and humiliation based on sex or race or religion is mallum in se; wrong, in and of itself.  And no amount of people trying to deny it or pretend otherwise, no matter how much they may want to engage in the activities, will ever make it right.  It will still be wrong if only one person in the entire universe still holds it as wrong.  It will still be wrong if none do.

 Conclusion:  What I believe about this whole affair

I would suggest to the protestors that some basic reading is in order.  Specifically needed is a lot of world history, a lot of study of Arab/Muslim culture, a lot of reading about our own history and specifically geo-political and foreign policy attitudes.  This is a very complex issue and it can only be understood, and therefore successfully addressed, within the context of in-depth information.  Within that context there is still room for disagreement on issues, but outside of it, disagreement is petty, based usually on irrelevant things such as party affiliation, and great pronouncements of principal disintegrate into sheer silliness.

What is not in order is listening to more sound bites, often from people equally unburdened by any deep study of the subject, or who take their cues from the raised eyebrows of nightly newsreaders or celebrities using their fame to create a platform and treating that pabulum as if it were factual data..  A greater danger to this country than all the terrorists in the world is the continual dumbing down of our people intellectually, philosophically, and spiritually. 

Without a breadth of view that incorporates realistic consequences on a broad basis, advocating nearly any position is simply ludicrous.  Why would we so readily believe that people who act out roles of political savvy are, by virtue of that, actually knowledgeable of the intricacies of the issues and aware of the latest intelligence giving inside and “deep background” data from which policy ought to flow?  We have come to a bizarre state when we give credence for greater insight to people whose lives are devoted to the creation of fantasy than to those whose lives are devoted to trying to do their best, as they see it, for their country.

What is also clear is that the argument is no longer really about Iraq; some other issue or issues are at play.  No one can argue honestly that Saddam has done as the U.N. and his own Cease-Fire agreement demand and that is really the only issue at play.  So what is happening?  This is important to determine and resolve because the situation as it continues only fuels the impending fire by giving Saddam comfort in the idea of escaping the demands.  And that brings us closer to war.  It is a supreme irony that the more voices are raised against it, just as in Vietnam, the more likely the bloodshed will be.  That's another lesson from history our venom soaked protestors have failed to learn.

Even the weak-kneed at the U.N. admitted the only reason Saddam has acquiesced the little he has was because of the pressure arrayed against him by the troops on his border.  Why is that message, so clearly correct and pregnant with meaning, so lost on the protestors?  Don’t misunderstand me, I am foursquare behind the concept of dissent against the policies of the government: that right is largely what keeps us free.  But one cannot escape the responsibility of actions even when taken under the blanket of constitutional freedom.  Just because something is legal does not mean it is wise or appropriate.

Some few of the protestors may be sincerely opposed to war for any reason any time.  Some may be true conscientious objectors who believe categorically that all killing is wrong and not only do not do it themselves but are opposed to it no matter what.   I respect their beliefs but I completely disagree with them.  Those same people would have no problem killing a crocodile that attacked or threatened them.  They have to understand that there are human predators out there and the fact of their coincidental species association with humans does not change inherently who and what they are.

The truth however, is that most of them are not anti-War but Anti-Bush.  That personal loathing is so deep it removes from possibility their ability to look beyond the personality involved to see larger issues or, for that matter, how that blind hatred can be so easily manipulated.  Of greater importance to me, therefore, is that they are allowing themselves to become pawns for those interested in guaranteeing this war happens.  They have the absolute right to do that and I support that right. But they have to understand that the force upon which they have hitched their wagons, is there for less worthy interests.

So what do I personally think about all of this?  This document thus far might lead you to believe that I am anxious to leap into war with Iraq because I do not accept the common anti-war arguments.  It may therefore come as a surprise to hear that is not completely accurate, or at least WAS not accurate for a long time. 

First of all I do not think it needed to get this far and is a major failure of foreign policy that it did.  Perhaps if we had decided to be more sympathetic to the pathetic old-world views of the old European centers and spend a little time diplomatically stroking their fragile egos and fantasies, we could have manipulated them easily into getting on board to pressure Iraq into simply doing as the U.N. -- and THEY -- had at one time demanded happen.  I would not be greatly opposed to the suggestion that from a world PR standpoint, we would have been better served if we had been willing to wallow in those petty fantasies and vulnerable egos.  The previous administration was far better at it largely because it needed the same coming back at it.  This administration prefers to make a hard-edged look at capabilities and realities and act on that, letting the chips fall where they may.  That it does so with its own set of ideological blinders just as the previous one did is inescapable.  Clearly, however, the world prefers the former even if it has never been seen to work to accomplish anything of value.  No conflict has ever been stopped by it... but it does make people feel better.

Consequently, I do not think we should have drawn our line in the sand at this point for all to see and with it, give warning of impending action.  I think that was strategically idiotic and, given the atmosphere of a divided populace being broadcast to an egomaniacal tyrant boasting of his ability to make America back down, it is galactically counter-productive.  it will be a horse race to see whether the blind protestors or the blind administration will be better at getting us into this battle.  Saddam has to do nothing but sit there and rattle his sword or fire his pistol in the air.  He is no more concerned about it than he is about what happens when gravity brings those bullets back to earth in a crowded city.  but in that he is exactly like the protestors who have loosed their verbal bullets in the air and are completely unburdened by thoughts of where they might land.  

I also think that the real issue now is not winning the war (meaning toppling the Baathist regime), which we will do easily.  The real and messy issue is, "what then?"  I think we are getting into an incredible morass because we do not have the national stomach to do what it takes to reign in the Iraqi factions nor the political will to send enough "boots" to do the job.  in fact, thanks to Carter we do not have the intelligence to know for sure what truly IS needed and thanks to Clinton we do not have the combat-ready brigades to do it anyway.  Rumsfeld seems to have bought into the Clinton idea that we do not need ground troops when we have the technology.  It is my belief both are very, very wrong about that.  The Muslim world will never believe in any altruistic motivation coming from us.  They will always see is as occupiers; as Crusaders.  Only our arrogance and lack of knowledge on their history and core beliefs keeps us from seeing that and launching a major worldwide PR campaign to counter it and then, if we still decide to go for it, launching and maintaining an attack the ferocity of which will make every would be jihadist, terrorist, and insurgent in the world crawl back into their holes and want no part of us for a long time to come.  

Of course we will not do that.  And since we won't we have few strategic opetions left and none are good.  If we end up leaving a mess that forces us to consider a military presence there for very long we will risk a huge backlash.  If we unleashed all the technology and leave them in a smoking crater where their country used to be we will risk a huge backlash. If we do both we risk igniting a global theologically inspired firestorm.   But the only force powerful enough to deal with things, the U.S. military, is precisely the worst group to do it from a symbolic perspective.  It is a real dilemma and one that would have been better served had we stroked some of those petty egos and gotten them at least help us with getting the data out about our purpose and the limits of our intentions.  That we did not do that is something that may come around to bite us hard.

Moreover, and here at last is my REAL reason for not wanting us to be involved, I do not believe a single drop of American blood should be spent for people who will not try to defend themselves or stand up for themselves and demand, along with our own Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Had that cry for freedom happened (or were it to happen) then I think we Americans bear a moral responsibility to come to their aid.  Without it, I think they deserve what they are willing to bear.  And frankly if the people of a culture that treat women as less than second class citizens; that base their criteria of leadership on blood lineages supported by graft and extortion and intimidation, or on a theology that clearly encourages them to hurt, in any way possible, anything American, want to hack each other to ribbons and gas each other into oblivion, that is just fine with me.  I don’t see any reason to protect them and I don’t see any reason to facilitate such regimes with our support and aid that could better be used for our issues here at home.

Nevertheless, at this point and in spite of my beliefs on the subject that should have kept us from getting this far, we did draw that line in the sand.  It was stupid on our part but we did it.  And now that action has a huge symbolic meaning to that region of the world and, having done it, I think we back away now at our own ultimate peril. it was our weakness of response to the clear provocations of Kenya, Lebanon, the Cole and even the original Trade Towers bombing that led inexorably to 9-11.  To show more weakness now after we took a firm stand would be disastrous.

To think that I—or anyone given a moment’s reflection— believe a war of any kind is a good deal for anyone is simply ludicrous.  I can only really speak for myself, but having seen the blood of combat I think I can also speak for many other veterans and long term soldiers when I say that the old cliché that warriors are the very last people to be in favor of war because they know better than any what it means, is accurate.  

Protestors talk about the horrors of war (which they mostly know only anecdotally) but haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.  I do.  I hate war and would go a long way to avoid it.  But I also know that sometimes it is the only action that can be taken in the face of a given situation.  I think this is one of them now.  I think we will either fight now on a battlefield of our choosing or fight later (maybe sooner) on one of theirs. 

In my opinion, this whole situation didn’t need to start that way or get to this point, but it did.  And today, while we may debate for years the wisdom of getting here, we have to make decisions and draw conclusions from where we are at the moment.  So at this point I see no option but to make that line in the sand mean something.  And if it comes to mean anything other than that other countries and tyrants need to take the U.S. seriously, then we are in very deep trouble for the long run.  If we do not believe the tyrant of North Korea is not paying close attention to this then we are living with our heads in the sand.

 However, if you have been reading carefully and not skipped over some important parts, you will also have noted that slowly and inexorably I’ve laid out a case that makes a conflict between Muslim “Believers” and we “infidels” something we are lurching toward somewhat blindly.  They cannot and will not long endure what is to them a purposeful marginalization on our part that keeps them from the rewards promised to the righteous.  Nor can they look internally to identify the real causes.  If you don’t believe that then how do you explain that they would rather live under the brutality of a dynastic monarchy or the day-to-day terror of a secular, idolatrous, evil dictator like Saddam than have an army of unbelievers liberate them?  That seemingly contradictory stand can make absolutely no sense to our occiental minds unless we accept the core facts about the attitudes engendered by the Qur'an about us infidels.  And if we do accept it then we also have to accept that our world contains a huge and dangerous time bomb that is ticking ever more loudly on nearly a day-by-day basis. 

The question is what to do about it.  There are no good options for any of us.  Apocalyptic visions on both sides have foreseen a final epic struggle and both expect it.  Sacred texts of both sides spell out signs of those latter days and, in both cases, the coming to pass of some of those signs indicate that the point of that great battle are rushing headlong down the cosmic highway with us in the headlights.

 It does not so much matter whether an individual reading this believes as they do (on either side) or rejects all that as stupid theological mumbo-jumbo gone awry.  What matters is that a huge portion of the population DOES believe it, expect it, and is preparing for it.  Of the three religions with writings about it and a vested interest in the outcome, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Hinduism and its off-shoots such as Buddhism expect a cataclysm but are not part of the battle bringing it about and don’t see it as the end of all days, merely another cosmic change of planes), Christianity has more of an academic view since it teaches that its believers will have departed the place en masse before it starts.  Therefore it is less troubling on a personal basis for them. But that leaves a large part of the earth’s population exposed to the results of belief structures that will have their adherents gearing up mentally and physically for a great battle that will essentially engulf the world. 

I believe it conceivable that at some point an awkward but temporarily pragmatic coalition of the Muslim world and China will one day decide upon a point where we are or appear weak and ready for them to assert themselves and then they will move.  And they will probably focus that move in the middle east since it accomplishes everything for both parties: it lets the Muslims directly attack their perceived worse enemies and it lets us dissipate our efforts in a difficult part of the world where there combined forces have a better chance of defeating us than they would if they attacked us on our home soil.  If, in fact, that ever happened, it would satisfy nearly all of the events contained in everyone’s apocalyptic prophecies.

 The good news is that there is no specific prophetic date set for this event.  In fact believers are warned that no man knows the time and hour of them.  And that means, potentially, it can be put off somehow.  I could be wrong, but I’d think it would be in nearly everyone’s interest (except perhaps the Chinese) to look toward ways that it might be delayed for a while, maybe a long while.  Wouldn’t it make good sense to explore ways that the various armies of disparate believers girding themselves for a great holy war can be encouraged and persuaded to stand down?  And how does one do that? 

 For starters, it cannot be done by people or nations that will not accept the facts of the underlying cause of unrest: theological teachings.  It cannot be undone by parties that refuse to accept that a core of bigotry, the “us versus them” mentality, long honed by evolution and survival needs, is alive and well in all of us and will not go away simply because it is inconvenient and unproductive or even illegal.  It cannot be undone by people who will not take these beliefs seriously and continue to look at them as carry-overs of quaint tribal rituals that will simply melt away in the light of scientific education.  And it cannot be undone by people who insist on simplistic, slogan-oriented, bumper sticker-inspired views of the world.

  I confess; I do not know the answer or even if there is one.  But it would seem reasonable to me that if, in fact, there is an answer—a solution that can either end or at least seriously delay the impending great conflict—it would be of the highest priority to start studying the issues seriously and searching for it.  Perhaps if that were being done publicly and openly, the mere fact of its efforts would yield some good results.  

I don’t know; that may be hopelessly optimistic.  But I remain convinced that if we do not start on it and do so soon, we will be acting in such a way as to make those apocalyptic visions come true as one of the most ironic and tragic self-fulfilling prophesies ever visited on mankind.  And if we cannot handle the aftermath of this impending conflict with the same skill we will handle the combat, we will have made a major move to set this disaster in motion.


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