Four Girls and a Guy

Welcome to our blog for our University College World Politics class!!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Question #1

What is the most important issue in world politics today, and why?

It's hard for me to pick just one issue in the world politics arena to focus on to answer this question. I think that Americna relations with the rest of the world is going to be very important in the coming years, especially if we keep trying to force our ideas down everyone's throats. I mean think about it. We went into an Islamic country as the champions of democracy without even thinking if democracy would work in a society based on religious values. Our original intent was to get rid of Saddam Hussein because he might be gaining to much power/nuclear capabilities but we ended up smashing our ideals in the face of a society who doesn't accept a lot of them. For example, a big thing in Islam is the inferiority of women. We forced the new government to have women involved. It might be a good thing in the end but the means in which it was done makes the US seem like conquerors. It's almost as if we are saying, "Do things my way or else I will come kick your ass." I think that if the Iraquis were left to their own devices, sooner or later they would see the light and would try to reform themselves. As for the conflict now, I believe that if we had tried to go through the UN or if there was a clear threat of nuclear retaliation, we would have done better in the eyes of the world and the US citizens. As it was, we went in without the support of many countries that we thought were our allies and we didn't have a clear plan and now we are stuck with a mess that we have to clean up becasue we caused it. Even in the early stages of the conflict, it seemed to me that we were looking to attack anyone who even mentioned the word nuclear. We were jumpy and nervous that someone was going to attack us again, which is resonable to a point. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the US should drop everything and leave. I think that becasue we didn't think things through, we caused a mess and we are now responsible for cleaning it up properly.

In conclusion, I believe that US foreign relations are going to be the most improtant part of the global arena in the coming years, especially if the Iraq conflict explodes into a civil war.

21 Comments:

Blogger Adam said...

I think that Americna relations with the rest of the world is going to be very important in the coming years, especially if we keep trying to force our ideas down everyone's throats.

I agree. We have a quasi-religious belief in American capitalist democracy, and there were many among us (especially among the conservative pundits) who believed our troops would be greeted with roses and flowers, followed by the construction of Iraqi McDonald’s and JCPennys.

I mean think about it. We went into an Islamic country as the champions of democracy without even thinking if democracy would work in a society based on religious values…..For example, a big thing in Islam is the inferiority of women. We forced the new government to have women involved. It might be a good thing in the end but the means in which it was done makes the US seem like conquerors

This is innacurate. Iraq was not “an society based on religious values.” Iraq under Saddam was actually highly secular, more in line with a conventional dictatorship. Women were present in all levels of the Iraqi government. Women also had much more rights than in more religious parts of the Middle East, owning property, going in public without the veil or a male relative, controlling their own finances, and did not suffer “honor killings.” Pre-invasion Iraq was still a very sexist society, but compared to its neighbors it was quite friendly to women.

Saddam distrusted and clamped down on the overly religious because they interfered with his quasi-socialist/Pan-Arab doctrine of Baathism. He was particularly harsh on the heavily religious Shia, killing them in droves and targeting their priests. Saddam did favor the Sunnis, but this favoritism was more ethnic in nature, and not in the least of ways religious. For his secularism and suppression of conservative Islam, Saddam was the target of multiple extremist groups, some of which were sponsored by Iran. When there were religious displays in Iraq, they were always canned. Conservative Islam was something Saddam did very hard to keep under, particularly the fanatical kind that Al-Qaeda epouses. Such a volatile force would have undermined Saddam’s control. Iraqi society was cosmopolitan and westernized in nature, and up until 1991 had close ties to the United States, sending over scientists and political science students to our top universities.

It was only after we overthrew Saddam that fundamentalist Islam reared its head. And it thrived in the power vacuum that the war created. Now college-educated women must wear veils and burkhas to avoid being beaten by Shiite religious gangs.

Our original intent was to get rid of Saddam Hussein because he might be gaining to much power/nuclear capabilities but we ended up smashing our ideals in the face of a society who doesn't accept a lot of them… It's almost as if we are saying, "Do things my way or else I will come kick your ass."

In 2003, we were told that we had to depose Saddam Hussein because (1) he had weapons of mass destruction, (2) links to the 9/11 plotters, and (3) he was going to use both on us if we didn’t overthrow him. All three of these claims turned out to be false. None of these phantom WMDs have been found, save for a few rusting and decaying hulks that posed no threat to anyone and had already been catalogued in arms inspection reports. The 9/11 Commission, and the Iraqi Perspectives Project (who had access to Hussein’s top-secret documents) found no evidence of collaboration with Al-Qaeda. And as you well know, the pre-war intelligence that Bush used to sell the war turned out to be absolute bunk, lapped up by traumatized American public and a docile media. The argument that we needed to bring democracy to Iraq only came about after the invasion.

Furthermore, I think it’s a bit reductive to blame our failure on the a supposed innate Islamic-ness in Iraq, because it takes the blame off of the neoconservatives in our government who supported the invasion in the first place. They can claim that “hey, we tried, but those Ay-rubs just didn’t want their freedom.” That’s not true at all. 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of hostilities. The Iraqi army was dissolved and we enforced a humiliating policy of “de-Baathification,” blacklisting anyone who had anything to do with Saddam and thus putting many thousands of soldiers and civil servants out of jobs. There have been horrific civilian atrocities committed by American soldiers, and the daily humiliations of a military occupation by nervous, trigger-happy soldiers with no knowledge of Arab culture, language, and religion. Not to mention harsh economic conditions and a lack of basic security, fuel, running water ,and electricity. The Iraqis are pissed, and for good reason.

I think that if the Iraquis were left to their own devices, sooner or later they would see the light and would try to reform themselves. As for the conflict now, I believe that if we had tried to go through the UN or if there was a clear threat of nuclear retaliation, we would have done better in the eyes of the world and the US citizens. As it was, we went in without the support of many countries that we thought were our allies and we didn't have a clear plan…. Even in the early stages of the conflict, it seemed to me that we were looking to attack anyone who even mentioned the word nuclear. We were jumpy and nervous that someone was going to attack us again, which is resonable to a point.

Maybe the Iraqis would have overthrown Saddam eventually, but that’s not really the point. The Middle East (and the rest of the world) is filled with equally murderous dictators and we really can’t go around knocking over anyone we don’t like.

There was a legitimate problem with Iraqi noncompliance over nuclear issues, but as the Iraqi Perspectives Projects documents reveal, Saddam was bluffing, trying to make us think he had something so we wouldn’t invade him. And he had good reason to think we were going to, considering that we had bombed Iraq for 12 years after 1991 and sponsored various insurgent groups trying to overthrow him.

And it was true that many governments other than the US suspected that he had something to hide, but no government was absolutely sure, and one does not invade other countries on a hunch. The reason why we did not receive any support in the 2002-2003 run-up to the war is that the multinational community suspected (and were right) that Bush did not have concrete evidence of WMDs and was going to invade Iraq no matter what conclusion the UN came to. If we had negotiated in good faith, we would have received multinational support and resolved Saddam’s nuclear issues without violence. Saddam had no friends in the region, and everyone was interested in seeing that he posed no threat. However, that was never Bush’s intention to begin with, so this point is academic.

I think you have a very good point about the trauma of 9/11. We were so scared that we were willing to buy into Bush’s cooked pre-war intel. I know I was.

And now we are stuck with a mess that we have to clean up becasue we caused it… Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the US should drop everything and leave. I think that becasue we didn't think things through, we caused a mess and we are now responsible for cleaning it up properly.

Ah, the pottery barn argument. If you break it, you have to pay for it. “We can’t leave” is not a strategy. It does not translate into a plan on how to fix the situation. It is just a meaningless catchphrase, like Richard Nixon’s fulmination that he was not going to be “The first president to lose a war.”

See my response to Byran’s post for an explanation of why.

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=33717984&postID=115732955588250659

In conclusion, I believe that US foreign relations are going to be the most improtant part of the global arena in the coming years, especially if the Iraq conflict explodes into a civil war.

It is a civil war, and has been one since early 2006. Sunnis and Shiites are slaughtering each other left and right and power has migrated from the central government to sectarian militias. If this not a civil war, I don’t know what is.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Hmm....the link I posted to Bryan's comment isn't working, so here's one that does. I cover some of the reasons why we ultimtely cannot win in Iraq.

Click Here

Also, read this speech from the 1972 Winter Soldier investigation, which makes a very forceful case against the "stay the course" rhetoric that Nixon employed in Vietnam. One can update it to the present circumstances.

Click Here

9:26 PM  
Blogger Beka said...

Thanks for you input. I believe I got a few facts mismatched with the conflict in Afghanistan. I think that Bush knew the evidence wasn't very substantial yet he wanted an excuse to go in there. I don't think any type of dictator is a good thing but I think we could have handled it in a better way.
What you are telling me in reference to the "pottery barn theory" is that you think we should pull out ASAP?! If we did that, Iraq would surely go into a civil war if it hasn't already. We need to support the transitional government as long as it takes even if that includes a draft. I also agree that the Iraqis have a right to be angry with us. Wouldn't you be if the situation was reversed? I wasn't disputing that fact at all. I was merely stating that the Iraqi people didn't appreciate the way their freedom was handed to them. I think that if you have to fight for something, you appreciate it so much more.
It seems to me that you are taking my words in a context that I didn't mean and I hope that isn't true for everyone who reads it. I will try to get my points across clearer in the future.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

on another note...cheese is delicious

11:37 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Thanks for you input. I believe I got a few facts mismatched with the conflict in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan? Who said anything about Afghanistan?

I think that Bush knew the evidence wasn't very substantial yet he wanted an excuse to go in there.

I think there is a substantial case that Cheney, Perle, Wolfowitz and the rest of the neocons wanted to use Iraq as the test for their theories of “democracy promotion” in the Mideast. You can see in Project for the New American Century and other right-wing tanks many position papers from the mid-90’s about plans to invade Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Cheney and Perle met with Chalabi and planned Iraq overthrow plans ever since the Gulf War. I think Bush was more or less someone who got thrown along for the ride in the whole thing.

I don't think any type of dictator is a good thing but I think we could have handled it in a better way.

Does that mean you think that we could had a successful invasion of Iraq that would have led to a different result? Not with this administration, which was more interested in crackpot intellectual theories (“democracy promotion”), crackpot military doctrine (Rumsfeld’s “light reaction forces”), and war profiteering (Halliburton, Bechtel, etc) than actually prosecuting a successful war. In any case, a smart administration would not have invaded in the first place. Saddam was a brutal man but he held Iraq together (which we can’t), and he posed no real threat to us. Some (on the internationalist Left) believe we should have invaded him for human rights purposes, but you and I know that’s bunk---you put it best when you said that people don’t like having freedom fed to them in the barrel of a gun.

What you are telling me in reference to the "pottery barn theory" is that you think we should pull out ASAP?! If we did that, Iraq would surely go into a civil war if it hasn't already. We need to support the transitional government as long as it takes even if that includes a draft.

Nowhere did I say that we have to pull out tomorrow. In my comment to Bryan, I stated that “we should phase out our troops and then install some ruthless despot in power who is fearsome enough to scare everyone into submission.” The words phase out do not mean a immediate withdrawal. Most opponents of the war want United States troops pulled out gradually over a period of many months/a year. The idea that somehow being against the war means you want the troops out next week is a straw man set up by conservative pundits. All of this, along with the reasons why I believe that continuing to stay will make things worse, are in my response to Bryan.

I don’t believe I have to repeat those arguments here (since I provided you with a fixed link to it in my second comment), but it does have something to do with the Foer book: nationalism, and the corrupt and ineffectual “transitional governments’” basic lack of credibility and loyalty from the Iraqi people. Read the comment for the whole deal.

As for the draft, that’s really beyond the pale. Militarily, it’s unfeasible. Generals have spoken out against the idea for several reasons. (1), We have a much different military than we did 30-40 years ago. We are no longer a conscript force, instead we’ve become a specialized volunteer force more akin to the highly trained royal mercenary armies of old Europe.

Even the lowliest ground soldier has to highly trained over a long period of time, in other words quality over quantity. Warfare has changed considerably to favor small, highly trained and autonomous units over large and clunky armies. In counter-insurgencies especially it’s not about how much you field but what they are able to do. We escalated in Vietnam by a huge amount, but it didn’t do much good because our troops were napalming villages and fighting to prop up a corrupt South Vietnamese puppet regime that everyone hated. I guess history repeats itself…

It’s impossible to impart that level of training and sophistication to a conscript army, especially as quickly as we would need them in Iraq, and fielding a large and unwieldy group of half-baked trigger-happy greens is a sure-fire way to create a military disaster in Iraq. It’s like sending a mob of Civil War-era soldiers to fight in World War I. (2) I don’t see where the money for this massive conscript army is going to come from, especially the money needed to train them, in this era of deficit spending and economic hardship.

As I said in my post to Bryan, there is no public will for a draft. Close to 60% of the public thinks that the war is a mistake. It would tear this country apart. Part of the reason we do not see marches on the street right now is that the army is a small segment of the population. When everyone (and their children) are at risk from dying for George Bush’s Iraqi crusade, the sh*t will hit the fan. And it’s a fair concern, don’t you think? You’re 17-18. Would you die to bring “democracy” to Iraq? What about your brother or sister? Your friends? Why should anyone have to be the last person to die for a mistake?

I also agree that the Iraqis have a right to be angry with us. Wouldn't you be if the situation was reversed? I wasn't disputing that fact at all. I was merely stating that the Iraqi people didn't appreciate the way their freedom was handed to them. I think that if you have to fight for something, you appreciate it so much more.

Damn right they do. If I were in their place, I would probably be fighting too. And what they were given was not “freedom” in any sense of the term. The Iraqi government is a puppet government of thugs and charlatans who are affiliated with Shiite death squads. Since the downfall of Hussein, religious groups have destroyed liquor shops, forced women to relinquish their rights, and stoned gays to death. American troops humiliate and frighten Iraqis with poorly planned raids. Imagine sitting at your home and suddenly men in body armor toting machine guns burst into your house, shooting and yelling in a foreign language. Things we take for granted like fuel, food, a stable income, public services (electricity, sewage, running water, et cetera) and any sort of security/policing are nonexistent. Car bombs and religious violence are endemic. You can be killed just for being Shia or Sunni on sight. That’s not freedom at all.

I agree with you that the change ultimately had to come from the Iraqis. Just like the Serbians, things would only have worked out if they took out Saddam.

It seems to me that you are taking my words in a context that I didn't mean

In what way?

1:52 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:11 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Oh, and one other thing:

If we did that, Iraq would surely go into a civil war if it hasn't already.

Iraq is already in a civil war. On one side are the Shiites, wielding paramilitary death squads that are tacitly supported by the Iraqi government. There are three factions with the Shiia—the Sadrists, the government, and the Sistani loyalists, each operating sometimes independently, and sometimes together.

On the other are Sunni terrorists employing their own death squads (composed of highly trained and deadly Iraqi army veterans) and a host of other deadly weapons. On the other side is Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which supports the Sunnis but is more focused on fighting the Americans.

On another side is the nationalist insurgency, whose enemy are the Americans and whose goals sometimes overlap with that of the Sunnis (as many of them are Sunnis). Then there's the Kurds, trying to play all the powers against each other in an effort to get their own independent country in Northern Iraq, with control of lucrative oil reserves.

Meanwhile, Iran manipulates the Shiia parties, trying to create a trans-regional Shiia revival. And Turkey prepares to invade Northern Iraq in case the Kurds succeed in getting their own state, because Turkey would like to avoid seeing their Kurds get all uppity (and start bombing Turks like the PKK did before Abdullah Ocalan was captured).

I don’t see how anyone can say that this is not a civil war. It may not be the kind we are familiar with in our own history because it is not a conventional war. But it is a civil war. It’s a tangled mess, and one that can’t be sorted out by American force of arms. One of the points I made in my comment to Bryan is that another group of “liberators, ” the British, occupied Iraq after World War I. And the exact same thing happened to them---they lost a lot of men and had to get out after they realized that the Iraqis were better left to their own devices.

Saddam Hussein was able to keep all of these competing interests in line because he knew how the game was played in the Middle East and was ruthless enough to kill anyone who even looked at him the wrong way—and he could get away with it too, because he was an Iraqi tyrant, not an Iranian, Israeli, or American one. People will rather serve the devil they know than the devil they don’t. And we had to invade and get rid of him--thus opening the gates to hell.

2:23 AM  
Blogger Beka said...

How many sides can a civil war have?!!! I don't believe it has escaled to a civil war level yet because there isn't a mass organization of fighters that are clearly on one side or the other. Right now we have various small factions randomly bombing things. It doesn't seem like very organized fighting and there really isn't a lot of it. There might be car bombs every day but there aren't massive amounts of people dying every day, which is what you make it sound like. And if Iran and Turkey get involved, like you say, it still won't be a civil war because the definition of a civil war is a war between political factions or regions within the same country according to dictionary.com.
Thank you for correcting me on what your views are in reference to the military involvement.
No one mentioned Afghanistan but I said some things about Iraq in my post that really happened in Afghanistan.
When I say we could have done it in a better way I obviously don't mean with the current administration. Clearly, they only serve their interests. I was reading the articles for class tommorrow and one of the authors made the point that the US says they are champions of democracy in the world, yet when the UN does something we don't like, then we basically ignore it. Our government is basically only interested in what is best for them and not the citizens.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

How many sides can a civil war have?!!! I don't believe it has escaled to a civil war level yet because there isn't a mass organization of fighters that are clearly on one side or the other. Right now we have various small factions randomly bombing things. It doesn't seem like very organized fighting and there really isn't a lot of it. There might be car bombs every day but there aren't massive amounts of people dying every day, which is what you make it sound like.

Again, you’re using an outdated definition of a civil war that’s more or less cribbed from our own civil war. When we as Americans think of a civil war, we think two sides, with massive armies, grey vs. blue, battling out at Gettsyburg, Union vs. Confederacy. That kind of warfare doesn’t exist anymore. There hasn’t been a really big conventional war since 1945. Most conflicts these days are waged within countries, by various factions mainly fighting through asymmetric warfare, using tactics such as assassination, insurgency, terrorist bombings, hit-and-run attacks, etc. Lastly, a civil war doesn’t have to have only two combatants. The conflict in Colombia is a civil war even though it has multiple groups fighting.

Additionally, just because the conflict is not conventional does not mean that it is just a punch of punks running around killing at pure random. Iraq is what warfare looks like in much of the world right now---limited warfare waged by guerrilla and terrorist groups instead of conventional armies. As you might have noticed in Lebanon, these groups, like Hezbollah for example, are not a bunch of random people hiding out in the desert. They are highly efficient military and political organizations that in some places have supplanted the role of the state itself. In fact, many people in the foreign policy and military think that these ethnic and religious groups will in the end render states obsolete in much of the Third World. Read University of Jerusalem’s Professor Martin Van Creveld’s book The Transformation of War to get a better picture of how this goes.

What you are looking for in the “mass organization” is to see armies of Sunnis and Shiites charging at each other in perfect battle formation .That’s never going to happen. What is going on is a civil war that is multidimensional in scope but centers mainly on ethnic and religious differences. Kurds want own state. Sunnis want to rule. Shiites want to create an Islamic caliphate and kill all the Sunnis. ‘Nuff said.

By the way, the bombings/killings are not “random”, and there are certainly “a lot” of them. According to CNN, 1,600 civilians died in July alone as the result of sectarian attacks, following an upward trend that started earlier this year, adding up to a average of 1,000 Iraqi civilians dying each month. This might not seem like a lot, but when you calibrate it in relation to Iraq’s population (which is much smaller than ours). And if you want to get technical about it there are many people, most notably Nation writer Robert Dreyfuss who think that the real numbers (supplied by the Iraqi government, which hardly has enough people in the field to count) are vastly underreported. Dreyfuss, operating from the UN ‘s Iraq statistics report and his own calculations, tallies up total of 1,000-2,000 per week. Either way, it’s not pretty.

Each faction, whose numbers are in the thousands, are carrying out highly organized campaigns to destabilize the central government and ethnically and politically purge their enemies. This is efficient, organized, cold-blooded killing. And it certainly fits the definition of a civil war.

And if Iran and Turkey get involved, like you say, it still won't be a civil war because the definition of a civil war is a war between political factions or regions within the same country according to dictionary.com.

I don’t see your point. Iran and Turkey are not involved right now, hence it is still a civil war instead of a regional war. I think a regional war would be much, much worse. Don’t you?

In any case, your definition proves my point, Iraq is a war between political factions and regions within the same country.

No one mentioned Afghanistan but I said some things about Iraq in my post that really happened in Afghanistan.


Oh. I see. I stand corrected. Afghanistan is a whole ‘nother ballgame in itself.

When I say we could have done it in a better way I obviously don't mean with the current administration.

I took your point there. My larger point is that a truly competent Administration would never have gone into Iraq in the first place.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Oh, and here is

Robert Dreyfuss's claim:

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/07/21/iraqs_bloody_july.php

Make what you want out of it. No way to verify it until long after the Iraq war is over.

Depending on who you ask the statistics are different, but most people agree that the deaths per month since January range in the high hundreds (700-900) to something like 1,000.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Beka said...

I realize how many Iraqis have died but that doesn't make it a civil war. US involvement in Iraq also makes it not a civil war and thank you for briging up the point that a war can have more than one side.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

I realize how many Iraqis have died but that doesn't make it a civil war.

So? I didn’t say that a high death toll makes a civil war. I was just pointing out that there has been a huge casualty toll, refuting your point earlier that I was exaggerating the amount of carnage.

US involvement in Iraq also makes it not a civil war.

Why not? The United States has advisors (and some special forces units) in Colombia and that still hasn’t changed the nature of that conflict. US involvement in Iraq does not change the conflict from civil war to regional war status---it’s not as if Turkey and Iran have suddenly intervened with massive military force.

“Civil war” is not the most perfect and clean definition, especially because its terminology in the popular American mind has not changed in 140 years, while warfare has. However, I believe that the facts on the ground in Iraq demonstrate that it is the most appropriate.

The idea that a civil war can only consist of two sides fighting each other without interference from an outside power is wrong-headed. In this modern era of crumbling borders, essentially local conflicts often involve outside powers. It’s all in Van Creveld, as well as the writings of Naval Academy prof. John Arquilla, military analyst John Robb, and 4th generation warfare theorist Col. Thomas X. Hammes.

This war is multidimensional---on one level there is a war of the Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and other groups. We are caught in the middle, supporting the Shiites/Kurdish dominated government over all the rest. The Israelis intervened similarly in Lebanon’s civil war, supporting the Christians against everyone else (as did we when our warships shelled the other militias in the late 80’s.) And the PLO and the Iranian Pasdaran were active in Lebanon as well. The Israelis occupied a huge chunk of Lebanon and fought a very similar war before bitterly withdrawing.

Yet if you asked any Lebanese during that point in time, he or she would not claim at all that Israeli involvement did changed the basic fact that different factions of political and ethnic groups were fighting each other for control of the country . This is what is going on in Iraq right now. Different factions, each fighting and killing each other in a battle for control of the country. The difference is that we have chosen sides.

This argument has come down to semantic quibbling over whether Iraq fits a narrow interpretation of the dictionary.com definition of a civil war. It’s not as if this definition is coming from the mouth of Henry Kissinger or Walter Russell Mead. But on a greater level, what does it matter what we call it? Isn’t it a bad thing that Iraqis are slaughtering each other because of our mistake? Why the resistance in calling it a civil war?

At the risk of putting words into your mouth, I’d say it’s because the term civil war reflects something intractable and local, ethnic hatreds spiraling out of control, and ultimately unsolvable by American means, a fight whose conclusion will depend on what the Iraqis decide. Believing it is a regular war fits better because wars can be won, and wars are simple….Pistols at ten paces, tanks rolling down the street in battle formation. But Iraq is anything but simple.

And it also poses a big problem in terms of rhetoric, if the argument is "If we leave, there will be a civil war." If there is already a civil war going on, it makes the case for staying the course weaker. Because, after all, the mother of a soldier might say, "how much worse can it get?"

Obviously it isn’t that simple. But “staying the course” is equally as simplistic, not a strategy, it’s just a slogan.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

In addition to the points I just posted, I'd also like to ask you to truthfully answer my question a few comments ago:

You’re 17-18. Would you die to bring “democracy” to Iraq? What about your brother or sister? Your friends?

6:43 PM  
Blogger Beka said...

I would die to support my country even if I didn't think the war was right. I might not like the fact that I was there, but I would do my job and support the US. I don't think I would like it if my family was there but I wouldn't picket at the White House, would pray for their safe return and if they died, I would know it was for their country. The same thing goes for my friends as well. While I would moarn the loss, I know they were just doing their civc duty to their country.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

did you know that 13 people a year die from vending machines falling on them? I'm not kidding, they try and shake it to get their treats, and it falls on them! I mean, who would ever guess?

that being said, I agree with Beka and I believe no one can be a true patriot without being willing to die for their country

12:51 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

I might not like the fact that I was there, but I would do my job and support the US.

The implication here is that those who don’t support the war are therefore anti-American. That’s not true. Although there is always a fringe of hemp-smoking wackos who may burn flags, the vast majority of those against the war think it’s a genuinely bad idea for America. And, as opinion polls indicate, right now that’s a solid majority of the American populace.

Besides, dissent is one of the most hallowed of American traditions—and often times it’s a good thing. One of the greatest advantages we have over our enemies is that they are surrounded by yes-men who will tell them what they want to hear, whereas in America we can tell the President to stop digging if he is already deep in a hole. And we are in a hole right now.

I think we both can agree that the administration here is not interested in digging itself out of the hole. It would rather leave that task to others. Bush said that the troops will remain in Iraq after he leaves office. And the sad thing is that the more people believe that supporting their country means approving of something even they are beginning to doubt, the deeper the hole will get.

I may come down hard on the U.S., but it’s more out of a sense of frustration of a destiny squandered and raw sadness over the senselessness of all of this. I felt that after we defeated the Soviets we really had chance to be a light unto the world and make things better for everyone. Perhaps that was a more a reflection of the foolish “sky’s the limit” spirit of the 1990s then anything else. But that all went down the drain, due to a confluence of many factors. Watching Iraq, Afghanistan, and our standing in the world right now is like watching that promise slowly die after a long period of illness.

Thanks for giving an honest and truthful answer to my question. I have asked many people that, but they always seem to tiptoe around it. Now it leads to my other question: it seems you feel this war is so valuable to America that you are willing to die for it, despite your own evident doubts in the manner in which it is being waged. That’s a powerful belief. If that is so, what are you doing at a four-year college, and not on the battlefield itself? You will turn 18 soon, I imagine.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

did you know that 13 people a year die from vending machines falling on them? I'm not kidding, they try and shake it to get their treats, and it falls on them! I mean, who would ever guess?

huh? *scratches head*

1:25 AM  
Blogger Beka said...

I didn't mean to imply that those who don't support the war are anti-american. Of ocurse dissent is a big part of our government. I think that again you are reading too much into what I am saying. Either that or I am writing poorly. By no means do I think that at all. I just ment that I would lend support to my country even if I didn't believe in the cause. It's not the common soldier's fault that we have a war in Iraq.

12:01 PM  
Blogger lennear said...

cheese is delicious

12:07 PM  
Blogger Adam said...



I didn't mean to imply that those who don't support the war are anti-american. Of ocurse dissent is a big part of our government.


Thank you for clarifying that.



I just ment that I would lend support to my country even if I didn't believe in the cause. It's not the common soldier's fault that we have a war in Iraq.



Why's that? Doesn't supporting your country also mean telling it when it is wrong? Let's put it this way: if your friend is blindfolded and slowly about to walk off a cliff. Is trying to take that blindfold off and tell your friend that he is about to fall is somehow doing your friend a disservice?

For example, in Israel after the Lebanon disaster, Olmert was attacked with a ferocity that we would never see here.

The reason is that the Israelis, used to fighting for their survival continously over the last 50 years, realized that unless they learned from their mistakes, those mistakes could be fatal. When they realized in the late 80's in Lebanon that their government had no plan to stabiilize the country other than "stay the course or else", they pulled out quickly. Because they didn't accept a catchphrase when their nation needed a strategy.

The problem is that here, we don't have that attitude because we think that we are somehow undermining ourselves by casting an honest eye at our failings abroad.

And I don't think it's the common soldier's fault we're in Iraq either. The greatest service we would be doing them would not be to give support to an enterprise that is clearly failing, but to find a means of getting them out of harm's way.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Also, thanks for having this dialogue with me. It's gotten very long-winded, but I enjoyed it. As I told Elliot, it's like push-ups for your brain.

12:22 PM  

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