ID:190054
 
Here's a funny thought: if the majority of the world is opposed to the war in Iraq, then which side of the war debate is the underdog sticking up for its beliefs in the face of determined opposition and which side is just going with the flow?
Leftley wrote:
Here's a funny thought: if the majority of the world is opposed to the war in Iraq, then which side of the war debate is the underdog sticking up for its beliefs in the face of determined opposition and which side is just going with the flow?

Where I live, San Francisco, the underdogs are definitely those who feel that a guy who murders/is-responsible-for-the-death-of millions should be removed.

The mainstream are those who feel that we should do nothing to help people being murdered, whether by genocide in Bosnia, genocide in Rwanda, tyranny in Afghanistan, or genocide/general murder in Iraq. Or, perhaps more accurately, that killing a small number of people to save a large number in another country is a greater crime than killing millions of people in your own country.

The peer pressure to be in the "mainstream" is immense, and those who believe that human rights are universal and should be defended, even with our own lives to help others in other countries gain those rights, are generally despised and unaccepted.

Or something like that.
In response to Deadron (#1)
That's about my thoughts on it. I don't like the path that got us here, but if the end result is that Saddam is removed with a minimum of violence, I'll be glad we got there.
In response to Deadron (#1)
Deadron wrote:
The peer pressure to be in the "mainstream" is immense, and those who believe that human rights are universal and should be defended, even with our own lives to help others in other countries gain those rights, are generally despised and unaccepted.

Well, I don't know about this "mainstream" you speak of, but I am in the majority of people (at least where I live) that oppose the war ON THE BASIS OF HUMAN RIGHTS. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HELP PEOPLE BY BOMBING THEM INTO THE STONE AGE. Which is basically what's happening. So much for a quick decisive war, huh?

I'm sorry if I appear annoyed. I've seen you make similar comments to that several times before, and I've held my tongue. But I refuse to let you imply that those who oppose war also oppose human rights. I find that implication insulting and shameful. If you did not mean to make it, I apologize. If you did, I request that you withdraw it.
In response to Deadron (#1)
I believe Bush is doing what he thinks is best, regardless. I also believe anyone in power and their family members should not be allowed to be in a position of power ever again, to avoid fueds.

America received none, if not very little grief from "terrorists" while clinton was up there. So what does this say?

In response to Crispy (#3)
Gee, keeping up the original intent of this thread, I would point out some of the irony here, but you seem to be doing an excellent job of keeping it visible.
In response to Leftley (#5)
Really.

I have made my beliefs on this issue clear before. If you want to disagree with me, go ahead. That's your choice. But please don't insult me while doing so.
In response to Crispy (#3)
Crispy wrote:
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HELP PEOPLE BY BOMBING THEM INTO THE STONE AGE. Which is basically what's happening.

Actually it's the most precise, non-stone-age bombing in history, with probably the lowest civilian casualties ever for a fight of this magnitude. In wars like WWII, more civilians would die in an afternoon than are likely to die in this entire war.


So much for a quick decisive war, huh?

It's been 5 days, and things are moving along pretty fast. You were looking for a 2 day war, maybe? Time was, wars took years. This will take weeks or, at worst, a month+. Extremely fast war (probably shorter than the first Gulf War).


But I refuse to let you imply that those who oppose war also oppose human rights. I find that implication insulting and shameful.

So do I, but after much listening, I can't avoid it: Some people appear to prefer that millions (yes, millions) of people die under Saddam, and they'll have it no other way. They insist we not lift a finger to help those people. Not only that, they insisted we not help Afghanis and Bosnians while they were being slaughtered. Fortunately, we ignored them and saved the lives anyway.

If you do believe in human rights for Iraqis, I'd be curious how you feel they should receive some of those rights. Since the last Gulf War, well over a million have died under Saddam. 30,000 were killed right after the war, in punishment for trying to rise up against him. Hundreds of thousands (some say a couple of million or more) babies/children have died because he spent the food money on big building projects. If you believe in human rights for Iraqis, surely you believe it's wrong to sit by while they are killed in vast numbers?


If you did not mean to make it, I apologize. If you did, I request that you withdraw it.

I can't withdraw it. It's what I see, every day. People who prefer that millions die of starvation/murder, rather than a couple of thousand in a war to stop starvation/murder can't possibly be for human rights in any meaningful way.

Every day I get more frustrated about this. Just a couple of days ago a good friend proudly displayed the "got rights?" protest t-shirt she'd worn to the latest war protest. I was aghast. How could someone simultaneously protest that American rights were being taken away while at the same moment protesting against rights being provided for Iraqis?

To see where you are on all this, give yourself this little quiz:

1. Was Bosnia better under the dictator Milosovich who was committing genocide against Muslims, or is it better now, after we fought him, that it's a democracy not committing genocide?

2. Was Afghanistan better under the Taliban with women being stoned, women unable to be educated or to receive medical attention, public murders in front of stadiums full of people, or is it better now, after we destroyed the Taliban, that it's run by a man chosen by a traditional committee (not quite democracy, but much closer than the Taliban), and women can get medical care and educations, men are not killed for not wearing a beard, and people are able to live their lives in relative peace?

3. Was Iraq better under Saddam, who killed millions of Iraqis directly and indirectly, allowed no freedom of speech, intentionally dumped the largest oil spill in history into the Gulf, committed genocide against the Kurds, filled in swamps that were the source of food and life for a whole region of the country, or will it be better without him?

Simple questions. Answering them will give you a sense how much you value human life and rights.
In response to Deadron (#7)
Deadron wrote:
If you do believe in human rights for Iraqis, I'd be curious how you feel they should receive some of those rights. Since the last Gulf War, well over a million have died under Saddam. 30,000 were killed right after the war, in punishment for trying to rise up against him. Hundreds of thousands (some say a couple of million or more) babies/children have died because he spent the food money on big building projects. If you believe in human rights for Iraqis, surely you believe it's wrong to sit by while they are killed in vast numbers?

I agree that Saddam shouldn't be in power. The problem, I think, is that there really is no ideal solution. Leaving it alone isn't ideal. As you said, large numbers of people get killed in wars, so that isn't ideal either. Personally, I would have preferred that the US went through the United Nations processes, but then again, that might not have achieved anything. The only good thing about this war is that it's the lesser of a number of evils.

To see where you are on all this, give yourself this little quiz:

In response, I have a little quiz for you as well.

Was it right for the US to supply weapons and training to a number of Afghanis, including Osama bin Laden, to fight against the Russians?

Did the security of the region and the conditions the civilians lived in improve when the US supplied weapons to both Iran and Iraq, for use against each other?

(I could list more, but I'm running out of time. So I guess I better post this.)
In response to Crispy (#8)
In response, I have a little quiz for you as well.

I will take the quiz!


Was it right for the US to supply weapons and training to a number of Afghanis, including Osama bin Laden, to fight against the Russians?

No. It's time to rectify our past mistakes!


Did the security of the region and the conditions the civilians lived in improve when the US supplied weapons to both Iran and Iraq, for use against each other?

No. It's time to rectify our past mistakes!


Quiz score: A+

HOORAY!
In response to Crispy (#8)
If the fact that a solution isn't ideal should keep us from doing it, then we should never do anything, because we're not lucky enough to live in an ideal world.

As for our past missteps... what Gughunter said. We should've done something about the Taliban a long, long time ago... but instead, we waited until we were the ones being hurt. We should've done more about bin Laden, as well... you may or may not remember that under Clinton, we launched a few targetted missile strikes his way, but the Republicans were quick to jump on that as political opportunism. "Bin Laden's not a threat, you're just doing this to distract us from the real issue, your sex life."
In response to Crispy (#8)
Crispy wrote:
I agree that Saddam shouldn't be in power. The problem, I think, is that there really is no ideal solution. Leaving it alone isn't ideal.

I appreciate your saying that. That statement shows you are trying to grapple with the larger moral issues, which, near as I can tell after much watching and listening, the vast majority of anti-war protesters are not. They believe "war is bad" is a sufficient answer, and no other questions need be asked.


Personally, I would have preferred that the US went through the United Nations processes, but then again, that might not have achieved anything. The only good thing about this war is that it's the lesser of a number of evils.

Unfortunately, the UN, by its nature, will never be helpful when force is called for. Since the UN is peopled by the same tyrants that are causing so many problems, they will almost never "authorize" a military action, preferring to stand by and let things run their course, no matter how bloody that might be. When they have gotten involved militarily, they have been a disaster. In the Bosnian conflict they created "safety zones", disarmed the people in those zones, then (I wish I was making this up), decided to give up and marched the males to the enemy to be killed. I personally believe that once you have guaranteed the safety of a people, you are morally obligated to stay and fight to the end, even if you are outnumbered. Anything else is a moral outrage.

The UN is an important body, or at least the Security Council used to be (the rest has always been a joke) and I hope that they can build legitimacy and be a force for good in the world. Probably, though, actual actions will always need to be taken by large powers, who can more easily make a decision and follow it through, without designing policy by international committee.


In response, I have a little quiz for you as well.

I have to take the non-answer to mean that you do feel things are better in Bosnia and Afghanistan now than they were before our actions.

I will answer your questions:

Was it right for the US to supply weapons and training to a number of Afghanis, including Osama bin Laden, to fight against the Russians?

Yes, it was right to help those people in their fight against the Soviets. It was, though, wrong for us to abandon Afghanistan the moment that was over, allowing them to wallow in poverty, setting up the conditions for the Taliban to take over. We should have taken post-war responsibility for rebuilding Afghanistan and moving it toward democracy, and we were tragically wrong to not do so. Our post-war inaction led to many deaths and much of the world situation today.


Did the security of the region and the conditions the civilians lived in improve when the US supplied weapons to both Iran and Iraq, for use against each other?

I can honestly say I'm not sure what we should have done here. At the time, Iraq was the more progressive, liberal force. Women had rights, it was a secular state (though a dictatorship), and probably a much better place with more (it seemed) potential to become democratic than Iran. For that matter, Iraq was a much better place than Kuwait when the first Gulf War started, and I'm ambivalent about aspects of the first war for that reason, especially since we did not live up to our commitment to move Kuwait to being a more civilized place after the war.

A million people died in the Iran/Iraq war (half a million on each side), neither side was a morally positive force, Iraq seemed to be the ones to support. It wasn't clear how bad Saddam would get -- back then, he was still to some degree thought of as the "Kennedy of the Arab world", a progressive force improving things.

I think we were wrong to supply arms in an attempt to keep two powers militarily equivalent, so they would eat away at each other with neither winning (we were successful at that part), but I don't know what the "right" policy would have been.

I will echo Gug's statements, though: Our past mistakes (and we've made many, as any superpower does every day) don't give us the luxury of taking our marbles and going home. Our actions, and even more often our isolationist inaction, helped create the world of today, and we must live up to our mistakes and find a way to try and fix them where we can, moving forward.
In response to Deadron (#11)
Deadron wrote:
I personally believe that once you have guaranteed the safety of a people, you are morally obligated to stay and fight to the end, even if you are outnumbered. Anything else is a moral outrage.

Agreed.

The UN is an important body, or at least the Security Council used to be (the rest has always been a joke) and I hope that they can build legitimacy and be a force for good in the world. Probably, though, actual actions will always need to be taken by large powers, who can more easily make a decision and follow it through, without designing policy by international committee.

On the other hand, it doesn't help when powerful nations overrule the UN by ignoring them and just go ahead without authorisation. It sets a bad precedent, and severely undermines the UN's authority.

I have to take the non-answer to mean that you do feel things are better in Bosnia and Afghanistan now than they were before our actions.

I have to concede this, yes. My point in stating my questions was that if you absolutely have to intervene, don't make it worse.

I don't think Bush is spouting the right reasons for this war, which is one reason why I'm mightily suspicious of his real agenda. If he was always going to do it for the civilians, why didn't he intervene earlier? Why does he need the excuses about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism?

Was it right for the US to supply weapons and training to a number of Afghanis, including Osama bin Laden, to fight against the Russians?

Yes, it was right to help those people in their fight against the Soviets.

Not having lived through this event personally, I can't say for certain whether this was done to help the people of Afghanistan, or simply to gain an advantage over the Soviets. However, I suspect the latter.

It was, though, wrong for us to abandon Afghanistan the moment that was over, allowing them to wallow in poverty, setting up the conditions for the Taliban to take over. We should have taken post-war responsibility for rebuilding Afghanistan and moving it toward democracy, and we were tragically wrong to not do so. Our post-war inaction led to many deaths and much of the world situation today.

This is one reason why I dislike intervention, however neccessary it may (arguably) be. Very often, it isn't carried out fully, leaving the country in a bad state - perhaps even worse than it was before the intervention occurred.

Did the security of the region and the conditions the civilians lived in improve when the US supplied weapons to both Iran and Iraq, for use against each other?

I think we were wrong to supply arms in an attempt to keep two powers militarily equivalent, so they would eat away at each other with neither winning (we were successful at that part)

This is pretty much what I was getting at. The intervention of the US in this case made things much, much worse.

but I don't know what the "right" policy would have been.

Get them to stop fighting, ideally. If that was possible.

I will echo Gug's statements, though: Our past mistakes (and we've made many, as any superpower does every day) don't give us the luxury of taking our marbles and going home. Our actions, and even more often our isolationist inaction, helped create the world of today, and we must live up to our mistakes and find a way to try and fix them where we can, moving forward.

Damn straight. And while we're at it, let's institute world peace! Viva la revolution! =)

I'm glad we've had this debate, it's straightened out a few issues and helped us find some common ground. I think everyone should be made to do debating like this in school, it's very educational... heh.
In response to Crispy (#12)
Crispy wrote:
On the other hand, it doesn't help when powerful nations overrule the UN by ignoring them and just go ahead without authorisation. It sets a bad precedent, and severely undermines the UN's authority.

I think it's fair to say that this time around the UN undermined its own authority. It refused to backup the resolutions made related to Iraq, no matter how blatant the violations. Clinton suggested attacking Iraq when the weapons inspectors were effectively kicked out, but no one in the UN wanted to do anything...effectively ending any restraints on Saddam thereafter, and removing the UN's direct interest in the matter, leaving it to others to clean up the mess. Or worse, encouraging the world to do nothing while Saddam would gear up for starting yet another war. His general pattern has been to start a war every few years, and there's no reason to believe he wouldn't have again.


I don't think Bush is spouting the right reasons for this war, which is one reason why I'm mightily suspicious of his real agenda. If he was always going to do it for the civilians, why didn't he intervene earlier? Why does he need the excuses about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism?

I don't think he started on this path for all the right reasons, and I think it was a silly waste of time to talk about links to Al Queda and all that. There were plenty of other reasons to do this, and he should have stuck with those.

I do believe, however, based on in-depth interviews with him in places like Bob Woodward's book Bush at War, that he personally and deeply believes in the need to remove tyrants. He didn't have the moral backbone to do it before 9/11, but now that we're on this road, I believe he does believe in the moral aspect of this. This is personal interpretation, and there's no way to prove it; everyone will believe whatever they want about his personal motives. Ultimately, all that matters is the actions. To end WWI, the US made a set of commitments (14, I think?) about how enemy nations would be treated if they agreed to end the war. Those making the commitments sincerely believed in them, as far as I know...but the commitments weren't kept, and the result was WWII. Whether they were sincere or not, all that mattered ultimately was whether they kept their word, and they didn't. If you are lying about your motives but you keep your word, the motives are irrelevant.


This is one reason why I dislike intervention, however neccessary it may (arguably) be. Very often, it isn't carried out fully, leaving the country in a bad state - perhaps even worse than it was before the intervention occurred.

This is true, but it's way too easy to then believe the best thing is to do nothing. One can make a compelling argument that more people in history have died by doing nothing than the reverse.


I'm glad we've had this debate, it's straightened out a few issues and helped us find some common ground. I think everyone should be made to do debating like this in school, it's very educational... heh.

I'm very concerned about the lack of debate among the anti-war crowd. Near as I can tell, there is none, except "Is the US malignant or just plain evil?" On the other hand, those I've listened to who are not knee-jerk anti-war (such as ex-generals and the like) are constantly questioning aspects of the war and bringing up legitimate concerns about how things could go wrong. In other words, those who know that use of force can be justified tend to be constantly questioning themselves and their government about whether any particular use of force is indeed justified. I do not hear any conversation like this among the other side of the debate.
In response to Deadron (#13)
Deadron wrote:
I'm very concerned about the lack of debate among the anti-war crowd. Near as I can tell, there is none, except "Is the US malignant or just plain evil?"

Both! Hehe, just kidding. =)

On the other hand, those I've listened to who are not knee-jerk anti-war (such as ex-generals and the like) are constantly questioning aspects of the war and bringing up legitimate concerns about how things could go wrong. In other words, those who know that use of force can be justified tend to be constantly questioning themselves and their government about whether any particular use of force is indeed justified. I do not hear any conversation like this among the other side of the debate.

On the other hand, I hadn't heard any properly reasoned arguments for the pro-war side until this thread. So I guess it goes both ways! =)

I think that a lot of the people on the anti-war side are thinking about it logically and reasonably, but like myself can't see a better way to do it apart from through the UN. If the UN had been a bit firmer in its dealings towards Iraq, perhaps that would have averted a war. Hopefully the UN will collectively realise this and learn from its mistakes.
In response to Crispy (#14)
Crispy wrote:
Hopefully the UN will collectively realise this and learn from its mistakes.

One would hope. But in an organization where Iraq can be head of the "Disarmament Committee" and Syria the head of "Human Rights", don't hold your breath.
In response to Deadron (#15)
Gads. What next, Australia being the head of the Commission for Refugees? Throw the children overboard! (Fellow Aussies will know what I'm referring to.)
In response to Hedgemistress (#10)
"Bin Laden's not a threat, you're just doing this to distract us from the real issue, your sex life."

...And now the Democrats claim the Republicans are doing this for the oil. =)
In response to Hedgemistress (#10)
Hedgemistress wrote:
We should've done more about bin Laden, as well... you may or may not remember that under Clinton, we launched a few targetted missile strikes his way, but the Republicans were quick to jump on that as political opportunism. "Bin Laden's not a threat, you're just doing this to distract us from the real issue, your sex life."

Clinton deserves some blame for things, though not nearly as much as the right likes to think. What is particularly amusing (and you probably don't hear them saying much) is that it's 100% clear this all started with their own hero...the idea that the US was weak and wouldn't fight terrorism came directly from the bombing of Marines (in Lebanon, I believe?)

Reagan, Mr Might Makes Right, turned tail and ran, and Bin Laden and others realized "Hey, you kill a few Americans, and they leave -- cool!"
In response to Deadron (#7)
Deadron wrote:
It's been 5 days, and things are moving along pretty fast. You were looking for a 2 day war, maybe? Time was, wars took years. This will take weeks or, at worst, a month+. Extremely fast war (probably shorter than the first Gulf War).

Having not entered into this discussion at an early stage, im wary of saying anything at all. This caught my eye though.

Bush has apparently admitted that it is going to take longer than he predicted, going towards several months.

That's what I have read in the newspaper and heard on TV here in Denmark, anyhow. It might be a different story in the US.
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