I have always avoided the TV news because it makes you depressed and scared and think the world is a horrid place. I’ve only made real efforts to get informed about world issues in the past few months. There are so many issues i wish i were more informed about, but one only has so much time, so for now i’m choosing Iraq.
So instead of reading more of The Bostonians (blah) i attempted to catch up on over a week’s worth of NYTimes and other stuff. The results of which are behind an LJ-cut. I’m not sure why i keep posting this stuff. Probably more for my own convenience for future reference than anything else.
And then i feel the need to comment on other people’s LJs. Why do i do this to myself? People drive me insane and i want to hide under a rock, and yet i insist on responding to things people say (even on the Jolt -- gawd i am so pathetic), to make them think. And no, i certainly don’t think everyone should or has to agree with me. Hell, half the time i’m not sure i agree with me. I just get really frustrated by ignorance and generalizations and all that.
Last Sunday i talked to my mom for 2 hours. She said, “Go forth and be an inspiration to your peers. Or at least complicate issues for them -- then we’ll know we’ve succeeded.”
Also around then, a friend of mine sent me this link and mentioned “i respect what you've said on lj even if i don't have the guts to talk politics myself” I’d never thought of talking politics as something that took guts. I thought it took being thoughtful and intelligent and well-read and i never thought i was up to that, but until i started posting about war on Iraq, i never realized that it really does take guts, never understood why many people vowed not to talk about politics or religion. In high school, we didn’t do much talking about issues, and we all pretty much agreed anyway. But when you start disagreeing with people....
Words of wisdom from my dad: "Just remember, every religion has its fundamentalists. And for many people, politics--especially left politics--is a religion."
"I'm losing patience with my neighbours, Mr Bush" (letter in the Observer) and my response
The French, Germans, Russians and Chinese still favor giving arms inspectors more time. But even France acknowledged that Iraq was undermining diplomatic efforts by blatantly failing to show even a smidgen of good faith, and it suggested that Feb. 14 was a reasonable deadline for Iraq to start complying with U.N. orders to disarm.
-from "Endgame" (editorial)
an anti-war piece: "War and Wisdom" by Nicholas D. Kristof
another interesting anti-war piece: "Different Man, Different Moment" by Adlai E. Stevenson III (though i take issue with a few minor points. I don’t think the Bush administration is purporting to speak for the international community, i think tossing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the statement "The United States loses credibility when perceived as supporting terror in one part of the Mideast, while professing to fight it elsewhere." is incredibly problematic, and i don’t think that "A Saddam Hussein under attack would win sympathy on behalf of his long-suffering people.")
an interesting piece: "The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk Club" by Bill Keller
blasting France: "Vote France Off the Island" by Thomas L. Friedman
interesting to think about: "The Wimps of War" by Paul Krugman
"there is no war we can't win by ourselves, but there is no nation we can rebuild by ourselves" -- why the "Bush hawks" and the "Euro-doves" need to work together: "Present at . . . What?" by Thomas L. Friedman
"A War for Oil? Not This Time" by Max Boot
"Back to the United Nations" (an editorial)
This is not like Washington's unproved assertions about an alliance between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. There is ample evidence that Iraq has produced highly toxic VX nerve gas and anthrax and has the capacity to produce a lot more. It has concealed these materials, lied about them, and more recently failed to account for them to the current inspectors. The Security Council doesn't need to sit through more months of inconclusive reports. It needs full and immediate Iraqi disarmament. It needs to say so, backed by the threat of military force.
-from "Disarming Iraq" (editorial)
Speech by Prime Minister Tony Blair at Labour's local government, women's and youth conferences, SECC, Glasgow, Saturday 15 February 2003 (I was gonna post excerpts, but there’s way too much. This is really good.)
"When the Enemy is a Liberator" by John F. Burns (Iraqi support for a U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam despite hatred of America)
The conclusion the Iraqi opposition has reluctantly reached is that there is no way other than war to remove a tyrant whose five secret police forces make a palace coup or popular uprising impossible. As the only military force on offer is provided by America, they will accept an American invasion.
-from "The Left isn't listening: The Stop the War coalition is the greatest threat to any hope for a democratic Iraq" by Nick Cohen
and a whole bunch from Andrew Sullivan:
THE TRUTH HURTS: "Nobody today, except the Iraqi ambassador, tried to claim that Iraq has fulfilled its obligations. Nobody tried to argue that 'serious consequences' means something other than military action. Nobody disputed that, just three months ago, the council's 15 members passed Resolution 1441 unanimously—not casually or unwittingly so, but after seven weeks of negotiations, in which Secretary of State Colin Powell altered the language to meet French reservations. Powell looked clearly flummoxed during his turn for comments today. One question he should have asked de Villepin: 'Why did you sign Resolution 1441 in the first place if you never had any intention of carrying out its enforcement clause?'" - Fred Kaplan, eloquently stating the obvious. And the more you think about this, the more you realize that France must have signed onto 1441 entirely duplicitously. They did so as a delaying tactic, knowing full well that they would later sabotage it. This is why the epithet "weasel" really is appropriate. France could have refused to sign 1441, after all. They could have signed a resolution that did not demand immediate and complete cooperation with the U.N. They could have signed a resolution that did not threaten "serious consequences." They didn't. Now they pretend they did. You simply cannot do business with these people.
LEAVING THEM BEHIND: The lesson from this is a simple one: we have to abandon the U.N. as an instrument in world affairs. I'm not saying complete U.S. withdrawal, although I'm beginning to think that now makes a lot of sense. I mean temporary U.S. disengagement. The body is now a joke of immense proportions. If it cannot enforce a resolution it passed only a couple of months ago, it cannot enforce anything. If it cannot read the plain meaning of its own words, it is an absurdist theater piece, not a genuine international body. It isn't in danger of becoming the League of Nations. It now is the League of Nations. The difference is that this time, after 9/11, U.S. isolationism is not an option. So U.S. non-U.N. multilateralism is the only option for any future threats to world order. God knows we cannot rely on Europe to keep the peace.
AN UNJUST "PEACE": I keep hearing from people who insist we should try "containment" of Iraq instead of war. They don't seem to have observed that we are where we are precisely because of twelve years of "containment". But, leaving that aside for a moment, what can containment mean now? One thing it surely does mean is maintaining sanctions. As Tony Blair just noted, "The moral choice in relation to this is a moral choice that has to weigh up the moral consequences of war. But the alternative is to carry on with a sanctions regime which, because of the way Saddam Hussein implements it, leads to thousands of people dying needlessly in Iraq every year." Exactly. How odd that those who have long accused the West of murdering thousands of Iraqi babies because of sanctions now want to continue those sanctions indefinitely. Of course, some don't. As soon as the pressure is off, they'll get back to lobbying for an end to such sanctions and liberating Saddam to even further horrors. But it seems to me that those who sincerely want to maintain the inspections farce and the sanctions tragedy need to be more honest in confronting the moral cost of this policy: not merely doing nothing credible to deter the threat to the West of weapons of mass destruction; not merely the signal to every terrorist and nuke-hungry dictator that the West is too weak to deal with them; not merely perpetuating and reinforcing one of the most hideous police states on the planet; not merely fatally undermining the credibility of the U.N.; but also maintaining the cruelty of famine for the next generation of Iraqi children. This is what the Pope apparently wants. This is what legions of allegedly Christian clerics want. No-one should treat lightly the moral responsibility of waging war. But no-one should discount the moral burden of the alternative either.
A JUST WAR: This war is a just one. We didn't start it. Saddam did - over twelve years ago. We responded at the time with a restraint and patience and deliberation that would have made Aquinas proud. After victory, we acted with a magnanimity utterly unreciprocated by the dictator we routed - even to the extent of leaving Saddam in power, even to the point of betraying in grotesque fashion the millions who dreamed of freedom - only to see slavery instead. (If only to right that horrifying wrong, we have a moral responsibility to finish the job.) We made a truce with the tyrant, with conditions that the entire world has witnessed him routinely violate. Our enemy, moreover, has no moral compunction whatsoever - he has violated every maxim of a just war imaginable. He has murdered opponents; he has gassed innocent and defenseless civilians; he preaches genocidal hatred and practises torture; he has laid waste to the environment; and made a mockery of religion. He has refused to disarm; and lies through his teeth. When fanatical murderers from that region developed a terrorist network and massacred thousands of Western civilians, we realized that Saddam's weapons couldn't be contained in his lair with any guarantee of security. So we made a belated attempt to live up to the truce of 1991, to finish the unfinished job. We could have destroyed him and his regime at any point. We didn't. We waited; we sent in inspectors; we were forced into sanctions. We went to the U.N. again to beg for help and support. The U.N. complied, provided a clear resolution, with the burden of proof finally on Saddam. Just as clearly, Saddam has violated it, and continues to violate it.
A VERY LAST RESORT: By any rational, objective standard, we have done everything we possibly can to settle this war peacefully. To say that we are in a rush to war is an obscene fabrication, a statement of wilful amnesia, a simple denial of history. To retreat now, to concede that this monster has a better case than we do in the final prosecution of this war is a travesty of any concept of just war theory. In fact, it is to engage in positive pro-active injustice. Yes, we must do all we possibly can to keep casualties in this war as low as possible. We must do more than we can imagine to help rebuild that poor country and bring hope and democracy to its terrorized and brutalized people. And those objectives are absolutely essential for the justice of this war to be maintained. But equally, we would fail in any conception of Christian duty if we failed to act after all this time, if we let evil succeed, if we lost confidence in our capacity to do what is morally right. I'm tired of our moral defensiveness in this matter. It bears saying once and many times again: those advocating war as the last resort after twelve years of broken promises, butchery, evasion and threat on the part of Saddam are morally in the right. And, however good their intentions, the thousands of protestors who will throng the streets of Western cities this weekend are the purveyors and celebrants of a rank and palpable injustice.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation large or small. We no longer live in a world where the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril." - President John F. Kennedy, Oct. 21, 1962