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Old 02-25-2003, 07:48 PM
IrishHand IrishHand is offline
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Default Anti-war answer for marbles

marbles' post: Been reading a lot of the war arguments, and you make some solid points. Most importantly, I don't believe anyone involved in this mess is telling the whole truth, especially my own government. There's one string of logic I can't get past in the case for war though:

1. Saddam Hussein is a bad dude (I think we're all in agreement here).
2. The world has asked him to disarm (we all know the resolutions).
3. He will not disarm.

So what world do we live in if we collectively ask a bad dude to disarm, he gives the world the finger, and he faces no repurcussions?

Honestly, this is not a flame. I just want to know how you guys resolve that logic string to conclude that no war is still the best approach? If not war, how do you deal with Saddam's insolence?


I'll address your "logic for war" first. Yes, I agree that Hussein is a bad dude and yes, the world (through the UN) has asked him to disarm (of certain types of weapons). Your third statement is pure speculation on your part since you can't prove it one way or another. Futhermore, even if it's true, it doesn't follow from your 3-step logic that war is the next step. For that to be so, you'd basically have to argue that the willful violation of a UN resolution is just cause for war, which is a completely untenable argument. It certainly doesn't follow from your 3-step logic that "war is the best approach" - unless it's the only approach you're willing to consider as a possible solution to whatever problem you've identified.

(1) "He will not disarm." This is a common misconception in this country, and is based almost exclusively on what the administration tells you. I have seen no evidence which proves that Hussein possesses WMD. There is a horde of inspectors scouring his country looking for them, and the US has surely devoted a large portion of it's massive intelligence-gathering apparatus (CIA, military intelligence, sattelites, etc) to this cause. Despite this, no "smoking gun" has been found. The best evidence that our government is currently hanging its hat on are some missiles which go a few miles farther than they're supposed to. As soon as the inspectors tell me they've found a horde of chemical weapons or a nuclear-weapon-making-factory, I'll embrace this "Hussein has refused to disarm" argument. Until then, I will rely on the complete dearth of concrete evidence, combined with the fact find it impossible to believe that a crippled country would be able to hide this apparent mass of WMD from international inspectors and the most powerful nation on earth for months on end.

(2) Assuming arguendo that he has refused to disarm and is thereby "giv[ing] the world the finger", what should we do? Some have suggested that we're already doing enough - that his country grows less impressive militarily by the day and is making a strong effort to be in compliance with the UN resolutions (whether or not it was prior to all this pressure is irrelevant, despite US pleas that this is "too little, too late"). This may be true. Others have suggested exploring alternative non-violent methods of realizing our goals - whatever those may be. This also appears to be a sensible possibility. I think the most important thing is to decide first exactly what we want, and then decide what the best way to achieve it would be. War would certainly remove Hussein and give us access to a lot of oil, but it would be counterproductive in the "war on terror" - which was ostensibly the reason we initially targetted Iraq next from the evil-doer list. A US invasion of Iraq will be boon for Islamic extremists and terrorist factions. (Keep in mind I have a real tough time adopting the image of Hussein that we're fed by our media that he's this insolent Hitlerific disaster waiting to happen - his country has been devastated by sanctions and our military raids on his military apparatus for 10+ years now.)

I suppose the bottom line is that I don't have some great answer because I don't see that there's some great problem. A recent poll in Time's European edition showed that 80%+ of it's 250,000+ respondents felt that the US was a greater threat to world peace than either Iraq or North Korea. That's the sort of thing I consider when I ponder great problems in that part of the world. Why do the vast majority of Europeans, Russians and Asians think the US basically a rogue state? And why is there such a strong (and sometimes violent) anti-American sentiment in the Middle East? To me, those are far more interesting questions than how we should deal with a country that we crippled over 10 years ago and has neither recovered nor demonstrated any interest in attacking the US.

Respectfully,
Irish
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Old 02-26-2003, 03:05 AM
Clarkmeister Clarkmeister is offline
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Default Re: Anti-war answer for marbles

"Futhermore, even if it's true, it doesn't follow.... that war is the next step. For that to be so, you'd basically have to argue that the willful violation of a UN resolution is just cause for war, which is a completely untenable argument."

Exactly.
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Old 02-26-2003, 01:16 PM
marbles marbles is offline
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Default Re: Anti-war answer for marbles

Irish,

Excellent post. I do agree with you that I'm hanging onto a lot of "ifs" by assuming that he will not disarm. Lately, I haven't bought much the administration has told me, but I do believe that Saddam has some ugly stuff buried under one of those sand dunes.

I don't think violating a resolution is, in itself, cause for war. But I really think that this particular guy violating this particular resolution is cause for action.

Since I believe he has weapons, I'm astounded that we haven't found jack squat. If only we could find one nasty weapon, I think the world (e.g. the 80%+ poll number you quoted) might change their opinion. It seems like this matter just boils down to:

When George Bush tells you Saddam has nasty weapons, do you believe him?

Seems like, in almost all cases, the answer a person gives you is the same as the answer to: Do you support a US invasion?

Anyway, my brain hurts. Gotta get back to work.
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Old 02-26-2003, 03:05 PM
IrishHand IrishHand is offline
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Default Re: Anti-war answer for marbles

Here's my problem with the "finding nasty weapons" scenario. We'll use the extreme example, since it makes the point quicker. What if the inspectors found a dozen missile silos with fully-operational ICBMs in them? Would we invade then?

If you prefer a lesser example, some people have bandied about the notion that he's got thousands of missiles with biological and chemical warheads. What if we found a huge stash of those, all ready for use (and aimed at US military bases and Israel, presumably)? Would we invade then?

I truly believe, as regards both scenarios, that we wouldn't invade. This, of course, leads me to believe that we're quite confident that he won't be able to retaliate in any meaningful manner when we do invade. The past 12 years plus has demonstrated quite clearly that our military does everything it can to avoid engagements where we might actually suffer casualties. Huge live-action excercizes are fine (Gulf War, Afghanistan), but we're not real interested in conflicts which might result in more than a handful of Americans coming home in body bags.

So it comes back to the concept of a purely 'preventative' war, based on the concept that (a) Iraq is intent on acquiring WMD, and (b) Iraq will then use them in some manner against the US. I believe that UN actions will eventually be able to determine if (a) is the case, and I believe that history has shown that (b) is most definitely not the case. Hussein attacked Iran because we supported him, and then likely invaded Kuwait based in part on US hints that we wouldn't stop him. Why he would decide now - despite the pathetic state of his nation and his military - to engage in a new aggression despite the guarantee that the self-appointed international policeman will issue a death sentance on his makes absolutely no sense. What exactly then is a "preventative" war supposed to be preventing?
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Old 02-26-2003, 03:37 PM
Ginogino Ginogino is offline
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Default Re: Anti-war answer for marbles

Marbles:
Forgive my posting here rather than in reply to your own post. My first point is that there are lots of places where action by someone might be called for. In essence, any country with the capacity to brew beer is technologically able to create biological weapons. Likewise, any country with at least a World War I level of technology can create chemical weapons (after all, that's what the WWI countries were able to do). How many countries have either biological or chemical weapons? I'd suspect most of them do. We are reasoably sure that Iraq has both chemical and biological weapons because we (the US) sold them the stuff to make both kinds of weapons (during the Reagan and papa Bush administrations).

But so near as I can tell, the Syrians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, the Lybians (remember Khadaffi?), the Israelis, the Pakistanis, and the Indians all have "weapons of mass destruction" -- and almost any country that cares to have them does.

The two related questions regarding a war with Saddam are: 1) is this a good use for our resources (economic, military, diplomatic, etc.), and 2) is it more dangerous to go to war than not to?

We can't be policeman for the world. To do that we'd have to solve the Israeli/Palestinian mess, intervene in the coming crisis in Zimbabwe, keep peace in the Kashmir, resolve the Russian/Uzbeki conflict, just to name a few. One does have to take a stand on principles in the right place, but even the US doesn't have the resources to solve everything everywhere. We can most certainly win a war in Iraq -- but then what? The senior general in the Army just stated that, in his opinion, we'd have to leave all 200,000 soldiers in Iraq for a number of years after winning in order to maintain the peace there (question: how long did it take for us to get our GI's out of Germany and Japan after WWII?). Holding Iraq together post Saddam will be something like holding Yugoslavia together post Tito -- and maybe just a bit harder. The southern Iraqi's want to join Iran. The Kurds want their own state. Turkey definitely doesn't want to see a Kurdish state (and the reason we're paying them so much to let us invade through Turkey is in part because we don't want a separate Turkish invasion, since who's going to throw them out after they seize the northern oil fields?). I sometimes think that the first mistake made by the West was to break up the Ottoman Empire after WWI -- the Ottomans, though corrupt, mostly kept Jews and Muslims and Christians at peace in Jerusalem.

As to the question of the danger posed by a successful war with Iraq, it should be obvious that such success becomes Osama bin Laden's best recruiting aid. Somehow we had every country in the world on our side on Sept. 12, 2001. And somehow we've managed to piss off 99% of them since then. We have espoused a new rule for international conflict (get them before they attack) which promises to upset what little stability exists in South Asia. Are we telling the North Koreans and Iranians (both countries either have nuclear weapons or are close to developing them) that they'd best use it or lose it?

Add to that: the current administration in the US is not particularly good at following up on pledges and promises (question: in Bush's 2004 budget what sum was allocated for rebuilding Afghanistan? Zero -- though Congressional leaders have rectified that since. Has the budget allocated the sums promised for firefighters and police? No. Are we spending the money necessary to make our ports secure? No (it would cost less than what we've promised Turkey).

I'm not saying that we have the bucks to do everything. We don't. So, I think we need to pick our spots and find places where we get the most results for the least efforts. I fear that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict poisons everything else we try in the area -- even with the best of intentions -- and makes it easy for evil people to raise new generations of terrorists against us. I don't knwo how much we can do in that conflict, but I do know that we're not trying very hard. And that, too, will come back to bite us before we're done.

It sounds so wuss-ish to make an argument that our priorities are wrong, but I fear that this error on priorities is leading us to a major misfortune.

Gino
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