Miles Coverdale (manos74) wrote,
Miles Coverdale

Anti-war stuff (public now, 5/7/05)

Behind the cut tag, I'm going to detail my opposition to the recent war in Iraq and the reasons why I'm opposed to it, as clearly as I can. I'm putting it behind the rant filter, but it's not really a rant, since I think I'm being somewhat rational about it.

It's not 100% logically correct, and it's not too organized, I think. Consider this a first draft.

I suppose, first and foremost, my opposition to the war stems from one major question. Namely: Will what we have gained from the war be worth the cost?

I'm not talking about the cost in money, or equipment, or even lives. I'm talking about the cost in things like the goodwill extended to us by other nations, or our trustworthiness in the world community. Since there's much evidence to suggest that Al-Qaeda is a direct result of Middle Eastern dissatisfaction with Desert Storm, how do we know that what happened in March won't be buying us a heap more trouble ten or fifteen years down the road? To put it in a sound bite: Today's Iraqi war orphan is tomorrow's suicide bomber.

I submit that we (and when I say "we," I mean the U.S. government) have not stopped to consider these things. We have concentrated on the short-term goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power (even though this war was sold to the American public as "Iraq possesses stockpiles of chemical weapons that can be put to use in less than an hour"), and it does not seem to me that we have taken the possible--and, I fear, probable--downsides of this into account.

"But," I hear you saying, "we removed Saddam from power! He was a bad, evil, wicked, genocidal maniac! Surely we're better off without him! We did the right thing!"

This opinion, I feel, can be rephrased as a question: Do the ends justify the means? Or, given that we still haven't found the chemical weapons that were the very reason for going to war in the first place, is it okay to defy other nations and lie to the American people so long as it gains us advantage?

Despite my dislike of loaded language (at least, when I'm not the one using the loaded language), I suppose I could call Saddam Hussein a bloodthirsty tyrant. I would respond to that with a question, though. Is it the responsibility of the United States to 1) destroy tyranny wherever it occurs in the world, and/or 2) define which world leaders are tyrants and which aren't? If you propose some sort of international council to define tyranny, not only does that create the possiblity of major problems (for example, what nations would be part of this council? Only the industrialized ones?), but what would we do if this council overruled the United States? Or, as the John Birch Society fears, what if this council declares the President of the United States a tyrant? (After all, quite a lot of people called Clinton one.) For more about internationality, see below.

And thinking about this brings up some other important issues as well. Do nations have to consider morality when making foreign policy decisions? It seems that saying "tyranny and genocide must be stopped wherever and whenever it occurs" is a moral decision, after all. If morality is to control policy, however, doesn't it seem fair that an equivalent of the Golden Rule should be taken into consideration? I.e., shouldn't we treat other nations the way we want them to treat us?

Unfortunately, the way we treated Iraq in the months leading up to the war shows that we haven't taken this into account. How would we like it if, say, China demanded that we let inspection teams into our ICBM bases? Or called the Bush administration a "corrupt and illegitimate regime" and demanded the President's immediate abdication? Or said "Do what we demand, or we'll invade you?" If other nations behaved toward us the way we behaved toward Iraq, we wouldn't stand for it for a second. Hell, look at how pissed off we got at France, and all Jacques Chirac said was "Going to war is a bad idea, and we're not going to be part of it."

If, however, considerations of morality should not influence policy, then the ends do justify the means, geopolitically. However, in that case, it seems a bit hypocritical for us to condemn other nations for doing the same thing. For example, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990--Kuwait used to be part of Iraq, Iraq needed the money to start repaying the war with Iran; Kuwait had something Iraq wanted, and Iraq sent in the troops to get it. Ends justify means, right? And then we went and got all outraged about it...

And one thing that many people seem to forget is that Iraq used to be our ally, under the doctrine of "my enemy's enemy is my friend." We talk now about how evil Saddam was to drop poison gas on the Kurds--but that happened fifteen years ago, and there was no massive moral outrage about it then. To bring it up at such a late date (as when people say, "We know Saddam has WMDs--he dropped them on his own people!") smacks of carpetbagging to me. This could also be a reason why other nations might be reluctant to ally with us--we have a nasty habit of dropping our allies when they don't do whatever we ask them to. Saddam's the most recent one; see also Manuel Noriega, Ferdinand Marcos, Ho Chi Minh, etc.

"Well," says the dissenting opinion, "the war happened anyway, so why even bother opposing it? You should unite behind the country in time of war! After all, better men than you will ever be are putting their lives on the line to protect your freedom--what are you doing to deserve it, huh?!?"

What am I doing to deserve my freedom? I'm exercising it. I rather think that's my point, but I'll have to work on it a little more. Actually, that's a counterargument I've never really understood--if, for the sake of argument, other people are actually fighting for my freedom, why should that mean that I put my freedom away in a little box, not to touch it for the duration? I have the right to dissent; I realize this is not the right for people to agree with me or to even listen, but I have the right to dissent. And I don't enjoy being called anti-American or traitorous or a "backstabber" just because I exercise that right to dissent. If the war against Iraq is a war for freedom, then why shouldn't that freedom apply to me?

It's the same thing with "stand united in time of war." I've probably said this before, but being a patriot is not the same thing as accepting uncritically what your country does. Standing in lockstep, saying "whatever the government does, we have to support it"...I think what I want to say is that war is no excuse for abandoning one's critical faculties and replacing them with righteous fervor.

Some comedian, I forget who, said, "Even if Saddam wasn't part of 9/11, I can guarantee you that sonofabitch laughed when he saw those planes crashing into the towers." Which, I suppose, is a clear and present reason for invading Iraq. My response: Yeah, he probably did. So what? Remember, we'd been embargoing, occupying, and bombing Iraq ever since the end of Desert Storm; it's natural that sort of thing is going to engender more than a little resentment of us. And after all, we laughed in 1989 when the Ayatollah Khomeni died and the crowds of mourners crushed themselves to death--does that make us evil?

I read a lot of conspiracy-related stuff, both print and online. It's a hobby of mine. And something that seems to be a common thread in a lot of conspiracy theories--gun-control conspiracies, UFO conspiracies, JFK/CIA/Whitewater conspiracies, Illuminati/Bilderberg/Trilateral/NWO/Majestic-12 conspiracies--is the idea of the United States standing alone against the rest of the world. That the United States will be the last bastion of freedom and faith and etc. etc. I bring this up here because of the popular American attitude toward the United Nations in the months leading up to the war--namely, "We know what's best, and we don't need these other nations dictating what we should do." (The UN said, "Give the weapons inspectors more time; there's no evidence Iraq has poison gas or nuclear bombs right now." In reply, we said, essentially, "We haven't found them--therefore, that big meanie Saddam must be hiding them from us!")

One of the more useful things that my mother taught me was, "You can't go around thinking that everybody's out of step but you." If a lot of nations, including a lot of nations who are allied with us, think that there's something wrong with what they're doing...well, that says something, doesn't it?

I'm not going to disable the comments on this. However, I am going to say that if you disagree and wish to change my mind, you'll get a much more favorable reaction from me if you concentrate on logical reasons instead of emotional ones.
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