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Posted on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 05:44 pm:   

It seems that everyone here is against war. It seems that everyone here is unhappy with the current political situation. I've seen a whole lot about how badly our legislators are handling things.

I'm just wondering -- what would you have suggested? What course would you have suggested as opposed to war? Complete inaction, or what?

Just curious.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 06:46 pm:   

Inspections. Both inspection regimes produced results, and Hussein has been effectively defanged as a consequence.
I don't object to an operation designed to eliminate Saddam Hussein. But this government, after bluntly telling the world to fuck off with regard to Kyoto, to proliferation, to an international criminal court, etc., now snaps its fingers and expects slavish support from the UN. Forget about proving a case, the "US" (meaning a handful of idiots in the White House) wants war and how dare you question our intentions?!
The US isn't entitled to anything, and the questions and doubts voiced by the rest of the world are anything but unreasonable. We'll never know whether or not Saddam Hussein could have been removed without resorting to the massacre of helpless civilians if we don't try. The White House doesn't want to try.
The White House has issued a non-classified position paper which clearly states that no nation in the world is to be permitted to become more powerful than the US ... or even AS POWERFUL.
What I want to see, what I think is essential for the human race as it confronts pollution poverty epidemics population proliferation, is cooperation and mutual respect. The US is in a position to lead the way, but it must do so by giving, not by taking, power. Working with the other nations of the world, I see no reason to assume the US could not possibly have effected the removal of Hussein without dropping cruise missiles on Iraq's cities.
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Posted on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 07:59 pm:   

Yes, exactly. (And I realize Saddam is a ruthless dictator--I'm not debating that point.) Not to mention the utter contempt Bush has displayed for the intelligence of the American people--trying to link Saddam Hussein with the terrorists who perpetrated 9-11, a blatant falsehood. Using the post 9-11 situation, and now this war, as an excuse to take away our civil liberties while gutting and raping the environment. Using a witch trial standard with regard to Iraq and weapons of mass destruction: if she sinks, she was innocent, if she floats, she's guilty. That sort of thing. And the destruction of ties with the international community. Trying to use the U.N. to fulfill his own ends, and when that fails, calling the U.N. illegitimate. And our stupid fucking congress, turned into a bunch of sheep, providing no checks and balances whatsoever.

Containment worked on Saddam Hussein for 12 years.

Other issues--the Kurds aren't going to survive long with Turkey in the north poised to come in and slaughter them when the U.S. comes in. Not to mention the civilian slaughter that will occur. All of it unnecessary--all of it the push forward of a man blinded by the sheer stupidity of seeing things in terms of black and white, when they simply aren't. A man willing to throw away good relations with most of the rest of the world, who doesn't even realize the value of what he's throwing away. A man who as far as I'm concerned has come as close to treason as any president we've had in office. A man who practices a policy of selfishness, greed, and short-sightedness.

I never thought of Bush senior in such terms, or Ronald Reagan. I didn't like them, but I didn't see such blatant soul corruption. Maybe they hid it better, but this guy is setting himself as a dictator. It's that simple.

Not to mention--this U.S. policy of pre-emptive strikes is so nebulous that it basically gives the U.S. the right to go in *anywhere* at *anytime*, under the flimsiest of excuses.

At the least the U.N. did its job in terms of not giving in to U.S. pressure. It has maintained its integrity at least partially, although France clearly has vested interests in Iraq.

What also bothers me is this: It's clear Bush was going to invade Iraq no matter what the fuck happened--whether Iraq cooperated fully or not. He's thrown every possible argument out there, most of which have not stuck or been credible. Some have been outright propaganda of a sort we haven't seen since the Rough Riders' intervention in Cuba.

It is all stunning, cynical, and horribly wrong. I cannot imagine that moderate Republicans can in their hearts endorse this kind of behavior. We are acting outside of the rule of law and cloaking ourselves in the law to get this illegal war done.

Maybe I shouldn't sound surprised. We've done it before, and we'll probably do it again. But what strikes me as different this time--and why we should all be yelling about this at the top of our lungs--is that our civil liberties are being savaged in addition to those civil liberties of the people we're going to attack. It's not right for us to do this to other people, but as Lucius Shepard has noted, this doesn't seem to evoke outrage. What's outrageous this time is that Americans are being fucked over and many don't even seem to notice. Or understand that that Pakistani family living in the U.S. since the 1970s, now deported--that could be any one of us, over time, as the situation deteriorates.

Will I think differently about this if war ends quickly? Hell no. That'll just give Bush an excuse to go forward with some other overseas military adventure. Meanwhile, at home, our liberties will continue to decrease, our environment will continue to be degraded, our air made more filthy, more clear-cutting of forests will occur...all for nothing. All because of an administration that for some reason thinks it can operate so far out on the right wing that it might as well be fascism...and the voters won't notice.

What is happening is stunning. We are losing the vestiges of being a democracy. We're speaking in more double-speak, see: Orwell, than ever before. The big media outlets are unwilling to do anything to question Bush properly. Every one of those reporters at the news conference the other day should lose their goddamn jobs. And no one even cares that press conferences have become so scripted that the president can joke about it.

Meanwhile, this war will be so controlled media-wise that we won't get reliable news until months or years after the conflict.

We simply must put a stop to this decaying orbit somehow.

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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 08:31 pm:   

The most comprehensive alternative I've seen has been put out by the Sojourners, an organization of Christians for Peace and Justice. They have a six-point plan for engaged action with respect to Iraq. I'm not religious, but their approach strikes me as thoughtful and effective. You can see it on their Web site: http://www.sojo.net/
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 08:38 pm:   

Down here in Oz, we're 68% against a war without full U.N. backing. And Howard (our turd of a prime minister) has sent troops over regardless, and will commit us to war the minute Bush phones him.
I work as a volunteer at the Green party, and yesterday I had an old lady on the phone in tears, wanting us to somehow do something to turn it around. She thought that we should all put up signs in our windows. If governments won't heed millions of people marching in the streets, they probably won't care about signs, either. But I promised her I'd pass the idea on.

Regarding how I'd like to see the situation handled, I would also suggest lifting the present sanctions in addition to not having a war.

And wandering off further into dreamland, I would like to see Dubbya and his posse, along with Saddam and his goons, removed to the Fletcher Memorial Home, where they could sit and watch Kim Jong Il's Daffy Duck movies, as the windows and doorways are bricked up, and the trucks drive away.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Monday, March 17, 2003 - 10:05 pm:   

JeffV and KJB -
Right on! (wishing there was a fist-of-defiance emoticon)

Tonight I sat and watched in dismay as the CEO of CNN and the leader of the Iraqi opposition (and darling of the right wing here) gushed with enthusiasm about the possibility of building democracy in Iraq. The former resorted to the usual lies about how the US has never indulged in empire building - of course not, look what the English got themselves into by taking direct and overt control of India: Indians actually holding them to account for the state of the country - and how instead "we" (ie the seven people in the US who like this idea and have the money to buy off everyone else who counts) rebuild "damaged countries".
I knew the words "Marshall Plan for Iraq" were coming, and here they were. Price tag for war = over a hundred billion with a b. Price tag for occupation = one to two hundred billion a year for years and years. The American economy will bottom out next year, war or no war. With taxes already slashed, and deficits already the highest they ever have been, there will be no room to maneuver. Who the hell is going to stand on the floor of the congress and propose raising taxes on the American poor to build schools in Iraq?? Not going to happen, and Rumsfeld and the other Right-Wing Cultists who crony for him know it.
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Jeff Topham
Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 06:57 am:   


There's a lot I'd like to say, but the previous posters have covered a great deal of it--probably better than I could. My feeling is that the renewed inspections process was completely irrelevant to the Bush admin--there was never any real intent to pursue a diplomatic solution unless that solution ended in the desired result: war. I think that became obvious to everyone after Bush's speech last night, which was not only intolerably arrogant, but also riddled with logical fallacies.

There is also strong evidence suggesting that a decade of sanctions against Iraq has done little except to sentence the poorest of Iraqis to lives of utter squalor. Most people in Iraq have only sporadic access to electricity, clean water, and adequate health care. Infant mortality rates have skyrocketed. I'm not letting Saddam off the hook for this--he should have been spending money to help his own people instead of enriching himself and his cronies, but the bottom line is that US sanctions have made only the Iraqi people suffer. This has all played into Saddam's hands: instead of blaming him, the Iraqi people blame the US. And after all this, we expect them to welcome us with open arms?
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Iain Rowan
Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 08:04 am:   

I don't think the onus should be on those opposed to war to justify that opposition - to me it's getting things backwards, as that (no war) should be the default position. Rather, I'd like to see a solid justification for going to war, something that has failed to appear.

Looking at the various arguments put forward for a war.:

i) 'It will prevent terrorism'. There seems to be no convincing evidence of Iraq having any involvement with Al Qaeda; indeed, they hate each other. While Hussein would doubtless love to cock a snook at the US by sponsoring a terrorist act, I think that his main motivation is to stay in power, and that he knows that any such act would be suicide. I can't think of a better recruiting tool for terrorist groups than pictures of dead Iraqi children.

ii) 'Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction'. If those weapons don't pose a threat to the US, or the UK - which from the evidence of the inspections, they do not - then should we be going to war to remove them? The current inspection regime, and the ten years or so of inspections have, as someone said above, defanged Hussein. True, the man might still possess chemical weapons which he could use on his own people, but that leads on to...

iii) 'He is a bad and nasty man'. Without a doubt. A brutal, despicable tyrant. As many of us have been saying for years and years, when your government were quite happy to turn a blind eye to it and our government were quite happy to connive in facilitating the export of arms to his regime. Yes, he gasses his own people, but when he did so the first time, in El Halabja, by and large the West didn't give a toss, let alone go to war against him.

The 'evil man' argument is the one that makes me most cross, because it is so patently specious and self-serving under a cheap cloak of moralism. Makes me sick to see Blair or Bush raising an onion to their eyes on behalf of the poor Iraqi people. The world is full of evil men whose countries are responsible for despicable acts of great horror against defenceless people - step forward Xiang Xemin, President of a nation granted most favoured trading status by the US, a man invited on state visits to the UK, a man responsible for ethnic cleansing and a stealthy programme of genocide in Tibet. Step forward Vladimir Putin, former director of the KGB, and President of a country that has committed countless atrocities in Chechnya. Come on down Ariel Sharon, man behind the massacres at the refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila in the Lebanon. What's the difference between them and Hussein? *Nothing*. Nothing except for the cynical morality of realpolitik. You can kill as many peasants as you want, as long as you are not affecting our geopolitical interests.

iv) 'He looks like he should be the sixth member of the Village People'. This one, on the other hand, has some strength to it, but I think war might be an excessive response.
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Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 01:41 pm:   

What amazes me is that it is not in our national self-interest. This is no more realpolitik than
Hitler's policies. This is zealotry. Reagan and Bush Snr weren't attractive, indeed, but they had cases to argue regarding the interests of the US.
These actions aren't in the interests of the US,
not even in the interests of GWB's party. No
wonder people feel particularly alarmed.
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Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 02:22 pm:   

Nancy, thank you for posting that Sojourners site.
I recommend it.

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Anne S
Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 08:23 pm:   

What I find incredibly ironic about this whole "go get Saddam" scenario and the constant bleat about "weapons of mass destruction" is the fact that Korea is brandishing its "weapons of mass destruction" in a very unsettling way and the alliance of the willing appear to be totally ignoring them, or putting them off till later, or something

Why Iraq? The agenda smells awfully fishy to me. Something to do with oil no doubt.

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Josh Lukin
Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 10:15 pm:   

There's an interesting analysis of the false "sanctions vs. war" dichotomy on the March 16 entriy of this fellow's weblog: <http://www.monkeytime.org/archive/mar2003.html#liberals>. Go to the site's homepage if the "archive" link doesn't work.

And thanks to Iain for having pointed out that the onus is still on the pro-war camp to make their case. Heck, Congress was talking as recently as mid-2001 about imposing "Smart Sanctions" that would prevent Iraq from obtaining weapons material rather than depriving the country's children of medicine and vaccines: then 9-11 occurred, Rumsfeld sent out a memo asking "How can we use this do justify going after SH?" and the prowar media campaign ensued. Now we know that several of the corporations who profited from helping Saddam build his weapons factories have been given contracts to rebuild the country's postwar infrastructure. Why Iraq, indeed.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - 10:47 pm:   

I'm wondering what on earth we can do now. When marches, vigils, letters, opinion polls and so forth don't work, what can citizens of a democracy sensibly do next?
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Anne S
Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 01:43 am:   

Keep marching, keep vigils, write letters and all the rest.

I remember the Vietnam War, and even though it seemed that we were not heard in all our marches, vigils, protests of all kinds, eventually the Government listened (albeit the Opposition) and we overwelmingly voted in Gough Whitlam who withdrew the troops, released the conscientious objectors and reformed the whole Australian ethos. They were golden days, Gough's first term, a breath of postive reforms which still hold to this day.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 03:24 pm:   

At the time of the Viet Nam protests here in the US, the White House projected an appearance of lofty indifference only to conceal, as we now know, deep trepidation. Nixon and his Sid&Marty Krofft-style band of comical underlings were seriously rattled by images of white college students treacherously siding with working class, principally black soldiers. In the decades that have ensued, political protest has not simply been marginalized by the press, but it has been made to appear unimportant. This appearance is misleading, and serves the interests of those who prefer a complacent, bovine electorate.

As for further action - every citizen possesses enormous power to influence the government by economic means. Boycotts or even reduced consumer spending produce immediate financial pressures on big business; most big companies are over-extended and in debt, their money-buffers are small.
Noncooperation is another element, should it become necessary. Tax refusal, deliberate nonviolent interference, or the simple refusal of those in more direct service to the government or related business interests to do as they are told.
The single most important element in any struggle, perhaps the determining element, is morale, the will to persevere. With this in mind, one has only to look casually at Big Media to understand that, consciously or unconsciously, it is an excellent spiritual weapon for undermining oppositional morale - in part by decrying the anti-war element, but much more characteristic is the effort to marginalize, isolate, and ignore it out of existence. It must be made to look exotic, strange, alarming, foolish. The anti-warriors must respond with images emphasizing the centrality of the movement, its multiplicity, its common-sense argument. The pro-war faction is, in fact, the marginal and isolated group in this debate.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 03:32 pm:   

sorry to yammer on like this ...

It's not that the polls and vigils and marches "don't work." This war was a fait accompli the moment the US Congress bent over and gave Bush the authority to do as he pleased with our military. The protests were thereafter never likely to avert the war - the point of the protests since that time has been to expose the Bush administration to significant political punishment, and this has been wildly successful. The administration has been forced to put its case before the UN and the press time and again, and each time its claims have been exposed as false. Each such exposure further rams home the point that these men are acting in bad faith, each exposure embarrasses them again. The message must be sent, loud and clear, again and again: you cannot railroad us into something we don't want without getting badly burned.
Furthermore, our rights are under attack in this country, and nothing other than basic defiance at street level will mobilize political opposition to protect us. The Democrats are slowly gathering the necessary hormones to put together an opposition platform. It will be lame, it will be feeble, but it will be a start. Our noise is the only reason they do this now (Hilary Clinton, who has no more principles than does this table-top, came out against the war after having voted for it, and you know the only thing she cares about are the polls). They are not going to lead us anywhere but the shithouse, but we are in a position to lead them.
Finally, I know I protest as a way of indicating to the rest of the world that the American hegemony is not my idea and I don't want any part of it.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - 03:56 pm:   

I completely agree with you, Michael. Thanks for putting it so eloquently. Now is not the time to stop, but the time to accelerate any efforts. Yes, to say, we don't want U.S. troops to die--but that to that end we want them to come home immediately, that to say so is not unpatriotic. That to continue dissent against a rogue U.S. government is not unpatriotic.

Jeff V

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