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We will strike first
June 3, 2002 7:48 AM   Subscribe

We will strike first announced President Bush at the West Point graduation ceremony. I was camping this weekend, so I just saw this. I am surprised that it hasn't generated more commentary. The actual text of the speech can be found here.
posted by Irontom (124 comments total)

 
"He said that not only will the United States impose preemptive, unilateral military force …but the nation will also punish those who engage in terror and aggression and will work to impose a universal moral clarity between good and evil."

Oh, great.
posted by Fenriss at 7:57 AM on June 3, 2002


Yawn.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:59 AM on June 3, 2002


Fenriss, I see that line caught your attention too. I can't wait until Bush is out of office.
posted by onhazier at 8:03 AM on June 3, 2002


And if there was any doubt where the moral clarity lies, simply follow the cash
posted by magullo at 8:07 AM on June 3, 2002


Encourage congress to impeach that Bozo Bush, a preemptive strike I would support. How's that for moral clarity.
posted by onegoodmove at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2002


What's wrong with moral (and by proxy, ethical) clarity? Not only does it provide a concrete guideline by which to direct personal and cultural action, it helps negotiate the complex realities of our world. Knowing where you stand, what you believe in, and what you are against is a valuable cognitive tool. Further, it allows those of you who hold opposite views to debate in concrete terms and present your views to the ethical masses concretely as well - the Free Marketplace of Ideas, in which to compete.
posted by UncleFes at 8:19 AM on June 3, 2002


Does anybody remember the principle of Self-determination? I would not like my country to be subject of the same human rights standards that the US follows.
posted by papalotl at 8:21 AM on June 3, 2002


Iraq by July 4!
posted by insomnyuk at 8:33 AM on June 3, 2002


UncleFes: I agree that is valuable for people, or even governments, to have a clear idea of what the consider moral and what they consider immoral -- sort of the purpose of laws.

The problem bit comes with two words in the above quote: "universal" and "impose". That second word, "impose", does seem to be directly against your last point of the "free marketplace of ideas".

In any case, I don't disagree that Saddam is a bad man (the real point to Bush's speech, I'm guessing), I just disagree with the tactics. The united states acting unilaterally or with some coerced "coalition" to "impose universal moral clarity" is going to make our problems universally worse, not better.

I'd rather not get blown up because of this administration's inept foreign policy, but here we are.
posted by malphigian at 8:34 AM on June 3, 2002


Good point; however, I think that Bush's ability to impose a moral framework is dubious at best, any more than Clinton, despite the hoohah, was able to impose an "immoral" framework. America may act unilaterally vis a vis Europe, but that has as much to do, imo, with European reticence as with American militarism.

Realistically, Americans take or leave the President's morals with a grain of salt. The ability of the president to impose much is, as you point out, legally-based and therefore subject to check and balance. And Bush doesn't lack for opposition :)

In this particular case, I only think good can come from the Bush Administration stating more concretely the philosophical basis on which they act or demand action of others. We've already been blown up, in great deal for the previous administration's foreign policy. Bush may not fix it, but by explcitily stating his administration's underlying philosophy, we can erase some of the national cognitive dissonance that contributed to our current situation.
posted by UncleFes at 8:45 AM on June 3, 2002


Imposing that moral clarity on Iraq will involve imposing military service upon our young. Not an option, in my opinion, until Dubya is prosecuted for his 15+ months of AWOL (desertion at such a long interval) and Cheney, Ashcroft and others serve on the front lines and are the first volunteers to go into Iraq.

Chickenhawks first, how's that for moral clarity?

Will the wealthy have to sacrifice at the altar of patriotism? Any moral clarity statements there from the Bush regime?
posted by nofundy at 8:47 AM on June 3, 2002


Saudi Arabia by July 21!
The really important big Indonesian Islands by August 3!
China by September, um, 15!

The World Is Ours! We Earned It Through Proactive Evil Stopping! Neat!
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:49 AM on June 3, 2002


can't wait to see the movie :) oh wait, minority report's out june 21st, be there!
posted by kliuless at 8:53 AM on June 3, 2002


UncleFes- Malphigian pretty well outlined my problem with that statement. Your point about how effectively Bush will be able to "impose" anything is well taken. As long as he remains checked, I'm happy with the system. I think what a lot of us looney lefties are worried about is that current circumstances will cause a skittish government to endow him with an unprecedented amount of power that the Executive was never meant to wield on its own. So far, it's not to bad, but one worries.
posted by Fenriss at 8:54 AM on June 3, 2002


You know Fes, I really do respect a great deal of what you say, even when I disagree with you. You're smart, you're articulate and you think about things before you post. But, I don't see how you can support the statement that the events of 9/11 can be attributed to the actions or inactions of the Clinton administration.

Especially since it has been revealed that the Clinton administration was (quietly and secretly) trying to eliminate Mr. Bin Laden - I recall reading reports about an operation aimed at getting him out of Afghanistan that was scrapped at the last minute because of the coup in Pakistan.

Can you offer any logical and/or evidentiary proof of that position? Or are you one of the Clinton-haters who see red at the mere mention of his name?
posted by Irontom at 9:01 AM on June 3, 2002


When does the War On Pretzels begin?
posted by Foosnark at 9:02 AM on June 3, 2002


So, we're all set to invade the Al Queda soon? Remember, our "war against evil" isn't against any single country or government, we're supposed to be fighting the small network of terrorists directly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. So that's what, maybe a couple hundred people, maybe a thousand total somewhere in the mid-east?

What is the Bush administration's strategy here? Is Bush planning to strike every country in the Middle East until they give up their terrorists and beg us to stop?
posted by mathowie at 9:04 AM on June 3, 2002


I very much dislike it when government officials begin talking about morality. I don't believe governments can be moral or immoral, and anything that lends itself to being discussed in such a way is already beyond the scope of fair government. The problem with US foreign policy (according to me) is that we have too much of it.
posted by thirteen at 9:04 AM on June 3, 2002


Can you offer any logical and/or evidentiary proof of that position?

Logical, rather than evidenciary :) Clinton was in office eight years, during which we saw both the the rise of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, no addressing of the anti-western fervor in what are almost our client states (Egypt and Saudi Arabia) and a spectacularly failed peace process in Israel.

I'm not rabid anti-Clintonite - the man had faults, but he also had virtues, and he ran a decent ship, he certainly could have done a lot worse. And I don't blame him personally for 9-11: there was a lot of groundwork laid in the first Bush administration, the Reagan administrations, etc. Foreign policy-wise, I think he played the cards he was dealt as best he could. But for good or ill, Al Qaeda (as far as I know) grew strong on his watch, we suffered several preliminary attacks during the Clinton years which for the most part went unanswered, and it was then that our intelligence community experienced its most pronounced decline. I'm not necesssarily married to it, but barring other info my statement was made in this light.
posted by UncleFes at 9:14 AM on June 3, 2002


Mathowie, according to the full text of the speech as linked by IronTom, All nations that decide for aggression and terror will pay a price. We will not leave the safety of America and the peace of the planet at the mercy of a few mad terrorists and tyrants. This says to me the Bush administration is leaving all options open, especially when combined with several statements in the same speech along the lines of ... our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.

By not fighting against one particular country but something amorphous like "terrorism", it would be easy to say "But it looked like terrorism to us..." after an attack has occurred. It makes justification very easy to find when you want to strike a particular target.

UncleFes, statements such as Bush's paint the US as a domineering nation which will militarily, diplomatically or economically force its morals and values on any country that has a different set without respect to cultural preferences. I think this very perception is part of what makes so many people dislike the US and its influence.
posted by onhazier at 9:29 AM on June 3, 2002


Uncle Fes:What's wrong with moral (and by proxy, ethical) clarity?

Absolutely nothing, I think it's just dishonest to pretend that morality or ethics plays any substantial part in strategic planning.

The fact that Bush is being forced to make a full reversal on "nation building," which he dismissed during the 2000 campaign, has little to do with moral clarity, and much to do with his (belated) recognition of the obvious fact that encouragement of open, democratic societies are one of the best preventative measures against terrorism. Time will tell whether Bush also recognizes that what is best for developing nations may not be best for U.S. business interests.

I liked this bit of history-rewriting:
Today's 52-minute speech came at a time when White House officials feel Bush must demonstrate anew the command of world affairs that won him praise as he assembled a coalition to support his devastating military offensive against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Uh, command of world affairs? Excuse me? Down the memory hole...Pretty soon Osama will be written out of the record altogether, as the fact that he continues to elude us might make Bush look bad...

And this was just pure Orwellian gold:
Citing former presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as leaders who "refused to gloss over the brutality of tyrants,"
(loud guffaws)
posted by Ty Webb at 9:33 AM on June 3, 2002


We have our best chance since the rise of the nation-state in the 17th century to build a world where the great powers compete in peace instead of prepare for war

says Bush. His plan to accomplish this: preemptively, and unilaterally, declare war on a full third of the globe.

Sure. Makes sense to me.
posted by ook at 9:33 AM on June 3, 2002


Today, Bush said the nation "must uncover terror cells in 60 or more countries," or roughly one-third of the world.

Hurrah! America is here to bomb us into liking them! Now that they have blasted us, we are infatuated with the American Way!*

And so the list of countries that hate the US will grow.

* Including the part of the American way about preemptive blasting.
posted by pracowity at 9:34 AM on June 3, 2002


That is just about the most disgusting thing I have ever heard a "president" say.
posted by Espoo2 at 9:35 AM on June 3, 2002


It seems that everyone takes Bush's talk of preeemptive attack at face value. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm amazed that no one sees the other explanation for his sabre rattling.

And thats to push Iraq towards sincere and lasting arms control. Without the threat of attack and run out of town, Saddam has every reason to continue his policy of developing WOMD.

Guess what. He's in talks with the UN about letting inspectors back into Iraq as-we-speak. (besides, if we really were to invade Iraq and depose Saddam, I'm sure plenty of the WOMD he's now sitting on would find their way into terrorist hands once he realized he was being "forced to resign")

The fine art of international diplomacy requires subtlety to the same degree that that media doesn't.
posted by BentPenguin at 9:36 AM on June 3, 2002


Ty Webb, that particular line also had me rolling on the floor. You couldn't make stuff like that up.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 9:38 AM on June 3, 2002


"Because the war on terror will require resolve and patience, it will also require firm moral purpose. In this way our struggle is similar to the Cold War. Now, as then, our enemies are totalitarians, holding a creed of power with no place for human dignity. Now, as then, they seek to impose a joyless conformity, to control every life and all of life. "

Oh wait... I'm confused... Where am I again? Are we going to war against the U.S.? Uh... wait... I'm in the U.S. ... Civil war? What's going on?
posted by Espoo2 at 9:51 AM on June 3, 2002


Iraq by July 4!

Close, but how about Iraq on July 4? Think of the product tie-in sales!
posted by holycola at 9:53 AM on June 3, 2002


Who is this guy? I mean, really.... who switched out the 5 1/4" floppy on the BushBot?
posted by grabbingsand at 9:56 AM on June 3, 2002


Wow. Lots of people assuming this means that Bush is set to create the Greater American Co-Prosperity Sphere or something.

Now, I'm no great fan of Dubya Inc., but in the interests of some pretense at balance, I'd like to propose an alternative view. Today, this very moment, there are millions of people suffering and dying under the hand of corrupt dictatorships and kleptocracies. So far, the US response to this has been to support those governments that are non-expansionist, and "contain" the ones that seek to spread. In neither case have we ever shown any inclination to do anything to help improve the lot of the actual people living in any country.

The historical thread of American isolationism, which is obvious to anyone reading the comments above, has dictated that we act in no one's interest but our own. Perhaps, just perhaps, what Bush is really saying here is "Enough is enough." Maybe we're finally realizing that our country is not an island, and that others can and will reach out and hit us whenever they want to. Perhaps this policy is based on the radical concept that our past position that "whatever you want to do to your own citizens is none of our concern, provided you're not threatening our business" is untenable. In short, is it so impossible that maybe the US, with our absurdly huge military force, could stop twiddling our self-satisifed thumbs and start attempting to stem the endless rivers of blood flowing out of the world's more unstable regions?

To the majority of commenters above: If you could do something to help improve the lives of the people of Iraq, or the people of North Korea, would you? If you saw one guy beating another guy on the street with a club, would you try to help? Or would you turn away and say "Oh well, whatever happens on their side of the street is no business of mine!" The latter has been US foreign policy for almost our entire history, with the recent proviso "as long as he's not a Communist!"

Maybe it's time for a change.
posted by rusty at 9:59 AM on June 3, 2002


[I'd like to propose an alternative view... Maybe it's time for a change.]

I am hoping you are correct.
posted by revbrian at 10:03 AM on June 3, 2002


Telling someone they "lack moral clarity" is essentially a way of saying "you're wrong." Is "lack of moral clarity" becoming a catch phrase for criticizing or silencing those you disagree with? Is "moral clarity" a new code word for "Israel, right or wrong?"

"The cries of the poor are the voice of God." This is moral clarity, if you believe in Liberation Theology.
The theology of liberation is linked to the process of conscientization, a jarring of moral wrong into awareness."
Time to impose moral clarity, anyone?
posted by sheauga at 10:09 AM on June 3, 2002


revbrian: Heh. Me too. The cynic in me says "No fucking way, pal." But the optimist hopes that could be the overall plan.
posted by rusty at 10:12 AM on June 3, 2002


Rusty, I sincerely hope that is the case here, but given the language bush uses in speeches ("morality" "preemptive strikes" etc) it doesn't seem like he's out there trying to save the world.

Make no mistake, anyone on the left side of the political fence would support helping out people stuck under the thumbs of restrictive governments, and if that truly is Bush's aim here in the next few months, it would be easy for him to get everyone on his side by simply stating his intentions. Rusty, you make it sound like Bush wants to accomplish the goals of Amnesty International with a bit of military force, but his speeches don't seem to mirror that. They're heavy on the military force, and imposing our morality on the world.
posted by mathowie at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2002


May the sun never set on the American Empire. Lets teach those savages the ways of civilization, from the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli.

Bleah.

As I see it, we have seen our enemy of the eighties, and it is us. Our bizarro-world leader has declared for the nation a carte-blance on military action, and willing, able, and actively seeking reasons to invade and conquer Before any crime against the country has been made. If this same policy was in force domestically, you could be arrested because a policeman thought you might jaywalk, or shot because a policeman thought you were carrying a concealed weapon. You would be convicted without presumption of innocence; you would be jailed without crime.

This has nothing to do with 'Helping' anyone. As Tone Wolfe once said, no matter who is in power, we still will be farming rocks. This has to do with control outside of one's own national boundaries. The right to dictate sovereign policys to foreign people under threat of force. The right to subjugate any nation or government who has goals and policies not in line with our own.

I'm starting to feel like I've dropped into the twilight zone - this is becoming the America people used to write science-fiction horror stories about.
posted by Perigee at 10:29 AM on June 3, 2002


Matt: Again, I don't know what's in his head, but whatever it is, I am fairly positive that the speechwriters are not getting anywhere near it. Or, rather, that they may be reflecting what's in Bush's head, but that isn't what's setting the real policy course here.

Bush has founded his "persona" on being a plain-spoken Texan regular guy. At heart, he may be. But his administration is stuffed full of hard-headed, long-time US political operators. You do not survive in American politics by trying to act in terms of "moral clarity" and "Good vs. Evil". On the contrary, our system requires constant compromise, and an almost economic rationalization of getting the best deal you can.

So I hope we can all see through the rationalizations being presented in the speeches as one of two things: Either sops to Bush's (irrelevant) view of what he's doing, or simply platitudes for a nation that yearns for clarity. My guess is the former, as he could get better mileage out of something less confrontational, if the goal was simply to keep the largest possible number of people on board.

In any case, I don't think the speechifying language ever gets to the real motivations behind Bushco's policies. What could those motivations be? Off the top of my head:

* Help people stuck under corrupt and murderous regimes
* Open up larger markets to US business interests
* Improve US security through promoting greater world stability, not with an uneasy "containment," but with a much more active and vigorous policy of ending governments that breed unstable conditions
* Export US worldview and morality

My guess is that all of these, and perhaps a few others, go into the mix. And honestly, I wouldn't be so unhappy to see them accomplished. I think the actual results would surprise a lot of the people who think that we're going to get out there and turn the whole world into AmericaLand. There's no such thing as a one-way cultural exchange, and any increased interventionism on our part will have the inevitable effect of bringing more of the world into US consciousness.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is, try not to let your (justifiable) hatred of Bush cloud your analysis of this turnaround. I actually think he's on the right path here. The alternative, really, is to stick our heads back in the cold war sand of "containment", and we've seen how well that works.
posted by rusty at 10:34 AM on June 3, 2002


I'm starting to feel like I've dropped into the twilight zone

Really.
posted by bittennails at 10:34 AM on June 3, 2002


Rusty, it sounds nice, but how do you put it into practice? To me, the classic form of isolationism involved trade with all, and no military alliances for or against any other country.

In short, is it so impossible that maybe the US, with our absurdly huge military force, could stop twiddling our self-satisifed thumbs and start attempting to stem the endless rivers of blood flowing out of the world's more unstable regions?

Where do we start? How do we violate another people's right to self-determination? If the country is violating some people's rights, are we justified to go in by force and take them out? That's kind of connected to the whole peacekeeping deal... we assume we are the moral authority who can police and take care of everyone. By that logic, a country without the death penalty (like France), has the right to come in by force and prevent us from executing people. The problem with the idea is that it leads directly to conflicts like Vietnam. Our government will rarely, if ever, do the right thing (if we can even figure out what that is). I don't think the USA can be all things to all people without getting most of the world to hate us. There will always be too many horrible things happening across the globe for us to take care of all of them (assuming the first premise, which I disagree with, that we can make things better with military force), so then how do we choose which ones to deal with? What about nations that we could not force our will through force, such as China?

Military force is not the answer. If you want to help other countries improve, I believe the best route is to provide an example of a free, open society, and to participate in trade and cultural exchange with as many nations as possible. The whole containment thing is a red herring too, that's just an excuse for military intervention, and it's partly a response to countries revolting from their colonial past (such as Vietnam, India, etc).
posted by insomnyuk at 10:42 AM on June 3, 2002


Rusty, there is no "we" in a sense that can have any meaning for me. There are too many of us. I don't think there can be any moral justification for sending people to their deaths because of injustice someplace else. To interfere is more immoral than isolation, and it makes our government behave unjustly towards us. The government has no mandate to help other nations, and it was never planned for. Should never be planned for.
posted by thirteen at 10:42 AM on June 3, 2002


Now that the administration seems to have abandoned, at least for now, plans for a major military action against Iraq, this sounds to my ears like so much sabre rattling. Look at his audience, folks: this is West Point. A more receptive audience for military action, or at least talking tough about it, could not be found.

Not the kind of speech we'll be hearing as the mid-term elections get closer, I bet.
posted by groundhog at 10:51 AM on June 3, 2002


The alternative, really, is to stick our heads back in the cold war sand of "containment", and we've seen how well that works.

Perhaps you have a different take on it, but I remember the Cold War being a series of very active engagements through the CIA and other channels in smaller countries such as Chile, Iran, etc, with the failed Viet Nam war (no head-in-the-sand there) to boot. However in the balance the Soviet threat was defeated by containment, and the USSR is no more. I am enjoying your posts, but my reading of the history of the cold war (a success overall with many individual failures) and yours seem to be totally opposite. Is there a way to find a common ground in the lessons of history? How does one ensure that change in foreign governments is "good"?
posted by cell divide at 10:55 AM on June 3, 2002


Boy, I'm glad I put on my hip-waders before I came in here. For those of you offering intelligent discussion on both sides of this argument, cheers. For the rest of you, take your ritalin and go play in the other room while the grown-ups have a talk.
posted by evanizer at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2002


The government has no mandate to help other nations, and it was never planned for.

That's eighteenth century thinking right there. It's beyond dispute that a more prosperous, democratic world is a safer, more secure world. By providing relief, aid, and, occasionally, military intervention, to developing countries, the U.S. government is fulfilling its mandate for U.S. national economic and military security.

The U.S. simply must take the lead on this. Lord knows the Europeans won't.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:02 AM on June 3, 2002


insomnyuk: How do we violate another people's right to self-determination?

I don't think we should. I'd say the best place to start would be to attempt to help enforce other peoples right of self-determination. Did Iraq elect Saddam Hussein dictator? We could both come up with lots of examples of thorny, shades of gray situations if we extend the basic premise to a clearly nonsensical end (France invading the US to stop executions, for example) but that's sidestepping the fact that there are several clear-cut examples of regimes that do not represent the people they "govern" (oppress), and pose a significant threat to world peace and stability.

In fact, the self-determination issue would be an excellent yardstick to consider. France would not be justified in toppling the US over its execution policy because the US government is an elected, representative one. If the people of Iraq choose to elect Hussein dictator for life, and support his right to do anything he likes, well, I guess our job would be done. But that hasn't happened yet.

If you want to help other countries improve, I believe the best route is to provide an example of a free, open society, and to participate in trade and cultural exchange with as many nations as possible.

Certainly. Absolutely. I don't see how the two are in conflict. Your suggestion ought to be our policy in the vast majority of cases. There are a few, though, where that simply won't work.

cell divide: my reading of the history of the cold war (a success overall with many individual failures) and yours seem to be totally opposite

What I was trying to say is that by focusing all of our efforts on Communist containment, and in the process being completely willing to sell out our own principles to support any government as long as it wasn't Communist, we sowed the seeds of the whirlwind that we are now reaping.

If you define "defeat Communism at any price" as the goal of containment policy, it certainly did work. But I think it has turned out that "at any price" was a shortsighted way to look at things. There's no more Soviet Empire, but now we (and the rest of the world) are left with the chaos created by our blind support of hundreds of tin-pot tyrants and murderers.

Perhaps what I should have said is, "we've seen what that policy leaves behind" or something like that.

How does one ensure that change in foreign governments is "good"?

Work with the people of the country. Find the smart ones who don't have the personal charisma or inherited wealth and power to take over by force. Support them. Listen to them, and help them to instill the sense in the people of that country that determining who should lead them is their absolute right.
posted by rusty at 11:12 AM on June 3, 2002


How is it a safer world, when everytime we interfere our soldiers die and our citizens pay fortunes? How good do your ideas have to be to justify sending your countrymen to die?

The U.S. simply must take the lead on this.
I hope we do not, as I disagree.
posted by thirteen at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2002


How good do your ideas have to be to justify sending your countrymen to die?

This good.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2002


You read a document rejecting tyranny as permission to send people to their deaths? I am opposed to the idea that there is not conflict too small to spend a couple of American lives on. If you want a peaceful world, don't fight wars unless there is no other choice. Don't send people to fight, wait for them to see that they need to fight. No one is good enough to choose that for another.
posted by thirteen at 11:52 AM on June 3, 2002


For those of you who think that containment stopped Communism, look at where containment took place with special force: Korea, Vietnam, Cuba. It was economics that toppled Communism, not anything the US did. What the US did was counter-productive.
posted by anewc2 at 11:54 AM on June 3, 2002


I suspect what Ty is trying to say, thirteen, is that there are some things that are worth fighting and, yes, even dying for. Some of those things are outlined in that document.

Also of note: the American military is comprised entirely of volunteers. There hasn't been a draft in several decades.
posted by UncleFes at 12:02 PM on June 3, 2002


I am opposed to the idea that there is not conflict too small to spend a couple of American lives on.

Great, you're opposed to it. Noted. But who has suggested it?
posted by Ty Webb at 12:06 PM on June 3, 2002


anewc2 - Actually, there are many who say that what the US did (arms race) directly contributed to the economics that toppled the Soviet Union.

thirteen - The idea is that some things (life, liberty, etc) are important enough to fight and to die for. The real issue is knowing when/where/who is worth it and when we are being fed a line by those in power. I personally think that most of the founding fathers would not be all that popular with modern politicians if they weren't safely dead and buried. However, that doesn't change the essential truth that was explained so well by UncleFes.
posted by Irontom at 12:07 PM on June 3, 2002


Also of note: the American military is comprised entirely of volunteers. There hasn't been a draft in several decades.

True, but I suspect they did not sign up to serve in combat that is not essential to the protection of America. I believe thoses things are worth fighting for here. I do not think the writers of the document would have us send troops to other parts of the world. If someone trys to take our liberty, then fight them, don't risk our troops on politics and charity.
posted by thirteen at 12:11 PM on June 3, 2002


thirteen,
It seems as though you refuse to recognize that we live in a very different world than the one the founders knew. I'm not arguing for U.S. internationalism out of any sense of charity, but rather from pragmatism. Non-participation in world affairs is simply not an option for the U.S. at this point, and I think most if not all of the founders would have recognized this.
posted by Ty Webb at 12:27 PM on June 3, 2002


Isolationists vs. anti-isolationists: What neither side here is recognizing is that the US has been attacked. Thousands of American civilians have been killed. Whether you think we should remain neutral unless threatened or intervene unprovoked is irrelevant. Either way, we have already been provoked. This is like arguing whether or not we should go to war against Japan the day after Pearl Harbor. It doesn't matter what you want -- we are already at war, and it was not one of our choosing. The question at hand is how to prosecute a war without a nation-state on one end of it.
posted by rusty at 12:40 PM on June 3, 2002


Um, before y'all keep trotting out the Soviet Empire as an example of how U.S. diplomacy works, you might want to consider the historical fact that the Soviet Union and the "Red Menace" were designated enemies to keep the money flowing to the military-industrial complex. The United States created the situation we're in now. After WWII, the U.S. could have disarmed, but decided not to, because there's no money in disarmament. Keeping the government on a permanent war footing keeps the economy rolling. The last fifty years have been anything but isolationist.

Oh, and "moral clarity"? Guffaw. Chortle. Bush can spew as much "good vs. evil" rhetoric as he wants, but the U.S. has always acted only with concern to expanding its power, regardless of consequences. In fact, Bush's speech seems indicative that the lessons just haven't been learned.

P.S. Someone mentioned Reagan in response to all this - I think it's hysterical that in a discussion about morality, a president who might have sincerely believed that nuclear war was inevitable Biblical prophecy, and that he would lead the armies of God against Satan (i.e. the Soviet Union and their demonic leader, Gorbachev) in the battle of Armageddon, is being help up as a paragon of morality. Chortle. Guffaw.

P.P.S. Rusty: the reason for the "war" rhetoric was so insurance companies wouldn't have to pay damages for the attacks, since acts of war are not covered. Sadly, US case law states that a country can only be at war with another country. Anyone else looking forward to bailing out the insurance industry?
posted by solistrato at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2002


I remember that nuclear war, man those were tough times.
posted by UncleFes at 1:04 PM on June 3, 2002


Keeping the government on a permanent war footing keeps the economy rolling.

Actually, it's not really good for the economy, it's good for one particular sector with good lobbyists. (the Costs of War)

I especially like this quote:

"We must never let the weight" of the military-industrial complex "endanger our liberties or democratic processes," he said, measuring his words carefully. "We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
posted by insomnyuk at 1:13 PM on June 3, 2002


Well said sjc. Let me repeat it for those hard of hearing: WE ARE NOT AT WAR!! So get over it.
posted by nofundy at 1:18 PM on June 3, 2002


anewc2 - Actually, there are many who say that what the US did (arms race) directly contributed to the economics that toppled the Soviet Union.

And how much sooner would they have collapsed had we not given them an enemy that even a corrupt and brutal regime could use to rally support from an abused populace? I still say it's no accident that three of four Communist regimes are sites of hostile action from the US.
posted by anewc2 at 1:19 PM on June 3, 2002


Um, before y'all keep trotting out the Soviet Empire as an example of how U.S. diplomacy works, you might want to consider the historical fact that the Soviet Union and the "Red Menace" were designated enemies to keep the money flowing to the military-industrial complex.

I'm sure the fact the communism was really a paper tiger and a prop for the "military-industrial complex" brings some comfort to the 100 million that died at the hands of communist governments. Good to know that they entity that murdered them really wasn't such a big deal after all.

I'd like to see how far you'd get with that argument in any of the former Warsaw Pact nations.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:33 PM on June 3, 2002


I'm not arguing for U.S. internationalism out of any sense of charity, but rather from pragmatism.
First off, I am not stupid, I know I am not living in the 18th century, the computer was a dead giveaway. I understand that you disagree with my ideas, but you are not really refuting them. I think there is plenty of obvious evidence that makes it clear that not fighting wars results in Americans not being killed. I don't understand what is pragmatic about picking fights to prevent getting into fights. You want a peaceful world, be peaceful.
Isolationists vs. anti-isolationists
I don't think you are considering the origin of the problem. America has never gone to war over our isolationist policies. The WTC was not attacked because we were too hands off in the world. I think at least on some level everyone knows this. If you want war, interfering with other people's business seems like a way to get it. I don't think it is right that the WTC was targeted, but I certainly believe it was targeted because of the type of policy that is being advocated here. But at least they died for the values touted in the Declaration of Independence right?
Either way, we have already been provoked. This is like arguing whether or not we should go to war against Japan the day after Pearl Harbor.
I believe there was plenty to talk about the day after Pearl Harbor, and so much more in the months prior to Pearl Harbor. We have not been behaving in a neutral fashion, we have been picking sides and working behind the scenes for a long time. Acting innocent, does not give us a free pass when those we have been working against (be they bad or good) decide to call us on it.

Everyone wants to treat the effect instead of the cause. I have no clue how that is supposed to stop terrorism.
posted by thirteen at 2:12 PM on June 3, 2002


Crud, I lost my post, and it got a little muddled in the recreation.
posted by thirteen at 2:22 PM on June 3, 2002


I'm late to this thread, but Bush's words sound eerily like an argument for a proactive police state. "In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act."

Also, going to war with the rest of the world to impose our morality is, as has been suggested, not the best way to discourage terrorists. Do you really think these guys would give a second thought to the US if we weren't constantly poking around in their part of the world? Do they give a second thought to El Salvador?
posted by daveadams at 2:25 PM on June 3, 2002


Not to mention the inherent hypocrisy underlying every statement about black-and-white morality. Half of the countries and groups we support are just as bad as their enemies in a moral sense, but we're on their side because of political expediency.
posted by daveadams at 2:29 PM on June 3, 2002


I understand that you disagree with my ideas, but you are not really refuting them.

What is there to refute? Your ideas, such as they are,
are so basic as to refute themselves. You can go on about isolationism all you want, but it is just an untenable and completely unrealistic position for the U.S. to take, for both economic and military reasons.

I think there is plenty of obvious evidence that makes it clear that not fighting wars results in Americans not being killed

Duh. There's also plenty of obvious evidence that never handling a piece of paper results in not getting paper cuts...

I don't understand what is pragmatic about picking fights to prevent getting into fights.

Who suggested picking a fight? I'm talking bout being willing to defend and aid the self-determination of others in specific cases, through diplomacy, economic pressure, and possibly through military force as a rare and last resort. Were the U.S. gov't to withdraw from the world stage, as you suggest, it would be abdicating it's responsibility to it's citizens to provide security.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:43 PM on June 3, 2002


No one who was forced to read 1984 in high school could fail to hear a faint bell tinkling. In George Orwell's dreary classic, the totalitarian state of Oceania is perpetually at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. Although the enemy changes periodically, the war is permanent; its true purpose is to control dissent and sustain dictatorship by nurturing popular fear and hatred.

The permanent war undergirds every aspect of Big Brother's authoritarian program, excusing censorship, propaganda, secret police, and privation. In other words, it's terribly convenient.

And conveniently terrible. Bush's alarming speech pointed to a shadowy enemy that lurks in more 60 countries, including the US. He announced a policy of using maximum force against any individuals or nations he designates as our enemies, without color of international law, due process, or democratic debate.

Excerpted from:
Happy New Year: It's 1984
by Jacob Levich
posted by dejah420 at 3:12 PM on June 3, 2002


What I was hoping for is that you would come up with some "Duh" reasons of your own on why your policy is a good idea. I am gathering that you think we will have enemies regardless of how we conduct ourselves, or even if we are not present on the scene. I don't know why that would be, but apparently it is a given. I am sure you will be the one who is happier with the way things will turn out, a busy body policy seems to be very popular these days. next time a plane blows up, I will try to find comfort in the fact that we are an international presence.

Who suggested picking a fight?
You were the one who suggested military intervention.
posted by thirteen at 3:16 PM on June 3, 2002


Who suggested picking a fight?
You were the one who suggested military intervention.


Try reading it again in context: By providing relief, aid, and, occasionally, military intervention, to developing countries, the U.S. government is fulfilling its mandate for U.S. national economic and military security

next time a plane blows up, I will try to find comfort in the fact that we are an international presence.

And with your illusions about the benefits of isolationism.

I am gathering that you think we will have enemies regardless of how we conduct ourselves, or even if we are not present on the scene.

To a certain extent, yes. There will always be those who resent the successful and powerful. This is not to suggest that the U.S. hasn't done some very regrettable things in the past, it certainly has, though the extent to which past U.S. actions were responsible for 9/11 is debatable.

For a number of reasons, the U.S. finds itself in a singular position of preeminence in today's world. If done in a circumspect way, the U.S. could effectively advocate for the openness and political modernization which would, in the long term, make for a more secure and prosperous world (I wrote this before, but am repeating it as you seem to have missed it).
posted by Ty Webb at 3:32 PM on June 3, 2002


Dammit, cut off again. The situation described sounds like gunning for an unnecessary fight to me. The policys described have concequences.
posted by thirteen at 3:33 PM on June 3, 2002


Regrettable you caught my slip before I did. We talked it out, we disagree. I get your points, and you get mine i am guessing. I still have questions, especially about your last post, but I am happy to let it drop for now at least.
posted by thirteen at 3:36 PM on June 3, 2002


A brief history of the consequences of intervention, or how thousand year old conflicts never leave us:

If we did not have troops in Saudi Arabia, there would be no hole where the World Trade Center used to be.

We wouldn't have troops in Saudi Arabia if we had not been in the Gulf War.

We wouldn't have been in the Gulf War if Kuwait had not been created by Britain.
Corollary: We would not have been in the Gulf War if Iraq did not have the means to attack. Iraq may not have had the means to attack if we had not supported their war with Iran in the 1980s.

Kuwait would not have been created if Britain had not won World War II.

Britain would not have won World War II without America's support.
Corollary: World War II would not have occurred if World War I had not been won by the British. World War I would not have been won by the British if America did not get involved.

America would not have supported Britain in World War II unless Japan had attacked America.

Japan would not have attacked at Pearl Harbor if it were not for American military involvement in China, and oil embargos put up by the U.S. (as a response to Japan's imperialism, a result perhaps of feuds between China and Japan dating back thousands of years).

Stephen Ambrose spoke at my college on September 9, 2001. He declared, rather pompously, that his generation, the World War II generation, had secured peace for the 21st century, by virtue of merely winning World War II and subsequently making the U.S. a world power. Too bad he was so short-sighted.

Even today, we reap the consequences of the actions of generations past. There is little we can do, it seems, to undo the wrongs of history. But we have to start somewhere. None of us can predict the future with any success, especially not our politicians. Why should they, then, be allowed to play their games with their multi billion dollar toys, completely unconscious of the string of unintended consequences down the road? Who are they to say that the world will be safe for democracy, when by their actions they may be creating a newer, more horrible enemy than ever thought possible? No one thought the war to end all wars would lead to the worst dictators in history, but it did: Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin. The arrogance of man is unending, and we are cursed to play out this fate of action and reaction as long as we think that by our actions, we can save people from themselves.
posted by insomnyuk at 3:59 PM on June 3, 2002


Nice post insomnyuk. Thanks
posted by onegoodmove at 4:14 PM on June 3, 2002


Why stop there, insomnyuk? If our ancestors hadn't foolishly decided to climb out of the oceans, none of these wars would've happened...

Your presumption is that the world would be better off if none of those interventions had taken place, and your post is a great example of the rhetorical fallacy known as post hoc ergo proctor hoc. Arguing that WWI "created" Hitler is fine, and common. Arguing that WWI "created" Stalin is simple to the point of banality.

You're right, though, that no one can know or consider the full long term consequences of anything, but that goes for action as well as inaction.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:27 PM on June 3, 2002


Ah, so commonality and banality are de jure objections to my little list. That's fine, those attributes don't really bother me. Perhaps I should have been more specific. None of those events solely caused each event afterward, but they were the primary causes. The reason post hoc ergo proctor hoc arguments fail is because the connections drawn can't be proven, they are based solely on temporal relation.

I'm not saying that World War I caused Hitler, because they are close to each other, I'm showing how historical events are connected. World War I led to the creation of Weimar Germany, which created political conditions perfect for Hitler's rise to power. The war itself shaped Hitler, to a large degree. Basically what I'm saying is A=B, and B=C, therefore, A=C. Feel free to point out to me any other logical fallacies or incosistencies that I may be guilty of, I'm to tired to check them all myself.
posted by insomnyuk at 4:46 PM on June 3, 2002


The WWI-caused-Hitler theory is the least objectionable and most widely accepted of those you listed, as I noted. But it borders on fortune-telling to assert that the world would be better off without all the interventions/actions you listed.

Here's one: At the Versailles conference at the end of WWI, Woodrow Wilson was approached by a young Vietnamese politician named Ho Chi Minh, who pleaded with Wilson to apply his policies of democratic self-determination apply to the Vietnamese, and to help them throw off French dominance. Wilson chose not to help. Had he intervened, we could've avoided the Vietnam War.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:56 PM on June 3, 2002


Ah, and for a brief shining moment there was interesting, considered political discussion on MetaFilter. But like all such evanescent and fleeting things, it ended all too quickly, leaving us with only the memory, and the archive...
posted by rusty at 4:58 PM on June 3, 2002


rusty, I blame Kuro5hin. After the merger back in April, MeFi has not been the same.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:03 PM on June 3, 2002


Good stuff, insomnyuk.
posted by Optamystic at 6:12 PM on June 3, 2002


The arrogance of man is unending, and we are cursed to play out this fate of action and reaction as long as we think that by our actions, we can save people from themselves.

Indeed, and by the looks of your little speech, you break the rules of your quote. Seems to me that it's arrogant, and short-sighted, to assume that inaction would save us from the violence created afterward. Congrats on creating a thoroughly useless laundry list of history.

Now, back to reality, the destruction of the WTC could have been avoided. True. However, what makes you assume that other atrocities could not have been committed? See: WTC attack in '93. The pure hatred exhibited by these fundamentalists was not simply created by our occupation in SA. Further, if you'd like to use your 20/15 hindsight to foresee more of the past, I recommend you look at these actions in the context of their time, not ours.

If the US allowed Hitler to ravage Europe further, would our economic situation be the same? Do you think that Hitler would have traded freely with the US, if he managed to take over Europe? Do you think that Saddam would've stopped with Kuwait, if we simply kept our noses out of their business? Isolationism is for those who can't accept reality. You cannot box yourself into one side of the globe and expect to be a global competitor. Foreign policy and economic policy are directly related.
posted by BlueTrain at 6:33 PM on June 3, 2002


Now, back to reality, the destruction of the WTC could have been avoided. True.

Prove this. It amazes me that you talk of arrogance, since it has been all you have offered.

Do you think that Hitler would have traded freely with the US, if he managed to take over Europe?

Do you think 'you' would not have, if he ruled Europe?

Do you think that Saddam would've stopped with Kuwait, if we simply kept our noses out of their business?

How would 'you' know?

Foreign policy and economic policy are directly related.

Did you just prove a counterpoint?
posted by bittennails at 7:26 PM on June 3, 2002


"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C. S. Lewis
posted by insomnyuk at 7:28 PM on June 3, 2002


A brief history of the consequences of intervention, or how thousand year old conflicts never leave us:

Spoken like a true first-year student with a first-year student's 'knowledge' of history, insomnyuk. A pity, though, that the shape of the Middle East has very little to do with the great chain of this-makes-this-modulo-zero consequences you offered. Let's hope, at least, that you learn a little more once you get into the 'history for grown-ups' classes.

But 'primary causes'? My arse. Read up a little on a) the politics of the Ottoman Empire between the Crimaean War and the Great War - b) the clan loyalties which brought the division of the Middle East in 1919 - c) the handful of political and religious movements that defined each Middle East state since, their origins and influence. This isn't A=B=C: this is a bloody cloud chamber where you need the brain of Steven Hawking to do the sums. In the meantime, your dippy-two-step history is about as credible as some of the more ridiculous Sept. 11 conspiracy theories.
posted by riviera at 7:31 PM on June 3, 2002


Smarmy condescension. How very productive.
posted by Optamystic at 7:37 PM on June 3, 2002


Man, I could hug you, riviera...

evanizer, fart in your corner the next time...
posted by bittennails at 7:37 PM on June 3, 2002


Did you just prove a counterpoint?

No. Are you drunk or just an idiot?
posted by BlueTrain at 7:41 PM on June 3, 2002


Maybe a bit of both, it's called character, get some before 'you' become 'we'. Maybe your density escapes you, sorry mommy wannabe of mefi.
posted by bittennails at 7:54 PM on June 3, 2002


As I have never met a historian with Stephen Hawking's analytical skills, I conclude from riviera's post that history is the study of "what happened", salted with subjective, frivolous conjecture which yields nothing greater than tenure.
posted by Opus Dark at 8:03 PM on June 3, 2002


You are exactly the kind of grade schooler that I was referring to above, bittennails.

Good points, riviera.
posted by evanizer at 8:25 PM on June 3, 2002


For the rest of you, take your ritalin and go play in the other room while the grown-ups have a talk.

What a juvenile, pointless attempt to clutter up/derail a good thread. Was that really necessary? The caliber of your posts seems to have taken a regrettable dive of late, evanizer.
posted by rushmc at 8:32 PM on June 3, 2002


Thanks for naming me the first time around. Next time focus on the guts, oh, and make a point once in a while, it's a thin grass skirt you are wearing there.
posted by bittennails at 8:34 PM on June 3, 2002


Thanks rushmc, this thread just got to me, it just hurt, I responded, silly. terrible level.
posted by bittennails at 8:36 PM on June 3, 2002


8:34=for evanizer,
8:36=rushmc

I have been confused before...not here though.
posted by bittennails at 8:41 PM on June 3, 2002


If the US allowed Hitler to ravage Europe further, would our economic situation be the same? Do you think that Hitler would have traded freely with the US, if he managed to take over Europe?
I guess it is a good thing we sent all our boys over to die, because it did lead to a good return on the investment. If you think Hitler could have held Europe, you think less of the old world than I do. I believe the world would be better off had we not been so sucessful with the Marshall Plan, and I do not think the outcome was worth the lives of all the Americans killed in WWII.
posted by thirteen at 9:15 PM on June 3, 2002


Riviera, I was not writing a history of the middle east, I was merely showing how a few events are related to others, my point being this: the more military action, the more trouble.

So what if I did not discuss the nuances of the Crimean War or the Ottoman Empire? That has little to do with what I was talking about. I'm simply saying that America's military involvement in foreign affairs has led to blowback, and I don't think we've seen the last of it.

You made one decent point, wrapped on both ends with insults and ad hominems. Perhaps I don't want to finish higher education, if it means I'll become a condescending asshole like you. The only person who was critical of my post, and raised good questions without insulting my character (something I haven't done to you) was Ty. If you're so educated, why can't you criticize without insulting? That being said, I think the discussion in this thread has basically been derailed, but it was good for the first 70 posts, so it's not too bad percentage wise.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:32 PM on June 3, 2002


I think there's a plan behind Bush's shoulder-hunching bluster and his cringe-inducing, childlike bluntness. I mean, there's gotta be a plan...right?

And the plan is to reaffirm an old idea, to stealth-sell an amplified version of the old, Cold War standby: "What's best for America is best for the world"; it is toward the inculcation of this simple apothegm as a world mantra that all Bush policy, and all Bush speeches, are currently aimed.

Post Cold War, we've been kind of an easy-going, absent-minded, avuncular hegemony. But the Bushies seem to think that the most sustainable hegemony is the inevitable, implacable, steely-eyed, there-is-no-alternative, we-don't-need-any-of-you-but-you-need-us preemptively activist hegemony; nothing is exempt - everything, everywhere, at any time, may be force-filtered through America's version of morality and measured against America's self-interest, and anything judged harmful, or potentially harmful, is actionable. (Not surprisingly, this is basically an adaptation of the monopolistic business ethic, adjusted for application to the political world stage.)

Sort of Bismarck and the "Iron Rule" - new millenium American style...
"The only healthy foundation of a great state consists in national egotism, not romanticism."--Bis
[Foreign policy must work out a] "political situation in which all the powers need us and are kept as much as possible from forming coalitions against us."--Bis


The idea itself sort of tastes awful...so
...the best way to get it out there is to repeat it, often, as an underlying theme, in as childlike and intellectually disarming a fashion as possible. Which is what the Bushies do.

And it's working quite well.

'Cause the idea is back out there, louder than its distant Cold War echo ever was. And it got there relatively intact, avoiding the visceral shredding which would have resulted had the Bushies simply proclaimed it. Sure, it still stings, but it really is out there, and settling in. And now that it is out there, there are clear signs that Bush is modulating his message to mend a few wobbly fences (France, Germany, global warming). I think we'll continue to see a mix of bratty "my way or the highway" messages, increasingly intermingled with "we care about you, you're in good hands with our state" messages. The key is to nurture the notion, whether it be illusion or reality, that the world's well-being is irreversibly tied to America's comfort and welfare (and to do so without stirring resentful coalition).

"Is it good for America?" (answer worth 100,000 points)
"Is it good?" (answer worth 2 points)

Did Bush himself engineer any of this? Nah. This is think tank residue, I betcha.

(My selfless attempt to reinvigorate a thread in which I'm not really interested...)
posted by Opus Dark at 9:37 PM on June 3, 2002


"Universal"? I take personal offence at that! Hey, I don't live in the States. How dare he even think of imposing his universal sense of morality on me? I mean this is the guy who thinks that US Big Industry has a right to polute the world just because they paid for his ticket into public office! Pffft to you, Bush!
posted by timyang at 10:43 PM on June 3, 2002


Let's just jump to some obvious conclusions. MLK, killed. Ghandi, killed. Jesus, killed. For those of you who think the US or anybody can sit back and do the right thing without consequences, I think history proves you wrong. As Larry Wall, the man who created Perl, once commented (and I'm paraphrasing), "I'm being shot at from both sides, I must be right." Think of your own life and ask yourself if there are people who dislike you. Are there people who even might hate you (maybe that goofy looking kid you mocked in grade school or the guy you cut off on the freeway this afternoon). If as an individual you cannot go through life without racking up a list of people who dislike you, how can a nation?
posted by billman at 10:55 PM on June 3, 2002


Let me start off by asking a question. When you stay late to impress your boss, do you walk into his office and say "Hey Boss, I'm staying late tonight because my performance review is next month and I'm trying to make you think I give a rat's ass about this company so you'll give me a raise." No? Then why would you be such a jackass as to request that Bush fully disclose what the intent of making statements like this are? 6 months ago, I heard a lot of people whine and moan about the axis of evil comment. To date, Iran has been jumping through hoops to distance itself from terrorism, N. Korea has stated that it is now open to talks with the US, and Iraq is discussing opening back up the weapons inspection process. Sometimes you have to read between the lines. Funny that our enemies can and our self-appointed gurus can't.
posted by billman at 10:57 PM on June 3, 2002


At this point in our lives, for any of us, what really would be the difference between being killed by our own governement and a government that needs "enemies" that do it for them? Just because we're Americans and just because our leaders are too, does not neccessitate that the two have like ideals as to how America should be. "What is America?", and "how is it that one perceives America?" are two entirely different questions. Perceptions rule the day. Perceive it to be perfect but under attack and you're a conservative. Perceive it to be broken and improvable and you are a leftwing extremist.

However, as we haggle over what end of the political spectrum, fellow humans and citizens are, each and everyone of us, is a target of a pseudo-war none of us chose. Left or right, we are all potential victims. Why isn't it that we should demand more of a peaceful stance out of our representatives? Why should we just go along with what they say, when it is they themselves who have created the "enemies"? No enemy is our, the average citizen's enemy. Both "warring" parties are as much a product of the propaganda as the other. We may be sheep, but for christ's sake we're not the beneficiaries of any method at which our government decides to make planet Earth more "peaceful", "democratic" or "free from terrorism". It's not about us. We're small and inconseqential. But we feel, love and die just the same. Why shouldn't we demand more?

But instead we haggle haggle haggle.
posted by crasspastor at 2:54 AM on June 4, 2002


Oh, by the way! I'm not at all insinuating that the discussion here hasn't been stimulating and good natured. I'm just saying, is all.
posted by crasspastor at 2:59 AM on June 4, 2002


Golly, I love America.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:43 AM on June 4, 2002


I was merely showing how a few events are related to others, my point being this: the more military action, the more trouble

I understand your point, but, at the risk of repeating myself, I think the list you gave was oversimplified to the point of being misleading. But your equation, "the more military action, the more trouble," is similar to thirteen's earlier gem "not fighting wars results in Americans not being killed" in that both are tautologous. My point is that there are rare instances in which preemptive military action will save more lives in the long term, and in such cases it would be incumbent on a democratic gov't to carry out the action.

I know many of us, myself included, are wary of such talk as it relates to the U.S., given the U.S. government's track record of sending the Marines in as an advance team for Big Business, but the principle holds.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:55 AM on June 4, 2002


similar to thirteen's earlier gem "not fighting wars results in Americans not being killed"
Be nice. I was dumbing it down.
posted by thirteen at 9:14 AM on June 4, 2002


It's a classic, though, you have to admit. ; ]
posted by Ty Webb at 9:21 AM on June 4, 2002


The Soviets were the Evil Empire, the biggest threat to America and the "free world" ever, and we were taught to fear and hate them for over a generation. Our society and psyches were warped and distorted to counter this threat and defeat this enemy.

Then, suddenly, they refused to play their role in this MAD psychodrama any longer. And the house of cards collapsed. Amazing how quickly and easily Darth Vader reverted to Anakin Skywalker, no? But we are not permitted to entertain the notion that perhaps he was Anakin all along. Certain forces require a Vader for their purposes, and they are expert in creating them, inflating them, and marketing them.

Now they need another. It's time for the sequel. And the engines of creation are grinding....
posted by rushmc at 10:09 AM on June 4, 2002


rushmc: As the child of Ukrainian refugees, I can state with confidence that your analysis of the Cold War is absolute horseshit.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:49 AM on June 4, 2002


rushmc: As a native Russian, I can repeat Ty Webb's words: you are verily mistaken in your sentiments toward the Soviet regime.
posted by azazello at 2:41 PM on June 4, 2002


Educate me, you two, since I have no idea what "sentiments toward the Soviet regime" I am being charged with. Rather than snide little potshots, post something instructive.
posted by rushmc at 2:51 PM on June 4, 2002


Insomnyuk, I'd sooner be a condescending asshole than an ignoramus with a vastly inflated sense of his knowledge, who imposes GCSE causation on history and cuts away so much of the detail from history in order to prove a pre-established generalisation that, were it applied to to a peach, would lead you to disregard the fruit and gnaw on the stone, thinking that you'd got to the heart of the matter.

My point: that your 'related points' are not, because you provide no credible grounds to believe it, and the manner of your presentation suggests you don't have a clue either.

It's when people adopt such billiard-ball views of historical causation that the problems start, because it leads them to regard gut feelings as divine law. And to be honest, we've got enough fatalists in the subcontinent right now without the need for new subscribers.
posted by riviera at 2:52 PM on June 4, 2002


We will strike first announced President Bush at the West Point graduation ceremony.

Chill out, you guys. I'm pretty sure Bush was talking about bowling.
posted by Skot at 2:53 PM on June 4, 2002


Rather than snide little potshots, post something instructive.

Excuse me, now you want to discuss the issue calmly and responsibly? Never would've thought it from your earlier post. If you don't want so strident a response, it's probably best not to turn the murder, disposession, and exile of tens of millions of people into an inane (and poorly reasoned) little Star Wars analogy.

At this point, to claim that the USSR was a false threat is akin to claiming that the world is flat. Was it as huge and all-consuming a threat as the military/industrial complex/editorial staff of National Review would have us believe? Very likely no. Did it provide convenient pretext for an entire system of corporate welfare that is with us to this day? I think yes, it did. This doesn't mean the Soviet gov't wouldn't have turned the world into a totalitarian hell if they'd been able to.

The notion that seems implicit in your post, that the Soviet threat was more or less cooked up by a bunch of capitalist/militarists in a smoky club room somewhere is pure junk. I hope I'm mischaracterizing your view.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:00 PM on June 4, 2002


Not only are you mischaracterizing, you are dreaming it up whole-cloth from the fabric of your own reactionary weltanshaaung. When you are ready to discuss what I actually posted, I will be interested in hearing what you have to say. The bulk of your second paragraph sounds quite promising.
posted by rushmc at 5:07 PM on June 4, 2002


Not only are you mischaracterizing, you are dreaming it up whole-cloth from the fabric of your own reactionary weltanshaaung.

am I?

Certain forces require a Vader for their purposes, and they are expert in creating them, inflating them, and marketing them.

No, I guess I'm not...
posted by Ty Webb at 5:19 PM on June 4, 2002


All of this catty bickering and pompous justification has succeeded in convincing me that pre-emptive military strikes against sovereign nations is an ethical and moral action.
posted by Hildago at 6:25 PM on June 4, 2002


Now look what you've done!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:47 PM on June 4, 2002


Certain forces require a Vader for their purposes, and they are expert in creating them, inflating them, and marketing them.

No, I guess I'm not...


And what part of that do you dispute?
posted by rushmc at 7:10 PM on June 4, 2002


rushmc, can you say, Cuban Missile Crisis?
posted by BlueTrain at 7:12 PM on June 4, 2002


Sure I can. But then, I can also say "9/11."
posted by rushmc at 8:28 PM on June 4, 2002


I'm sure the fact the communism was really a paper tiger and a prop for the "military-industrial complex" brings some comfort to the 100 million that died at the hands of communist governments. Good to know that they entity that murdered them really wasn't such a big deal after all.

I'd like to see how far you'd get with that argument in any of the former Warsaw Pact nations.


For the Hungarian revolt to have succeeded, assistance was needed from the West. Unfortunately, the events in Hungary coincided with the Suez Crisis. Britain and France were tied up in the Middle East. The United States, whose CIA-sponsored Radio Free Europe had encouraged the Hungarians to resist their Soviet masters, could have warned the USSR to stay out. Instead, the U.S. reacted timidly with what Irving characterizes as "vintage Eisenhower eyewash unlikely to chill the blood of any Soviet commander." Eisenhower went so far as to state that the U.S. was not "looking for new allies in Eastern Europe." Khrushchev viewed this response as a green light to take decisive action free of American interference. Soviet soldiers were mobilized and sent in to quash the Hungarians. Irving explains that "President Eisenhower's renewed disclaimer of any strategic interest in the satellite nations barely drew an appreciative belch from him [Khrushchev] now he knew that he could risk everything to recover Hungary without in effect risking anything."

I suppose it depends on which Warsaw pact nation you would ask.
posted by y2karl at 9:32 PM on June 4, 2002


And what part of that do you dispute?

The part where you claimed I'd dreamed up your view "out of whole cloth." Well, there it is, for all to see. You still in denial?
posted by Ty Webb at 10:15 PM on June 4, 2002


Sure I can. But then, I can also say "9/11."

Do you know ANYTHING about US foreign policy, really? Windbag, at the very least, is what you are. 9/11 is a completely different animal than the Cold War. When the potential for global destruction subsided after the Berlin Wall came down, every US strategist knew that the next rivalry was up for grabs. China, the EU, India, the Middle East...all were possibly competitors. Now, as we've seen, our greatest threat is not a hegemon, but a coward with an endless supply of drones ready to destroy the US for the sake of Allah and Muslims. Am I dramatizing? Slightly, but just as the Soviet Union was not hype, neither is the threat of terrorists, posing as messengers of God.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:34 PM on June 4, 2002


Man BlueTrain, you're really taking the cake these days. I'd take it to MetaTalk, but it's not worth the effort, I'm not even involved in this thread.

Not cool and totally obnoxious.
posted by crasspastor at 10:48 PM on June 4, 2002


The part where you claimed I'd dreamed up your view "out of whole cloth." Well, there it is, for all to see. You still in denial?

Um, yes, because you haven't answered my question at all. I'm guessing because you prefer to make unsubstantiated claims than to support them? Anyway, you and your empty-content entourage aren't worth my time. Goodbye.
posted by rushmc at 6:43 AM on June 5, 2002


rushmc,
first you ask for an explanation of my position, which I gave, then you seized upon what you claim is a misinterpretation of your views; then I show that it was not, in fact, a misinterpretation, and now you claim that I haven't answered your question, when it was acompletely different question than was asked.

I can understand, though. If I'd written what you did, I'd be trying to distract attention from it, too.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:51 AM on June 5, 2002


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