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An Open Letter to Congress
September 26, 2002 12:47 PM   Subscribe

An Open Letter to Congress from the editors of The Nation. All the makings of a final plea.
posted by mooseindian (91 comments total)

 
I'd say something, but I'm totally honest here: that just about sums it all up perfectly for me and my anti-American liberal pinko mentality. I'll pass on the arguing for this thread. Good editorial.

I love finishing the work day early. Time for a beer. (fading footsteps, door slam)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:57 PM on September 26, 2002


"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948), "Non-Violence in Peace and War"

I guess I'm just another pinko-commie-scumbag
posted by djseafood at 1:02 PM on September 26, 2002


YES! (When do we all take to the streets?)
posted by kahboom at 1:02 PM on September 26, 2002


Yes, when?
posted by soyjoy at 1:04 PM on September 26, 2002


For all the good it'll do:
Write your Rep
Or senator
posted by malphigian at 1:06 PM on September 26, 2002


Beautifully written. Very calm, very collected, very poignant. And I love it when anyone points out the politicking of mid-term elections and congressional votes. The congressmen know that they do it, the constituents know that they do it (well, those who care). But it's rare to see someone hold up the bullshit flag and wave it freely. Thanks mooseindian.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:06 PM on September 26, 2002


Yes! I love this! It's about time somebody put this in a clear and concise form. To bad congress will ignore it and the chicken hawks will claim that The Nation is not concerned for American's security. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this debate was taken to the voters in the form of the congressional campaigns? Wouldn't it be democratic to let the American public speak through the polls? To bad I don't live in Germany. Kind of ironic that the German populace gets influence this issue while the American public gets shut out, again.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:09 PM on September 26, 2002


I don't think there's anyone left in Congress with the stones to do what their conscience dictates.

That being the case, I'm paging Mr. Joseph Welch.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:10 PM on September 26, 2002


"gets to influence" sorry.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:11 PM on September 26, 2002


When do we all take to the streets?

Right now, that's when.

More about the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. In case you are unfamiliar with 20th-century American history.

I think it was unwise to try to tie in the Florida election debacle of 2000 - that's gone and done, and nothing we can do now will change those events. But there is still time to stop this mad war, and double kudos to The Nation for referencing Stalin, who was 10 times the madman Saddam Hussein is.
posted by rocketman at 1:11 PM on September 26, 2002


Just out of curiosity, have there been any MAJOR (in excess of 1000 people) street-level rallies or protests against going to war? Oh wait, how would you have heard about it, the mass media?
posted by mooseindian at 1:16 PM on September 26, 2002


For all the good it'll do:
Write your Rep
Or senator


Done. Thanks,malphigian. What the hell else can I do?
posted by jaronson at 1:21 PM on September 26, 2002


jaronson - write all the other reps, too.
posted by kahboom at 1:24 PM on September 26, 2002


Thanks for this mooseindian. I just wrote my representatives and will advise my friends and family to do the same. Whether we believe it will do any good or not, we are obligated to speak up.
posted by Woolcott'sKindredGal at 1:29 PM on September 26, 2002


I don't think there's anyone left in Congress with the stones to do what their conscience dictates.

Some do, like Sen. Byrd of my home state of WV, who's so deeply entrenched in the Senate that he has no need to play politics and fall for idle threats from the President. (I love his response to Bush's "Democrats are uninterested in the security of the American people": "[Byrd writes] I have been in this Congress for fifty years, and I have never seen a President or Vice President stoop this low.")

As for demonstrations, I know of at least one demonstration planned in conjunction with this weekend's "Let's Break Shit!" anti-IMF bash here in DC. I just hope the valid anti-war points (and their other reasonable objections) don't get drowned out by the 15 idiots who only want to cause mayhem. I'm not optimistic for it, though.
posted by arco at 1:30 PM on September 26, 2002


jaronson: Good question, one I'm pondering. I've also taken the steps of writing my rep and my senator, but I doubt they'll actually read anything my one vote (and no political contribution) has to say. I went to a general anti-war/environmental/anti-Bush rally here in Portland but I got pepper-sprayed along with the rest of the crowd (which included infants!) In fact the rally was organized around Resident Bush's visit to raise campaign funds for my Senator, Gordon Smith. I will protest again, and now I understand why the kids often wear bandanas to these events. I'm sorry if this is anecdotal, but it's had alot of effect on my view of the coming war and this administration.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:32 PM on September 26, 2002


I don't think there's anyone left in Congress with the stones to do what their conscience dictates.

I'm not sure you can make it into Congress in the first place with those stones, or maybe with that conscience. It's sort of a law of politics.
posted by Shane at 1:33 PM on September 26, 2002


elwoodwiles: I'm fairly certain what happens with all letters to congress is some staffer skims it, gets the jist of it, then ticks off a yes/no vote in an issue database. Works as a little poll of sorts. Could be wrong, but I know at least some congressional offices work this way.
posted by malphigian at 1:34 PM on September 26, 2002


Is there anyone out there who can lead something like this??
posted by mooseindian at 1:36 PM on September 26, 2002


indymedia.org
posted by Stuart_R at 1:37 PM on September 26, 2002


How sad that the apparent leader of the Senate opposition to this war is an old klukker who still uses, sometimes, an old-fashioned vocabulary
posted by matteo at 1:41 PM on September 26, 2002


here is the link about the protest held recently in Portland OR. -also from indymedia.org

Back on subject: malphigian - I hope your right on that, but I doubt it. How about we cut and paste the article and fill their email boxes with it?
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:41 PM on September 26, 2002


mooseindian: just wait until people start sying, or until our troops get gassed. Then the people will be out in full force. Remember, everyone was behind Vietnam until it became clear that the United States was losing
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 1:43 PM on September 26, 2002


Elwood: that's exactly why you have to send snail mail: don't think that your congressman is going to be overwhelmed by an email bomb. Or, for that matter, an E-petition.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 1:45 PM on September 26, 2002


Yelling - Doubtless people will start waking up when this folly becomes obvious, but gosh, wouldn't it be great for once to have the demonstration preclude the folly? As to how we can do that, don't ask me...
posted by soyjoy at 1:47 PM on September 26, 2002


Rocketman...ya beat me too it. It's unfortunate that this single statement...

"Even the domestic electoral system has been compromised by the debacle in Florida."

taints what is otherwise a thoughtful and well written piece. At least for those of us not wearing the "everything the administration does is a crime against humanity" blinders, it makes you wonder if the whole thing is just another sour grapes slash at the Republicans. What happened, happened...all the whining in the world won't change the result.

It would be great to see the issue debated prior to the elections and voted on after. The truth of the matter is that no member of Congress facing any material electoral challenge has the balls to actually have this conversation with their constituents, and the Democrats are terrified that if they actually stood up for what they believed, they would get creamed...they might be right.
posted by cyclopz at 1:51 PM on September 26, 2002


Anything The Nation prints is automatically going to be dismissed as liberal bullshit by your average chicken hawk, but there are salient points galore in this piece - most disturbing among them the contention that this may be but the first of many "little wars" against countries that appear to be poised to acquire either weapons of mass destruction or other capabilities that the U.S. deems to be dangerous to its own supremacy.

Bush may get his little war here, I fear, but I think American opinion will change once/if ground troops are needed and they start dying in large numbers. We simply don't have the stomach to endure such a thing - particularly when the reason for their deaths are so poorly articulated in the first place.
posted by kgasmart at 1:52 PM on September 26, 2002


John from Deerhoof emailed this to me:

Below is the number to the White House where you can actually call & say yes or no to the potential "war on Iraq". G.W. claims to want to hear it directly from the American People. All calls need to be between the hours of 9-5 eastern standard time monday through friday

I just called the White House at 202-456-1111. A machine detains you for only a moment and then a pleasant live operator will thank you for saying "I oppose" (or "I approve of") of the proposed war against Iraq. It will only take minutes! The president is asking to know what the American people are thinking. Tell him.


I just did it and had the same experience. One at a time, now.
posted by mikrophon at 1:55 PM on September 26, 2002


The Commons emergency debate on Iraq is worth a look, just to see what appears to be missing from the other side of the Atlantic: that is, elected representatives asking tough questions, and the executive being forced to answer them. On the spot.
posted by riviera at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2002


Why do we even have to use the statement that once Americans start to die in large numbers, is that when the people will change opinion. It doesnt have to be Vietnam. The politicians have no stones, but do we ? We dont even discuss it amongst ourselves if we are not hidden behind a computer monitor and an untraceable alias. I mean there are so many things, so many glaring facts like mentioned in recent articles and FPPs. After all Iraq was a once favored ally.
posted by adnanbwp at 2:49 PM on September 26, 2002


Below is the number to the White House where you can actually call

Ok I've written the number down (too late for today) but I can't imagine this will do the slightest good. Bush could receive 10,000 phone calls against to 1000 calls for and I doubt it would make the President bat an eye. This administration has done everything it can to make me feel that unless I'm part of the 10 percent of the wealthiest citizens or the CEO of a major corporation, I am insignificant.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:55 PM on September 26, 2002


I am not opposed (not in favor either) to a war against Saddam Hussein's rule, however I do feel that there has not been enough debate for my liking-- I feel in the dark, and the media and the government have not done, in my opinion, a good job in presenting a valid case for either side, which is totally bizarre. I am left in the middle basically watching and waiting for some sense to be made by someone, somewhere. That is why I do not agree on the whole with the Nation's reasoning, but do applaud articles that attempt to get people talking about it. I do feel that the US is in kind of a haze where no one is really sure of what the government's real intentions are, including the anti-war crowd-- who have yet to offer any real alternative to military action. There is no national figure who has been able to articulate why the war is a bad idea, and what should be done instead. Why is that, when most of the people I know are not buying the idea that war is a necessity?
posted by cell divide at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2002


I do feel that there has not been enough debate for my liking

Because it is a moot point. Debate is unpatriotic you commie. It's downright unAmerican to disagree with the president in this time of war. You should be rounded up and shot as an example.

This is, of course, our biggest problem. The White House treats argument as dissent, ignoring the simple fact that the US government works only when there is a debate. Like you, cell divide, I'm also not opposed to war, if it was the only option. In this case, I'm still confused as to when it even became an option.

We are the blood-thirsty blind being led by the blood-thirsty blind.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:04 PM on September 26, 2002


Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...

It's gettin' to be about that time...
posted by Cyrano at 3:14 PM on September 26, 2002


I think American opinion will change once/if ground troops are needed and they start dying in large numbers. We simply don't have the stomach to endure such a thing

I wonder about this. People predicted a collapse in American morale when ground troops were used in Desert Storm and the inevitable casualties occurred. Except that they didn't. People also predicted a collapse in American morale when ground troops were used in Afghanistan and the inevitable casualties occurred. Again, they didn't. People predicted a massive backlash when we committed ground troops in the Balkans, which again failed to materialize.

Of course, after the fact there's always a reason why it turned out to be so easy. But the turning out to be easier than the doomsayers predict has happened regularly enough that I'm beginning to suspect that there's something deeper going on here, and that the United States may have actually figured out how to fight wars such that the old rules don't apply any more.

Even if Saddam follows through on his plan to win via war crimes (chemical weapon attacks against civilians in Israel, deliberately locating military targets in cities to maximize his own civilian casualties, not that anyone seems to care), I remain far from convinced that this war will turn out materially different from any of the last ones.

One potential problem with my theory is Somalia; I don't clearly remember what the public response was after the battle there. I know that troops were pulled out but I'm not sure if it was in response to a public outcry on in an attempt to avert one. Does anyone know which it was?
posted by jaek at 3:15 PM on September 26, 2002


Thanks, mooseindian... that open letter inspired me to do a little home-grown spamming (to friends and associates).

I don't know if it'll help anyone else do the same... but here's the text of my e-mail:

Dear friends and acquaintances,

In the wake of the 9-11 anniversary, I have begun to feel the presence of a grave and gathering threat to our Republic, and the Noble Experiment that it represents... and I'm not talking about Saddam Hussein.

I'm talking about our nation's "trance-like march" into an act of naked aggression masquerading as national defense -- an act that defies everything that we say we believe in: namely, the offensive against Iraq championed by President Bush, et al.

I imagine that some among you might be of a different mind altogether... but I'm betting that most of you have either not come to an opinion on the matter, or are of the opinion that little can be done to stop the juggernaut.

I'm writing because I was inspired to write each of you after reading an open letter to Congress by the editors of The Nation -- a publication that, while I hardly agree with its platform entirely, seems to have struck a chord on this one point:

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021014&s=editors

The letter (aside from one or two red herrings) does a fine job at highlighting my general sentiment, and I would hope that you would read it.

Beyond reading the letter, I hope you'll take a moment to write your representatives and senators:

Rep: http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Sen: http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm

You can also call the White House (202 456-1111, 9am-5pm ET), where you'll be put on hold for a moment, then asked whether you "oppose" or "approve" of a War on Iraq.

At any rate, I appreciate your patience with me. I try to keep this sort of mass e-mailing to a minimum... and I'm guessing this issue warrants what little I can do.

Heaven help us all.
And thanks, Mikrophon, for the idea to ring the White House.

Cell Divide: I think the absence of a national spokesman to articulate the obverse to the President's hawkish rhetoric is due in large part to the feeling held by many that the US is still in some sort of shock that resists logic, and just wants to "be safe again", post 9-11.
posted by silusGROK at 3:15 PM on September 26, 2002


Yep, I'm dusting off all the old contacts now.
posted by crasspastor at 3:21 PM on September 26, 2002


Cell Divide: What are the anti-war crowd supposed to offer as an alternative? Peace? The anti-war crowd has been kept at bay by the fact that there is possibly no current reason to invade Iraq and occupy it's soil (sand?) How does one respond to the current administrations arguments when those arguments have little to do with facts or reality? Is Iraq threatening anybody? Do we have proof of the presence of WMD? Has Resident George articulated any case against Iraq? Is Iraq doing anything different from Libya, Sudan, N. Korea or even France? If so, what? How are members of the anti-war crowd supposed to respond to illogical arguments? Your totally right to say America is living in a haze, and it is this lack of information that W. is capitalizing on.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:27 PM on September 26, 2002


Thanks for this link, mooseindian. I'm definitely faxing it to my congressional delegation.

One of them, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) - a decorated veteran - spoke out recently after the Bush comment. He's a senior senator, but not known for making waves on the floor. This is probably the closest he's come to taking a risky stand (even though I suspect he ultimately supports the military stance), and I'm glad for it.

Thanks, also, mikrophon, for the number. It's well worn from a million other issues, but I wasn't aware that Bush had asked for comment specifically on Iraq. (I wonder if the invitation to call was concentrated on support centers?).
posted by pzarquon at 3:32 PM on September 26, 2002


Say no to empire. Affirm the Republic. Preserve the peace. Vote against war in Iraq.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:25 PM on September 26, 2002


HELP
I need some help. I'm against war in Iraq, but how do I answer those who point out that Hussein continuously kills and tortures his own population? I see no way to remove this dictator outside of military force - the "opposition" in Iraq are not strong enough to do it now, and weren't strong enough to do it after we had killed off the Iraqi military in 1990.

Ideas?
posted by fatchuck at 4:45 PM on September 26, 2002


I say put the damn thing up for a vote in Washington and let the chips fall where they may. But it seems like anti-war Democrats don't want to face their constitutants who understand force is nessessary to protect America therefor stall and delay untill after the election so they can vote against the use of force and allow Suddam to continue what he does best.

-Z
posted by ZupanGOD at 4:46 PM on September 26, 2002


Just out of curiosity, have there been any MAJOR (in excess of 1000 people) street-level rallies or protests against going to war?

Well, a couple of thousand of us turned out in New York on Sept. 8, opposing the war in no uncertain terms (though, as you surmise, it didn't make a dent in the media).

Of course, New Yorkers are more opposed to the war than most other Americans -- perhaps because we've recently witnessed mass killings up close and don't want any part in inflicting that on someone else, no matter how "mad" or "evil" their rulers may be.
posted by Raya at 5:09 PM on September 26, 2002


I'm against war in Iraq, but how do I answer those who point out that Hussein continuously kills and tortures his own population?

You say "And if Saddam Hussein jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?"

Honestly, one of the things that's most puzzling about this whole campaign is that we're being asked to believe that the Iraqis themselves are innocent victims and only Saddam himself is evil, yet the people who will actually be killed, maimed and orphaned in this war will be ordinary Iraqis, not Saddam himself (unless the Air Force gets really, really lucky).

As Muhummad Ali said back in 1967(?), "I'm not going ten thousand miles from here to help murder and kill and burn other poor people."
posted by Raya at 5:20 PM on September 26, 2002


Jaek: I think you have it about right.

The Nation crowd is full of shit. There's nothing immoral or otherwise wrong about liberating, or trying to liberate a country from a deranged, cruel regime. Will civilians die in Iraq when the US invades? Certainly some, but civilians are being killed daily in Iraq now, and with no end in sight. Several weeks, or a month or two of American weaponry will be exceeded by a few additional months of Saddam Hussein.

Will American soldiers die in this war? Yes, but in an army of volunteers. Actually, I hope none die.

I think what's going on here is that The Nation, and lots of other people can't deal with the fact that the United States, and only the United States has the power to get rid of this guy.

And even I have trouble loving George Bush. But you don't have to. Getting rid of Saddam is close to a no-brainer. At the very least, it avoids a much messier, deadlier conflict later. It will pay for itself in lower oil prices. It won't clean up the environment, which President Bush doesn't care about, but first things first.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:29 PM on September 26, 2002


Getting rid of Saddam is close to a no-brainer.

Yes. I think it is indeed close to a "no-brainer."
posted by jaronson at 5:34 PM on September 26, 2002


My email to Jennifer Dunn, Washington State Reprsentative:

"If peaceful efforts to destroy Iraq's weapons or to bring about a regime change fail, then I have decided to authorize any means necessary to accomplish these goals. Military force should always be a last resort." So you have written on your webpage, and I commend you for this position. But fear that the Congress is poised to cede its decision-making capabilities to the Executive branch, by approving a war resolution giving the Bush Administration a foreign policy carte blanch.

I do not believe that the White House shares your philosophy of only utilizing military force as a last resort. Waiving your responsibility as a Congresswomen to serve as a check and balance to the Bush Administration's warmongering is therefore tantamount to reneging on these principles that you hold dear. I hope you'll have the courage and the integrity to stand up for your convictions, and ensure that Congress continues to have a voice in the planning process of this momentous decision.


Steal, rewrite, use.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 5:37 PM on September 26, 2002


As a Brit I can find no decent way to word this, so: Do you as Americans have genuine concerns for your democracy and democratic processes? By no means am I suggesting that a dictatorship is in place, nor do I suggest that Britain's government is any better. Do your conerns extend beyond the WMD debate?

From what I've gathered (although admittedly I've found no info online to support this statement - feel free to correct me), launching a war on Iraq is only plausible during December and January due to the weather conditions. If so, there may be an explanation as to why the debate is being nudged along by Bush/Blair etc. Zinn writes "There is no natural inclination to support war; it has to be artificially induced by political leaders" and the timing of the move against Iraq and the manner in which our respective leaders are moving the "debate" certainly suggests a conscious management of the issue. Blair at least promises a vote. However, if that vote comes when we've poked Saddam sufficiently for him to respond that war is unavoidable, the vote will be irrelevant. As to pertinent questions being asked of Blair, it fell to the third party, not even the main opposition, to take the floor.

With regard to ParisParamus's notion that The Nation is "full of shit", it is somewhat unfortunate that the pacifists and those who question the apparent disregard for democracy are universally placed in the same category. Obviously common ground is shared but questions must be asked about the manner in which foreign policy is presented to a nation.

Oh, how much fun it would be to present Ann Coulter with irrefutable evidence of America's international misdemeanors over the course of the last century...
posted by Kiell at 5:55 PM on September 26, 2002


I'm against war in Iraq, but how do I answer those who point out that Hussein continuously kills and tortures his own population?

So did the Khmer Rouge. So did Stalin. So do lots of other countries. Are we going to go to war with them all?

I do not believe the United States has any business interfering with the internal workings of another country. Saddam Hussein is a horrible person by all accounts, and he runs a shitty, oppressive regime, but if his regime needs to be changed, that's up to the United Nations, not the United States.

People predicted a collapse in American morale when ground troops were used in Desert Storm and the inevitable casualties occurred. Except that they didn't. People also predicted a collapse in American morale when ground troops were used in Afghanistan and the inevitable casualties occurred. Again, they didn't.

In both cases our casualties were very light, largely due to our massive air attacks, and, in Afghanistan, our use of local proxy forces on the ground. Having to fight house-to-house in Baghdad would cost us many more casualties.

And sure, it's possible or even likely that we'll have a relatively easy victory in Iraq, but I don't believe that just because we can kill a lot of other people without losing many of our own makes it OK for us to attack them.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:56 PM on September 26, 2002


Oh, how much fun it would be to present Ann Coulter with irrefutable evidence of America's international misdemeanors over the course of the last century...

Is this actually hard? America certainly isn't the only one, and we've done a few noble things as well, but I can't imagine anyone who actually looks could believe we're anywhere near unblemished.

Or are you talking about getting Ann Coulter to actually acknowledge anything like, say, that whole thing with Guatemala and the United Fruit Company.....
posted by namespan at 6:02 PM on September 26, 2002


but how do I answer those who point out that Hussein continuously kills and tortures his own population?

Ask them if they plan on invading Zimbabwe?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:11 PM on September 26, 2002


ParisParamus: only the United States has the power to get rid of this guy.

Might does not make right, Paris. You don't seem to understand that.
posted by SPrintF at 6:28 PM on September 26, 2002


Even if war is necessary is it not reasonable to object to Bush's mad grab for power? If war is necessary, let him ask for a declaration of war. Not any of this authority to do what he wants, when he wants and where he wants. There is a reason why the power to declare war was vested with the congress.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:29 PM on September 26, 2002


Wow! MetaFilter seems to be a hive of leftist appeasers! I never would have imagined!

The Nation is desperate now that Chris Hitchens has left them. He's a thoughtful, principled, and iconoclastic writer, and with him gone, there's absolutely no reason to read their drear little rag. They should do the environment a favor and stop printing it and wasting natural resources.
posted by evanizer at 6:38 PM on September 26, 2002


Might does not make right, Paris. You don't seem to understand that.

The world would be a better place if Saddam Hussein were not in power. I don't think anyone disagrees with that. Its a question of what the costs of various intervention options are.
posted by gsteff at 6:41 PM on September 26, 2002


The costs of intervention? Barring the sudden death of Hussein by natural causes, and a miraculous transformation in outlook of his successor, the "cheapest" intervention is the one done ASAP.



I really think a lot of you ddn't get how cheap lives are in Iraq (or for that matter, lots of other places). For me, this guy's use of horrific weapons, especially outside Iraq, plus his ability to develop and buy more, plus his lack of accountability are enough to take him out. And take out any other government that does similarly (that we can take out).



So instead of worrying about unequal treatment of various mad regimes, how about arguing for taking out another one after Iraq?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:56 PM on September 26, 2002


FWIW...C-Span is now (nearly 10pm EST) broadcasting today's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the U.S. Policy Towards Iraq. Colin Powell is on now. You can also watch it from their website at your leisure.
posted by jaronson at 7:00 PM on September 26, 2002


that's up to the United Nations, not the United States.

Except that the UN acted, and Iraq has defied the UN. It's just that minus the United States, the UN has no power to enforce its resolutions against Iraq.



Basically, the UN is Neville Chamberlain: the UN has appeased Iraq. Only this time, there's a country with the balls and means to do otherwise. Thankfully.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:01 PM on September 26, 2002


They should do the environment a favor and stop printing it and wasting natural resources.

The Nation is printed on recycled paper in the USA. Source: page 4 of every issue. Carry on.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:06 PM on September 26, 2002


Basically, the UN is Neville Chamberlain

A codicil to Godwin: invoking Chamberlain means you really, truly lose. It's like wearing a badge saying "MORON" in nice, friendly letters. Thanks for saving us the effort of letting you know.
posted by riviera at 7:19 PM on September 26, 2002


Basically, the UN is Neville Chamberlain: the UN has appeased Iraq. Only this time, there's a country with the balls and means to do otherwise. Thankfully.

Huh? That's absurd. Chamberlain? If the UN had said, "All right, you can have Kuwait, but no invading any other neighboring countries" that would have been appeasement. That's what the appeasers in the 1930's did to Hitler, and it didn't work. Iraq, on the other hand, was immediately driven out of Kuwait and economically isolated for a decade, crippling the country's industrial and military infrastructure. You might wish that the UN were more militarily aggressive in enforcement of their resolutions (keep in mind, however, that enforcement of the sanctions regime has been pretty effective), but to call international response to Hussein "appeasement" is completely off base. Appeasement? That's as hyperbolic and rhetorically bankrupt as the cries of "Fascist" being hurled at Bush from the far left. Be reasonable.

Seriously, I can't believe you wrote that. You really think appeasement? You need to calm down and clear your head, man.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:35 PM on September 26, 2002


"Go ahead. Send me a new generation of recruits. Your bombs will fuel their hatred of America and their desire for revenge. Americans won’t be safe anywhere. Please, attack Iraq. Distract yourself from fighting Al Qaeda. Divide the international community. Go ahead. Destabilize the region. Maybe Pakistan will fall -- we want its nuclear weapons. Give Saddam a reason to strike first. He might draw Israel into a fight. Perfect! So please -- invade Iraq. Make my day."
posted by homunculus at 7:38 PM on September 26, 2002


ParisParamus, do you have any documentation for Saddam killing his own citizens every day? I know about using chemical weapons against the Kurds. But anything else? Or is that what you were referring to?
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:03 PM on September 26, 2002


Kiel: I am only heartened by the fact that King George is in fact trying to get a vote on this; there are Constitutional scholars who would argue that the president could to go it alone (see Gulf of Tonkin link above). We have a democracy. We just elected the wrong guy, or at least gave him a slim enough margin to get in.

The blame is on the American public. And if Blair gets you guys to sign up too, then it will be your public's fault. We get the leaders we deserve -- and the ones we want. Sure I was outraged that Bush won the election. But I was more outraged that he was even in the running. When we elect presidents who believe they are on a mission from God, why should they care what us sinners think?

As a side note, I'm curious what people think about Powell lately. Didn't he used to be the Voice of Reason? I did some work for a nonprofit he founded in the mid 90's, and though I didn't meet him personally, the people he put in charge were whip-smart, good-hearted folks. But now he's saying "Let's Roll"?? WTF?

How "visionary" would one have to be to see the benefits of being responsible for holding an East-Meets-West Summit? Invite the clerics, invite the dictators, invite the kings, invite the world. Let's talk about it. It's called "conflict resolution" -- how revolutionary.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:04 PM on September 26, 2002


There's going to be a march in Washington on Saturday, October 26 by the International Action Center.


posted by tami3_3 at 8:28 PM on September 26, 2002


Sorry, I can't seem to get the link to work...first time here. But try;

http://www.iacenter.org/
posted by tami3_3 at 8:31 PM on September 26, 2002


djseafood: Here's another Gandhi quote you might be interested in.

"No doubt the non-violent way is always the best, but where that does not come naturally the violent way is both necessary and honourable. Inaction here is rank cowardice and unmanly. It must be shunned at all cost."

-- Mahatma Gandhi
posted by wrffr at 8:49 PM on September 26, 2002


"It's a beautiful world we live in
A sweet romantic place
Beautiful people everywhere
The way they show they care
Makes me want to say

It's a beautiful world
It's a beautiful world
It's a beautiful world
For you, for you, for you
It's not for me"

-- Devo (1981 Warner Bros; BSK-3595) New Traditionalists
posted by mikhail at 9:31 PM on September 26, 2002


Hopefully the New York Times and USA Today will pick it up. Big media could carry it far inland.
posted by vito90 at 9:32 PM on September 26, 2002


Not a chance, vito.
posted by gsteff at 9:39 PM on September 26, 2002


The Nation is desperate now that Chris Hitchens has left them.

Chris Hitchens be damned, Neal Pollack has quit the nation, what will they do without the world's greatest author.
posted by drezdn at 10:13 PM on September 26, 2002


civilians are being killed daily in Iraq now, and with no end in sight. Several weeks, or a month or two of American weaponry will be exceeded by a few additional months of Saddam Hussein.

Estimates are that 50,000 Iraqi civilians would die in a month-long campaign. Are you seriously suggesting that Saddam Hussein is killing that many people every three months? The entire country is only 20 million. How are we to take you seriously when you are so obviously talking out of your paramass?

Im not against liberating countries from oppressive rulers, but do you really believe that's why the warmongers want to launch an invasion? Come on now!
posted by chaz at 11:01 PM on September 26, 2002


"Estimates are that 50,000 Iraqi civilians would die in a month-long campaign."

Source?

The only thing I found even near that estimate is this:

Iraqi troop losses might be expected to be anywhere from 2,000 to 50,000, with civilian casualties in the same relative range.
posted by mikhail at 12:18 AM on September 27, 2002


I'm glad, feeble as they were, that PP and evanizer and other killmonkeys showed up in this thread, as debate (and I intentionally dignify their efforts with the word, generous as I am) is always necessary, and things were a bit one-sided.

However, this made me laugh like a loon : A codicil to Godwin: invoking Chamberlain means you really, truly lose. It's like wearing a badge saying "MORON" in nice, friendly letters.

Thanks riviera.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:59 AM on September 27, 2002


In response to Namespan: the latter, most definitely. Every country has its backlog of corruption, as do they have their Ann Coulters. It would be good to take every world leader 'n give them a good shake whilst shouting "look at our legacy". Prolly wouldn't work with Saddam, tho...

One aspect that I notice PP hasn't responded to (excuse my blindness if otherwise) is the point regarding a flouting of due democratic process. Forget the pacifists, the anti-war campaigners, etc. Look objectively at what Blair and Bush are doing and there is the suggestion that they have made a decision and will either subdue debate or completely ignore it. My only optimism is that Blair and Bush are using unilateralism as a means of scaring Saddam; ie, in exaggerated terms if Saddam believe that he is facing a despot as opposed to a conscientious democracy, he is more likely to respond. Perhaps Blair and Bush will turn round later and say to the public, "don't worry, folks, we were just pretending". Here's hoping.

Sirmisalot - thanks for your response. It does put it in a slightly different perspective for me.
posted by Kiell at 4:35 AM on September 27, 2002


"Estimates are that 50,000 Iraqi civilians would die in a month-long campaign."

I think that number is high. But assuming it is accurate, that's probably a one or two-year total under Saddam Hussein.

As for Mr. Blair and Bush flouting democratic processes, just where are those processes? Surely you are not so ignorant as to attribute democracy to the UN. How many of the General Counsel's members are democratically elected? The current Security Counsel? Wake up.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:57 AM on September 27, 2002


I didn't mention the UN. I referred very specifically to Blair and Bush avoiding debate. I think that was clear.
posted by Kiell at 5:09 AM on September 27, 2002


"leftist appeasers"

evan, it's sad that a man as intelligent and well-read as you can sink to this level of insult, you know?

you're so irrational now that you just Godwin-ize yourself: it's sickening to compare with Linbergh-style 1930's fascists those who simply have doubts about a war to replace Saddam with another Sunni regime, only this time more reliably CIA-friendly
(one man one vote" won't appear in Iraq for a long time, unless of course you want the Shia majority to win and Iran-ize it )

remember when someone here called you a "fascist fop"?
well, "leftist appeasers" is on the same, Coulterian level
posted by matteo at 7:11 AM on September 27, 2002


eyeballki wrote:
This is, of course, our biggest problem. The White House treats argument as dissent.

I agree. The entire "either you are with us or you are unpatriotic" theme running through the Bush administration is most troubling to me.
posted by copacetix at 7:40 AM on September 27, 2002


It is important to remember that appeasement was the name Chamberlain gave to his own policy. It didn't become an insult on the modern scale until after it was clear that Hitler was a monster who should have been stopped much earlier. The key problem with Chamberlain's policy wasn't necessarily the specifics of, say, the Sudetenland "peace in our time" deal, but the general underlying principle of the policy, which was avoiding war at almost any cost. Chamberlain is seen today as an addle-brained nitwit peacenik, which isn't entirely accurate; he was responding to the main stream of British public opinion, which had the memory of the First World War close at hand and worried that a clash of great powers would lead to a repeat. In the mid-30s, Hitler and the other fascists weren't seen as necessarily that much worse than the political leaders who'd sparked the prior conflict. (Indeed, there were many who thought Russian Bolshevism the greater danger to Europe.) Appeasement wasn't so much an overly-principled policy based on a hopelessly dovish approach to foreign affairs but rather more a pragmatic response to the failure of the League of Nations to handle issues of importance (at least to Britain). It counted on a certain rationality among the Germans and power balance provided by the French on the west and Russia on the east. It was wrong, because Hitler and the Nazis were not rational but caught up in a millennial furor, and France was weaker by factors than anyone imagined, and Russia was playing footsie with Berlin. But then, Britain was pragmatically too weak by far to pursue a more aggressive containment policy with the thin support then available in Europe.

By technical measure, the UN is certainly a claque for appeasement, which is unfortunate. The question isn't so much appeasement per se, because it often resembles in detail negotiations between friendly powers, but appeasement versus the risks of a specific situation. I do believe a policy with Iraq where the world community is united in the goal of avoiding war at any cost gives the Iraqi regime far too much flexibility to increase the military and quasi-military risk they pose. The UN's problem, here, is that nation-states tend to operate on a significantly more goal-based decision process.

What I find especially interesting is that even into this spring, the debate from the left was largely over the question of how soon sanctions would be ended and what would replace them. With the prospect of a war, suddenly the containment policy is no longer immoral but praised to the hills as effective and preferable to war. The Bush adminsitration, from an objective viewpoint, has shifted the debate dramatically and effectively.
posted by dhartung at 8:38 AM on September 27, 2002


They should do the environment a favor and stop printing it and wasting natural resources.

I think the free market should be left to decide this. Or do you not believe in a free market economy?
posted by moonbiter at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2002


With the prospect of a war, suddenly the containment policy is no longer immoral but praised to the hills as effective and preferable to war.

Believe it or not, it's that 'preferable to war' thing which makes people change their priorities. As opposed to 'preferable to something less deadly', which was the debate before Saddam was revived in lieu of Osama. Morality isn't bipolar, in spite of what some people with 'evil' on the brain might say.

The Bush adminsitration, from an objective viewpoint, has shifted the debate dramatically and effectively.

I hope that that 'effectively' doesn't imply praise. Because it shouldn't. A bunch of hijackers were equally dramatically effective at shifting the debate last year.
posted by riviera at 9:50 AM on September 27, 2002


A couple angles I see as missing from this discussion:

First, let's assume that there's general agreement - in the US, in the UN, elsewhere - that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator, and that the best course for the Iraqi people and the stability of the world would be to remove him from power.

Let's assume further - and on shakier ground - that he could be removed from power with relative ease, and without setting off a major regional conflict.

Let's assume yet more shakily further that it is the right of the United States military to undertake this 'regime change.' Even granting the pro-war faction that much, two enormous (and, to my knowledge, mostly undiscussed) factors remain:

1) What next? Is it actually possible (let alone probable) that a progressive, democratically minded regime would take control of Iraq? Would there be a civil war? Would a civil war increase the likelihood that Iraq's most powerful weapons wound up in the hands of Al Qaeda-type terrorists? etc. etc. etc.

2) Post-WWII, has any sovereign nation ever successfully carried out 'regime change' in another sovereign nation? Particularly in the long term? Don't these things inevitably lead to rounds of new violence, factionalism, conflict? And that being the case, what's unique about this regime change? What measures'll be taken to make it work this time? Where's Colin Powell's beloved 'exit strategy'? etc. etc. etc.

And finally, w/r/t Chamberlain, an addendum to Godwin's Law: References to Hitler and Chamberlain that ignore the unique historical context of 1930s Europe are inherently empty of meaning. This holds at least until such time as, for example, the British army occupies Iraq's industrial heartland. Or, for that matter, until Iraq has an industrial heartland. (See Ruhr, French occupation of.) etc. etc. etc.
posted by gompa at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2002


Appeasers vs. chicken hawks... I like that.

For some of us (one of us?) the debate is not about "appeasing" Hussein, or even the the necessity of war itself. It is instead the rationale for this coming war, and the creeping feeling that, really, there is none.

We're all worried that Hussein slaughters civilians in his own country? Gimme a break - there are shortly going to be lots and lots of civilian deaths in Bouake thanks to the government (and rebels) mixing it up... are we going in there to save the poor citizens of the Ivory Coast? Are we going into any of the other two dozen or so countries where despots have seen fit to put untold numbers of civilians to death? And where, in fact, were the chicken hawks the last time we did something of the like, in Somalia?

So off the bat, let's jettison the argument that we're concerned about the poor Kurds. That's a dodge, and everyone knows it.

Al Qaida? Does it strike anyone else as ludicrious that it's taken the administration more than a year to come up with the ironclad link (or so they claim) link between Iraq and the terrorists?

Weapons of mass destruction? Perhaps, but again, we're not even sure if Hussein has them, though we know other regimes, such as North Korea, do. And it seem to me that if Hussein does have them, the easiest way to prompt him to use them - or give the technology to those who might - would be to convince him that our coming in there and taking him over our knee is a foregone conclusion.

Oil? Well...

Americans will and obviously have sacrificed their lives for causes they deem worthy. And that's my biggest problem here - that if indeed war with Iraq is inevitable, even desirable, a solid case needs to be made for it. Instead, those who favor war are all over the map with rationalizations, and it's obvious that even they don't believe all of them.
posted by kgasmart at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2002


1) What next? Is it actually possible (let alone probable) that a progressive, democratically minded regime would take control of Iraq?

Since no one can predict the future, isn't the more salient question: could things possibly get worse? And I don't mean in the immediate days and weeks afterward. I think not. Moreover, I think people arguing for doing nothing, i.e., leaving SH in power are minimizing, or trivializing the effect SH has on his own people. Maybe "live free or die" is a slogan, but the death, destruction and horrors now taking place every day in Iraq need to be fully considered on the balance sheet.

Would there be a civil war? Would a civil war increase the likelihood that Iraq's most powerful weapons wound up in the hands of Al Qaeda-type terrorists? etc. etc. etc.
The alternative here needs to include the possiblity that SH will launch another attack against a foreign power, Muslim or otherwise.

2) Post-WWII, has any sovereign nation ever successfully carried out 'regime change' in another sovereign nation? Particularly in the long term?

Admittedly, the region's demonstrated ability to form humame societies is abysmal. But de-fanged of WMDs, almost any future scenario will be an improvement. And in any case, post-Saddam, the US and the UN will still be watching the region.

And finally, w/r/t Chamberlain, an addendum to Godwin's Law: References to Hitler and Chamberlain that ignore the unique historical context of 1930s Europe are inherently empty of meaning.

Any allusion which gets people to realize that they are appeasing a madman is not devoid of meaning.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:50 AM on September 27, 2002


the death, destruction and horrors now taking place every day in Iraq

Every day?
How about blessing us non-believers with a few news links? (No INC "Saddam the Cannibal" stuff please)

In exchange, I'll provide you a list of a lot of countries (you choose the continent, Africa and Asia are especially well-represented) where bad unelected regimes do very bad things to their citiziens. When will you invade those as well?

ps Paris, don't trust me, but go ask an economist of your choice about his/her opinion on your "war will pay for itself in lower oil prices" statement, he/she'll laugh his/her ass off

And also, isn't your hate for the UN, maybe, somehow linked to your constant Likud love (there's a few Israel resolutions by the UN I'm sure you don't like either)?
posted by matteo at 11:29 AM on September 27, 2002


I wrote my rep. and senator about a month ago to voice my opposition to war. I got a form letter back from the representative, thanking me for the comment. From my senator, I got a five page packet explaining why we need to present a unified front and support the President! This is from a Democrat. Warner, Virginia. Good God.
posted by rainbaby at 11:55 AM on September 27, 2002


Damn, but I love Dianne Feinstein. I wrote her a letter and saw this on her site today, which basically mirrors the letter I wrote to her yesterday. I still plan on sending it.

It is terrifying how Congress is letting their power and thus, our power, be taken away...and rubber stamping it along the way. It keeps me awake at night. The Bush White House is steamrolling over the things that have made this country so great (respect, discussion, not rushing into decisions, non-agressive defensive military policies, due process). This would terrify me if it were a Democrat doing the same things. This isn't just about war anymore. This is about the dismantling of the checks and balences of power and the sidestepping of the constitution by the President.
posted by aacheson at 12:25 PM on September 27, 2002


What the heck, ParisP - one good deconstruction deserves another . . .

could things possibly get worse?

In a word: yes. Some scenarios: an Islamic fundamentalist dictatorship of the sort that filled the power vacuum in Afghanistan in the mid 1990s; massive Sunni v. Shiite v. Kurd tribal warfare that kills hundreds of thousands wholesale; a US-sponsored puppet govt that pleases no one and sets in motion a series of events that leads to full-scale regional/world war.

the death, destruction and horrors now taking place every day in Iraq need to be fully considered on the balance sheet.

I do love the 'humanitarian war' argument. Convenient, but totally irrelevant. As has been pointed out several other places in this thread, if this were a legitimate issue, then a US or UN mission would also be needed to hopscotch through Liberia, Zimbabwe, Congo, Saudi Arabia, Burma, North Korea and several central Asian "republics" (the last of which are almost certainly closer to nukes than Hussein is, and are led in some cases - Turkmenistan, for example - by guys at least as nuts).

SH will launch another attack against a foreign power, Muslim or otherwise

The likelihood of this is greatly *increased* by a US invasion. Hussein's the megalomaniacal king of a failed state, not a jihadi. He's at his most dangerous when his own power is threatened. And his only real imperial adventure - and a minor one at that - was 12 years ago. The question just keeps coming up: Why now?

the region's demonstrated ability to form humame societies is abysmal. But de-fanged of WMDs, almost any future scenario will be an improvement

Actually, I was referring to the abysmal failure of the US (among other Western powers) to nation-build. The good peoples of Central and South America and Southeast Asia are still feeling the repercussions of the US' last attempts at this kind of thing. Thought Kissinger & Co.: what could be worse than a Communist revolution in Vietnam? Answer: the Khmer Rouge.

That said, your point is well taken. The idea that the Middle East's mishmash of monarchies, pseudo-democracies and flat-out basket cases will tumble like democratic dominoes as soon as there's a free election in Baghdad is absurd in the extreme.

Any allusion which gets people to realize that they are appeasing a madman is not devoid of meaning.

I probably should have said "empty of *real* meaning." Oh, tossing around Hitler and Chamberlain has meaning all right. It's language and symbolism so heavily weighed down by some of the worst events of the 20th C. that it immediately clouds and oversimplifies the genuine problems of current geopolitics.

And - as a bonus - it also clouds and oversimplifies the genuine problems of the geopolitics of Hitler and Chamberlain's day. If no Chamberlain, then no expansion of the Third Reich, then no Holocaust, right? There was no Weimar republic, no French occupation of the Ruhr, no punitive war reparations, no Franco, no Mussolini, no Stalin, no Hirohito, no America First movement - none of that. It was just one British prime minister's decision not to go to war over the annexation of the Sudetenland that led to the horrors of WWII.

Much as today there was no US arming and backing of Hussein in his war vs. Iran, no ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no Saudi Arabia next door providing the lion's share of the money and ideological inspiration for the terrorists this war is supposed to be on. None of that. Just a madman who must not be appeased. Right?
posted by gompa at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2002


And - as a bonus - it also clouds and oversimplifies the genuine problems of the geopolitics of Hitler and Chamberlain's day. If no Chamberlain, then no expansion of the Third Reich, then no Holocaust, right? There was no Weimar republic, no French occupation of the Ruhr, no punitive war reparations, no Franco, no Mussolini, no Stalin, no Hirohito, no America First movement - none of that. It was just one British prime minister's decision not to go to war over the annexation of the Sudetenland that led to the horrors of WWII.

Because, as we all know, it was really the death of Edith Keeler that made it all happen the way it did.

The notion that anything short of lockstep support for military action is appeasement is intellectually dishonest.
posted by briank at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2002


"There's nothing immoral or otherwise wrong about liberating, or trying to liberate a country from a deranged, cruel regime. Will civilians die in Iraq when the US invades? Certainly some, but civilians are being killed daily in Iraq now, and with no end in sight."

Wasn't this the same argument that started Vietnam? Sheesh! Violence begets violence. No matter how noble the cause may or may not be. I don't care. If a Montaque kills a Capulet, the Capulets will kill back and the bloodshed doesn't end until someone chooses to end it.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2002


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