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Woody Harrelson, the man who among other things has been arrested for hanging on the Golden Gate Bridge to protest redwood logging, wrote a surprisingly lucid op-ed about Iraq in the Guardian today.
October 17, 2002 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Woody Harrelson, the man who among other things has been arrested for hanging on the Golden Gate Bridge to protest redwood logging, wrote a surprisingly lucid op-ed about Iraq in the Guardian today. "I have been here three months doing a play in the West End. I am having the time of my life. I love England, the people, the parks, the theatre. The play is great and the audiences have been a dream. Probably I should just relax, be happy and talk about the weather, but this war is under my skin - it affects my sleep." Regardless of your politics, you've got to admit he's not a bad writer.
posted by joebob (61 comments total)

 
Sounds like Woody is not only back on beer but drugs too.
posted by philip_buster at 5:58 PM on October 17, 2002


next week: the guy from dharma and greg discussess abortion. What do I care what actors think? (although I'm down with Woody's "legalize it" stance). I mean, his real claim to fame is being the country rube bartender on a sitcom, correct? Or was it the crazed violent killer on a rampage in natural born killers? Whatever his postion on any issue is, I don't really care. except the pot thing.
posted by stifford at 5:58 PM on October 17, 2002


stifford, then the question becomes why should I care what you think? Or why should anyone care what another human being thinks. We care because its important to listen to other peoples opinion in general. The fact that Woody is a star just gets him in a paper. The fact you get to air your views on this site is simply because nothing stops you. The article was well intelligent enough so it was worth the short reading time.
posted by madmanz123 at 6:06 PM on October 17, 2002


"Woody" meh. um hehe.
posted by paleocon at 6:07 PM on October 17, 2002


Bill O'Reilly kicked Woody's ass 3 months ago for being unpatriotic (see end of page). Living in London made Woody a bit cranky, apparently

As for "claims to fame", how about his daddy maybe killed JFK?
posted by matteo at 6:15 PM on October 17, 2002


that's my point. the article is about as important as any other post on this website. it doesn't matter who the celebrity is or what the topic is. the people that disagree with it are going to bash him (me) and the people that agree with him are going to say what a great thinker he is. Let's discuss what the Ultimate Warrior thinks about the 9/11 tragedy.
posted by stifford at 6:22 PM on October 17, 2002


Pretty trite stuff. He writes like a stoned college student in awe of his own shallow epiphanies ("If it were up to the people, there would be peace. It's the governments that create war.") *toke*

He even buys into the convenient "millions of Iraqi children are dead because of US sanctions" spin.

Why not write an essay defaming Saddam Hussein Iraq's problems and civilian deaths? Oh that's right--it wouldn't be fashionable.
posted by Karl at 6:22 PM on October 17, 2002


Amazingly, the Ultimate Warrior only exhumed about half the number of hoary cliches as did Mr. Harrelson.

Nice link, stifford!
posted by Karl at 7:10 PM on October 17, 2002


Fuck Woody, let's derail this thread to talk about the Ultimate Warrior.

From the Ultimate Warrior site:

Evil will inevitably meet up with the big-knuckled fist of good and get its ass kicked. Always. Happy kicks sad’s ass. Always. Triumph kicks tragedy’s ass. Always.

The man should write a bible.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:12 PM on October 17, 2002


correction: "..defaming Saddam Hussein for Iraq's problems...."
posted by Karl at 7:12 PM on October 17, 2002


Karl: He even buys into the convenient "millions of Iraqi children are dead because of US sanctions" spin.

and you're buying into the more convienant (especially for us Americans) "Its all Saddam's fault" counter-spin.
posted by skallas at 7:50 PM on October 17, 2002


Pretty trite stuff. He writes like a stoned college student in awe of his own shallow epiphanies ("If it were up to the people, there would be peace. It's the governments that create war.") *toke*

The quotation you're referring to was from his Iraqi friend, not him.

Happy kicks sad’s ass. Always.

Like, whoa!


Anyway, Woody was great on Cheers, and Cheers was a great show that has given me good tv memories, so I can't bash him. But seriously, as far as political columns go (and I'm not such a big fan of them... snooze), I'd say he's a better writer than most of the pundits out there. Generally, when stars make a big publicity of their oh-so-important opinion on politics--ahem, Julia, ahem, Bab-ba-booey Streisand, ahem Alec Baldwin--I can't help but roll my eyes. But at least Woody has enough of a sense of humor to get off his high horse for a minute to include a funny anecdote about his driver Woodman.
posted by joebob at 7:54 PM on October 17, 2002


The quotation you're referring to was from his Iraqi friend, not him.

Should've clarified. Even though he didn't say it, he marveled at the notion as it hadn't been said a thousand times in the past. The phrase itself is what's known as a platitude, and it really doesn't do much to solve the situation at hand.

(Not that arguing about it on Metafilter does either, ahem, carry on)
posted by Karl at 8:07 PM on October 17, 2002


The Politics of Dead Children examines the "half million dead Iraqi children" claims fairly soberly, for those who haven't seen it.

Harrelson certainly wrote something that expressed his opinion -- lucidly enough. However, I'm not too impressed with his plan for us to be rich but defenseless. (Not that any of that would happen. He falls into the liberal cliche that it's only a few well-connected patsies keeping the government from responding to the will of the people. Of course it's been immensely popular the last two years.) And he's typically dead wrong on the amount of his taxes that go to defense -- 16 or 17 cents of the dollar is really about right. It's been that way since the early 90s, and isn't changed much by post-9/11 budget increases.
posted by dhartung at 8:20 PM on October 17, 2002


same opld shit: The Left k.nows it is right; and the Right knows the Left is left out of truth...and on and on and on.
That Woody can write should not come as a bilg surprise...lots of people you think of as dumb in one or another context in fact are smarter or cleverer than you have given them credit for being...your shortcoming and not theirs.
posted by Postroad at 8:24 PM on October 17, 2002


I agree with everything Harrelson said, except for the shutdown of nuclear power plants. I'd rather see one nuclear power plant replacing a handful of coal plants, then shutting down the coal-burning ones.

But this post isn't simply about praise for what he said, but the main topic which he brought up.

To anyone who feels that Saddam is going to go ape shit on America, or the world: where is your proof? Where are you people pulling this hunch from? What has he done recently to warrant this war drive? Assuming that house reps and senators actually are in the know, I'm very surprised shocked that important information hasn't been leaked to the press. This brings me to the conclusion that there is no important information to be revealed.

I can understand going after Saddam for the botched mid-90s assassination attempt to snuff out Bush Senior, but according to Bush Junior's administration, that is not a reason. They cite his ability to produce a nuclear weapon and his stockpile of toxic gases. Are we going to knock-off the leaders of any country who has these items now? Are we going to make India and Pakistan get rid of their arms next? France? Russia? Are we going to get rid of our nukes? Yeah fucking right. But we're America... everyone can trust us, and we can trust everyone that is our friend.

But wait.

Saddam was an American ally during the 80s. Wasn't Osama, as well? Kudos go to the CIA for being able to catch him, by the way.

In closing, I'm really sick and tired of listening to everyone saying that going after Iraq is the right thing to do, nevermind that we have domestic problems that are not being solved. Removing Saddam from power will do nothing to change this... it only serves as a temporary (?) distraction.

Before I get flamed... I am not a Democrat, and I'm too young to really make a difference in anything political. :(
posted by cinematique at 8:27 PM on October 17, 2002


Before I get flamed... (for anti-war/bush opinion)

[tone of voice: sarcastically snarky, humorous as in "I'm just jabbin ya"]
Do you read Metafilter?
posted by Stan Chin at 8:40 PM on October 17, 2002


Maybe Woody can write, but he can't persuade or argue. His piece reads like a chain of unsupported assertions. Where'd this come from?: "I'm an American tired of lies. And with our government, it's mostly lies." Really? Any example of lies, other than the rantings about Columbus and history books? "This is a racist and imperialist war." Any evidence of that? When did we display racism? Does that mean the stated reasons for the war disingenuous pretexts for racist motives? Any chance that Woody might explain to us why he believes that, or are we supposed to just be persuaded by his clever uses of cute jokes about "Shrub?"

Pieces like this don't advance debate, or promote discussion. If Woody wants to impress me with his brain, then he should encounter an opposing argument and try to answer it. All he's done here is rant.
posted by profwhat at 8:43 PM on October 17, 2002


Woody's tax on budgetary matters isn't totally wacky. If you take Social Security and Medicare out of the budget picture (given that they are paid for through separate taxes) and money used to pay down the debt, then about half of all federal spending goes to defense.

Can you really compare our budget with that of Britain's, though? Well, Britain has nothing really comparable to Social Security, so that factor's gone. The U.K. does spend much of its budget on the National Health Service, but remember that the U.S. doesn't have a national health care plan. Uncle Sam is only somewhat involved in health care, comparatively, mainly via Medicare (for Social Security recipients) and Medicaid (for certain people living below the poverty level, and funded through general tax revenues). In any case, the British defense budget is nowhere near the size of the United States'.

Oh! Forgot. The Iraqi children bit he should have left well enough alone.
posted by raysmj at 8:54 PM on October 17, 2002


All of Iraq's problems can be directly attributed to one person: Saddam Hussein. If he chose to, he could reverse every atrocity, feed every starving child, comfort every terrified citizen, etc, etc, by simply complying IN FACT with every U.N. resolution. Iraq's problems are not the fault of the United States - the blame lies entirely with Hussein. In the blink of an eye, Saddam could change everything - for the better - if he wanted to.

And to everyone who says, "Yeah, but America 'created' this monster, so why are we so eager to kill him now?" BULLSH*T. If you have a dog and feed it, love it, etc, and then one day it goes nuts and mauls one of the neighborhood kids, you don't reward it...the beast is promptly "put down" by local authorities. Same with Saddam: when he was "our" beast, we let him get away with stuff - sometimes. I am not entirely defending this, merely acknowledging it. However, his actions during & since the Iraq/Iran war went beyond the pale -- he revealed his true intentions and "exceeded his authority," so to speak. The fact that we once assisted him does nothing to mitigate our responsibility to remove the threat that he now poses. It's called *reality* -- we have to adapt and confront new threats as they emerge or are discovered. Trying to follow a foreign policy based on decades-old actions, deals, or beliefs will not make the world safer.
posted by davidmsc at 8:57 PM on October 17, 2002


dhartung: The Politics of Dead Children examines the "half million dead Iraqi children" claims fairly soberly, for those who haven't seen it.

By soberly you must mean with a very right-wing perspective. It doesn't even look like Welch can write a couple paragraphs without bashing Chomsky in an article ostensibly about the "myth" of the effects of sanctions. Is this aricle supposed to be convincing to the unbiased reader?

Voices in the Wilderness has a nice myth a realities page which somehow doesn't get into namecalling. Welch? Thanks but no thanks.

vitw.org
While estimates vary, many independent authorities assert that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children under five have died since 1990, in part as a result of the sanctions and the effects of the Gulf War. An August 1999 Unicef report found that the under-five mortality rate in Iraq has more than doubled since the imposition of sanctions.

In 1999, the United Nations observed:
In addition to the scarcity of resources, malnutrition problems also seem to stem from the massive deterioration in basic infrastructure, in particular in the water-supply and waste disposal systems. The most vulnerable groups have been the hardest hit, especially children under five years of age who are being exposed to unhygienic conditions, particularly in urban centers. The World Food Program estimates that access to potable water is currently 50 percent of the 1990 level in urban areas and only 33 percent in rural areas.

The UN sanctions committee, based in New York, continues to deny Iraq billions of dollars worth of computer equipment, spare parts, medical equipment and medicines, books and periodicals, all necessary elements to sustaining human life and society. Agricultural and environmental studies show great devastation, in many cases indicating long-term and possibly irreversible damage.

Others have argued that, from a North American perspective, sanctions are more economically sustainable than military attacks, since sanctions cost the United States less. In fact, hundreds of millions of US tax dollars are spent each year to sustain economic sanctions. Expenses include monitoring Iraqi import-export practices, patrolling the "no-fly" zones, and maintaining an active military presence in the Gulf region.

Sanctions are an insidious form of warfare, and have claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives.
posted by skallas at 8:59 PM on October 17, 2002


davidmsc: All of Iraq's problems can be directly attributed to one person: Saddam Hussein. If he chose to, he could reverse every atrocity, feed every starving child, comfort every terrified citizen, etc, etc, by simply complying IN FACT with every U.N. resolution.

More from vitw.org
Myth 5: The Iraqi government is deliberately withholding and stockpiling food and medicine to exacerbate the human suffering for political sympathy and to draw attention to the need to lift sanctions.

The US State Department frequently alleges that Iraq appears to be warehousing and stockpiling medicines, with malicious intent. Yet United Nations which heavily monitors the warehousing of medicines contradicts this view. Tun Myat, the humanitarian coordinator and head of the UN’s "oil-for-food" program in Baghdad from 2000—2002, praised Iraqi distribution of essential goods. He told the New York Times, "I think the Iraqi food-distribution system is probably second to none that you’ll find anywhere in the world. It gets to everybody whom it’s supposed to get to in the country."

According to local UN administration and staff, the gaps in delivery that do exist are caused by logistical problems stemming from twelve years of sanctions and lingering Gulf War damage. Periodic UN reports on the humanitarian programs in Iraq list many technical issues that complicate providing medicine and other vital resources to a country of 22 million people. Obstacles to efficient distribution include the low wages of Iraqi warehouses workers, insufficient transport, and the poor condition of Iraqi warehouses in the provinces.

The United Nations conducts frequent inventories of the food and medicine stored in Iraq. Former humanitarian coordinator Hans von Sponeck (who resigned from the post in 2000 in protest against the sanctions) and his deputy, Farid Zarif, have repeatedly called for the "depoliticization" of distribution, arguing that stockpiling is the result of Iraq’s damaged infrastructure, rather than malice on the part of the Iraqi government.

In many cases, Iraq must purchase goods from foreign suppliers. Items come in pieces; for example, dental chairs arrive but compressors must be ordered from another company, or syringes arrive but needles take longer to be processed. Moreover, the UN sanctions committee takes longer to approve some orders than others, thus forcing Iraq to keep medicine in storage until the complements are approved.

Temperatures in Iraq during summer often reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Air-conditioned trucks are therefore essential for shipping perishable goods, including cancer medication, surgical gloves, and foodstuffs. Yet air-conditioned trucks are practically nonexistent in Iraq, since the sanctions committee has barred them under "dual use" considerations. While it is certainly true that air-conditioned trucks could be used for military purposes, they are also necessary to ship medication.

The infrastructure is so degraded throughout Iraq that medicine and even spare parts are "Band-Aids to a huge problem," according to von Sponeck. "You can give all the food and medicine you want," Says Tun Myat, "but living standards would not improve unless housing, electricity, clean water and sanitation, and other essential services were restored." Reconstructing Iraq’s essential infrastructure could cost as much as an estimated $50 to $100 billion.

After allocations are taken out of Iraq’s oil revenues to finance Gulf War reparations, UN administrative costs, and other mandated expenses, the amount of money from the oil-for-food program that trickles down to the average person in Iraq is completely insufficient. Prior to May 2002, "[T]he total value of all food, medicines, education, sanitation, agricultural and infrastructure supplies that have arrived in Iraq has amounted to $175 per person a year, or less than 49 cents a day," according to von Sponeck.

Iraq cannot afford to rebuild its infrastructure under the oil-for-food program or under the new provisions of so-called smart sanctions. Water sanitation facilities, electrical grids, communication lines, and educational resources will remain permanently degraded until the sanctions are lifted.
posted by skallas at 9:04 PM on October 17, 2002


Interesting link, joebob.
posted by blissbat at 9:10 PM on October 17, 2002


davidmsc: I am not entirely defending this, merely acknowledging it.

Which is more than I can say for our government. Just once I would like to have a president (GOP or DNC) say: "In the past, our country made some bad decisions. And we hand a hand in creating the monster that is Saddam Hussein. That was a mistake, and he must be removed. We must correct the sins of our past and commit ourselves to never repeating this mistake."

Look, out my window: a pig flying.
posted by owillis at 9:12 PM on October 17, 2002


OK, skallas, I'll be more blunt: Saddam could enrich the lives of his people by not only complying with U.N. resolutions, but also by adopting democratic & capitalistic principles. In other words: beginning the process of transforming his country into a modern-day secular state, complete with real elections, free trade, rule of law, etc. BY HIMSELF, he could initiate this process...it's not a matter of the U.S. (or any other nation) preventing him from doing so - he has the authority, the leadership, and the resources to begin such a revolution.
posted by davidmsc at 9:22 PM on October 17, 2002



Joebob, for future reference, I remembered a Metatalk post discussing Op-Ed front page posts. Of course like every other metatalk post it turns into a horse-beating fest, but generally even a well-written one from Woody probably isn't the best quality FPP. I don't mean to just pick on you, as there's about 48 gazillionbillion op-ed pieces on Iraq in the last month, which probably should also receive my snide nitpicking.

posted by Stan Chin at 9:37 PM on October 17, 2002


The notion that Saddam Hussein would be able to get food to his people if only there were no sanctions is absurd. Not only does Saddam Hussein withhold food from his own people, he has attempted to exported it in exchange for hard currency to fund his military.
posted by profwhat at 9:38 PM on October 17, 2002


Oh man, ouch. I'm embarrassed for Woody after reading that incoherent, ill-conceived, rambling mess of words. I'd been under the impression that the Cheers character was just a character he was playing.

Dan Savage, the author of Savage Love, has much more insightful and thoughtful takes on the situation at http://www.thestranger.com/2002-07-04/ex3.html and http://www.thestranger.com/current/feature2.html.
posted by wrffr at 9:55 PM on October 17, 2002


Iraq cannot afford to rebuild its infrastructure under the oil-for- food program or under the new provisions of so-called smart sanctions. Water sanitation facilities, electrical grids, communication lines, and educational resources will remain permanently degraded until the sanctions are lifted.

It seems odd that Iraq can't afford these things yet Saddam can continue to afford new palaces for himself, doesn't it?
posted by gyc at 9:57 PM on October 17, 2002


I read an article about the semi-state of Kurds,protected by the northern No-Fly zone and , in the Time they asserted that this wunderstate of free-will and tolerance has emerged, whilst free of Saddams repression.

I tell you I am QUITE lost -- feeling, reeling from this instant war that is brewing. So much information, accusations of misinformation etc etc.

I wonder at times why does the US have to be everywhere,policing selectively. Do we have to maintain bases in Saudi Arabia, which seems to piss off the Islamis hard-liners? Cannot we protect against another Kuwait attack from bases in Qater or the other small sheikdoms that allow us to base there,rather than placing troops in the home of Islam?

And what about all this Islam crap in Indonesia. I just don't want us to be a target for every ingrate across the poor planet...

I read an article last year saying how this was ( the current post 9-11/extreme islam situation ) an epistemological battle. Whew...

A mess.... sorry for the ramble...I also think about the line:

"Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations - entangling alliances with none." - Thomas Jefferson, 1801 inaugural address.
posted by RubberHen at 10:02 PM on October 17, 2002


>It seems odd that Iraq can't afford these things yet Saddam >can continue to afford new palaces for himself, doesn't it?

When has the connected and powerful in any country suffered the way the lowest common denominator has?
posted by skallas at 10:05 PM on October 17, 2002


I'm starting to believe Skallas, et al, won't be happy until someone goes to Iraq, gives Saddam a big ol' noogie and agrees to never question his wacky policies again.
posted by Karl at 10:15 PM on October 17, 2002


The article was an opinion piece and a decent one at that. Sure some of it is daydream nonsense, but its not the daydreams of a psycho... I don't really worry about my safety around, or the sanity of guys who fantasize about world peace.

As for Bill O'Reilly 'beating up' someone verbally... what kind of testosterone-laden frat guy mentality bullshit is that? O'Reilly is a showman and his act is like professional wrestling for geeks. The phrase 'No-Spin' is remarkably ironic when applied to this Faux-NeoConservative shitbag.
posted by Fuka at 11:04 PM on October 17, 2002


Dan Savage, the author of Savage Love, has much more insightful and thoughtful takes on the situation.
-- Dan Savage on sex and relationships
-- Knows his stuff, on the ball and pretty bloody funny
often worth reading
-- Dan Savage on US foreign policy
-- A demographic-oriented contrarian who can string a few words together and has an opinion
get your own weblog, fuckwit

What's more, although Dan Savage is a father he isn't best friends with Woodman, nor is he doing a play in the West End, nor did he play basketball with an Iraqi over a decade ago, nor did he go to the White House when Harvey Weinstein was showing Clinton the movie Welcome to Sarejevo, nor was he in that movie, nor did he get a few moments alone with Clinton when he could look in his eyes and believe him, if mistakenly.

That's why when I'm looking for an informed perspective, I rely on Harrelson.
posted by stinglessbee at 11:41 PM on October 17, 2002


Dan Savage, the author of Savage Love, has much more insightful and thoughtful takes on the situation

What you mean to say is that Savage's viewpoint mirrors your own more than does Harrelson's.

It may be fun to bash Woody because he's "just" an actor and is most famous for playing a simpleton on TV, but his views are representative of a significant number of people, and his op-ed is heartfelt, if rather unoriginal.

Savage's constant framing of the war as an issue of domestic American politics (with repeated references to the "left" and "lefties") is tiresome and callous. Like so many pro-war campaigners he holds debatable viewpoints to be absolute truths (and cannot understand why others consider them to be debatable), thereby making no effort to back up these viewpoints with persuasive evidence.

If Harrelson's piece is unlikely to change the minds of hawks, Savage's is even less likely to sway the doves. Read The Economist if you want some well-argued pro-war rhetoric.
posted by plenty at 11:54 PM on October 17, 2002


Hey people lets wake up !
Woody may have a fact wrong perhaps it was only 500,000 children or 400,000, 1 million what if they were yours? We all need to start seeing the other as ours and understand that we are all connected regardless of what the corporate news media would like you to believe. Let us not forget that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famous quote "It?s a hard choice, but I think, we, think, it's worth it."Her response to a May 11, 1996 60 Minutes question about the over half a million children killed by the Iraqi Sanctions! If its just 1 child it is still a tragedy and all collective hearts should sink just af if it was your own child. Let us all strive individually to reach that point of compassion.

Woody makes a point that needs to made and the point is that we need to wake up to the senseless violence and destruction on this planet. Lets wake up to fact that the powerful leaders on this planet seem to be totally addicted to power and money and totally disconnected to their hearts and emotional bodies. Woody in my opinion is connected and aware of that and we all need to collectively transcend hate, open our hearts and connect to our deepest levels of compassion. If we don't I think we are in some deep trouble.

As Gandhi said
"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind"
--Mahatma Gandhi
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
--Mahatma Gandhi
posted by thedailygrowl at 11:58 PM on October 17, 2002


at least he comes across as having a mind of his own - unlike most of you people.
posted by carfilhiot at 1:14 AM on October 18, 2002


North korea has just deposited a large spanner into the machinations of shrub's current foreign policy against those injuns. Sanctions have been in place for circa ten years, they are not visibly exerting any presure upon Saddam hussain, still as secure today as maybe he has ever been, revelling in his role as david. There is no evidence to support the assertion that saddam has in his possession nuclear weapons, we are aware of his chemical and biological capabilty as well aided their development. So shrub whaddya do?, continue anyway exposing what a load of flim flam your foreign policy is or maybe just acknowledge that the current position is untenabl
posted by johnnyboy at 3:13 AM on October 18, 2002


e
posted by johnnyboy at 3:14 AM on October 18, 2002


I have to agree that there's nothing new here, although it's decently-enough written for an amateur. But really, it's just the same old rehashed points for the Guardian constituency.

Can you really compare our budget with that of Britain's, though? Well, Britain has nothing really comparable to Social Security, so that factor's gone.

? Are you talking about welfare? Unemployment benefit, single parent benefit, that kind of thing? Yes, we have plenty of that.

The U.K. does spend much of its budget on the National Health Service, but remember that the U.S. doesn't have a national health care plan. Uncle Sam is only somewhat involved in health care, comparatively, mainly via Medicare (for Social Security recipients) and Medicaid (for certain people living below the poverty level, and funded through general tax revenues).

America leads the world in health care spending. (sorry, 1999 figures)

In any case, the British defense budget is nowhere near the size of the United States'.

True, although it's more comparable as a percentage of GDP, therefore is as much a concern to UK taxpayers as to US taxpayers.

But I didn't really understand your point in the first place. What were you trying to say?
posted by Summer at 3:15 AM on October 18, 2002


More Woody.
The op/ed was mildly interesting, although it's all been said before. Here's a much better one on Iraq.
posted by ToothpickVic at 3:59 AM on October 18, 2002


Most of the comments here (e.g., "pretty trite stuff," "mildly interesting") show that a great number of Metafilter posters are arrogant, self-important assholes. This piece is honest and straight. I applaud Woody for being a celebrity who thinks and has a conscience.
posted by riptide at 5:08 AM on October 18, 2002


johnnyboy.

I love that post with the single e.

Really though folks. What is this Iraq debate doing to us as a people ?

Here we are comfortable in our homes tapping away at our keyboards happy in the knowledge that we will eat and be happy today.

We are warm and probably loved ( I can't speak for everyone).

But yet there is this one question, this one niggling fear that we will be attacked by a madman and killed in the safety of our abodes.

So we contemplate the thought of attacking first. The hate wells up and rises in our hearts along with the fear and we feel insecure.

Now tell me is that what life is all about? Why worry when or how we will die? Why? Why let arguments about whether we should act aggressively towards people thousands of miles away from us disturb our peace?

Why?
posted by yertledaturtle at 5:28 AM on October 18, 2002


I agree with riptide, I thought this article was heartfelt and articulate, although his view of the world is (unfortunately) a dream. The fact that someone belittles his ideas instead of engaging his arguments just because of his profession is more a reflection on their abilities as a thinker and debater than Woody's.

In any case, I´m much more alarmed by people arguing to wage war, that is, kill people, than people saying that we should not kill people, spend more money making sure that the earth is habitable for our children and paying teachers a fair wage. I mean really, should someone be ridiculed for wanting these things?
posted by sic at 5:29 AM on October 18, 2002


By soberly you must mean with a very right-wing perspective. It doesn't even look like Welch can write a couple paragraphs without bashing Chomsky in an article ostensibly about the "myth" of the effects of sanctions.

skallas, if you knew anything about Welch, you'd realize that he's ulikely to express anything close to a "right-wing" opinion. Unless, of course, you mean "MeFi right-wing," which is pretty much anyone to the right of Jesse Jackson. You know, it is quite possible to be a Democrat, progressive, and *gasp* even a liberal and still believe that Chomsky's a pompous ass whose logic doesn't bear scrutiny. Unfortunately, many on the left feel they need to be in perfect lockstep with their "idols."
posted by pardonyou? at 6:09 AM on October 18, 2002


Most of the comments here (e.g., "pretty trite stuff," "mildly interesting") show that a great number of Metafilter posters are arrogant, self-important assholes. This piece is honest and straight.

It's nice to see you've appointed yourself the sole arbiter of quality, riptide. Even nicer that people who have a different opinion than yourself aren't simply wrong -- they're "arrogant, self-important assholes." It's always so much more convincing when someone resorts to name-calling.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:11 AM on October 18, 2002


You know, it is quite possible to be a Democrat, progressive, and *gasp* even a liberal and still believe that Chomsky's a pompous ass whose logic doesn't bear scrutiny

Unpossible! Remember, if we all don't march in lockstep to the dogma - we're all "flag-waving jingoists". Which is the exact same practice of the right's "you must hate America" bullcaca.

Funny how that works out.
posted by owillis at 6:22 AM on October 18, 2002


Unfortunately, many on the left feel they need to be in perfect lockstep with their "idols."

pardonyou,
"many"? how many is that?
for every "lockstep leftist" who worships his/her idols I can show you 1000 progressives and 10,000 Bush critics (many of them are not even progressives) who do not feel the need to be in lockstep with anybody, especially with Chomsky
I'm totally with you on the riptide issue though
posted by matteo at 6:32 AM on October 18, 2002


While Woody's article contains no real argument or factual information useful for furthering a reasoned debate, it was a nice read. He didn't impress me as a political genius. His grasp of economics is horribly deficient. He was lazy and fell for some exaggerated numbers. He didn't back up or argue his claim of racism. But it heartened me to read a view, critical of the Bush administration's current policies, from a recognizable public figure, in a widely read publication. I do wish, though, that people would be a little more careful with the facts. As Matt Welch wrote, "the truth is bad enough." And by the way:

skallas: "By soberly you must mean with a very right-wing perspective. It doesn't even look like Welch can write a couple paragraphs without bashing Chomsky"

I don't know if you read the same article I did, but the main point of the article I read was that there's no need to grossly exaggerate the claims of increased child mortality in Iraq, because (1) the more reliable figures are still atrocious, and (2) mindlessly repeating anti-sanction hyperbolae may actually hurt the cause. In other words, the facts are the best argument against sanctions. Right-wing, indeed. As for Chomsky-bashing: 42 paragraphs, 3 mentions of Chomsky by name, one small paragraph rhetorically asking if we can dismiss his views because of his exaggeration, and the next 8 paragraphs explaining that we absolutely cannot.
posted by dilettanti at 7:18 AM on October 18, 2002


I thought it was a pretty good article. The time reading it was better spent than the time reading this thread.
posted by skimble at 8:20 AM on October 18, 2002


Oh man, ouch. I'm embarrassed for Dan Savage after reading that incoherent, ill-conceived, rambling mess of words. He should stick to sex advice.
posted by languagehat at 8:50 AM on October 18, 2002


I'm reminded of this article which made the rounds a while back: Palaces and Oil Smuggling. "Since the end of the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein has directed and sustained a multi-billion dollar palace construction program while pleading that the UN sanctions keep him too poor to feed and provide health care for his people."

"Saddam has been spending billions of dollars on the man-made lakes, waterfalls, marble, and other luxuries that make up his palaces and those of his supporters. At the same time, Saddam parades well-intentioned foreigners to gawk at the sick and hungry of Iraq, as he pleads that UN sanctions prevent him from buying or importing his people's most basic needs."

Complete with satellite photos of massive Diney-esque palace contruction projects.
posted by Tubes at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2002


The fact that we once assisted him does nothing to mitigate our responsibility to remove the threat that he now poses. It's called *reality* -- we have to adapt and confront new threats as they emerge or are discovered.

Threat to whom? The United States? That's the insinuation, but there has yet to be a shred of evidence that Saddam Hussein in fact has us in his cross-hairs.

And if it's threats to his own citizens we are concerned about, there's a laundry list of other countries that treat their citizens like crap. Are we going after them too?

Happy kicks sad’s ass. Always.

Yeah? Tell that to the Jews, Tutsis, Armenians, Cambodians or anyone else who managed to survive a genocide but saw entire families, communities, wiped out.
posted by kgasmart at 10:15 AM on October 18, 2002


Heh, it's certainly possible to intelligently argue against war in Iraq, it's just that Woody fails miserably here. I haven't heard such incoherent rambling since Barbara Streisand opened her mouth last.

If you're going to argue against the war, at least use something original that actually has any bearing on reality.

If you claim "this is a racist war!" or "it's all about oil!" with a straight face, you lose.
posted by wrffr at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2002


"there has yet to be a shred of evidence that Saddam Hussein in fact has us in his cross-hairs" - kgasmart

What kind of evidence do you require to identify a threat before it manifests itself with a deadly attack? There is all kinds of evidence that Hussein is a dangerous man who is willing to attack anyone within his reach. And now there is evidence that his reach is increasing with illegal weapons development and nuclear programs.

By your evidentiary standards, was there any "evidence" that O. bin Laden had U.S. landmarks in his cross-hairs before Sept. 11? I bet you'd have appreciated it if the US had gone after him before *that* happened.

So many people want to string up this administration for not predicting/stopping Sept. 11, and then condemn the stance on Iraq. Cake, anyone...?
posted by Tubes at 10:42 AM on October 18, 2002


Summer: The health care chart you gave does not deal with government spending, but total spending - private and public combined. Our average mortality is no better, and in more than a few cases, slightly lower than that of most other industrialized democracies in spite of it.

Just to let you know, meantime: My post was sort of half joking. Woody was being wacky, but there was a grain of truth in there somewhere. The thing is, the British and U.S. budgets aren't really comparable. They'd have to be constructed in the same way to be so comparable. Social Security and Medicare "contributions" go into trust funds, for instance, and they're different than regular spending. Does the U.K. have anything comparable? I can't find it. (Examine the budgets of other nations, and things get even more complicated: Germany requires "contributions" to sickness funds for most citizens as part of its health care system, but those don't count as government spending.) It is clear that the U.K. has a larger welfare state, and lower defense spending, so Woody's not totally off. Your answer as to percentages depends on how you view the budgets.
posted by raysmj at 12:02 PM on October 18, 2002


On the other hand, some claim we already spend more than other nations (not adjusted for cost-of-living - and you'll get plenty of debate about the specific govt. figure), but just have an extremely inefficient way of going about it.

In short, budget debates are something of a fool's game. But are you going to deny that our welfare state is smaller than Britian's, proportionally, and as compared with its defense spending - or that defense is much more of a government priority here?
posted by raysmj at 12:18 PM on October 18, 2002


raysmj, I'm not denying that the US spends more on defence than any other nation and that the UK spends more on welfare. But that's kind of the point. These are choices that every country has to make. They are the same choices, no matter what the infrastructure. Both the infrastructure and the way budgets are allocated reflect a nation's priorities.
posted by Summer at 1:09 PM on October 18, 2002


[Ad hominem attack deleted] This piece is honest and straight. I applaud Woody for being a celebrity who thinks and has a conscience.

The piece is above average writing, for the population at large. However, the piece is below average compared to what typically appears on newspaper op-ed pages, and I don't think anyone would argue that it was solely the quality of the writing, and not Woody's celebrity, that got the piece published.

I too applaud Woody for being a celebrity who thinks and has a conscience. At the same time, I condemn the Guardian for not having higher standards.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:10 PM on October 18, 2002


"If you claim "this is a racist war!" or "it's all about oil!" with a straight face, you lose." - wrffr

(note: straight face) It's all about the USA taking out Saddam before he attacks us! Evidence?

Uhm... .. .

Hey look, behind you... a blimp!
posted by cinematique at 8:57 PM on October 18, 2002


And by "blimp", I meant to say "terrorist."
posted by cinematique at 9:00 PM on October 18, 2002


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