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The real experts, on war with Iraq
January 21, 2003 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Why Gen X doesn't care that Gen X doesn't care about the war - in which an irreverent, arrogant, crass young essayist hits a nerve. What RAND has to say about the impact of Iraqi oil on the world economy. Who's organizing large demonstrations against war on Iraq, and who's upset about this. Spend an hour with the real experts on Iraq, real Iraqis, and real people who can't make the case for war. (RealPlayer) This in-depth broadcast interview features some truly key players, the real arguments on both sides, and you probably never heard it, making the case for Internet Radio.
posted by sheauga (37 comments total)

 
"Senator Graham said he had some questions of his own for the administration that he would like me to ask them about Saddam using his weapons of mass destruction against us ...

Q. And when you've gone to the administration and when the committee has posed these questions, what have they told you all?

A. Just passive non-responses. Essentially denial.
The most important thing to do was to take down Saddam Hussein, and if that meant accepting some potentially adverse consequences, so be it."
posted by sheauga at 12:14 PM on January 21, 2003


Considering that the last time this subject got brought up, the entire thread got deep-sixed, I hope this one, with some good links, sticks around long enough to be archived.
posted by alumshubby at 12:28 PM on January 21, 2003


So this Generation X, it's cynical?
posted by jeremias at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2003


I suppose its shallow, but I've been looking to Gen Y (or whatever they're calling each other these days) for some action. This is not "my" war as a Gen X'er. While it is a horrible thing contemplated by my country and I'm against it, I'm not the one liable to go fighting and dying for it. None of my few remaining friends in the military are going to be catching bullets because of it.

Where the hell are the college kids in all this?

I had my war already. I did my part...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:13 PM on January 21, 2003


I'm deeply suspicious of anyone who purports to be a member of "Gen X" and actually uses the phrase "Gen X."
posted by pardonyou? at 1:18 PM on January 21, 2003


I don't know about any of you... but I'm in "Generation NeXt" if my pepsi consumption is any indicator.
posted by cadastral at 1:27 PM on January 21, 2003


Where the hell are the college kids in all this?

Reading metafilter.
posted by iamck at 1:39 PM on January 21, 2003


Forget about Iraq , Gen X is worried about this.
posted by 111 at 1:43 PM on January 21, 2003


If you watch Hardball on MSNBC on Wednesday nights you can see the total disconnect of the college kids and this war. Chris Matthews has been doing a tour of colleges around the country and he's conducting a little experiment. At each school he asks the question "Who is in favor of this war?" and the crowd amazingly goes wild with applause. Then he says "Okay, who will be participating in it?" Almost complete silence.

They are all in favor of it but not enough to go and fight in it. The only exception was at Westpoint.
posted by bas67 at 1:58 PM on January 21, 2003


I think the college kids of today were brought up on a diet of good years in America, progress on almost all fronts and want that to continue. Then after September 11th suddenly there were few answers-- along comes Bush with an answer: "war on Iraq." Well at least it's something, the kids say, as no other national figure has presented a counter foreign policy that sounds viable or different. It's hard to blame the kids when no one is giving them a decent alternative. In that vacuum, the blunt force approach at least sounds like something.
posted by cell divide at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2003


... Almost complete slience

imagine that

posted by larry_darrell at 2:12 PM on January 21, 2003


Hell, didn't I already protest this war? If 2012 rolls around and Jeb Bush is calling for the head of Saddam Hussein, maybe I'll hit the streets, but it's not my turn right now.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:20 PM on January 21, 2003


As a college kid of today, I can say, at least for myself, that
a) I don't think the war is going to happen
b) If the war happens, it will have low casualties, just like in Afghanistan and Kosovo
c) If the war happens, Iraq will be better off, just like Afghanistan and Kosovo (I know someone is going to call me on this one, pointing out some stat on why Afghanistan hasn't improved, but they're not executing people in stadiums, suffering a huge outflow of refugees or starving to death, which is more than you can say for the Taliban)
d) For all the complaints about the tragedy of war, the tragedy of non-war can sometimes be worse. In hindsight, who here thinks we should have intervened in Uganda in 1975, Cambodia in the early 1970's (we did on some scale) and Uganda in the mid-90's, among others?
e) The war hasn't even started yet - many of us believe it to be a bluff. Threat of military power has been the strongest force in the post-bipolar world, and was very strong even in the bipolar world.

It seems hard to rally around calls like "No Blood for Oil" and "100000 Iraqis will die" when the oil and dead are both hypothetical, probably unrealistic, projections.
posted by Kevs at 2:23 PM on January 21, 2003


Hey, Kevs, what makes you think that "if the war happens, Iraq will be better off?" The last time we had a war with Iraq nothing much changed over there except that a lot of people died.

I mean, Kuwait was better off, but there wasn't much improvement in Iraq, you know?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:32 PM on January 21, 2003


Kevs-
The dead Iraquis are already dead. There will just be more of them.
Cambodia? Some scale? I remember a secret war we conducted (secret to those who paid for it, not to those who suffered and died in it)
Are you saying that the Afganis are better now that we've recently gotten rid of Taliban forces . . . or since we've spent decades pouring armaments into their area promoting rule by (anit-commie we hope) warlords?
posted by ahimsakid at 2:37 PM on January 21, 2003


Kevs-

Interesting theory, can you pass the hookah please?

I'll be the one to call you on Afghanistan, and point out that they are still killing innocent people over there, because effectively it's become a state run by warlords, with the exception of the capital. The United States and other nations all have failed to give the aid that they promised before the bombing began, and now the Afghanis are worse off than they were before

If 100,000 Iraqis die, you can be sure that terrorists will make sure that Americans will continue to be bombed, shot, and hijacked for the entirety of the next decade.

But at least we'll have cheap gas.
posted by mosch at 2:43 PM on January 21, 2003


If 100,000 Iraqis die, you can be sure that terrorists will make sure that Americans will continue to be bombed, shot, and hijacked for the entirety of the next decade.

But if we don't attack Iraq, terrorists will leave us alone for a decade, right?
posted by stifford at 2:57 PM on January 21, 2003


I was disappointed by the article. It started off looking like it was going to be an attempt to analyze why the author and her self-absorbed friends are so... well, self-absorbed. But then in the middle it turned into another harangue about how so many people aren't working tirelessly for her cause.

She never considers the idea that maybe it's because they don't agree with her causes. No, that couldn't be possible. Not when her causes are so palpably, so obviously right. It must be that cursed Gen X Brand Apathy!

Lame.
posted by rusty at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2003


Then he says "Okay, who will be participating in it?" Almost complete silence.

Well no shit. College kids don't drop out school and go to war. Never have, never will (yes, yes, there are exceptions).
posted by Witty at 3:17 PM on January 21, 2003


1. So, that was a well balanced post?
2. Don't we have a paid volunteer army?
posted by semmi at 3:30 PM on January 21, 2003


Where the hell are the college kids in all this?

What exactly are we supposed to be doing, then? Protesting the war with candlelight vigils on the quad? Signing up in droves for the next shipment to the Middle East? Term papers are due next week, but no, I think I'll attend a peace rally instead of doing research.
Plenty of us in college are here to get a higher education and not to jump tuition chasing political ideals.

And plenty others are unwilling to leave their keg parties for army rations. But hey, patriotism's cool these days, so we'll all yell "Go U.S.A.!" with the rest of you. Can't risk seeming uncool now, can we?

On preview, this looks like what Witty said.
posted by casarkos at 3:36 PM on January 21, 2003


hmm even in the 60s I don't think the protesting against Vietnam was too severe until Americans started dieing at a horrific rate.

As a card holding member of the X generation I personally am against a war in Iraq first because I don't think it will do any good on the "War on Terror" which of course is a total catch-22 no matter what we do, if we do get attacked again by terrorists or not we will most likely never know whether the invasion of Iraq had anything to do with it.

Second is that dammit I want a better economy here at home. I'm not rich enough to benefit from the tax cuts. Everytime the UN says "Nope no bombs yet" and it looks like we're going to invade Wall Street takes a dive. I dunno I just want to know that next year I'll have a job so I can afford get a new car my beat up 94 pickup sucks on dates.
posted by bitdamaged at 3:45 PM on January 21, 2003


If you have time to respond to Metafilter posts, you probably have time to support the cause if you actually do care. And if you really do want to do something, skip the candlelight vigils and talk to people. Talk to your parents and your friends and your professors and your co-workers.

The issues are far too complicated for a bumper sticker to sum up, and short, well-informed conversations are the only thing I can think of to help balance Fox News. sheauga's links are a great starting point -- thank you!
posted by blissbat at 3:47 PM on January 21, 2003


Of course, if you wanna be ultra-cool, you can follow his lead.
posted by Witty at 3:48 PM on January 21, 2003


However, the This American Life episode justifies this entire post all by itself. Please, folks, give it a listen.
posted by rusty at 3:56 PM on January 21, 2003


Great, glad you liked it, Rusty!

I had my doubts that anyone would actually tune in to a one-hour online radio show on the basis of someone posting a link on MeFi, but that particular episode of This American Life struck me as something truly exceptional. (I figured it would be deleted immediately as a NewsFilter item, if posted by itself.)

This post wasn't balanced? Perhaps the material about sketchy demonstration organizers is old hat to everyone here? Surely there must be are a few readers, either conservatives or peace activists, who would have some concerns about turning over leadership of the peace movement to the ANSWER organization.

Exceptions regarding college students and the war: Wall Street loses out to military / 1940s - WWII depletes campus.

The experimental HPM microwave weapon "e-bombs" on cruise missiles featured in this Time article could definitely place a damper on blogging. As for doing something about these things personally, perhaps it's time to help a few of the Middle Eastern bloggers like that guy in Iraqi Kurdistan get some CD-ROM burners.
"If I may speak for myself and the staff of this radio program, I'd like to say that we are confused ... We think that it is possible that the most compelling arguments for the war, and the most compelling arguments against the war, are arguments that you have not heard ... "
I'd like to urge anyone else who listens to the radio show to either blog their reactions, or e-mail the link around.
posted by sheauga at 4:27 PM on January 21, 2003


Hey, Kevs, what makes you think that "if the war happens, Iraq will be better off?" The last time we had a war with Iraq nothing much changed over there except that a lot of people died.

I mean, Kuwait was better off, but there wasn't much improvement in Iraq, you know?


How about the fact that our objective was to free Kuwait and our allies, the same ones that are opposing military action against Iraq, wouldn't go along with an invasion of Iraq?
posted by gyc at 4:32 PM on January 21, 2003


no really, that this american life episode is worth it.
posted by raaka at 8:05 PM on January 21, 2003


What exactly are we supposed to be doing, then?....Term papers are due next week, but no, I think I'll attend a peace rally instead of doing research.
Plenty of us in college are here to get a higher education and not to jump tuition chasing political ideals.


And then there are those who manage to balance education and activism. Or even--God forbid--combine them to the benefit of both.

Bas67, do you know which schools Chris Matthews visited? I'm not doubting you (or even him), but I think he must have chosen the colleges very carefully to get such consistent support for the war. Wouldn't happen at most schools I know.
posted by hippugeek at 8:46 PM on January 21, 2003


Hmmm.

I'm a college student, opposed to a war with Iraq on ethical grounds.

I see outpourings of opposition to the war like this or this or this or this or this or this this.

I also get the feeling there's a conspicuous attempt by media types to portray college students as unaffected and apathetic. It's the same logic which sells soft drinks, and the same mechanisms. By portraying the usually radical college students as placid, even enthusiastic, war supporters, the terms of the debate in mass media are set. The people with the flags on your left are as far as it goes to the left. The people with the flags on your right are the moderates.

I guess everyone missed the footage of the giant protests on both coasts last weekend. Not surprising.

Think about this: it took years of carnage in Southeast Asia for the anti-war movement in the late 1960s to really achieve full momentum. Here we have huge, well-organized, broad-based protests of a war which has yet to even happen.

And somehow Americans are more pro-war?

I call bullshit.
posted by Coda at 9:40 PM on January 21, 2003


Think about this: it took years of carnage in Southeast Asia for the anti-war movement in the late 1960s to really achieve full momentum. Here we have huge, well-organized, broad-based protests of a war which has yet to even happen.

And somehow Americans are more pro-war?



I believe the majority of protestors stopped when the draft was disbanded.

Why is everyone ripping on Kevs? His points are valid for a college student. Not all of us oppose the war. Some of us who oppose the war do not believe that much harm will come of it. Hey, some of us protested! Insulting us by making blanket statements just to makeself yourself feel better is pretty pitiful. And Kev's point E is pretty major. People have been crying wolf about how the US would attack Iraq over a year ago, and when Bush was elected, and they were proven wrong on their illfated timing. Items like that make aware to us the rhetoric of certain people.

We're not blind slaves here.
posted by Darke at 10:58 PM on January 21, 2003


Sigh. It's clear to me that ignorance is our problem. Thousands of kids in college getting a edjumacation for their hard earned, high-taxed loans, and they still haven't learned anything.

To wit:
a) War is going to happen on the 27th. That's sort of the reason for all those troops and carriers and stuff. See. Cause you can't have a war unless you've got lots of military in the area. Bush has effectively given the finger to the world, to his constituants, and to his electorate. His reason for going to war? "Because we're going to war."

b) If war does happen, it will have extremely high casualties for the Iraqi people. But they're just third-world'ers, so what do we care?

c) When war happens, Iraq will be the same shit-hole it was before, except this time with no central leadership, just like Afghanistan. Executions now aren't limited to stadiums, starvation continues unabated, and they have reverted back to tribal feudalism. Congrats, U.S. Good thing those Afghans took to democracy so quickly.

d) True enough. Except Sadaam isn't gassing Kurds anymore, and he isn't supporting terrorism, so what's the harm in keeping him there?

e) Threat of military power has been second-fiddle to actual use of military power, which has increased, yes, increased since the post "bi-polar" world.

My real problem with GWB's policy is that:
1. Democracy cannot be forced upon a people that are not ready for it, and cannot be applied quickly and haphazardly and expect to hold.
2. Terrorism is not a problem that can be addressed through traditional diplomatic or military means, as terrorists are usually not particular to the country they inhabit.
3. We are providing a wonderful reason to get a lot more people very mad at us.
4. We're attacking Iraq because history will see his father as a failure, because it gets our minds off the economy, and because it is a very easy military target (as opposed to countries that have admitted to nuclear weapons programs like, say, North Korea.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:25 AM on January 22, 2003


I like Bush, and I want to see Saddam gone as much as the next person-but I am very uncomfortable with the direction we are headed in. Oh how I hope we are bluffing.

Having said that, I totally disagree with point #4 (civil-disobedience)...for one thing, I have no problem thinking about two things at the same time (war/economy) and for another-how on earth could you possibly believe Bush would risk our people just to even his dad's score? I mean, come on, the man's a human being!

And I fail to see how attacking Iraq gets us cheaper oil. Seems more likely to me the opposite would occur.
posted by konolia at 4:29 AM on January 22, 2003


Point #4 is dead-ass-on! (So are points 1-3.) But, "Let's not forget, this is the guy who almost killed my dad...." (GWB)
posted by LouReedsSon at 8:04 AM on January 22, 2003


Konolia: Did you read the RAND editorial? It's the second link. It explains pretty clearly why oil prices will go down. The problem is, this isn't the problem. A war with Iraq is not going to help our faltering economy, nor will it stop global terrorism. If anything, we are setting ourselves up for a no-win situation (listen to the This American Life audio clip - full 44 meg file link).

One interesting section:

"The Intelligence Community [ed: the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc.]concluced that Sadaam Hussein was not an imminent threat, and would probably not use weapons of mass destruction for the forseeable future, unless we attacked and started a war against him, in which case he probably would use his weapons of mass destruction."

"When Sadaam Hussein reaches the conclusion that all is lost, that he is in fact about to be removed from power, at that point he becomes the most dangerous. And that danger will be reflected in his use of weapons of mass destruction against invading troops, on neighboring countries, and third, he would likely -- 75% or greater chance -- form alliances with terrorist groups in order to initiate terrorist attacks against American people here at home."

"In other words, if we are going to war in order to prevent Sadaam Hussein from using his weapons of mass destruction, going to war will actually cause the very thing we're going to war to prevent."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:08 AM on January 22, 2003


Taking out Saddam Hussein is about several things: Most importantly, its about rewriting the map of the Middle East. Many people are uncomfortable with this. But the policy must be seen as something larger than just Hussein, its about imposing American will as to how to structure society and government in that area of the world, something we have traditionally not done. We have instead supported local strongmen.

You may argue about the morality of imposing an American system on an area of the Middle East. What I don't think anyone can argue is that regions of the world that have accepted the three tenets of the liberal world: democracy, free-market capitalism, and an avoidence (generally) of open warfare, have progressed far better than countries that have not. For all its faults, democratic India is a better place to live than authoritarian Pakistan. Central and Eastern Europe, regions that have adopted these tenets in the past decade, are better regions to live than Central Asia. South East/East Asia are far better places to live than the Middle East.

People are dying in Iraq every day. What is the peace camps proposal to deal with this situation. If you were all in charge of American policy now (not ten years ago, but right now, with all the complications in the world) how would you handle the dual festering sores of North Korea and Iraq?
posted by pjgulliver at 10:35 AM on January 22, 2003


And I fail to see how attacking Iraq gets us cheaper oil. Seems more likely to me the opposite would occur.

konolia, untapped oil reserves lie mainly in the former soviet areas, from what i understand. So in theory, we shouldn't be depending on arab oil at all, if we have such problems with them. I think the cheaper oil comes from Russian pipelines having to go through Iraqi land to Saudi Arabia in order for western oil companies to get any, or something to that effect.

Personally, I'm tired of this whole vendetta thing that Bush has with Iraq. They're not bothering us (yet) and when they do, that's when we should go after them. If anything, we should be telling our government to look for the terrorists and fight the battles that need to be fought on the homefront (poverty, crime, the economy, etc.), instead of following blindly while they put us into an uncertain situation based on personal agendas.
posted by schlaager at 8:06 PM on January 22, 2003


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