Is Mr. Bush prepared to put his sacrafice his post as president to prevent war - or will he instead forfeit the lives of thousands of people?
March 17, 2003 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Bush sets in motion 48-hour timeline for Saddam and sons to flee the country. Then, Saddam Defies Bush Deadline and suggests that Bush himself resign. Wait a minute, I think I see a diplomatic solution here that is in the best interests of BOTH nations. Seriously - I think that, when Mr. Bush makes such an ultimatum, he himself should also be prepared to resign his post, especially when lives of - at best - thousands of people are at stake. Assuming that Saddam Hussein were willing to resign if Bush also agreed to do so (and I'm not saying that he necessarily is), would Americans (Iraqis) be willing to make the "sacrifice"?
posted by SilentSalamander (53 comments total)
 
Nuh-uh! Bush told him to resign first!!!

("Did Not!") Did too! ("Did not!")

Did too times infinity!

Better watch out or he's going to call his Dad, and you remember what happened last time.

"Mooooom! Bush is touching my side of the world again!"
posted by Stan Chin at 11:12 PM on March 17, 2003


Tough one but yeah, I think we could let him go. Not going to be easy to find another great thinker with such keen diplomatic skills though.

Anyone know what Gomer Pyle is up to nowadays?
posted by gfrobe at 12:31 AM on March 18, 2003


Anyone know what Gomer Pyle is up to nowadays?

I don't know, but I saw his sergeant on Scrubs last night.
posted by jetgrrl at 12:34 AM on March 18, 2003


I'm really sick of the shallow partisanship I see in so many of these threads.
posted by KiloHeavy at 12:52 AM on March 18, 2003


So, whaddya want? Deep partisanship?
posted by webmutant at 1:13 AM on March 18, 2003


I'd settle for the Bush/Saddam debate.
posted by skallas at 2:01 AM on March 18, 2003


I'm really sick of the shallow partisanship I see in so many of these threads.

Any war mongering president would get the same treatment from me, rest assured.
posted by iamck at 2:48 AM on March 18, 2003


Deep partisanship would be fine. Anything besides the usual round of "Shrub" bashing.

It's as annoying to me as the Slick Willie shit was at the height of the Clinton impeachment.

It doesn't pay to take anything too seriously, but I can't help but be repulsed by the petty nature of the commentary that makes up so much of the "discussion" on these political threads.

Feel however you will about the current administration, the prospect of war, the chance of terrorist attack, but really--do any of us read metafilter threads for sophomoric, childish banter?

I can't remember the last time I (with wildly divergent political beliefs not neatly encompassed by the platform of either dominant US party) had a meaningful conversation with a liberal about anything related to the current administration, largely because of the ad hominem bitching most liberals can't seem to resist. I don't understand why the left seems more prone to this shit than the right. Maybe it's just a stridency created by being in the political minority for the first time in a long while.

Whatever, it makes those who indulge in it look like assholes, at least to me. I know you guys are smarter and more eloquent than the "oil hungry blood thirsty dumb hick avenging his daddy" commentary would suggest.

It'd be nice to see something in the way of a thoughtful opinion meaningfully expressed.
posted by KiloHeavy at 2:50 AM on March 18, 2003


how about this? Bush wasn't democratically elected to start with. just because this country is labelled a democracy doesn't mean he was selected properly. but still he attempts to rule like he got a large mandate, so calling anyone else a dictator seems like a double standard to me. speaking of double standards, how can "we bring war crimes to justice," when we refuse to be part of the world court.
as for this being a just war, when did justice start to involve preemption? preemption involves prejudice and i fail to see how that is just.
posted by memnock at 3:47 AM on March 18, 2003


The apologetics of power, circa 416 BCE.
For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses- either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us- and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Lacedaemonians, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
posted by talos at 3:53 AM on March 18, 2003


Personally, I read metafilter entirely for shallow political commentary. Deep partisanship just turns me off. Too messy. And Kilo is definitely on to something - I've never heard the kind of absurd ad homs that mark most liberals from those eloquent spokespersons for the right, you know, folks like Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity.

I do appreciate the 'come on now, I know you folks are smarter' stuff at the end, but let's be honest, if you didn't have the straw argument of 'stupid ad hom' to mock, what else would you do with your time?

On a somewhat less comic note, two observations: first, we mock W because it is are only recourse; logical argument has no effect whether it comes from us or other governments, because the war isn't predicated on logical argument. Not that much really is, but whatever, that's still not a reason to bash whole sects of the mefi community. Second, if I might introduce the basic concept of presumption, when you're about to authorize killing a whole bunch of people - oops, I mean collateral damage - the burden of proof to convince your populace and the world lies with the one instigating the attack. I have yet to see a meaningful defense of the so-called war that doesn't collapse down to the paradoxical status of 'killing lives to save lives'. At which point, you just have to ask: what value is assigned to life when one can justify ending it in order to maintain it, who are we to determine who is to be killed, and why doesn't this logic serve to support the terrorists?
posted by hank_14 at 4:03 AM on March 18, 2003


Alright, so s/are/our. At least I'm not metric.
posted by hank_14 at 4:05 AM on March 18, 2003


Oh, and for less shallow debate, might I suggest some engagement with several important thinkers:

Giorgio Agamben: His recent worsk try to make sense of current international politics and the nature of the political after Auschwitz.

Emmanuel Levinas: He reworks Heidegger and Husserl and argues for an ethical origin for all of philosophy, an ethics called forth by the other and called into being before the basic questions of metaphysics and ontology can even be thought.

Paul Virilio: His work on the aesthetics of speed and its relationship to war is, while often poorly written, one of the essential sets of texts to understand the media-military complex that sells Gulf Bombing 2.
posted by hank_14 at 4:16 AM on March 18, 2003


the whole fucking world saw the goddam speech. why does this shit-seeping post even live?
posted by quonsar at 4:30 AM on March 18, 2003


I have yet to see a meaningful defense .. of 'killing lives to save lives'.

It's not complicated. Sadam was out to conquer the Middle East he would have probably killed 100s of thousands without much resistence. We steped in and stoped his expansion in 91'. Whats not to understand? We killed lives to save lives. We've been containing him for 12 years though economic means, no fly zones and troops stationed. If we left Saudi soil and went home because of 9/11, how long before Sadam is back at it again? We can't stay there forever subjecting the Saudis to our troops or the Iraqis to sanctions.
posted by stbalbach at 4:43 AM on March 18, 2003


The premise of this thread demonstrates that the bottom of the cowardly moral equivalency barrel is further down than anyone ever new. You should be ashamed.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:47 AM on March 18, 2003


PP arrives = thread dead
posted by niceness at 4:53 AM on March 18, 2003


stbalbach: Well maybe it's complicated, or maybe I'm just not as clear as I might have been: why should we care about saving 'innocent' lives if we are willing to kill 'innocent' lives in order to do so? Don't worry about it, it's a paradox of sorts, and I don't want to greet the St. Patty's Day-after hangover with the we are going to murder a bunch of people blues. Though I do agree that we can't stay there forever, especially given the number of folks killed because of the sanctions or the preemptive defensive bombings used to enforce the no-fly zones. It's weird, I can't figure out where a nation would get the idea that pursuing WMD would be a strategic foreign policy objective.
posted by hank_14 at 4:58 AM on March 18, 2003


I didn't even know that moral equivalency was a barrel.
posted by hank_14 at 5:06 AM on March 18, 2003


Here we go gathering nuts in May, nuts in May, nuts in May. Here we go gathering nuts in May, so er-lye in the morn-ing!
posted by crunchland at 5:13 AM on March 18, 2003


why should we care about saving 'innocent' lives if we are willing to kill 'innocent' lives in order to do so

Someone did a study if you took all the violent person-killing-person deaths in the past 100 years (war, homicide, crime) %60 of them happened in WWI and WWII. The lesson is to avoid large scale wars at all cost. Sadam had the potential 12 years ago to trigger a large war. Since then we have been containing him but the potential still exists if that containment ever went away.
posted by stbalbach at 5:14 AM on March 18, 2003


I think Bush resigning would be the best thing for the country right now. Seriously. Yes, I know Cheney would fill in. Even that would be better.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:15 AM on March 18, 2003


My prediction, Saddam WILL resign and try to leave, Bush will invade anyway.
posted by CrazyJub at 5:18 AM on March 18, 2003


Since then we have been containing him but the potential still exists if that containment ever went away.

And why would that containment ever go away? Nobody is suggesting that he shouldn't be contained.
posted by niceness at 5:18 AM on March 18, 2003


I have yet to see a meaningful defense .. of 'killing lives to save lives'

See also, "spending money to make money," and "you only hurt the ones you love."
posted by marcusb at 5:20 AM on March 18, 2003


stbalbach, you're not really understanding the question, but that's alright. Like I said, it's a paradox - if innocent life can be killed in order to save innocent life, then the life of the innocent really has no other meaning in that discourse that the one presumed by its strategic utility, at least strategic in the sense required by whatever argument is being presented. So adding up a life voided of value and saying we've saved more of those isn't really very compelling. But don't worry about it, like I said, I'm probably just being obtuse :) Folks can contest the '12 years ago' facts, but for now I'll just let it go.
posted by hank_14 at 5:22 AM on March 18, 2003


Sadam was out to conquer the Middle East

Is there any evidence of this post-Gulf War I? Any at all? Far as I can see, he invaded Kuwait, we smacked him down but good, and that was pretty much the end of that.

Like you said, we've been containing him for a dozen years. We could keep doing it for a few hundred more; it'd cost about the same as a the first week's worth of missiles, and we wouldn't be setting this nasty pre-emptive strike precedent, and we wouldn't be pissing off the rest of the world, and we wouldn't be giving Saddam and what's left of Al Quaeda and anyone else who has a beef with us the perfect excuse to "fight back anywhere in the world."

I have this queasy premonition that we'll invade Wednesday, it'll trigger a series of terrorist attacks across the US on Thursday, and by Friday the Bush defenders' party line will be "See?! He really was a terrorist!" This hamfisted, undiplomatic, undemocratic invasion is just begging for trouble; it's going to cause exactly the problem Bush is telling us it will solve.
posted by ook at 5:41 AM on March 18, 2003 [1 favorite]


I couldn't agree more Ook. If/when there are terrorist attacks after the war has started it gives Bush/Blair a chance to say "we told you so". Of course Bin Laden and cronies don't mind if Saddam gets much of the blame, more east vs west polarisation is just what they want - we're continuing to do the terrorists work for him.
posted by niceness at 5:45 AM on March 18, 2003


damned if we do, damned if we don't. put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.
posted by crunchland at 6:09 AM on March 18, 2003


Hold onto your hats, folks, Freedonia is going to war!
Chicolini: We’re going to war!

(Pinky marches into the council chamber at the head of a group of guards. He is twirling a baton, which he uses to mark time with whilst pulling faces. Then he throws the baton high in the air, and it brings down a huge crystal chandelier onto his head. He extricates himself and runs off. Bob, Chicolini and Firefly go behind the guards and play on their helmeted heads to xylophone music. Pinky comes back and joins the end of the row. At first he marks time with the others, but then produces his scissors and starts cutting off the soldiers’ plumes. As the soldiers turn and march past him, he cuts the plumes off to the beat of the music. Grabbing his baton again, he hits the last soldier on the head. As the soldiers exit, the Freedonians start milling in the center of the room)

All: To war, to war, to war we’re gonna go!(Firefly, Bob, Chicolini and Pinky stand in a line and flutter their hands like a black minstrel’s act)

The Four Brothers: Oh, hi-de, hi-de, hi-de, hi-de, hi-de, hi-de-ho.

All: To war, to war, to war we’re gonna go!
posted by hairyeyeball at 6:22 AM on March 18, 2003


Once again everything I need to know in life I learned from The Godfather:

"No--I buy you out, you don't buy me out...Do you know who I am? I'm Saddam Hussein! I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!"
posted by kirkaracha at 6:43 AM on March 18, 2003


Like you said, we've been containing him for a dozen years. We could keep doing it for a few hundred more; it'd cost about the same as a the first week's worth of missiles, and we wouldn't be setting this nasty pre-emptive strike precedent, and we wouldn't be pissing off the rest of the world...

For those of you who think containment has worked, I think you should think about the other side of containment: the quiet death of tens of thousands every year by sanctions. This Washington Post article does a great job of explaining the silent harm of containment.
Believe UNICEF and 10 more years [of containment] kills 600,000 Iraqi babies and altogether almost 1 million Iraqis...Other estimates are lower, but by any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War -- and almost all the victims of containment are civilian, and two-thirds are children under 5.
Does someone who supports eternal containment want to address this reality? And, if you say "lift the sanctions" you have to realize that once you've done that you've also lifted containment. I'm curious to read your response.
posted by fried at 6:54 AM on March 18, 2003


Good point quonsar!

but... to add to the thread:

What if Saddam Hussein "fails to comply, and we fail to act ... Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. ... Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal."
1998 Bill Clinton.

12 years, 18 UN resolutions.

One President listens and lives up to another President's advice.
posted by tomplus2 at 6:57 AM on March 18, 2003


What, only 31 comments by the next morning?

What has come over you people?!?!?
posted by eas98 at 6:59 AM on March 18, 2003


Fried, the solution to sanctions is to administer them humanely. Harpers had a great article on how the US has hindered humanitarian administration of sanctions by vetoing legitimate imports under the guise of "dual use".
posted by neuroshred at 7:06 AM on March 18, 2003


There is a very simple way to "contain" Saddam folks. Without sanctions. Let the Kurds have a state in the North. Make sure that you guaranty their borders. Support the Shiia in the South, through Iran which would be delighted to do so, at the same time scoring a major victory for the reformists there. Then install a permanent team of inspectors from Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey. I can assure you that this will destabilize Saddam in no time. It will end the barbarity of the sanctions. No civilians will die in the process.
That would however spoil the Bush administration's plans about invading the rest of the Middle East.
posted by talos at 7:50 AM on March 18, 2003


Feel however you will about the current administration, the prospect of war, the chance of terrorist attack, but really--do any of us read metafilter threads for sophomoric, childish banter?

[raises hand]
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:01 AM on March 18, 2003


fried, you're absolutely right that containment has unpleasant consequences as well; I would never dispute that. Saddam Hussein is bad for his country and the world would unquestionably be better off without him; I expect you'd be hard pressed to find anyone pro- or anti-war who believes otherwise. Nor would I consider lifting the sanctions as a credible option; that really would give Hussein the chance to become the threat we're being told he is today.

Put simply, I fear that the consequences of this invasion will be worse for the world as a whole than leaving Hussein in his box would. The way we've gone about this seems perfectly designed to raise tensions both in the middle east and elsewhere; to give the impression that we're motivated by imperialist tendencies rather than humanitarian concerns. Mostly I worry that, with the space of a year, we've transformed a world that was basically pro-US into one that basically fears us -- and with good reason.

This invasion might be a short-term gain for the Iraqi people -- at least so long as the news cameras are still there and we're still handing out food parcels. But given our track record at nation-building, I don't see it as a long-term gain for anybody.
posted by ook at 8:14 AM on March 18, 2003


Frida Kahlo wasn't that attractive!
posted by Satapher at 8:33 AM on March 18, 2003


I feel compelled to defend the premise of this thread.

I'm really sick of the shallow partisanship I see in so many of these threads.

Kiloheavy, (and I assume you are refering to my post, not any subsequent comments), there is nothing in my post to suggest partisanship of any kind. Were the president, in my eyes, the most qualified person in the world, I still think I would be willing to make the trade - at this point, anyway. We're at the brink.

the whole fucking world saw the goddam speech. why does this shit-seeping post even live?

Quonsar, for the record, I was unable to see the speech. But, more to the point, this post is not about the speech itself. The question I posed, in essence, was "would you sacrifice Mr. Bush for Saddam Hussein?" Note that I did not ask "Will Mr. Bush capitulate in such a situation?" or even "Do you think Mr. Bush is wrong for pursuing this offensive?" etc. Because I was presenting a rather different perspective on this, the post qualifies as an acceptable thread on Metafilter.

The premise of this thread demonstrates that the bottom of the cowardly moral equivalency barrel is further down than anyone ever new. You should be ashamed.

ParisParasmus - I am wholeheartedly unashamed. I challenge the thesis that my post demonstrates ANY cowardice. All I asked was that, if Mr. Bush makes such a drastic ultimatum, could he be prepared to pay the same price? Would we be prepared to let our leader go? I'd like to reiterate the fact that I am unashamed, and furthermore I am not cowed by your attempt to stifle my voice.

I'd like to reiterate the premise of this thread. At the same time, though, I don't want to impinge upon some of the actually constructive debates happening here (e.g. containment, attrition). In your opinion, (esp. if you are American or Iraqi), would you be in favor of Bush resigning if and only if Saddam resigned?

Because of the potentially high cost of lives in the war, and because of the danger in which this offensive places the world, I, for one, would be in favor of it.
posted by SilentSalamander at 8:34 AM on March 18, 2003


talos: that sounds attractive, but...

1. It looks like Western powers carving up the Middle East again. Didn't that get us into the mess we're in now when the British did it? Aren't the other nations in the region going to be very unhappy? Aren't we going to be seen as Crusaders even more than if we depose Saddam but leave his country intact? Isn't this likely to be a pretext for more terrorism?

2. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are going to go along with this, and help inspect? I think not. Turkey is going to raise hell about an independent Kurdish nation on their border, destabilizing their own restive Kurds, and the Wahabist Saudis aren't going to put up with a new Shiite state, or an expansion of Iranian influence.

3. Meanwhile, the rest of the Iraqis, instead of being rid of Saddam, still are stuck with him, and they've had 2/3 their nation taken away. They hate us even more. Oh, and Saddam stalls the inspectors after a few years (as he did in the 1990's) and we're back to where we are now.

The current Iraq situation has no good solutions, only bad ones and worse ones.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2003


Kiloheavy:

largely because of the ad hominem bitching most liberals can't seem to resist. I don't understand why the left seems more prone to this shit than the right.

This is a joke, right? I will excuse you for your misperception if you were out of the country between 1992 and 2000 and do not own a television or radio.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:48 AM on March 18, 2003


For fuck's sake.

1) I'm talking about liberals I know and/or talk to, and that marginally includes liberals on threads like this.

2) Even when conservatives do/did resort to bullshit ad hominems, they generally go on to explain why "Slick Willie" is a scum bag. You may not agree with their reasoning, but they at least present arguments. The arguments may be paranoid, poorly thought out, etc., but they're more substantive than "Shrub is dum."

I'm not asking anyone to agree with anyone else, I'm just asking for something resembling discourse. It doesn't have to be polite, it doesn't have to be eloquent, but seriously, the self-congratulatory circle jerk bullshit is boring and weak and inappropriate.

I've read more thought provoking shit on Fark.
posted by KiloHeavy at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2003


Bush sets in motion 48-hour timeline for Saddam and sons to flee the country. Then, Saddam Defies Bush Deadline and suggests that Bush himself resign

Best idea I've heard in years.
posted by ginz at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2003


...biggest eviction notice in history
posted by clavdivs at 10:14 AM on March 18, 2003


or at least, the most expensive.
posted by clavdivs at 10:16 AM on March 18, 2003


I'm not asking anyone to agree with anyone else, I'm just asking for something resembling discourse. It doesn't have to be polite, it doesn't have to be eloquent, but seriously, the self-congratulatory circle jerk bullshit is boring and weak and inappropriate.

True, so I will provide some reasons why I believe that Bush is not a good leader for our country.

Within a year after running on a campaign that (in my opinion quite rightly) addressed the integrity problem on the part of the Clinton administration, Bush appointed convicted perjurers John Poindexter and Eliot Abrams to leadership positions in the White House. To add insult to injury, Eliot Abrams was appointed to the position of "Human Rights Czar" (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) a move quite ironic for a person who'se primary task was apparently funding while denying the existence of terrorist actions in the Americas. Given that many of our attempts at regime change have involved installing facist dictators to replace governments engaged in land reform, there is not a lot of hope for democracy.

Throughout all this the case for large quantities of WMDs has been built on misrepresentations and in some cases outright forgery. CIA reports to congress present a very different view from Bush's claims to the people (Iraq has extremely limited quantities and is unlikely to use them.) At least one of the documents invoked as proof of a nuclear weapons program is most likely a forgery. The bottom line is that while Saddam is most likely lying, the administration is most certainly lying about the nature of the threat.

Just in terms of strategy, our allies in the region are fragile and vunerable to revolt. This war seems to be jumping from quicksand into deep water. I remember something that the leader of the air war in vietam once said. Every bomb recruited another member of the Viet Cong because someone's wife, daugher, son, sister or brother was killed or maimed. Not only do I find the prospect of building an American-friendly government in Iraq difficult, but keeping American-friendly governments in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan is likely to be threatened by this war.

And that is not getting into the problem of moral calculus. Even if we accept the premise that playing calculus with human lives is acceptable, I think that war supporters hugely underestimate the effects of invasion.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:43 AM on March 18, 2003


Partisanship:

Voted for Gore, Clinton(2X), Dukakas, Mondale, Carter(2x), McGovern.

Nevertheless, Saddam is a bad guy and has to go. We've given him 12 years to disarm. Time's up.

He's is a ruthless dictator more akin to Hitler and Stalin than any other national leader. He's a ticking bomb. DEFUSE HIM!
posted by mygoditsbob at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2003


*pounds forehead against desk, producing a smooth crisp samba rhythm*
posted by ook at 3:57 PM on March 18, 2003


Godwin invoked by mygoditsbob.

Would it be a double whammy if you have Stalin in the same sentence?
posted by linux at 4:53 PM on March 18, 2003


While we're on the topic, is there a rule for invoking Cixi Dowager?

There should be.
posted by Ptrin at 5:18 PM on March 18, 2003


It looks like Western powers carving up the Middle East again.

People have been fighting over the middle east since the beginning of time. Nothing new here.

I'd be willing to make the trade, simply because we need a president who knows how to say "nuclear."
posted by schlaager at 7:03 PM on March 18, 2003


ook: It has a good beat and you can dance to it.

Nice Latin flavor, too...

Back on topic, the choice between letting Saddam "conquer the Middle East," containing him via horrible sanctions, and bombing the hell out of the country seems a bit... constrained, I guess. I've never been a fan of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure foreign policy.

How about... we throw $1 million and some of the finest nonviolent organizers into Iraq, then wait as popular protests chuck Hussein in favor of someone they like. That would give the Iraqi people the freedom they deserve, plus they wouldn't have to get dead by cruise missles. Goes along with the compassionate conservative stance of personal responsibility, too. Cheap as well, which is important when there's a recession on. Er, war. Whatever.

Too idealistic and utopian? Remember, kids, the Shah got chucked out by his own people, and he had the US of A supporting his ninja death squads.

What? The Ayatollah wasn't US-friendly?

Well, scrap that idea. Let's bomb them.

On preview, schlaager: And how well has fighting over the middle east worked for all concerned? Effective? Long-lasting? Or a Bad Idea?
posted by Coda at 6:03 PM on March 19, 2003


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