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Robert Fisk in the Independent
March 27, 2003 2:07 AM   Subscribe

Robert Fisk in the Independent Today's front page of the UK broadsheet comprises solely of a text-only report of yesterday's bombing of a Baghdad marketplace, beginning: "It was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smouldering car..." This is how war reporting should be.
posted by garyh (110 comments total)

 
Indeed, garyh.

Don't expect this thread to last very long once they wake up in the land of the free.
posted by skellum at 2:33 AM on March 27, 2003 [1 favorite]


It seems unlikely that the minds of pro-war hawks will be changed by articles such as this. We've heard the party line: "War is dirty. But we must fight regardless." It took years for the public resistance against the Vietnam War to actually gain any importance. Minds change very slowly, especially those of conservatives. And the media today are much more concentrated and thus easier to control than at the time of Nam. The only exception is the Net, but how many people use it actively?

The My Lai massacre was one of the incidents that actually changed public opinion -- yet, the comparable Afghan Massacre was practically ignored. Sep11 is still in many people's memory, and among pro-war people, there's a strong emotional connection between that event and Iraq, even if no factual connection exists. The treatment of the POWs in Guantanamo met much public support -- many saw it as justifiable, especially after the Taliban had been properly (and largely correctly) villified.

Given all this, it seems unlikely that public opinion will play a significant role for some time to come (in the UK more than in the US, but as Rummy put it, the US don't need the UK). Show pictures of dead Iraqi children all you want -- the reaction from the pro war side will be the same. Some part of this can, of course, be blamed on the "violence-is-cool-sex-is-evil" culture of the US which begins at the moment a baby's foreskin is removed for "hygienic" reasons, goes on as children are spanked at home and in school and see violence on TV but nudity only in taboo situations (giving rise to all kinds of bizarre fetishes, as just reported here) who turn into adults who typically have their first time sexual encounter when they're drunk (of course uneducated about contraception). People who are so systematically deprived of pleasure should not be expected to develop much empathy for the suffering of others.

The futurists must be spinning in their graves. After going to the moon, we still don't have any significant presence in space and most of our exploratory efforts are laughable. We still haven't solved world hunger, we are still producing and selling arms (including land mines) to all the wrong people and tolerate massive economic inequality. We are dominated by religious fundamentalism and irrationalism. GWB wants to spend at least 75 billion dollars on this war -- a very decent manned mission to Mars could be accomplished with much less. The 21st century was not supposed to be like this.

The Internet is the one hope we still have for getting this place fixed. Remember that, folks.
posted by Eloquence at 2:39 AM on March 27, 2003


Well it is Robert Fisk, on this conflict, he's about as impartial as Andrew Sullivan on the 4th July, being hit over the head with a baguette.
posted by Damienmce at 2:42 AM on March 27, 2003


When will people realise that war isn't glorious or patriotic? It's grim and scary and moronic.
posted by twine42 at 2:49 AM on March 27, 2003


Didn't Fisk get beaten up pretty badly and then rationalize the motives of his neanderthal assailants, saying he would have beat himself up too?

I wish he would just stop talking and Fight Club it.

Have at yourself, Fisk. The more the merrier.
posted by hama7 at 3:04 AM on March 27, 2003


He's there. You're not. He outranks you by quite a margin.
posted by Grangousier at 3:06 AM on March 27, 2003


Well it is Robert Fisk, on this conflict, he's about as impartial as Andrew Sullivan on the 4th July, being hit over the head with a baguette.
Which brings in doubt exactly what part of his description? I saw (unfortunately) the raw, gory footage on TV here, he isn't overstating anything.
And the families of the murdered, they weren't cursing Saddam, I can tell you, but rather those "cowards that bomb children" - and, no, they weren't actors...
Don't expect any flowers when your troops march into Baghdad.
posted by talos at 3:17 AM on March 27, 2003


"...the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smouldering car..."

This guy is obviously biased. How does he know it was an Iraqi mother? Did he ask to see her passport?
And how does he know she was a mother? She might have been a nanny, for all he knows.

See, he's full of bias and hasty conclusions.

Okay, I'll stop trolling now - it's not funny when there's real dead people involved.
posted by spazzm at 3:54 AM on March 27, 2003


The Washington Post editorial on the subject sums up the matter better than I can. Excerpt:
"Those pictures of destruction and death were getting plenty of airtime yesterday in the world's media, as happens in every case when U.S. forces are accused of harming the innocent. Yet a full assessment of civilian suffering in the war's first week points in a different direction: Iraqis have endured far more injury from Saddam Hussein's forces -- and those blows have been deliberate."
posted by Zonker at 4:17 AM on March 27, 2003


So if Saddam murders thousands of his own people for no cause other than his own perverted death-grip on power, it's OK...but if Americans kill a few Iraqis in a quest to liberate the entire country, we're Satan...?

Bull. Our cause is noble, and will eventually result in both a free (or at least more free) Iraq and a safer world.
posted by davidmsc at 4:28 AM on March 27, 2003


Sounds like any suicide bombing in Israel. And I'll admit that given Saddam's record on human rights and the attempts by coalition forces to NOT cause civilian casualties AND how CONVIENIENT this miss was - they missed, right into a marketplace during business hours - I'm suspicious.

Not saying it couldn't have happened how Fisk painted it, but it seems a lot like a setup.

JB
posted by JB71 at 4:29 AM on March 27, 2003


I try, but fail to see how suicide bombings in Israel or Saddams misdeeds justifies killing innocent women and children.

Can somebody please explain it to me, like I'm 6 years old?
posted by spazzm at 4:34 AM on March 27, 2003


JB71 - there's no question this was a US/UK bombing raid. Here's what the BBC said.

spazzm - the argument that Saddam's crimes are worse misses two important points: 1. no-one said they weren't and 2. we're supposed to be better. So yes, it's a stupid line of reasoning. The 'bad things happen in war' argument is a better one.
posted by Summer at 4:42 AM on March 27, 2003


to spazzm: I guess the trite answer to your request, (and yes, given the subject matter, I do feel slightly uncomfortable joking about this), is..

It JUST Does. Alright.
Now go and wash your face.
posted by seanyboy at 4:43 AM on March 27, 2003


Bull. Our cause is noble, and will eventually result in both a free (or at least more free) Iraq and a safer world.

Fundamentalist!
posted by niceness at 4:44 AM on March 27, 2003


1. Check this: http://newsobserver.com/nc24hour/ncnews/story/2379455p-2217701c.html
here we find that women being used as human shields and children given guns to shoot at marines....now, you are a military guy for America (like the war or not) and a "kid" points gun at you. What would you do?
2. American sources maintain consistently that the evidence of what fell and killed civilians was not from our side but most likely from one of the things being fired close to the site where the Iraquis had planted weapons (virtually on top of civilians in market). Which do you belive?
3. Compare the 15 or so killed to Dresden, London, etc--wars are not nice and civilians die and even some of the Iraqui soldiers now dressing as civilians will die. Or kill Americans dressed as what they are: soldiers.
4. When a guy is not in a uniform but is shooting at you, is he to be considered a civilian?
posted by Postroad at 5:01 AM on March 27, 2003


The comparison with the Washington Post version could not more clearly illustrate the anodyne, pacifying nature of US media war reporting.

Structure:
(7 paragraphs on the event, including "The Pentagon acknowledged striking targets in a residential Baghdad neighborhood that may have caused civilian damage or deaths Wednesday and blamed Iraqi forces for placing military equipment there"

... Meanwhile ...

(14 paragraphs of ra-ra, nasty Iraqi tactics, US superiority, etc. etc.)
The Post version is reminiscent of the tranquilizers they feed to the lunatics in unscrupulous asylums to allow the guards a quiet life.

Davidmsc: noble, better place, etc. I'm intrigued. Do you still really think so?.

oderint dum metuant
posted by RichLyon at 5:04 AM on March 27, 2003


the trouble is, isn't it, that you don't get, either in the iraqi press or our own, the same first hand descriptions of torture and execution? so on the one hand you have a democratic nation kept under control by an elightened press and populace and, on the other, a dictatorship where the fear and confusion allow all manner of abuse and corruption (the little second-hand knowledge i have of dictatorships sugegsts that when you're inside one it's very difficult to know what's true and what's not).

it seems, then, that the enlightened populace has a very difficult job on its hands - it's for them to decide what is a resonable cost for something about which they have very little information. of course, they're going to do nothing of the sort; instead they're going to follow whichever media outlet they normally do.

so we live in a world controlled by the media conglomerates. film at 11.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:07 AM on March 27, 2003


there's no question this was a US/UK bombing raid. Here's what the BBC said.

Well, no ... there IS some question as to whether the civilian deaths in the Baghdad market are the result of coalition bombing raids or the result of an errant Iraqi surface to air missile (or just as likely an intentional missile strike on civilians by the Iraqi military made to look like it came from coalition forces). This was discussed in Thursday morning's Central Command briefing (still looking for a link to a transcript). Also here. Just because the BBC reports something doesn't mean it's true.
posted by marcusb at 5:09 AM on March 27, 2003


This article made me cry. I can't even remember the last time I cried. It upsets me because it's being done with my money; the money I spent on CDs, novels and cheeseburgers in the last year has contributed to these innocent children being torn apart and burned. But it's not being done with my blessing.

And to demote these deaths to 'biased reporting'... shame on you.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:12 AM on March 27, 2003


Just because the BBC reports something doesn't mean it's true.

...and so you refer to Central Command?
posted by niceness at 5:13 AM on March 27, 2003


Is it really so difficult to understand the difference between a crime and an accident? Is that difference really in doubt here?
posted by Zonker at 5:16 AM on March 27, 2003


Is it so difficult to understand the difference between a random, unfortunate accident and an achingly, soul-crushingly predictable one? They are bombing a major city.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:18 AM on March 27, 2003


On a related note the NYTimes briefly mentions rumors that Iraq is using suicide bombers:

"The general noted news reports that an Iraqi had been found somewhere in the war zone wearing an American uniform, and strapped with explosives in the manner of a suicide bomber. He did not say when or where this incident had occurred, and he did not offer any confirmation".
posted by srboisvert at 5:19 AM on March 27, 2003


Although I am kind of opposed to repititious cheerleader posts...
*Go* Eloquence! Interesting comments, may prove contentious in this forum.
Some questions:
'especially those of conservatives'
Do you think that conservatives are less open to altering their perspective than others?
What do you see as the 'comparable Afghan massacre' (to Mai Lai) that you write of?
Which societies/conditions would you attribute with more likelyhood to develop empathic feelings?

On thread - I seem to remember that in history classes the subjective nature of any account of any event should be considered. It seems to me that the public gaining access to coherent balanced debate on all aspects of the conflict in Iraq is not a priority for any news agency/broadcaster that I have seen. The quality of debate here is much higher as the familiar propaganda tends not to last very long before someone eviscerates it.
posted by asok at 5:21 AM on March 27, 2003


And how does he know she was a mother? She might have been a nanny, for all he knows.

Shit, you're right! Hey, if it's just a nanny and some kids, that's just fine with me! Fuck it, lets just only kill people in low paid service jobs!

Kill the poor!
posted by thedude256 at 5:21 AM on March 27, 2003


Remember Sarajevo? Another marketplace, another massacre. It changed the war. Many maintain that the Bosnians did it to themselves and a new tactic entered the conduct of wars.
posted by grahamwell at 5:24 AM on March 27, 2003


thedude256: to do irony well on the Internet, you need to be both really good at executing it and recognising it. Consider some other approach.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:25 AM on March 27, 2003


srboisvert: "The general noted news reports... found somewhere... in the manner of... He did not say when or where... did not offer any confirmation".

I think we can safely dismiss this.

the dude: I think spazzm was being sarcastic...
posted by talos at 5:26 AM on March 27, 2003


Is it so difficult to understand the difference between a random, unfortunate accident and an achingly, soul-crushingly predictable one?

Yes, frankly it is. Thousands of people die on highways each and every year. That's "achingly, soul-crushingly predictable," no?
posted by Zonker at 5:30 AM on March 27, 2003


I want to join in pointing out sarcasm.
Too late.
Eat the rich!
posted by asok at 5:31 AM on March 27, 2003


Zonker: If I drive a car, there is a risk of me killing some kids. If I drop a Patriot missile on a dense metropolis, there is a risk of me killing some kids. The risks are not the same. We have to balance these risks.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:32 AM on March 27, 2003


Pretty_Generic: I blame it on the fact that: novices and experts alike encounter difficulties with respect to understanding probabilistic concepts..
posted by talos at 5:45 AM on March 27, 2003


Yes, I was being sarcastic.
Now, time for a riddle:

In revenge for a terrorist act carried out by fundamentalist muslims from Saudi Arabia, we ally ourselves with with Saudi Arabia (a muslim state) and invade Iraq ( a secular socialist state).

How does this make sense?
posted by spazzm at 5:47 AM on March 27, 2003


We have to balance these risks.

Perfectly true, and Hussein has had twelve years of opportunity to prevent the needless casualties. He not only doesn't care, but celebrates the slaughter of civilians.

No amount of tears shed will approximate the suffering he has inflicted on the Iraqi people, and those suffering souls deserve better.
posted by hama7 at 5:47 AM on March 27, 2003


No, the risks are not the same. In a given year, say this one, many more kids get killed by cars than by the weapons currently being used against targets in Baghdad. Their lives are just as precious to them as those of the civilians in Baghdad, and their deaths are even more predictable. And a given child, even in Baghdad, seems clearly to have a much higher chance of getting killed accidentally by a car or criminally by Saddam's henchmen than by a coalition weapon gone astray.

I don't deny there's a need to balance the accidental harm done by this (or any) war against the criminal harm sought to be prevented, nor do I deny that we need to know about that accidental harm through stories like the one garyh linked to. But even assuming those deaths were caused by a coalition weapon (and not by an Iraqi weapon, or an explosion staged by the Iraqis to make the coalition look bad, both of which seem about as likely right now), this isn't World War II again, and we're not discussing the firebombing of Dresden or Tokyo. If we were just lobbing bombs randomly into a city, you might have a point, but that's simply not the case here. As much as I mistrust Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, I think that the balance here is for more good than harm.
posted by Zonker at 5:49 AM on March 27, 2003


spazzm: Money.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:49 AM on March 27, 2003


here we find that women being used as human shields and children given guns to shoot at marines....now, you are a military guy for America (like the war or not) and a "kid" points gun at you. What would you do?

That's kind of different from hitting them with a missile from a fighter jet...your article referenced house-to-house fighting.
posted by Vidiot at 5:52 AM on March 27, 2003


Also, please note that the 9/11 attackers was spawned in Saudi Arabia, where we have a large number of troops positioned since the last Gulf War.

What I want to know is how stationing large numbers of troops in Iraq will prevent future terrorist attacks?
posted by spazzm at 5:55 AM on March 27, 2003


Oh, BTW:
Excellent post, garyh.
posted by spazzm at 5:58 AM on March 27, 2003


People are dead. So what if more people die doing X or less people die doing Y? People died, in a horrible way. It's war - whether done by the US or by Iraq, it's war and it's horrible and shit and full of incidents like this. Soldiers are shot, soldiers are bombed, civilians are bombed, prisoners are captured... it's war. It's not nice. All you can hope is that as little death as possible happens.
posted by humuhumu at 6:00 AM on March 27, 2003


I worry that the distinction between civilians and soldiers will be eroded in Iraq. When coalition forces are invading the country, and are seen as invaders (rather than the liberators that they have been told to see themselves as) then ordinary people are going to take up arms to defend themselves.

The pictures at the weekend of the civilians (along with the soldiers) firing weapons into the reed beds in the hope of killing the Airman thought to be in there, show that if/when the coalition forces arrive in Baghdad they will probably face a populace willing to try and drive them out.

All the spin about "Baath party forces", and "forces loyal to Saddam" being the exception rather than the rule, does not seem to be bourne out by the pictures that have been coming out of Iraq for quite some time.

Yes, they might have been convinced to act that way by propaganda - just like us.
posted by couch at 6:03 AM on March 27, 2003


This was discussed in Thursday morning's Central Command briefing (still looking for a link to a transcript).

Now, talk about a convincing argument...
posted by y2karl at 6:08 AM on March 27, 2003


And, one more thing I still haven't found a good answer for:
If Saddam does have weapons of mass destruction, why is he not using them?

The only explanation I've heard is "because he doesn't want to turn public opinion against him".
This can clearly not be the case because:
1. Public opinion isn't going to save his sorry ass.
2. If he cared about public opinion, he wouldn't wear that stupid moustache.
posted by spazzm at 6:14 AM on March 27, 2003


I don't deny there's a need to balance the accidental harm done by this (or any) war against the criminal harm sought to be prevented.

Let me just point out that for me (and for the majority of humanity it seems) the idea that this is about "criminal harm sought to be prevented", is not credible. The aim of this war is domination, pure and simple. I think that I'm not the only one in this thread to hold such views either.

This probably goes unreported in the States but from what I hear from the (non-embedded) reporters on the scene, there is a very significant percentage of the Iraqi population that sees this (correctly in my view) as a war to defend their homeland against a foreign aggressor. The fact that their government is a dictatorship is secondary and, as is quite usual in these cases, they are willing to rally around a hated dictator rather than surrender their country to foreigners they know are there to take control of their oil. The exception here are the Kurds who are not Arabs and never felt at home in Arabic Iraq, and see this as an opportunity to get rid of a very nasty foreign oppressor for the possibility of a less murderous one.
In order to understand this instinctive distrust of the population, it is useful to know that, during the height of Saddam's atrocities, the US was actively backing him, arming him and whitewashing his criminal actions. It is also useful to remember that the mess in the middle-east was created, in no small part, by british colonial rule and post-colonial intervention.
Imagine your country being run by a military dictatorship. Now imagine China coming in to "restore democracy". What would you do? Welcome them with open arms?
Now imagine your wrath if they started to accidentally blow up market squares... that's all.
posted by talos at 6:15 AM on March 27, 2003


No amount of tears shed will approximate the suffering he has inflicted on the Iraqi people, and those suffering souls deserve better.

They deserve american bombs, apparently - the finest money can buy!
posted by spazzm at 6:16 AM on March 27, 2003


If he cared about public opinion, he wouldn't wear that stupid moustache.


Well said.
posted by twine42 at 6:23 AM on March 27, 2003


This is how war reporting should be.

And Pilate said, "What is truth?"
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:49 AM on March 27, 2003


I agree that every person should be aware of the very real, ugly consequences of war before making a decision as to whether he or she supports the war. I am, and have been, fully aware that war results in gruesome deaths of soldiers and civilians. I abhor every death, and feel almost physically ill every time I hear about even one violent death.

But I reluctantly support this war.

See, whatever you might want to think, the absence of this war is not peace -- for Iraqis or the rest of the world. The absence of war only means different kinds of suffering and death -- death by torture, shredder, or acid, or (eventually, I have no doubt) chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. Hussein and his ilk have shown themselves repeatedly capable of taking those measures. If you had pictures and footage of those attrocities they would be just as horrifying, and just as upsetting. I happen to believe that this war will eventually mean less death and suffering for the world -- you may not. But pretending that there's no counterbalance to these images or this war is totally disingenuous.

Also remember -- and I think it's a valid point -- hundreds of "innocent civilians" die every day on America's roads. If you've ever seen pictures and video of auto accident deaths, they're pretty gruesome. All of those deaths could be prevented by ceasing to allow automobile travel. Yet we drive on, because it's "worth it." Sometimes death -- even innocent civilian death -- is "worth it." My own personal sense of morality (which I define as that which leads to the least ammount of human suffering and misery over time) tells me this war is "worth it."
posted by pardonyou? at 6:51 AM on March 27, 2003


No amount of tears shed will approximate the suffering he has inflicted on the Iraqi people, and those suffering souls deserve better.

Hama7 your generosity knows no bounds. Not only will you 'liberate' the downtrodden Iraqi people, but you will do it against their will - now that's commitment.
posted by niceness at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2003


Sometimes death -- even innocent civilian death -- is "worth it."

Funny how people who say that are rarely civilians near the actual war.

I'm just guessing here, of course, but I have a feeling Mohammed Atta thought 3000 civilian lives was "worth it".

If you want to put your values and opinions before your own life, go ahead. But to put your values and opinions before the life of others, that is ... not nice.
posted by spazzm at 6:57 AM on March 27, 2003


"violence-is-cool-sex-is-evil" culture of the US which begins at the moment a baby's foreskin is removed for "hygienic" reasons
excuse me but I can't see clearly the connection between circumcision and war. also I don't get the quote/unquote for hygienic -- you can choose wether or not to have your kids circumcised (and if you choose no they can get the procedure later in life if they feel like it), but it _is_ for hygienic reasons -- cleanliness is not an opinion

at least 75 billion dollars on this war -- a very decent manned mission to Mars could be accomplished with much less
do you mean there's oil on Mars?
posted by matteo at 7:04 AM on March 27, 2003


There's an interview with Fisk here that I found very interesting (audio and transcript)
posted by dodgygeezer at 7:08 AM on March 27, 2003


Also remember -- and I think it's a valid point -- hundreds of "innocent civilians" die every day on America's roads.

And yet, if someone plows his car willfully into a crowded marketplace, he's sent to prison for a long, long time.

Imagine that.
posted by spazzm at 7:16 AM on March 27, 2003


My own personal sense of morality ... tells me this war is "worth it."

Hmmm. Maybe we should ask that dead mother - or nanny, or whatever - if she thinks this is all worth it.

Oh, right. Can't.

***disregard rant to follow if Centcom is correct and the Iraqis on the ground who heard the plane are wrong***

I want each and every one of you fuckers who justify this to tell me that if this were an American city - Chicago, Philadelphia - that you would feel the same way.

It's really easy, isn't it, to climb atop the high horse and look at war from the philosophical level when you don't have to smell the burned flesh or have your clothes stained by the blood.

Talos, good call. The moralists among us want to conveniently forget that Saddam was our man in Baghdad for a very long time. There is not enough room on the Internet to catalogue the crimes against humanity perpetrated by regimes backed either overtly or covertly by the United States over the years.

So we're right and they're wrong because we're inherently more moral than they are? Dream on.
posted by kgasmart at 7:17 AM on March 27, 2003


I don't deny there's a need to balance the accidental harm done by this (or any) war against the criminal harm sought to be prevented.

Just wanted to add, that although this incident is being portrayed as an 'accident,' the war itself - and the accompanying dehumanising of Iraqis in many parts of the western media - is not an accident. It is a deliberate act, and is accompanied (as all conflicts are) by a dehumanising of the population you are attacking/liberating. If you valued human life as human life, then you would not fire missiles at or drop bombs on civilian populations, no matter how 'sneaky' the enemy is at using civilians as 'human shields' (and, btw, I now look forward to a similar US condemnation of the use of civilian human shields in other conflicts).

This 'accident' is entirely a logical outcome of war, as well as in this case of western official and media portrayals of Arabs as not worthy of human dignity and respect. It is hypocrisy of the worst order to rain ordinance down on urban areas and then to portray civilian deaths as 'accidental.'
posted by carter at 7:20 AM on March 27, 2003


Zonker and hama7, please provide sources and numbers for any claims about the probability of death by regime in Iraq. The vast majority of the deaths that I am aware of occured in the 1980s when Hussein was an ally of the US/UK.
I don't think a random member of the public is any more likely to be killed in Iraq than one in any other country with a low priority for human rights (e.g. Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe etc.)
Compare the number of Iraqui civilians killed by allied bombing and sanctions over the past 12 years (500,000 by sanctions alone) with the number killed by the Hussein regime (estimated 300,000 Kurd deaths).

Not that this is a pissing contest, it is difficult for me to conceive of this vast number of deaths, or what living in such an unstable environment would be like.

It is possible that this particular bombing was blue-on-blue, as friendly fire has been unfortunately common so far during this campaign. But unlikely that the missle that caused the destruction would have been launched at all were Iraq not under attack.
(on preview- what carter said)
posted by asok at 7:23 AM on March 27, 2003


very good reading in this thread. just thought i'd throw in a few things to consider:

1) those referencing sources trying to make the case that the iraqis may have bombed the marketplace themselves, either purposefully or accidentally, should be aware that accusations like this were common in the american south during the civil rights movement.

the klan, or some other group of concerned white citizens, would dynamite a black church, or someone's house, or anywhere they suspected blacks were meeting to discuss how they could go about gaining the rights promised to them by the constitution and bill of rights.

people were frequently injured or killed, buildings destroyed and a populace terrified. the local heads of police would always accuse the blacks of doing it themselves, and the local papers would print this ridiculous assertion without questioning it. something to think about.

2) i'm touched by the nobility of some of the pro-war people, in their willingness to sacrifice any number of iraqi lives to save the iraqis. truly wonderful.

kind reminds me of an article i read by a conservative columnist several years ago. he argued that, in order for america to be drug free, young black and hispanic males should be willing to submit to police searches of their vehicles and persons more often than other people. he was nice enough to admit that it would probably be annoying and that he wouldn't want it done to him, but if that's what it took to make the country better, blacks and hispanics should just suck it up and deal with it.

i guess just as it's easy to spend other people's money, it's quite easy to sacrifice other people's lives or dignity to make ones own self feel nobler or safer (rumsfeld, bush, saddam hussein, royal family of saudi arabia, et al., i'm looking at you).
posted by lord_wolf at 7:33 AM on March 27, 2003


This events that spawned this thread and the thread itself make me wanna puke.
posted by jonmc at 7:54 AM on March 27, 2003


i'm touched by the nobility of some of the pro-war people, in their willingness to sacrifice any number of iraqi lives to save the iraqis. truly wonderful.

Not any number -- just some number less than the number of human lives that would have been lost had we not taken this action. So far, in my opinion, we haven't come remotely close to that balance point yet -- I'm sure your opinion differs (unfortunately nobody has a crystal ball). And not "willingness to sacrifice" -- only willingness to accept as an unfortunate consequence.

Hmmm. Maybe we should ask that dead mother - or nanny, or whatever - if she thinks this is all worth it.

I'm sure she doesn't -- and for her it wasn't. But foreign policy decisions have never been based on the personal feelings of every victim and his or her family. There are "victims" on all sides of every issue, and "victims" from every activity of modern life -- whose mother do we listen to?
posted by pardonyou? at 7:57 AM on March 27, 2003


Maybe it's worth hearkening back to the words of Dalton Trumbo:

Did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god I'm glad I'm dead because death is always better than dishonor? Did they say I'm glad I died to make the world safe for democracy? Did they say I like death better than losing liberty? Did any of them ever say it's good to think I got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? Did any of them ever say look at me I'm dead but I died for decency and that's better than being alive? Did any of them ever say here I am and I've been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it's wonderful to die for your native land? Did any of them say hurray I died for womanhood and I'm happy see how I sing even though my mouth ~ choked with worms?

Nobody but the dead know whether all these things people talk about are worth dying for or not. And the dead can't talk. So the words about noble deaths and sacred blood and honor and such are all put into dead lips by grave robbers and fakes who have no right to speak for the dead.

posted by kgasmart at 8:02 AM on March 27, 2003


I also think that citing to an apparent lack of Iraqi civilian support is extremely misleading while the Iraqi regime is still in power, and while it employs disgusting tactics:

The Marine general said that what has surprised him most about the first week of fighting is the extent of war crimes carried out by the Iraqi regime. In addition to the execution of POWs, he said, Iraqis have used civilians as human shields, stored weapons in schools, set up command posts in hospitals and pretended to surrender only to open fire.

In one case, an Iraqi woman was hanged after she waved to coalition forces, Pace said.

Gee, I'm shocked people aren't greeting us with open arms. Yet, here in Southeast Michigan, Iraqi exiles (even those with families still in Baghdad) continue to express how glad they are that Hussein will finally be deposed.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:10 AM on March 27, 2003


If we're really doing this to prevent massacres on civilians, why are we allied with the Turks?
Turkey has got to have the olympic gold medal in butchering civilian kurds.

Can someone explain this to me, please?
posted by spazzm at 8:10 AM on March 27, 2003


pardonyou? -'Not any number -- just some number less than the number of human lives that would have been lost had we not taken this action.'

Please provide the formula that you use to calculate these figures.
posted by asok at 8:14 AM on March 27, 2003


This may be a very unpopular statement to make at this time, but I, for one, am sick and tired of people talking about the "rules" of war, and how it's just not cricket (or something) to kill civilians, or to show POWs on TV, or to do just about any other such thing that supposedly violates the world's (or one country's, for that matter) impressions of what war is supposed to be all about.

Come on, people. War is motherf*cking war. It all counts, nothing in it should be "against the rules," and everybody should just start dealing with the fact that war just f*cking sucks beyond any belief.

To impose rules on war, in my mind, lends war a certain legitimacy that it, quite simply, does not deserve. I could go on and on about this, most likely. For now, however, I'll spare you.
posted by *burp* at 8:16 AM on March 27, 2003


You know... I've been trying not to respond to these near-hysterical threads, because they serve no real purpose, but I'll break that rule today. This one particularly annoys me.

garyh: Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I really had no idea that war involved horrible, brutal, painful death for those involved, many of them innocent. Thanks to your ghoulish efforts to rub these peoples miserable fates in my face, I now truly understand that war isn't just a video game. Well whaddayaknow! Whoulda think it?! Obviously all my soul-rending moral arguments with myself about what we needed to do with Iraq were all wrong, because I was forgetting the heretofore unknown fact that it involved (holy shit) PEOPLE DYING. My God. How could I ever have been so stupid.

Seriously. I find highly insulting the constantly expressed opinion from many of you would-be peace advocates that people can only support a war because they're abstracted from the horror it causes. I am well aware of the horror it causes, and yet I consider to feel it necessary. Please stop trying to rationalize your world view by assuming the worst about those who disagree with you.

I swear, many of you seem to take more grim pleasure in the horrors of war than I feel myself, and many of my other reluctant hawks, do. "Ha! What a horrible way to die! Now those misguided souls will truly see how terrible war is and change their minds once and for all! Quick...... to Metafilter! hee hee ha ha ho ho".

It's ghoulish. And it sickens me. Almost as much as this war does.
posted by jammer at 8:22 AM on March 27, 2003


"but if Americans kill a few Iraqis in a quest to liberate the entire country, we're Satan"

We're invading their country and overthrowing the government by force. That's not liberating. That's invasion. Why are people calling this liberating? Was it liberating when the USSR did it in Afghanistan? Was it liberating when Hitler did it in Poland?

Feel free to tell me again why this is different. But I don't buy it. Our government doesn't like their government, so we invade and occupy.

"This events that spawned this thread and the thread itself make me wanna puke."

Same here. I'll be remembering that when the next elections roll around. Hopefully we'll have enough good candidates to undo the economic, diplomatic, and civil damage that the current crop of elected yes-men have caused with their nationalistic BS.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:23 AM on March 27, 2003


Please provide the formula that you use to calculate these figures.

As I said above, unfortunately nobody has a crystal ball. But past history shows Hussein has killed tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of his own people -- there's absolutely no reason to assume that the future would be any better (or that Uday or Qusay would be less murderous). Likewise, I believe that Hussein has been and would continue to actively produce or procure WMDs, and that he would not hesitate to use them himself, or to provide them to someone who would be willing to use them, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

An inability to know for certain what the future holds can't prevent you from acting against likely risks. I'm sure many of you don't believe he poses a likely risk -- again, I happen to disagree, and I don't think my belief is unfounded given recent history.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:28 AM on March 27, 2003


Not any number -- just some number less than the number of human lives that would have been lost had we not taken this action.

This numbers game is crazy. At the end of this war the Iraqis will not be getting out their calculators to work out if it's worth it. What they'll do is look around them and if they have fewer friends, relatives and property then they did at the beginning they'll be fucking annoyed. And who can blame them.
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:29 AM on March 27, 2003


It's being called a liberation now because the whole WMD thing has lost momentum. Bush needs to justify this invasion somehow, so it's a liberation.

Funny how that wasn't one of his trumpeted reasons before the invasion bogged down, though. Maybe he was too busy waving fabricated evidence around.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:31 AM on March 27, 2003


jammer: I swear, many of you seem to take more grim pleasure in the horrors of war than I feel myself, and many of my other reluctant hawks, do. "Ha! What a horrible way to die! Now those misguided souls will truly see how terrible war is and change their minds once and for all! Quick...... to Metafilter! hee hee ha ha ho ho".

You know, I was going to make this point and thought better of it, knowing the flames that would result. But I think there's some truth to it -- and I think if a number of you were honest with yourself, you'd admit that your first reaction on hearing of civilian deaths was happiness that it might influence world opinion. Certainly Fisk seized on the opportunity -- his prose is nothing more than violence porn, designed to inflame. My reaction to the news was, is, and will always be, revulsion and sadness.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:32 AM on March 27, 2003


The argument about whose missile it was -- and, as Fisk has noted, 'it was their own anti-aircraft fire' is a cliché that runs through his career of reporting in the Middle East -- is slightly moot here. The point is that if the US-UK-AUS forces want to win the 'battle for hearts and minds', leaving dead civilians in market-places tends to work against you.

Fisk has seen at first hand the effects of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, where a shitty, corrupt occupying force (the PLO) was strengthened by every new outrage done by the Israelis themselves, or more usually by their paid militias. The cool, distanced arguments, undoubtedly factual, that Saddam has killed more Iraqis than any invading force, tend to pale into insignificance when bombs are dropping around you courtesy of your new overlords. As dodgygeezer has noted, there's a concrete difference between 'those Saddam might have killed' and 'those the Americans are killing'. In that while there's the fear of future death remains, you're still alive. Sad but true.

That's why people have made allusion to Stalingrad, in the light of Saddam's affection for the career of Uncle Joe: how many exiles of the persecutions of the 1930s returned to the USSR to defend the Motherland against the Nazis?
posted by riviera at 8:39 AM on March 27, 2003


Some folks here would prefer their reporting in the following style:

As Iraqis foolishly walked around a warzone today, they suddenly realized the folly of shopping during wartime. The market that probably might have contained something potentially dangerous was bravely destroyed by an American pilot. Although the pilot couldn't see anything through the sandstorm he knew that this attack on a built up area could not possible wait for such luxuries as visibility.

The moment the bomb dropped the Iraqis welcomed the white heat of liberation. As they burned in their cars they screamed "I am free!"

It makes me proud to be British.
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:50 AM on March 27, 2003


riviera - 'The cool, distanced arguments, undoubtedly factual, that Saddam has killed more Iraqis than any invading force,'

Are you refering to the posible number to be killed, or the number that have been killed by the invading force?
Either way, I disagree to a degree. The evidence I have seen points to the conclusion that the present Iraqui regime have killed less than half the number killed by US/UK bombing/sanctions in the interim between the previous assualt and the present one.
That number does not take into account those killed in the previous assualt (205,000 estimated) by the US/UK forces.
Saddam simply cannot compete with the killing power of the US/UK.
If, like some, I considered all Iraquis to be possible terrorists, then I would argue that there are no civilian casualties. But then, that argument could be turned on its head quite easily.
posted by asok at 9:38 AM on March 27, 2003


Please disregard the unsavory fact that after an audit of all missiles fired into the warzone, it appears that, as has very often been the case, this missile may or may not have been an errant missile/anti-aircraft fire by the Iraqis. That's very inconvenient to the anti-war argument, so please, disregard. Not that the Iraqi military is sparing anyone (witness Basra) and using women and children as more than human shields, actually giving the children guns and making them fire at Marines, so that the Marines will fire back. But man, righteous indignation does feel good, doesn't it?

Shaab blasts: What happened?

Brig Gen Brooks said US aircraft were attacking Baghdad at the time of the incident on Wednesday, but that the targets were "in a different area" of the Iraqi capital.

He said a US investigation had determined that all US missiles fired during the period had hit their intended targets.

But he added: "We won't have a final answer until we're in Baghdad ourselves. We may never know."

posted by swerdloff at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2003


Re: Afghan Massacre - see here for more info.

Re: circumcision as a "hygienic" ritual: see this FAQ for background on why circ. is unnecsesary, and The Ritual of Circumcision by Karen Paige for the origins of this practice.
posted by Eloquence at 9:51 AM on March 27, 2003


My reaction to the news was, is, and will always be, revulsion and sadness.

Which is as it should be. Some pro-war types, like Andrew Sullivan, seem to regard reporting of civilian deaths as mere "hysterical" propaganda.

The point here is this: Those who are in favor of this war have justified it on the macro level. But when you look at it from the micro level, it takes on a completely different form. So we, in America, prefer not to look at it from the micro level. We prefer not to dwell on the woman who, with three children, is immolated in her car before horrified onlookers.

I think we have to look at it from this level. Because if we can and then we can still hold our heads high and say, "This is worth it," then so be it. But truly, I wonder what the polls might say if CNN, MSNBC and FOX were showing the same footage that Al-Jazeera does.
posted by kgasmart at 9:54 AM on March 27, 2003


And what would polls say if Al-Jazeera was allowed inside Saddams prisons, and was embedded with his troops?
posted by pjgulliver at 10:03 AM on March 27, 2003


Certainly Fisk seized on the opportunity -- his prose is nothing more than violence porn, designed to inflame.

How many times have you seen a mother and children burnt to death? He was there, you're comfortable at home - I know who I think is being more honest. Or would you also characterise reports of Saddam's atrocities as 'designed to inflame' ?
posted by niceness at 10:11 AM on March 27, 2003


And what would polls say if Al-Jazeera was allowed inside Saddams prisons, and was embedded with his troops?

You're justifying. "Because Saddam's bad, we are therefore justified in all we might do." I am saying we are not, that there are degrees of evil, that being tortured by Uday is terrible but having your limbs blown off by an errant missle is equally as terrible. Or can you not admit that?
posted by kgasmart at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2003


pardonyou?: But I think there's some truth to it -- and I think if a number of you were honest with yourself, you'd admit that your first reaction on hearing of civilian deaths was happiness that it might influence world opinion. Certainly Fisk seized on the opportunity -- his prose is nothing more than violence porn, designed to inflame.

Let's see...you've now gone from an indefensible historical perspective that fails to explain why the "coalition" of cretins isn't invading EVERY sovereign nation that kills its own citizens (and fails to acknowledge the "coalition's" own sorry human rights record), to an indefensible utilitarianism that says hypothetical future deaths are somehow worse than concrete present carnage....and now to the stupidity of your own brand of stinking, one-sided, amateur psychiatry.

Yeah, we anti-war folks just love civilian deaths. That's really why we're protesting continually and risking arrest daily. No doubt it's really you folks glued to the couch and televised orgasm of fire and flame over Baghdad, those of you who cheer our hired killers on, those of you who call the terrorism of bombing a city of millions "surgical strikes"....no doubt you are really actually the compassionate and civilized among us all. No doubt.

The truth does inflame. It completely infuriates those whose comfortable, craven, stay-at-home warmongering worldview shatters with each new realization of what their myopic war clamor really means for Iraq, for America, and for the world. You have all my sympathy.

And what would polls say if Al-Jazeera was allowed inside Saddams prisons, and was embedded with his troops?

Congratulations. No, really. Congratulations. You pretty much summed it up perfectly. You're saying the actions of Saddam and his troops are on the same moral plane as the actions Saddumbya and his troops. And you're exactly right. Out of the mouths of babes....
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:59 AM on March 27, 2003


This is worthless. There is no point having a conversation with anyone who would assign a moral equivalency between the Hussein regime and the allies here.

Sure, the invasion may be a bad thing. Sure, maybe the price in terms of civilian and military death may be too high for the likelihood of "success."

But there is no moral equivalency between Washington and Baghdad. No matter what your views, what your political leanings, and what your distaste for the Bush administration.

To argue that such an equivalency exists is to appear insane and paranoid, and denigrate the other valuable points you may be making.

Oh, and Kgasmart, I was not seeking to justify at all. I was simply wondering what the public reaction would be if every torture and murder victim of Saddam was showcased in international media the way the astronomically LOW casualties, civilian and military, have been from this conflict.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:24 AM on March 27, 2003


But there is no moral equivalency between Washington and Baghdad.

pj, I agree with that completely. By any measure, Hussein's regime has been nothing but evil. But I believe that we perpetrate a certain evil as well when we decide, unilaterally, that it is our duty to take out this regime even though there will be an unavoidable cost in human lives. Ours and theirs.

I look at these photos of dead children on sites like The Memory Hole and I think, what if that were my own child lying there with his brains strewn all over the sidewalk. And I will tell you what, if I was Iraqi and my child was killed by stray U.S. fire, I would be the next World Trade center bomber. I would be in a suburban American shopping mall with explosives strapped around my waist.

The entirity of the Arab world is seeing these uncensored scenes on Al-Jazeera. Think that's going to improve their view of America? Are they going to see these things and think we're liberators - or murderers?

You reap what you sow. We are murderers, on a certain level. To the extent that Hussein has been, and would be were he allowed to remain in power? No. But there is a certain amount of "destroying the village to save it" involved in all of this, and all the wishing in the world will not make that go away.
posted by kgasmart at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2003


"This is worthless."

Bingo. I vote we talk about other things on Metafilter. I think Fark would be a better place to have political discussions. Did you know that Fark just won an award as the best political discussion forum?
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:24 PM on March 27, 2003


Iraqui [sic] regime have killed less than half the number killed by US/UK bombing/sanctions in the interim between the previous assualt and the present one.

As long as you
1) Double the US figures of number of Iraqi soldiers who died -- as noted in your link!
2) Count Saddam's massacring of civilians during the '91 revolts as casualties inflicted by the US/UK.

I would also note that you
1) Ignore Saddam's pre-1991 track record of what, half a million dead?
2) Assume that war and sanctions are complementary policies. They aren't. Many see war now as the alternative to "peaceful" economic sanctions that have caused the lion's share of material deprivation under Saddam.
3) Ignore the great unknown of what Saddam and his sons are likely to do if left in control of Iraq, with or without sanctions.

But we have already been here.
posted by ednopantz at 12:28 PM on March 27, 2003


Kgasmart:

I was really directing the moral equivalancy commetns at F&M. I see your point. I've been watching the "uncensored" photos on the web since the war began. I've read extensively about combat, its horrors, and the extreme difficulties always faced in post-war reconstruction, rebuilding, containing civilian anger, etc.

I believe that as long as we live in a world with people like Hussein running states or combatent organizations (like al Queda) force is a necessary tool in international politics. I firmly believe that death and destruction can be justified when removing an even greater source of death and distruction. I believe progress is made through concerted action.

What I don't understand is those who both cite the economic sanctions as "caused by US/UK" but also say "don't go to war, keep up the sanctions/inspection regime." You can't have it both way folks.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:36 PM on March 27, 2003


Yet, here in Southeast Michigan, Iraqi exiles (even those with families still in Baghdad) continue to express how glad they are that Hussein will finally be deposed.

Hmm, something about cuban exiles springs to mind.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:41 PM on March 27, 2003


Let's see...you've now gone from an indefensible historical perspective that fails to explain why the "coalition" of cretins isn't invading EVERY sovereign nation that kills its own citizens (and fails to acknowledge the "coalition's" own sorry human rights record), to an indefensible utilitarianism that says hypothetical future deaths are somehow worse than concrete present carnage....and now to the stupidity of your own brand of stinking, one-sided, amateur psychiatry.

I know you view yourself as the sole arbiter of truth and justice, foldy, but I really wish you'd at least calm down enough to at least try to understand arguments you purport to refute. If you actually read my posts, you'd see that I've offered no historical perspective whatsoever -- I've made no attempt to "explain" the coalition's motives (frankly, I don't think they coincide well with my own). My only points in this thread have reflected my personal feelings on this war -- which I reached only after great deliberation (my second post on MeFi was based on my happiness that Colin Powell was pushing against war on Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11, and as recently as September 2, 2002, I stated on this site my hope that we would not go to war against Iraq). I came to support this war because I came to believe that over the course of time it will lead to fewer deaths of innocent people. That's it -- end of story.

My position is not "indefensible utilitarianism" (although it's nice to see you're in a position to state what is and isn't indefensible). My position is based on my personal sense of ethics, humanity, and morals. I despise all wars, and this one in particular. The easy way out for me personally would be to simply say: "war is bad -- I oppose the war." But I don't give myself the luxury of viewing the world that simply -- I understand that choosing inaction or the status quo is also a choice which has its own consequences, and that those consequences can be more damaging than military combat.

Next, while you surely had spittle all over your monitor while lashing out at my "own brand of stinking, one-sided, amateur psychiatry," I'm actually really glad to hear that not one "anti-war" person's first reaction to the news was to think that this will help inflame world opinion against the war. I'm really, really glad that didn't happen.

Finally, let me say this as simply as I can: You don't know me, and you have no basis on which to dispute the sincerity of my beliefs or how I came to form them. Your insinuations that I'm stupid and bloodthirsty are false. If this is the extent of your rhetorical capacity, foldy, I have to say I'm disappointed.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:52 PM on March 27, 2003


Well, y'know folks, since this war is (apparently) no longer about WMDs, and (apparently) no longer about terrorists, and since it's all about human rights abuses, and our sacred duty to wrench the poor tortured souls from the grip of their oppressors, lets start to get together a list, shall we?

Turkey

Columbia

Israel

Mexico

Eritrea

Zimbabwe

Etcetera. Etcetera. Now, since the whole point of this dogs breakfast is now 'liberating the oppressed,' why does Iraq deserve Special Attention? Or shall we go tuck into Zimbabwe next?
posted by Perigee at 12:54 PM on March 27, 2003


Not much oil in Zim...
posted by i_cola at 1:50 PM on March 27, 2003


Jesus Perigee...where do you get the impression the war is no longer about terrorists or WMD. Don't you think its possible that those of us posting here, who, with deep regret, support the war effort and the justice of this course, have many motives for doing so? And if recently people have been posting about human rights does not mean that people no longer care about the other issues.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:51 PM on March 27, 2003


Perigee, I posted something similar to this on another thread. The snarky response:
It's both and you know it. Get over the fact that you couldn't stop the war and move forward.

So you see, we're at war for Iraqi Freedom. And to eliminate WoMD. And to prevent terrorism at home. And to establish a wonderful Pax Americana amongst the little brown people in the Middle East. And to protect our oil interests. And to finish off what our Daddy couldn't do. Or some of these things. Or none of these things.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:57 PM on March 27, 2003


amen, pjgulliver. I've said it before and I'll say it again:

This war can be "about" different things to different people. The war itself simply has a course and an end result. Whatever motivation this or that person ascribes to it can be debated separately. But it does not make logical sense to argue (as many essentially do): "I would support this war if it was really for liberation, but since it's really for X, Y, and oil, I'm against it." I don't personally care what the official "reasons" are -- my own sense of morality and ethics tells me that the greatest human good comes from ridding the world of Saddam Hussein.

liberation, wmds, terrorism. It all adds up for me.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:57 PM on March 27, 2003


liberation, wmds, terrorism. It all adds up for me.

All adds up to zero for me. That's a strategy likely to be embraced by history, don't you think? None of our stated reasons for going to war were sufficient, but when you added them up and fabricated a few of your own reasons, then hell, send in the Marines.

Personally, I think each and every one of the reasons invalid:

WMD: Have we found 'em yet? No? Well Christ, look under the bed. And hey, isn't Iran enriching its uranium? Keep marching east, boys.

Human rights abuses: What Perigree said.

Terror: Hmmm. Isn't this war as likely to trigger terror attacks as stem them?

Add 'em up: three times the fun, three times the hypocrisy.
posted by kgasmart at 2:28 PM on March 27, 2003


WMD: Have we found 'em yet? No? Well Christ, look under the bed. And hey, isn't Iran enriching its uranium? Keep marching east, boys.

So when they are found, I can expect a hearty mea culpa?

Human rights abuses: What Perigree said.

Everything has to be relative for you? It isn't possible to admit that liberating Iraqis from Saddam Hussein has value independent of whether other countries are liberated?

Terror: Hmmm. Isn't this war as likely to trigger terror attacks as stem them?

No.

Add 'em up: three times the fun, three times the hypocrisy.

Umm, do you actually know what hypocricy means? (I'll give you a hint -- it means: "The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.") Say what you will about my beliefs, but I damn well honestly hold every belief I profess to have.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:43 PM on March 27, 2003


pardonyou?: I like you.
posted by jammer at 3:05 PM on March 27, 2003


So when they are found, I can expect a hearty mea culpa?

Steady, you're heading into MacBoy territory there.
posted by niceness at 3:09 PM on March 27, 2003


Kgasmart, you need to get with the new program: all countries are equal - some countries are more equal than others. You see, it's OK if we attack Iraq, and not attack Zimbabwe.

'Just Cuz.

It's ok if we don't find WMDs, cuz after we occupy, they can't get any WMDs at all. So that's good.

And we don't have to attack North Korea who BRAGS about having WMDs and threatening us, because...

Well, Just Cuz.

Just because you invade and occupy countries that have lived with terrorism since the dirt hardened, doesn't mean we're going to get increased terrorism. THIS TIME it's gonna be different.

(As long as you don't look too hard at what's going on almost every day now in Afghanistan. Those bombers aren't terrorists... they're... Taliban fighters out of uniforms!!!)

We can cherry-pick our badguys, you see. "Relativity" is dead - long live "Arbitrary!" No sense in holding ourselves to a consistent standard, is there?

As long as you listen to the music and turn off your critical thinking ability, life is just freakin' jolly...
posted by Perigee at 3:46 PM on March 27, 2003


Terror: Hmmm. Isn't this war as likely to trigger terror attacks as stem them?

No.


You're right. It's not as likely. It's more likely.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:50 PM on March 27, 2003


Somebody wrote something up above about how nobody has a crystal ball, therefore nobody can quite see the full frontal outcome of all this. I think it was pardonyou?. I disagree.

What does it take to get all intellectuals to think similar thoughts in unison? Yes. You guessed it. Utter absurdity.

I think we can liken intellectuals to a crystal ball.

When every flippin' thinker in the humanities warns you about or against something, you've gotta know you're treading on thin ice. Perhaps Rumsfailed etcetera thought that somehow people would cease thinking and communicating if they scared us bad enough. Well, we're still here and tyranny has tried as it might since the emergence of human history to get us to think in lock-step. Has it ever really worked?

We're still here.

Do they really think they can ultimately win and rule the planet before a new and revolutionary awakening occurs? Nope don't think so. All they can do is kill us all. How's that for ill-conceived plans? Their civilization they say they're sending ordinary people to die for is full of nothing but potential victims should you not be "with them". Not life, life is no where to be found in this equation.

This is why they will ultimately, invariably, lose. Let us pray that it will be more soon than later. I personally enjoy Earth.
posted by crasspastor at 4:43 PM on March 27, 2003


"It is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

"Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken'.

"I owe it,as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people."

-- Jacob Bronowski; "The Ascent of Man," page 374
posted by crasspastor at 4:49 PM on March 27, 2003


Crasspastor, how can you possibly say "every flippin' thinker in the humanities" is against this? Don't belittle your points with lies.
posted by pjgulliver at 5:04 PM on March 27, 2003


How can I be lying about something I do not know for a fact?

How can one be in the humanities without being concerned about human suffering?

I think you'll find your answer in there.
posted by crasspastor at 5:08 PM on March 27, 2003


If this war is about WoMD: Why isn't Hussein using them?
If this war is about revenge for 9/11: Why are we not attacking Saudi Arabia?
If this war is about preventing future terrorism: Why are we allied with the Islamic country Saudi Arabia who, despite (or because of) large US troop deployments still spawned the 9/11 terrorists. How is doing the same to Iraq going to prevent terrorism?
If this war is about liberation & democracy: Why are we allied with Saudi Arabia, a frickin' monarchy?
If this war is about protecting kurds: Why are we allied with Turkey, the no. 1 kurd-butcher of the world?
If this war is about protecting the civilians: Why do we have to kill them to protect them? Weren't they protected enough by being starved because of our sanctions?

Just askin', that's all.
posted by spazzm at 5:10 PM on March 27, 2003


Or more to the point, perhaps:
If this war isn't about oil, why are we given a new alternative reason each week?
posted by spazzm at 5:13 PM on March 27, 2003


ednopantz - '1) Ignore Saddam's pre-1991 track record of what, half a million dead?'

I was not aware of this number, the total figure that I have seen quoted by the BBC was 300,000 - 400,000 for all the years of Hussein's reign, which is difficult to find any source for other than the press. If you have links to a credible source for the 'pre-1991 record' number, I would be interested. I can't find anything that talks about specific numbers, just vague assertions.

'1) Double the US figures of number of Iraqi soldiers who died -- as noted in your link'

Without doubling, you still get '156,000 Iraqis -- 86,194 men, 39,612 women and 32,195 children -- had perished in the war and its aftermath'.

'2) Count Saddam's massacring of civilians during the '91 revolts as casualties inflicted by the US/UK'

The uprisings are usually attributed to the Kurds and Shiites being promised suport by the CIA, so if that were the case you could argue that they wouldn't have done it were they not 'put up to it', therefore they were not put in the firing line entirely by their own volition. They certainly were not supported by the US.

'2) Assume that war and sanctions are complementary policies. They aren't. Many see war now as the alternative to "peaceful" economic sanctions that have caused the lion's share of material deprivation under Saddam.'

It is an alternative, I just don't think that it is a very good one for the people of Iraq.

'3) Ignore the great unknown of what Saddam and his sons are likely to do if left in control of Iraq, with or without sanctions.'

Like the great unknown of what might have happened if other methods were used to make Iraq safe for Iraqis.

pardonyou? - 'It isn't possible to admit that liberating Iraqis from Saddam Hussein has value independent of whether other countries are liberated?'

Of course it is possible to 'admit' that, everyone wants to be free.

Is it possible to admit that liberating the people of Iraq might not be in the 'US' (PNAC) best interests?

This is indeed worthless.

:(.
posted by asok at 5:39 PM on March 27, 2003


Popular in the 90s- Pelletiere!

'Like all other Americans, in recent years I had assumed that what I read in the papers was true about Iraq gassing its own people. Once the war drums again began beating last November, I decided to read up on the history, and found Iraq denied having used gas against its own people. Furthermore, I heard that a Pentagon investigation at the time had also turned up no hard evidence of Saddam gassing his own people.'
'Iraq was blamed for the Halabjah attack, even though it was subsequently brought out that Iran too had used chemicals in this operation, and it seemed likely that it was the Iranian bombardment that had actually killed the Kurds'

Pushmepullyou.

Stop the world, i want to get off.
posted by asok at 5:54 PM on March 27, 2003


Eloquence,

smegma is unclean: fact

please
posted by matteo at 6:57 PM on March 27, 2003


mateo,

washing is easy. Fact
posted by couch at 3:22 AM on March 28, 2003


Umm, do you actually know what hypocricy means? (I'll give you a hint -- it means: "The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.") Say what you will about my beliefs, but I damn well honestly hold every belief I profess to have.

I'm sure you do, pardonyou?, but you can be damned sure this administration does not. We are getting feints at every turn - a new reason for this war every week, as someone else pointed out.

If WMD are found, you'll get a mea culpa from me on that specific aspect of this - as long as I and everyone else can be certain that the "evidence" isn't planted by those who need the existence of Iraqi WMD to justify this invasion.

Every aspect of this war is bullshit. Every single rationale. Because as spazzm points out, we are picking and choosing. We do not give a shit about the Iraqi people - if we really did we'd have gone in there long ago - and the same goes for WMD.

The reality is we wanted to go into Iraq to plant the seed for the democratization of the entire Middle East. I have always believed that there is an intellectual case to be made for this war. But you can't sell intellectual cases to the American public. You need emotional gut punches, and all of our publicly stated reasons for this conflict amount to exactly that: they stir passion upon first viewing. Upon repeated viewing, they evaporate in the wind.

So let's end this little debate by agreeing on this: this war can be justified from a certain perspective, just not the one that is being foisted upon the general public.
posted by kgasmart at 6:23 AM on March 28, 2003


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