[ politics Category ]
March 21, 2003

What are those people thinking?

We drove to Berkeley and there was a lot of police all over the place today! In the news, people are protesting this war! All over the place! I find it wierd that people would actually stick their arms in a metal tube and have the police saw them off! Not their arms though! But what got me thinking is this... do these people actually think that because they are protesting that the president will actually say, okay, I'll stop?

I DONT THINK SO! They have to finish what they started! They cant just walk away now! So why waste your time and our taxes on your stupid protesting when the war has already started?

Posted by Heidi at March 21, 2003 02:50 PM


Posted by Glen Miyashiro on March 21, 2003 3:20 PM:

Err... because if we don't, and we stay silent, then the implicit message is that we agree with what's happening and support George Bush. Which is just not true.

Posted by Madnamo on March 21, 2003 4:20 PM:

Actually, you both are correct. True democracy welcomes opposing views on issues, as well as offers an opportunity to eventually vote someone out of public office (or keep them in) if the political will is there.

People living under dictatorship and regimes do not enjoy these rights.

Posted by Patrick on March 21, 2003 6:48 PM:

Check out what the UPI reported about anti-war protesters / voluntary human shields. They found out about Saddam in an up close and personal way. These are the highlights...

"A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

I am not going to ask the war protesters what they are thinking. If there is any truth to this UPI report though, I would like to see a newly freed Iraqi citizen ask the protesters what they were thinking.

This article goes on to talk about potential for a real peace in the Middle East. With the absence of Saddam, many Arab leaders think that the relationship between the Arab states and Israel can be permanently altered towards a peaceful coexistence.

War is NEVER a good thing, but it is sometimes necessary to right an even greater evil. Maybe this is one of those times. I hope so. One can never be optimistic when you are talking about war.

If you are so inclined, please pray for my brother-in-laws. They are both is Iraq as I type this. If so inclined, also pray for all of our soldiers, all of the Iraqi people, and for a long lasting peace and true freedom for people in that part of the world.

Posted by maggie on March 21, 2003 8:31 PM:

If you are so inclined, please pray for my brother-in-laws. They are both is Iraq as I type this. If so inclined, also pray for all of our soldiers, all of the Iraqi people, and for a long lasting peace and true freedom for people in that part of the world. - Patrick

I've been praying, Patrick ... for all of us, everywhere on this planet.

I'm horrified by what's happened in this world, and deeply saddened.

I used to believe that the human race would evolve and eventually just stop it.

Naive I know, but I had hope.

I think I've lost my hope.

May God have mercy on us all.

Posted by vince on March 21, 2003 9:23 PM:

I was hesitant to start a post on this topic since it appeared to spiral out of control when it was brought up earlier. However, since Heidi was brave enough to open up a salvo on it, I'll drop my two cents on the counter.

In the days of my youth, I was an adamant believer in peacemaking. I aspired to become a diplomat throughout college and even drove around with a baby blue "Visualize World Peace" sticker on my car. So I am by no means a war-monger or cavalier American imperialist.

Having said that, I find the significant majority of the anti-war movement today to be incredibly naive and brazenly hypocritical. They (I use the term "they" loosely) question American motives for regime change in Iraq and allege that the U.S. is intent on controlling Iraqi oil, pointing to France as a champion of restraint and peace. This simplistic and naive contention fails to acknowledge that the French (and Russians) actually have billions tied up in Iraqi oil contracts that will disappear when Saddam does.

It's also interesting to hear the hypocritical justifications used by protesters to oppose the war, particularly when they speak about Bush's "obsession" with Iraq. The argument goes something like this: "Bush's father didn't have the cojones to finish the job, so now his son is defying the U.N. and trying to clean up the mess left by his Dad." On the one hand, they fault Bush 41 for leaving Saddam in power, despite the fact that the original U.N. mandate did not grant the Coalition the authority to overthrow Saddam (simply to eject him from Kuwait), i.e., he's at fault for following the U.N. resolution. Yet they also criticize Bush 43 for NOT getting U.N. sanction. It's almost as if protesters don't care about how they use this U.N. angle, so long as it provides them the ability to protest. This is similar to the "why only go after Iraq...why not go after North Korea, too?" line of reasoning. Oh...so it's okay to go to war, as long as we go after everyone all at once? It's so much easier, apparently, to protest AGAINST something rather than actually standing for something consistent.

The "rush to war" protesters almost always fail to acknowledge that this battle with Saddam over disarmament and weapons of mass destruction didn't begin in November 2002 with Resolution 1441. It began more than twelve years ago, with the original resolutions that ended Gulf War I. Does anyone honestly believe that, given enough time, people with anti-American interests like Saddam may actually become benign? In a post 9-11 world, that kind of naivetť is dangerous indeed.

Earlier tonight ABC showed an interview with women who survived and/or observed some of the atrocities Patrick describes (including the human meat grinders and the chemical weapon attacks on the Kurds). Is the world's only superpower supposed to stand back and do nothing in the face of these kinds of atrocities?

It is a very sad state of affairs that having achieved global hegemony, Americans are being made to feel bad for trying to help set right some of the wrongs in the world. That at the apex of our international power, we find ourselves being attacked by both enemies and allies alike for asserting our influence. A superb and topical book on the subject is "The Paradox of American Power" by Joseph Nye.

Patrick is right: War is never a good thing. But (and I'm probably misquoting someone here), the surest way for evil to flourish is for good men of conscience to do nothing. After the terrorist attacks, our country committed to removing threats before they harmed us again. In his post 9-11 speech to Congress, the President stated this shift in mindset clearly: "...by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends. In history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."

Hopefully when we look on a free democratic Iraq and the sweeping improvements such a change could bring to that volatile part of the world, some of us will have the courage to admit that the U.S. actually did the right thing.

Posted by Beth on March 21, 2003 10:38 PM:

Vince, well said.

I just hope it works.

*sighs and goes back under the covers*

Posted by Ryan on March 22, 2003 11:23 AM:

Thanks, Heidi, for braving the minefield, and so far, this thread hasn't quite degenerated into "You're anti-American!"/"You're an imperialist!" accusations.

Thanks, also, Vince, for stating a good case.

I am generally against this campaign, but moreso critical of the bigger picture of "Bush Doctrine," diplomacy, and global affairs.

That said, I am very, very open to opposing viewpoints... if, like Vince, they're well-presented and cite facts (as do, in respectful deference to Vince, many anti-war leaders). Tell me about Resolution 1441, about accusations of Saddam using WMD on his own people (and torture, cited above), about the "liberation" angle. These all make me think.

Both anti-war protesters and Bush-supporters should always stop now and then to think.

I just cannot tolerate the knee-jerk "traitor!" and "pro-Saddam!" and "9/11 forgetter!" responses to criticism. Equally pointless are broad attacks on the people who support Bush, to be sure.

I agree that, because of France and Russia and their interests in Iraq, citing them as 'believers' in the anti-war movement isn't helpful.

On the other hand, on a broad level I am insulted by the line Bush tried to specifically (and now generally) draw between Osama bin Laden and Saddam, or his approach (or lack thereof) to the North Korea situation.

Thoughts of a more stable Middle East and even peace between Israel and Palestine are inviting... but many Iraqis will wait and see if the U.S. or a U.S. Coalition really do stick around to build this vision, or pull out and leave them subject to even more repression as what happened in the first Gulf War.

It is a very sad state of affairs that having achieved global hegemony, Americans are being made to feel bad for trying to help set right some of the wrongs in the world.

Unfortunately, I see this assertion as sometimes "incredibly naive" - at least as a total summation of an argument (which, in Vince's case, it obviously isn't). We finally made it to number one, so why is everyone whining about us getting a little pushy?

It's probable that the U.S. is the only true superpower remaining today, but with the power to act unilaterally comes the responsibility to work cooperatively with all nations. We might have the biggest guns, but given the global distribution resources and population, they may be made irrelevant if it came to us versus all of them.

We're not headed down that path. The "Bush Doctrine" is one of preemption, unilateralism, and now, force over negotiation. Historically, it's a dangerous precedent.

I cannot ascribe the higher motive of "righting wrongs" to this administration. Not given its other demonstrated strategies relating to the environment, to abortion rights, to social services, and toward corporate interests. (Contracts are already being waved around for Iraq rebuilding - no surprise that Cheney's Halliburton is a major contender.)

If a mixture of Gahndi and Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. were President, then I might be less suspicious.

It bears noting that while the patriotism and wisdom of American anti-war protesters is usually the focus of media and general debate (i.e. Heidi's response to the protesters in California), there are more protests with more people in other parts of the world. And in a way, their opinion is more significant than folks in San Francisco.

Compare the world's opinion of America on Sept. 12, 2001 to its opinion today. That, in my opinion, is tragic.

9/11's lessons were many. To me, it was a wake-up call for America to realize, we're not always popular or wanted. To others, it meant that the world is dangerous, so we must become protectionist and electively aggressive.

So, in answer to "What are these people thinking?" Or, why protest if the war started? Because there's actually more at stake than Iraq and its oil. And because while we might be against the war, we love our troops, and we want them home. We want the war to end, better than the Vietnam conflict did, when it took much, much longer for protest and public opinion to push the administration to act.

Posted by Ryan on March 22, 2003 12:00 PM:

Oh, and Madnamo makes a good point in his post relating to protesters.

I can whine, because I voted. I wonder if any enterprising journalist will cross reference the names of those arrested for civil disobedience against voter rolls to see what the percentage is...

Posted by NemesisVex on March 22, 2003 3:04 PM:

Huh. So using the <em> tag creates italics, but using <i> tags do not -- as evidenced by the fact the words "do not" are enclosed in italic tags but are not italic (at least on MSIE). Is this an intentional thing with the Hawaii Stories style sheet?

I'm posting about italic tags because you don't want to hear my opinions about the war. I can't articulate them much further than "fuck Bush", which isn't really constructive, nor thought-provoking.

Posted by Linkmeister on March 22, 2003 3:18 PM:

I'm of the view that this war is wrong, not because Saddam doesn't deserve to stand in the dock at The Hague or in front of the Int'l Criminal Court, but because it's based on a continual attempt to sell the American population a lie (successfully, evidently; some 50% think Iraq had something to do with 9/11, last I looked at polls). Additionally, the "hawks" in the Administration are working off an agenda (clearly documented here) which I find repugnant. Look in the "Defense" section of that site and you will find a document entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses, (PDF), clearly stating a desire to essentially run the world. Also see the items I linked to here.

What does this outfit have to do with the Administration? Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Libby, and Cheney are all insiders who signed off on this document several years ago; they have tirelessly fought to put its aims into practice since January 20, 2001.

Posted by Heidi on March 22, 2003 7:34 PM:

i am really shocked and impress with all of your opinions! i dont feel i am as smart as you all reading your comments. you all seem really intelligent. i dont take politics well into my brain and takes a long time to process. i although just want peace here on earth! reciting the words of rodney king "cant we all get along?!?!" stupid i know. but makes sense! on the other hand i do understand there are many reasons why we are in this war. it cant be ignored. we are a country with liberty and justice and soo... we can not just stand by and let saddam bully anyone or us for that matter. when people protest the war.. well.. i just think its wrong. all of our troops are out there by choice wanting to serve and protect our country. an example; you live in one town and the other town needs some help, would you just stand by and watch and ignore?! or would you fight for them? we are humans after all. and we americans are very opinionated. but that is just one of the reasons. i could go on but boy... i think the portugee in my blood is taking over so... i'll hush up.

Posted by Patrick on March 22, 2003 9:00 PM:

Here is another report from a former human shield / war protester who "saw the light" after seeing that "all Iraqi people want this war".

UK Telegraph

I think his description of the anti-war protester, and his reaction to their "revelry" after his return from Iraq is important to read.

"Last Thursday night I went to photograph the anti-war rally in Parliament Square. Thousands of people were shouting "No war" but without thinking about the implications for Iraqis. Some of them were drinking, dancing to Samba music and sparring with the police. It was as if the protesters were talking about a different country where the ruling government is perfectly acceptable. It really upset me. Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out. It is extraordinarily ironic that the anti-war protesters are marching to defend a government which stops its people exercising that freedom."

I think it is also enligtening that "the free press" knows about the plight of the Iraqi people but doesn't report it. Continuing to quote him...

"Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened - spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq."

Why doesn't the press get this story out? Why do they spend time getting the anit-war story out, making sure that the safe, free, and happy people are heard? Who is going to make sure that the enslaved and oppressed are heard? How are the Iraqi people going to be heard if the free press doesn't get their story out? Isn't that what the free press is suppose to do?

My link in my first post didn't work. I am new at this stuff, but think I got it right this time. This is a link to the first story on a "former" anti-war, human shield who was converted by his encounter with the Iraqi people.

United Press International

Beware, now that I know how to do this, I may direct you all to my 20 month old daughter's web site!

Posted by Linkmeister on March 22, 2003 9:24 PM:

Just to preclude leaving a wrong impression, I think this is the wrong war against the wrong enemy, but now that we're in it, I hope there's minimal death and suffering on all sides. I also hope that the spectacle (and the way the media is portraying it is spectacle, in my view) doesn't encourage the hawks to keep going, which is an unstated goal of theirs.

Patrick, I think you should post a link to your 20-month-old's site; just don't tell Ryan's kids, or they'll demand sites of their own. ;)

Posted by Ryan on March 22, 2003 10:40 PM:

when people protest the war.. well.. i just think its wrong. all of our troops are out there by choice wanting to serve and protect our country

I think what you've read here reiterates that anti-war protesters support, love, miss, and pray for the troops deployed for this campaign. We admire their love of duty and our country. We're just expressing doubts as to why they're there... and how long it'll be before they come back.

Thinking back, I'm finding it interesting that the loudest voices for the war were very focused on the "regime change" and "WMD" angle. It's a brilliant PR move, intentional or not, to focus now on the civillians (formerly the apparent claimed beneficiary of anti-war activists) and their liberation. That heart-wrenching, bringing-feedom stuff is hard for a NION-marcher to argue with.

I have no doubt they're happy to see us. Again, they were happy the last time... but we left. I wonder if those supporting the war realize that to truly earn the rhetorical benefit of the "liberating Iraq" angle, a substantial investment of American troops, equipment, money, and time - lots of time - will be required.

We better not just plant a flag, help draft a constitution, build a bridge or two and pull out. That kind of abandonment is what... well, you know.

Posted by Albert on March 23, 2003 12:19 PM:

A protest march here yesterday, blocking one lane of Ala Moana Boulevard as they noisily passed the park across from the mall, and then returned for a rally.

I do not think this country has fought a truly justified war since World War II, and this is no exception.

Posted by James on March 23, 2003 6:11 PM:

For those who want to protest, I support them. It is their right to do so. But it must be frustrating to know that no matter how much you march, scream, shout, fight with riot police.. it will not change anything. They have freedom of speech but government has a greater freedom, to do whatever the hell they want.

What I dont like is that Yes, we have freedom of speech and a supposed right to assemble. But government can tell you where you can and CAN'T have your marches or rallies. They set up road blocks and establish police lines that you cannot cross. They keep the protesters confined to certain area's.

It seems that freedom is becoming more watered down every day.

Posted by lemurs on March 23, 2003 8:00 PM:

A friend of mine (http://www.tokenasians.com) made a graphic that says;

"Proud of our troops, ashamed of our leaders"

I think that sentiment is the one that a number of war protesters feel right now.

Personally, I was against the war from the start, but I know that it does no good for anyone for the US ( British, etc.) to pull out at this point.. I can only hope it finishes soon and with as few casualties as possible on both sides.

Posted by Haken on March 23, 2003 9:41 PM:

Speaking of casualties, Sunday wasn't a good day at all. And if anyone thinks that it's not going to get any higher, they're wrong. Here are some figures of casualties from previous US wars:

Revolutionary War: 10,623
War of 1812: 6,765
Mexican War: 17,435
Civil War: 970,227
Spanish-American War: 4,108
World War I: 320,710
World War II: 1,078,162
Korean War: 136,935
Vietnam War: 211,471
Gulf War: 760

This is just the beginning. I suspect once the troops enter Baghdad, it'll turn into an urban Vietnam.

Posted by vince on March 23, 2003 11:31 PM:

Ryanís point about the shifting casus belli is an interesting one, suggesting that those who support the goals of the U.S. invasion are trying to reframe the reasons for war so that it sells better publicly. It would seem to me that the anti-war elements also want to have their cake and eat it too by claiming to oppose the conflict but support the troops. That kind of situational ethics, done simply to avoid being painted as unpatriotic, is a slippery slope.

Itís disappointing how quickly the public has forgotten the reality shift forced upon this country. The context in which we now live, where enemies and allies alike are emboldened to challenge American hegemony both peacefully and violently, means that our rules of global engagement must change. We no longer live in a multilateral world, balanced by collective nations with common interests. Our national security strategy (the so-called Bush Doctrine) isnít a logical evolution of our engagement with the world over the past 50 years; it is, rather, a metamorphosis necessitated by the new global reality forced upon us less than two years ago. In an age of terror, geopolitics should not be viewed through nostalgia-tinted lenses.

I have no doubt that those who criticize pre-emptive strikes as immoral or illegal would also be the first to lash out and lay blame if some ignored threat were to execute yet another horrific act of violence (bio, chemical, or nuclear) against the country.

In deference to Ryan, however, I disagree that with the power to act unilaterally comes the responsibility to work cooperatively with all nations. Those who belittle the Administration for not obtaining yet another mandate against Iraq should remember that during the last eight years the U.S. used military force three times without seeking approval from the U.N. (Kosovo, Bosnia, and Haiti).

Multilaterialism is as unworkable in a unipolar world as unilaterialism would have been in the old bipolar (U.S. vs. U.S.S.R.) world. The definition of a unipolar world means that, in effect, there are no other nations with whom we share the burden of global responsibility.

And indeed the greatest burden of global responsibility is doing something not because itís popular, but simply because itís the right thing to do.

Posted by Ryan on March 24, 2003 10:48 AM:

It would seem to me that the anti-war elements also want to have their cake and eat it too by claiming to oppose the conflict but support the troops.

I've heard this before. Even anti-war cartoonist Ted Rall shares this view (thus, incredibly to me, saying he does not support our troops). I might just be misunderstanding your point of view, though, Vince, and would appreciate it if you expanded a little.

I mean, I'm against violent crime in Chicago. I might disagree with a city plan to shut down a neighborhood and arrest hundreds of suspects en masse, but that doesn't mean I don't pray for the safety of the police officers tasked with the job.

I imagine the "slippery slope" is the "just following orders" angle, which taken to its extreme would mean I shouldn't support the troops because, I guess, if they knew better they wouldn't have gone. But we all know it's not that black and white. I don't feel hypocritical in opposing an administration's viewpoint but supporting and hoping for the safety and safe return the everyday men and women called upon actually enforce it.

Like most realists who generally opposed this operation, now that it's begun I just pray for a quick resolution to the hostilities with limited loss of life, and a serious, long-term commitment to the "liberated Iraq" to make sure we don't take out one hostile regime only to set the stage for a more radical one.

I have no doubt that those who criticize pre-emptive strikes as immoral or illegal would also be the first to lash out and lay blame if some ignored threat were to execute yet another horrific act of violence (bio, chemical, or nuclear) against the country.

Again bringing us back to North Korea or Iran. You mentioned one answer to criticism over "why Iraq" by asking if "we go after everyone all at once". I would admit, probably not. But I would also then be curious as to the U.S. commitment to its new doctrine to act as decisively with other potential threats Ė especially, say, a little group we've dealth with recently called Al Qaeda -- as it has with Saddam Hussein.

Per Haken's post, we may be looking at a sizable loss of life in this second offensive (counting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as first). If we're committing to a series of theseÖ

The definition of a unipolar world means that, in effect, there are no other nations with whom we share the burden of global responsibility.

It bears noting that history doesn't exactly end, and thus stating the obvious -- that the unipolar world we may be in today may not be the way of global politics for the remainder of human history. (China, anyone?) It would serve us well to keep this in mind, as we exercise our new unilateral power.

...simply because itís the right thing to do.

If I didn't fully concede earlier that, in the broad scheme of things, the elimination of Saddam is a good thing, I do.

My expressed doubt, though, goes to motive. I do not believe the U.S. administration is motivated solely by the greater good (nor was, as you noted, Russia and French in their opposition). With the last Iraq war and Sept. 11, in fact, even the unavoidable appearance of revenge as a motive is a problem. And again, with efforts on the domestic front (ANWR, tax cuts, in addition to those I cited earlier) seemingly nudged forward while attention is focused overseas makes me wonder.

Posted by vince on March 24, 2003 10:14 PM:

It may seem repetitious, but I would tend to reiterate the contention that the geopolitics of today cannot be governed by the enlightened Ė and, yes, naÔve Ė political philosophies of the last quarter century. My basic problem with those who actively protest the war is that much of their arguments are simply inconsistent with the new geopolitical reality. As Iíve said before, war is ultimately the worst case policy scenario. In 2003, however, the expression of military power is also, sadly, sometimes the only thing that keeps irresponsible, irrational, hateful regimes and organized groups in check.

Iíd also caution folks who always want to have a neat little trail of bread crumbs leading us from one entity to the next, as if somehow we still live in a fairy tale world where things are that neat. Despite the shift in the mediaís focus on Iraq, itís not rational to think that weíve somehow forgotten about dealing with al Qaeda. The ongoing arrests and ďtakedownsĒ of a shadowy organization undoubtedly happen in a less dramatic (and, therefore, less publicized) manner than an invasion by 250,000+ G.I.s. After all, there are no embedded reporters following al Qaeda-hunting Special Forces.

But why Iraq and why now?

Iraq had to be the first of the Axis triumvirate to be taken down simply because it was the most dangerous (yes, more so than North Korea). When the Taliban was being dismantled in late 2001 and early 2002, thousands of documents seized from al Qaeda safehouses and training camps clearly illustrated its feverish pursuit of WMDs. Following the bread crumbs, as it were, led to the one regime that would have little moral compulsion in sharing WMDs with terrorists bent on wreaking more havoc on the U.S. mainland: Saddam Husseinís Iraq.

The reality is, also, that North Korea has no intention of developing ballistic nuclear capabilities. This saber rattling has more to do with economic development, aid, and the lingering issues of reunification. It wants to be respected as a regional power at a time where China is presumed to be the emerging colossus of Asia (another misnomer, but I guess thatís for a different post). The only way to get the attention it seeks is by starting up decrepit reactors and making bellicose statements. The chances of Kim Jong Ilís regime allying with fanatical muslim terrorists is slim to none.

And Iran? It canít wait for Iraq to be liberated which would provide the precedent it needs to modernize, sidestep its history, and normalize relations with the western world.

Youíre right, Ryan, in that history does not end. That is precisely why America must learn from the failures of Pax Romana and Pax Brittania . To ensure that our core values and historical motivations Ė freedom, equality, opportunity, and peaceful coexistence Ė become the defining framework for this century. As I said before, leadership is being out in front of a cause before everyone else realizes that it's actually the right thing to do.

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