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The Buildup to War on Iraq; Reprocussions and Possiblities
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Nikolai
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 8:44 pm    Post subject: The Buildup to War on Iraq; Reprocussions and Possiblities Reply with quote

In about six, seven days, Ft. Campbell (among other military bases nation-wide here in America) will deploy to the soon-to-be war effort in Iraq. This will effectively double our military strength against the Iraqi war machine. But what machine is there? Exactly why are we going to war? Is Bush's martial policies based on political pressure to make up for the lack of one Bin Laden, impede the creation of a powerful Islamic center in the Mid East, or to do what his father should have done during the Gulf War?

And is this entire build up to war a schoolyard bully confrontation? America, the proverbial bully, pushing another 'student' into aggression by means of UN Inspection. Because regardless of what Hussein does, we will wage war. If he lets inspectors in to find weapons of mass destruction, we will. If he denies them, we will. If he covers it up, we will. Was the UN weapon inspection a product of American influence or is it something like an anual function like a UN picnic/potato sack race?

And finally, do the benefits of war with Iraq--pending if there is, and I would love to know about them--outweigh the probable, expensive outcome? Will the Middle East be better or worse after this war? And what will the other nations do if, may the powers that be save us all, through the threats that Bush jr. has made on nuking Iraq into a single sheet of glass?

PS, I heard that we import 40% of our oil from Iraq. Upon hearing this, I thought, "What a load of shit." Isn't this oil from Kuwait, or the middle east in general?
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Julao
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you can, listen to a speech or lecture by Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector. He has a lot to say about this.

However, I can think of nothing to say right now...
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samisto
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is just my opinion . . . for better or worse

I will admit a few things up front - 1) I am a registered Republican, 2) I support the war on terror, wherever it needs to be fought, 3) I am a big W fan.

That being said, I won't deny that some of the reason is oil. It has to be. Oil is the "oil" which lubes our economy. Everyone benefits from it either directly on indirectly. You want to pay $4 a gallon for gas? I can't help but think the very people who cry out this war is for oil (not you specifically) would be the first to bemoan a huge gas hike and all the other things associated with a significant lessening of our national oil supply.

Knowing that, why we can't use 2,000 acres in Alaska to ween ourselves from Arab oil is beyond me. It's a near-sighted policy, I think and we wouldn't even hurt any animals doing it!

As for Iraq, I think N. Korea shows us what happens when a madman gets nukes before they can be stopped. You want N. Korea AND Hussein to both have nukes? We simply have to step in here while we still have an opportunity. And that's the key - the opportunity. We don't have that anymore with N. Korea. They could nuke S. Korea and Japan now . . . and maybe soon the western states in the US.

I don't champion war, but the simple fact is that if you try to negotiate with madmen, you get burned in the end. Diplomacy only works if both sides agree to abide by it and will use it. We will use it, the UN will use it, but Hussein won't. He won't live up to any agreement he makes. He's dangerous - right now just to the region (and indirectly to us), but soon he could be a DIRECT danger to us. I don't want that, and I don't think anybody else does either.

Plus, please don't discount that fact that America truly does want peace and wants a safer world. For some reason, we've yet to grow tired (as a government) of the role of global policeman. Perhaps because we're the only true superpower left. But a lot of the world is glad we do, behind closed doors obviously. I truly believe the saying "You make peace by preparing for war". Sometimes you just have to - like WWII. We had to do it - imagine the world if we didn't.

But I don't war. But if it has to be, then get it over quick with as few casulties as possible. And I truly believe that's what we will do, and then Iraq will hopefully recover and rejoin the world community. AND THE PEOPLE THERE CAN LIVE FREE. That's what I want more than anything else.

Thank you for reading
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eodrakken
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[cough]renewableresources[/cough]

Seriously, I don't know much about foreign policy, but we all know that oil is a limited resource no matter where it comes from. In addition to whatever efforts we make to ensure that we have enough oil now (I would agree that current technology doesn't allow for much else), we must also put money and resources into developing new technology so that we won't need oil in the future -- when there isn't any. That would considerably improve our chances of dealing with the situation in the Middle East with a clear mind, focused on helping those who want our help, and not clouded with worries about our own material needs.

I hope this is something most of us can agree on, independent of what politicians we are and are not fans of.
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Glenn Kempf
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

samisto wrote:
But I don't war. But if it has to be, then get it over quick with as few casulties as possible. And I truly believe that's what we will do, and then Iraq will hopefully recover and rejoin the world community. AND THE PEOPLE THERE CAN LIVE FREE. That's what I want more than anything else.


I guess that I agree with you (I assume "I don't war" means "I don't want war"; alas, I also agree with Nikolai that the deck may be loaded in favor of war regardless). Unfortunately, I'm afraid that I'm not as optimistic as you about the outcome for Iraq. I've read several editorials from writers who seem to think that if a war is won, "creating" democracy and a pro-U.S. regime in Iraq will be as easy as cake. However, I really find it hard to believe that Iraq will be able to find security, stability (among all the potential factions) or anything like a democratic system in the near future--and U.S. attempts to create one are liable to backfire severely.

At the same time, the current regime is not exactly an appealing option; I don't like the current state of things any more than you do. What's the best course? I'm really not sure... icon_confused.gif

With regard to the oil on the North Slope of Alaska: as I understand it, in addition to concerns over the impact on nature (which I also understand), the total known reserves in Alaska are quite small compared to our imports from the Middle East; they would make up at best a tiny fraction of our current consumption--less than we could potentially save simply by using our current oil supplies more efficiently (in the long run, I think that increased energy efficiency--and moving away from fossil fuels more generally--is the way to go).

I do think the US should be less dependent on Mideast oil--at the same time, I just got back from Central Asia, whose major oil deposits form one of the best alternatives...and I'm afraid I have mixed feelings there. While oil may be Central Asia's best chance for an economic recovery (it's all that's propping up Kazakhstan right now), there have already been significant environmental impacts, and so far the money has gone to a select few on top (and the behavior of US and other foreign companies has also been mixed, alas...). I suppose a balance has to be struck.
(For that reason, the environmental groups I work with in Kazakhstan support the idea of a publically monitored "oil fund," in which part of the revenues will go toward improving ordinary people's lives, not just fattening the politicians--an idea that has been tried in Alaska and Norway, for instance. But I digress...)

(Sorry for getting off the topic--especially such a timely one.)

p@,
Glenn

EDIT: I see that Eo weighed in while I was typing; I agree with him about renewable resources--but I also think that any such development will require both planning in the short term (with the resources and technology we have at hand) and in the long term.

Oh, and by the way--I'm a registered independent, neither Republican nor Democrat. (I guess I just can't agree 100% with either one. icon_wink.gif )

I'm slipping out of this thread for now; I really have too much work to do.
Good luck...
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zompist
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, I think this is our first political thread. I hope it goes better than the evolution one...

There was an excellent debate on Iraq in Slate a month or so back. There are some very good reasons both for and against war.

The basic reason for: Hussein is a proven danger to his own people and his neighbors. He's a dictator of a particularly nasty kind, he's used poison gas on his own citizens, he's invaded two of his neighbors, lobbed missiles at Israel, and funded suicide bombers. One can legitimately wonder at the position of some leftists: does this record really not bother them? are they so blinded by anti-Americanism that any other regime is free to commit whatever crimes it wants?

I used to believe in sanctions, myself; but that was a decade ago, before they were tried in Iraq, and failed. Unfortunately, that doesn't leave many alternatives, besides war, for removing a hideous regime.

The basic reason against: what happens afterward? The U.S. has a lousy record in creating democracies in trouble spots; and Iraq will very likely be ungovernable as one. It might work as three democracies (a Shi'ite south, a Sunni middle, a Kurdish north), but geopolitically this is not going to fly: the U.S. won't want another Shi'ite state around, Turkey won't stand for a Kurdish state, and dividing up Iraq would remove a counterweight to Iran.

So, either we find another military strongman (now there's a cause to die for!), or we have a power vaccuum that would be a perfect haven for al-Qaeda.

I think it's a mistake to make "terrorism" our enemy; that's a recipe for getting involved with every two-bit struggle on the planet. (Do we need to send troops to Chechnya, Mindanao, Peru, and Kashmir too?) Al-Qaeda declared war on us years ago; 9/11 showed that they are highly dangerous. It's hard to understand why we're picking fights with Iraq and North Korea when al-Qaeda has not been defeated.

On the other hand, there really is something to be said for acting like a war-crazy madman. If the worst that can happen to Hussein is a UN inspection, then he kicks the inspectors out. If the worst that can happen is a full US invasion, then he accepts the inspectors (with greater freedom of action than they've ever had). Sometimes if you want peace you have to be willing to go to war. (And hey, that works in Civ3, too!)
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do most of my posting on this topic over at Stand Down -- http://www.nowarblog.org./ It's a good resource for viewpoints on the implications and justifications for the war. I'd urge all of you to check it out.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zompist wrote:
Hmm, I think this is our first political thread. I hope it goes better than the evolution one...


I fear that this might be overly optimistic. Few political discussions are reasonal, and even less are polite. Politics just tends to get ugly- the evolution thread would never have gotten that bad if the whole thing would just be a debate between two different schools of biologists.

I am very much interested in politics, and I have some very strong political opinions. But in my almost four months on this board, as well as more than a year on it's predecessor, I've tried to talk about them as few as possible, in order to keep the board clean and to stay at least half-way on topic.

And we've just gotten closer to a full-scale flame war than the Cuban Missile Crisis got to WW3 at our first attempt to discuss something that is at least closely related to politics in the USA. Perhaps starting a debate on one of the hottest issues of the day right now might not be such a good idea.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zompist wrote:
Hmm, I think this is our first political thread. I hope it goes better than the evolution one...


agreed icon_smile.gif


About the alternate energy sources, that would be IDEAL. I'm smart enough to admit that my political party is more than a little involved with oil and gas, etc. A black eye I'm afaid is probably more true than untrue. There's a lot of jobs there for a lot of hardworking people, though (which is the silver-lining I find in it), but what's best for the country is to get away from oil. My understanding of the Alaska deal is that there is about 20 years supply under the snow. Not much, but if we use it, get rid of Middle Eastern dependency AND develop alternate sources in those 20 years, we have it! (Am I dreaming now or what???)

About Iraq . . . I know installing democracy is a good idea, but truthfully, will it work? The culture isn't particularly understanding of the concept. And seeing as how Islam is the foundation for government for a lot of nations in that region, I think democracy will be even a longer stretch.

Hussein has to go though. I'm in favor of removing him and freeing the people. Zompist is absoutely right, though, the US doesn't have the best track record here in forming viable entities afterwards, although I would say we've had good intentions most of the time.

This is turning out to be a good discussion.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

samisto wrote:

Plus, please don't discount that fact that America truly does want peace and wants a safer world. For some reason, we've yet to grow tired (as a government) of the role of global policeman. Perhaps because we're the only true superpower left. But a lot of the world is glad we do, behind closed doors obviously. I truly believe the saying "You make peace by preparing for war". Sometimes you just have to - like WWII. We had to do it - imagine the world if we didn't.


Yes, I believe America does. A lot of other people I know don't. But even if it does, a lot of the time it gets . . . sort of muddled up along the way. And the other problem is with being sole global superpower, you risk accusations of unilateralism wherever you tread.

This, for me, means that it's *extra* important to work within a multilateral framework.

It would be, interesting, n'est-ce pas, to see how the US would behave as a middle power . . . how it would accomplish its objectives and aspirations with limited resources and clout.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going to be long, and I promise a bombshell at the end. So...

----------

War on Iraq might not be such a bad thing -- but the reasons commonly cited certainly aren't the ones. Simply put, the only reason Iraq is being invaded is political and diplomatic manoeuvring -- it is a fear to the Western world that Saddam will somehow get nukes and upset the status quo. It is not pretty to have Saddam invade Kuwait again, and point nukes at the same time at Turkish bases to dare the Turks to do something. He doesn't have to fire these nukes (in fact, he won't, as that would be suicide for himself), he just needs to point nukes in various crucial directions and let the missiles sitting in their silos to work their magic.

America and the rest of the West obviously understands this, and a large anti-West empire able to dictate everything from borders to oil prices isn't in the best interest of America. Hence the West should, in self-interest, remove Saddam.

But that's in self-interest.

What about democracy? What about the war against terrorism? Heck, I'm going to be blunt. The "rulers" of the West may or may not believe in these lofty ideas, but the delicate manoeuvring of the world do not allow these "rulers" to practice them.

America has a history of propping up dictators - often in the face of populous resistance. America has a history of setting up extremists to do its bidding - Saddam and bin Laden come to mind. In the political world, democracies are a wildcard, especially in poor nations - they are prone to sudden swings from left to right and occasional implosions. Hence America has to install dictators into governments to ensure that they stay loyal (and even then, many don't). Hamid Karzai is not a democratically-elected leader. He is a warlord. Ironically that is what's keeping Afghanistan from becoming an al-Qaeda training camp again.

The "intentions" of democracy may or may not exist in the top layers of government. But the intention of national interest does, and often national interest consists of propping up these dictators, selling them American weapons, and closing one eye while they do what they like to their own nations. Somewhere along the way, the "intention of democracy" ceases to be important. Far from being the "guiding light of democracy", America gives an entirely different benefit to the world. It maintains the Pax Americana, the uneasy peace that is often kept by force and tyranny. Perhaps the world is better off for it - perhaps this is how the world can thrive, how the world can keep itself from destruction. But "democracy" isn't it.

----------

On June 4, 1989, armed government soldiers fired upon unarmed student demonstrators in Tian'anmen Square, Beijing. They fired indiscriminately into the crowd, into buildings, and their tanks crushed citizens in their wake. Hundreds - perhaps thousands - died in that night. The movement for democracy in China was dispersed and destroyed. Some leaders fled to the West; others spent years in jail. Today China remains ruled by the Chinese Communist Party.

In the meantime, China's growth rate - even if you take into account exaggerations and mis-reports - remains phenomenal. In ten years, a quarter of the Chinese population will reach a standard of living equivalent to middle class. One by one, the cities are turning from Stalinist dumps into ultramodern metropolises - the change is spreading in the countryside as well, starting from the affluent East Coast and working its way up the rivers, up the hills.

But unstable factors remain. Government-owned businesses were sold off to individuals, and millions - perhaps tens of millions, were laid off. Perhaps 150 million peasants are roaming into the cities looking for work. Not to mention the Falun Gong, which has challenged the government's doctrine with its own fanaticism and coherence. China fears it as Rome feared Christianity.

Let's go back to June 4, 1989. Let's say the army mutinied. Let's say China's leaders were marched out like Ceausescu and shot. Let's say China turned into a democracy overnight.

The government-owned businesses would have collapsed in the next week. 200 million workers would find themselves without any form of living. The currency would have collapsed. The peasantry would be in uproar as the economy unraveled and deprived them of their only source of income. A whopping 1 billion people would be in uproar in China.

As regionalistic and religious movements seize the frenzies of people in a power vacuum, China breaks down into a confused mass of civil war. Keep in mind that China has nuclear missiles locked away in army bases - armies that are now engaged in confused fighting with each other.

This is not an impossible scenario. It would have been inevitable. China is too big, and the disparity between rich and poor is too great. There are too many undergrouind movements, too many systemic problems. National collapses has brought China to its knees before, and has ended the golden ages of the Han, Tang, Song, and Ming. Such a collapse pushed Mao into power in the first place. Even today, Indonesia has yet to recover from its own disintegration. China has survived by perfecting the art of bureaucracy, meritocracy and technocracy -- and continues to do so. As I stood beneath the Oriental Pearl Tower and Jinmao building in Shanghai, and looked upon the geometric, futuristic skyscrapers, the lapping waters of the Huangpu River and the glittering metropolis built metaphorically overnight, I can only painfully remember that all this was paid with blood.

And it's the ultimate experience of being Chinese, the experience of being all too painfully aware of the contradictions and dilemmas of politics that caused me to form my points about America. America will go into Iraq and kill civilians. They will bomb bridges clogged by refugees. They will misread maps and blow up hospitals, or schools, instead of a missile silo. They will destroy any semblance of the Iraqi economy and put the lives of millions of Iraqis on arrest for a decade. There will be no democracy in Iraq for a long time. And the world will benefit from it, since the world can continue in its painful grindings that allow some people to eat and prevent nukes from flying. This is how civilization is sustained.

This is the Pax Americana.

----------

Whew! Now... let the flames flow!!
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Glenn Kempf
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back for a moment--but not to do any flaming on either side (I don't like flames icon_sad.gif ). To ranskaldan: I really, really hate to admit it, but I do see your point on China. I can't say that a "democratic breakdown" would be inevitable, but it would certainly be possible. (I do think a democratic way out of such an impasse is not impossible, but in the context, it wouldn't have been likely.) In that sense, it may have been a good thing that the system held together (although I still condemn the methods).

Much of the reason I say this is that I've spent much of the last several years in the former USSR, which did undergo a free-for-all breakdown--politically, economically, and socially--that enriched a few while impoverishing the majority. And many of my friends and colleagues there admit that they wish the Soviet Union had followed the "Chinese path" (whether that would have been possible is another question).

Likewise with Iraq: I don't like the current situation (or the potential threat), but I'm also not optimistic about the aftermath of a war there; it's a Catch-22. (Once again, I can't rule anything out, but...).

p@,
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah. As an almost-rule, democracy isn't too good for conflictious lations.
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Glenn Kempf
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But neither is dictatorship; it may keep the lid on, but it doesn't keep the pressure from building up--and eventually exploding. That's the Catch-22.

p@,
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't exactly disagree with Ranskaldan, but I'd put it in a different perspective. I think democracy, ultimately, is better. Democracy makes for more responsive governments, more prosperity, and less militarism.

But it takes time to get one-- generations of time. You can't just have an election and have yourself a democracy. People used to dictatorships don't have the education, realistic expectations, and mental habits to make it work.

The U.S. helped create democracies in Europe and Japan after WWII-- but it wasn't starting from scratch; in both places there was an educated population and some level of republican experience. Plus, the U.S. was willing to invest something like ten times our current level of foreign aid. (I think we're going to come to regret not doing the same in the ex-USSR.)

Deng probably had the right medium-term plan: put democracy on hold and work on increasing prosperity. In the long term, however, I think the Chinese people will demand democracy again, and I hope they get it. If they're prosperous, however, they won't have much reason to tear the country apart.

The main problem with realpolitik, however, is that pursuing nothing but American self-interest, we can end up in terrible situations that directly threaten our self-interest. We depose an Iranian prime minister in the '50s and congratulate ourselves for maintaining our predominance; and then the place blows up 25 years later. We finance "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan in the '70s and congratulate ourselves on embarrassing or even destroying the USSR; and people blow up buildings in New York 25 years later.

So, sure, let's pursue geopolitical stability in the medium term; but let's not make ourselves too evil while doing it, and let's keep democracy as the long-term goal.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that I have a little more leisure to post (as in five minutes as opposed to two) let me just weigh in on a couple things here.

1. It says nothing good about the state of the West that it is reduced from making war on genuine, present threats to making war on the ghost of a chance of a threat. Iraq very clearly* presents no present threat to its neighbours or to the United States. The war being proposed is therefore a war of aggression every bit as gratuitous and foolish as any adventure Hussein himself ever undertook. The rest of the West is going along, with reluctance, because they know too well how expensive it could be to openly defy the States.

(* - I say again, VERY clearly. The evidence of this is in the rhetoric of the pro-war camp, which has been reduced to pretending - ludicrously - that biological and chemical weapons are in the same class as nukes as "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and has repeatedly been caught falsifying or simply inventing "reports" alleging that Iraq Is About to Have the Bomb.)

Probable outcomes:

War will kill a large number of the people supposedly being "saved" from Hussein's hideous regime, and it will very likely touch off chaos and destruction in the region.

War is highly unlikely to install any sort of "democracy" or improve the lives of Iraqis.

War is highly likely to torpedo any long-term hopes for peace in the region, not to mention guaranteeing anti-US terrorist groups a near-endless river of new recruits for decades to come.

2. The correct conclusion to draw from all this is not that Bush and Co. are stupid and short-sighted, but rather than they have, in fact, no interest in peace, in the people of Iraq or in making their "War on Terrorism" winnable.

What are their likely objectives, then? As far as I can see they are:

- the point by point implementation of the vision of worldwide conquest and perpetual military supremacy laid out in "Rebuilding America's Defenses," a report by the Project for the New American Century written before Bush came to power. Seemingly baffling behaviours, from the Axis of Evil sophistry to the desperate attempts to provoke war with Iraq, to the announcement of pre-emptive (possibly nuclear) strikes as foundational American military doctrine -- all were mooted first in this report. And there's much more, and much worse, to come.

- the undermining of any semblance international law and institutions in favour of arbitrary power. One might argue that this happened long ago, in fact, and that Bush and Co are now simply stripping away the polite fictions -- but the unprecedented degree of hostility this whole business has brought from traditional allies should make them wonder if there wasn't something useful in those polite fictions.

- the creation of a near0permanent state of war (Dick Cheney has referred to the coming period as "the next hundred years' war"). Since this can't possibly be in the interests of American safety, one can only suspect the goal is to acquire leverage, through fear, to implement their domestic agenda virtually unchallenged. (In fact, that's precisely how the Administration has used the War on Terror, of which Iraq is supposedly a part, in the past. Remember the conveniently-timed terror alerts when the "Bush knew" scandals broke? Remember Ari Fleischer brazenly stating afterwards that of course these were manipulation?)

To those of us watching what's happening from outside the borders of the US, it's that last item that's by far the most chilling. Much of the world has believed, for a long time, in the fundamental American faith in freedom and justice (at least within its borders). To see that same country suspend virtually every article of jurisprudence for loosely-defined "terrorists" and "enemy combatants," to see that same country claiming the right to arbitrarily assassinate its own citizens, flout the Geneva Conventions, implement torture and make major legal decisions via secret courts and shadow governments... not long ago this stuff would have sounded cartoonish, laughable. Not any more.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

America isn't doing anything just to be evil, though. Few national leaders would ever do that. American leadership does things that they perceive to be in the best interest of America and themselves (global dominance, economic leadership, markets, campaign funding, votes, etc). and Not all of these things are bad for the world, really.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ranskaldan wrote:
America isn't doing anything just to be evil, though. Few national leaders would ever do that. American leadership does things that they perceive to be in the best interest of America and themselves (global dominance, economic leadership, markets, campaign funding, votes, etc). and Not all of these things are bad for the world, really.


Nor are all of them good for the world, or for Americans. I would argue that whether or not they perceive themselves as evil, I'm not sure how else to describe the launch of a frontal assault on the traditions of the first modern democracy and deliberately undertaking to provoke war in multiple theatres around the globe.

If that sounds over the top, it's because the events currently taking place are over the top. They call for strong language.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
ranskaldan wrote:
America isn't doing anything just to be evil, though. Few national leaders would ever do that. American leadership does things that they perceive to be in the best interest of America and themselves (global dominance, economic leadership, markets, campaign funding, votes, etc). and Not all of these things are bad for the world, really.


Nor are all of them good for the world, or for Americans. I would argue that whether or not they perceive themselves as evil, I'm not sure how else to describe the launch of a frontal assault on the traditions of the first modern democracy and deliberately undertaking to provoke war in multiple theatres around the globe.

If that sounds over the top, it's because the events currently taking place are over the top. They call for strong language.


That was me. Sorry, forgot to log in.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

America is acting like a normal country instead of an idealistic angelic entity. But it always has. I wouldn't consider the ideal of "spreading democracy around the world" more than that -- an ideal. Some politicians may cherish it, but most use the concept simply as justification/excuse for various diplomatic manoeuvres. And as I said, not all of these manoeuvres are actually harmful to the world.

I would agree though that messing up the public relations campaign on this current war has been a very serious mistake.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had an interesting assignment in my Art History course - we are studying the Romantic movement. We were told to pick a Romantic painting and switch the characters in it to people who are relevant to the modern day. Out of the four students in the class, all of us chose Goya's "The Third of May", which depicts a massacre of Spanish civilians by French soldiers. All of us had President Bush ad one of the French riflemen. My friend Jaewon chose to put as the vicitims symbols of things that Bush is going to have to destroy if his intent is to destroy terrorism. Some are a bit far-fetched, but there were a few religious figures, a bomb (representing the chain reaction he will set off by firing this shot), and a human brain. I thought that his collage was the most interesting.

This just shows the way people think similarly at a time like this.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

samisto wrote:
My understanding of the Alaska deal is that there is about 20 years supply under the snow. Not much, but if we use it, get rid of Middle Eastern dependency AND develop alternate sources in those 20 years, we have it! (Am I dreaming now or what???)


I've heard there's a six-month supply under the Alaska Arctic refuge. Now, probably neither of those figures are right. But it does make you wonder if there is really anything near a 20-year supply. Especially considering a 20-year supply is about 143 billion barrels, assuming oil consumption rates stop rising. If they keep rising at the current rate (2% per year) a 20-year supply would be 174 billion barrels. (And I just calculated that myself, from figures from the Energy Information Administration report, so this isn't hearsay or speculation.)

In addition I've heard from several places that the Alaskan oil couldn't hit the market for a decade.

samisto wrote:
. . .I won't deny that some of the reason is oil. It has to be. Oil is the "oil" which lubes our economy. Everyone benefits from it either directly on indirectly. You want to pay $4 a gallon for gas? I can't help but think the very people who cry out this war is for oil (not you specifically) would be the first to bemoan a huge gas hike and all the other things associated with a significant lessening of our national oil supply.


I can say for myself, you're wrong here. I would adore a huge gas hike. Maybe it would finally convince the American people that they do not have an inalienable right to cheap gas, come hell or high water. Maybe it would convice them to stop buying gas-guzzling monstrosities. Maybe it would convince investors that the time is long overdue to start funneling the necessary money into the development of alternative energy sources. The alternatives are there, if more than a handful of people with enough money cared.

samisto wrote:
Knowing that, why we can't use 2,000 acres in Alaska to ween ourselves from Arab oil is beyond me. It's a near-sighted policy, I think and we wouldn't even hurt any animals doing it!


Sorry, I have to inform you, you've been listening to propaganda. I repect your position, but you've been misinformed. The 2,000 acres applies only to where oil-pump facilities would actually rest. The plan allows for an unlimited array of development, roads, pipes, etc. estimated to take up at least ten times as much area. And it would be in the heart of the coastal plain, the biodiversity hotspot of the refuge, and quite possibly of the entire North American Arctic.

The drilling would critically disrupt a major birthing grounds for caribou, not to mention putting critically destructive pressure on nearly a tenth of the worlds polar bears, and disrupting at least 200 species of migratory birds. Not to mention, forcing the native Gwich'in people to abandon their traditional lifestyle.

In addition, proven population ecology models predict that the damage has the strong likelihood of being far greater, and extending far beyond the just the immediate, direct effects.

And that's assuming no accidents. Which is far from a realistic assumption given the history of the companies in question (including Chevron, BP, and Exxon).

No. Drilling in the Alaskan Arctic Refuge is neither harmless, nor effective. Nor, in my mind, remotely acceptable.


Last edited by Aidan on Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:46 pm, edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Touche, Aidan.

That is my side of the issue. I have heard (probably not reliably) that there is only a 50-year supply left. I say we realize that we will need power after whatever time that the supply runs out.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zompist wrote:

But it takes time to get one-- generations of time. You can't just have an election and have yourself a democracy. People used to dictatorships don't have the education, realistic expectations, and mental habits to make it work.


In support of this, note the difference between Pakistan and India, post-colonialism. India was lucky - it had Delhi, a majority of the population, and most of the bureaucracy which had been already established by the British. By contrast, the Muslim section of the ex-colony had a much lower proportion of educated citizens, not to mention a whopping great country in between the two halves of it. The Hindus also had a strong sense of solidarity and unity, which (perhaps inevitably when dealing with a split state), the Muslims did not.

So, the result was that India was one of very few post-colonialist countries to attain (and maintain) political stability. The same reason other ex-British colonies, America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand managed it - an educated, well-established and resourced populace (or, at least, section of the populace). Nothing to do with inherent stability of governments set up by Anglo-Saxons.

This is why people are concerned: war doesn't build up infrastructure, it tears it down. Only when Iraqis are well-fed, free from factional strife, and have a positive image of other democracies (eg. the US and UK) will they consider democracy to be the best solution to their problems.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
For some reason, we've yet to grow tired (as a government) of the role of global policeman. Perhaps because we're the only true superpower left.


I think as global policeman the U.S. actually fulfills the role originally intended for the U.N; but the U.N. is hampered by a number of external and internal problems, and cannot/will not always act as it should. (Some problems are political and related to the structure set up by the U.N. Charter; another is simply that much of the world isn't ready to participate in U.N.-style planetary decision-making and crisis-arbitration.)

But I'm not sure we should be global policeman as policy--which, arguably, we are now.

As for Iraq: I'd give my personal greenlight to ousting Saddam if only someone would come up with a well-researched plan for post-war occupation--say, like we had in Germany or Japan following WW II. Hell, we and Britian were planning the postwar world in 1944, long before we'd defeated anybody; that's the major reason that WW II had a far, far better denouement than WW I. But I feel we're going into Iraq like Rambo--shooting and blowing shit up, but with no overall plan about how the pieces should be glued back together.
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