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I Don't Support The Troops

Joel Stein:

I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. This is a particularly difficult opinion to have, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to put bumper stickers on his car. Supporting the troops is a position that even Calvin is unwilling to urinate on.

I'm sure I'd like the troops. They seem gutsy, young and up for anything. If you're wandering into a recruiter's office and signing up for eight years of unknown danger, I want to hang with you in Vegas.

And I've got no problem with other people -- the ones who were for the Iraq war -- supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money off of.

But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken -- and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.

Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there -- and who might one day want to send them somewhere else. Trust me, a guy who thought 50.7% was a mandate isn't going to pick up on the subtleties of a parade for just service in an unjust war. He's going to be looking for funnel cake.

Right. Because one day we "hawks" may want to send our troops off to another troublesome part of the world to topple oppressive dictators and install democratic governments. What an awful thought.

The screed continues:

After we've decided that we made a mistake, we don't want to blame the soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or even our representatives, who were deceived by false intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who failed to object to a war we barely understood.

But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by the way, is also Jack Abramoff's pet name for the House of Representatives.

I do sympathize with people who joined up to protect our country, especially after 9/11, and were tricked into fighting in Iraq. I get mad when I'm tricked into clicking on a pop-up ad, so I can only imagine how they feel.

But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam. . . .

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

What is wrong with honoring the job our troops have done in Iraq? They went there to defeat a truly evil ruler prone to feeding political dissidents into plastic shredders and ordering rapes as a solution to voters who cast their ballots the wrong way, and defeat him they did. Since that defeat our troops have been engaged in rebuilding roads, sewer systems, schools and hospitals. They have also given Iraqi citizens the opportunity to elect representatives to write a constitution, design a government and then elect people to serve in that government all while protecting these same citizens from monsters who would use terror attacks to prevent democracy from flourishing in the middle easts.

Sure we're doing all of this out of self-interest. After all, the key to protecting our own country from terror threats is to go to the region from whence said terrorism came, topple the rogue terror-sponsoring countries that exist there and install democratic governments of the people in their place. But as self-serving as our objectives in Iraq (and Afghanistan) may be, there is no denying that we are leaving that country in a better state than we found it.

If that doesn't earn our troops - then men and women on the ground who have made the above objectives possible with their blood, sweat and tears - a parade I'm not sure who, in the annals of history, has ever been worthy of one.

Will the war in Iraq make us safer from global terrorism? Has it been worth the expense paid both in tax dollars and American blood? My answer is a resounding "yes" to both questions, but I'll grant that each are valid and worthy of debate. Yet even if your answer is "no" to both questions saying that our troops somehow aren't worthy of a sincere "thank you" for the good they have fought for overseas is ridiculous on its very face.

It is petty and cheap and has no place in our national debate.

Michelle Malkin and James Joyner have more.

(via Newslinker)

You can read more from Rob Port at SayAnythingBlog.com


Update: Joel Stein responds... OK, it's Jim Treacher, but it sure sounds like Stein...


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Comments (38)

Perhaps it's because of col... (Below threshold)
Yogurt:

Perhaps it's because of columnists like this there readership/income is diving and share price is plummeting..hmmm.

Please write more Joel, share them with the NY Slimes, never mind, their shares are already diving also :P

I think this sentence needs... (Below threshold)
Mister Tan:

I think this sentence needs to be torn to shreds:

"It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward."

"No pressing national interest?" To say nothing of Vietnam, what exactly does Mr. Stein think our reason was for going to Iraq? Was it cowboy Bush itching for a fight? Bush-the-dupe of the evil neocons? American imperialism at its blatant worst? And how did Stein determine what's in the national interest? He has lived in NYC for some time. While he was still sitting at class in Stanford for the first WTC attack, he had a front row seat for 9/11. There's rationale in the form of combating global terrorists, bringing liberty, democracy and eventually some long term stability to a region that is vitally important to the world economy, not to mention the pure humanitarian reasons.

How does Stein reconcile his views with the excavation of mass graves, stories from victims of rape & torture, and the pure joy of people who now have a voice in voting on their country's destiny?

Arg. Annoying.

Why is this surprising. It'... (Below threshold)
ICallMasICM:

Why is this surprising. It's like when you hear a pro jock say 'It's not about the money' it's about the money. When you hear 'But I support the troops' they don't support the troops.

Hmmmm.Aren't we fo... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Aren't we fortunate to have such liberal elites to watch over us.

Gotta admit that this guy h... (Below threshold)
KF:

Gotta admit that this guy has some guts (or has a twisted way of wanting attention). As a pacifist he believes that "war is bad and therefore unnecessary". Pretty hard to argue that "war is good", but he misses the issue of necessity. We can argue the issues of whether we needed to be there all day long, but only history will bear that out. For now, all we can do is believe this is the right thing to do for our country and for other potential victims of terrorism. Those of us supporting this effort recognize the guts it took GW to make such a choice, and the courage it takes for our troops to see it through. Mr. Stein is someone who is willing to make a stand for his right to make no choice at all. I am sure he understands that these choices will continue be made on his behalf so that he has fodder for his column.

Mister Tan: While I share ... (Below threshold)
Jim Price:

Mister Tan: While I share 95% of your sentiment, it's disconcerting when I hear people throw 9/11 into the mix as justification for war in Iraq.

Even if the Iraqi's were happy at our fate on that day, it doesn't mean they caused it.

Granted, I have supported Bush's decision for war in Iraq for other reasons- but war is no light matter. I had to think about the fact that Iraq never once attacked US soil. Invading a country that's never risen against your country in a like manner is a touchy subject.

From what we've been told (and I realize by nature that in itself makes the info suspect) the thugs who perpetrated 9/11 were, I believe, all of Saudi Arabian nationality.

Where is retribution against Saudi Arabia? There is a far more clear link between 9/11 and Saudi Arabia than 9/11 and Iraq.

Why do they get a free pass? Is it the leverage they exert by being in control of large amounts of oil? I won't deny that bad relations with them would hurt us in that area.

All I'm saying is, if we're rising against global terrorism as a noble and supreme mission, why haven't we moved against the country that presented those responsible for so many needless civilian deaths on that horrible day?

Am I the only one who thinks about things like this and just wants to see some consistency?


The difference between Joel... (Below threshold)
sentinel:

The difference between Joel Stein and me:

I am willing to die so he can be free to believe anything he wants.

He is not willing to do the same for me.

One might also ask what the... (Below threshold)
cmd:

One might also ask what the "pressing national interest" was that put us smack dab in the middle of the Serbian killing fields when the syphillitic hillbilly infested the White House. I seem to recall he got a pass on that one from lock-step leftists like Stein.

Well, at least Stein is bei... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Well, at least Stein is being consistent and in-line in his anti-war stance.

Having said that, should the day ever come when the Islamofacists are running over our country, raping women, murdering gays, burning books, blowing up churches and generally taking civilization back to the 7th century, or the Iranians have aided al Qaeda in planting a nuke or dirty bomb in Bryant Park or Times Square or the Embarcadero in S.F., that Stein remembers and is happy with his consistency in not supporting our troops.

What a feckless turd.

There was an interesting lo... (Below threshold)
jim b:

There was an interesting local case of a writer doing something similar. A local retired Marine, and Cop, challenged him to a boxing match. He publicised it. With ref and all.

The guy (writer) nearly crapped himself and ran off.

He tended to moderate his writing a touch after that, because the image of real consequences filled his mind, his being, and his thoughts.

I think it ruined him without one punch being thrown.

I would have loved to have seen him take the challenge. Apparently he did not have the courage of his convictions.

Perhaps, Jim, 9/11 served t... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

Perhaps, Jim, 9/11 served to point out that what we had considered an acceptable risk a la Saddam Hussein wan't an acceptable risk any longer. Perhaps 9/11 served to point out that some things can not be allowed to fester. Perhaps 9/11 served to point out that the proper response to terrorism is not to play an international version of "Whack-A-Mole" where the group that causes the latest outrage only gets a whack and all others can sit safe in their holes. Perhaps it served to point out that the proper response was to start taking the "Whack-A-Mole" game to pieces, permanently.

We can argue where the USA should have started, but it is quite clear that after 9/11 something radically different needed to be done about state sponsored terrorism and the illusion of plausible deniability.

Just a thought.

Mikey, good answer. That's... (Below threshold)
Jim Price:

Mikey, good answer. That's my whole point. What exactly are we doing? And why?

Are we spreading democracy? Does our brand really work?

We sit here at home in admiration for the brave Iraqi citizens who are sacrificing for a worthy cause. But is that an accurate depiction? To be sure, the removal of a brutal dictator is worthy of sacrifice. But does not sacrifice require a choice? Those people had no choice. They're not sacrificing anything. They're being penalized for our agenda, because they never had (or made) a choice.

I agree with you that after 9/11 we took pause to consider all that was dangerous and wrong. But have we really taken stock honestly? What's our motive?

The Bible says to put your own house in order first. Have we done that?

The Bible says to remove the plank in your own eye before removing the speck in your neighbor's. Have we done that?

We say our brand of democracy brings freedom and stability- And every day right here at home we legally sanction the killing of hundreds of unborn babies. Where is the freedom that we claim others should sacrifice so much for?

We say our brand of democracy brings freedom and stability- Yet our prison population grows larger every year. Is it really working?

Speaking out against homosexuality is hate speech. Calling a heterosexual a "homohobe" is okay, though. Lopsided freedom? In favor of special interests? Is it working?

Our constituton guarantees freedom of religion. But now, "freedom from religion" trumps that right every day. Where did freedom from religion come from, and how did it crop up from this wonderful model of democracy?

We're so free we can catch a fish whenever we want- as long as we pay off a government agency first.

We're free enough to drive a car at any time day or night- as long as we've paid off the right agency first.

We're free to earn a living of our chosing- while our government robs us of an ever growing portion of the fruits of our labor that they didn't earn- and sometimes gives it away to another, without even asking if it's okay with us. Am I missing the demonstration of how well democracy works here?

Do you understand the disconnect I'm driving at? It's not that I disagree with doing what's in our best intersts, because I don't. But if we go around preaching a democracy that we don't practice with aparent success, how will that message be recieved? Will it be recieved at all? Will we look like arrogant hypocrites and be met with forceful rejection and dissent?

And if it's riddled with problems, why do we spend our time and money pushing it to others instead of taking care of our own problems first?

And when do we honestly admit it's not as great at home as we try to convince others it is?

That brings me back to motive. You and I agree that something needs to be done. So what in the hell is our motive in Iraq? And what do we truly have to offer them as a solution, once we've examined the many things gone wrong in our own implementation?

I don't take issue with our country doing something good. As a former US Marine, I hold our troops in the highest regard. My questions are more of motive and truth.

Jim Price:Yes, I a... (Below threshold)
Mister Tan:

Jim Price:

Yes, I actually considered the linkage between 9/11 and Iraq as I was posting. There are many articles written by folks with a lot more knowledge than me that highlight the linkages between 9/11, terrorism, and Iraq. Of course, your political leanings somewhat determine whether or not you find merit in the arguments. I, for one, believe that we are striking a blow against Islamofacist terrorists by succeeding in Iraq, and retreat would be have negative ramifications for years for both American and worldwide security and stability.

I found one of your comments especially interesting: ("I had to think about the fact that Iraq never once attacked US soil. Invading a country that's never risen against your country in a like manner is a touchy subject.") I see your point, but also feel as if the assumption behind it is rooted in the style of warfare that existed in the increasingly distant past. First of all, don't forget that Iraq invaded Kuwait to begin with. So while Iraq didn't attack the US directly, it was the aggressor to stability within a region crucial to the world economy. Also, while Iraq would never realistically be able to take on the US in a conventional war, what about sponsoring country-less terrorists that are hostile to the West? Does the potential development of WMDs change the equation, in that a militarily insignificant country (or group of people) from a conventional standpoint could inflict major destruction on us or an ally? Do we need to wait for someone to attack us in order to respond, or is there a role for pre-emption? I admit that there's concern about a slippery slope here, but if we look just at Afghanistan and Iraq for a moment, I feel that both were justified.

This post is getting overly long, but the issue of Saudi Arabia you raise is interesting. I have to admit that I haven't thought through that much. But I'd hazard that being at least a nominal ally, the way we combat terrorism with Saudia Arabia ought to be radically different than how we did so with Iraq; we needn't have a consistent response to two very different countries.

I actually admire Mr. Stein... (Below threshold)
RA:

I actually admire Mr. Stein. He is telling the truth for all to hear. This is something liberals have learned never to do.

He is saying what a large plurality of Democrats are thinking but don't want the rest of America to know because we would call them unpatriotic or traitors.

Thank you Mr. Stein for clarifying the disloyal opposition's position for all of us.

Jim P.Sorry to be ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Jim P.

Sorry to be a buttinski, but I believe a few of your points need clarification:

I had to think about the fact that Iraq never once attacked US soil. Invading a country that's never risen against your country in a like manner is a touchy subject.

First sentence is true to in the most classic sense of being invaded. However, Ramzi Yousef, the chief architect behind the 1993 bombing of the WTC and the nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM), was assisted by an Iraqi bomb maker and known Iraq Intelligence Service agent named Abdul Rahman Yasin. Yasin proceeded to flee back to Iraq where he surfaced for a short time then disappeared and has not been seen or heard from sense but is believed to still be in Iraq.

So, while that's not invasion per se, it's certainly a state-sponsored attack, as was the attempted assisination of the first President Bush.

...the thugs who perpetrated 9/11 were, I believe, all of Saudi Arabian nationality.

Mostly, but not all. There were also from the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon (aka: Little Syria).

Where is retribution against Saudi Arabia? There is a far more clear link between 9/11 and Saudi Arabia than 9/11 and Iraq.

The retribution has been backdoor diplomatic pressure in nature, but no military response. In return, the Saudis have cracked down militant groups and terrorists within their borders (though probably not as much as most of us would like to see) and have likely assisted in interrogations of captured terrorists.

...why haven't we moved against the country that presented those responsible for so many needless civilian deaths on that horrible day?

Quite simply, it is not just one country that perpetrated 9/11. It was and remains a regional socio-politcal dynamic/movement that is has been infested with hatred for Israel and the West. Thanks to oppressive theocracies (Iran), dictatorships (Saddam's Iraq), monarchies (S.A., Jordan to some extent) and thugocracies (The Taliban) that feed the beast of Islamofacism by not allowing and deeply restricting basic freedoms and rights, we get the nuts that brought us 9/11. That's how they get and stay in power.

Let me ask you this: If President Bush had said during his 2002 SOTU, "Listen, America, here's the deal. It wasn't just Al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11. It was the entire culture of the Middle East, one where oppression and hatred rules supreme. Yes, we're taking care of the Taliban and AQ, but this cuts a lot deeper than just them. The entire Middle East is the problem, and if we can plant the seeds of democracy, maybe not one exactly like ours (Lord knows, that's probably not possible), but one with some basic human freedoms and rights that might inspire and motivate others in the region to overthrow their oppressive and murderous regimes, are you for it? It's a big gamble. but one we have to try. And the perfect place to start? A country known for its terrorist ties, pursuit and, perhaps, possession of WMD and that's really vulnerable in the heart of the Middle East: Iraq. Would you be for it? Or should we just go back to our Whack-A-Mole approach that really hasn't worked? Oh, by the way I'm going to ask Cogress to make a formal Declaration of War."

What if Bush had said that?

Funny thing is, he has for a couple years. Just that very few people want to hear it.

Jim:First, while s... (Below threshold)
Mister Tan:

Jim:

First, while some Iraqis have been caught up in the current turmoil (esp. in the Sunni Triangle), I'd hardly say they're being "penalized for our agenda." That's debatable at best. I'd say that the majority Shias and the Kurds would consider life under Saddam to be a much stiffer penalty.

As to your many points on whether we have any right or responsibility to look after our interests outside of the US when we still have our own problems, I think if you take the long view, the answer is a clear yes. The point is that I don't think we can afford to stick our heads in the sand about problems abroad that will affect us eventually. And while I totally don't mean to dismiss your concerns about problems in the US (I agree with you actually), it's like a man who says he wants to cure the rash on his neck before he tackles the skin cancer on his leg. We won't ever have a perfect system, but that's no excuse for inactivity when a problem is identified.

Okay, gotta get back to work!

Behind all the bravado to t... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Behind all the bravado to the contrary, the Pentagon is definitely analyzing what went wrong in Iraq Iraq "is clearly a one-off," said a Pentagon official who is working on the top-to-bottom study, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review. "There is certainly no intention to do it again." It appears that 9/11 was not quite the Damascus like experience for the Pentagon that it was for so many conservatives like Rob and Jay. Reading between the lines of the study, it seems very critical of way the Iraqi war was conducted and the less than coherent military and political strategy. The review makes the observation that "Rumsfeld has long opposed an increase in the size of the military, in part because of cost" but no one is suggesting that he as Pentagon secrtary doesn't support the troops. In any event, the budgetary focus of the American military bulidup in the next few years will not be on' the global threat from terrorism' as we may have been led to believe but on the growing threat to American hegemony from China, according to these officials.

"There is certainly no i... (Below threshold)

"There is certainly no intention to do it again."

Wow -- so the Pentagon wants to avoid "fighting the last war," a habit for which military planners have been pounded for generations.

I don't really see the downside to that, Crick. It demonstrates a recognition that military strategy rarely survives first contact with the enemy.

And that's something us armchair generals have been pointing out for ... generations.

But you keep right on trying to turn that into a political problem for Bush. It's what makes you such a charming fellow.

This is wrong on so many le... (Below threshold)
kevino:

This is wrong on so many levels it's revolting.

First of all, Mark doesn't appear to understand how this all works. This is a republic. We vote on the people who make the decisions. Once its decided, the soldiers follow orders - period. That's it. If he wants to stop the war, then it has to come from changing the minds of the President or a majority of the Congress. You don't blame the people who are following orders: it's not their call.

Secondly, he doesn't seem to understand what a pacifist is. If you're a pacifist, then you're anti-war. So sending troops to Kosovo and the Balkans, where we bombed people from high altitude without UN approval in an operation that doesn't do much of anything for US national security is not being a pacifist. Where do these people come from? They are against War, because War is a terrible thing, but they constantly want to send US troops to every hotspot on the planet as long as it doesn't benefit us.

And finally, we have a lot to gain and a lot to loose in Iraq. If Mark doesn't believe that, then fine, let's vote on pulling out or let's here a plan to end it. Oh, that's right: we did. Rep. Murtha's plan to cut-and-run went down in flames, and Rep. Pelosi says that the Defeat-o-crats will not put forward any proposal on Iraq for 2006. They have nothing to say -- nothing constructive to add to the conversation.

I'm glad that the LA Times is going broke.
It's like all those years when I had to fly Eastern Airlines. When they went under, I said, "Good! They deserve it."

The LA Times, The Eastern Airlines of journalism: "We don't meet even our low standards" or "We're not happy 'til you're not happy."

Stein may be a failed comed... (Below threshold)

Stein may be a failed comedian, and a rather desperate attention whore, but he's not hiding behind some chickenshit "nuanced" answer that 99% of the rest of the "anti-war" crowd seems to have taken on. None of this "I support the troops but not the war" crap, which is so utterly dishonest that it makes me ill when I hear the vast majority of the Democratic leadership spouting it.

His message is wrong, he has no grasp of history, he's bad at faux-comedy, and his writing sucks, but hes got the moral fortitude to stick by his position right-or-wrong and you can't say that for most of his ilk.

McGehee, Bush has repeatedl... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

McGehee, Bush has repeatedly said "failure is not an option, stay the course"..He has continously raised the stakes by urging 'bring them on' and so forth..that it is definitely more than a just a political problem for him..It (the Iraqi war) is an 800 pound gorilla in the room..and it didn't have to be...We are now finding out why a such a ruthless thug (Saddam) managed to stay in power for so many years..except that we as 'the infidels' already unloved and not the native sons can't imitate him, with a police /authoritarian state, this close to Mecca..I support our troops because they have been thrown in into such an impossible situation. Yes, the 9/11 hatred that caused 19 men to deliberately fly into the Twin Towers and Pentagon is very real, in the Muslim Arab world. (I think Bush even has understimated this) Therefore, our strategy should be at containing that hatred, and capturing Al Queda ringleaders and eliminating their Taleban protectors as it was, not further inflaming them by deciding to finish Saddam off, because it was an opportune time..In hindsight, it was a very inopportune time to settle old scores, through an invasion that has become a long costly ocupation.

...Therefore, our strate... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

...Therefore, our strategy should be at containing that hatred, and capturing Al Queda ringleaders and eliminating their Taleban protectors as it was, not further inflaming them by deciding to finish Saddam off, because it was an opportune time...

To what end? So our grand children can deal with it later?

B Moe..Saddam apperars to h... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

B Moe..Saddam apperars to have been wobbling and the 'fact' that he was willing to contemplate allowing so many American inspectators in gives credence to the theory he really had no WMDs.

How fortunate for Mr. Stein... (Below threshold)
RattRigg:

How fortunate for Mr. Stein that he has the freedom to choose who he will support and who he will not.

Maybe in his next column he will thank the soldiers that provide him with that luxery, with or without his support.

Crikey, Cricky -- where has... (Below threshold)

Crikey, Cricky -- where has that vaunted and terrible Arab Street been, if it's so formidable and so dedicated to our destruction?

Last I saw them they were protesting terrorists and Ba'athists -- not us.

I think people are looking ... (Below threshold)

I think people are looking into his column the wrong way. He never said "I hope they die". He just stated the stance the most liberals have, but are afraid to say. I may not agree with most of his column, but as a military member (who served in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Desert Fox, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom), I support his right to state his mind. We can not change everyone's opinion on the military. I accepted that a long time ago. I do agree with this one line:

But, please, no parades.

Yes, no parades. When I come home, I want to see my family and wrap my arms around my wife and son. Go home and spend sometime with them. Watch my son play hockey and help my wife make dinner. She had it much harder than I did. Parades would just get in the way of making up for the time I missed with my family.


Not inflame them more? How... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

Not inflame them more? How could that happen? By dousing them in gasoline and tossing a lit cigarette at them?

Look, a group that takes on the greatest military power head-on by attacking both that power's greatest city and its capital has no self-esteem issues at all, and to then declare that any response will only make them more angry is...words escape me.

Forget it, Steve C., there isn't a coherent response to that statement of yours except dismissal. Thank you for playing, sir; enjoy a complimentary copy of our home game.

Rob:What is wro... (Below threshold)
ryan a.:

Rob:

What is wrong with honoring the job our troops have done in Iraq?

Nothing...they are doing the job that they were ordered to do; they do not shape policies or make decisions about going to war. I have friends who went over there, and I feel that they are brave and good people. I do not envy what they are called to do, however.

They went there to defeat a truly evil ruler prone to feeding political dissidents into plastic shredders and ordering rapes as a solution to voters who cast their ballots the wrong way, and defeat him they did.

Do you really think that's the reason they went there? Hussein was doing that shit a long time ago, and we didnt have a problem then. We had a problem when he stopped doing what we told him to do. We havent had a big problem, in the past, with supporting nasty dictators who toe the line.

I argue that if Hussein had kept doing what we felt was acceptable in a political sense, we NEVER would have attacked Iraq, regardless of what he was doing to his people. That pretty much shoots down the whole argument that we're there for humanitarian reasons.

Remember: We support the Saudi regime, and also Musharref of Pakistan. Not exactly bastions of democracy or human rights. Why? Because they kiss our asses and do what we want. We did that with guys like Somoza in Nicaragua in the past.

We sent troops in there to secure a region that held immense political, economic, and strategic value for us, IMO. And we only did that when our stooge started disobeying orders.

War, throughout history, has been anything but altruistic. The current war in Iraq is no exception.

They have also given Iraqi citizens the opportunity to elect representatives to write a constitution, design a government and then elect people to serve in that government all while protecting these same citizens from monsters who would use terror attacks to prevent democracy from flourishing in the middle easts.

You have a very optimistic view about our motives. Answer me this then: If we are so worried about providing safety and democracy to people who are threatened, why didnt we send troops to Sudan, or Uganda, or Rwanda in 1994? Plenty of terrorism was happening, and for some reason we didnt give a shit.

Rome went to war to benefit Rome. If you think that somehow the United States is different, well, thats your entitlement. I personally think that we are not above history. We go to war for the same reasons that all other human societies have gone to war: self interest.


ryan a:RE: "You ha... (Below threshold)
kevino:

ryan a:

RE: "You have a very optimistic view about our motives. Answer me this then: If we are so worried about providing safety and democracy to people who are threatened, why didnt we send troops to Sudan, or Uganda, or Rwanda in 1994? Plenty of terrorism was happening, and for some reason we didnt give a shit."
Actually, we were concerned, and many of us advocated sending troops to the Sudan and to Rowanda. And, by the way, the issue was genocide not terrorism. Unfortunately, we didn't get our way. The results are tragic. President Clinton kept us out of war in Rowanda, but it is not a proud moment for America. 500,000 inocent people were butchered. President Bush has been very slow to react in the Sudan, and 200,000 people may have been killed.

It is true that there is terrorism in the world that we have not responded to in the past. A good example is that we have not responded to terrorist acts aimed at Israel or the US in other countries (although the attacks on our embassies are attacks on American soil). There are two reasons: bad leadership and the perception that this doesn't really affect us.

9/11 changed that. 9/11 makes it very clear that there is a large number of people who are willing to blow themselves up to kill Americans. Bin Laden and company declared war on us in 1996. We should have done something then.

This is a war on many fronts, but it is very much a war of ideas. Take a look at a recent example: http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/006003.php
When the crowd chants "Death to Israel" and "Death to America", it is expressing a view that is very similar to bin Laden back in 1996. It puts Israel and the United States on the same enemies list.

The Middle East is filled with miserable people living under nasty dictatorships with no end in sight. The powers that be don't what reform, they need to have scapegoats that they can blame for the average person's misery. And back in 1996 bin Laden gave the Arab Street a new enemy: us. Arab pride can be restored by fighting the US the same way that they defeated the USSR.

RE: "Rome went to war to benefit Rome. If you think that somehow the United States is different, well, thats your entitlement. I personally think that we are not above history. We go to war for the same reasons that all other human societies have gone to war: self interest."
We are unique in history, certainly very different that Rome. We have the power to take many of these countries, but we didn't. We paid a high price to defeat nazi Germany, we paid a high price to protect West Germany from the USSR, and we helped remerge the country. We have defeated all comers, and we don't have an empire.

On the other hand, the GWOT is in our self-interest. One of bin Laden's reasons for going to war against the US was that we interfere with the spreading of Sharia as the Law. Muslim estremists want radical, oppressive Muslim Law as the law of the land, and they are prepared to kill to get it. Most Americans are against that.

I would ask Joel Stein and other liberls to consider the crowd chanting, "May the hands of the infidels be chopped off." These people don't seem to understand peaceful coexistance or mutual respect or freedom of religion. Unless you're a Muslim fundamentalist, you're an infidel.

"a guy who thought 50.7% wa... (Below threshold)
tyree:

"a guy who thought 50.7% was a mandate"

This Stein guy is what, about 30 or so? I wonder if he can remember what Clinton's percentage was when he gave his "mandate for change" inaugural address in '93? Look it up Stein, 43%.

Don't these MSM guys have fact checkers or something?

As for the rest of the article, I love the T-Shirt that said, "If you can read this, thank a teacher, if you are reading it in English, thank a soldier."

Journalists did not give us Freedom of the Press,
Ministers did not give us Freedom of Religion,
Politicians did not give us Freedom of Assemby,
These Freedoms were purchased with the blood of Patriots.


Peter F,What an ig... (Below threshold)
saf:

Peter F,

What an ignorant prick you are, your dont even know that Iran would never give them weapons to Al quaida because as you have seen in Iraq the one group of people Al Quaida hate more that America is the SHIA and Iran is a shia contry...

kevino:Actually... (Below threshold)
ryanA:

kevino:

Actually, we were concerned, and many of us advocated sending troops to the Sudan and to Rowanda.

I know. But my point is this: they werent sent there, and there's a reason for that. We dont go around doing major humanitarian missions. Thats really not what war is all about. War is about national interests more than anything else, IMO.

See? Thas my argument here. I'm saying that we didnt go into Iraq because Hussein was a murderer, we went in there for our own national interests. Instances like Rwanda prove that, along with the fact that we are currently aligned with other regimes that have pretty shitty governments. We work with them because they do what we say, and to hell with their people. To me, thats disturbing, and a contradiction of the ideals that the USA supposedly ascribes to.

And, by the way, the issue was genocide not terrorism.

I dont see much of a difference. But maybe thats just me. How do you define "terrorism" by the way?

Are you really telling me that you think there is some major difference between a so-called terrorist act, and a genocidal act? How so? Isnt that splitting hairs, or basically semantics, since we are talking about the murder of innocent people?

Terrorism is killing. Genocide is killing. It's the same damn thing.

We paid a high price to defeat nazi Germany, we paid a high price to protect West Germany from the USSR, and we helped remerge the country.

If you paid attention in your history classes, you might remember that the USA wasnt all that keen on getting involved in WWII. Of course, the bombing of Pearl Harbor kinda forced our hand, so to speak. Before that, we wanted very little to do with the whole conflict.

...and we don't have an empire.

Ha. Try telling that to the people of Hawaii, for starters.

Yo Rob.Right on br... (Below threshold)

Yo Rob.

Right on brother!

Nicely put.

ryanA:RE: Sundan a... (Below threshold)
kevino:

ryanA:

RE: Sundan and Rowanda
I agree with your point to a certain extent.
However, what you don't seem to grasp is:
(1) Rowanda, the really extreme example, is pre-9/11 thinking. In the Sudan, we were already committed and asked the world to help.
(2) Going to Iraq is in our national interest.
(3) A cut-and-run from Iraq is very bad for our national interest.

RE: Genocide v. terrorism
There is a big difference.
If you want definitions, I suggest that you start with international law. Genocide is well defined at www.un.org. Terrorism is not: commities like to duck the issue. However, you will find a number of conventions dealing with organizations that promote terrorist acts. Those acts include: attacks aimed at killing non-combatants, attacks aimed at public transportation systems, and kidnapping -- to name a few.

RE: Germany
You missed the point. We have throughout our history capured vast territory only to give it away again. Sec. Powell, I believe, said it well, "We have fought in many foreign wars, and all we ever asked was a place to bury our dead."

RE: Hawaii
Look up the dictionary definition of "empire". You're going to point to tiny chain of islands as an "empire"!? OK, now go to a history book and look up the colonial history of Britain and France.

Left unchallenged:
That lack of empowerment, freedom, and opportunity are the seeds of terrorism. That the problem will not go away as long as the Middle East is dominated by autocrats. We are being made the scapegoats for the misery of the Arab Street. Bin Laden and others are teaching these people that the way to restore Arab pride is to defeat us.

(I've got to go.)

kevino:Terrorism v... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

kevino:

Terrorism v. genocide:

Those acts include: attacks aimed at killing non-combatants, attacks aimed at public transportation systems, and kidnapping -- to name a few.

This is pure semantics. In Rwanda, for example, most of the people who were murdered were non-combatants, so how is that any different than terrorism? It IS terrorism.

Genocide is killing people on ethnic or so-called racial grounds. Terrorism is "the use of terror and intimidation to achieve one's political ends" (thats Webster's def., only one of many).

I think you're trying to argue that the cases in Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda are different than Iraq because they were acts of genocide and not acts of terrorism. The point I'm making is that what was going on could be labeled as both, especially in Sudan and Rwanda.

In Uganda, Rebel armies were terrorizing and abducting "non-combatants" (and still are) by the thousands.

The main point I'm making, lets not forget, is that we are less concerned with global terrorsim than we are with our immediate national interests. Rwanda, Sundan, and Uganda illustrate that point, since we werent all that concerned with what was happening there, judging by our reactions.

Sec. Powell, I believe, said it well, "We have fought in many foreign wars, and all we ever asked was a place to bury our dead."

Ya, right. You really believe that after WWII we had NO political expectations from the countries that we fought for/in? That's a pretty naive view of history right there.

Look up the dictionary definition of "empire". You're going to point to tiny chain of islands as an "empire"!? OK, now go to a history book and look up the colonial history of Britain and France.

I mentioned Hawaii "for starters," if you remember. Both England and France, along with other European nations, became colonial nations when they traveled to other parts of the world in search of territories and resources. The United States expanded as well, and for the very same reasons, when it made the famous move westward. Remember that there were plenty of Native American people here when we did that, and they were basically killed or removed in the process. How is that any different than when the British went down to Africa and established a colony in South Africa, for example?

You think that it was any less a colonial endeavor just because Americans didnt get into boats and sail to Africa? Well, we didnt have to, because we had this big land mass to the west, which made distant travel unecessary. England, being a small and landlocked island, could not do things the way that we did. France, Belgium, Germany, and Spain had to travel far as well, because the immediate areas around them were already taken, basically.

That lack of empowerment, freedom, and opportunity are the seeds of terrorism.

Agreed.

That the problem will not go away as long as the Middle East is dominated by autocrats.

So why then do we support/work with the Saudis and Pakistan? You dont think the Saudis are autocrats?




^^correction. I have no id... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

^^correction. I have no idea why I wrote "and landlocked" in my description of england. i'll chalk that up to the fact that i havent had coffee yet today.

it happens.

Bravo Mr. Stein! Soldiers a... (Below threshold)
Jason:

Bravo Mr. Stein! Soldiers are not bound to obey immoral or illegal orders...I think the Nuremberg trials made it clear that "I was just following orders" defense, does not absolve guilt. Just remember, Germans supported their troops too!

"It is the first responsiblity of every citizen to question authority."- Benjamin Franklin

RyanA:(I'm back bu... (Below threshold)
kevino:

RyanA:

(I'm back but just for a while.)

Genecide v. Terrorism:
The Law, even international law, frequently is fundamentally concerned with definitions. There are definitions for these terms as defined by treaty. Yes, genocide may use the same methods to "terrorize" a population, and terrorists may attack only an ethnic group. (By the way, your definition of "genocide" is very limited.) However, by law, they are different.

There is another important partical distinction. Genocide involves a dominant group using force against a minority group. Terrorism, in every case that I can think of, involves the use of force by a group that doesn't dominate.

RE: WWII and political motives
The simple fact is that we took over huge territories that we simply rebuilt and gave back. Another good example is Afghanistan. I remember when we went into Afghanistan. My liberal friends were spreading all kinds of rumors about how the only reason we got involved was to take over the country, set up a proxy government, and build a pipeline so that Haliburton could make a fortune. Nothing of the kind has happened, and I'm still waiting to see this myterious pipeline. When I remind my friends about what they said, they just grumble.

RE: Empires
The European colonization went on for years after America had expanded in North America. Good grief look at a WW I map of Africa: most of Africa is run by European countries. It wasn't until recently the "the sun set on the British empire."

The push west is not the best example. America came to the empire building late in the game (e.g. the Phillippines): we had a long history of avoiding foreign entanglements. We still have a few islands throughout the world as American "possessions" (e.g. American Samoa). Not much of an empire.

Again: in the modern era we have been a dominant force in the world, and we remain the world's only superpower. And with all that economic and military power, we don't hold vast territories and we value peace, freedom, and self-determination.

After WWI the US let Europeans run the peace process, and the result was WWII.
After WWII the US took a leadership role in international affairs, and the result was a period of relative peace. The next big war was avoided.

RE: "So why then do we support/work with the Saudis and Pakistan? You dont think the Saudis are autocrats?"
You fight the battles you can fight. I'd like nothing better than to reshape the political landscape of the Middle East -- peacefully, if possible -- by force if necessary. I believe that Iraq may serve as a West Germany for the Middle East, a positive example that people in other countries will look at and say, "I want that." I believe that people want freedom, and that the ideal will spread to other countries, and they can get reform without force of arms. And we can help by making autocrats afraid.

Do I want to put more pressure on the Saudi's? Very definitely. But my higher priorities are Iran and Syria.

This is a big job, and, unfortunately, the US seems to be losing heart. They may not be up to the challenge. In which case, the bad guys, who aren't afraid to fight and think that they can out-last us, will win.




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