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War: what is it good for? Quite a bit...

I've often thought of the war in Iraq as more of a campaign in a broader war than a war in and of itself. The War on Terror is being fought on many fronts, and not all of them are "hot wars" like those waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. While those places get all the attention, many other battles have been quietly fought -- and won -- against the threat of terrorism.

1) Libya. Libya has been an "outlaw nation" for decades. Qadaffi has long been a major friend, supporter, and sponsor of terrorism, and sought weapons of mass destruction. But suddenly last year Libya renounced its entire WMD program, turned everything they had developed so far over to the United States, acknowledged several past actions, and started providing information on terrorists. This didn't happen because Qadaffi suddenly had an attack of conscience or a religious conversion -- he saw what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, and wanted to make sure that he wasn't the next target.

2) Egypt. This weekend, Egypt's strongman Mubarak announced that soon they would be having elections for president, and he would allow other candidates to run against him.

3) Lebanon. Lebanon has been repeatedly raped by occupying powers -- Syria, Palestinians, and even Israel, when they got fed up with being attacked by Syrians and Palestinians from Lebanon. After the recent assassination of their former president (correction, courtesy Pennywit: Prime Minister), the Lebanese are finally standing up for themselves and demanding that the Syrians get the hell out -- and the Syrians are listening. And then today the entire Syrian-picked government resigns. Someone's reading the writing on the wall.

4) Syria. Syria has long been the quietest troublemakers in the region. They've been major sponsors of terrorist organizations, they've occupied Lebanon for decades, they gave shelter to many of Saddam's minions, they've trained and supplied many of the "insurgents" in Iraq. But recently they've announced that they're going to start pulling out of Lebanon. Further, this weekend they turned over 30 Iraqi Baathist leaders (including Saddam's half-brother) to the new Iraqi government. Syrian leader Bashar Assad (or, as Meryl Yourish so eloquently dubbed him, "the dorktator"), like Qadaffi before him, can feel the bullseye on his back, and wants to get it off him as quickly as possible.

5) Iraq. There's plenty of news around about Iraq, so I'm not going to repeat it here. I'm just going to bring up one point.

In the recent elections in Iraq, there was no clear winner. All three factions had good showings, with the Shiites doing the best -- but none of them has the numbers to put together a government on their own. So they're trying to settle the matter and assemble a government.

And they're doing it by TALKING. No military coups, no assassinations, no attempts to rally the mobs. They're NEGOTIATING the matter, like so many other democracies. That is old hat to the West, but completely unprecented in the Arab/Muslim world.

6. Palestine. Yes, there's been another turn of the "Palestinians declare truce / Israel makes concessions / Palestinians kill Israelis / Israel hits back / world blames Israel for 'sabotaging the peace process'" cycle. But this time was a little different. The Palestinians (finally free of the curse of Yassir Arafat), and the Authority actually condemned it and promised action for a change. Israel is going to the United Nations for a resolution condemning the bombing and a demand that the Authority dismantle the terrorist organizations, holding its own retaliation in abeyance. There's barely a chance in hell of it passing, but with any luck it'll make a lot of people squirm.

7. The United Nations. The United Nations has been staunchly critical of the United States from about September 12, 2001 onward. (Well, actually, a lot longer than that, but that's a convenient landmark, and I'm making a point here.) But there's been a slight modification of their traditional knee-jerk anti-Americanism. They've been trying to take credit for both the Iraqi elections and the tsunami relief in southeast Asia -- both actions where the United States did the lion's share of heavy lifting. While it's still contemptible behavior by the UN, the mere fact that they're trying to steal the credit for it is a tacit admission that the achievement was a good thing.

I have absolutely no desire nor intention of making light of the U.S. and Iraqi casualties that are happening every day. But we can't lose sight of the bigger picture. And the big picture is that this fight in Iraq is winning us other struggles around the world. And by "us," I don't mean just us Americans.



Listed below are links to weblogs that reference War: what is it good for? Quite a bit...:

» hubs and spokes linked with A morally serious approach to war

» Say Anything linked with A New Government For Lebanon

» Brain Fertilizer linked with Some of the Positive Results of American "Hubris"

» Rip & Read Blogger Podcast linked with Rip & Read Blogger Podcast for 2005-03-01

» triumvirateblog.com linked with Democracy Roundup

» Joe Kelley's The Sake Of Argument linked with Value of Iraq War

Comments (22)

"There's barely a chance... (Below threshold)

"There's barely a chance in hell of it passing, but with any luck it'll make a lot of people squirm."

It'll get six supporters: United States, Israel, Australia... oh, and Palau, Micronesia and the Cook Islands.

Was having a discussion wit... (Below threshold)

Was having a discussion with my rather liberal neighbor. She made the comment that while she was happy about what is happening in the ME she then made the statement: "Violence never resolves anything."

I replied that she had just said what amounts to be one of the stupidest comments I've heard. Violence has been the most significant factor and cause of change in all of humankind. Violence, and by that I mean war, has been the biggest "resolver" of issues since we began beating each other in the head with rocks for extra cave space.

In the real world if you show me a country where peace is valued above all else, violence is abhored, crime is never heard of, and everyone loves each other without question and I'll show you a country ripe for takeover.

FREEDOM IS ON THE MARCH!... (Below threshold)


See comment at Dean's World.

Link Here

I think Liberals tend to no... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think Liberals tend to not see the big picture. They didn't grasp it during the cold war, and they don't grasp it now.

Almost every liberal I know thinks the war on terror is really just a war on Osama Bin Laden. They don't understand that Bush wants to defeat terrorism in general, and I honestly think he is right, the only way to really defeat terrorism, is to change the face of the countries that breed terrorism into democracies. Sometimes it takes war to do that, sometimes it is just the threat, but liberals seem to think you combat terrorism by making them like you.

Well, going from my point t... (Below threshold)

Well, going from my point talking left neighbor, no they don't see the big picture...least not the same one we do. She is of the belief that poverty is the reason for terrorism and that capitalism is the cause of poverty.

I've pointed out to her that it has been political repression, not poverty, that has led to terrorism and that the introduction of democratic governments and capitalistic economies that allows individuals the opportunity to excel that has taken out most terror/revolutionary causes.

I don't have it with me but there was a recent study done showing the same thing.

Faith, you might also want ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Faith, you might also want to point out to your neighbor how most terrorists come from middle-class or upper-class backgrounds. Bin Laden's family was one of the richest in Saudi Arabia. Yassir Arafat's uncle was High Mufti of Jerusalem. Several of the 9/11 hijackers had at least some college education.

Yes, there are a lot of poor terrorists. But they tend to be the "grunts." The leaders who recruit, train, and direct them tend to be from a more affluent background.

That's presuming, of course, you want to continue the discussion with your neighbor...


Hehe, over-the-fence discus... (Below threshold)

Hehe, over-the-fence discussions are inevitable. ;-) We disagree but we aren't unfriendly. Yeah, I need to mention that. The whole "poverty equals crime/terror" meme always bugged me because I grew up poor as dirt and all my friends and neighbors were poor but you'd never find a more honest group of people.

Might be fun to point out how elitist, rich, holier-than-thou types tend to get the more ignorant masses to do their bidding....sounds a lot like the Democratic party... ;-)

On the good side, one of my wife's friends refuses to speak to me since I admitted voting for Bush. She said she can't understand how I could vote for him. I responded that I understood perfectly well why a 35 year old woman who had never worked more than 2 months at a job and was still living at home mooching off her parents would vote for Kerry.

The expression on her face and the resulting silence were priceless...

Excellent post.RE:... (Below threshold)

Excellent post.

RE: The UN and elections in Iraq
The election process that was used is an excellent framework, and it follows a UN model that has been developed for years. I detest the UN as totally weak and in dire need of reform, but give them their due. The election process that is being followed in Iraq is a good one. You elect people who will propose a constitution, and you force them to work together with a relatively short time limit. It's good stuff. Now, of course, it wouldn't have happened without the courage of the allied armies and the Iraqi people, but the UN election process was a good set of ideas.

RE: The basic question: War, what's it good for?
Two additional points:
(1) We really know who our friends are. The British have been strong allies, and willing to do the right thing in world affairs. As a country, they once had the largest empire on earth. Now they fight for freedom as a simple, abstract principle. We found that we have other friends in the "New Europe", too. But what is really amazing to me is the toughness and self-sacrifice of the Australians.
(2) We know who are friends aren't. I don't buy products from France anymore, and I've cancelled all my trips to Canada. A country is not a piece of land; a country is what is stands for when standing for something is hard. I have no use for these people.


I live in New Hampshire. I was recently in Boston, and I was disappointed to see a protester on a street corner holding a sign that said, "War never solved anything." From where that person stood, you could walk to the Massachusetts state capital. Across the street is the memorial to the 54th MA, the regiment of black soldiers that fought so well in the American Civil War. That war ended slavery and added the equal rights amendments to the US constitution. The protester I saw that day was a black woman.

The main reason liberals di... (Below threshold)

The main reason liberals didn't get it during the cold war is because deep down inside they think that communism not only isn't such a bad thing, it might be a pretty good thing. For the most part they'll deny it, but if you listen to them long enough it eventually comes around to them flirting with the idea that it will work if only the right people (they include themselves in the "right people") are running it.

it will work if only the... (Below threshold)

it will work if only the right people (they include themselves in the "right people") are running it.

The joke's on them. If history has taught us anything, it's that when communists take over, the first thing they do is line the "right people" up against a wall and shoot them.

Anonymous good point about ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Anonymous good point about knowing who your friends are and who they aren't.

Also, I think liberal anti war people tend to be too myopic in their thinking about war-all they see is the body count-and Vietnam (shoot the end of Vietnam is the perfect example of why we need to finish the job in Iraq).

"I've pointed out to her that it has been political repression, not poverty, that has led to terrorism "

I think this is a good point. Especially since countries that have very oppressive governments, often have really nasty poverty rates, without any hope of improving.

You forgot to mention Afgha... (Below threshold)

You forgot to mention Afghanistan.
The Taliban have been virtually eliminated.
Democracy is budding.
Women can go to school now.

George, I was focusing on e... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

George, I was focusing on events following the invasion of Iraq. That is a good thing, and certainly notable, but technically was outside the scope of my piece.


I think that the Gaza munic... (Below threshold)

I think that the Gaza municipal elections put the overall PA chairmanship elections to lie.

They're still more interested in the destruction of Israel than freedom or peace.

Jay, I'd expand the piece t... (Below threshold)

Jay, I'd expand the piece to 'The Bush Doctrine', not just the Iraq war.

It's true that the US v Afghanistan is "The US acting normally", and that the Iraq war is the clear signal that we're done with the status quo. But the abrupt change in India-Pakistan relations is also amazingly significant - and at least partially predates the war in Iraq.

After Pakistan got their nukes, before 'The Bush Doctrine' was clearly established, there was a LOT of agitation going on between Pakistan and India. Atrocities, 100,000's of troops on the borders, threats of nukes, border incursions.... It was NOT pretty. Pakistan hasn't moved to a joy & happiness situation, but it has improved dramatically to all appearances. (Dictator willing to talk better than dictator egging on a full blown holy war.)

If anyone hasn't seen it:</... (Below threshold)

If anyone hasn't seen it:

"For the most part they'll ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"For the most part they'll deny it, but if you listen to them long enough it eventually comes around to them flirting with the idea that it will work if only the right people (they include themselves in the "right people") are running it."

This goes right back to my other contention, liberals don't really grasp human nature. They think everyone out there is naturally good, and always wants to do good. The facts are that humans can be pretty doggone depraved, especially in the abcense of any moral absolutes. Give a human some power, tell him that he gets to define the morals, and watch him start killing anyone who disagrees with him.

I bet if you asked Stalin he would say he was morally justified in killing the enemies of communism. Also, communism comes with no checks and balances. One reason the US government works so well, is because we have checks and balances built into the system. It would be extremely difficult for a president to have the kind of power that various communist leaders have enjoyed.

Noone despises the United N... (Below threshold)

Noone despises the United Nations more than I do. When I lived and worked in the NYC every time there was something going on there it would take me 2 hours to get from E 23rd St. to E 45th.

Not only the U.S. did the heavy lifting in Iraq, they are also doing the heavy lifting of membership dues to the U.N., providing them with building space, forgiving parking tickets to U.N. diplomats, and otherwise absorbing the economic impact of having a political body in a major metropolitan area.

I say, move the U.N. to a damn nuclear bunker in Montana. Or better yet, send them to a frigging desert.

This didn't happen becau... (Below threshold)

This didn't happen because Qadaffi suddenly had an attack of conscience or a religious conversion -- he saw what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, and wanted to make sure that he wasn't the next target.

Either that or because the US dropped the only issue in contention for the last five years which was that Libya pay reparations for Lockerbie before dropping the sanctions. The War in Iraq had little (if anything) to do with it, but whatever makes you all sleep better at night.

The UN is well situated in ... (Below threshold)

The UN is well situated in New York. Having it there prevents terrorists from nuking New York. They don't want to get rid of terrorism's staunchest allies....The UN.

Freedom, democracy, terrori... (Below threshold)

Freedom, democracy, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, torture...all just words and scapegots. The Bush Crime Family does not make their money from life, liberty and happiness. Blood and oil are where George and his good ol' boys make their money. Halliburton is getting some work these days eh?

A business mans personal agenda is not a reason for American boys to die.

I don't really feel like ar... (Below threshold)

I don't really feel like arguing about the Iraqi war - I suppose all I have to say is, I wish we would have just tried the reasons we have now back when we were campaigning for it, seeing as the WMD and the Osama/9-11 link fell through - I just wanted to point out to Faith+1 when he said:

In the real world if you show me a country where peace is valued above all else, violence is abhored, crime is never heard of, and everyone loves each other without question and I'll show you a country ripe for takeover.

Just look at Switzerland. Although, to paraphrase Harry Lime, as played by Orson Welles, they've had peace and democracy for 500 years and all they've produced is the cucko-clock. (Just a joke.)

And as for the Kerry thing, as a teacher of mine said, "If I wanted to vote for myself I would have voted differently, but I voted for my grandchildren." Check out this, I wrote it a while ago:

As for the rest of my blog, it's a culmination of stupid high school stuff, and me ranting about music.

I don't want to start a big blog political war or anything, just thought you might be interested in reading that point of view. And I understand that not everyone is (or should be) a single-issue voter, but I am just hoping that this (environmental) issue should be taken up by folks from all sides of the spectrum.






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