Scott Hardie | February 20, 2003
Slate asked 27 people in "politics, the arts, entertainment, business and other fields" what they thought of an American invasion of Iraq, now that we may finally be on the verge of one. Read their many excellent responses here. You all seem so timid these days about discussing such subjects, but I'll ask anyway: What do you think about it? It's okay to say you support the invasion, it's okay to say you do not support the invasion, it's even okay to say you don't know enough about it to form a valid opinion. But please say something; this is a very important subject.

Anna Gregoline | February 20, 2003
I will read the article before I respond, but for now, I'll say...NO WAR.

Jackie Mason | February 20, 2003
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Kevin Fiore | February 20, 2003
I will read the article before I respond also, But I'll say... YES WAR

Anna Gregoline | February 21, 2003
I read the article at work, but it really didn't sway me either way. I still think this is a huge conjuring trick by the administration (what happened to Afghanistan? Have you ever heard the government mention it in, oh, say, the past 6 months?) I think N. Korea is a much bigger threat. We could have taken Iraq out at any time, now is a strange time and way to go about it.

Scott Hardie | February 21, 2003
I've always been against an invasion, but how strongly I feel that way has fluctuated from month to month. Lately I've been thinking that it's inevitable: Bush wants to go to war, and nothing can dissuade him. Not the U.N., not France and Russia, not his own population, and not protests by millions of people around the world. (Indeed, those protests may have only further convinced him that he's right.) So if it is inevitable, and all we can do is try to accept it, would it really be that bad? In my opinion, no. It won't cause more terrorist attacks because the terrorists are already trying their best to blow us up, it could lead to Israel being attacked but Saddam will eventually attack them anyway, and it will lead to the deaths of American soldiers but their lives are in the hands of the commander-in-chief. Yeah, it's bad, and no invasion is still better than invasion, but it's not the end of the world. I think that the ultra-liberals who fear that trying to disarm Saddam by force would cause him to use his weapons on us should grab a logic reference guide and look up "circular reasoning."

But yeah, I'm against an invasion. Five reasons:

First, the rest of the world is against it, and half this country is against it; shouldn't public opinion mean something to our highest elected official?

Second, it doesn't seem like Bush has even considered an alternative. Maybe he has, but I doubt it. It seems like he made up his mind a long time ago that we were going to invade, and since then he hasn't spent five minutes considering an alternative, but lots of time scheming about how to convince people that we should invade.

Third, it's morally unjustifiable. A much larger nation, armed with advanced weaponry and vast resources, invading a smaller nation armed with comparatively limited weaponry and limited resources? When the entire world is not just against it, but is warning the larger nation to cool it? This is going to look very ugly in the history books, and for a reason: It's wrong. The U.S. has no ethical right to go into Iraq at this point, none whatsoever. If Iraq attacked us, then perhaps we would. Even if Iraq attacked Israel instead, it would still be a U.N. matter to resolve.

Fourth, this war is partly about oil, and that doesn't make fiscal sense. I'm not so cynical as to believe that oil is the only true reason, but it's got to have something to do with it. Why not disarm Pakistan? Why not disarm North Korea? They're both more urgent, and we know they have weapons, but they don't have something we want like Iraq does. But how much money would we save on Iraqi oil with a new government there? The war will cost $200 billion, and that's if it goes as quickly and flawlessly as the hawks assume it will. Why not invest that money in the auto industry so that they can finally make an electric car that's viable for the entire U.S. market, and begin manufacturing and selling it? It would significantly reduce our dependency on cheap oil, and it would have numerous positive side effects (unlike the war, with its numerous negative side effects).

Fifth, and by far the most important reason, it's by now obvious that Bush is using Iraq to distract the public from other problems that he can't solve. What will we do about the sagging economy and soaring unemployment rates? Invade Iraq! What will we do about the crises in education and health coverage? Invade Iraq! What will we do about North Korea openly threating to nuke Seattle? Invade Iraq! What will we do about Osama bin Laden, who's still on the loose? Invade Iraq! As Anna said, what will we do about the weakening of the new Afghani government and the surviving Taliban having sneaked back into the country? Invade Iraq! All of these problems are more urgent and more important than Saddam Hussein. If we ignore Saddam, he can be contained and kept under scrutiny and doesn't pose a threat, while all of these other problems are much more perilous if ignored. I mean, Christ! North Korea's been practically shouting for months now that they'll nuke South Korea, or Japan, or even our own west coast if they don't start getting some respect! Is it wise to just completely ignore them? I'm not saying that North Korea is likely to actually nuke anyone, but certainly anyone in their right mind would estimate the situation with North Korea to be much more serious than the one with Iraq. But our president can't solve the problem with North Korea or the one with the economy or any of the other ones, so he ignores them. And what will Republican voters say in the election season of 2004? "Oh, look what a good president George W. Bush has been! He took care of Iraq!" Blind motherfuckers.

Jackie Mason | February 21, 2003
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Scott Hardie | February 24, 2003
Interesting: According to U.S. embassies around the world, much of the global population now believes that George W. Bush is the biggest threat to world peace, not Saddam Hussein. The sentiment is not anti-American, it's specifically anti-Bush. Man... What if we invaded Iraq and the U.N. started imposing sanctions on us for a change...

Anna Gregoline | February 25, 2003
It'd be really cool, I'd think.

Matthew Preston | February 25, 2003
As no one has yet to speak up against the anti-war movement here, I have to contribute from the other end of the spectrum... if for no other reason than to not leave Kevin as the only one pro war.
Back when Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban brought down the twin towers, no one questioned the act of going to war with Afghanistan. Virtually everyone around the country felt that a military action was the way to go. This was all due to the destruction of a viable act-of-war target, that in the end killed about 3,000 people. When you put it into perspective, a country wanting to start a war would choose the World Trade Center as a target.... and they did just that.
So what happens now if the same regiment of people (terrorists, Taliban or not) are capable of taking out thousands, maybe even millions of people in one swift attack? If the city of New York and this nation went ape shit over two buildings and 3,000 people, imagine what we would go through if the entire east coast was leveled.
President Bush said from the beginning that we will not only go after Osama and the Taliban, but will make an effort to put an end to terrorism in the world. This is exactly what he is doing. There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein would take the opportunity to use a weapon of mass destruction given the chance. The problem is that we have such good defenses that the correct opportunity has yet to arise. It is only a matter of time however before something will happen. 9/11 taught us all that our nation is not safe from attack... we should learn from this.
After conferring with several ex-military friends of mine, they have been able to shed more light on this subject. What we Americans fail to understand is that the rest of the world is not nearly as forgiving and kind as the U.S. A navy friend of mine has witnessed people dismembered and murdered in the streets of a foreign village for simply stealing food. The moral responsibilities of the United States far out-weighs that of the run-down, pseudo-governments of terrorists. It's a joke to think that any country can "elect" a man with 100% of the vote. These are dictatorships run by tyranny, fear, and violence. These are a people that want us dead, no matter what the cost. They do not care to negotiate, only destroy. In just what way can you defeat a enemy that is willing to commit blatant suicide for victory? Anyone remember WWII and the kamikaze pilots? Nearly all of the Japanese military had never seen or even heard the voice of their emperor... but were willing to give their lives for him. In the end it took actions that none of us wish to repeat, to end the war. In many ways, terrorists would be willing to use weapons of mass destruction as a form of suicide.... knowing they would be destroyed themselves after marking a blow against capitalism. Again, what our country fails to realize is that our enemies don't wish to talk things over, only kill. This is something that we simply cannot allow to happen.
As egocentric as it may seem, the United States is the most powerful force in the world. It is more than obvious Iraq and the middle east do not stand a chance against the advanced military that we possess. Instilling fear into Saddam over a possible invasion seemed the way to go at the beginning, but it has become clear that he does not expect us to actually follow through with anything... something that our media has been feeding him for several months. The only way to put an end to terrorism is to destroy it at its source and to continue to eliminate it before it has a chance to cause permanent damage.
It is obvious that some military action will occur. I know military people that have shipped out already, or are shipping out soon. The worse thing for someone fighting this war needs right now is a country that doesn't appreciate him/her. We need to stand behind our military force and wish them victory and a safe return. I for one can say that a middle east invasion is the way to go.

Jackie Mason | February 25, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | February 26, 2003
I guess what I keep thinking is, if there had been no September 11th, Bush would be doing this war anyway. It just gave him a "better" excuse.

Scott Hardie | February 26, 2003
I agree with you about one thing for sure, Matt: The terrorists need to be stopped. Osama bin Laden and most of the rest of al-Qaeda are willing to give their lives to kill Americans, the more Americans dead the better. There's nothing we can do to stop them except kill them or capture them. The first option is not morally permissible, and the second is risky because they can still leak information and inspire their people by being imprisoned. Is it true that the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist? We'd love to be able to choose, but they haven't given us a choice: They will continue to try to kill us until they are stopped. I am 100% behind the elimination of Osama bin Laden, by capture, murder, or any other means.

The problem is, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are two different people. They may both want Americans dead, but bin Laden lives in secret and is capable of doing something about it. Hussein lives more or less in public and is not. As you said, he hasn't struck us yet because he hasn't had the opportunity. For a decade and a half now, Hussein has wanted to strike at us, but he has been impeded by the United Nations breathing down his neck, and the American military threat backing them up. If this has worked for fifteen years, can it not work a little longer, long enough for the U.N. to come to the conclusion that it should do what we want to do, invade Iraq and disarm them? If the U.N. comes to the conclusion that this is not the right thing to do, it's not the right thing to do! If Hussein is deceiving them by hiding his weapons, then let's present our evidence of it to the U.N. as firmly and repeatedly as necessary to convince them. If we don't have adequate evidence, then how do we know Saddam's a threat and we're not just paranoid?

I'm talking about a moral right for Bush to go to war. He hasn't got one until we get attacked, and so far Hussein has not attacked us. If Hussein did attack us, he would call it self-defense. Sounds silly, right? But it's the same view we have. We are vastly more powerful than the entire region, as you already said, and some of them fear our power and our tendency to use it.

Look at it this way: The world is a neighborhood. There's this big gorilla of a man, scary motherfucker, walking around the neighborhood night and day, packing Uzis and pistols and molotovs and other nasty shit. He's by far the most armed and dangerous man in the neighborhood, and he intentionally intimidates anyone who strikes him as suspicious. People lock their doors and draw the blinds, but it does no good. This violent man goes into people's yards and houses whenever he feels threatened, and he shoots these people if he thinks it's necessary to protect himself. He's paranoid, and it escapes him that his own violent tendencies, not to mention his inability to stay out of this side of the neighborhood, are why people want to eliminate him. You're hiding a pistol, planning to use it to wound this guy (can you possibly kill him?) in self-defense. He thinks you've got it, but he's called in the police and they're searching your house and they can't find the gun because you hid it too well. This man stands threateningly around your house, impatiently waiting while the police search for your pistol. (They ignore the assault rifles he's carrying. He has a permit.) He mutters under his breath that the police are taking too long searching, and he's just going to shoot you, take your gun, and evict you from your house anyway, because he's too scared you might shoot him. Aren't you boiling with rage at this monster?

I know liberals are accused of living in a fairy tale, but forgive my story its simplifications. My point is that perspective is lacking. When you have a serious dispute with someone, and you're both furious, how often do you stop to really think about it from the other person's point of view? We think our enemies in the Middle East are attacking us unfairly because we haven't done anything wrong; we see ourselves as democratic, peace-loving, fraternal, and just. They most certainly don't see us that way. If there's that big of a gap between how we see ourselves and how they see us, what about between how we see them and how they see themselves? And who's right?

So if you're having this protracted dispute, what's the proper solution? Shoot the other guy and take his gun before he can shoot you, or call in an impartial mediator to handle it?

Maybe this is all foolishness, and the world is more harsh than that. Maybe they'd still hate us and try to kill us if we minded our own business, and if we didn't have enough weaponry to wipe them off the face of the earth many times over. Maybe Hussein is a serious threat, and has weapons after all, and will give them or sell them to terrorists, who will use them on us. Maybe the best thing to do is to take him out now instead of to let the impartial mediator handle it. I can't say for sure whether or not Hussein has ties to al-Qaeda. I can't say for sure whether Iraqi casualties are acceptable to prevent American casualties. Maybe it does take a man like Bush to keep us safe, a man who is willing to put security ahead of morality. I just don't like it. And I won't vote for him. And I still think he's riding Iraq so hard to cover up for the absolutely shitty job he's done in so many other ways. And I still think there are effective, peaceful solutions to this problem that Bush is ignoring.

Last point: Anger at Bush has nothing to do with the troops. I don't want to see a single American soldier get shot. If it isn't obvious already, I don't want them going over there at all! If war does break out, virtually all Americans will wish for their victory and safe return, even us liberal pansies. They're not the point here.

Aaron Fischer | February 27, 2003
Solution to the problem: Kill them all and let God sort them out!

Anna Gregoline | February 27, 2003
I'm going to play devil's advocate and say that there is another way of dealing with this, instead of "There's nothing we can do to stop them except kill them or capture them." We could try and change the perception of Americans as evil. I know that's a practically impossible task, but something we could be trying to get across, no?

Aaron Fischer | February 28, 2003
There is no option... Peace through superior firepower!

Matthew Preston | February 28, 2003
Aaron, you have guts my friend. And I can't disagree with you... tell em how it is!

Scott Hardie | February 28, 2003
Interesting... Aaron, advocating violence, implies that he's on God's side. Anna, advocating peace, implies that she's on the devil's side... We have strange sayings.

Lori Lancaster | February 28, 2003
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Kevin Fiore | March 3, 2003
My response will be soon...

Anna Gregoline | March 4, 2003
Uh, I didn't say I thought we COULD get rid of the Anti-American sentiment, so there's nothing to disagree with. I just said it's something that we could try, and certainly a war isn't going to help matters.

Jackie Mason | March 5, 2003
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David Mitzman | March 5, 2003
There really is a time when the peaceful way is not the best way. Unfortunately it's been tried for years with Israel and the Palestinians but look at the past few years, the situation has just been degrading. In my opinion, I think if we let Israel deal with this in their own way instead of being their protective big brother then this would've been stopped and a lot less people would've been saved I'm sure. Now back to the topic of Iraq (sorry for that small Israel rant there). Anyway, the one problem we have in front of us is that we don't have 100% solid proof that Iraq has any crazy weapons. What we do know is that Saddam is slightly on the crazy side and is probably close to his final years in life. Dubya is on the stance of pre-emptive striking which all makes logical sense since 9/11. Now I don't know about the rest of you, but living in New York and seeing firsthand the devestation of what happened isn't exactly a fun experience. Now can we say Iraq was involved with the attacks? There's no solid proof to show any involvement. Whether or not we were going to go to Iraq to begin with doesn't matter. What matters is that we're just about to knock on their door. What happens after that is anyone's guess. Just think about this, if we strike now and it turns out we find hard evidence that Saddam was planning to unleash something horrible on us then we will praise Bush for taking a stance and standing up against the rest of the world. However, if it turns out that Iraq wasn't planning anything and that they genuinely didn't want anything to do with anything, then what will the reaction be?

Lori Lancaster | March 5, 2003
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Jackie Mason | March 5, 2003
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Lori Lancaster | March 5, 2003
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Scott Hardie | March 10, 2003
I just want to say thanks for posting. I didn't think TC could support this long of a discussion, though I wish all our discussions went on this long and were this well-argued. There were a number of people (on both sides) who did not want to write anything because they were afraid of getting flamed; I assured them that it wouldn't happen, and I'm glad you all proved me right.

Angela Lathem-Ballard | March 14, 2003
The main thing that I want to say here is that if anything could make our country aware of the conspiracies in our government, especially in foreign affairs, Bush is airing the U.S.' dirty laundry for all to see. People have been saying that our nation has turned a blind eye to all that surrounds the impending war, but as Anna said - public opinion shows that this is not the case. What *is* the case seems to be that public opinion doesn't matter. When was the last time that it did? When was the last time that our government *listened* to its people? Our government has provided opportunity for some, but lies and hypocrity for many...As someone who believes that Peace, in many forms, is the means to a better end, I agree with Anna - there is a better way - why does our government continue to fuel the fire (no oil-pun intended)?Why does it seem like a world-wide shouting match? Anyone who has ever seen a parental argument, knows that once they get down to the REAL concern, rather than focusing on high-spirited conflict, solutions are flushed out. They may not be the solutions that suit everyone, but they don't continue to escalate into a fist-fight...Bush seems to have had this agenda in his coat-pocket once he took the oath of office. "I'll get those evil men back who hit my daddy." Many other officials worked to get him into office so they too could see the same goal realized. It takes more than one chicken to enrage the roost.Oh my goodness...I can't believe I just said that...

Jackie Mason | March 19, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | March 20, 2003
Me, I just felt hopeless from the start. Nothing's changed.

Scott Hardie | March 20, 2003
First I wrote this:

"I agree with you, Jackie. This is no longer the time to speak publicly against the war. It lowers morale and it's a slap in the face to the troops. Does this mean I'm against free speech? I don't think so. If you want to speak privately against the war, go right ahead. But now that war has commenced, speaking publicly against it no longer serves a purpose like it did the past few months. Let's support our troops."

Then I deleted it because I was too disgusted with myself to click Submit. Listen, of course I don't want our soldiers to die, and of course I don't want to lower morale and be unpatriotic. But I feel absolutely horrible putting a lid on my opinion when I feel so strongly about it. Isn't freedom of speech one of the best things about this country? Maybe the protests are a waste of time because they can't influence policy, but me, I'm just stating what I think. I'm not going to pretend like I support this unjust invasion as if doing so will somehow help the troops. That kind of thinking is bullshit. Seriously, how many soldiers are reading this and getting demoralized? I'd like a count.

Of course I hope for the victory and safe return of our troops; they're braver and nobler than I will ever be. It's their mission that I cannot support. This war is still illegal and wrong, and in pursuing it, our president has thrown away a century of expensive good will towards America in favor of eliminating a small enemy. George W. Bush has made a terrible choice, and the soldiers are going to pay the price for it. Let's not forget that, in November 2004 or ever.

Anna Gregoline | March 20, 2003
You can be against the war and not be against the troops. Isn't it nice to want them not to be hurt or killed?

Scott Hardie | March 20, 2003
It is nice to want that, but I don't like the urge to keep insisting so. It feels like repeated apologies. :-|

Anna Gregoline | March 21, 2003
I don't like the way everyone suddenly is supposed to "support" the war because we have people fighting over there. I'm not going to spit on any soldiers, and it's not their fault they're over there. But I still think the war is wrong and I'm going to show that opposition wherever I am.

Jackie Mason | March 21, 2003
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Scott Hardie | March 21, 2003
After writing what I did this morning, I got to wondering about who in the hell might possibly be demoralized by reading this. Some of us know soldiers who have been sent to Iraq, but that doesn't quite qualify. The only person I could think of was Angie Whitehead, whose boyfriend is in active duty; I wouldn't want to make her experience any harder. Curious to see what she had to say on the matter, I checked her web site, and I got a surprise: Instead of taking the usual support-our-troops stance, she took an anti-invasion stance too. (See the March 7th entry, currently at the top.) It's so strong a statement that I wanted to point it out; go read it. Thanks for letting me share it, Angie.

Anna Gregoline | March 21, 2003
There WAS a HUGE anti-war protest in Chicago tonight - they even closed down Lake Shore Drive for awhile, cops in riot gear and everything. I saw the beginnings of it on the way home and the end of it on TV. It is actually the one thing since the war officially started that made me feel better.

Jackie Mason | March 22, 2003
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Scott Hardie | March 23, 2003
For some reason, I get MTV2 on broadcast here. I watched it for a few minutes yesterday and they kept dropping down a box from the top of the screen that said, "Click to for full coverage of the war with Iraq." I could just imagine at Tommy Franks's press conference yesterday, George Stefanopolous stands up to ask a question for ABC news, then Matt Lauer stands up to ask a question for NBC news, then that Ian guy stands up for MTV... After the music video was over, they had a news brief, in which they showed footage of a previously interviewed Iraqi youth - early twenties, leather jacket, likes heavy metal, pretends to play this stringless guitar, argues with his father, very American (and very young and handsome of course). They kept trying to interview him by cell phone but the bombing kept interrupting the transmission. I hope his posters are okay; the anchor sounded concerned.

Aaron Fischer | March 24, 2003
ATTENTION ALL: First of all, it's quite ok to hate the war, the purpouse of the war, or any aspect of the war with exception of one thing: The Warrior! It is not OK to hate those that have volunteered their lives and have chosen to defend our soverign country against terrorism and those who permote such horrific acts against the USA. I don't know about anyone else here... but I spent 5... count them... one, two, three, four, five... FIVE YEARS of my LIFE defending the borders of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA against hostile invaders, both foreign and domestic.

Anna Gregoline | March 24, 2003
Uh, has anyone said anything bad about soldiers on this thread? I didn't see anything.

Lori Lancaster | March 24, 2003
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Scott Hardie | March 25, 2003
Well put, Aaron. I think we all agree with you.

Jackie Mason | March 25, 2003
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Erik Bates | April 2, 2003
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Scott Hardie | April 2, 2003
Pro-this-war. I like the sound of that.

(And I had a feeling this topic still wasn't dead.)

Anna Gregoline | April 3, 2003
Unfortunately, I am convinced that this war will work towards disrupting our comfortable existance even further.

Jackie Mason | April 4, 2003
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Lori Lancaster | April 4, 2003
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Jackie Mason | April 9, 2003
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Scott Hardie | April 10, 2003
I don't care much for the pictures, but this dialogue is well-written.

Jeff Flom | April 26, 2003
If you watch "Black Hawk Down" you will see the now famous quote by Plato, "Only the dead have seen the end of war." Wars have always occurred and will continue to occur because one nation's interests will always clash with anothers. This war is all about flexing muscle - and a little about oil.
It is critical that the middle east be a nuclear free zone. The reason being is that the entire industrialized world has mega interests in oil. So, if something seriously threatens the stability of the middle east, somebody from the west needs to get involved to fix it. Usually, fixing it refers to some form of military intervention. Therein lies the problem: If you attack someone armed with nuclear weapons you run a tremendous risk, a very high percentage chance, that it will deteriorate into a nuclear exchange. This is the reason we cannot attack North Korea. If we attack North Korea I would say there is a 100% chance that the United States would find itself involved in a nuclear war.
Then, you are not talking about 100 or so dead Americans but very probably MILLIONS, not to mention the casualties caused by the obligatory retaliatory strike by America.
The industrialized west will have overriding economic interests in the middle east for a long time to come. For our sakes and the for the sakes of the Iraqis or whoever else we find ourself at war with we want to make sure that that war is a conventional one, not a nuclear one. In the end, whether or not Iraq had nuclear capabilities is irrelevant. If we succeed in installing a long term stable government that is friendly to the United States we do not have to worry about them getting nuclear weapons ever.
Life is not that easy though, there is a darker side to all of this. One of the potential problems with this war I allude to in my post - "Post War Iraq". Another potential problem is this: The cold war would have been totally different had large arsenals of nuclear weapons not existed. Had there been no nuclear deterrent I can guarantee you all that W.W.III would have happened. We, the United States and the free world could not hope to defend Europe in a convential war -- The Red Army was that big. Our answer was, of course, the nuclear deterrent - if you attack us conventionally, we nuke you. Enter problem, stage right. The roles now are reversed. There is not one single country on the face of the earth that can stand up to American military might, we are that good. Their only option for defense is a nuclear deterrent.
So, the United States starts a war / series of wars (hopefully not) in order to reduce the risk of nuclear war but in the process actually accellerates the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Scott Hardie | April 26, 2003
Accelerating it perhaps, but it seems inevitable. Terrorism is another tactic used against us because we cannot be defeated in conventional warfare. That America's military might causes more terrorism and nuclear proliferation is not really in doubt (is it?), but what is and should be in doubt is whether we're right to become so powerful as a means of self-defense. Many conservatives want us to remain a military powerhouse to defeat anyone who intends to harm us, while many liberals want us to scale back our military to ease the world's fear and apprehension of us. Both are reasonable desires but they're both probably futile towards solving their respective problems. I wonder if a better solution is Teddy Roosevelt's philosophy of diplomacy backed by military might. Sure it failed recently with Saddam, but it could work elsewhere if we gave it a genuine effort next time, and what we demanded of Saddam was unrealistic for him anyway.

Jeff Flom | April 27, 2003
I do not believe that nuclear proliferation is inevitable; it certainly is not desirable. During the cold war there were two primary nuclear powers, of course, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. Both of these powers were on the conservative side, i.e. not overly aggressive militarily. Despite this the world came within inches of nuclear annihilation in 1962 when a simple human miscalculation caused the Cuban Missile Crisis which in turn almost precipitated a full scale strategic nuclear war --Would you like to play a game?
As I stated before wars are inevitable. The cold warriors were able to avoid direct confrontation with each other and fight it out through proxys like Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. The problem is, if everyone in the world has nuclear weapons than you cannot fight by proxy.
I also do not believe that America's military might has to cause terrorism or nuclear proliferation. Speaking specifically to terrorism: if all things were equal and the "terrorists" (I hate that word) had a conventional military force that was roughly equivalent to ours then they would simply use their conventional military force to attempt to subdue us in a conventional war. American strength in and of itself does not cause conflict, it simply forces the enemy's modus operandi. Now, as to nuclear proliferation, yes, as I stated earlier this can cause that, however, it does not have to. If the situation is handled right it will reduce or maybe stop proliferation; if it is handled wrong it will accelerate it.
Your next question is a doozy. Think of it this way, the world is a society, a very big society. Just like any other society it needs to be controlled to some extent or another. We, as citizens of the United States have a government to resolve disputes and control certain people, i.e. hunting down criminals and punishing them. If there were no government we would have anarchy, a situation where everything is fair game. In anarchy if I coveted Scott's luxurious house and his beautiful wife I would simply kill him and take them and there would be no one to stop me. Does that sound good? Of course not, nevertheless, anarchy is how the world functions politically. States, such as the U.S. and Iraq are sovereign, there is no power higher than them. The United Nations is not a government. This is not an acceptable environment for human beings to survive in. So, since there is no government to rule the world a handful of states emerge to be the top dogs, the leaders. They do not govern but they do establish limits and boundaries on actions. If someone steps over the bounds then these leaders exert their dominance through military power.
Since the discovery of the new world these leaders have been western leaders. Before us it was England and France, they were the original superpowers. We achieved superpower status because of our military strength following W.W.II. The point here is: Someone must be the leader to bring order to chaos; if not us then someone else. The fact that some group will use military force to shape the world to their liking is a fact that will never change. All that will ever change is which group that is. My answer to your question in case you could not tell is yes, the United States has a right to be this powerful and tell the world what to do. I have a question for you: Is this a responsibility that we want, or should we give it back to Europe or someone else?
Finally, diplomacy only works if all countries involved in a dispute are willing to compromise. A state is simply an aggregation of citizens so I will use individual citizens to help explain my point. Imagine an abortion advocate and an abortion opponent, they are not going to compromise, they are not going to agree with each other. Their dispute cannot be resolved politically. So, the government of the United States (A third party which is much stronger than either individual) imposes a solution on the other two parties. One group may get everything it wants but more than likely nobody is going to get everything they want. The parties accept the compromise imposed on them or they suffer the wrath of the United States Government. Remember, the world is in a state of anarchy, no authority exists beyond a State, there is no third party to impose a solution; so if you get into a situation like the for and against abortion citizens, a situation where neither party will give in... you get a war. So, diplomacy can work sometimes, but sometimes not. In most cases of war diplomacy never had a chance from the word go.
P.S. Scott, It is good to be back. :)

Scott Hardie | April 28, 2003
Very well put, Jeff. After discussing the other topics I'm too wiped out to really debate this one... But, I'll ask this much. Certainly democracy (or a republic anyway) is preferable to anarchy. If that's good enough for a nation, why is that too good for all nations together? Our world does not have to be anarchy, with sovereign states having the right to impose their will on other nations by force. If we created the United Nations as a forum for all countries to work together to solve their disputes, then why don't we invest the UN (as governed by the votes of all member nations) with the authority to police such disputes, just as we invest a cop with the authority to police a dispute between you and your neighbor down the street? If the problem is that we don't want to arm the UN with a sizeable military force, then let the member nations contribute their militaries to enforce any UN decision. My point is not that we have to obey the UN, but that we really should. That's the point of having it. As it stands, the US is obeying the UN when it agrees with it, and not obeying it otherwise, and that's just plain bullshit.

As for your question, my answer is: Both. :-) Ideally, if the US keeps that role, I hope that someday it goes back to being fair, diplomatic, non-self-serving, and charitable, like it was in the first few decades after it became a superpower. Notice how the world didn't mind us being a superpower back then like they do now?

Jeff Flom | April 29, 2003
Scott, it would be nice if we could create a world government that would provide safety and security for us just like our government does. Unfortunately, barring an invasion by space aliens (I'm not joking) or some other devastating world calamity the chances of that being tried is very slim, its chance of succeeding even less. It can all be summed up in one word, identity.
Right now a large part of the world is trying to tear itself apart, not grow together. Some examples from recent times: Somalia, the Kurds in the middle east, Corsica, the Basques in Spain, the Palestinians, the case of Yugoslavia, Russian Georgia, the Zapatista movement, Quebec, and so on. People want to be governed at the smallest possible level. They want their government to reflect their beliefs. The farther away government gets the more difficult it gets to implement. Think of all the civil wars and revolutions that have happened, including our own; these happened for essentially one reason: The government got too big, too distant for its citizens liking. The people of the world are not only willing to accept the risk of war but are very willing to fight and die for their beliefs and their country. It is just human nature.

Jackie Mason | January 19, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | January 19, 2005
Yeah, that's a breath of fresh air, huh?

Not that I think it will change anything, but it's sure nice to hear.

Amy Austin | January 19, 2005
This thread was a really terrific read... such great debate/discussion!

Anna Gregoline | January 19, 2005
A perfect example of what Tragic Comedy used to be like.

Amy Austin | January 19, 2005
Anna... let it go, already.

Anna Gregoline | January 19, 2005
Let what go? I truly want Tragic Comedy to return to this level of discourse - you said so yourself - it's very terrific read when it works this way!

Denise Sawicki | January 19, 2005
Well I likely bear some blame for Jeff not being around here anymore, if anyone wants to yell at me for that :-) (He's my ex-boyfriend). I admit he's far more into debating than I am.

Jackie Mason | January 19, 2005
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Amy Austin | January 19, 2005
Aw, that's too bad, Denise... but I think you're pretty engaging at times, too! (And I meant that it's too bad things didn't work out for you -- he strikes me as a pretty interesting fellow... I wondered what happened to him! But good for you, if you're happy now -- and you seem to be.)

Amy Austin | January 19, 2005
Look, just because I seem to be the only one here who has "the balls" to say "when" doesn't make me a warmonger (to borrow from the Cronus dialogue). If Anna truly wants what she says, then why does she ALWAYS have a little snipe of her own to come back with? (A perfect example of what Tragic Comedy used to be like.)

Denise Sawicki | January 19, 2005
That was 7 months ago - I'm far happier now, to tell the truth. I don't suppose it's worth it for me to ask him to change his profile. Just wanted to (belatedly) clarify since I imagine I went pretty seamlessly between referring to him as my bf and referring to Darrell as such... :P

Erik Bates | January 19, 2005
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Scott Hardie | January 19, 2005
Amy, I don't think Anna was sniping at you. She was, in fact, agreeing with what you said. I think maybe she was on to something when she said that you were imagining a petty rivalry.

Dr. Rice swallows some pride for the betterment of her administration. Good for her! It is possible to admit that the war is going poorly without implying that it was a mistake to invade in the first place.

John E Gunter | January 20, 2005
I've noticed over the years that whatever party is in office, not just meaning Democrats and Republicans, also meaning Liberals and Conservatives, the other side always seems to be looking for the administration to make a mistake and then they are quick to point it out.

Always seems to be easier to see the bad in the other side, rather than yourself. Course, I notice that both sides seem to be full of horses of a different color that act the same. Something I make sure to point out when one side or the other starts complaining about their rivals!


Erik Bates | January 20, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | January 20, 2005
I'm sick of all of them, quite frankly. I've never been more disappointed in my own party - until the next election, probably! =) And of course, you all know how I feel about the Bush Administration.

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