CODE PINK’S HEAD-SCRATCHING WAR ON DRONES: “Shouldn’t the concept of a less violent war with minimized civilian casualties be exactly what the ‘pacifist’ group wants?” I dunno. Are they anti-war, or just on the other side?
THEY’RE NOT ANTI-WAR — THEY’RE JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE: Home from the war… and our troops are greeted by abuse from Muslim protesters.
BARRY RUBIN: The Gaza War: Is It Really So Hard to Understand? “When you are attacked, you fight back.”
But when you’re Israel, fighting back is immoral. It’s disproportionate — though that always struck me as the best way to fight back against an existential threat. More on morality from Phyllis Chesler, who asks, Who Are The “Peace Activists,” Anyway? My suspicion is that, once again, they’re not so much “anti-war” as just on the other side.
NOT ANTIWAR, just on the other side: “Disturbed anti-war protester can’t find soldier, kills civilian with axe instead.”
UPDATE: Brendan Loy thinks I’m wrong to use the “other side” comparison. But I’d absolutely do his pro-life sniper post counterexample, too. So maybe I’m just mean to deranged ideological killers.
TIM BLAIR: “The International Solidarity Movement denied three years ago it had any connection to Tel Aviv suicide bombers. That denial might be a little harder to believe now that ISM activists have been photographed clowning around with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.”
They’re not anti-war. They’re just on the other side.
NOT ANTI-WAR BUT ON THE OTHER SIDE: A group that calls itself the Armed Revolutionary Fascists vandalized Jewish stores in Rome and defaced them with swastikas and pro-Hezbollah propaganda.
WHAT IF THEY HELD ANTIWAR PROTESTS AND NOBODY CAME? Gateway Pundit says that’s pretty much what happened at events meant to protest the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
UPDATE: ATC says that those who showed up seemed less anti-war than anti-American and anti-Bush. You don’t say.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More photos here. They’re not so much “antiwar” as just on the other side.
Brian Dunn, meanwhile, is enjoying a different and larger set of protests.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS ON A.N.S.W.E.R. and its fellow-travelers:
To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as “antiwar” when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side.
UPDATE: Anti-war journalists think Americans can’t handle the truth.
A local soldier back from the war in Iraq said he was beaten at an area concert because of what was printed on his T-shirt, NBC 4′s Nancy Burton reported. . . .
According to a Columbus police report, six witnesses who didn’t know Barton said the person who beat him up was screaming profanities and making crude remarks about U.S. soldiers, Burton reported.
Not anti-war. Just on the other side.
I don’t promise not to link to stories that turn out to be wrong (how could I?) just to correct errors when they appear. And, actually, I’m glad this looks not to have been true.
GERARD VAN DER LEUN is ashamed to be a Democrat. Personally, I haven’t entirely given up hope for the Democratic Party, though things do look rather grim now.
UPDATE: A reader sends this link to Nicholas Kristof’s NYT non-blog, where he’s worried about the tone of his lefty email:
Frankly, it chills me that well-meaning people are hoping that young Americans will be maimed and killed so as to punish the hawks and lessen their chances of holding on to power.
Note to Kristof: They’re not “well-meaning,” and it’s odd that you’d think so in light of these sentiments. And they’re not anti-war. They’re on the other side, and they’re admitting it. Somehow, I think that if Republicans were expressing these kinds of sentiments under a Democratic Administration, it would merit more than a blog entry.
I’m somewhat annoyed by the assertion that this act was “sophisticated,” and hence the work of those brilliant strategerists of Al Qaeda. My definition of sophistication is somewhat different: it’s an unmanned drone flying over Pakistan, piloted by a guy in Florida, dropping a laser-guided bomb into the passenger cab of a truck full of Taliban. That’s sophistication. Synchronizing watches on detonators is not exactly all that tough.
Nope. He also observes:
To some, the act of “resistance” has such a romantic pull they cannot possibly renounce the use of flamboyant violence – until they find themselves in a train station on an average weekday morning, ears ringing, eyes clouded, looking down at their shirt, wondering why it’s so red all of a sudden.
I wonder if either of the women dressed as suicide bombers in this photo from Madrid last year was within earshot of yesterday’s blasts. As Wagner James Au writes in the email reminding me of the photo:
What was striking to me then was not how morally depraved these women were (though they are certainly that. What disturbed me so much is how their little bit of performance art didn’t provoke the slightest reaction, from their fellow Spaniards.
Look at the photo. They must be surrounded by thousands of people, but no one is shouting at them; no one is rudely gesturing at them; no one, in other words, seems enraged at this open glorification of terrorism. If anything, they’re *blase* about it. And this seems to be reflective of a common assumption, that *of course* bombing innocent civilians in Israel is a legitimate means of protest. So what are they to make of this equally savage violence yesterday, now that it’s directed at them? And what implicit message were the Spanish anti-war protesters sending to terrorist groups of all stripes, when they essentially announced that they approved of these methods as an acceptable means of pursuing grievances?
This is not a shoe-on-the-other foot observation; I’m not asking them, like many of them asked us after 9/11, to wonder, “Why do they hate us?” Rather, as we sympathize with the victims and demand justice for their perpetrators, I think we should also ask, as should they, “Why did so many of you support horrific actions like this so recently?”
The answer is simple: Those two women, like some of the other protesters, weren’t antiwar. They were on the other side. I wonder if they still are?
UPDATE: Barbara Skolaut emails: “Be interesting if some enterprising reporter found them and asked them. But I’m not holding my breath.”
It would be interesting.
NOT ANTI-WAR, JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE:
TONY JONES: John Pilger, do you still maintain that the world depends on what you call “the Iraqi resistance” to inflict a military defeat on the coalition forces?
JOHN PILGER: Well, certainly, historically, we’ve always depended on resistances to get rid of occupiers, to get rid of invaders. And what we have in Iraq now is I suppose the equivalent of a kind of Vichy Government being set up. And a resistance is always atrocious, it’s always bloody. It always involves terrorism. . . . Now, I think the situation in Iraq is so dire that unless the United States is defeated there that we’re likely to see an attack on Iran, we’re likely to see an attack on North Korea and all the way down the road it could be even an attack on China within a decade, so I think what happens in Iraq now is incredibly important.
TONY JONES: Can you approve in that context the killing of American, British or Australian troops who are in the occupying forces?
JOHN PILGER: Well yes, they’re legitimate targets. They’re illegally occupying a country. And I would have thought from an Iraqi’s point of view they are legitimate targets, they’d have to be, sure.
TONY JONES: So Australian troops you would regard in Iraq as legitimate targets?
JOHN PILGER: Excuse me but, really, that’s an unbecoming question.
With some revealing answers.
UPDATE: Lovely observation:
Perhaps the most telling comment from Pilger was that the only countries he feared the US might go after were all fascist dictatorships.
That’s today’s Left. Go figure.
THE BLOGOSPHERE KNEW THIS, but it’s nice to see the mainstream press noting that the “furor” over Bush’s 9/11 ads was entirely manufactured:
We have no doubt that the use of the images is appropriate – given that the president’s leadership in the wake of 9/11, and his conduct of the War on Terror, are under drumbeat assault by John Kerry and the Democrats.
But now it turns out that this whole furor is driven by a tiny group that’s motivated by a far-left agenda and a festering hatred of the president – and has some quite dubious financial ties.
Leading the rhetorical charge has been an outfit called September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows – which, the group admits, has only a few dozen members and represents relatives of no more than 1 percent of the 9/11 victims.
More to the point, the group was formed specifically to oppose the entire War on Terror: Not just the campaign against Saddam Hussein, but also the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Indeed, the group’s leaders traveled to Afghanistan, drawing a detestable moral equivalence between the 9/11 attacks and U.S. bombing of the Taliban and opposing “violent responses to terrorism.” . . .
And back in January 2003, the group said had it had gotten a “verbal commitment” to the fund proposal from the junior senator from Massachusetts – John F. Kerry.
Little surprise there – because Peaceful Tomorrows’ parent group, the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, has received millions from foundations controlled by Kerry’s heiress wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Tides gets much of its funds from philanthropists like Mrs. Kerry and billionaire George Soros – who has made defeating President Bush his top personal priority.
As Richard Berman, director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, told Congress in 2002: “The Tides Foundation distributes other foundations’ money, while shielding the identity of the actual donors.”
Call it charitable money-laundering.
Could this be a campaign-finance law violation? I don’t know enough to tell, but it’s certainly an end-run, legal or otherwise. But it’s yet another reason to wonder why the finances of nonprofits don’t get more scrutiny — and why the press is so ready to take these sorts of groups at face value, instead of looking into where their money comes from.
And, once again, it looks as if another “peace” group isn’t really for peace, but simply on the other side. And, apparently, on Kerry’s side as well.
That should bother him, and at least some of his supporters. Shouldn’t it?
UPDATE: Well, here’s someone who’s looking into the question of whether Theresa Heinz is covertly aiding the Kerry campaign.
Meanwhile a pseudonymous reader says that the Tides accusations are bunk:
To summarize–The Heinz Endowments, of which Teresa is chair (there’s also a board that approves grants), gives money for local, mostly small-bore initiatives
here in SWPA, sometimes through the Tides Center (PA).
What Tides does is process Form 990, handle HR payroll and benefits, and provide a vehicle for grant applications and monies. It’s simply a way for the
local foundation community to avoid setting up new 501(c)(3)’s merely for ad hoc projects, that they will then feel obligated to support.
That’s not what the article quoted above says, but OK. (And here’s a link to a generally favorable article by Dennis Roddy on the Tides Foundation and Teresa Heinz.)
Whether or not there’s financial chicanery, however, doesn’t account for the many other anti-Bush connections of the “spokespeople” criticizing the ads, which were ignored in mainstream press reports, but noticed by bloggers with Google. (More of that here, here, and here.)
Don’t journalists, like, find out stuff about people for a living? Or have they outsourced that to the blogosphere?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Rosen writes that the “find out stuff” job description is woefully out of date.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more on the press’s abject failure on this subject.
MORE: Hmm. It does sound suspicious when you put it this way:
It also turns out that those anti-Bush “9/11 families” number only about 120 out of 3,000 victim families–and that they’re all part of an organized anti-Bush, anti-war organization, “September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.” And it further turns out that this group, just coincidentally, also happens to be a project of an organization that gets major funding from the Heinz foundations.
Hmm. Call me crazy, but if these were Scaife-funded folks denouncing Kerry I think the media would note the connection. And Jay Caruso emails: “There’s no way these reporters didn’t know who these people were. Yet they deliberately left out this information, knowing it would cause controversy.”
STILL MORE: Reader Erik Fortune emails:
Notice the last line of the Associated Press article about the retired
national guardsman who reported seeing President Bush on base in Alabama
“Calhoun has not made any donations to Bush this election season or during the 2000 season, according to campaign finance records.”
See? The (associated) press _does_ go look for conflicts of interest … when the person in question supports Bush.
I’ll give them credit for reporting that they didn’t find anything in this case, but the fact that they looked is telling. If the press were half as, um, diligent wrt the 9-11 families, the whole incident would have had a hugely different spin.
Yes, it would have.
THEY’RE NOT ANTI-WAR — they’re just on the other side:
Just when you thought the German “peace” movement couldn’t get much more hypocritical they take things to a whole new level. Last week the unbelievable lack of protest at the German government’s plutonium and arms deal with Communist China made it seem as the peace freaks had all rolled up into a big ball for a long winter hibernation.
Not so! The German TV news program “Panorama” uncovered some of the wonderful activities that particularly dedicated cadres of the German peace movement are currently engaged in. In the spirit of peace, a number of groups have started a fund-raising campaign entitled “10 Euros for the Iraqi Resistance”. The money will be provided to the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) a group dedicated to carrying out attacks against US soldiers in Iraq in collaboration with Saddam loyalists. The common goal is to “liberate” the Iraqi people from the evil imperialist American occupiers. On their website these groups gush with enthusiasm about turning Iraq into another Vietnam for the USA.
I think that one reason so many lefties have gone crazy regarding the war is that it is exposing their hypocrisy — and even more damaging to their self-image, their lack of moral stature — so clearly.
UPDATE: Bill Herbert has more on this.
I don’t want to think that Noah Oppenheim is correct in writing that many in the media quite seriously don’t want us to win, but tonight of all nights it seems more likely that could be so. As I type these words at ten p. m. PDT… maybe I missed something… maybe I didn’t click far enough… but I see no reports of the large pro-democracy/anti-terror march of Iraqis in Baghdad today in tomorrow’s New York Times or Washington Post or in the Los Angeles Times(at least on their websites). Or on the CNN site. Or on MSNBC…. Do you think for one moment that if thousands had been marching for Saddam… for the fascists… excuse me “insurgents”… it wouldn’t have been front page news? I don’t. What’s going on?
(Emphasis in original.) I just searched “Iraq” on the NYT website. Not only did I find absolutely no reference to the anti-terror protests in Iraq, the search results brought home to me just how relentlessly negative the spin is on the stories that they do report. This is an absolute embarrassment to the American media — even Reuters and Al Jazeera are doing a better job! — but I don’t know if they’ll even notice.
But we’re noticing. And while the story hasn’t quite been blacked out, it’s close. Readers report that CNN did run clips of the marches, as did Fox (see above). But the biggest story in the NYT on Iraq is that two GIs were killed during a robbery. Roger’s basic point holds: Had these demonstrators been marching on the other side, this would have been a big story instead of the closest thing to a non-story. So why isn’t it a big story when it’s good news? Because they want us to lose? Or at least, because they are, as Noah Oppenheim suggests, consciously or unconsciously seeking “vindication” of their anti-war views?
When you compare what they do report with what they don’t, it seems to me that they’re either glorying in the bad news and ignoring the good for the reasons Oppenheim suggests, or just lousy at their jobs. Or, I suppose, both. Your call.
UPDATE: One of Roger’s commenters points out that the Times did cover the march — as a single paragraph buried in the story about the 2 GIs:
In contrast, a heavily policed march in central Baghdad on Wednesday, organized peacefully by the country’s major political parties, drew thousands of Iraqis to protest attacks by guerrilla fighters, which have injured and killed Iraqi civilians as well as occupiers.
This kind of ass-covering (“See! We covered it!”) is almost worse than not covering it at all. Pathetic.
AS I’VE SAID BEFORE, they aren’t anti-war, they’re just on the other side:
BBC reporter in Rome
A group of Italian anti-war militants is raising funds to support the armed Iraqi resistance, the BBC has learned.
The discovery comes as Italy mourns 19 men killed in a suicide attack in Iraq last week.
The “Antiimperialista” organisation’s internet campaign asks people to send “10 Euros to the Iraqi resistance”.
Absolutely shameful. I love this: “They are currently organising an anti-war demonstration in Italy next month, and it remains to be seen whether news of the fund-raising activities will deter more moderate anti-war activists from attending.”
Any bets? You know, someone will probably accuse me of “blurring the line” between anti-war protesters and, well, traitors. But it’s the BBC that’s doing the blurring here. If they called them “terrorist sympathizers” or “Italians who support those who are killing their countrymen” that would be different. But they’re not willing to do that. Why not?
UPDATE: Reader Raymond Sauer emails: “How can a BBC reporter say ‘anti-war militants’ with a straight face?”
I think they have classes for that.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, in Iraq, Healing Iraq reports:
Huge anti-terrorism demonstrations were held in Nassiriyah yesterday by students association condemning the attacks on the Italian force carrying signs such as ‘No to terrorism. Yes to freedom and peace’, and ‘This cowardly act will unify us’. I have to add that there were similar demonstrations in Baghdad more than a week ago also by students against the bombings of police stations early this Ramadan. I hope the demonstrations advocates that bugged me are satisfied now. There are also preparations for anti-terror demonstrations before Id (end of Ramadan holidays).
You’ll have to scroll, as his permalinks are bloggered. It’s in the 11/16 8:15pm post. Hmm. The Italians call themselves anti-imperialists, but they seem to be supporting the small group that wants to rule Iraq in opposition to its people, don’t they?
As another reader writes: “Funny you don’t hear about this sort of thing in the news.” Yeah, it is. Maybe some of those guys need to get away from their newly-hired Baathist minders.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s more information about the “anti-Imperialistas” and their fundraising efforts.
THAT’LL BE ALL FOR ME FOR A WHILE: In the meantime, check out The Command Post, SgtStryker.com, The Agonist, StrategyPage, Steven Den Beste, and the many other fine weblogs linked to the left and below.
The CNN thing is supposed to air about 12:15. Like all TV, that’s subject to change at the last minute.
UDPATE: Read this piece, too. I agree that the biggest danger is an artificial timetable, and I’m happy to see that Bush and Blair seem determined to avoid one.
And read this account of aid and comfort from Columbia:
“The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military,” Nicholas De Genova, assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University told the audience at Low Library Wednesday night. “I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus.”
That kind of thing is an embarassment and a disgrace to the academic profession. Columbia should be ashamed. Even Eric Foner was embarrassed. And the people who said that Andrew Sullivan was being hysterical when he warned of a “Fifth Column” of academics and journalists who would actively root for America’s defeat owe Andrew an apology. Another one.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this piece by Eugene Volokh, which seems to expose De Genova as a Holocaust-denier, more or less. Why am I not surprised? Like a lot of people who say they’re “anti-war,” he’s really just on the other side. And lest anyone accuse me of “McCarthyism” for pointing that out, let me note that he says so himself.
IT’S A BLOGOSPHERE PILE-ON! Even Eric Alterman is denouncing A.N.S.W.E.R. and the protests:
But radical rhetoric denouncing America and everything it stands for — which is what I heard from the A.N.S.W.E.R.-chosen speakers in D.C. over the weekend — does more harm than good. They harden the other side’s resolve and turn away “normal” non-political people from a cause they might otherwise support. . . .
In other words, by allowing A.N.S.W.E.R. to take over the peace movement, protesters are focusing America on their worst features, and almost daring them to side with Bush and company. It’s a tough quandary because the left needs bodies and these Stalinist types are the best demonstration organizers — just as they were in the sixties. And the Left has never solved it.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. And I think that when you’re getting slagged by Alterman and me, you’re not launching a viable mass movement.
UPDATE: Michelle Dulak has this comment on Megan McArdle’s post:
I think the most pathetic aspect of this is that the supposedly vast grassroots anti-war movement hadn’t the means even to organize its own protest. How hard would it have been for a large, legitimate left-of-center organization to put something of its own together? That reasonable opponents of war consented to sign on with the ANSWER lot because they they were such good organizers is shameful. (Slightly stronger statement deleted as I thought I’d better not pollute this blog.)
I think there hasn’t been enough attention given to how the notice of the protest spread from ANSWER to the non-Stalinist groups who must presumably have done most of the serious work of getting the word out and persuading ordinary citizens to show up. ANSWER must have sent press releases to other antiwar groups, leftist organizations, leftist media, &c. I don’t think an ordinary citizen who has never heard of ANSWER is at fault for attending an ANSWER-sponsored rally, but the more mainstream organizations that must have first gotten the word out to their members damn well had a duty to know who ANSWER is (or, if they didn’t, to find out, which would take about a minute online) and I think they bear a good deal of the responsibility here.
I’m guessing that Karl Rove is ordering up footage for the ’04 Presidential race.
UPDATE: Alterman emails to clarify that he was referring to the speakers at the protests: “Speakers, please, not protests. We don’t know what the protesters thought and it’s my belief/hope that the speakers did not represent them.” Fair enough.
PROFESSOR PETER KIRSTEIN, who apparently found out about InstaPundit via the Chicago Tribune article earlier this week, sent me an email responding to a post I had on his situation when the story broke last fall. (Here is a later one; and here is another). We corresponded, and I offered to publish his email, which is set out below. He didn’t demand that I do so — I offered. I think it’s always good to bring out the other side of the story. So here it is below, followed by some comments:
In your November 6, 2002 posting, you carelessly quoted me incorrectly in my e-mail to Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Kurpiel that in part may have led to your characterization of it as “barely literate.” It certainly was hastily written and overly personal for which I apologized and was quickly accepted by the cadet himself, his parents (see Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 6, 2002) and the Air Force Academy Assembly.
“No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation.” Actually I used the word “without” prior to AAA that was an effort to indicate the indiscriminate nature of high-altitude bombing and the lack of significant military assets on the part of those whom we engage in combat. We wage war on the weak and the helpless in large measure due to cultural and ideological bias that is not conducive to diplomatic means in resolving international disputes. This is my opinion and I have the right to express it.
You make another error in your careless and unsubstantiated fulminations against me. You state “that the identification of people like Kirstein with the Democratic Party…” I would be curious if you could produce one document of my many writings and public utterances where I make such a partisan claim. I believe the major political parties are indistinguishable from each other in most areas of public policy that is why I voted for Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate in the last so-called presidential election in the United States.
With regard to another person’s critique of my antiwar activism when I was a graduate student, I would only say this. Buffoonery comes in many forms. I don’t believe the Vietnam antiwar movement, which may have shortened the war and saved the deaths of many precious Americans, who were not able to escape the draft, was particularly humorous or symptomatic of a lack of determination and seriousness. It was an epochal event that was a defining moment in American history that represented a high tide of student idealism and commitment to peace and conflict resolution. I stand by my role as a university-student leader in that era.
My posting was cut-and-pasted from Neal Boortz’s page, to which it was linked — given the extent to which that email circulated the Internet, I suppose a typo from somewhere would be no surprise. As for the identification of Democrats with Mr. Kirstein, I was referring to the Democratic Party’s general identification with anti-war protesters by others — especially in the wake of things like the Bonior/McDermott trip to Baghdad — not Mr. Kirstein’s self-identification with the Democratic Party. The Democrats will, however, no doubt appreciate this clarification. Kirstein promises to speak out against the war in a number of fora, and I’ll do my best to keep you updated on his activities.
I dispute the characterization of Saddam Hussein as “weak and helpless,”and I think that “indiscriminate high-altitude bombing” is a shibboleth left over from, well, the days when we actually engaged in indiscriminate high-altitude bombing. But I certainly don’t want to engage in excessive filtering-out of antiwar opinions, and I thought readers would find this item instructive.
THIS POST OF MINE has upset some of the antiwar folks because I said that the peace movement is playing into Saddam’s hands and is thus “objectively pro-Saddam.” (Jim Henley has been all over this — scroll up and down from this post — and it rates a mention in Tapped, which calls the statement “uncharacteristically simple-minded”).
Well, Saddam says — in a passage quoted in that very post — that he’s stalling because he thinks that if he waits long enough American public opinion (which I interpret, reasonably enough, I think, to mean “the antiwar movement”) will force Bush not to invade. And there’s nothing new about that strategy – it’s been the strategy of every U.S. adversary since Vietnam. (What’s more, the “antiwar movement” that they’ve relied on has been pretty much the same people, using the same slogans, regardless of the actual circumstances involved.)
But regardless of whether members of the anti-war movement subjectively support Saddam (many of them, as David Corn has reported, are more accurately described as anti-American than pro-Saddam, but there are plenty of thoughtful folks like Henley who don’t fit that mold) the fact is that their opposition to the war is a key element in his strategy. That doesn’t make it necessarily wrong, of course: what’s best for Saddam could conceivably also be what’s best for America, though that’s not much of a slogan. I’d take the misreport of Charlie Wilson’s statement about General Motors over that one any day.
But when your movement is the key tool of a nasty dictator, well, it should give you pause, shouldn’t it? Jim Henley’s response is that he regards war as sufficiently undesirable that “the fate of some tinpot tyrant on the other side of the globe” doesn’t matter to him. That’s fine, and it’s a reasonable argument even if it’s one that I disagree with. But don’t pretend that such an approach isn’t, in fact, beneficial to Saddam, and that while it may not matter to you, it does matter to him and he’s basing his strategy on it. What moral obligations flow from that fact — and I think there are some — is perhaps another topic, but don’t deny the fact itself. Personally, it’s not Saddam’s fate that concerns me, but ours. I just think that Saddam’s fate has a lot to do with our own.
Okay, that’s the reasonable argument. Here are the not-so-reasonable ones. Hesiod emailed me that by supporting war on Iraq I was “objectively pro-Al Qaeda, pro-Arab,” etc. This is just dumb. People who oppose war on Iraq want to cover themselves by setting up a false dichotomy: war on Al Qaeda or war on Iraq. But, since there’s no reason that one conflicts with the other, that won’t wash. Indeed, I think it’s more likely that the two reinforce each other.
Meanwhile Tapped asks if George Bush is “objectively pro-Kim Jong Il” because he’s not in favor of invading North Korea. Well, actually, I think Bush would be in favor of invading North Korea if we could. (And I’d be interested to hear what Tapped would say in that event. I doubt it would be anything along the lines of “at last!” But be careful what you wish for. . . .)
The reason why we aren’t invading North Korea is that it would be too hard, not least because North Korea has managed to pull off what Saddam Hussein is still trying to accomplish: a military position that makes invasion prohibitively expensive. Since North Korea achieved that position largely under the umbrella of Chinese and Russian protection during the Cold War, there’s not much we can do about that — though Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton’s “nonproliferation” efforts there look pretty lame now — but that’s hardly an argument for giving Saddam Hussein the same opportunity, and certainly an argument against the inspections-and-blather approach taken with North Korea. In retrospect, it’s clear that if we could have prevented North Korea from acquiring the weapons it has, we would have been better off doing so. I think that’s the lesson we should take from this, and I think the antiwar movement needs to be awake to the possibility that Saddam is playing it for a sucker. Because I think that’s what’s happening.
Saddam will do what he can get away with. The question is, what are you willing to let him get away with?
UPDATE: Boy, it doesn’t get much clearer than the headline on this article: “Saddam banks on protesters to quash effort to strike Iraq” — does it?
“The demonstrations in the Arab and Western world include hundreds of thousands of peace-loving people who are protesting the war and aggression on Iraq,” he said, apparently referring to protests in the United States and around the world last month. . . .
Most of Saddam’s statements were standard Iraqi rhetoric — he blamed “Zionist schemes” for Iraq’s troubles and said invading Iraq would not be “a picnic” for American and British forces.
But his references to anti-war demonstrations in the West were the first signal he believed protests could undermine President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the chief advocates of attacking Iraq.
And I don’t think it’s any answer to say, as Micah Holmquist does, that: “This is exactly why nuclear weapons are going to be a sought after commodity by countries around the world for the forseeable future. They provide protection, something many countries are trying to obtain in light of the White House’s imperial ambitions.”
That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. And here’s what Zach Barbera wrote when the Saddam interview came out: “Don’t let the anti-war folks, as well as the French and Russians, tell you they are not on Saddam’s side. He knows they are.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh suggests that something like “pro-Saddam in effect” is better. Okay, I can live with that — since it’s what I was saying anyway. I don’t think that these people (well, most of ‘em) really like Saddam. But I think that he’s counting on their efforts, and that they ought to be troubled by that.
LAST UPDATE: Hesiod seems to think I misrepresented his email above. He offers an edited version of it at this link. I don’t have the original handy, but I really don’t see that my paraphrase above departs significantly from what he quotes. But my perceptions differ from Hesiod’s in a number of ways.
HOW MANY STRINGS DID KARL ROVE HAVE TO PULL to get Jimmy Carter to write this anti-war oped?
Because it’s a masterstroke. With Carter’s abject record of humiliating failure in dealing with middle-eastern rogue states, there’s only upside for Bush in having Carter on the other side. This op-ed will produce no new opposition to the war, as everyone capable of being convinced by Jimmy Carter on this issue is already against the war anyway. For everyone else, it’s a reminder of what the politics of appeasement look like, and where they lead.
UPDATE: And don’t miss Eliot Cohen’s flaying of the “chickenhawk” slur:
There is no evidence that generals as a class make wiser national security policymakers than civilians. George C. Marshall, our greatest soldier statesman after George Washington, opposed shipping arms to Britain in 1940. His boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, with nary a day in uniform, thought otherwise. Whose judgment looks better? A few soldiers become great diplomats or great politicians; others are abject failures. Most avoid the field altogether. Military careers spent in hierarchical, rule-bound, tightly controlled organizations are not necessarily the best preparation for accurately judging the fluid world of politics at home and abroad.
There’s more, and it’s good. He even mentions Starship Troopers.
ARES AND ATHENA AND THE WAR: I’ve been blogging less lately, trying to rest the tortured ligaments and tendons that were already flirting with RSI nearly a year ago. But I’ve been watching the “warblogger” / “techblogger” debate on the war (well, some of them, anyway), and I think that Eric Olsen is onto something when he calls it a cultural divide.
But part of the reason for different views on the war may stem from different views of war in general. I thought of this in connection with a passage in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, where the character Enoch Root is talking about two kinds of war as personified by the two very different Greek gods with jurisdiction over warfare, Ares and Athena (this starts at page 804 in my hardcover edition):
“She was the goddess of metis, which means cunning and craftiness. . . . The word that we use today to mean the same thing, is really technology. . . . Instead of calling Athena the goddess of war, wisdom and macrame, then, we should say war and technology. And here again we have the problem of an overlap with the jurisdiction of Ares, who’s supposed to be the god of war. And let’s just say that Ares is a complete asshole. His personal aides are Fear and Terror and sometimes Strife. He is constantly at odds with Athena even though — maybe because — they are nominally the god and goddess of the same thing — war. Heracles, who is one of Athena’s human proteges, physically wounds Ares on two occasions, and even strips him of his weapons at one point! You see, the fascinating thing about Ares is that he’s completely incompetent. . . .
“So insofar as Athena is a goddess of war, what really do we mean by that? Note that her most famous weapon is not her sword but her shield Aegis, and Aegis has a gorgon’s head on it, so that anyone who attacks her is in serious danger of being turned to stone. She’s always described as being calm and majestic, neither of which adjectives anyone ever applied to Ares. . . .”
“Let’s face it, Randy, we’ve all known guys like Ares. The pattern of human behavior that caused the internal mental representation of Ares to appear in the minds of the ancient Greeks is very much alive today, in the form of terrorists, serial killers, riots, pogroms, and aggressive tinhorn dictators who turn out to be military incompetents. And yet for all their stupidity and incompetence, people like that can conquer and control large chunks of the world if they are not resisted. . . . Who is going to fight them off, Randy?
“I’m afraid you’re going to say we are.”
“Sometimes it might be other Ares-worshippers, as when Iran and Iraq went to war and no one cared who won. But if Ares-worshippers aren’t going to end up running the whole world, somebody needs to do violence to them. This isn’t very nice, but it’s a fact: civilization requires an Aegis. And the only way to fight the bastards off in the end is through intelligence. Cunning. Metis. . . . Do you kow why we won the Second World War, Randy?”
“Because we built better stuff than the Germans?”
“But why did we build better stuff, Randy? . . . Well, the short answer is that we won because the Germans worshipped Ares and we worshipped Athena.”
In Stephenson’s characterization of Ares as representing war in terms of mindless destruction and the practice of glorying in that destruction (with additional measures of macho posturing and egotism blended with ineptitude thrown in) it’s easy to see why someone would be against it. And if you think that the Ares version is the sum total of what war’s all about, then it’s easy to reject any claim that war might be called for, and to brand people who think it’s time to resort to war as, well, Ares-like. Which seems to me to be the essence of the antiwar position among many of the techbloggers.
But, of course, there’s more to it than that. (And, if you look at the other side in this war, it’s pretty easy to see who’s glorying in mindless destruction and engaging in macho posturing.) As Stephenson points out, there’s another archetype of war — one that is defensive, and that is based on cunning and technology. (And it’s pretty easy to see which side fits the Athenean archetype, too).
And, finally, if you don’t like the Ares style of war, and don’t want Ares-worshippers to wind up running the world,then it’s not enough to reject your inner Ares and think peaceful thoughts. You’ve got to unsling Aegis, and do something about it.
Here’s the end of the dialogue, after Root argues that the Nazis failed because their ideology was all about proving things that they already believed true, not about finding truth:
“Ares always reemerges from the chaos. It will never go away. Athenian civilization defends itself from the forces of Ares with metis, or technology. . . .”
“Sounds teleological, Enoch. Free countries get better science, hence superior military power, hence get to defend their freedoms. You’re proclaiming a sort of Manifest Destiny here.”
“Well, someone’s got to do it.”
“Aren’t we beyond that sort of thing now?”
“I know you’re just saying that to infuriate me. Sometimes, Randy, Ares gets chained up in a barrel for a few years, but he never goes away. The next time he emerges, Randy, the conflict is going to revolve around bio-, micro-, and nanotechnology. Who’s going to win?”
It would be a bummer if crazed ideologues who want to bring back the 12th century wound up winning that war, just because those who should be forging the latest version of Athena’s shield think that any effort to defend oneself smacks of Ares.
UPDATE: Hmm. I wish I’d seen this line from an anti-war blog site when I wrote the post above:
I have found that sensuality and war don’t mix. Sensuality and politics don’t mix. Sensuality and warbloggers don’t mix.
Warbloggers are from Athena, anti-war bloggers are from Venus? Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t read that before, or I might have come up with a lame, John Gray-inspired title for this post. Anyhow, it seems unfair to me: Athena looks pretty hot in this picture.
But God forbid that the defense of civilization should be, you know, unsensual. I wonder what Bill Mauldin would have to say about that.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Now BurningBird is mad about the link above, saying that it’s out of context, and that I should have linked her other posts directly in an earlier post, rather than via Eric Olsen’s sum-up. (Though as I’ve noted elsewhere, people do that all the time.) I don’t think I took the earlier item out of context at all; I think it was consistent with what Brendan O’Neill (who not even BurningBird can call a right-winger) writes about the antiwar movement today:
‘Fuck democracy, fuck communism’, says one of the characters who is sick of the war. ‘I just want a life and a girl.’ This sentiment captures what is behind much of today’s anti-war mood – the notion that nothing is worth fighting, dying or killing for, and that it is better to live in peace and put up with your lot in life than to struggle. Really?
Today’s prevailing anti-war mood reflects a serious lack of stomach for fighting, rather than a positive assertion of the right of third world states to run their own affairs without Western interference. Indeed, almost everyone now accepts that the West has the right to invade/impose sanctions/nation-build (delete according to how ‘radical’ you are) wherever it pleases. Rather than indicating a real opposition to Western intervention, our dislike of war seems to capture our fear of doing anything too decisive or forceful. . . . Surely there’s more to being anti-war than just not liking bloodshed…?
Follow the link above and read the whole post. BurningBird seems to have made a career out of complaining that my blog is “unfair” but her idea of “fairness” seems to involve me doing what she wants. Which is also sadly typical.
ANOTHER UPDATE: BurningBird has posted again, apologizing for seeming petty on the linking issue. As for the rest, well, as I’ve said repeatedly I think that there are reasonable arguments to be made against invading Iraq, though I don’t find them persuasive. (And they’ve been noted, and responded to, here and elsewhere over the past eleven months, which is what I meant when I said that Dave Winer came late to the debate. I should post a bunch of links, but I’m not doing it here. That’s the project that Combustible Boy is working on, more or less). As for Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia — if it were up to me, I’d invade Saudi Arabia first, then let the dominoes fall (and give them a healthy push if needed). It’s not up to me (which is probably just as well). But all of these countries are ruled by people fundamentally hostile to us, who will hurt us if they can, and who are happy to see those who want to kill Americans flourish.
I don’t pretend to offer guarantees that American intervention in the region will make life better for the people who live there. I think it will, I hope it will, and I think we should do our best to make that so. But those are secondary objectives. The primary objective is to make clear to leaders that if their country threatens America, they, the rulers, will be out of power at best, and dead along with all their family and friends at worst. Is that “nice?” No. I don’t care.
ANTIGLOBALIST WILLIAM HAWKINS writes that antiglobalists are abandoning the antiglobalization movement because it has morphed into old-fashioned anti-Americanism:
Hundreds demonstrated outside the hotel where AIPAC was meeting, chanting ‘”Stop the killing, stop the crime, Israel out of Palestine” while holding up signs lauding the suicide bombers as “the poor man’s F-16.” The “peace” movement remains a misnomer. It’s not “anti-war,” it’s just on the other side.
It is clear that the demonstrators were not really “anti-globalists” at all. There were calls for the “international community,” the U.N., and even the ICC to curtail the actions of the United States and Israel. This is the old liberal-Left desire for the disarmament of Western nations and the empowerment of “world” institutions to reign over them in the name of the downtrodden elsewhere.
The shift from anti-globalism to anti-Americanism has cost the demonstrators more than just the sympathy of the USBIC. The AFL-CIO — which provided most of the clout in Seattle, has also distanced itself.
Yes, it’s just the way certain folks split the Left back in the 1960s.