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Thursday, March 18, 2004



You make some very good points and I can see how you would draw some similarities between both events but I take issue with your one to one assesment of the reflexive reaction to "isolation" following "September 1938" and Chamberlain's capitulation. I know you said that your analogy wasn't perfect, but my point speaks more to America's reaction and not the circumstances. I don't think that we as Americans fear losing our Americanism or that which is American as we did in 1938. I think that what we are most afraid of is losing the democratic momentum we have experienced in the last 20 or so years. We beat the Russians at their own game and we do not want to relinquish the title so to speak. Which is kind of the reverse effect of the isolationist mentality if you think about it. We understand that American hegemony is a goliath and our strength is unmatched. That said, I agree that the plan is an ambitious one but absolutely necessary. I think the issue that most people who supported the operation in Afghanistan and are having a problem with the mission in Iraq is that with Afghanistan we had a focused and truthful agenda. With Iraq I feel that the American people were not given enough credit to understand the valid reasons why Iraq needed to be brought into the fold. I can't help but feel somewhat resentfull for that elitest train of thought.

Rob A.

You're right; I may have painted with too broad a stroke. In my mind, I may have used "democracy" and "America" almost as synonyms. I may not have been as clear as I should have. (And I was drunk when I started the post last night and a little sleepy when I finished it this morning.) Obviously, we can't put the genie back in the bottle. Any chance America ever had at isolationism was lost on December 7, 1941. I think we agree on this point.

As to feeling misled for the reasons of the war (WMD) offered by the Administration, I can agree--but only half-heartedly. A lot of the "post-game" analysis I've read puts this on Tony Blair. He needed UN backing more than we did. Saddam's failure to live up to both the 1991 cease-fire and the subsequent resolutions was the only shot at getting the UN behind us. If Europe wouldn't go into their own backyard (Bosnia/Kosovo) for humanitarian reasons, it's hard to see how they would've gone into Iraq out of conscience.

This does not mean that the Administration played their hand correctly. I don't feel lied to about the WMD thing. I believed that yes, the confluence of a WMD-armed Saddam and a fanatical AQ chompin' at the bit to kill as many people as they could was too much of a risk after 9/11. Even if Saddam had mellowed in recent years, the reign of Uday & Qusay was right around the corner and those crazy fucks (especially Uday) would've probably tried to reclaim so of their ol' man's lost glory.

I also think the lead up to the war became this incredible drama. France, the UN, Blix, Powell, Blair, etc. It was such a compelling stand-off, the media and everyone else got really caught up in it. Clearly, the Bush administration WMD as the focal point of their casus belli, to say otherwise would be a lie. However, Bush made the moral arguments as well. It is absolutely a shame he felt he had to make them secondary. But he did make them, as did others in the administration. In retrospect it was a mistake.

All of this brings me to what I think you were trying to get at. The Big Plan. Why didn't Bush try to explain to the American (and the world) that taking down Saddam and replacing him with a representative democracy which would encourage other reformers in the region to overthrow their masters and scare the crap out of Libya, who would rat out AQ Kahn's Pakistani nuclear supermarket which we would use as additional leverage on Musharaff to have him send his boys into the mountains to fight to the death to capture Zawahiri and OBL?

Well, who the hell would've believed that?

Chris A.

I do think those who support the war fear losing something very uniquely American, the pursuit of happiness. How can happiness be pursued if our lives and the freedoms allowed in an ethical social system are threatened daily without warning?

I can't speak to whether the majority of Americans fear the loss of global democratic momentum. I would argue that most Americans don't even realize that momentum due to the fact that our short term memory often leads many to believe that we are and always have been the only world super power and thus concern is limited to what usually matters most, our own boundaries.

What people are concerned with on a daily basis is their happiness. When things get in the way of that, then rumblings are heard. Taxes, cost of living, health insurance, employment, the final episode of Sex and the City. As miniscule as things are, if they prevent or lower ones happiness, then they are scrutinized.

Terrorism trumps all else. It specifically gets at that which endangers us most. 9/11 upped the ante and became the genesis for a new landscape. As such, various camps sprung up to validate their ideologies and espouse their beliefs.

Was the WMD effort worth the pains that now reside? Was it diplomatically prudent to specify an axis of evil? These can be debated. What is certain is that the war on terrorism continues mostly in a matter in which many Americans would agree with.

Louis Menand writes in The Metaphysical Club about William James studying under Agassiz (sp?)who was a respected scientist in the late 19th century. To make a long story short, James realized that Agassiz would often "rearrange" data to support his hypothesis.

The Bush Administration is in power and WMD or not, was able to realize their new foreign policy. Objections, global or national, are outside of the landscape of what actually exists.

I have little respect for actors and actresses who speak from their soap boxes to try and influences the masses. These are people who spend exorbitant funds on clothing for one night award shows, who rent islands for vacations, who have others wipe their asses on both ends. Little stands in the way of their happiness, so they condescend to the general public and the administration simply out of bitterness that they're agenda is not acted upon. As James would say, they already know what they wanted, they just needed to twist some data to back it up.

Unfortunately, the Bush Admin gave them the WMD's. But, I say this is a minor point not a major one. The presumptive data will be forgotten, the effect will resonate.

Here's a stretch...I do not resent my parents for allowing me to believe in Santa Claus. Nor was I totally disappointed when I came to realize he did not exist. In retrospect, I appreciate the nostalgia that was created from a young age and carry with me to this day general yuletide merriment. The effect has resonated despite the misleadings.

Was it an elitist train of thought? Perhaps. Could the war in Iraq progressed without it? Perhaps not. Will the effect resonate? I sure as shit hope it does...

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