Friday, January 14, 2005

Five Pathetic Words

The five most pathetic words in the English language are, by themselves, completely innocuous and harmless, but taken together they say more about the person using them than about the context in which they are used. Those words are: ‘we’ or ‘we’ll’, ‘to’, ‘just’, ‘agree’ and ‘disagree’ and would be combined as “we’ll just agree to disagree.” While appearing to be a pleasant exit from a sticky conversation or a civil or diplomatic resolution to what may become a heated disagreement, it truly is a pathetic shield for a weak position, an excuse for the intellectually dishonest. A mind is like a parachute. If it’s open, it works and saves your life. If it’s closed, it’s useless.

Early last week, there was a 60's-generation woman standing in the center of Springfield protesting the war. She held up signs saying “Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home” and “American Blood For Oil.” My wife happened to be passing by and stopped to talk with the woman. When asked to support her statements the woman responded, “This kind of thing should come from within...We fought for our independence, we should let them fight for theirs.” When pressed about various things like the mass graves, the prisons for children, and the institutionalized rape she became annoyed and replied “We’ll just agree to disagree.”

This woman has bought into a twisted urban legend designed to create mind-numbed zombies, like herself, who will go out and support our enemies. Yes, support our enemies. Protest is fine and has it’s place, but blind lock-step adherence to a philosophy of opposition is quite a different thing. I am sure the woman truly believes what she’s promoting, but belief is not enough. An inquiring mind would seek out some support for one’s beliefs. Belief without evidence is faith or religion. When you take a public position you should be able to defend it.

“Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home.” That’s a fine sentiment as far as it goes, but how does it work? I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume that this woman was willing to send troops to Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban, though I don’t believe that is the case. So with the elections in Afghanistan now over, our troops come home never having entered Iraq. The intrepid UNSCOM inspectors continue the Keystone Kops routine of scheduling an appointment to inspect a weapons facility and show up the day after they’ve been cleaned. Saddam continues to skim millions off the Oil-For-Food program for himself. Saddam also continues to pay the families of suicide terrorists bounties of $15,000 and promotes anti-American sentiments. Ambassadors, ministers, government officials, and UN dignitaries continue to prostitute themselves for oil vouchers under the cover of that same program. Uday continues to rape the daughters and wives of men who laugh at a joke about Saddam, say something positive about the US, or fail to appear at a Hussein rally. Qusay continues to cane the feet of athletes who lose competitions. The Iraqi people continue to eke out an existence on meager rations, intermittent or non-existent electricity service, and school only for boys where they learn to worship Saddam, hate the West (especially the US) and field strip AK-47s. A few years later, maybe less, the UN lifts the sanctions against Iraq because that’s what they’ve been paid to do. At that point, Saddam reignites his weapons programs (this plan is well laid out in many documents confiscated from various ministries in Baghdad and elsewhere) with an eye towards achieving long-range missiles, biological weapons (which he used to wipe out at least 60 Khurdish villages), and nuclear weapons. Al-Qaeda and other terrorists have been forced out of Afghanistan, but found support and homes in Iraq, and after resettling, rebuilding, and retraining, are ready to continue the fight. The renewed jihad begins in earnest with the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge and perhaps the Statue of Liberty, the demolition of an oil tanker at some port in the Great Lakes, the massacre of a middle school in the mid-west, and the detonation of a dirty atomic bomb in Washington D.C. But we’ll be able to hold our heads high knowing we supported our troops and brought them home.

“American Blood For Oil” is another canard and almost laughable, if it weren’t so widely accepted. America does not buy Iraqi oil. We are the only country that boycotts Iranian oil. The majority of our oil does not come from OPEC nations. After the oil crisis in the 70s we diversified to get our eggs out of different baskets, so to speak. As an aside, if this were being fought for oil, why did gas prices shoot up? American blood is being spilled for oil - oil that is going to Russia, France, Germany, China, and other nations that had been illegally and immorally dealing with Saddam via the corrupt Oil-For-Food program. It is simple ‘head-in-the-sand’ ignorance to overlook the overwhelming evidence of this. Had these countries not been in Saddam’s pocket they would have been in the coalition that invaded and we would still be having this conversation, because people who take these positions do not believe that any war is worth fighting.

“This kind of thing should come from within.” Bill Clinton sent troops to, Bosnia, Somalia, and even Haiti - where was this woman and those like her then? A popular uprising rose against Baby Doc - a ruthless and cruel man - but we sent US soldiers in to quell it! I’d like to set aside the political aspect here and look at the intellectual element of this comment. In Iraq almost all the weapons are held by the government (certainly all the sophisticated weapons) - one that won’t hesitate to use them. The government encourages and rewards informants, even within families, and employs neighborhood watchers. It is simply dishonest to suggest that a civil revolt could occur under such circumstances. I seriously doubt that such a thing could ever happen again in the modern world.

“We fought for our independence, we should let them fight for theirs.” Our war for independence took place over two hundred years ago. The weapon of the day was the musket which fired once every 60 seconds (if handled by a professional) and was rather inaccurate. The government we revolted against was thousands of miles away across an ocean and did not have instant access to us. We had assistance from the enemy of our enemy, France. A more accurate, but still wrong, comparison would be Ireland and Scotland, both, last I checked, still part of the United Kingdom. Our independence was not the odds-on favorite and can not truly be compared to any other - just look at the mess the French and Russians made of theirs.

Another common protest that ticks me off is “One Death Is Too Many.” How about 3,000 on 9/11 or 300,000 in mass graves? What is the critical mass at which there are enough deaths to do something substantive about terrorism and dictatorship? When asked, protestors are quick to avoid substantive comment and weasel out of the discussion with agreeing to disagree.

I never agree to disagree. I have taken the time to consider and research my positions and beliefs and I can support them. I am more than willing to change my mind if someone should be able to provide a better argument, so don’t think I’m closed-minded. If you’re going to try to change my mind, you have to be open-minded yourself, which protestors never seem to be. When you boil away all of the rhetoric, the position the protestors espouse is one that supports our enemy by giving them exactly what they want - an America too divided or limp to act in it’s own defense. The campaigns by the anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-American organizations are quite skilled at pithy but intellectually empty slogans and appeals to the heartstrings. Unfortunately, since the 60's, the emphasis on critical thinking has been stamped out in our schools and our people are left vulnerable. In the all-too-prevalent warm and cuddly PC urge to make sure no one’s feelings get hurt, too many are willing to “just agree to disagree.”


At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would feel a lot better over the "we are liberating the Iraqi people and that is our only reason for being there" if we would do the same thing in countries that were a bit less profitable but need the same desperate assistance : Angola (half a million dead) and Sudan (2 million dead) come to mind. Otherwise, it's just colonization and "civilizing the savages" in the name of appropriating natural resources all over again.

- blue girl in a red state

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would argue that there is no strategic value to liberate Sudan or Angola. We are not the world's police force, we act in the best interest of the Sovereignty of the United States. Iraq is in the best strategic interest of the U.S. in the global war on Terrorism. Think about it this way; Iran becomes trouble then we have two fronts we can mount against them Afghanastan and Iraq. If Syria becomes a broblem we have two fronts against them as well- From the ocean and Iraq. Hmmmm makes militar sense doesn't it...

At 6:40 AM, Blogger jmstettner said...

Actually, I agree with blue girl to a point. I think that, like it or not, America is this world's policeman - who else will do it, the U.N.? Need I remind you that the U.N. had Syria, Libya, China, and even Iraq as the chair-state of it's Human Rights Commission :)

Blue girl is quite correct that Angola and Sudan deserve assistance. The people of those countries don't deserve to be slaughtered and starved. However, anonymous is correct too about the military/political necessities of the war on terror.

What I think blue girl is mistaken on are the canards of "profitable." "colonization" and "civilizing the savages." Wouldn't it be interesting is blue girl could actually provide examples and support for her statements? If you're reading blue girl, please tell us how Iraq is providing profit to the US, where we've colonized, and how we've 'civilized' the Iraqis.


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