Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Flashback 3/14/03: Social Afflictions of the Well-Fed #548

Here is the first of the Snabulus flashbacks. It was written in the week prior to the beginning of the Iraq war. The emotions of the nation were running high and the polarization was palpable. Friends were deeply at odds with one another. After a number of angry e-mails floated around the Internets, I decided that it was important to answer specific points of anger about my own point of view. This response is located below.

It seems clear now that I was paying more attention to the realities of the situation than most of my critics. Such vindication is stained by the blood of thousands leading to sadness rather than smugness. However, there are many smart voices out there who are still being shut out in the name of politics and I hope that they are heard and heeded before too many more die.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Social Afflictions of the Well-Fed #548

I, like you, have a few different people in my life that send e-mail jokes, quips, and so forth to friends, business associates, family, etc. In two cases now, the sender has sent out some mild rebuke of the Bush administration (generally identical to the HUNDREDS of such pieces of Clinton bashernalia I've received). In each case, it has set off someone (or more than one) who has (or have) replied with a screed of all of their beefs with liberalism. As one might guess, the chief attributes of the pieces of work are hostility, paranoia, and fear.

Reactions to this provocation range from "ignore the dope" to "Yeah!" to "I'm going to refute this person." In both cases, I chose to quickly defuse the situation with a generically worded letter stating that nobody was going to change anyone's mind or concepts like it. E-mail joke lists are not the best forums for public debate.

So why write about it here? For two reasons. First, to chronicle the condition for posterity. Second, to respond in a general way to some of the barbs in a way that I want to address. So here goes:

"'Give War a Chance!' if for no other reason than to protect the people of Iraq..."

If that were the case, liberals would be all over it (except pacifists I suppose). Two problems with this theory: 1. Afghanistan is the model. Bush allocated ZERO dollars (2003 budget) to protecting the people of Afghanistan. Congress quickly put together a minimal package out of embarassment. 2. Clinton stood by while 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda in 1994. During the 2000 campaign, Bush stated that he would NOT have committed American troops to this cause. Therefore, the "helping people in Iraq" argument is a lie.

"but then again you guys like killing babies so what else is new"

This apparently is an anti-abortion statement. I see a great deal of hostility, hatred, and even terrorism (cowardly violence) out of these anti-abortion people. Three problems here: 1. How come only a precious few of these people have adopted children or even, for that matter, helped single mothers? Hey, it's not my fault they got pregnant is not an answer that squares with reality. 2. There are seldom funerals for miscarriages. If an agglomeration of cells is a person, then why not spend the ten grand and bury this human life and give it a service with friends flying in from Topeka? Because it is only life insofar as it can be used to promote a political agenda. 3. We are close to cloning a person out of a boogerglob. What is that going to do to the status of cellular DNA? Are we going to ban hair cuts because they could conceivably spawn life?

Having said all this, I am personally of the opinion that an abortion is, at heart, a degradation of humanity. If I were a woman, there would be only a few specific instances where I would have one. However, given the hypocrisies outlined above, it is inappropriate for the hostile bystander to legislate the person who is in the situation.

"but at least we wouldn't have to worry about the French cause they would all be speakin' German!"

There is a huge laundry list of reasons we have to be grateful to the French. The easiest rejoinder to the phrase above would be "if it weren't for France, we would be dealing in pounds, worshipping the queen, and we would all have bad teeth like Austin Powers and America would be a colony, not a country." In the end, I am not going to fault France for following their own interests. Their oil companies will be big losers if Iraq is occupied by American forces just as ours would be if France took over Saudi Arabia (the other place where they cut out your tongue and make you disappear if you open your mouth). The reason some Americans are mad at France is because France is acting arrogantly and unilaterally in opposing us. We apparently don't like looking in the mirror.

"Kill them all, let God sort them out!"

So in order to value life, we this? This is surely the same thinking used by the people who purposefully cause civilian casualties. Go ahead and think that way if it makes you feel better.

"At least until the next 3000 bodies stack up right? Well at least if they kill us in onesies and twosies like they do in those bombings in Israel (sic). You know the ones rewarded by Saddam.."

If you think Saddam Hussein or Iraqis were behind 9/11, you are sadly misinformed. Bush himself has admitted that there is no tangible evidence of an al-Qaeda/Hussein link. If we were serious about stopping terrorism, the 3rd infantry and 200,000 other troops would be actively disarming Afghanistan and arresting Taliban/al-Qaeda and not hanging out in Kuwait right now. Israel helped found Hamas to oppose Arafat's PLO. That turned out great, didn't it? The point here is that Israel provided more support for Hamas than Hussein does. Hussein is accountable for rewarding the deaths of innocents (so is Israel), but that doesn't make a link to al-Qaeda. Trying to carve one through Israel has been tried and comes up dry.

"It would be interesting to see how many mommies (sic) and daddies would encourage their kids to strap on bombs if they only had to rely on their principles instead of Iraqi, Yemeni, Syrian, Iranian and Saudi cash donations."

This assumes that Palestinians enjoyed being invaded, stuck into bantustans, and held under apartheid-like control and suicide bombs are just a hobby. We all know it is much more complex than that. The Bush administration seems to turn a blind eye to all things Saudi. More importantly, nobody that I've read about encourages their children to strap on suicide bombs. It takes a lifetime of desperation and looking down the road and seeing no hope. Even then, it takes a cult of power seekers to convince the bomber that it is the only way. After the horrible deed is done, families often refuse money because the sadness and embarassment is too much and the source is tainted. This is not to say that the Palestinians have done all they could to help themselves, but the suicide bombings didn't start until the last decade. One must wonder how it got to that point. I don't think offering money for someone to kill themselves is much of an incentive.

But what about all of the "crocodile allies" of Bush? It is well-documented that both Bush and Clinton did a great deal of "looking the other way" when it came to Saudi Arabia. Where are 15 of the 19 hijackers from exactly? It is not Iraq but Saudi Arabia who gets a free ride.

"(I'm not willing to wait until they dump a bunch of anthrax in our subways)."

So you think that Iraq did the anthrax attack? Think again, white boy. That was an attack against liberals and Democrats (possibly to shut them up). However, your point may be that Hussein may want to send out a squad or sell anthrax to someone who would carry out such an attack. The best way to make that happen is to threaten to attack someone for a year and give them plenty of time to move things around. When the attack comes, the stuff moves out the back door and in a couple of months, voila! Dead Americans. It's called, "If I'm going down, I am going to take you with me." Good strategy...if you WANT anthrax poisoning.

"This is a regime that disappears people, murders families, and wages a war of intimidation and attrition against religions and ethnicities within it its reach."

True. If we look at our track record in Afghanistan, we find a lack of concern among the administration as to alleviating these problems. The Northern Alliance is known as Taliban without beards. Even in Kabul, women wear burqas to keep from being raped. Reprisal killings, hard core Islamic law, schools burnt to the ground and more are still the norm. What makes you think Iraq is going to be any different? At least you can be a Christian in Iraq as long as you don't piss off the government. That will change after "regime change" occurs.

"wouldn't it have been interesting to see how many lives could have been saved if someone had the balls to draw the line when Germany invaded its first neighbor?"

We would have gotten our ass kicked in 1939 because we lacked the firepower and resources at that time. It would have been a disaster. By the end of 1941, Russia had the Germans softened up a little. It took quite a while before we manufactured enough fire power to beat Germany and Japan. The materiel simply didn't exist in 1939 or even 1941. We couldn't use American Airlines to ferry 500,000 troops across the Atlantic. It all took time.

"But of course, that's not politically correct to mention, because European countries are so much more civilized and refined than us hot-headed Americans. We should yield to the beaurocracy of indecision like good little world citizens."

Politically correct is in the eye of the beholder. I would rather have the "be nice to black people" political correctness than the "say Under God at school" kind. In the end, the term is vacant. Are you saying you feel somehow persecuted by Europe? Has Europe held America down in some way? What exactly are you scared of? UN tanks patrolling the streets of Portland? This is an indictment of all non-Americans simply because they are not Americans. If the world really is against us on the Iraq issue, maybe we should listen to the reason why. Norwegians, Danes, Brits, and others are all flying sorties even today in Afghanistan, but they are saying no to Iraq. There is a disconnect in logic here. It boils down to whether or not attacking Iraq should be the next step in stopping terrorism. With no linkage to al-Qaeda, I don't see the reason either. Stick with priorities. Prove that we can do all these good things in Afghanistan before giving me the Iraq sales job.


There is one more point that I've seen that is not brought up above. It appears from some quarters that Christians are being hounded by those who don't share a) the same brand of Christianity or b) any brand of Christianity. If you are Mormon or Scientologist or Jehovah's Witness, you might have a beef. Everyone else is pretty much whining. Nobody hinders you from going to church, saying whatever version of the pledge of allegiance you fancy, holding up "John 3:16" at basball games, or praying wherever you want (even at school). What I fight is intolerance against those who don't want to be religious like a)declaring the US a Christian nation (sometimes excluding Catholics or others), or b) forcing religion into schools. Read the first amendment of the US Constitution.

The AM radio trained person often thinks that "liberals" all share the same value set. However, this liberal they talk about covers only a few percent of the many independent thinkers out there. Some are actually quite conservative. Some are totally conservative and believe that George W Bush and his cadre of neoconservatives are loonies. However, they all get painted as liberals. It is a nice substitute for thinking I suppose, but hardly a good way of looking at the world. To paint your own countrymen as "the other" is no way to win solidarity in war time. It shows a lack of understanding. Such a lack of understanding about what drives our own country or even our enemies can lead to disastrous consequences as we are all aware.

When I get right down to it, only media types can really be conservative or liberal. If you have a child with an expensive illness, it is nice to know that there is a public infrastructure to help out when the time comes. When the government wants to condemn your land to build a nature park, you probably won't like it. It will shape how you look at things.

The problem isn't conservatism, liberalism, Christianity, secularism, being a hawk or a dove, or Republicans or Democrats. The problem is the Bush administration. People don't want war because the people in charge are screwing it up. The strength and moral clarity are an illusion. We aren't strong enough to stand up to Saudi Arabia or moral enough to liberate Afghanistan. Why? It is not Trent Lott or Bill Clinton or George Bush, Sr. that are the problem. The reason is the Bush administration. They don't get along well with others and they've divided the country. Blame them, not me. I am acting based on what they caused. Bush had the whole world on his side after 9/11 and now we are alone. This is not what I call skillful leadership.

I am an American and a citizen of the world. There is no contradiction here. I support America's (and the world's) fight against terrorism. When are we going to set it to full throttle and quit playing footsie with Iraq while al-Qaeda rebuilds? When are we going to break the oil addiction that finances terrorism? Maybe it is just easier to paint me as unAmerican and a liberal. Maybe I should be thrown in prison as has been suggested by some pundits. It is inconceivable that I would want to SAVE American lives (especially servicemen) by taking an approach based on facts instead of Bush's "seat of the pants" summary judgment. Sorry, I gotta go with Schwarzkopf and 80% of my vet friends and most of the world and say No to the Bush plan because he can't keep a promise (to Afghanistan) and therefore won't for Iraq.


Anonymous said...

In retrospect, looking back at the reason we wnet into Iraq doesn't hold water today.

We all thought there were WMD's and that Iraq was further along than they really were, which Iran seems to actually be much closer than Iraq ever was to WMD of nuclear types.

However, there is evidence that the equipment Iraq had was indeed smuggled into Syria.

What concerns me today is how Bush is conducting the war. It is the administrative rules of the war that are the problem, not more troops.

And I voted for Bush twice. I will probably vote republican again, but my faith in Bush has vanished.

ladybug said...

I had a bad, bad feeling from the outset about this whole war thing...I truly had a "this is going to be another f/up like Vietnam" moment.

It seemed we were rushing into something w/not alot of reasons and most especially, no planning.

From what I've seen of bureaucracy, if they are selling, selling and selling an idea WITHOUT telling you EXACTLY the steps they plan to take to follow through on the project...then inevitably it was some upper management moron w/no common sense (and no idea of logistics) who thought up this "brilliant plan".

Thanks, Bush & Co., you've just acted like a top-heavy corporate firm that messed up big time,is hemoraghing $$ out the rear - and instead of cutting your OWN pay or resigning, you're figuring out how many folks you can lay off or outsource to still appear good for the quarterly stock report and get your bonuses.

Don Snabulus said...

Regardless of party, I would like to see the next President live in reality. That is what we are lacking more than anything else is somebody with good problem solving abilities.

Seymour said...

I wasn't surprised when no WMD were found in Iraq, that's what the UN inspectors had been saying all along.

Check out what Scott Ritter has said about the whole WMD tossup. The inspectors had accounted for 96% of Iraq's WMD's.

This war is a sad testament to the ability of a population to be manipulated. A healthy Democracy would have never consented to such an abomination.

And I'd really like to see any evidence of WMD's being smuggled into Syria. If this were true, it would have been repeatedly cramed down our throats by our helpful media.

Swinebread said...

I knew the reason we went into Iraq was BS before it started just like the war itself was BS. Hell, I knew Bush was a dangerous guy to have in the White House when he bragged about having a ‘C’ average in school during the 2000 campaign.

Snab, the fact that someone sent you this and thought it was funny is very scary and very sad.

I don’t see this as being proven right because I knew the Iraq war was going to be a boondoggle. I see it more like a Cassandra Complex.

Don Snabulus said...

Pa've - And I voted for Bush twice. I will probably vote republican again, but my faith in Bush has vanished.

You are right. It wasn't the party, it was a faction within the party that was the problem. The rest of the Republican party needs to shore up and square up with reality. The Democrats do too. They haven't learned much from their victory.

Ladybug: It seems Bush ran the country like he ran the Texas Rangers baseball team; as a way to siphon public money to his pals.

Seymour: For all the crap thrown at Scott Ritter and Hans Blix, they were right on the money. History will talk more about the mechanisms these gentlemen were smeared by than the evidence they presented I think.

Swinebread: It wasn't just one person. These remarks comprise 3 or 4 different screeds/rants/bleats. Indeed it was scary enough at the time to take it all offline at some point. As we will see on coming Fridays, I will look smarter than I actually deserve credit for. I just happened to listen to the right people.

Seymour said...

Yup, some of us were not fooled.

Its not a matter of luck or playing the odds or hardheadedness, it was and still is all about analysing the information that's out there.

I bless my internet connection everyday, because it allows me to access multiple sources of info, which sitting on a couch would be impossible.

But that's how this country is going to be taken down, by controlling input and by manufacturing outrage. The major news outlets are bought and sold by this point and we just may get to watch the aftermath.

On a more postive note, I was talking to someone about the parable of cooking a frog. You know, heat the water slowly and the frog will never notice. This guy told me his grandpa tried this and the frog jumped out when the water got hot. I guess you can't subdue the survival instinct. So there is hope.

Anonymous said...


I never believed there was WMDs and I expressed it, along with a healthy distrust of certian people in government- and one of my reasons? Two different weapon inspectors - Hans Blix and Scott Ritter a former US Marine.

The case of Syria helping Iraq? Suggested evidence?

There is none.

History lesson:

Hafez Al-Assad then Syrian ruler and Saddam Hussien shared a hatred that was mutual as well as very personal. So much so in one reported rare meeting they both agreed the only thing they saw eye to eye on for certian is no tears would be shed killing the other.......and with much satisfaction. Hafez hated Yassir Arafat as well. Basil Al-Assad the elder son was being groomed for succession, but died in 1994 in a car crash. Bashar Al-Assad the younger son at 37 is now the ruler of Syria although more open and modern, shows all the same views of the father. I doubt he would have given Saddam any aid or colluded with him.

During the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s (Reagan) we eagerly sold weapons to both sides (including what would be called WMDs today) The Syrians constantly harassed and distracted the Iraqi Air Force during this period.

The first gulf war the Iraqi air force pilots flew their planes into Iran. Their equipment was immediately impounded and after the war was over the Iranians kept those expensive toys. The Iranians still have those F-14s we sold them in the 1970s. The same ones we just recently froze selling replacement parts for yes?

You dont give away your stockpiles of WMDs to a historical and one time personal enemy when you are being invaded by another. The better idea would be "Use em if you have 'em - because 'Kissmass' came early and its time to give out the prezzies" After all..... if you are going down... you spread the pain around. Given the lack of morality and ethics of your typical dictator that wouldn't be a hard decision to make. That is of course... unless you have another plan to survive. Maybe you haven't exceeded the shelf life of your WMDs... they do have one you know.

Then again what do I know?... Interests in geography, military history, and strategy, among others ... doesn't mean anything this day and age. Certainly not at the top. The same people that are allowing (and encouraging) our country's industrial and technological base being sold to the highest bidder (remember outsourcing is good for you), looting our treasury for the top 1% for parasites like Paris Hilton, 60% of our national debt being held by a ever growing powerful rival (China), breaking our military, while dismantling our infrastructure of services and education. Sounds like a good national policy. Maybe we should go to war with the Scandanavian countries next. They seem to refute all our rhetoric for a Utopian laisse faire fantasy. Upitty and snotty of them. They have oil too don't they?.

Pandabonium said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pandabonium said...

Wow, Snabby, we were tuned to the same frequency in our thoughts at the time, though you were far more articulate in expressing your points than I.

Having read Zbigniew Brezinski's "The Grand Chessboard" and knowing about the global oil situation (ie peak oil), the real reasons behind 911 and the invasions in the middle east were rather transparent to me. I am amazed sometimes at how many people still don't get it. I also surprised at "conservatives" who express no concern over what has been done to their rights under the US Constitution during this time.

Excellent and hopefully thought provoking post.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I think a lot of people who actually used their brains back then are now feeling (sadly) vindicated.

On the other hand, many if not most of those that didn't use their brains back then probably won't admit their error even today because they're too disconnected to understand the principle of cause and effect. Say, "I told you so," to the moron that sent you that e-mail and he'd probably reply with something like, "What? I never really wanted Bush to go to war in Iraq!"

Anonymous said...

In regards to the smuggling of the WMD machinery to Syria. If you believe an ex Iraqi General, then 51 flights from Iraq to Syria took place six months prior to the invasion. The media will not report this because it means GWB was correct. I don't expect the media to do anything to help GWB when they are so against him. Believe it or not, the evidence is there.

That doesn't mean I support the status quo by any means.

Dean Wormer said...


I waited to read that until I could really focus on your very thoughtful responses. All I can say is that you're spot on.

It appears to me that the writer you were responding to was making a poor attempt at irony. Irony rarely works when it comes from the right end of the policital spectrum. There's all sorts of reasons for this, IMO. Irony can't stem from the misrepresentation of the positions and conservatives often rely on the use of strawmen to make a point.

I was thinking back recently to the other major military conflicts the United States has engaged in over the course since I was old enough to pay attention and can't think of a one I didn't support. Democratic or Republican President it didn't matter. I supported the first Gulf War and the war in Bosnia. In both those cases I made a fetish of approaching the reasons provided as to the necessity of the conflict logically. In both cases I felt the conflict inevitable, even moral.

The same approach in the leadup to the current war led me to the opposite conclusion. I've said it many times but the aluminum tubes thing was the breaking point for me. The accusation that those tubes could be used to refine uranium was widely and publicly discredited even before it wound up in the SOTU. I remember reading about the IAEC's debunking of that nonsense and thinking "the administration better come up with something better becasue that dog don't hunt anymore." I WANTED to be convinced.

Then the SOTU and Powell's dog-and-pony show at the U.N. in which they relied on the tubes, the yellowcake, the al qaeda ties - all of the stuff that had become suspect. It would've been better if they'd just left that out and asked us to trust them, rather than flat out tried to pull a fast one.

I'm sorry there's just no excuse for falling for that bullshit and supporting the war, IMO. Personally I WANTED to be convinced and they still couldn't make the case. If you're that stuck in identity politics, to the extent that you'll support things that will seriously threaten the future of the country, then it'd be better if you wholly removed yourself from participation in politics through the act of voting.

Dean Wormer said...


In order for your Syria construct to make sense you need to believe that Saddam so loved his WMDs that he was willing to hang in order to see them live on rather than use them in defense against a potential American invasion.

It makes absolutely no logical sense.

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