Skip to comments.Useful Idiots And Useless Arguments: The Depressing Iraq War Debate
Posted on 03/10/2003 8:27:28 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
It is often said that we are moving toward war with Iraq without adequate debate. Given all these months of haggling, it is less the case that there has been no debate than it is that it has been a debate of exceptionally low quality.
If all the droning about what television news programs like to dramatically describe as our "countdown to war" or "showdown with Iraq" seems unsatisfying, maybe it is because serious issues have been drowned out by unserious arguments. Even by the appallingly low standards of contemporary political debate, there has been a substantial amount of name-calling, red herrings and weak arguments by both sides. I am not high-mindedly exempting myself from this description my own work at times treats the phrase "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" as if it were a useful category of geopolitical analysis.
As "reality TV" broadcasts the most intimate personal details about people nobody had heard of just weeks before, we are bombarded with celebrities´ opinions about the war as if it were some kind of popularity contest. Forget the positions of Great Britain, Spain and Germany Kid Rock and Tom Cruise are for the war while Martin Sheen and Sheryl Crow are not. Doesn´t Bono have veto power on the United Nations Security Council?
Yes, to a certain degree this is not anything new or unique to the Iraq war. Barbara Streisand has been keeping us apprised of her liberal views for years now. Rock musicians and folk singers were fixtures of the 1960s movement against the war in Vietnam; there has yet to be an anti-war-with-Iraq Woodstock. Famous people have never been content with being famous. They desire also to be important. But somehow celebrities seem to be a bigger part of the Iraq war debate than they were during previous conflicts.
To a large extent, the whole debate over using military force against Iraq is a proxy for how one feels about President Bush. The president´s supporters back a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as a way of showing solidarity with their commander-in-chief. Bush´s critics are leading an anti-war movement that is really more of an anti-Bush movement. The "no blood for oil" arguments are largely predicated on the idea that Bush and his "oil cronies" want to fight this war for their own financial gain. Signs carried at protest marches are emblazoned with insults against the president and Vice President Dick Cheney. Attorney General John Ashcroft is singled out for vitriol even though he is not particularly responsible for the Bush administration´s defense policies.
To a certain degree, this is a natural part of the debate over any policy that is identified with a particular administration. Lyndon Johnson had to endure calls of "Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" Later, Richard Nixon was consistently the target of anti-war protestors´ ire. Moreover, in the absence of any publicly distributed evidence of an imminent threat the case for war has been made on the basis of risks. How credible you find those risks and whether they are compelling enough to prompt you to support a war to address them depends in whole or in part on your faith in the Bush administration´s judgment.
But the raw partisanship of much of the most outspoken anti-war activists is breathtakingly obvious. Relatively few of them protested when Bill Clinton took a tougher line against Iraq in 1998. When the Clinton administration effected regime change in Haiti to restore democracy, of course bombed Serbia and intervened in Kosovo it did not seek the approval of the U.N. Security Council. This approval almost certainly wouldn´t have been granted in the latter two cases Russia surely would have vetoed any such resolution. No argument for any of these interventions could be made on self-defense grounds, preemptive or otherwise. Yet ANSWER-type groups did not organize mass demonstrations in response, though it should be noted that some noninterventionists, such as the writers at LewRockwell.com and Antiwar.com, were as opposed to those adventures as a war against Iraq.
Protestors attending these demonstrations don´t merely oppose war with Iraq. They hold signs celebrating a litany of far-left liberal causes, ranging from free health care to freeing Mumia. Anti-war conservatives and libertarians glumly note that speakers at these events are rabid leftists who rail against capitalism, trade and American institutions. Some are not merely opposed to war; they are virtually apologists for Saddam Hussein. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict gets almost as much attention as the possibility of the U.S. going to war with Iraq. Some denounce Israel in terms that approach anti-Semitism. Key organizers hail from Workers´ World and the Socialist Workers´ Party.
Rabid armchair warriors viewing these protests on TV respond with calls to invade and democratize the world. When Ann Coulter wrote a column suggesting that we should invade countries where Islamic fundamentalism is popular, kill their leaders and convert the people to Christianity, she was widely denounced. Some of the more ambitious proposals to widen the war on terror to include the most amorphous criteria for terrorism possible amount to little more than a secularized version of this.
We are dealing with the possibility of yet another hostile rogue regime acquiring weapons of mass destruction in an age of terrorism. Action and inaction both pose serious risks that should be weighed as the focus of any Iraq war debate. Yet this doesn´t happen often enough. As the day of reckoning approaches, there is still a lot of confusion and mixed emotions. This is because some people saw a war and sought to trivialize it as theater.
Anti-War Or Anti-Reality?
Source: Toogood Reports; Published: March 5, 2003; Author: Paul E. Scates
Barbara Stanley: America: Land Of The Free, Even Free To Be Traitors
Source: Toogood Reports; Published: February 28, 2003; Authro: Barbara Stanley
If antiwar protesters succeed (by Iraqi citizen)
Source: CS Monitor; Publisghed: February 26, 2003; Author: unsigned opinion
Marxist Groups in the Anti-War Movement
Source: CNSNews.com; Published: February 25, 2003; Author: Paul M. Weyrich
Anti-war Protestors: Shades Of Stupidity
Source: CNSNews.com; Published: February 21, 2003; Author: Rachel Marsden
Who's Paying for It All? [re: anti-war demostrations]
Source: INSIGHT magazine; Published: February 18, 2003; Author: J. Michael Waller
Anti-War Protestors Are Warmongers for Our Enemies
Source: CNSNews.com; Published: February 11, 2003; Author: Alex Epstein
Reds Still [re: The story no one wants to hear about the antiwar movement]
Source: National Review; Published: January 23, 2003; Author: Byron York
I agree that the debate has been stupid. But that's because I believe the anti-war participants and most in the media are stupid.
How have you lasted
here five years?! Will you be here
in, say, two more hours?
July 3, 1999.
I presume you think you had a point?
How about that the original Gulf War was based upon lies and deception. (babies getting tossed out of incubators, remember that PR scheme?). Would that suffice?.
And I suppose it was a fiction that Saddam invaded Kuwait. For whatever propaganda might have been issued by our side, Saddam DID invade that country and was a clear threat to world security with his potential ability to control Persian Gulf oil. And he was pretty bad on the Kuwaitis as well - there are thousands of men still missing.
Has Kuwait been liberated (yet)?, when was Kuwait's last election held?.
I don't see the Kuwaitis gassing their own people, developing WMDs and invading their neighbors.
Whatever rationale you can use to justify "taking out Saddam" can be applied to "take Bush out". Actually, there may be a better case for the latter.
I think you would be better off over at DU, or at one of those Pink anti-American protests.
Should link the other two byron york articles too
And those would be???? Please provide them and I'll add the links. Were the Byron York Articles posted on FR? FR doesn't provide a search mode for the 'author' and/or 'source' anymore.
When in doubt, attack both sides. (*sigh*)
If he thinks there aren't any good arguments for going into Iraq he hasn't been listening.
He wanted to control the oil to pay back his debts to ... ahem... OTHER Arab countries ... because they loaned him money to finance the war between Iraq & Iran (in which he pioneered the use of nerve gas)... which devastated the Iraqi economy. We weren't about to let the Kuwaitis pay for Saddam's tyranny. They still live in fear of him coming back.