Friday, February 8, 2008

A Reflection on the "War on Terror"

I find myself increasingly being asked to explain my disapproval of the current war to friends and family.

It's simple really. I'm against war. I know for a fact that war brings with it attendant murder, lies, and intractable problems. The very act of "declaring war" [or in this case "claiming" war without a Constitutional declaration . . . but I digress] . . . the very act of "declaring war" should be so detestable, so debatable, so far from desirable that Christian people ought to treat it like late, third-trimester abortion or the dropping of an atomic bomb on a civilian population.

Abortion, in fact, is the example that I most recently cited in a comment to a friend here on my blog. I share the Church's stance on abortion, but one of the reasons we have pro-life protesters at LDS General Conference is because official Mormon doctrine is not 100% anti-abortion. I suppose you could even call it pro-"choice" but not in any conventional use of the term. The official stance [as I understand it] is that abortion is strongly counseled against - even considered a heinous sin in most cases - but in certain cases such as rape, incest, and where the mother's life is seriously endangered then the counsel is to consider it prayerfully on an specific basis.

I do not believe a declaration of war should be undertaken with any less consideration. Generally in the abortion debates every individual life is given consideration by the kind of people I find at Church . . . but somehow when the topic of war gets debated the whole idea of "the worth of souls" too often gets sidelined, shunned, and forgotten. Worse, it seems that if we find any legitimate-seeming reason for U.S. military action in a foreign country we seem to act as if it means that conventional morality no longer applies to that entire region of the world from that moment and into the forseeable future.

We are not – by any stretch of the imagination – under imminent attack way back here in the U.S. by the specific Iraqi and Afghani rebels who want us out of their countries. Furthermore, however you might feel about our original missions in those two countries, we have long ago abandoned them and replaced them with far-less-respectable, brazenly imperialist goals. In Iraq when Bush declared "Mission Accomplished," the best information I can gather indicates that we should have been honest about it and left. We didn't even have "Al Queda" copycats in the country at that point. In Afghanistan it is increasingly unclear why we should not have followed bin Laden and his enterprise into Pakistan instead of continuing the strange dual objectives of occupying Ahghanistan and propping up the dictator Musharrif who promptly allowed bin Laden what has effectively been permanent sanctuary.

I am greatly troubled that many tenets of our current foreign policy only make sense from the point of view that American Corporate interests (oil, shipping, military-industrial, World Bank investments, etc.) and American Empire (our power, prestige, and control in the world) are the actual driving forces behind our actions and not - as too often claimed by pundits and politicians - the evil boogiemen of 'global jihad'. Our own intelligence services issued a non-classified report this very month citing the great strengthening of Al Queda in particular (in its new stronghold in Pakistan) – and global terrorism generally – precisely because of our current foreign policy. I worry sometimes that the problem isn't that we're not smart enough to fight terrorists any more intelligently; the problem is that for many of the policymakers and politicians [whether they realize it or not – and I opine that the great majority do not realize this] fighting terror isn't even really the goal. And that, to me, is pretty terrifying.

I believe that as citizens we can be more engaged in learning about the 'big picture' of our foreign policy and our decisions to engage conflicts using our military might. I believe that there have never been more opportunities for an informed or an involved electorate. My outlook on these things is anything but bleak, but I do fear that we are not exactly headed the right direction. If anybody has good suggestions for being productively involved I'm very interested.

24 comments:

Toadicus Rex said...

I almost feel baited.

Doug, you know I disagree with you. I think this post pretty much explains your point of view, but here's mine.

1. I'm NOT against war. Neither was Captain Moroni. Neither were ANY of the prophets in the Book of Mormon. I think your stance is unrealistic at best.

I know for a fact that war brings with it attendant murder, lies, and intractable problems.

Isn't that also true of many other things? Politics, for example? Should we just say no to politics? Should we pretend problems don't exist because people are human? Power in general does that, if I read D+C correctly. However, war does NOT necessarily engender murder, lies or intractable problems. You can take that up with Moroni - perhaps he had some issues, probably did, but the war had to be fought.

2. The very act of "declaring war" [or in this case "claiming" war without a Constitutional declaration . . . but I digress] . . .the very act of "declaring war" should be so detestable, so debatable, so far from desirable that Christian people ought to treat it like late, third-trimester abortion or the dropping of an atomic bomb on a civilian population.

I'm pretty sure that's what happened. I disagree with your premise that there was no declaration, so we'll just have to agree to disagree.

3. "I do not believe a declaration of war should be undertaken with any less consideration... Worse, it seems that if we find any legitimate-seeming reason for U.S. military action in a foreign country we seem to act as if it means that conventional morality no longer applies to that entire region of the world from that moment and into the forseeable future.
"


Whose morality? Yours? You've made an awfully bad leap here. Are you seriously suggesting that the powers-that-be don't really consider war carefully, and if they don't come to your conclusions they have no claim to "conventional morality"? I disagree here. Perhaps the real question is this; are humans on average more evil or good? I choose good, and I think the people in power ARE human, and hence are part of the good. I think President Bush really has faith; and I think he really prayed about this war. I think he really prayerfully considered it. I just think that because you don't like the answer you've decided that either a) his prayerful consideration wasn't good enough, but yours was, or b) he isn't entitled to or hasn't received the revelation that you very well know he is entitled to due to his stewardship. Not to mention the additional briefings which you aren't privy to...

4. "We are not – by any stretch of the imagination – under imminent attack way back here in the U.S. by the specific Iraqi and Afghani rebels who want us out of their countries."

You do not know that. You cannot know that. Conventional war, nope. But then, this isn't a war that has been fought conventionally, is it? And if you're speaking of terrorism, I'll cite again my above argument. You aren't privy to the intelligence. You don't trust the President. hence you don't trust the decisions. So he's pretty much toast then, right? Pretty much no matter what he does he's wrong.

5. Furthermore, however you might feel about our original missions in those two countries, we have long ago abandoned them and replaced them with far-less-respectable, brazenly imperialist goals.

You have tried again and again to make the case that the United States is imperialist. Considering the argument does not hold, I wonder when that will end. Unless you can show for me the additional provinces and land conquered and ruled directly by the United States that has been acquired by war recently. You see, the United States is unique in this; we HAVEN'T siezed the land. Iraq ISN'T a province. Afghanistan ISN'T a province. Japan ISN'T a province. The list goes on and on. In fact, this is the only time in recorded history that this has been the case. Imperialism assumes that we maintain control, yet we do not. Therefore the argument falls apart.

6. The mission was accomplished when Bush said it was. Saddam was no longer in power. We are no longer there simply to continue fighting, we are assisting the military to be able to assume control for itself.

I disagree that we should have just left. A void of power in that region would have been TERRIBLY costly - I guess Iraqi lives mean less to you than you pretend they do.

7. The fact that Musharrif is in power is evidence of my above point, #5. By your arguments, we should be able to just "take him back out", if he's just a propped up dictator. You see, they're self-governing... not a good sign for the argument that the US is being imperialistic.

8. "I am greatly troubled... is pretty terrifying"

Considering that NONE of my points thus far have been from the point of view of American Corporate Interests, this statement that our foreign policy can only be perceived thus is hollow and falls apart very quickly. This is an opinion only, one you hold. Simply rejecting my point of view on the grounds that it isn't yours and hence is invalid is offensive.

That said, there's something else I disagree with about this paragraph. You seem to have arrived at the conclusion that terrorists simply would go away if it weren't for the US foreign policy. Of course, the Gadianton Robbers should have too, right? That doesn't make sense. You seem to apply morality to them, but not to our own people/leaders; and yet our own leaders are not sending children with Down Syndrome into crowded marketplaces to blow themselves up, are they? It's amazing when I hear the argument that these "rebels" just don't like us because we're there - it just doesn't fly.

9. I believe that as citizens we can be more engaged in learning about the 'big picture' of our foreign policy and our decisions to engage conflicts using our military might. I believe that there have never been more opportunities for an informed or an involved electorate. My outlook on these things is anything but bleak, but I do fear that we are not exactly headed the right direction. If anybody has good suggestions for being productively involved I'm very interested.

Agreed, I think the people should become educated.

Doug said...

Alright, I appreciate your passion and sincerity.

I don't think we need to worry so much about if we're disagreeing with each other as much as we should just agree or disagree with points of view. It's not like they are intrinsic to our very souls. We picked up these ideas somewhere and we need to evaluate if our sources are correct.

1)It was unwise of me to simplify my statement to "I'm against war". I do think it's akin to saying "I'm against abortion" There are some people that go out of their skulls with anger at the abortion statement because it's so absolute and they have such strong feelings about what happens when abortion is absolutely prohibited [as in with stronger terms than our Church position for instance]

But I do think that I'm against abortion enough that I sometimes make that statement without the proper qualifiers. I'll try to be more careful in the future with my statements about "war"

I have a hard time summarizing the ancient prophets on the subject of war. The record is mixed. Often there are examples where war was condemned as a "fallen condition" and equated with the worst sin. But there are other prophets who describe war with very mundane, seemingly accepting terms.

But more recently President Hinckley gave a broad and thoughtful treatise on the subject on the specific eve of the Iraqi invasion. He quoted modern revelation suggesting that we "renounce war and proclaim peace." He talked about the "dark side" of past empires that we too often glorify. He spoke frankly of the "contradictions of the peace of the gospel and the tides of war".

He made sure and spoke of all those things before he candidly explained his personal feelings on the current matter. He didn't claim any revelation stating that the invasion was just. He didn't clearly side with our foreign policy. He simply stated that he had seen times in the past where inaction was worse than action and that he was having to trust our current political leaders when they said this was such a time.

I believe the intermittent years have proven that those political leaders clearly lied to President Hinckley and all the rest of us. I am sure this is a point of disagreement between us - so let's provide each other clear references on the subject.

I stand with the Prophet when I respect both those young men and women who are trusting their military leaders [on all sides of the conflict] *and* those that speak out in protest against the lies and senseless killings.

President Hinckley warned both sides sternly. As for those trying to "proclaim peace" he warned:

"It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression."

And for those fall prey to buying the "Bush doctrine" of killing people for supposed association he follows with:

"Now, there is much that we can and must do in these perilous times. We can give our opinions on the merits of the situation as we see it, but never let us become a party to words or works of evil concerning our brothers and sisters in various nations on one side or the other. Political differences never justify hatred or ill will. I hope that the Lord’s people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties.

Let us pray for those who are called upon to bear arms by their respective governments and plead for the protection of heaven upon them that they may return to their loved ones in safety."

Also much of the rest of the talk warns of the evils of conquest, perpetual war, generalizing about other cultures, etc.

As you are, I am trying to stand with the Prophets on this one. I hope you can respect that.

Leiandra said...

I certainly won't fall into the pitfall of saying that U.S. forces should police the entire world. That's just plain crazy; I don't think anyone's making that point. There are injustices that occur every day in many countries that we just can't protect, but I found this article to be interesting. If I can be so bold as to summarize, basically, British troops that were controlling the city have now relinquished control of the city and moved back to the airfield. Now, because of their beliefs, women are being slaughtered for their actions.

I do not want us to be at war, but the simple fact is that we are. If we pull out all troops, I feel it's pretty clear that radicals will do as they please which will include death and murder of innocent victims. So, we're kind of screwed if we do and screwed if we don't, right?

I further trust our elected leaders enough to deal with the classified information and take action as they see fit. Too many times people have said that this war is all about corporate interests or oil. I'm sure that had a bearing on it, but I have yet to see convincing evidence that it was completely about those things. Furthermore... we were attacked. Even if the Al Queda hot spot has been moved to another country, I believe that our continued presence in that theater helps to diffuse other attacks on U.S. soil.

As a "selfish" U.S. point of view to protect their own people, they're doing a great job. Looking at it from the perspective of souls and any life in the world... I think they're doing their best as a whole. And I believe that protecting all life (including those women who were brutally slain) is a goal of continued occupation. Do we kill some people to save others? Yep. Hmm... didn't Nephi do that? Sounds familiar, but I can't quite place it.

Doug said...

That article is genuinely troubling. Unfortunately, Basra is supposed to be an example of the war's success.

At least John McCain seems honest to me when he says he would be untroubled by a 100 year American troop occupation of Iraq. But, even with such a continued commitment I don't see the eventual success.

In my -- possibly seriously misguided -- opinion until the Iraqi people are free to control their own futures and take their own actions against such brutal extremism as is documented there in Basra things will only get worse. This is what the lessons of South Vietnamese invasion taught. The longer we occupied those areas, the less enabled the local people were to fight out against injustice, and the larger a price to pay when we finally left.

I genuinely question our ability to help with real problems like the one outlined in that CNN article.

Again, Basra is supposed to be an example of a place that "the job was completed". It is not some place that we have surrendered.

Before the United States intervened, Iraq was not such a dangerous place. As long as you didn't cross the government, you didn't have to fear for your life. That's horrible too, but the fact remains that Saddam - brutal and evil as he was - was under serious fire for being too "secular" and not supporting the type of violent "religious" extremism that is cropping up now.

I have a very good understanding of modern U.S. politics and the perpetual panic for funding and endorsements that eats up 99% of the time of our Congressmen (up for re-election every two years) and an unhealthy amount of the time of our Senators as well (they at least get a reasonable six years). I know quite a bit about how their staffs work, how their days work, how much information (classified and otherwise) they have access to, how reliable those information reports are, and what motivates votes. I've often considered a staffer position in D.C. Consequently I have a very, very low trust of the general "rightness" of our elected leaders -- not that I think they're all slimeballs, but the job is not very efficient, realistic, or -- shall we say -- favorable to wisdom, righteousness, and educated decisionmaking. Romney had started pushing the "Washington is broken" meme at the end of his candidacy. I strongly agree with that and -- despite huge differences in policy -- hoped he was the type of can-do, turnaround manager that would have correctly identified problems and solutions to push things in a better direction.

Finally, I have a great deal of sound, clear evidence that the mess we created in Iraq was indeed based on wrong motivations and principles and has cost innocent lives there as well as weakened what I would agree could be a "just war" on terror and terrorists.

Obviously I am going to have to do some posts on that because I'm getting some good people commenting who apparenly have not seen such sources.

Leiandra said...

Unfortunately, Basra is supposed to be an example of the war's success.

I don't understand this comment. Is it an example of success because we've withdrawn troops? If that's the case, it could also be said that there was enough pressure from opinions such as yours that we (being the U.S. military leadership) felt pressured into withdrawing troops so the city can take care of itself. In a way, it is a success because now they only harm themselves. Is that what you want? (Of course you don't, you don't need to answer that.)

The article also talks about how these murders are unsolved mysteries. I propose that part of the reason they are unsolved is because the local law enforcement lacks the experience and knowledge (possibly the tools as well) to solve these "mysteries". Could continued occupation have taught them how to solve crime mysteries?

And now you're almost suggesting that Iraq would have been better off with Saddam?? I think I see your point there, but would the world have been better off? Were the people in New York on September eleventh better off?

Oh, I agree that there is a lot broken with the government. I try to stay away from absolutes because even saying that the war is good or the war is bad.... there's just way too many gray areas. If you're honest, both points are true.

Toadicus Rex said...

Doug,

I'm not sure what your perception of "completed" (with regard to the mission/war in places such as Basra) has to meet to be considered "completed". Honestly, I think that's really baffling. Does everyone in Basra have to be 100% Pro-American and wave American flags before we can call it completed? Or is it the stated goals of those troops in Basra? (i.e. remove those that were in power, returning power to the Iraqis) You do realize that we haven't yet completely eliminated crime from our own streets.... should we declare martial law until we've reached that goal? Or can we say that we live in relative security and move on?

Suggesting that violence in Basra means that the mission really isn't accomplished is disingenuous. I doubt any of the troops realized that they had to meet your mission goals in addition to the ones they had.

On an aside, Doug, I really do respect your opinions. I value your friendship, that's not in question. I question how you managed to get convinced of the things you're espousing, because my own belief system doesn't validate when I place your views on them. I'm not saying it has to, or that I'm right and you're wrong; I'm merely stating my opinions, as you are. And I'm not questioning your faith either, or your patriotism. I apologize if I come across more forcefully than I intend. You are indeed correct, I'm very passionate about this.

That said, I still think you're wrong. ;)

Murrquan said...

I think that the author is right, and I'm very pleased to see a Latter-Day Saint author standing up for freedom and Constitutional government, and condemning an unjust war.

I actually came here looking for a quote from National Treasure (which I found!), so I could use it in a blog entry. I'm pleased to have found a great deal more, and I may just read for a while! ^.^

Toadicus Rex said...

The case for this being an "unjust" was has not yet been made. Everyone has their perspective, but I just don't agree with the idea that this is unjust. I do like seeing people standing up for what they believe, whether I agree with them or not. :)

(Much easier to pick off that way lol)

Murrquan said...

I think Ron Paul made some pretty good points on Antiwar.com, about how the Constitution outlines certain procedures for declaring war (which weren't followed), and does not allow us to fight an offensive war!

Also, the more I read, the more I become convinced that most (if not all) of our military interventions in the last century were in order to secure resources for corporate interests. That's fairly hard to prove in one comment, though. Take a look at John Perkin's Confessions of an Economic Hit Man or The Secret History of the American Empire, I hear they're doing well in the market and they're both very interesting!

Toadicus Rex said...

I've got a real big issue with this. First, this isn't an "offensive war" in my opinion. We were attacked first. September 11th... and you can claim that Iraq has nothing to do with Al Qaida and then we can go back and forth on that. I believe that we declared war against Terrorism... which unfortunately is a pretty defined method of attacking. It involves a non-sanctioned military, which is housed in a country which in many cases is supportive of our efforts. Note that our issue with Iraq isn't the Iraqi people, but with rooting out the garbage that was and is involved in these attacks. If Al Qaida isn't involved in Iraq, why do we keep finding them there?

We have a right to defend ourselves. And we have a right to demand that a country that houses these groups do something about it, or expect us to take them out.

To suggest that we don't have that right is a little odd. We were attacked first, we have a responsibility to make sure that our children grow up in a world that isn't filled with a mess we were just too afraid to fight.

Toadicus Rex said...

lol supportive of THEIR efforts, typo.... :)

Doug said...

Toadicus,

Lol. Yeah I hate not being able to edit comments on other people sites. Maybe someday I'll try to figure out how to add that ability here.

But, as to whether this war is "offensive" (as oposed to "defensive") -- it most certainly is.

Iraq did not attack us. I have a post that I've been postponing that should touch upon this. Al Qaida was not previously involved in Iraq -- in fact nearly all radical Islam was violently suppressed by the Hussein regime -- but they are just one of the factions trying to gain power there now by opposing the foreign occupation. The fact that so much of the media has unquestioningly given in to the Bush administration pushing to label most occupational opposition as Al Qaida is disappointing, but understandable. The vast majority of Americans have a really hard time keeping track of Shiites, and Sunnis, and Kurds, etc. But Al Qaida resonates.

Anyways have you read any of John Perkins? I think his experiences and perspectives are highly relevant to this discussion. If you can prove him wrong, please do (even he would thank you lol) but I think it would benefit you to be aware of his claims. Like Murquaan mentions, Perkins' first book was a surprise NYTimes best seller -- which really doesn't mean anything I know -- but strangely I don't find many people aware of his books . . . maybe they get bought as gifts, given to people who already claim concerns about American Empire, and then nobody reads it lol.

Murrquan said...

Uh ... what he said! ^.^

Weren't something like 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 bombers Saudi, and none of them from Iraq? If we really are going after governments that are aiding and supporting terrorists, how come we invaded Iraq and not Saudi Arabia?

And yes, I've heard from many places that Sadaam was no friend of Al Qaida. Bin Laden's family, on the other hand, actually has business ties to Bush's family -- and Bush Sr.'s father, Prescott Bush, had business dealings with Nazis during WWII! There are a ton of articles on both subjects, a quick Google should turn many up. Like this one.

Add to that the fact that the official "facts" of the 9/11 attack are disputed in many places, including by a BYU Physics professor, and I'm not so sure we're trying to fight terrorism here, so much as create an excuse for increased federal governmental control of the world and of United States citizens. *nod*

Toadicus Rex said...

Nope, I haven't read John Perkins. Yes, I understand that the economic world has its evil as well. No, I don't think it's the underlying evil that encompasses all other evil, and is the root cause of it.

Why didn't we attack Saudi Arabia instead? Don't know entirely, I don't have all the intelligence. Perhaps it's because the UN had already threatened exactly what happened to Iraq in quite a few resolutions, and simply was too afraid of public opinion to do it. We know for a fact, however, that Al Qaida was in Iraq, whether supported or not by Hussein - but they had met with him.

As far as Hussein not being a friend to Al Qaida, I suppose that goes back to who you believe.

I've read many conspiracy theory books, both for and against. Especially the 9/11 books. And I think Steven Jones is wrong, dead wrong. He had some interesting points, but most people in the demolition and engineering fields laugh at his theories.

I hate that we keep coming back to this. What economic control does the US have over Iraq? Oh, that's right. None. What political control do we have. Uh, none. Influence? Maybe. But what political/economic gains have we had so far? Well, we took out a madman in power with known ties to terrorism, and defeated a number of terrorists and their supporters in Iraq. Sweet! Wasn't that the plan? Are we not there helping Iraq gain strength to fight these guys themselves? Oh, we are.

You know, I've heard the conspiracy theories, that the Bush's were in league with the Nazis, etc. I've also heard some pretty disparaging stuff about what goes on in LDS temples, and what Church leaders are actually like in their time outside of the spotlight. I don't buy them either. I suppose it all depends on who you believe.

Me, I'll trust my conscience and the feelings I get from God.

Murrquan said...

As will we :o

I just think it's slightly dangerous to equate 9/11 speculation (something which involves known facts and has been debated in other forums) with anti-LDS literature (which we know involves nothing but FUD). The implication seems to be that we can have as perfect faith in the working of our country's politics and its leaders as we can in the Lord's true Church.

You're not the first person I've spoken with who insisted on a similar comparison, and in rejecting opposing theories based on his "faith," and it scared me then, too.

Believe who you like, and choose who not to listen to as well, but I really think the comparison is very inappropriate.

Toadicus Rex said...

Hoooold on. I didn't make that comparison. I don't think I've specified or even talked about any anti-LDS literature. And yeah, 911truth.org has been debated - but you get mostly one side of the issue from that site. Consider that Dr. Jones colleagues almost INSTANTLY tried to distance themselves from his opinions - most notably anyone having anything to do with civil engineering, etc. But I'll bet they don't frequent 911truth.org.

I did not make the comparison, and I am not basing my rejection of these theories on my "faith". I am rejecting them because they are not sound. Everyone, incidentally, that I've heard voice these opinions has tried to establish hearsay evidence as either fact or grounded theory; i.e. citing 911truth.org, hardly a non-biased "scientific analysis" forum.

I am also not giving my opinion as though everyone ought to take my opinions as "gospel truth". I am making up my own mind. I don't think you have any right to decide that my methods are inappropriate.

However, I do choose to reject 911truth.org. I don't believe what is said, and something about it just feels wrong to me. I have read a book that talks about the myths, one that debunks those myths, and one that debunks the debunking. We could keep going forever with this.

What I'm saying is that there has to come a point where I have to make up my mind. Every person I talk to has their own opinions, and will try to sway me to whatever they think is right. Whether I choose to listen and agree is a conscious choice on my part. I have made my conscious choice.

Toadicus Rex said...

Ok, correction, yes I did talk about anti-mormon literature, lol. However, the suggestion of my supposed implication is incorrect. I didn't make any assumption of infallibility, either in the national leadership or in church leadership.

My statement is simply this; there are always detractors. I can choose to listen or not to listen, whether their target is the Church or the government, or even Walmart or labor unions.

DougB said...

[I wrote this before all the follow-up responses between you and Muurquan but didn't have time to post it]

Well I don't know if Jones is 'dead wrong' or not - there are certainly a lot of problems in the official 9/11 report and investigations to provide fodder for years of research - but yeah I've kinda kept my distance since I've also read the "Popular Science" debunking of some of the 'truther' theories and decided I really don't have adequate access to the research I'd wanna do to draw any reasonable conclusions. I've seen him around though and he seems to be a genuine, intelligent, and nice person. I actually really respect what he is doing . . . I just don't think I'd go about it the same way.

But it is much easier to investigate why we went to Iraq, what we've done there so far, what we're doing now, and what we claim to intend for the future than it is to probe the minds of a handful of mysterious and dead hijackers for insight into 9/11. Especially since the Bush administration went derelict in their duty and leadership within months of the attack and took Osama bin Laden *off* of the most-wanted list.

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." --President George W. Bush,

Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2001

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." -- President George W. Bush, Washington, D.C.,

March 13, 2002

[don't have more than a minute to post now, but wanted to add something now that I've seen the follow-up comments]

I also agree with Muurquan that comparing Church leadership and U.S. leadership is quite inappropriate. If you've found reasons for faith in the Church (if you're with Gene England, for instance, on "Why the Church is as true as the Gospel" -- a thoughtful LDS essay that I like) then I would expect that you would deal with imperfect human leadership in the Church quite differently than you would with imperfect human leadership of our nation -- because Christ is at the helm of the Church but not the nation. The corrupt politics and politicians that existed on September 10, 2001 did not dry up on September 11, 2001. The men and women in place to lead us at that time were simply not the kind of people we should trust implicitly.

Note that President Hinckley's talk on War and Peace had quite extensive warnings about the evils of empires -- and how we tend to inappropriately build up "empires" as good things (like the British). Note also that President Hinckley suggested that he was speaking to troops on *both* sides of the conflict (ie even the Afghanistani and Iraqi sides) in his suggestion that God would not hold them personally responsible for the decisions their leaders made.

We now have insurmountable evidence that the operation in Iraq was empire-building at the expense of innocent civilians (our own and Iraqi). Many of my acquaintances prefer the limitless expanse of the American Empire to the dictatorships of Iran, Iraq, and Syria. I suggest that President Hinckley's talk ought to be referenced at that point. When our leaders lied [I have evidence to back this] to all of us (including President Hinckley) in saying the Iraqi invasion was a necessary war of national defense related to 9/11 it was one thing. But as we discover more evidence that it was simply to protect our oil, shipping, and military interests in the region this "100 year or more" [McCain] war becomes quite another.

It is true that you have to make decisions on who to listen to and how much you are willing to investigate the claims of detractors. You have only so much time for one thing. For another, there are people who are either so evil (in some cases) or so misled (innumerable cases) that it is probably counter-productive to waste time with their rabble-rousings. Perhaps you feel my obscure website falls into that category lol. If so, that's your right. You're certainly not one of the Senators and Congressman authorizing these actions. Since I know who you are in real life, I happen to know that when you're not conscientiously browsing a blog like this trying to decide whether and how to correct errors you see, that you're out there trying to raise a great family and do good things in life with them.

I happen to believe that America is the greatest country on earth with the most potential -- for right and wrong (great blessings bring great responsibility). I've gotten into this war thing deep enough to have irrefutable proof that our nation is off-track on its foreign policy. We both agree on fighting terrorists and evil.

Again, as you've invoked the 'What would Mormon do?' question I have strong reason to believe he was a far better person than our average congressman or thinktank driving our foreign policy so my answer is -- Maybe go after bin Laden (which we're *not* doing), but not invade every nation on the planet lol in the name of "rooting out terrorism" (but with other motives).

Toadicus Rex said...

Ok, first. I'll say this again. I am not making the comparison you think I am making. I am merely stating with my reference to anti-mormon literature, etc. that there are a million different views, some respectable, some not so respectable. I choose to listen to whom I will listen. I am not equating the US Government with the Church leadership. So enough of that.

Second, in reference to going after Bin Laden, I'll give you my opinion. I don't think it's that important either. Perhaps at the beginning, I felt that same way. But as we get into it... if Bin Laden was/is dead, does it stop terrorism? Would someone else carry on? Why would we just set out to eliminate the tip of the iceberg? That doesn't make sense to me. My views have changed since 9/11. I think there is new intel out. I will and do give President Bush the benefit of that knowledge, that there is certain knowledge that he has that I don't. Suggesting that President Bush must state exactly the same thing year in and year out doesn't make sense either.

Additionally, many people originally seemed to equate Bin Laden with Al Qaida itself. We know that that simply isn't true, and as the public has become more aware, semantics have changed.

As far as evidence of empire building, or Bush/the government lying to us about the motives of our being in Iraq, I'd like to see the proof now. May I say this; I don't like hearsay evidence entered as proof. So please, don't force me to say again "consider the source".

Now, back to the other argument; if Bin Laden is our target, why? He wasn't one of the hijackers. What right do we have to go after him? What evidence do we have that he personally did anything directly against Americans? By the rationale you offer, we should/can do nothing without upsetting our moral compass. He's only a proven link; but that is irrelevant according to your rejection of Hussein as a moral target. I find that logic unsettling. If you can demonstrate that this is not your logic, I'm all ears. But I don't see how you can separate the two. To my perspective, they are one and the same. You validate that we should go after Bin Laden, but deny that we should go after Hussein (with known connections) or Al Qaida in Iraq. What makes it valid/moral for us to go into Afghanistan, which you sanction, but not Iraq, when we know that Al Qaida is in both? What gives us the right to pursue anyone based upon the attack on 9/11 - I mean, all of those terrorists are dead... so shouldn't we just leave well enough alone?

Doug said...

Toadicus,

1) A militant, aggressive "War on Terror" involving invasions of every known populace where terrorists or "weapons of terror" might exist is bad policy. It is anti-Founder, un-Constitutional, and frightening. Replace the word "terror" with "evil" because that is what the current Bush administration is doing. If you don't like something - poof - you label it "terrorist" (ie the Iranian Guard or Chavez's socialist policies in Venezeula). Now you can invade a nation, kill the leaders, disband the national militia, gut the infrastructure, and start building permanent military bases for your next conquest. Fact: George Bush promised "food, supplies, healthcare, and freedom" to the Iraqis at the outset of our invasion.

One example 4 long years later of how we have delivered on our empty promises: Before the invasion there was 24-hour electricity in most of Baghdad, 16-hour in some areas. Now (2008) even Hospitals are lucky to get 3 hours. [I don't have facts on electricity in the "Green Zone" yet but I'll be surprised if the occupying militia has similar problems with available electricity]

2) There are many places to get the facts that the Bush administration lies about. Saying you plan to dismiss them with simply a "consider the source" hand-wave is not very encouraging. I've never seen a non-partisan history, news source, or person (unfortunately, though many of my heroes make [or made] valiant and worthy efforts which I greatly respect. If a source is a known "anti-war" site, does that automatically disqualify them? At any rate, one clearinghouse for information that I particularly like is Liberty Park, USA's Nathan Hale Institute It has links to many sources I think are helpful in fact-finding missions.

3) I opine that dropping the search for bin Laden and replacing it with the search for Sadaam Hussein is perhaps the *best* example of the foundational problems with our current foreign policy. Both Osama and Sadaam were former CIA operatives whose usefulness had expired and who found themselves at odds with their former kingmaker. That Osama - who actually carried out a horrific attack on US soil - got off the radar and Sadaam who did no such thing was hunted down and killed is an interesting turn of events indeed.

But the fact remains that pretending that all terrorists are somehow in cahoots and that it doesn't really matter if you shut down Osama's Al Queda brand of terrorism ... or arguing that focusing on the supposed "al Queda" of Iraq who carry out a fraction of the attacks against the occupation is somehow preferable to tracking down, interrogating, and bringing to justice the network and leaders that actually attacked US soil . .. just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.

Toadicus Rex said...

1. On power: I don't know where you get your facts, but here's a link. US Electrical Aid in Iraq.

First, stating that hospitals get three hours at best in Baghdad is a pretty serious claim. I'm hoping you can back that one up, because I don't see the proof. You stated it, but from the military people that I know that have been in Iraq, that just isn't the case. They validate that power before the occupation as described by residents was spotty and prone to failure. We're actually creating a better system than they had - and they were at 58% of capacity - in 2003. That's a far cry from your "3 hours per day".

2. I'm not merely hand-waving at sources I reject. There are specific reasons I reject them. I reject them because they have no basis for the argument except for an emotional response; their arguments tend to be significantly less than valid. I don't mind reading information if it's not filled with blind vitriol, but many of the stuff I've been linked to is, and I've no desire to read it. Like that video of the "anti-war professor" posted not too long ago, the one that ranted and raved about the war and imperialistic actions of the Bush administration... oh, wait, she's part of the Clinton Administration. Additionally, I found in her arguments the same thing I find in the modern media; it is highly speculative, filled with emotionally charged words, and lacking in factual information.
I will take a look at the site you linked to.

3. I don't think the search for Bin Laden is over. I think that's a mischaracterization - I would think we'd consider his capture a real coup; but it's not going to end Al Qaida to capture him. He'll be succeeded by someone else.

However, neither Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein were or could be considered CIA Operatives. You're going to have to prove that one, if you're going to say it. That's a very strong thing to say. But let's really consider what you are saying; Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are statics; their opinions, actions and tactics have not nor could they change over the last 30 years. The world political arena has not nor could change over the last 30 years. Therefore, the unstable part of this policy can only be the US Government. PLEASE, Doug. Be realistic. If in 1988, foreign leader X of foreign country 1 works with the United states against foreign country 2 due to the unbridled aggression of foreign country 2, and then the conflict becomes more or less resolved, after which X becomes offended at the brusqueness he receives from an aid from some diplomat from the US, which grows and grows until he decides it's the entire US's fault and turns entirely on us... well, people change. This is what is meant by seeing everything as the US's fault. The idea that our allegiance or partnerships in certain ventures cannot be changed is insane. What if X starts out being a villain, a declared enemy of the US, and then dramatically changes? Should we continue to treat them as an enemy?

I'm not pretending that all terrorists are somehow in cahoots. I'm stating plainly that the tactic is the same across the board; and it is that tactic that is insanely evil and needs to be stopped. It's like declaring Murder a crime. By what you're saying, we can't crack down on Murder because everyone that commits Murder is not in cahoots. So what? Terrorism IS something you can establish as a method. I haven't seen Bush saying that we're going to invade Venezuela because Chavez has become that evil and hence is a terrorist. In fact, I haven't seen or heard of any plans to invade Venezuela. However, if Venezuela were to establish a terrorist group that threatened te US with a nuclear bomb if they didn't submit to certain demands, then yep, they'd be aiding and abetting terrorist organizations. And we'd have just cause to go in and clear out the offenders. Neither I nor Bush can just "poof" declare someone a terrorist and thereby paint a crosshair on their forehead. That's not a valid argument, Doug.

Again, I'll state the same argument. Bin Laden did NOT attack US soil personally. Neither did Saddam. We have no right to go against them (according to your arguments). Never mind that they did give money and support to those that did. That's irrelevant.

The leaders did NOT attack US soil, it was their followers. So I see quite a problem with your argument that we can't go against Saddam because he didn't actually perpetrate the attacks (but did support them) and we can go against Osama (even though he didn't actually perpetrate the attacks, but did support them). I don't see the difference.

Doug said...

Toadicus,

1) There was a short piece on NPR (Corruption Thwarts Electricity Service in Iraq) a few days ago mentioning that because of corruption sometimes the hospitals which (you are right) are *supposed* to get 24 hour power were getting only a few hours a day which caused their backup generators to get overworked which of course resulted in needless deaths of patients. The corruption is new because of our intervention. Whether the grid is better or worse needs serious study. The funny thing is that we probably bring different biases to this NPR piece. I found it poor journalism since it made no effort whatsoever to compare the current system to the previous (which was better than now in my understanding from people who lived and visted there). I would worry that you might be likely to share Romney's denunciation of the "liberal" NPR, whereas I was angry at this "wartime propaganda piece" on the same station (it made us sound like the "good" guys trying to get electricity to the people despite the evil natives). So give me more time to get some links for the bigger picture on electricity.

2) Sounds like we both appreciate facts more than emotion. We're allowed to get emotional when the facts can back us up lol.

3) We do have a major disconnect between the leadership and the citizenry in this country because of our self-perpetuated constant state of war. There are too many secrets. We have a perpetual standing army and all sorts of secret objectives, secret budgets, and secret operatives. So, yes, it is pretty hard for somebody like me to know for certain what is going on with "the search for bin Laden". My President tells me it's not a priority. Public information indicates that the (nuclear wielding, democracy overturning) dictator who refuses to help search his own regions in Pakistan for bin Laden keeps getting rewarded with military machinery, US backing, and other strange gifts. Clearly we're missing something. You are choosing to trust our secular leaders on it. I have reason not to.

We do still have enough freedoms, transparencies, etc. in this country that it is easily verifiable that the CIA funded Osama's Afghani rebels against the Russians and Sadaam's rebellion against Iraqi political leaders unfriendly to American "interests" (read: Oil Companies) in Iraq. Of course people change, but these two continued to do exactly the same thing they did when on our payrolls. Unsavory expedited murder of those deemed their opposition. When it was in our interests we aided and abetted them. When it was no longer, we turned on them. I find this reprehensible. It happens in spy novels but I don't believe it is the only way to conduct our affairs. It is the kind of thing that both President J. Reuben Clark (U.S. Undersecretary of State, Ambassador, LDS First Presidency) and President Benson (you know him) spoke out against. Two wrongs do not make a right.

And, you still seem to misunderstand me. [Unless the "truthers" are right about Osama bin Laden -- and I don't see the evidence for it at this point] Osama bin Laden and his organization *did indeed* attack our soil just as President Bush our own nation attacked Iraq. I *do* blame Osama and should. Saying Osama is not to blame would be like saying Hitler was not to blame. But I would like to see your proof that Sadaam had anything at all to do with 9/11. Cheney's wholly baseless outbursts aside, that has been disproven by even the most loyal GOP warhawk apologists.

Finally, the war machine that targeted Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea six years ago has set its sights for a couple years on Venezuela. Just today the drudge headlines were that the US might have to be pulled in to defend the Columbians because of Chavez's warmongering . . . but if you've been following the story (which most Americans have not) it's much less surprising that "the opportunity would present itself" to have a stand-down with Chavez militarily. I don't know what the heck that crazy dude is thinking sending tanks to his border, but the reasons the CIA has been working to undermine his support and the reasons that Bush has often publicly denounced him are much less than honorable in my opinion.

Carissa said...

Toadicus rex,

You said:

First, this isn't an "offensive war"

Okay, whether you agree or disagree with the war, you cannot say it is not offensive. Even President Bush would disagree with you. Three times in one speech he says it:

"We're on the offense against the terrorists on every battlefront -- and we'll accept nothing less than complete victory."

"We're on the offensive, and we will not rest, we will not retreat, and we will not withdraw from the fight, until this threat to civilization has been removed."

"First, we're determined to prevent terrorist attacks before they occur. So we're taking the fight to the enemy. The best way to protect America is to stay on the offense"

September 5, 2006 http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060905-4.html

Doug said...

I skimmed my post here for the first time in a long time and have to comment that I wish I'd never set in print the words "I'm against war". I actually considering editing them right here and now to avoid people misquoting me in the future. I *do* think I laid out pretty well what I meant by writing that in the rest of my post but let me elaborate just in case any doubt remains.

*I'm not against justified, defensive war.* That would be unwise, immoral in my opinion (because of all the innocent people you would refuse to defend, because of the evil-doers you would be refusing to bring to justice, etc.), stupid, impractical, against my larger beliefs as informed by scripture study, modern prophets, and other leaders I admire from through the ages, etc. etc. etc.

I simply feel that an offensive, Imperial occupatory war -- with all of its attendant problems -- should be a measure of absolute last resort and should be as limited and focused as possible. Frighteningly the mainstream caricature of 'patriotism' seems to be trying to dictate a perversion of this where wars of offense should be a first line of defense, are an accepted means of strengthening and expanding the empire, and where *perpetual war* should be hailed as the epitome of a strong state.

This is unwise, immoral, and rife with tragic outcomes. However the current foreign conflicts might have begun, it is increasingly clear that our foreign policy no longer attempts to limit war to:

"times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression." (Pres. Hinckley, April 2003 Conference)

That's all. So I'm not always against war. I'm not. There are wars I can support. In fact, before I'd studied it out, I supported our initial attempt to go after bin Laden in Afghanistan (I wish that was what had really intended). I supported our initial attack on Iraq (I wouldn't now, but I accepted the propaganda given then). I do not support our continued war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or elsewhere.

If somebody can give me evidence that these are actually defensive, justified, focused wars then please do. It will free up much of my time for a better cause.