Friday, March 28, 2003

The Small Quiet Voice

Ok, kids, get ready for a kindler and gentler fisking. This time it's for Don Williams, Knoxville News Sentinel columnist, who today gives some advice to anti-war folks on how to "move on" from the war.

"Light up the corner where you live. Quietly point out where you think the war advocates hold mistaken beliefs. Inform them that Saddam didn't destroy the World Trade Center, as half of them believe. Ask fair questions when conversation allows: Weren't we led to believe the Iraqi army would have collapsed by now? Shouldn't the people of Southern Iraq be showering us with flowers? Why are we having to send more troops? Where are the weapons of mass destruction?"
Half of the pro-war advocates do not believe Saddam destroyed the World Trade Center. They just have not given up the possibility that it may come out he was directly involved. For some reason, Don believes there is proof of his innocence available for everyone - there is not, just not proof of his guilt. And since opinions aren't courts of law, we don't require proof to still consider that he may yet be found complicit.

Were we led to believe the Iraqi army would have collapsed by now? I don't think we were led to believe anything, as in we were deliberately misled. I believe the Pentagon didn't plan on just how evil Saddam's special forces were, and, constrained by our rules of engagement we haven't been able to completely clear the Southern part of Iraq without needless civilian deaths. It has nothing to do with underestimating actual military strength.

"Showering us with flowers" I don't believe was ever a Pentagon euphamism. However, in the tows we've liberated where those Special Forces haven't reached we have been welcomed. In some of the other towns the citizens are threatened by retaliation against their families if they welcome us, so that's why there hasn't been more jubiliation. You want celebration and flowers? Wait till everyone's aware the regime is finally out of power and the goons are taken care of, and then you'll see celebration.

More troops? Already planned - I think they told us this several times.

Where are the weapons of mass destruction? This is a bit tougher, and really is just a mantra the anti-war advocates have picked up on that has no real answer. The country hasn't been secured so there's not much chance to go actively searching the hiding places they surely exist. Plus, they may be used in defense of Baghdad. And there may have been caches discovered by the troops that haven't been reported yet. Again, you can't prove they don't exist until you can't prove that they do.

"How much is this costing? How long will we be there? What about other potential enemies, such as North Korea and Iran and radicals in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Won't the war only add to the chaos and violence? Who stands to gain financially from this war? Is every war America ever fought justified? Is this one? These are fair but provocative questions, to be asked in a quiet, soft voice."
I'm glad he keeps advocating the quiet, soft voice - it is a welcome break from the loud braying voice of the protests (and much more effective). As for cost and length of stay, neither are questions that have anything to do with the what they're protesting about - those are tactical and financial decisions.

The other countries? We'll watch them and see what happens. Iran and N. Korea may both implode before this is all over. And yes, it's possible the war will increase chaos but it's just as possible it will help dampen it when the Arab world sees the possibilities of a liberated Iraq. What the Coalition does there is just if not more important than what it does in the war itself.

Who stands to gain financially? A very good question, and one I'm glad that most everyone will be keeping an eye on. I still don't really trust the administration to keep their own interests clear of the reconstruction. Just be vigilant.

Is this and every war America's fought been justified? A question for philosophers and historians. I think so far WWII is the closest one we can reflect on with some objectivity, Korea and later will have to wait for time to answer questions.

"Be prepared for special forces to discover Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. They may discover links to al-Qaida. Some evidence could be fabricated or misconstrued. All governments lie, especially under pressure. Remember Watergate? Iran-Contra? Remember Monica-gate? Remember those forged documents from Niger? The Gulf of Tonkin? Remember the Maine?"
I'm sorry, I have to chuckle about this one. Monica-gate is so far apart in severity from those other instances it's hardly worth mentioning. But yes, if the government does hide the truth for us, it had better be in our best interests, not their political interests.

"Look to the long term, and be proud that you are part of something bigger than a war. For the first time in history, most of the world opposed a war that hadn't even started. Millions marched in the streets worldwide, and country after country, including most of the world's democracies, opposed the war. Yes, war came anyway, and the peace movement lost a battle, but it's winning a greater struggle. A new global consciousness has arisen in the world. More and more people are seeing the human race as mutually interdependent and are working towards the day when forces other than violence will determine history."
I'm sorry, who are you talking to? And I find it hard to believe most of the people in the world even know there's a war going on (or at least the truth about who's fighting who), and that's part of the problem. Most of the world's democracies? You have figures on that? Almost down the line, nations who opposed the war did so for political or financial reasons - i.e. because of what they themselves stand to lose. Money, power in the EU and other places, oil contracts - all selfish and have nothing to do with any real anti-war rhetoric. Don't look to them for moral examples.

And I applaud the fact people look to the day when non-violent means will solve problems, but we have to take care of dictators, oppressors and their collaboraters first.

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