Senator Robert Byrd's War Speech to Senate

Normally Elysium and I both find political threads fairly useless but I think this is an issue that affects everyone and deserves discussion. The following is a speech made by Senator Robert Byrd to the US Senate this past week about the current state of the war on Iraq:

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Published on Wednesday, February 12, 2003

by CommonDreams.Org

Reckless Administration May Reap Disastrous Consequences

by US Senator Robert Byrd

Senate Floor Speech - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.

Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.

We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.

And this is no small conflagration we contemplate. This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materializes, represents a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world.

This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and unwise than this type of uncertainty, particularly in a world where globalism has tied the vital economic and security interests of many nations so closely together? There are huge cracks emerging in our time-honored alliances, and U.S. intentions are suddenly subject to damaging worldwide speculation. Anti-Americanism based on mistrust, misinformation, suspicion, and alarming rhetoric from U.S. leaders is fracturing the once solid alliance against global terrorism which existed after September 11.

Here at home, people are warned of imminent terrorist attacks with little guidance as to when or where such attacks might occur. Family members are being called to active military duty, with no idea of the duration of their stay or what horrors they may face. Communities are being left with less than adequate police and fire protection. Other essential services are also short-staffed. The mood of the nation is grim. The economy is stumbling. Fuel prices are rising and may soon spike higher.

This Administration, now in power for a little over two years, must be judged on its record. I believe that that record is dismal.

In that scant two years, this Administration has squandered a large projected surplus of some $5.6 trillion over the next decade and taken us to projected deficits as far as the eye can see. This Administration's domestic policy has put many of our states in dire financial condition, under funding scores of essential programs for our people. This Administration has fostered policies which have slowed economic growth. This Administration has ignored urgent matters such as the crisis in health care for our elderly. This Administration has been slow to provide adequate funding for homeland security. This Administration has been reluctant to better protect our long and porous borders.

In foreign policy, this Administration has failed to find Osama bin Laden. In fact, just yesterday we heard from him again marshaling his forces and urging them to kill. This Administration has split traditional alliances, possibly crippling, for all time, International order-keeping entities like the United Nations and NATO. This Administration has called into question the traditional worldwide perception of the United States as well-intentioned, peacekeeper. This Administration has turned the patient art of diplomacy into threats, labeling, and name calling of the sort that reflects quite poorly on the intelligence and sensitivity of our leaders, and which will have consequences for years to come.

Calling heads of state pygmies, labeling whole countries as evil, denigrating powerful European allies as irrelevant -- these types of crude insensitivities can do our great nation no good. We may have massive military might, but we cannot fight a global war on terrorism alone. We need the cooperation and friendship of our time-honored allies as well as the newer found friends whom we can attract with our wealth. Our awesome military machine will do us little good if we suffer another devastating attack on our homeland which severely damages our economy. Our military manpower is already stretched thin and we will need the augmenting support of those nations who can supply troop strength, not just sign letters cheering us on.

The war in Afghanistan has cost us $37 billion so far, yet there is evidence that terrorism may already be starting to regain its hold in that region. We have not found bin Laden, and unless we secure the peace in Afghanistan, the dark dens of terrorism may yet again flourish in that remote and devastated land.

Pakistan as well is at risk of destabilizing forces. This Administration has not finished the first war against terrorism and yet it is eager to embark on another conflict with perils much greater than those in Afghanistan. Is our attention span that short? Have we not learned that after winning the war one must always secure the peace?

And yet we hear little about the aftermath of war in Iraq. In the absence of plans, speculation abroad is rife.

Will we seize Iraq's oil fields, becoming an occupying power which controls the price and supply of that nation's oil for the foreseeable future?

To whom do we propose to hand the reigns of power after Saddam Hussein?

Will our war inflame the Muslim world resulting in devastating attacks on Israel?

Will Israel retaliate with its own nuclear arsenal?

Will the Jordanian and Saudi Arabian governments be toppled by radicals, bolstered by Iran which has much closer ties to terrorism than Iraq?

Could a disruption of the world's oil supply lead to a world-wide recession?

Has our senselessly bellicose language and our callous disregard of the interests and opinions of other nations increased the global race to join the nuclear club and made proliferation an even more lucrative practice for nations which need the income?

In only the space of two short years this reckless and arrogant Administration has initiated policies which may reap disastrous consequences for years.

One can understand the anger and shock of any President after the savage attacks of September 11. One can appreciate the frustration of having only a shadow to chase and an amorphous, fleeting enemy on which it is nearly impossible to exact retribution. But to turn one's frustration and anger into the kind of extremely destabilizing and dangerous foreign policy debacle that the world is currently witnessing is inexcusable from any Administration charged with the awesome power and responsibility of guiding the destiny of the greatest superpower on the planet. Frankly many of the pronouncements made by this Administration are outrageous. There is no other word.

Yet this chamber is hauntingly silent. On what is possibly the eve of horrific infliction of death and destruction on the population of the nation of Iraq -- a population, I might add, of which over 50% is under age 15 -- this chamber is silent. On what is possibly only days before we send thousands of our own citizens to face unimagined horrors of chemical and biological warfare -- this chamber is silent. On the eve of what could possibly be a vicious terrorist attack in retaliation for our attack on Iraq, it is business as usual in the United States Senate.

We are truly "sleepwalking through history." In my heart of hearts I pray that this great nation and its good and trusting citizens are not in for a rudest of awakenings.

To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country". This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making. Perhaps there is still a way if we allow more time.
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If you feel like discussing this please keep a level head and try avoid any personal attacks. If you really feel making a personal attack, talk about how great I am instead.

I''ve been following Sen. Bird with interest since listening to the Congressional debates on this very issue last october. He seems to be the only sensible voice around these days. I personally agree with him and wish there were more voices like his in our government.

A politician who is not afraid to use his brain and than speak the truth. I am shocked!

I hope he isn''t the only one out there.

"Gaald" wrote:

A politician who is not afraid to use his brain and than speak the truth. I am shocked!

I hope he isn''t the only one out there.

He seems to be, unfortunately.

That''s one of the best and most eloquent speech I''ve seen a politician give in a long time. It''s good to see politicians speaking their minds and voicing concern over the direction everything seems to be taking and the lack of infornation people are recieving from their respective governments. I wish polititcians here in the UK would speak their minds more, I''m sick of seeing the government here in the UK in cheerleader mode supporting the government because they have to show a united front or else they''ll get a hard time from the government whips. Privately I think a lot of politicians in the government here in the UK have reservations about the upcoming conflict but won''t speak up. Also I think that the scale of the marches here have surprised the government.

I may not personally agree with everything said in the Senator said but I applaud his bravery in voicing his concern.

Frankly, it''s good to see Senator Byrd make some concrete and intelligently defensible statements at a time when it appears haphazard foreign policy rules the day.

I''m reminded of another thread (which shall remain nameless) on another site (which shall remain nameless) regarding the topic of war, where I found myself not terribly surprised when the same old people said the same old passionately misinformed things, drawing relationships where none existed and revelling in inflamed rhetoric and hollow patriotism. We increasingly live in a country -for us Americans - where the suggestion of peacably assembling to petition the government for a redress of grievances is somehow perceived as unpatriotic. It''s amazing to me sometimes how very unamerican self-proclaimed patriots are acting these days. I really believe some people have become so self righteous as to lose all sight of what we''re supposed to be fighting for in the first place.

I am not condemning those whose thoughtful consideration has led them to support a potential war. Who understand and recognize the weight of such a decision, or who have actively supported the cause of freedom. I do not think poorly of soldiers who have voluntarily taken up the cause, who are willing to put their lives on the line for their convictions. But those armchair war-mongers out there, who''ve done nothing more than anxiously await the war on CNN or stick a plastic flag on their car window and think that makes them patriotic, pretty much earn my complete scorn. Not that they would care (about anything, probably).

Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.

And that above all else freightens me. Where are the checks? Where are the balances?

- Elysium

Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.

Now this is just BS. This war has had more debate than any other war in our history. We''ve been talking about it for over a year.

And that above all else freightens me. Where are the checks? Where are the balances?

The War Powers Act, Congress gave support to Bush to use force, every two and four years you can vote new people into office.

Can I ask people who aren''t for the war why aren''t you for it and why do you think some of us are for it? It''s nice to know what I''m up against.

I also think Bryd is racist f*ckhead and should never be taken seriously.

His speech has many factual inaccuriaces for me to point out. So I''d rather argue with people who aren''t racist f*ckheads (you people) and can make sure they don''t make things up.

Here is an article from my paper from a Democrat. It counters what Bryd said and shows how allow some people are when it comes to being anti-war. Most people are shallow on both sides (pro and con) but I don''t respect Bryd. I don''t think there would be nearly as many anti-war people (except Republicans) if Clinton or Gore was into office. What I see is that people are for ""their guy"" and don''t like ""the other guy.""

Not everyone is like this but the majority are. I went to an anti war protest this weekend and most of the people were not anti-American. It''s the most American thing in the world to hate what your Government is doing, I think it''s great people are standing up for what they think is right. I will not call them wrong because for them they are right. But, most of the people don''t like America. Not our current policy but what America is. They would rather America become a socialist state. Not anti-American but they don''t like America. But I go to the U of Wisconsin which is very left (even for most colleges).

The war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan was anything but an intellectual's war. If ever in American history a military response was a no-brainer, this was it. Three words explained why we fought: they attacked us.

Iraq is dicier. On the one hand, Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is self-evidently evil and a menace. Less obvious are the reasons we should go to war with him now as opposed to, say, North Korea, Iran, or Saudi Arabia. Or, as some would have it, with nobody. The rationale behind it is complex and controversial, and it took Clinton Administration official Kenneth Pollack more than 500 pages to explain it all in The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq. This is an intellectual's war.

But where are the liberal intellectuals? Some are for it, some strongly against it, but most just grouse about it and wallow in incoherent objectionism. There is a near-religious certainty that Bush is an extremist and an idiot, and therefore wrong about everything. ""A busted watch is right twice a day"" is an insult even by the standard of backhanded compliments. But most liberal intellectuals won't give Bush even that much.

Liberals are not pacifists. The Senate approved the Iraq Liberation Act without dissent when Bill Clinton was president. The overwhelming majority of liberal Democrats approved of the war against Slobodan Milosovic to end his campaign of genocide against the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo. More than ninety percent of Americans supported regime-change in Afghanistan, uniting nearly every conservative and every liberal in the nation. Only the straightjacket-left chose to sit that one out. (It cannot be stated often enough that leftists are not liberals. This is more true now than at any time since 1968, but most Americans still don't make the distinction.)

A December poll showed the majority of registered Democrats approve of Bush's policy on Iraq. Apparently, most of these Democrats are the working-class labor union types, rather than the intellectuals and journalists who so regularly opine against it. (Incidentally, this bolsters George Orwell's axiom that the working class is the group most instinctively and reliably anti-fascist.)

While it is unlikely that leftists would have supported the war against the Taliban if Hillary Clinton waged it, it is almost certainly true that most mainstream liberals would support the war in Iraq if she were leading the charge against Saddam now. With only one exception, every anti-war liberal I have talked to admits this is true.

After weeks of arguing with one of my colleagues, I finally got him to concede that an American military intervention to depose Saddam Hussein is justified and appropriate. I convinced him by sending him reams of information about the brutal nature of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. He really didn't know, and now he does, and he changed his mind. But with a catch. ""This isn't the right American administration to carry out the invasion,"" he said.

Robert Kagan recently wrote ""Yesterday''s liberal interventionists, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti, are today''s liberal abstentionists. What changed? Just the man in the White House.""

Exactly.

Anti-war conservatives are much more serious in their opposition. When Brett Scowcroft, for example, defends the Iraqi dictatorship, he means business. He lobbied to prop up the Soviet Union on the eve of its implosion. He wanted to leave Slobodan Milosovic and the Taliban in power. And he is a notorious apologist for the totalitarian regime in Beijing. Scowcroft and his ilk are stability junkies. Liberals place a far higher premium on human rights and democracy than on the supposed upshot of despotism.

That liberals ganged up with Scowcroft, a man they should rightly despise, is partly the fault of the Bush Administration. Bush has not emphasized the humanitarian benefits of regime-change in Iraq nearly enough. (Though you would think the erstwhile liberal hawks could figure this out on their own.) An ever-increasing number of conservative writers are advocating serious human rights abroad, but it remains that most activists and members of human rights organizations are liberals. Bush is squandering the support of these people by making liberalization a footnote in the anti-Saddam campaign.

But Bush has mentioned it. Recently he cited Amnesty International's record on Saddam's history of torture and genocide. Amnesty should have been elated that its work is taken seriously by the adminstration. Instead, Amnsesty's Kamal Samari issued this baffling response: ""There''s no question that the regime has an appalling human rights record. But what we don''t want to see for Iraq or any other country is that the human rights record is used selectively in order to achieve political goals.""

George Orwell once wrote ""The truth, it is felt, becomes untruth when your enemy utters it"…There was even a tendency to feel that the Nanking atrocities had become, as it were, retrospectively untrue because the British Government now drew attention to them."" Orwell was a leftist who took a bullet in the neck fighting fascists in Spain. Writing to his appeasement-minded comrades in Britain, he reminded them of the atrocities in Europe and said ""These things really happened, that is the thing to keep one's eye on. They happened even though Lord Halifax said they happened.""

We got more of this during the Cold War. Ronald Reagan was laughed out of the room for denouncing the Soviet Union as the ""Evil Empire."" That the Soviet Union was an empire is without question. It was animated by an expansionist ideology, it invaded and conquered its neighbors, and it fomented revolutions abroad to drag more countries into its orbit. That the Soviet Union was evil is crashingly obvious, given that its victims outnumber Hitler's by an order of magnitude. But even Reagan's staunchest anti-communist opponents yammered on about his ""simplistic"" characterization of the Soviets.

If Hillary Clinton were to go on television tomorrow and refer to the former Stalinist state as evil, would any liberal intellectual denounce her as a loose cannon or a wing nut? Of course not.

I can't count the number of conversations I have with liberal friends and colleagues that go something like this:

Him or Her: Isn't it strange that you're a liberal and you agree with Bush on the war?

Me: Well, what are you doing on the same side as Pat Buchanan?

Him or Her: (Laughs)

They laugh because they know I've got them. No matter your opinion on Iraq, you have unlikely allies. On the one hand, so what? You're either right or you aren't, regardless of who else agrees. On the other hand, if this sort of thing matters to you, isn't it better to have the so-called lesser evil as your unlikely bedfellow than the greater evil? Isn't Bush preferable to Buchanan? And wouldn't you rather have the Iraqi revolutionaries on your side than the fascist tyrant himself?

For decades now, Western liberals and leftists were the strongest and often only advocates of Kurdish liberation in the Middle East. Today – finally! – conservative Americans are taking an interest in liberating the Kurds, and the rest of the Iraqis, both for national security reasons and as a good cause in its own right. And the hard left, reactionary as it is, forgets the Kurds even exist. Whatever America touches is befouled, leftists think, so they're out.

Unlike leftists, liberals know better. They supported, nay agitated, for invasion and regime-change in Serbia. Without American liberals, Slobo's rampage would have exterminated the Muslims of Europe. The American intervention in the Balkans was launched unilaterally, without UN authorization, while nuanced European sophisticates scrambled to Slobo's defense. Europe still thinks it impolite to root out the thugs in their bolt-holes in the Balkans.

Barham Salih, Prime Minister of the precarious Kurdish government in Northern Iraq, recently told Salon magazine, ""I hope many of my human-rights activists and liberal friends who were on our side will engage in this debate and articulate their vision as forcefully as some of the other friends."" Note the phrase ""were on our side."" He still calls these people his friends. Mr. Salih is too polite. His ""friends"" sold him out to Saddam for low-rent back-alley partisan points at home, and he's okay with that. Actually, he's not okay with it, but he is awfully gracious about it, especially since this is part of a larger pattern of betrayal.

The first president Bush was rightly criticized for abandoning the Iraqis to their deaths at the hands of Saddam after the Gulf War. And rather than side with the current Bush Administration, the American left tragically and stupidly replicates the first President Bush's error. They will let their old friends be massacred before even quietly going along with the Bush Administration.

Mainstream liberals not mired in the fever swamps of hate-America leftism have no business chumming it up with this crowd. The Bush Administration and the liberal human rights organizations have much more in common with each other than either will admit. Each may scoff at the suggestion, and counter with the claim that the human rights organizations are opposed to the unilateral use of force. But this is nonsense. They weren't opposed to a unilateral war against Slobo; they rightly demanded it.

Many liberal intellectuals are natural allies of the Bush Adminstration, and they know it. Paul Berman says ""If their language is sincere and there is an idealism among the neo-cons that echoes and reflects in some way the language of the liberal interventionists of the 90''s, well, that would be a good thing.""

This is what separates grown-up liberals from reactionaries and partisan opportunists, who still see America as engaging in a trivial struggle between Democrats and Republicans, rather than America itself engaging in a titanic struggle against theocratic fascism. But Berman still won't get on board, even though he wants to. Why? ""Because,"" he says, ""I don''t actually know -- I believe that no one actually knows -- what is the actual White House policy."" In the New York Times George Packer describes Berman as being ""in the familiar position of intellectuals, with an arsenal of ideas and no way to deploy them.""

Get over it, Paul! Roosevelt and Churchill were willing to work with Stalin, of all people, to take down Hitler's Germany. And you think Bush is beyond the pale? The White House policy could not possibly be more clear to anyone paying attention. And if the Administration has other ideas which you don't share, so what? How important do you think such philosophical abstractions are to an Iraqi peasant, desperate for intervention, whose family was gassed by Saddam?

It seems that liberal intellectuals need permission or ideological cover to agree with Bush on anything. If enough others go along, as they did in support of the war in Afghanistan, it's okay. They won't feel like partisan traitors, and their liberal credentials won't be questioned.

So, here here, folks. All you Bosnia interventionists, hawkish anti-Taliban feminists, grown-up human rights activists, and would-be hawks-if-only-Gore-were-leading-the-charge, listen up. Like you, I'm a registered Democrat. And I stand unflinchingly against Saddam and with all the democratic forces in the world poised to depose him. Have a stiff drink, give the Bushophobia a break, and get over here. It really is okay. Only the jerks on the fringe will call you a traitor or a right-wing extremist. There are plenty of others from the Democratic Party and the left here already. Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, Ron Rosenbaum, Thomas Friedman, Steven Spielberg, Camile Paglia, Arianna Fallaci, Oprah Winfrey, Dan Savage, the ""War Liberal"" blogger, Bob Kerrey, Gary Hart, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Zell Miller, Kenneth Pollack, the staff of The New Republic magazine, and even last year's Al Gore model. If foreigners count, throw in Vaclav Havel, Shimon Peres, and Tony Blair as well.

You folks just can't get over the fact that Bush is unsophisticated. You dug yourselves a mighty deep hole in the ground. I understand the dilemma. If you change your mind on Iraq now, it raises an awkward question. How could a dumb guy like Bush figure it out before the smart set? This is a good time to remember the First Rule of Holes. When you're in one, stop digging.

If you don't join us now, when Saddam's regime falls and Iraqis cheer the US Marines, you are really going to feel like a jackass. And your jackassery will be exposed beneath klieg lights for all to see. Remember the Chomskyites who got everything wrong in Afghanistan? Remember the Europeans who wanted to give the Butcher in Belgrade one more chance? That is not where you want to be right now. The liberation of Iraq and the democratic transformation of the Middle East is the most progressive cause in the world today. It is the right side of history, and if you stand in the way or sit on the sidelines, your liberal humanitarian credentials are toast.

Michael J. Totten is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Email him at mike.totten@netiq.com.

"Gaald" wrote:

A politician who is not afraid to use his brain and than speak the truth. I am shocked!

I hope he isn''t the only one out there.

Actually, if he really spoke his mind, his speach would''ve been littered with ""White power"" and Nazi salutes.

Interesting article Ulairi, but it spends a lot more time pointing fingers and calling names than positing a good case for war. It''s about far more than humanitarianism (else we''d be all over places like Sierra Leon). That article falls into the same trap I hear over and over again of lumping liberals or conservatives into a single grooup that speaks with one mind and one voice. Just not the case. I grant to you that a lot of people (equally, on both sides) play the ''my guy''/''your guy'' game, and largely I think they''re pretty much all worth ignoring when positing their ill-conceived stance. Are there shallow anti-war arguments? Hell yeah, and those are as pointless and devisive as the exact equal number of shallow pro-war arguments.

But, most of the people don''t like America. Not our current policy but what America is. They would rather America become a socialist state.

I categorically disagree with you here. I think, and I attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison for a brief period so I''ve got some first hand experience, your perspective has been colored by the University environment. I don''t mean to besmirch the college anti-war rallies, but largely they''re just trash. People oppose, or support, with no real perception of how or why they''ve come to their conclusions. I don''t think genuine opposition to this war is comparable to that perspective ... it certainly isn''t for me. Like I said before, I''ve seen just as many people (in my perception, more) who support this war act anti-American as I''ve seen who are against it.

From the article we get....

While it is unlikely that leftists would have supported the war against the Taliban if Hillary Clinton waged it, it is almost certainly true that most mainstream liberals would support the war in Iraq if she were leading the charge against Saddam now. With only one exception, every anti-war liberal I have talked to admits this is true.

Then this guy is talking to idiots ... again possibly college idiots. _Who_ wages the war (Bush or Clinton) is ridiculously irrelevant. And again, it misses the point, because there are just as many people who support war _because_ Bush is waging it and would oppose if Clinton were in office. These people cancel each other out in an intelligent conversation, so I reject this argument out of hand. Considering this writer''s determination to stick with this point, that doesn''t leave much argument left.

Yesterday''s liberal interventionists, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti, are today''s liberal abstentionists. What changed?

Oh, only about a half dozen things. One, the scope. Two, international support for intervention. Three, instability of the surrounding region. Four, the presence of sanctioned and established methods for handling this country and its leader. Five, and so on and so on. Claiming Iraq is the same as Bosnia is as insipid as claiming that it''s analogous to North Korea.

Instead, Amnsesty's Kamal Samari issued this baffling response: ""There''s no question that the regime has an appalling human rights record. But what we don''t want to see for Iraq or any other country is that the human rights record is used selectively in order to achieve political goals.""

Baffling only to someone who refuses to see the point. The argument is that Bush has little genuine interest in humanitarian aid, else his record would be significantly different. For example, he would be more interested in persuing the atrocities of places like Sierra Leon, Central Africa, China, and a host of others. Samari is saying that Bush is only giving lip service to the Human Rights angle as a case for war without any genuine movement or plan to follow-up. I think, if you investigated further, you''d find that Samari supports the improvement of Human Rights in Iraq, but not through war.

Then there''s some stuff about Orwell and Reagan which appears irrelevant. Then more what ifs about Hillary Clinton (a name which apparently enflames some people so much that you can take a hypothetical argument, attach her name to it, and gain points in credibility). Again, it''s devisive tripe with no actual argument. But here comes my favorite part!

Him or Her: Isn't it strange that you're a liberal and you agree with Bush on the war?

Me: Well, what are you doing on the same side as Pat Buchanan?

Him or Her: (Laughs)

Good One! You know Hitler and I both breathe air to oxidize our blood. We must be identical! How does Pat Buchanan''s opposition to war have absolutely anything to do with anything? I think he''s trying to push the point that the only reason some argue against war is because they don''t like Bush. It''s like he can''t conceive of any other possibility, and so he''s going to drop names at me until I relent (possibly from boredom).

Whatever America touches is befouled, leftists think, so they're out.

Is this an argument? Is this even intelligent?

The American intervention in the Balkans was launched unilaterally, without UN authorization, while nuanced European sophisticates scrambled to Slobo's defense.

Not really true, and not analogous.

This is what separates grown-up liberals from reactionaries and partisan opportunists, who still see America as engaging in a trivial struggle between Democrats and Republicans,

I''d like a big bowl full of irony please. Thank you.

So, here here, folks. All you Bosnia interventionists, hawkish anti-Taliban feminists, grown-up human rights activists, and would-be hawks-if-only-Gore-were-leading-the-charge, listen up.

Nicely turned phrase of unmitigated crap.

If you don't join us now, when Saddam's regime falls and Iraqis cheer the US Marines, you are really going to feel like a jackass.

It has nothing to do with whether we''d win. It''s the consequences of winning that many ""liberal intellectuals"" worry about, or worse still the absolute possiblity that we might not win. Regional instability, increasing anti-american sentiment in the world, legitimacy, and a dozen other reasons are all reasonable arguments against launching a unilateral war in opposition to the majority of the world powers.

The liberation of Iraq and the democratic transformation of the Middle East is the most progressive cause in the world today.

Priceless. He takes it for granted that removing Saddam will by default lead to democratization of the region. Even staunch supporters of the war, those with a clue, admit this is fantasy at best.

It seems like this article takes the position that there are only 2 reasons to be opposed to war, 1) you don''t like Bush, and 2) for ideological humanitarian concerns. 1 is so immenently stupid as to be immediately dismissed. I''m not saying it''s not the reason _some_ people are opposed to war, but they''re pretty much worth ignoring as well. 2 is trickier, but disingenuous for both sides. First, a humanitarian mission does not consider war a first option. In the Kosovo example, this author is so enamored with, a UN mission led by several allied countries led a limited engagement on a humanitarian mission. They''re just not even close to the same thing, but even still France and Germany (the Axis of Weasels), have a similar idea to our Kosovo approach and support a UN Peacekeeping force to be deployed along with expanded Weapons Inspectors. War is not the first and only answer. He keeps drawing Belgrade into the picture as if it''s the same situation, which, I think, is pretty funny.

Now, Ulairi, I''m not actually arguing with you here. But to some up my feeling on the article you posted. Well...

His speech has many factual inaccuriaces for me to point out.

I don''t support war because, right now, there are viable options in dealing with Iraq and Saddam. There is no hard evidence that Iraq has a VX or a Nuclear program. A lot of people like to say that it''s an unquestioned fact, but from what I can tell, that''s just something people like to say. I support America''s place in a world alliance, and I don''t think war should be waged when 3 out of 5 Security Council members are against action. There is significant instability in the Middle East, and a war against Iraq will only destabilize an increasingly dangerous situation. A war in Iraq will not magically create democracy. The US has a poor history of supporting countries following invasion. The administration is entrenched in its position, has taken to calling those with grievances names, and is inflexible to peaceful, diplomatic, or limited solutions. The US is in a time of economic crisis, the president has proposed a trillion dollar deficit which does not include the prospect of war, so we really can''t afford it. Humanitarian efforts are not best made with a gun, and a full scale war is not really in the interests of humanitarian efforts. Iraq is not in a position to threaten its neighbors, and rumors of Al Qaeda connections are sketchy and lack evidence. Iraq is a sovereign nation, is recognized by the UN, and is not analogous to the situation in Haiti or Kosovo. That''s just a few of the reasons I''m increasingly against this war off the top of my head. I''m sure I''ve forgotten a dozen or so other reasons, but there are so many, sometimes it''s hard to keep them all straight.

Now this is just BS. This war has had more debate than any other war in our history. We''ve been talking about it for over a year.

And I''d expect there to be more, not less, debate in the Congress now. We''ve been talking about it for a year, but in an official capacity, they''ve only talked about it for a few weeks. Further, the only reason we''ve been talking about it for a year, is because a year ago, the administration leaked its timetable for war. Further, do you really think this war has had more debate than, WW2, or the Vietnam war? Really?

Again, Ulairi, I''m not really taking you to task for being in favor of action. I get the impression that you''ve thought about it, and come to a rational conclusion. Actually, I take your position far more seriously than the position of the article.

This is pretty much all I''m going to say on the matter. I will remind everyone to keep a civil tongue. I''ll be watching this thread pretty closely.

- Elysium

edit: on a final note, I will say there''s not much else I agree with Byrd on. But, like I said before, I''m addressing the idea, not the man. I can agree with Byrd''s position on war without supporting his position on everything else.

Where you do guys keep up with all this stuff? I find myself wanting to know more, reading your opinions, and realizing how uninformed my opinion is. (I dont like war, because it seems like hes pushing it, with no evidence and nobody else wanting to join in. Thats pretty much my whole argument)

Anyways, got any websites I can read about this stuff? I usually scan google news a few times a day, but thats about it.

"Pyroman[FO" wrote:

""]Where you do guys keep up with all this stuff? I find myself wanting to know more, reading your opinions, and realizing how uninformed my opinion is. (I dont like war, because it seems like hes pushing it, with no evidence and nobody else wanting to join in. Thats pretty much my whole argument)

Wow. You are in the dark. 34 nations support the US now. NATO voted 18-0 to protect Turkey for the war (barring the French). So it''s not the US versus the world or anything.

Anyways, got any websites I can read about this stuff? I usually scan google news a few times a day, but thats about it.

Following the news is good. I read the American and UK papers. If you want to read any books the ""Threating Storm"" and ""War over Iraq"" are both very good books on the subject.

Well, I read Mexican newspapers, and online newspapers from Spain and Argentina (I have family in those countries).

The word at all times is that yes, besides England, the US is going at it alone, and the anti-americanism grows all over the world and peace protests and blah blah. Mexico is against the war officially, so is Argentina(I saw some nasty american flag burning there on TV), and Spain''s people at least - They seem to have problems with President Aznar, saying he''s bending over for W. Bush. I''ve not seen any mention of 34 countries supporting the US. Newspapers have only reported that Germany is against, France, etc. etc.

Also, I have to side with Elysium here. I do not know anything about this Senator Byrd, but the ideas he puts forth in that speech are worth considering.

That''s all from my side

I agree with Ulairi, Pyro, there''s no where you can look right now without hearing discussion about this. The trick is to find intelligent commentary, and that''s not an easy thing to track down. I''d avoid the mass media, as it''s relatively uninformed with its perpetual attempts to dissolve war rhetoric down to soundbytes, while at the same time I''d avoid most webpages as they''re almost always biased, woefully uninformed, and willing to make up arguments if they don''t have any based on fact. I tend to listen to people I trust, or who I believe don''t have a biased stake in war. I listened to Hanz Blix speak before the UN, and I listened to Colin Powell. I check in with BBC, French, and German news sites to get a non-American perspective. I listen to the President, but he doesn''t seem to do much besides spout rhetoric on the topic. I listen to NPR''s Talk of the Nation from time to time. Mostly, when I listen to people talk, I try to think critically about whether they''re constructing reasonable arguments, or simply enflaming people''s passions and avoiding issues. The trick is, to listen critically to both sides. Doubt those who disagree with you, but doubt those who agree with you even more. Impartiality is impossible, but if you don''t assume that everyone who has the same opinion as you is correct by default, you''ve got a better shot of forming an objective opinion than 99% of the people you meet every day.

- Elysium

First off I would like to point out that I am Canadian and I don''t pay much attention to who is who in the american political world.

Secondly I would like to point out that no where in my statment posted earlier did I say I respected Byrd as a person and thought he was a great guy. I only ""said he used his brain and spoke the truth."" I guess I should have said he spoke the truth as far as I know it.

Thirdly any one who sees war as the ultimate solution to a problem is someone I feel sorry for. They cause more problems than they cure, and a lot of innocent people will die in the process on both sides.

Don''t get me wrong, I am not stating that war is never necessary but from what I have seen and read about America''s push to start this thing, no one has ever been able to say here is concrete proof that we need to do something now! I think that is why there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way.

"Mex" wrote:

Well, I read Mexican newspapers, and online newspapers from Spain and Argentina (I have family in those countries).

The word at all times is that yes, besides England, the US is going at it alone, and the anti-americanism grows all over the world and peace protests and blah blah. Mexico is against the war officially, so is Argentina(I saw some nasty american flag burning there on TV), and Spain''s people at least - They seem to have problems with President Aznar, saying he''s bending over for W. Bush. I''ve not seen any mention of 34 countries supporting the US. Newspapers have only reported that Germany is against, France, etc. etc.

Also, I have to side with Elysium here. I do not know anything about this Senator Byrd, but the ideas he puts forth in that speech are worth considering.

That''s all from my side :D

Globalsecurity.org has the list. It''s up to 34 nations and I don''t pay much attention to the population of any country. The population in Europe didn''t want us placing missles in Europe but it brought down the wall.

Thirdly any one who sees war as the ultimate solution to a problem is someone I feel sorry for. They cause more problems than they cure, and a lot of innocent people will die in the process on both sides.

See here is what I differ. I think the only way we can stop the Islamo-Facists is to rebuild the Middle-east. I know that in the short term it will help recruit terrorists but in the long term we''ll be much better off. We can''t prop up the Governments that starve their own people, torture their people, and do other horrible things. Saddam should be a war criminal. I truely believe that we should not call it a ""war on terror"" since we can never stop terror. I think we should fight islamo-facisism and to do that we need to go to war with the hardline middle-eastern countries.

Don''t get me wrong, I am not stating that war is never necessary but from what I have seen and read about America''s push to start this thing, no one has ever been able to say here is concrete proof that we need to do something now! I think that is why there are a lot of people out there who feel the same way.

North Korea. Our options are limited with North Korea because they can level an entire city in minutes. The weapons are of war are far too powerful to wait for them to be used. As soon as one WMD is used anywhere nuclear weaspons will be used. The world we know will be dead. That is what I want to stop. We can no longer put our heads in the sand and leave thugs alone.

I''m ""out there"" when it comes to this, I know. If I don''t get a job in game development when I''m done with school I will be joining the Navy, so I''m not an arm chair warrior.

I write this to protest against all those people who oppose the war against Saddam Hussein, or as they call it, the ""war against Iraq"". I am an Iraqi doctor, I worked in the Iraqi army for six years during Iraq-Iran war and four months during Gulf war. All my family still live in Iraq. I am an Arab Sunni, not Kurdish or Shia. I am an ordinary Iraqi not involved with the Iraqi opposition outside Iraq.
I am so frustrated by the appalling views of most of the British people, media and politicians. I want to say to all these people who are against the possible war, that if you think by doing so you are serving the interests of Iraqi people or saving them, you are not. You are effectively saving Saddam. You are depriving the Iraqi people of probably their last real chance get rid of him and to get out of this dark era in their history.

My family and almost all Iraqi families will feel hurt and anger when Saddam''s media shows on the TV, with great happiness, parts of Saturday''s demonstration in London. But where were you when thousands of Iraqi people were killed by Saddam''s forces at the end of the Gulf war to crush the uprising? Only now when the war is to reach Saddam has everybody become so concerned about the human life in Iraq.

Where were you while Saddam has been killing thousands of Iraqis since the early 70s? And where are you are now, given that every week he executes people through the ""court of revolution"", a summary secret court run by the secret security office. Most of its sentences are executions which Saddam himself signs.

I could argue one by one against your reasons for opposing this war. But just ask yourselves why, out of about 500,000 Iraqis in Britain, you will not find even 1,000 of them participating tomorrow? Your anti-war campaign has become mass hysteria and you are no longer able to see things properly.

Locum consultant neurologist, London

From the Guardian.

Wow, what a great thread. Without going too deep into my beliefs, out of fear of being flamed and branded, I would like to try to contribute a tiny bit. I don''t want to get into the ""war is hell"" debate, I think we all (GWJ''ers) truly know the consequences of war.

I''ll try to paraphrase what Sen. McCain said this morning on, I believe it was ""Face the Nation"" or one of those shows.

And I paraphrase:

God bless the Americans who are protesting the war, it is our right to do this, but please don''t protest on the behalf of the Iraqi people. Saddam has killed and tortured more people than have protested in these past few days. He is one of the worst dictators we have ever seen and not confronting him has in essence invalidated the UN security council. He has for the past 12 years defied every single UN sanction levied, which in itself is justification for more severe action.

End Paraphrase.

Hopefully I was able to get his point across.

Now I''m going to briefly chime in on what I think: Do I want a war? Hell No. Am I willing to go to war? Yes.

We are talking about a very evil man (evil doer!! Sorry, had to put a Bushism in there ). There can be no doubt by anyone that the man is a horrible, horrible dictator. The French (not that I''m giving them any leverage here) would be more supportive of this if they didn''t have a sweetheart deal with Iraq for their oil, and the German gov''t. (who has troops in Kosovo and Afghanistan helping us, as in the USA) would as well if the new chancellor didn''t just win an election on an anti American platform.

Is war the answer? I''m not sure. I have friends and relatives in the military so I understand the consequences of war, as do they. I do not want to go to war, but I''m not sure what the next step is. Iraq has had years to comply with simple rules, yet has spit in the face of the UN, and how have they been punished for this? They haven''t. More inspections and more time is not the answer. They are playing games, and even the most stout anti-war protestor has to see this. So I''m not sure what the next step is, but I really wanted to pitch into this debate a tad.

And lastly, all politics are local. I was told this by a professor once and it''s so true. It was touched upon briefly in a previous thread, but lets not forget the stupid politics being played here by everyone.

Pyroman[FO],

I can''t recommend The Threatening Storm enough. Like yourself I felt pretty ignorant on the subject, still do, but Pollack''s book makes for a great foundation to start educating yourself with.

My own postion, to be honest, is still a bit foggy. I do think that ultimately war is what it''s going to come to. I won''t say that I''m anti-war, but I do believe war should be the absolute last resort, and that dosen''t seem to be the case just yet.

I think part of the problem in all of this is the way Bush and the administration have handled things. As much as anything they have come across, to me, as a bunch of bullies pissed off about not getting their way. And IMHO they just really haven''t made their case for war yet. Pollack''s book has did a better job of that for me than my government.

Anyway that''s just my thought''s on things as they stand. I do enjoy reading everyone else''s thought''s on the matter though as it helps clarify my own feeling''s a little bit. Especially when things stay civil.

Well here is another question than. What gives the U.S. the right to say who gets to live and who gets to die. Why are they the ones who have to right the wrongs across all the world. I didn''t ask them to do it. What happens if the U.S. does go to war and they win. Does it stop there? If not who is next after that and than who else after that. There will always be somebody else who should be taken care of if you go down that road.

I could understand why after 9/11 the U.S. retaliated and tried to eliminate the people they felt were responsible, but now I feel they are using that same excuse to go after other objectives.

You want to stop so called ""Islamo-facists"", than get off thier land like they have been demanding the U.S. do for years. Don''t forget why they got pissed off at the U.S. in the first place. I think that is another solution to the problem besides going to war. Is it a better one I don''t know but at least it is another possibility.

You start an all out war with people who are willing to do terrorism, you won''t stop it you will just breed more of it. I have to admit today terrorism is bad we have seen a lot of horrible things taking place, but just consider how much worse it will be with the next generation and those after that.

The population in Europe didn''t want us placing missles in Europe but it brought down the wall.

I''m sorry, but that''s just dumb. It''s been the people to overcome the government of the GDR, weapons did do jacksh*t here. And people stood up in the GDR and the like because they were tired of their own personal situation, because of the conditions they were living under. This didn''t have anything to do with the feel of threat through weapons or something like that. It''s not like people expected WWIII to show up in 1989. You''re certainly no expert on Europe.

Wow, wait wait, I''ve done a (not too extensive) study on this very matter and in contradiction to what you guys believe it actually was NATO''s rising conventional military might that had the biggest influence in ending the cold war.
In the late nineteen-seventies NATO began to introduce weaponsystems that challenged the soviets on the only fields of battle they could hope to dominate: Central Europe and the North Atlantic. The only chance the reds had on ''winning'' the cold war was maintaining and maybe even using their military might to eventually dominate Europe. To do so they initiated huge weapons programs in the ''60s and ''70s that increased their already impressive arsenal. To counter this threat NATO used primarily ''tactical'' (a nuke is a nuke) nuclear weapons to maintain balance in Europe.
When technologically advanced systems like the Apache, Abrams MBT or all the new Airforce planes began to get fielded the only monopoly of the Warsawpact, their conventional superiority, was suddenly challenged by the high-tech hard-hitting machine that particularely the US was to become. One only has to look at the ''91 Gulf War to see what modern technology can do to outdated soviet systems and don''t forget that most eastern block countries had a military that could be roughly compared to Iraq back then.

You tend to ignore though that the Wall was torn down from the Eastern side. Not by the goverments. It''s been by the people. The NATO weapon actions having an influence on the whole process might be a legitimate assumption, however, it is not a given fact or something. Would you really say that things wouldn''t have taken the same way in the long run without that as well? Absolutely? People in the GDR stood up because they didn''t want to take the conditions they''re living under anymore. And we''re talking about political conditions here. It''s not like they couldn''t afford food and had to live in slums (and had you ever been to the GDR, you would agree). It''s been the same general restrictions there always had been before every since 1961 (even stricter until mid of 80s). It just is that many of the younger (post-WWII) generation weren''t willing to accept those anymore.

It''s up to 34 nations and I don''t pay much attention to the population of any country. The population in Europe didn''t want us placing missles in Europe but it brought down the wall.

What''s the point? We''re talking about entirely different situations here. In 1982 most of the population were against further weapon installations, whereas the goverments (including the German one) was on the side of the US. This is not the case here. We''re not talking about Cold War.

I think the only way we can stop the Islamo-Facists is to rebuild the Middle-east.

You mean like in Afghanistan? Er... I forgot that the current government basically has no control on what''s going on outside of Khabul as it is the local warlords to have the power there. If you look closer at what''s going on there you''ll see that it is about to get back to the same (terrorist) conditions as before - just without the Taliban ruling the country.

We can''t prop up the Governments that starve their own people, torture their people, and do other horrible things.

I don''t see the US threatening Nigeria. Or other African or Asian countries.

Look I was talking of the deeper reasons behind the end of the cold war, when the Ruski''s found out they couldn''t beat NATO anymore (indeed around ''82) they sort off gave up on the military and started to change the whole government spending system. That was when they found out that they were running a bankrupt nation, I account that to the inherent flaws of communism, not to NATO''s great strength or something. Fact is though that with the build-up of NATO conventional forces the USSR didn''t have the chance of gaining quick advantage on the battlefield. What do you think this bankrupt nation with military superiority would have done when they had not been challenged by an equal force? I think we only have to look (again) at the ''91 Gulf War. I know it is kind of vague and maybe a bit farfetched but when the economic crisis hit the eastern block, and it hit hard, they had no chance of neutralising it by winning a war and dominating Europe. On the geostrategic front, NATO built their own wall around the eastern block to prevent any aggression towards the west and make the soviets turn inwards to face their problems. No quick escape with a war, no chance of neutralising NATO and grabbing oil, if it was intentional or not, the conventional build-up rapidly intensified the scope of the ruski''s economical problems. All this happened waaay before there were even signs of rising discomfort amongst the civilians in the communist countries, I think it is one of the deeper reasons behind the fall of the wall.

You mean like in Afghanistan? Er... I forgot that the current government basically has no control on what''s going on outside of Khabul as it is the local warlords to have the power there. If you look closer at what''s going on there you''ll see that it is about to get back to the same (terrorist) conditions as before - just without the Taliban ruling the country.

Afghanistan is very different from Iraq and you''re not saying that Afghanistan isn''t better than it was unber the Taliben are you? We''ve been in Korea for fifty years and in Afghanistan for one.

What defeated the Russians was trying t compete with the Americans. We could build more weapons than they could, the United States bankrupted the nation.

Well here is another question than. What gives the U.S. the right to say who gets to live and who gets to die. Why are they the ones who have to right the wrongs across all the world. I didn''t ask them to do it. What happens if the U.S. does go to war and they win. Does it stop there? If not who is next after that and than who else after that. There will always be somebody else who should be taken care of if you go down that road.

No it doesn''t stop there. This has been clear from day one that defeating the Taliben would not end the war.

I could understand why after 9/11 the U.S. retaliated and tried to eliminate the people they felt were responsible, but now I feel they are using that same excuse to go after other objectives.

Saddam supports terrorist.

You want to stop so called ""Islamo-facists"", than get off thier land like they have been demanding the U.S. do for years. Don''t forget why they got pissed off at the U.S. in the first place. I think that is another solution to the problem besides going to war. Is it a better one I don''t know but at least it is another possibility.

Apeasement doesn''t work. Haven''t we learned that already? What you''re saying is ""don''t resist them because that will make people who already hate you man."" It won''t solve the root problem of terrorism and it will only get worse.

You start an all out war with people who are willing to do terrorism, you won''t stop it you will just breed more of it. I have to admit today terrorism is bad we have seen a lot of horrible things taking place, but just consider how much worse it will be with the next generation and those after that.

I disagree.

What defeated the Russians was trying to compete with the Americans. We could build more weapons than they could, the United States bankrupted the nation.

Almost, it was more a matter of shifting the balance towards certain areas. For the US it was conventional weapons, for the Russians it was consumer products. Shows that you can''t sustain a heavy financial burden by the military indefinately. Its what killed off Nazi Germany and its what brought down the wall, trying to compete economically with big free-market countries. However, if the conventional build-up had come a few years later what would have happened? A bankrupt country with the biggest military in the world and enough nukes to blow up the planet but without anyone to stop it is like asking them to wage war. Indeed the US, no wait, the free-market economy coupled with strong military decisions, won the cold war for us.

Saddam supports terrorist.

And the US and British governments pathetically failed so far to prove any of their claims. If a speech directed to the Iraqi population which might or might not be from bin Laden is used as proof, you know someone''s desperate. Or copying a student''s take on the weapon production in the Iraq, like it was the case with a recent UK dossier. And let''s not forget which government supported Hussain (and Bin Laden) in the first place.

"JD" wrote:
Saddam supports terrorist.

And the US and British governments pathetically failed so far to prove any of their claims. If a speech directed to the Iraqi population which might or might not be from bin Laden is used as proof, you know someone''s desperate. Or copying a student''s take on the weapon production in the Iraq, like it was the case with a recent UK dossier. And let''s not forget which government supported Hussain (and Bin Laden) in the first place.

Al Queda isn''t the only terrorist group in the world. Saddam supports Hammas and groups like it. They have killed Americans.

Al Queda isn''t the only terrorist group in the world. Saddam supports Hammas and groups like it. They have killed Americans.

And how many have been killed by people who had US weapons in their hands? Iran/Iraq war comes to mind. And while we''re at it (Hamas), how many Palestinians got killed through equipment (and monetary support for that) provided by the US to Isreal?

So far so good guys, no fist fights have emerged and everyone seems to be putting some thought into their posts, that''s great!

I''m a little surprised you haven''t replied to Elysium''s posts Ulairi, you just skipped right over them

"Certis" wrote:

So far so good guys, no fist fights have emerged and everyone seems to be putting some thought into their posts, that''s great!

I''m a little surprised you haven''t replied to Elysium''s posts Ulairi, you just skipped right over them :wink:

I didn''t even notice the huge reply he made. I''ll respond to that next.