[percy-l] U.S. : Terrorist SuperPower?

Robert_Pauley at oxy.com Robert_Pauley at oxy.com
Thu Aug 25 00:58:29 EDT 2005

-----Original Message-----
From: percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Karey
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 6:28 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] U.S. : Terrorist SuperPower?

	See below:  

		----- Original Message ----- 
		From: Robert_Pauley at oxy.com 
		To: percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org 
		Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 8:23 PM
		Subject: Re: [percy-l] U.S. : Terrorist SuperPower?

		It is a direct reference to Julio Rivas-Pita's comment "that Mr. Bush, à la Hitler, invades countries using fake arguments" and to the fact that what, in retrospect, seems obviously misguided and even evil (Hitler's cause), often, at the time, seems to have many good points.  


		Still do not understand but like Tommy thoroughly reject the rather blithe and bogus "a la" connection to Hitler, or that the invasion was "obviously misguided." Though obvious to you, not to me. Or should I say that after two years I am not resolved on the "obviousness" of it. I also do not accept that the arguments were "fake." Some, the WMD, proved wrong or outdated, but this does not mean "fake," for they were attested to by most leaders of most nations and their intelligence services. I for one was not willing to concede the point to Hussein. He used those weapons, after all. 



		Ah, science is the foundation of our ethics and thought?   


		Perhaps my poor choice of word. But the "just war" theory is not exactly precise. (Incidentally, as a rule, Jimmy Carter is a form of obverse moral measurement to me. If he opposes something, I am inclined to believe it has value. Vice versa.) 



		Logical fallacy - just because other options are present, doesn't provide a logical refutation of the argument just presented.


		Correct, the number of arguments available doesn't or shouldn't necessarily discredit the one most recently presented. But that is really not the point. Different arguments, different interpretations of "just war" doctrine are available -- we tend to choose the ones which support our position. The question is, are they morally sound. I'll refute it another way. The argument against invading Hussein is to me morally incomplete. It is morally deficient. 




		What?  No other international criminal leaders in other countries?  No other genocidal maniacs?  In fact, there are dozens.  Why don't we take THEM out?  Why Saddam Hussein?  Think about it.


		Thanks, I've thought about it. Again, not the point. Indeed there are other genocidal maniacs. It would be nice to remove them all. In this case, there was a preponderance of reasons, including a US history of involvement, and the responsibility that goes along with that, as well as a national security interest, and a host of other compelling reasons. Was Clinton's decision to bomb the Balkans "just"? Certainly the reasons for invading Iraq which included stopping the slaughter of people far outweighed "simply" the slaughter of people as in Kosovo.



		Ten years ago, that war was over.


		Time is now a moral consideration? Perhaps it would be more persuasive if Hussein killed more of his people more recently?




		Again - no less than what has been done by dozens of dictators of less politically important countries.  When did Sudan become important? When oil was found nearby.  


		Did anyone see Dateline NBC's special on Uganda a couple of nights ago?  If we want to help, there are far worse and more chaotic places to help. But, oh wait, Uganda doesn't have any valuable national resources or political importance to the U.S.


		I see nothing wrong with including US national interest in the calculus of war. 




		Read "Follow the Uranium" before commenting further.  July 17 New York Times.


		Read "A Bomb in My Garden." And the NY Times no longer owns the moral authority to demand a suspension of my comments.




		And, what are we doing about North Korea by the way?


		Not enough.




		I am not incorrect - evidence abounds and I'm fairly certain any information I have is not classified - it's common knowledge.  In addition, my father was in charge of the Reserves in the South ten years ago and wrote a paper on their "unreadiness" to go to war that was roundly ignored.  The things that were done in Abu Ghraib were done also in Guatanemo Bay, and other places - and the ways they were done were similar in fashion and type to each other.  And if you don't want to accept that at face value, common sense tells you that is how all scandals work - and military scandals as well, and other than the fact that the Geneva Convention was denounced by the administration as "antiquated" and Senator Joe Biden chastized similar comments in Congress - saying his son was in the military - were he to become a prisoner, what would happen? 


		This is Chomsky's favorite line. "It's common knowledge." No, it is only common assumption among those who think they "know" the way it is with the scandals they would like to believe. There is no evidence this goes any higher than some incompetent and bad middle-level officers.  




		You are talking out of both sides of your mouth - one, you say it is horrible and not characteristic, then you say it really wasn't much of a bad thing at all.  The problem is people were trained and condoned, then blamed, for this when it became known and political.  Whatever happened to "the buck stops here"?


		No, I said it was brutish and obscene. Nor did I ever say there should be no accounting. But I repeat, in the historic scheme of wars, a scandal. 



		But wait, the terrorists weren't basing their camp and cause in Iraq!!  If there was an association there, it was only secondary or tertiary - after Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.  You have been "spun" if you are still associating the Iraq with 9/11 terrorists intent to wipe us from the face of the earth! 


		There were associations, the ones I cited, and yes there were also camps in northern Iraq. There is a greater issue here: the disposition of Iraq as Hussein aged. It made perfect sense to me to consider the vacuum created by his collapse, in addition to the threat we had every reason to believe was developing should he have acquired nuclear weaponry, as he was trying to do via North Korea. Should we have been content with continued inspections under Hans Blinx, which is what we allowed to happen in North Korea, also under Hans Blinx? Again, I have to be "spun" to believe that terrorists who received sanctuary in Iraq would not make use of a putative arms supplier in Hussein. How neat to extrapolate from the fact that the 9/11 terrorists did not have passports from Iraq that Iraq was free or would remain free of terrorists. 



		Read the book, then we can discuss it.  Before you determine it to be a postmodern rumination on gender deconstruction or some abstract navel-gazing, read it.   And it in fact relates to Percy's concerns and pursuits more than anything else in this conversation - the meaning of life - and key to the psychological motivations of most humans.


		I did read it, though not recently. It's fine to have theories about why people do things, and how we uncomprehendingly project our own shadows and unconscious, but I am not interested in how terrorism redounds to our unenlightened culture. Enlightened or not, it's ours, and I'm rather fond of it, and would like to preserve it for the outside chance of its improvement, and it is in imminent danger by those far less "enlightened," those who worship death. Or am I missing something? So far I have not heard a constructive distillation of Becker in service of the war on terror. I am more than happy to hear it. The "meaning of life," however, very much does pertain to all this. That is precisely what this war, and the wars to follow this war -- for surely there will be others -- will pertain to, perhaps as no conflicts in recent history have. 



		If we become like them, by engaging in their tactics and arguments, the problem multiplies.  This is true of individuals as well as nations.


		I don't believe I suggested "becoming like them" and frankly do not see how we have, or how we have engaged in their tactics and arguments. If you mean that by killing them we become "like them," then I accept the risk. Because I support killing them.



		You discuss, you talk, you converse, you deal, you understand, you listen, you meet needs on both sides.  Look at how we handled the end of WWI  vs. the end of WWII. And one determination of a "just war" is that it is always as a last resort.  The Just War doctrine you would like to portray as some abstract ineffective liberal agenda, but in fact, it is a reasonable and effective and practical way to determine when to go to war.  


		No, I don't believe in eschewing "just war" doctrines and debates. I simply don't agree with the view that this war was not just.



		No one at a top level in the Bush administration ever served time in combat - not Bush, not Cheney, not Rumsfeld, not Rice.  (Colin Powell did, but he is gone - I think for a reason.)   So, having never seen war, they can easily send other's sons and daughters to war - for abstract causes.  Who is the abstracted one now?  I imagine many or most of us teach in college - and many of our students have been soldiers.  I have many in my class who tell me what it is like over there - one woman retired after 25 years (why 25?  you retire after 20, for 1/2 your base pay, or 30 or 2/3 your base pay, but not 25) because of changing military polices and the situation in Iraq now (very dangerous, and more so every day.)


		FDR didn't serve time in combat either. I agree I would rather see presidents and their advisors who served, but it is not in itself a convincing argument for the justness or unjustness of a war.




		This has been said to be a war of "non-sacrifice" by America's citizens.  In WWII, we gave up things, and lifestyles, and people, to help the war.  We feel it not one bit here.  How is your life different from before the war, other than the content of your daily news (unless of course you have a son, daughter, or relative there).  What are you going to do to help preserve your culture?  


		I agree with you here. It is regrettable that we have not been asked to sacrifice. And I find it offensive that our president vacations while men and women are dying. I did not vote for George Bush and do not agree with his prosecution of the war. This is not to say I accept the absurd and hysterical calumny about him, or that I do not support the war.




		Either-or fallacy.  Oversimplification.  (You can tell I teach logic and critical thinking!!)


		Perhaps an oversimplification. But in my arguments with those who oppose the war I find a common element of disregard of the idea of war, almost a dismissiveness. That is, I rarely get the response that "yes, we are at war with people who have declared an intention to kill us, only I disagree with how we should fight this war. Here is how I believe we should fight it." Instead I get a "we see boogeymen" sort of argument. Now I'm sure there are those who accept the idea but not the methods, only I rarely run into them.  



		With whom?  Or is it an abstract?  Terrorism?  The comparison of Iraq has been made with the Vietnam war - both were wars against abstractions - the one, communism; the second, terrorism.


		If you choose to label "terrorism" as an abstraction, your choice. That all stopped for me when I saw a man's head sawed off. 



		I believe we will be for many years to come.  I also believe that within the next five years most of the world - with the possible exception of academia -- will understand this, to the point at which there will simply won't be too many articles about Abu Ghraibs, or WMDs, or fascist propagandists, or anything of the like. Not to say that there should not be. But it will be widely understood that we are in a war for the survival of all that we value and cherish in western civilization. 







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