Monday, March 31, 2003

The Arab Street

Riled up. Hot boiling mad about something that is not excactly the truth. From what I'm seeing there is actually NOTHING the United States can do that would be right, including doing nothing. The problem is we have been "deamonized". What that basically means is what I said in the previous sentence -- we are just wrong, evil, bad no matter what we do or don't do. Saddam is our fault, but removing him by force is genocide or religicide. Applying diplomatic pressure with sanctions kills Iraqi children. Doing nothing allows the beast who (as it's already been established by the Arab street) is our problem to remain in power and keep his thumb squarely on his people and develop WMD to make the Arab hero he thinks he is (and apparently much of the Arab street does too) by perhaps wiping out most of the Israeli population or sicking Chem/Bio or at least dirty bombs on the U.S. via his own folks or convenient proxies like Al Quiada.

Ah, and that whole Israeli thing.... the West doesn't put it's point of view forward very well. I also kind of find it odd that the U.S. is expected to "solve" the Israel/Palestine problem, but of course everything we do is interference. I imagine anything short of saying that Israel no longer exists and it's all Palestine will be viewed as more "proof" that the U.S. is merely Zionism nationalized and empowered and we're all for our Jewish buddies in the Middle East taking over the entire middle east "From the Nile to the Euphrates" (apparently some Zionist version of "the 'Promised Land'"). Well, I can assure any open-minded person in the Middle East that the United States wants no part of any such thing, never has, and never will.

The way we do see it, though, is like this: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon... and the rest of the countries that most recently made up the Ottoman Empire (there were several empires before) were created in much the same way Israel was created. Some lines were drawn, admittedly arbitrarily and those lines are the source of much of the consternation in the mideast.... but none so much as the Palestine/Israel lines. At any rate, since they were created in the same manner, every middle eastern country had as much right to exist after WWI as any other, including Israel. But what happened the day after Israel became a soveriegn state? It was attacked by surrounding Arab countries.

Now let's review what would had happened if the Arabs had won. They would fully have expected that what was Israel would be the spoils of war, they would then control the area. They'd've re-drawn lines, and Israel would no longer exist... right? Anybody disagree with that?

But that's not what happened. Instead, Israel won, and took large chunks of territory from surrounding states that attacked it. Now remember what we just said: that had the Arab states that attacked Israel in the first place won that war, they would have expected to control what was once Israel and draw it right off the map as quickly and easily as the lines defining Iraq were drawn after WWI. The opposite happened. Israel expanded it's territory to include territory that was "won" from the attacking nations. But, they were expected to give it back. Can anyone say "double-standard"? I know the Arab street is fond of that term, but I'll bet it doesn't apply to them in their minds.

Don't get my wrong. I have sympathy for the Palestinians. Oddly, the very attack by various Arab states in support of them actually put the Palestinians in the terrible plight they're in now. They had a state, and they lost it. Now there's this sort of Quasi-State administered by Israel, and not adminstered very well at that. If Israel truly wanted peace, they'd stop "settling" the West Bank & Gaza and if they wanted to be really manganamous, they'd pull back all the settlements altogether. I understand there's reasons -- perhaps even Zionist reasons they don't want to, but there's a couple other reasons why they can't, and it has to do with legitimizing the tactics the Palestinians have used to apply pressure on Israel to "give it back". And that's Terrorism. I have a whole 'nother rant on terrorism, and what the moral differences are between that and "freedom fighting". That'll come later.

But suffice it to say, Palestine would have a lot more friends in the west had it chosen to take what moral high ground it could and not blow civillians up on purpose to get attention.

Let's take a look at the oft-cited UN Resolution 242, in which Israel is supposed to pull out of all areas occupied (notice that it just says "armed forces"... hmmmm) -- having been taken by force in the wars that followed Israel's creation:

[...] Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

While the first part is what the Palestinians and Arabs demand, the second part is ignored by them. The Palestinans have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area ... which includes Israel. Again, look who's talking about double-standards.

So yes, the United States does often (but not all the time, we also put lots of pressure on them) back Israel. But it has nothing to do with being cohorts in Zionism. Perhaps if the Arab street could at least acknowledge the merits U.S.'s point of view and divorce itself from the idea that we somehow want to help the radical Zionists in their goals... there'd be more trust when we go into a place like Iraq to get rid of someone who everyone agrees is a bad guy and nobody else will lift a finger to get him and his just-as-dangerous sons ousted as well.

Saturday, March 29, 2003


Critics are now asserting that the Pentagon's war plan is "flawed". Well, surprise, surprise. EVERY plan has flaws. The idea of some sort of "perfect" plan for anything is an illusion. It's easy to sit back and try to shoot down arguments based on this detail or that detail. This is why philsophical arguments typically never get anywhere. The person asserting the philosophy is constantly assailed by little pot-shots at this or that and ends up bogging the argument down in the details of explanation instead of the overall context the philosopher is trying to paint.

Guess what? Saddam's plan is flawed, too.

The left is quite eager to paint this as some sort of morality play where the Bush administration is somehow punished for it's "rush" to an "illegal" war without the sanctity of U.N. approval. They refuse to even consider the possibility that the U.N. can be wrong, and the US acting anyway might be the Right Thing To Do.

Remember, if you tell your kid 17 times to clean up his room and he consistently finds ways to keep not doing it, an 18th time appears no different to the child. If you see him pick up a toy or two and continues to dawdle and delay until you lose interest and go make him lunch or something, it's time to move in for a little spanking.

The fact of the matter is, I HOPE the press doesn't know the war plan, because if they do, you can be sure Saddam knows it as they've been blathering about it constantly for at least a month. Which, of course, would introduce intentional flaw making from Saddam's side. So here's an idea... if you know the war plan, shut up. If you don't know the war plan.... shut up. Let the professionals do what they've studied and trained to do.

Friday, March 28, 2003

The Press

Wow. Listening to the questions from the Press at press corp. briefings is quite revealing. They basically want someone in the military or the white house to say "Man, we really miscalculated the resistance." and "the enemy is stronger than we thought." I mean, they are hammering relentlessly to get some sort of "admission" that the US was somehow ill-prepared, even cocky. The reason they aren't going to get one probably has less to do with any sort of cover-up than it has to do with what the white house KNOWS will be the spin put on any comment that even suggests that they weren't 100% prepared. Just look at most of the headlines around the world. To read them, you'd think the coalition forces were retreating to Kuwait, firing up the engines on the boats and getting the hell out of Dodge because everything is going wrong! -- when the truth is, everything isn't going right, but most things pretty much are. And who in their right mind expected everything to go right?

There are two reasons for this, in my view. Probably the most important one is that the press by and large, despite their rantings to the contrary, has a definite liberal bias. And part of the liberal creed is an anti-war stance in general. They want to be able to say "hey, if you were wrong about what you thought you were getting into, that means you were wrong about ...." 1) being justified without the UN, 2) going in in the first place, 3) the desire of the Iraqi people to be liberated, 4) the existence of WMD, 5) the threat of Saddam in the first place... 6) insert whatever else you want the administration to be wrong about, right on down to dragging up the question of whether or not Bush "really" won the election. It's almost an ideologue that says, "if you're wrong about one thing, then I don't have to believe anything you say. Ever." Which, of course, is bunk.

Another reason which probably shouldn't be trivialized because it is so deeply a part of human nature is - the Underdog doing better than expected is in fact one of the most compelling underlying stories anywhere there is humanity, doubly so where there is oppressed or impoverished humanity. Who doesn't root for underdogs (except for their favorite teams) in say, the NCAA tournament, or any sports for that matter? And who is more oppressed and impoverished than --- well, most of the Middle East save the ruling classes? Gives you a little insight into SOME of what's behind the Anti-Americanism in that part of the world, especially when it is one of their neighbors that is the underdog.

But, sorry, no matter how underdogged these bad guys ever were, I always rooted for Superman over Luther, Batman over the Joker, He Man over Skeletor.... you see where I'm going. Might doesn't make right, but when right has might, it certainly is a Very Good Thing. And for those of you out there who say "Saddam is Bad, but...", "there are other ways besides war...", I ask "what other ways?" Give Peace a Chance? Give me a good argument that there is another way to get rid of Saddam Hussein without going off on tangents about sanctions killing millions of Iraqi children (which ironically argues against one non-war solution) or the School of the Americas or Noriega and cover-ups at Area 51. And don't try to use the argument that "We put him there", either. Number one, if that's true then certainly it is our moral responsibility to take him out.... and number 2) were we really supposed to somehow divine what horrors this man would eventually perpetrate?

All about oil

Of course. Naturally. The United States is an evil imperialist nation. Actually, it looks more like we've been put in the position of responsibility for cleaning up a mess in the mideast leftover from past European imperialism. It really blows me away that we are expected to "solve" the Israel/Palestine problem. True, we have been consistent supporters of Israel over the years, but I will tell you a lot of it has to do with the tactics used against Israel. Terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians to incite terror in the population in the hope that the ones who live will pressure their governments into giving the groups using terrorism what they want. This is something that western sensibilities just won't tolerate. I would argue that the west, especially here in America and probably even in Israel -- would be much more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause if they used more Ghandiesque tactics.

Of course, if we wanted the oil in the middle east and we were actually the imperialist, genocidal, immoral nation the world seems to think we are, there's certainly nothing to stop us. A few nuclear bombs in the right spots, then we go in with radiation suits and put our wells where they need to be-- it's freakin' desert anyway... and put pipelines in place to carry it to safe port areas.... lots of oil, all ours. Mwwahahhahahahah! But we're not like that. We aren't perfect -- but we aren't like that.

If you still think it's about oil, and you've never second-guessed yourself or whoever told you it was... I'd suggest you read this to maybe help balance your opinion.... Blood for Oil? -- Jerry Taylor

Thursday, March 27, 2003

What's on my mind?

Well, of course war is on my mind -- I've thought about it a lot, the wherefores and the why's, and here we are in the middle of it. And what side do I come down on? Well, the pro-war side. Not that I'm a big fan of killing people, especially innocents, but more because the good reasons to go to war in this case out-weigh the good reasons not to (and there are always good reasons not to). I'm sure I'll do a lot more talking about that in the future... but today's rant is going to be on the bombing in the Shaab district where unfortunately somewhere between 14 and 20 people apparently died. I won't dispute that the fact that they died is a Very Bad Thing -- regardless of who caused it, but I have a couple of things to point out.

The US-led coalition has a huge incentive NOT to cause civilian casualties. We know it, and the Iraqi regime knows it. No decent person in the world wants to see it, and that includes George W. . Hussein's (if he is still alive) biggest weapon in this war is propaganda -- the propaganda of dead people. The more dead people on either side, the more anti-war pressure there will be. Everybody knows that all the way up to George W. And the regime leaders know that.

Therefore, if this tragedy was caused by a coalition bomb, it was indeed by some huge accident. Nobody is saying that a coalition bomb DIDN'T cause it, but to accept this as the most likely cause outright is highly unreasonable. The Iraqi regime has shown over the last 34 years a ruthlessness toward it's own people that has certainly been equaled in history but probably not surpassed. Is it so tough to believe that this regime might stage such an explosion during an air-raid as a huge propaganda tool? Or is it such a stretch to believe that it was Iraqi weapons that went awry? If it were a propaganda tool, it certainly could only have worked better if more people died.

Not only do civilian deaths not gain the coalition anything, they have a huge negative impact on the coalition war effort and the necessary good-will after the war is over that it will need. Why, then, would anyone be so eager to believe and accept the Iraqi explanation? Could it be because they are pre-disposed to blame America for all that is wrong in the world? It certainly isn't out of a spirit of fair-mindedness.