This may be our biggest obstacle in this war. Certainly the Turkish concern is understandable, but I have strong doubts about their stated reasons for moving across the border. It's just inviting trouble. Let's hope "humanitarian aid" is really their intention.
The only thing stopping Bush from getting his hands on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, is the U.S. Senate. Thankfully, the Senate did the right thing and saved it from the hands of Exxon Mobil. The vote was close and quite partisan - only five Democrats voted for drilling, while eight Republicans voted against it - and ended with a 52-48 edge against the potentially environmentally destructive measure.
Freeing the U.S. from foreign oil is a noble goal, but what's its purpose? It seems that the reason we want to free ourselves from foreign oil is that realpolitik dominates our foreign relations in the Mideast. We are forced to play nice with regimes like Saudi Arabia in order to get their oil. We have to accept their lack of real human rights, their twisted Wahhabi Islam and any other evils that we otherwise would find intolerable. We are truly dependent on our needs and thus, on regimes that we would have included in our "Axis of Evil" if we weren't in dire need of their natural resources.
Being dependent on foreign oil isn't necessarily a bad thing. What is a bad thing is being dependent on the oil of nations that we otherwise would despise. This is, at least in the cynical anti-war view, the reason we are going to war, right? We are trying to control the oil directly instead of letting Arabs tell us their price. This is a war for oil.
Or so they would like you to believe. True, the conclusion of this war will undoubtably result in some benefits for American oil interests, but this war has larger aims than just oil. That is an after thought.
Oil from Iraq will allow us to lessen the grip Saudi Arabia and others have on us. We would then have greater leverage in our relations with otherwise corrupt regimes and could pressure them to reform and give their people greater personal liberties. The last thing we need to solve our energy crisis is to go and destroy a pristine wildlife sanctuary. We should instead be trying to free ourselves from corrupt relations with repressive governments and at the same time be working towards hybrid cars and developing useable alternative sources of energy that could revolutionize our relations with the world. This is our best option. We must develop the means to free ourselves from foreign oil by means that do not require destroying our own country.
Don't kill ANWR to end realpolitik. Do it through innovation and technology. Surely we have the means.
Yesterday I read this frightening article and I've been thinking about it constantly since then. This may in fact be one of the strongest arguments against war in Iraq. We have left ourselves, and South Korea and Japan, incredibly vulnerable to an onslaught from North Korea.
"The president has said he would consider using force against North Korea, and he has deployed bombers to the area -- presumably to send a signal of strength and determination. But the North Koreans can read the newspapers as well as the president's speeches, and the signal they see there is very different. Of the 10 divisions in the active Army, eight are deployed or deploying to the Persian Gulf, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Of 12 aircraft carrier battle groups, five are deployed to the gulf region, three are undergoing maintenance and a fourth has just emerged from a maintenance period, leaving only three available for immediate action. There are literally no more forces with which we could meet a North Korean attack.
Eight out of ten divisions are occupied? Only three battle groups are active outside of the Middle East? If the North wanted to take out Tokyo or Seoul we would be incredibly unable to effectively respond. What could we do? We could pummel the North with nuclear weapons, but in the course of events more than a million South Korean civilians in Seoul and just as many in Tokyo and across Japan, not to mention in North Korea, would be dead. We have no active deterrant measures in the northeast Pacific to keep the bellicose North Korean military in check.
Pyongyang sees that we are intent on taking down, reforming or destroying each of the "Axis of Evil" nations, and with our attack on Iraq, the North knows they are either second or third. Seeing that we are actually acting against Iraq, they must feel that their time for confrontation is quickly coming to the fore.
"The president's bellicose talk may convince the North Koreans that time is running out for them. Can they afford to wait until we are done with Iraq and are free to concentrate our efforts and forces on them? This same combination of hostility, damaging policies and military weakness convinced the Japanese that the time had come to attack in December 1941. Interestingly, they had no expectation that they could defeat us in a war then. They hoped instead to force a change in our policies by attacking when we were distracted. What might the North Koreans try in a similar vein if they, too, become convinced that an attack or its plausible threat could lead to a negotiated settlement instead of all-out war?"
The North can clearly see that we are weak in their part of the world. If they were really evil, and smart, they would strike now when we were weak in order to force consessions.
Not that I've ever believed a word Rumsfeld has ever said, but the fact that he has the audacity to say that the U.S. military can adequately fight Iraq and North Korea is utterly ridiculous. Interestingly, in an article from August 2001, Rumsfeld said that the two regional war doctrine was flawed and the U.S. should instead focus on quick, overwhelming wars in one place, presumably hoping that the rest of the world would stand by and wait its turn.
"US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday the United States should no longer aim to have the ability to wage two simultaneous regional wars but rather should be prepared to achieve one decisive victory anywhere in the world. "We don't have the capabilities" to take part in two major regional conflicts, Rumsfeld told reporters."
Let's hope and pray that North Korea waits its turn.
Bush's speech last night was short, to the point, and said most all of the right things, but the delivery and forum was grim and ineffectual. This needed to be an Oval Office speech with a somber, serious president acknowledging the real costs of war and showing some emotion. Instead Bush quickly walked up to the podium, immediately started talking, and stared blankly into the teleprompter. His words were crucial, chilling, but all together necessary. Some poignant quotations:
"The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat, but we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed."
"This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will."
"The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."
"The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize new and undeniable realities. In the 20th century some chose to appease murderous dictators whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and global war. In this century when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth. Terrorists and terrorist states do not reveal these threats with fair notice in formal declarations. And responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide."
The case has been made. The evidence is there. Bush sees even more evidence than is necessary or is probably even credible (Al-Qaeda connection), but Saddam's history and his persistance is clear. His motivations for evil will not disappear, and containment will not restrain him in an effective way. At this moment, war has become the only option to peace and security.