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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Tony The Translator
We are so lucky to have Tony Blair as an ally. Today's joint press conference between the British prime minister and President Bush showed just how much we need Blair to translate Bush's Determination Without Explaination into a convincing and reasoned presentation of why the coalition cause is just.
An excerpt from Blair's largely unscripted comments:
"Whatever the difficulty of war, let us just remember this is a regime that has brutalized its people for well over two decades. Of course, there will be people fiercely loyal to that regime who will fight all the way; they have no option. But I have no doubt at all that the vast majority of ordinary Iraqi people are desperate for a better and different future, for Iraq to be free, for its government to be representative of its people, for the human rights of the people to be cared for.
"And that is why, though, of course, our aim is to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and make our world more secure. The justice of our cause lies in the liberation of the Iraqi people. And to them we say, we will liberate you. The day of your freedom draws near. "
These are passionate comments that Blair produced on the spot. He understands the arguments for war and realizes that it doesn't just matter what he thinks, but that it is important that others see the necessity of the situation as he does. During the last line of the above, I could see in Blair's eyes that in his heart he knows his cause is just and that the veracity of his words will be what will carry the day. This is in sharp contrast to Bush who relies on the information he's been told by his advisors and gets exacerbated when others won't blindly follow his lead.
During the Question and Answer portion of the press conference, this became painfully clear:
"Q -- First to you, Mr. Prime Minister. Briefly, Secretary Powell said yesterday that the U.N. should have a role in postwar Iraq, but that the United States should have a significant, dominating control of post-Saddam Iraq. How will that kind of talk play in Europe?
And, Mr. President, can you help me understand the timing of this war? You talked yesterday that it will be -- we're far from over. Today you said, it's going slowly, but surely we're working our way to our end goal. Given that the resistance has been as strong as it's been in the south, and that we have what you call the most hardened, most desperate forces still around Baghdad, are we to assume that this is going to last -- could last months and not weeks -- and not days?
THE PRESIDENT: I'll answer that question very quickly and then get to his. However long it takes to win. That's --
Q -- take months?
THE PRESIDENT: However long it takes to achieve our objective. And that's important for you to know, the American people to know, our allies to know, and the Iraqi people to know.
Q It could be months?
THE PRESIDENT: However long it takes. That's the answer to your question and that's what you've got to know. It isn't a matter of timetable, it's a matter of victory. And the Iraqi people have got to know that, see. They've got to know that they will be liberated and Saddam Hussein will be removed, no matter how long it takes."
OK. We get it. It will take a while but you have the resolve to stick it out. But WHY? When Bush refuses to elaborate on his talking point, he fails to convince. While he may think it makes him sound stronger and more determined, it only makes him seem more close-minded.
After Bush made these rather obvious and stubborn determined comments, he turned to allow Blair to speak. For a moment a look of "I-really-have-to-work-with-this-guy?" came over his face as he sighed and turned to speak. We feel your pain Tony.
Andrew Coyne of the National Post has a great commentary on the absurdity of the Anti-War argument and the tremendous lengths that Coalition forces are going to to ensure a war by legal means. In the process of our cautiousness and our desire to avoid civilian deaths we have have been attacked for the things our enemy has been doing for years. Anti-War protests yell about the amount of indiscriminate bombing that the evil imperial America is doing and how many babies are dying as a result. But the atrocities of Saddam Hussein get no mention. They are brushed over, or if they are acknowledged, they are followed by a 'but' and a cocooned sense of defiant self-righteousness. They will not be swayed by the truth. When it gets close to destroying their argument, they ignore the facts and press on with "Bush is Hitler!"
Read the following and try to figure out who is the one who needs to be stopped, Bush or Saddam:
"Saddam sets fire to his country's oil wells. Americans rush to put them out. Saddam starves his own people of food and medicine. American forces are diverted to bring in humanitarian aid, even as they come under fire from saddam's fedayeen. Was there ever such a topsy-turvy war: Where the "attackers" fight and die to protect the country's citizens from their "defenders"? But then, was there ever a war in which people everywhere filled the streets to protest against it -- everywhere, except in Iraq, where the people fill the streets to welcome the invaders."
I enjoyed Bowling For Columbine. I thought it was well done, and it gave a good argument, or at least the beginning of one, for a meaningful examination as to why America is so violent. In the process it gave advocates of tighter gun control a great vehicle for promoting their cause. As a believer in strong handgun regulation, I thought Michael Moore's penetrating investigation into the root causes of American gun violence was excellent, even if at times it vurged on inflammatory activist propoganda.
Last night though, was a disgrace for Moore. As he accepted the award for best documentary, he launched into a tirade:
"We live in fictitious times. We live in a time with fictitious election results that elect fictitious presidents. We live in a time when we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. We are against this war Mr Bush. Shame on you. Shame on you!"
Now, I understand he almost had to say something political while he had such a large audience. If he hadn't he would have let down his activist supporters. But to go so far, and rehash the 2000 election delegitimized his whole anti-war stance. Furthermore, Moore's attack was personally directed at Bush. This seems to be a tenet running throughout the anti-war movement, for it seems that one must ignore the issues involved in this war to be anti-war. When all other arguments are removed, attacking Bush seems to be a favorite refrain.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of the guy. In virtually every other category, I find the policies of the Bush administration to be misguided and potentially damaging. But direct attacks such as this, are just weak and unnecessarily insulting.
If Moore wanted to speak out against the war, fine. But there are much better ways to gain supporters for one's views than to spew insults and rehash past injustices that the rest of the country has moved past. Moore should stick to filmmaking. He's good at it.
Is Saddam trying to widen the war to the whole region or are Iraqi missiles really just that inaccurate? Further, will Iran use this incident to make a move into southern Iraq, either officially or through other agents, and sympathize with the local Shi'ite populations that have been oppressed under Saddam's rule?
Most Anti-War arguments I've heard begin with the refrain, "Yeah Saddam Hussein is a evil, brutal man, but...." There should be no 'but'. The atrocities of Saddam's regime are enough on their own to justify military action. The illegal weapons he has are a another issue all together. The tales that Iraqis that have managed to escape from Iraq are horrifying. They include stories of dissidents being fed feet first into a plastics shredder so their screams will carry to others who might question Saddam's regime. There are rape rooms. There are chemical attacks against the Kurdish populations. There are murders of children in front of their parents. There are murders of parents in front of their children. There is the sickening report that Saddam's younger son Qussay got for his 12th birthday his own person to torture. And then there are pictures like this.
So why are peace activists ignoring this? Do they really prefer the slow death for the Iraqi people that Containment offers? More Iraqis, under the age of 5 alone, will be killed each month under Saddam's regime than even the highest estimates of one time civilian deaths caused by war.
If it's not the horrifying human rights abuses, then it must be the fact that this war isn't sanctioned by the U.N., right? If that's it, one needs only to read Resolution 1441 to see that this war has been sanctioned by the international community, and that the consequences of non-compliance are being enforced. France, Russia and Germany wish to leave this strong, unanimous resolution unenforced. They expect Saddam to magically surrender his illegal weapons to the U.N. when he has no incentive to do so. In fact, after hearing of France's intention to block approval for enforcement of Resolution 1441, Saddam was, in effect, given an incentive not to comply. France was doing his bidding for him, but under the faux cloak of international peace. Resolution 1441 makes the legal case, along with the previous 16 Resolutions since the end of the Gulf War that have remained unenforced.
So then, is the issue the lack of allies? It shouldn't be. Currently there are more than 40 nations pledging their support for military action. Granted these nations are largely insignificant on the stage of international affairs, but to say that the U.S. is acting unilaterally is utterly false. 'Unilateral' shouldn't come to mean 'without France' or 'without Russia'. Allies exist, even if they be more quantity than quality. Quality resides in the will for a safer world, not in the determination to stall changes in the status quo that have already changed. France might recognize this had they experienced the terror that shook America on September 11. The world changed the day the Soviet Union collapsed. It just took terrorists until 2001 to make the world realize it. France, Germany and Russia still don't see it. America and Britain do. Allies have become a convenience. Those who lived under evil recognize that evil must be confronted. That is why many of our 'insignificant' allies are former Soviet Bloc states. We live in a world in which our past allies don't recognize the new world order that has existed for more than a decade. In a unipolar world, the route to security goes through coalitions of the willing. Allies are no longer based on blocs for eternity, they are based on the will to confront potential instability.
So it must be oil then, right? "No Blood For Oil" is a popular chant at many Anti-War rallies. It assumes that the U.S. is motivated by a desire for lower gas pump prices and greater control over the natural resources of an economically impoverished region. If the U.S. was really after lower gas prices, it might consider invading Canada or Saudi Arabia, the two largest suppliers of oil to the U.S, according to the American Petroleum Institute. In fact, America gets less than 4% of its oil from Iraq (In December of 2002 it was 3.3%). If we wanted to increase output we might want to look into stabilizing Venezuela which is our fourth largest supplier. The recent political instability in that nation has brought their oil production to a halt. They were even importing oil from Colombia for a while. Similarly, we might want to target Nigeria, our fifth largest supplier of oil. Their social and religious instability a few months ago certainly didn't help us get our greedy hands on their oil. And, lastly, our dear coalition partner, the United Kingdom, would be an inviting target of our uninhibited desire for oil seeing as they are our sixth largest supplier. Hmm. They must be after oil too, right?
In the past year oil prices have only gone up in America. And, as history shows, while gas prices have a tendency to go up like a rocket, the come down with a parachute. Current prices hover around $40 per barrel - a new high in recent years, brought on by the threat of war. Had the U.S. not pursued a war against Iraq, prices would have remained somewhere below $20 per barrel. Certainly the U.S. is not gaining anything from this. Iraqi oil has a very small effect on our overall imports. If we really wanted more oil, there are plenty of other, easier places to look. Oil is not an issue.
So what is it then? Not humanitarian, not legality, not allies, and certainly not oil. What then, is the Anti-War argument based on? I'll leave this open, but I have my suspicions.