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In a previous entry I asked what reasons people had to oppose Iraq.  This combined with a discussion about Dean's real Iraq stance has put a bug in my bonnet.

I'm seeing far too many convenient arguments to oppose the Iraq war, which speaks to me of a lack of discipline among many of the minds here.

"There are so many other dictators oppressing their people like Hussein did.  Why are we not invading their countries?"  For anyone making this argument, are you actually in support of the U.S. invading any country that has an oppressive dictator like Hussein?

"Unlike the Iraq War, the first Gulf War had an international multilateral coalition!  It was completely different!"  For anyone making this argument, would you all have been in favor of the Iraq war had we had a coalition?  Were you all in support of the first Gulf War?

"We shouldn't have invaded Iraq because we weren't finished with Afghanistan/Osama!"  So, you were in support of invading Afghanistan?  And, had we found Osama beforehand, then you would have been in favor of invading Iraq?

"Our soldiers are dying at n men per day!"  So, if we weren't losing soldiers at this rate, you'd be in favor of the war?

I understand that these are all along the lines of "making a point" in the debate.  But honestly, sometimes I hear too much of it and it just starts to strike me as chickenshit.  Because I doubt these are offered as the reasons to oppose the war.  If you answered "Well, no..." to any of my provocative questions, then when you've made these points, you weren't arguing your REAL reason for opposing the war.

We're doing a good job of opposing Bush, but it isn't far enough yet.  When we make these arguments - these disingenuous arguments that go against our personal integrity - we are still ceding the terms of the debate to those that we oppose.  We are still arguing in reaction, rather than advocating our own vision of what is right.

I want to encourage everyone to continue trying to argue their own actual viewpoints, rather than arguing on someone else's terms.  When all you succeed at is destroying someone else's foundation, you're left standing in a void.

Originally posted to tunesmith on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 07:54 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    "Our soldiers are dying at n men per day!"  So, if we weren't losing soldiers at this rate, you'd be in favor of the war?

    If no one was dying we would not call it a war.  We would call it inspections and sanctions.  And, yes, I would be in favor of that.

    •  Re: Excellent Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      What about their soldiers, and civilians, and resources, and geography, and cities?  If it were guaranteed that we just lost our last soldier, I'm not so sure that most other Dems would in turn be comfortable with the idea that we went to war against Iraq.
      •  Re: Excellent Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        War is unpredictable and the end result is not what people envisioned when starting the war.  I doubt anyone would have thought at the end of WWII, communism would control Eastern Europe.

        War ALWAYS causes more suffering and destruction than it attempts to stop.  Does that mean all wars are immoral?  No, but most are.  

        For me, I think peoples have a right to defend themselves, so I can support a war of self-defense.  Also, I think the only thing more evil than war is genocide, so going to war to stop genocide is morally acceptable to me.

  •  Excellent Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    "There are so many other dictators oppressing their people like Hussein did.  Why are we not invading their countries?"  For anyone making this argument, are you actually in support of the U.S. invading any country that has an oppressive dictator like Hussein?

    No, I am not in support of invading lots of other countries.  (Is any sane person in favor of that?).  Neither are the (vast majority of) people that claim this war was justified bacause Saddam is a bad guy.

    In other words, the point of this question is to illustrate this one particular so-called justification for the war (Saddam is bad) is bogus.

    We are not invading other countries because it would be the wrong thing to do, just like it was the wrong thing to invade Iraq.

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    "There are other dictators..." This is usually offered as a reductio of pro-war arguments: if the war were really for democracy, then we'd be fighting a dozen other wars; but we're obviously not fighting those other wars, so this one isn't really for democracy.

    As for your arguments against the other arguments, they all assume that people had only one reason to oppose the war. The absence of a genuine coalition, for example, was a genuine reason to oppose, but it wasn't the only one, so if there had been a coalition, that wouldn't have been enough to make the war okay.

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      I'm not sure that adding up all these reasons to oppose the war would really be enough, though.  Like if our administration announced tomorrow that we got Osama and that there was a multinational plan to simultaneously invade all other countries with dictators where it was guaranteed that none of our soldiers would die... then we'd think that was a GOOD idea?  What about the real reasons to oppose these actions?  That our administration is helmed by people that enable these dictators to exist in the first place, for instance?  That going to war against a dictator doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the first place, since war affects an entire people instead of just a dictator?  That since it's possible for the U.S. to be wrong, that it's also just as possible for a multinational coalition to be wrong as well?  And that the humanity of a war isn't scored simply by how many soldiers are lost only on one side?


      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        "Like if our administration announced tomorrow that we got Osama and that there was a multinational plan to simultaneously invade all other countries with dictators where it was guaranteed that none of our soldiers would die... then we'd think that was a GOOD idea?"

        I think you're conflating pragmatic and idealistic reasons for supporting or opposing the war.  For instance, I have to admit that many of Thomas Friedman's reasons for support an invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam's Baathist regiem were very appealing to me, and if we lived in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land Friedman's ideas would have been enough for me to support the war.  But the problem is this pesky thing to which we refer loosely to as reality--you know, the state of affairs that makes an invasion and occupation of Iraq more difficult when there is no coalition, when we're suffering consistent and growing numbers of casualties, when our reasons for being there are impugned by much of the international community because they are so obviously hypocritical, etc.

        The philosophical and nominal arguments for whether we should have invaded Iraq are not as simple as some believe.  But the pragmatic arguments against doing what we did in the manner in which in was done are much easier to make, so I think it's reasonable for people to resort to the mid-level arguments you find unsatisfying because these pragmatic arguments by themselves should shoot a hole in the rosy predictions of success offered up by the likes of Wolfowitz et al.  

        In short, the arguments you criticized might not be the best arguments against invading Iraq, but for almost all fair-minded people these arguments, possibly weak and incomplete, are still enough to obliterate the predictions of success on which the war was sold.  The Bushies talked a little here and there about grand rationales for the invasion, but underlying all of their philosophical reasons were their main rhetorical points about how easy it would be.  In a sense they said "don't worry about the big reasons, because it's going to be easy"; the opposition arguments you decry largely do ignore the idealistic reasons offered for the war--just as the Bushies asked--and attack the war on the real basis on which it was sold to the American public--the analytical/pragmatic predictions of easy success.  

        •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
          Good points, thanks.  There definitely are pragmatic reasons to oppose the war as well as idealistic reasons.  The problem is that oftentimes the pragmatic reasons correlate to reasons that are the "current reality" - for instance how the war is inefficient because we hadn't captured Hussein - and that the current reality can change, so those pragmatic reasons don't hold so much water anymore.

          Arguing on pragmatic grounds is good, but it is also only a transitional argument that can look bad in hindsight.  

          If our goal is to defeat Bush a year from now, then oftentimes these pragmatic arguments don't serve our purposes.  They might help win a short-term battle in the heat of the moment, but it doesn't do as much to oppose Bush a year from now as would a more idealistic argument - the war is immoral, the war is illegal, the war was based on lies.

      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        When someone goes around calling other people stupid in public, and then procedes not to work out the logical consequences of their actions, there's a word for them.


        You can scream "Dictator!" every day from now until the election, and you certainly will, but this is, effectively  - a lie. There are plenty of dictators in the world. Our good allie Musharaff of Pakistan is a dictator. The humanitarian situation in Pakistan is better than Iraq - but not by enough so that the people who starve to death there notice. Musharaff has nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, he has exported the technology to other nations - specifically North Korea.

        Any attempt to make Iraq a moral necessity falls apart in the face of our failure to invade Pakistan depose a dictator who overthrew a lawfully elected government, is pursuing a WMD build up, including the means to deliver them - and supports international terrorism.

        Those are the facts, my freep troll friend, and every time you scream "Dictator" and imply that those against you are stupid and immoral, you underline what you are.

        I don't know about stupid. But you are, on its face, immoral - and uncivil to boot.

        •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
          Oh give me a break.  I'm sorry if the entry hurt your feelings, but I didn't call Stirling Newberry stupid in public.

          There's a difference between being a troll and being provocative.  And this thread has generated a lot more insightful commentary than most Iraq threads I see, by asking people to reconcile their arguments with their moral beliefs of the war.  A troll wouldn't say:

          I want to encourage everyone to continue trying to argue their own actual viewpoints, rather than arguing on someone else's terms.  When all you succeed at is destroying someone else's foundation, you're left standing in a void.

          If you're concerned about my freeper quotient, go read my war position.

  •  prezdent give me turkee. (none)
    Terrists kill americnas,
    terrists bad.

    Terrists arabs,
    arabs bad.

    Prezdent kill arabs
    Prezdent good.

    arabs have oil,
    ababs bad,

    prezdent take oil,
    prezdent good.

    prezdent give me turkee.

    with apologies to atrios

  •  Re: Reasons ... (none)
    Sorry I missed that entry. I supported the war in theory, but not in fact. The way I saw it, we were in Saudi Arabia to keep Iraq in check. Our presence there is Osama's biggest recruiting tool. We had several choices:
    1. Maintain the status quo in the Middle East, and get Osama
    2. Withdraw from SA, let Saddam and Osama crow about the victory, maybe even team up against SA
    3. Leave through Iraq if need be, which would remove the reason for being there in the first place, and rob Osama of at least one recruting tool while going after him hard
    That was what I saw as the geopolitical picture. The conditions for going into Iraq followed Dean's (and Clark's) argument. Enforce the UN resolutions. Get the answer on WMD. If Saddam didn't cooperate and the UN was on board, go in. If France and Russia blocked us after repeated efforts to get cooperation, and Saddam didn't cooperate, go in. Because the threat of force was the only way to get compliance, and I don't think we could just stand there making empty threats. We would have had to back them up. Under the backdrop of all that, I think one certain aspect of the neocon argument made sense--Saddam was a tyrant, had killed tens of thousands and would keep killing. They deserved at least a shot at freedom, especially because our 80s realpolitik had robbed them of it year earlier.

    But we hadn't exhausted the multilateral options, which would have led to more info about WMD. So BushCo blew it, because they never really were interested in any option but war. And they blew even that.

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (4.00)
    Frankly, the war is so horrifying and was struggled against over months in threads, as well as in our personal lives, in excrutiatingly sharp and stark detail. This was and is essentially a political blog, it was not originally conceived of as an anti war blog (as others were, even tho DKos made it to Forbes as a 'best of the war blogs') and now we are weary.

    And, while there are people on this blog in their 20s and early 30s (thankfully) there are others of us for whom the war is just ghastly regurgitation.
    When I picked up the Rolling Stone some months ago that had the multi part report from their embed travelling north to Baghdad, just reading the words Charlie, Alpha and Bravo Company was awful.

    Meanwhile the war tortures itself and us on a daily basis.  I haven't ordered it, but I did love the title of the book The Guardian has come out with on the war, The War We Couldn't Stop.  Sums up much of the pain of this terrible war.

    The battle now, and the way we hope to get justice, is the horserace of the primary run and many people who have been at this site for a while deal with the war in short hand.

    That is my view. fwiw...

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      I agree, but what about the other moral issues on the table? And is there anything worth fighting a war for? If so, what?

      I'm not asking as if you had some ready answer. I ask because I think those questions always need to be asked in circumstances like these.

      I disagreed with Wolfowitz when he said we couldn't fight a war merely to liberate the Iraqis from a dictator we propped up and were stuck in the Middle East defending other countries against. Of all the reasons we should go to war, that one struck me as the most important. The lives lost in war had to be wieghed against the lives lost in Saddam's torture chambers and death camps.

      BushCo didn't make this point until after they'd discredited all of their other points. But it was the most important reason to wiegh. That W never did speaks volumes about the man.

      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (4.00)
        Evidence was there and will continue to accumulate that Saddam's bloody years were largely over.  Yeah, really.  So as sheer biology starts to take him out we get stressed, after being just fine with him during one of the emotional triggers used over and over for the war, Halabja.  Meanwhile BushCo mutters "rape rooms" with a salaciousness that is gagging.  Mass graves are mostly the result of the Iran Iraq War era, and a glance back will show where we were on that one...

        As I said, it is for others to carry.

        One thing is certain to me, in the wake of 9/11 our moral compass should have actively turned to being a better power, instead we got war, 2 of them.  Both badly done.

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    well i recall the first reason bush, cheney, donny, powell, and rice gave for going to war against iraq: saddam had weapons of mass destruction. he, or his terrorist proxies, could use them against america- even turning an american city into a mushroom cloud- and we knew where those wmd's were.  

    1st reason for opposing this war now- saddam didn't have wmd's and so george bush lied to the world and the american people. because of his lies 479 americans have needlessly died and thousands (?) of iraqis have been killed. that's treason.

    why oppose this war then? because this administration never proved that there was an imminent danger of saddam hussein using a wmd. he was surrounded by american forces and weapons inspectors were in his country. respect for human life is paramount. war is death. death is the destruction of human life. therefore, war must always be the last resort. and we simply weren't out of options. inspections were working and would have continued to work. inspectors didn't find any 'smoking gun' because there was no smoking gun to find. had the inspections been continued, aided by western intelligence agencies (CIA, NRO, NSA, israel and britain), the country would have been turned upside down. satellites could have been tasked to every inch of soil in iraq, iraqi scientists could have been offered asylum out-of-country, inspectors could have been better equipped. no one would have had to die- certainly not 479 american soldiers.

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (3.50)
    Killing people is wrong.

    I saw the planes hit the towers with my own eyes and saw the dust covered, tearing faces of the men and women stumbling home.  I saw the desperation and loss in their eyes.

    I would not ever wish that sort of day on anyone else.

    War is for only the most dire of moments, when all else is lost.

    Iraq was not a threat to us.  The UN pleaded with us for more time.  The worlds largest protest sounded for us to stay our heavy hand.  Lies and innuendo were packaged and sold to the public.

    The war was wrong on many levels.

    For one, our forign bumbling is what built Saddam.  We rarely meddle in a nation without handing the next generation a mess to clean up.  

    For two, we wounded the alliances across the atlantic.

    for three, we lied to the world and ourselves to rationalize our war.

    for four, saddam's threat to america was less than none.

    for five, we had much more urgent business to attend to in the fight for terrorism.

    for six, our military is the most mighty when it is unused.

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      for seven, we have sent military aid to a whole new crop of oppressive dictators in order to fight Iraq and Afghanistan (Uzbeki, Azeri, F.Y.R.O.M.?, Etitrea)

      Someday we may fight the final war, a war against all the remaining dictatorships on Earth.  On that day, our team will include Brazil, Mexico, Russia, France, Germany, South Korea and India.  The UK is still a Monarchy which also still has a ton of hereditary figures in its upper house, Spain's Monarch was hand-picked by the fascist Franco, and Italy is run by a guy not fit to wipe my bum.

      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        Italy is practically a dictatorship still.  

        Also, most likely we'll be fighting alone since no one would believe in our good intentions anyway.  Frankly, I wouldn't believe in them either.  

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    One of the things to point out to those who ask for reasons is the forgotten history leading up to the war.

    I'll just make it simple and quick.

    ShrubCo went to the U.N. and asked for support/permission. Eventually France and Germany came up with a plan which sounded much like a large, armed U.N. force to back the inspectors. In other words, a militarized inspection regime. This probably would have worked and avoided the bloodshed and chaos they have over there now. Saddam would have been defanged and the truth about WMDs would have been discovered without destroying Iraq.

    This plan was totally ignored by the U.S. administration, even though it was probably the best alternative. The ships were already loaded and on their way. ShrubCo wanted its war and they were determined to get it.

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    Now, rewind.

    Imagine if Bush had made the "liberation" argument before the war.

    Imagine if the poll question had been not "Would you support the war with UN approval? Would you support the war without UN approval?" and think of the kind of support Americans would have given if the question had matched reality "What if everything Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice have said about WMD and an Osama connection were lies, would you support a war if we went to the UN with a war proposal, realized we didn't have the votes to win, and backed out at the last moment in order to launch the war in a couple days anyway?"

    What percentage of the American public would have said "Heck ya! That part about pretending to go to the UN and backing out when it doesn't go our way is HOT! And all those lies our government told us about the weapons? Hah! Jokes on me! At least I didn't have to die! LOL! Stupid arabs living in Iraq, don't they know they can get killed doing that!"

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      UNICEF has been trying, begging, PLEADING with america to pay attention to the plight of childern in Iraq for nearly the whole sanction era. America yawned in it's face. Across arab media to this day is repeated the words of madline allbright, when asked if the sanctions were worth the death of 250,000 children "yes, yes i believe it was" America did not listen. If bush tried to attack Iraq on the basis of humanitarian aid, in the face of 9/11, americas would have told him to kiss their ass.
  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    For me, opposition to the Iraq war = "anti-stupid-war," not "anti-war."  

    And the reason why the war was stupid, is because of the elephant in the room that no politician seems to have the guts to say outright:  The United States is not in as strong a position as our leaders tell us it is.

    The only candidate who's come close to saying that is Howard Dean, and he routinely catches hell for even slightly insinuating that we are, or will ever be in danger of, being anything but the biggest, bestest, richest, fattest, shiniest, most righteously 800-lb gorilla ever in the history of the universe as we know it.

    This is why Bush is sure to run on a platform of "Bush is optimistic, positive and pro-growth, while Howard Dean is pessimistic, negative and denigrates America."

    There is a portion of the American population (cutting across party lines) that thrills to the big happy-joy-joy lie peddled by the Bush Administration (and many others) that we're just hitting a bit of a rough patch here and that our mighty forces can be stretched to infinity throughout the world, that people really aren't out of work, and that even our old friends are starting to think we smell.

    The opposition (and yeah, I think it's Dean) offers a stiff dose of reality, honesty and pragmatism:

    -Our military is overtaxed, overstretched and underpaid.
    -The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is disappearing, and everyone is getting obese in the process.
    -Our friends now have better things to do than support our bullshit.
    -We now have a global economy.  Unfortunately, we're not running it.

    These are the real reasons to oppose a stupid war.

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      Name one war since WWII we've engaged in that wasn't stupid.  Even the first Gulf War was stupid because we were just saving one dictatorship from another.  
      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        Ive also read that saddam telescoped his intentions for invading Kuwait and had interprited the response from america as consent.
        •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
          But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.

          Partial transcript of a conversation between Saddam Hussein and U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie here.

          •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
                 This is old history now, but in its context, the U.S. response was an invitation BY US to Saddam to go ahead and invade Kuwait.  He must have felt baited and switched when we we changed our minds and opposed him.  
                 So did April Glaspe just goof and grossly misrepresent American intentions?  Or was Saddam simply tricked into a war that the U.S. already wanted?  
                 U.S. reasons for wanting a war were clear enough, but hardly compelling.  We had a whole lot of new weaponry to try out in actual combat.  Was that the whole of it?  
  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (4.00)
    See, the thing is you're going about this the wrong way.  You don't have to make an argument about why not to go to war.  You have to make an argument TO go to war, and Bush never did.  The reasons he gave were quite obviously lies.  He relied on laughably shaky evidence not because he believed it, but because there wasn't any credible evidence that supported his views.  Just a tip for all the gullible people out there: If you have real solid evidence of WMD you don't present a false spy report to prove it.  

    In the end the only real reason Bush has managed to present for the war is that Saddam was a rotten dictator.  However, my view is it's not our fucking problem.  There are a ton of dictators out there and the sad truth is the people of those countries have to deal with it.  We shouldn't support dictatorships, but at the same time we should not engage in quixotic wars of liberation where in the end everyone is just pissed at us and doesn't appreciate what we've done anyway.  

    The sad thing is the Republican party is the party of "no wars except in the case of a threat to our national security", but now they're trying to justify the war on humanitarian grounds.  Unfortunately the ignorant American public who didn't give two shits about Iraqis for 10 years since the first Gulf War, and honestly still don't today, eat up the propaganda that somehow we're in this to do good.  The whole thing is just pathetic across the board.  

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)

      The ultimate straw man: We support this pathetic sadist for years - we provide him the tools to his dirty deeds, just as long as it serves US "interests."

      You're imprisoning your political opponents? What? I don't see that! (wink wink, nudge nudge)

      You're torturing people!? What? Who says so? I don't see anything like that! (wink, wink, nudge nudge)

      You're gassing your enemies in war? Our gas?! Not possible. (wink, wink, nudge nudge)

      But then our priorities change. Now we must defeat EVIL! So more Iraqis and Americans must die in order to continue this perpetual immoral chess game.

      There was nothing fucking noble about what we did. The "evil dictator" Saddam was who he was because we made him who he was. He was just a side show. Remember: we went to war to protect us from terrorists and the imminent danger of those oh-so-threatening threatening Weapons of Mass Destruction.

      The behavior of the US government has been based on lies and hypocrisy a lot longer than this regime. They are just the most openly callous.

      Others hug but having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug and that's me and I know what it's like - GWB

      by jazzlover on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 10:39:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    "There are so many other dictators oppressing their people like Hussein did.  Why are we not invading their countries?"  For anyone making this argument, are you actually in support of the U.S. invading any country that has an oppressive dictator like Hussein?

    Well, yes.
    I am in favor of the UN debating the merits of overthrowing any government that either doesn't have at least two people on the ballot in elections or that regularly executes people for their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
    Or both.
    I am not in favor of unilateral invasions.

    Of course, once we're all democracies of one sort or another, I'm also in favor of another level of government at the UN.  I want to see elected, not appointed reps, with the UN serving as a loose top layer in a Global Federal System.
    You may think I'm a little starry eyed, but one day it will be so.
    Right now, I'm trying to preserve this democracy.

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      Okay, in your case I think your argument there is morally consistent.  That's technically integrity even though I don't personally agree with the argument.

      (What's the adjective form of integrity?  An "integrous argument" just looks wrong.)

  •  Stupid Reasons To Support Iraq War (none)
    War is hell.

    War costs lives, it costs money and other resources.  The benefit of war must be greater than its cost or it is a net loss.  

    The proponents of a war have an obligation to provide reasons for the war, not the other way around.  

    The administration has not put forward any honest reasons for this war.  If the arguments against the war seem strange, that is because they are arguments against the administrations bogus arguments for the war.

    Why not invade France or Canada or Mexico?  Why not? If you do not need a reasons FOR war (but, of course you do) then all war all the time should be the order of the day.

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    When I did my own cost/benefit analysis, I decided that the costs of going into Iraq far outweighed the likely benefits.  I think of the world as a giant chess board, and I want a leader who can see the effects of our actions 10, 30, 50 years down the road and not just into the next election cycle.  I didn't see George Bush as being up to that task.  9/11 was a direct result of Gulf War I (blow-back) and the Bushies called anyone who pointed this out "unpatriotic."

    In a perfect world, I would like to see us think first and foremost in humanitarian terms when it comes to foreign policy, but we don't live in a perfect world.  There are not always clear-cut humanitarian choices for us to make.  We do have to act in our own self-interests but our choices should be based on long-term safety and security and not on the financial interests of a few. I never saw this war as being fought for our safety because I never bought into the WMD argument.  

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    I know I've used this before but to me it illustrates the stupidity of this war so well I'll never forget it.

    (If you can't read it click on the image for full size)

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    Here's the deal:

    War isn't something you aught to do in most cases; it's historically a very counter-productive endeavor. The burdin of moral proof for a war aught to be of the highest standard, and the cost-benefit analysis must be sound. You must be either averting catastrophe, stopping active atrocity, and/or creating a better world (long-term peace, prosperity) if you want to have a war.

    While this war was sold on the first ground (WMD), and is now often retroactively justified on the second ("he gassed his own people!"), the real rationale on behalf of the people who designed it was the third. However, unilateral preemptive intervention prosecuted on fraudulent grounds is a mind-bogglingly poor way of creating stability and prosperity for anyone. It even undercuts a pure-imperial resource grab justification, because this kind of action sets itself up to be resisted in a robust manner.

    To address your "would you have supported the war if..." theme, if the US had made a solid case on Husseins human rights record -- rather than fearmongering hokum on WMD -- and had built a large coalition for fighting, and an even larger coalition for reconstruction, and gotten the UN's blessing, then I think the invasion could have been justified.

    Anything less is a recipe for failure, as we are seeing now.

    Politics is the art of controlling your environment. Participate! 1-800-MFA-6835

    by Outlandish Josh on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 11:29:18 AM PST

  •  Re: Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    Violence is the solution only for people with no imagination and no compassion.

    Bush/Cheney - Four More Wars!

    by joojooluv on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 11:45:09 AM PST

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    Discipline? What is this, an army?

    Is the decision to go to war really a result of some logical process? But let's say we want to produce a set of "arguments" against the war.

    Social Choice The person above with the cost/benefit analysis, Susan S has a convincing case.  But this frames it as a social choice problem not an argument

    Opinions In a democracy, I agree citizens opinions about war or other important policy issues should be an informed opinion. An informed opinion, is one based on some underlying principles.  However, the underlying principle does not have to be framed within a complete and consistent set of moral principles.   Complete in the sense that the policy follows from the principle, consistent in the sense that it is non-contradictory.

    For example, though I am atheist (the existence of a personal, volitional deity, is in my view inconsistent), I admire opposition to the war based on religious principles and in a democracy we should respect those opinions.

    What if someone argued for war on religious principles?  E.g. Ann Coulter's kill their leaders and convert them to christianity?  That's a harder nut to crack, and I would have to resist the temptation to go after her religious beliefs.  I don't know how to deal with that, because my self-restraint has not
    attained the levels it should.

    Arguments Some of the anti-war arguments that seem to cause you some concern can be viewed in two ways:

    (a) As a reductio-ad-absurdum argument. For instance, it would follow that we will be engaged in endless war if we go after other dictators oppressing their people like Hussein did.

    (b) As an inconsistent argument that expresses an individual's perception that there is something wrong with the war.  This is an informed opinion.  But arguments for war or against war are almost always informed opinions.

    The exception is the case of a direct attack or immediatley iiminent direct attack.

    I think a better way to frame your concern, is to work out the partial arguments that you list in your note.  These are not bad arguments per-se.

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      The arguments in the original post are all bad arguments, and frankly, that he labels other people "stupid" ups the ante for what he has to produce. There are stupid arguments in this world, and stupid people. Proving that an argument is stupid is objectively measurable. Calling people stupid and then producing stupid arguments however, is dishonest, and uncivil.

      The original commentatory wanted to get  a rise out of people and generate anger. He's done that. He's also put forward a series of angry talking points which are both inconsistent and inapplicable.

      Fundamentally, law, of any kind, rests on a principle of consistency - it will be applied in some degree equitably, and individuals will know, in advance, whether or not they are bringing the weight of law down on themselves. Similarly, the law must also be applied to individuals regardless of their social position or ability to retaliate against the law.

      Any argument which rests on how bad Saddam was fails because of two facts. And these are facts:

      1. No effort to invoke the mechanisms of international law to charge Saddam was made by the United States. If the reason for war were Saddam's crimes, there were, and are, legal mechanisms to invoke.
      2. Other dictators and humanitarian disasters far worse that Saddam, are allowed to remain in power, without even a murmur of protest. For all of the statue pulling orchestrated in Baghdad - and let's not mince words, it was framed for Western Television to create the illusion of a "fall of Communism in the USSR" image - there are big statues to strong men dictators across central Asia. We aren't going in any time soon.
      That means that any argument about the war must be strictly pragmatic, because it cannot rest on any moral or legal basis.

      Pragmatically, we went after Saddam because we could. Not because he had WMD and we were not sure, but because he did not have WMD and we were sure. If you are facing an enemy with potential first strike capacity - as was claimed by the Executive to Congress in the run up to the war vote, you do not invade, you obliterate using massive force. This was the plan that the JCS turned over to Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis - a massive bombing campaign that left no site, potential site, potential storage area, command and communications facility or other potential facility standing. In Iraq, this would have necessitated use of WMD - as would any plan to neutralize North Korea in the event of war there.

      The reality of the screaming heads about how bad Saddam was is that it is a ruse and a distraction, one which is based on an attack against their fellow citizens: namely that anyone who opposes Saddam is somehow immoral and with the terrorists.

      Civil society cannot long survive such discourse - and American must realize, without delay, that allowing the continuation of such screaming in polite society is destroying our ability to unite the country and face the very genuine economic and military crisis which is unfolding.

      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        Why do we discuss this repeatedly?

        Is there a fear that Republicans will exploit capturing Saddam or some other short-term success as justification for the war policy? That's a bad strategy for Republicans, provided Democrats are willing aggressively to take down the prowar policy. This may appear abrasive, but Niceness is not a political qualification. And we'll just stop reading OpEd pieces by Krauthammer et al.

        The only presidential candidate that has convinced me he can do that consistently is Dean, although Clark usually has been forceful as well.

      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        Saying "other dictators are worse" to point out how Bush's "Hussein is bad therefore the war is justified" logic is flawed is valid.  Many say "other dictators are worse" to communicate why they are opposed to the war, which is a lazy argument, unless of course the person would be in favor of making war against the people of every other dictator.  It's a big difference.
      •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
        One more comment.  I'm not sure if all the arguments given in the original post are bad arguments. I wouldn't use them, because I would quickly find that they don't imbed into a larger moral theory.

        But as arguments that citizens in a democracy use to sustain there beliefs about the Iraq, I am not sure I can say they are bad arguments.  But I honestly don't know.  (This discussion leaves me in a state of mental confusion - a state which I love, because it indicates the possibility of learning something genuinely new!)

    •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
      Discipline? What is this, an army?

      Well, okay.  :-)  I don't like the word either.  But, I do think it's important for people's arguments to align with their personal morality, and when we don't do that, it's a lack of... something... and works against our interests.  When we say, "But they haven't found Saddam, nyeah!" and they say, "Well, we found Saddam now, so nyeah!", and we say, "But, but that wasn't the point!"... we look a bit ridiculous.

  •  Correct reasons to oppose the Iraq war (4.00)
    Assuming one has a conscience and one occasionally listens to said conscience:

    The Iraq war is immoral: The rationales advanced for the necessity of this war were fabricated or represented willful distortion of gathered intelligence. The "final" rationale, that of an altrusitic America concerned only with the welfare of the Iraqi people, rang as true as Hitler's declaration that Poland must be invaded to protect the rights of ethnic Germans in Silesia.

    The Iraq war is illegal: No less a neocon luminary as Richard Perle admitted that the invasion of Iraq violated international law, that inconvenient entity that BushCo seems to want to delare exists only when it serves neocon interests. The first count in the indictment against the Nazi leaders at Nürnberg was commission of crimes against peace, defined by treaty as the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of agression. The invasion of Iraq, supported by the documents of the Project for the New American Century, meets this definition.

    Thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children have died in this immoral overreaching of American miltary might. Countless others have been maimed for life. The American war dead now approaches 500. Casualties are now in 5 figures. And for what?

    My country is now more feared than respected.  My country has lost face in the international community and has rended alliances that both Republicans and Democrats had carefully crafted since the end of World War II. The US is a pariah who is hated more today than before 9-11. The regime has chosen to put the safety and welfare of the American people secondary to their desire for hegemony and war profiteering.

    There are no justifications that can be advanced in favor of the Iraq war that can come close to balanceing this. Intellecualizing around the coffee table about humanitarian goals is nothing more than denial of the criminal behavior of which all who supported this exercise are guilty by association. Humanitarians don't come to the table with blood-stained hands.  Nor do they make specious rationalizations in the face of daily evidence of the death and destruction of Iraq and its people.

    •  Re: Correct reasons to oppose the Iraq war (none)
      Hooray.  Well said.  I didn't mean to imply I never see anyone make these arguments here, but I do wish we wouldn't distract ourselves as much with the other arguments.  Each time we say, "We haven't even gotten Osama yet!" then we open ourselves up to being plowed over rhetoric-wise when they finally find Osama.  It's exactly what happened when they found Hussein.  The administration's failure to find Hussein more quickly was never a good reason to oppose Bush's policies.  It completely missed the point.
    •  Re: Correct reasons to oppose the Iraq war (none)
           Thanks much.  Well said.
  •  Most War is Immoral (none)
    I supported none of the wars in the last 15 years.  

    My brother fought in the first Gulf War, which really was about keeping price of gas low for a generation and propping up the Saudis for about that long.  I was just beginning to understand politics at the time, but I don't recall and reasons to oppose the war except I did not want my brother to be hurt.  

    I found the war against the people of Afghasatan extremely distaseful because our nation bombed the heck out of people who were suffering under the evil and cruel tyrants called the Taliban.  Hadn't the people of Afghanastan suffered enough or did they need more violence from the United States to make their lives worse?  Call me liberal, but using violence to solve violence only begets more violence.  Was their another solution to the Taliban?  I don't know, but I find the whole Afghan war morally troublesome and I find it difficult to support an operation that causes so much suffering to an already suffering populatio.

    Saddam was an evil, nasty dictator and we are all better off without him running Iraq, but this nation was lied to for the reasons for invading Iraq.  I guess I am just naive, but I really believe in the founding principles of this nation and democracy works best when the citizens can debate the reality of an issue, not that load of BS shoveled to us by the government before and after the invasion of Iraq.  Democracies work when people can form their own opinions on the facts, but the facts were, and continue to be, withheld from us.  That is not how a democracy is supposed to function and that is why I oppose the invasion of Iraq.

    •  Re: Most War is Immoral (none)
      One of the other issues I've been wrestling with is how to reconcile my opinions of five major foreign policy "emergencies": Gulf war, Rwanda, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq war.

      I'm curious what you thought of Rwanda and Kosovo.  Maybe they are different because they were argued to be about genocide?

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    Americans need an intervention--by the Canadians maybe--friends who can tell us gently that we need to face our oil addiction.  We are all arguing everything but the root cause of our adventure in the Iraq.  Ted Koppel touched on it briefly in the Dem debate--the reality of oil politics and power.  Bush and Co. have chosen raw military power to affect control of the continued supply and low price of oil.  Oil IS the ecomomy.  Oil is the key to our hegemony-economic AND militarily.  Until we define another route to continued prosperity and security for the American people they (we) will not be able to act on our humanitarian values.  

    I was against the invasion.  I think our shared international concerns over global warming, cascading ecological collapse, genetic manipulation of people and the food supply, famine, disease...etc make compelling arguments for cooperation instead of competition among nations.  HOWEVER,we need an answer to the oil jones.  Even an Apollo program for renewable or domestic energy isn't enough (is it?)  We need to talk.  The voters need to know what their choices are--What exactly is Howard Dean's world view vis-a-vis energy?  Clark?  Bush/Rove/Cheney/Wolfowitz?  Not the flag waving.  The reality.  Then chose.

  •  Re: Stupid Reasons To Oppose Iraq War (none)
    I think that the reason that I really apposed it is becuase I don't know why we went.  Everything that the administration said was an ever changing rational for the war.  They tried one reason, and when that didn't work, they tried the next.  They lied.

    Thus, I believe that they had their own reasons to go to war and did not come strait with us about it.  Thus, given that they kept changing the rationale, I don't believe that they had a compelling argument to go to war in any copasity.

    That is my reason for being against the War, becuase I was never given a reason to be for it.  Most poeple have differant views.  They think that you should be for it unless you are given a reason not to be.

    I think that that is the real reason that we were all against it (at least for those of us who were against it).  Our other "arguments" were just to refute the bogus "arguments" by the administration and some of the democrats that supprted the War.

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