Justifying going to war in the most simplistic way possible.

No, it wasn’t just my imagination yesterday morning when I thought I heard a news report on NPR about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld trying to justify a preemptive strike on Iraq by comparing it to a hypothetical situation where the moon might be hostile.

Sec. RUMSFELD: And of course, the advantage of not acting against the moon would be that no one could say that you acted. They would say, `Isn’t that good? You didn’t do anything against the moon.’ The other side of the coin of not acting against the moon in the event that the moon posed a serious threat would be that you then suffered a serious loss and you’re sorry after that’s over.

Is anyone else just stunned by the ridiculously simplistic nature of this argument? The above sound-bite was Rumsfeld’s attempt to explain why the U.S. shouldn’t have to provide detailed evidence of Iraq’s intentions. Not that he’s alone in that line of thinking, Vice President Dick Cheney sums up our justification to preemptively strike Iraq as follows: Iraq has chemical weapons. It’s seeking nuclear weapons and its leader is Saddam Hussein.

Well hell, if that’s all the justification that’s needed to launch a war then there are dozens of countries we should be gearing up to wage war on. Personally, all this talk of going to war with Iraq leaves me with the feeling Bush Jr. is trying to prove his worth by finishing what his dad started. Almost as if the administration feels it needs to do something to make up for the fact that they still haven’t captured Bin Laden and his cronies and are worried the public is going to notice that fact soon. Our allies in Europe are all balking at the idea of a preemptive strike on Iraq, with the possible exception of Britain and even they aren’t embracing the idea whole-heartedly. China is against an attack on Iraq and not one of the Arab nations is keen on the idea either. As for Saddam, he’s naturally making claims that the threat of an attack from the U.S. doesn’t just target Iraq, but the whole Arab nation as well. True or not, it plays well in the Arab press. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told students in Alexandria, Egypt. “I said to the U.S. administration, ‘If you harm the Iraqi people while the Palestinians are still suffering, it would only fuel the anger of the Arabs.’ No leader in the Arab world would be able to stop people expressing anger at such a move.” I have no reason to doubt him on that point.

I don’t know about anyone else, but all this war mongering makes me long for the days of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal when the only crisis at hand was whether or not the President had gotten oral sex from an intern. Maybe if Bush was busy getting a little extra “bush” on the side he wouldn’t be so frustrated and wouldn’t feel the need to run around starting wars all over the place.

31 thoughts on “Justifying going to war in the most simplistic way possible.

  1. I agreed wholeheartedly.  I long for the days of Clinton getting some being the “scandal.”  No one really got hurt because I don’t think Hilary overly cares and Bill was probably stoked that the whole world knew he was taking it to a younger woman.  Now we’re talking about many people suffering and increasing hostility in the world.

  2. Okay two diametrically opposed thoughts…

    “Vice President Dick Cheney sums up our justification to preemptively strike Iraq as follows: Iraq has chemical weapons. It’s seeking nuclear weapons and its leader is Saddam Hussein.” 

    Hits home with me…. I think this he has summed it up well… Saddam is another Hitler in Process… I’m afraid and selfish and would rather take him out than wait until I’ve lost someone or something important to my life and then have to do it anyway.  Yes, I am assuming (really believe) this is how it will eventually play out.  However these quotes hit me just as hard because I believe them to be just as true:

    China is against an attack on Iraq and not one of the Arab nations is keen on the idea either. As for Saddam, he’s naturally making claims that the threat of an attack from the U.S. doesn’t just target Iraq, but the whole Arab nation as well. True or not, it plays well in the Arab press. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told students in Alexandria, Egypt. “I said to the U.S. administration, ‘If you harm the Iraqi people while the Palestinians are still suffering, it would only fuel the anger of the Arabs.’ No leader in the Arab world would be able to stop people expressing anger at such a move.” I have no reason to doubt him on that point.

    Which means were screwed if we do and were screwed if we don’t. 

    So, War Mongering in general makes me feel lost, helpless, hopeles and most of all frightened. 

    YA BUSH JR needs a war to stay in office.  Otherwise he’d be a putz on the sliding in the muck with the American People.  If 9-11 hadn’t happened his career would have taken a dump.

  3. Great…So now were probably going to wage war on the moon! I guess it makes sense, the moon did decide to isolate itself from polite society by seperating itself from the Earth eons ago. We have been hit by space debris and although I can’t prove it, I believe that the denizens of the moon are behind this atrocity. There were countless Dinosaurs that died on American soil when one such attack occurred! We can sit no longer and watch while these evil-space-doers continue to plot against America and the American people. Even now they could be stockpiling warheads full of the Andromedia Strain and researching cold fusion bombs…how can we know? They won’t let us into their armories!

    I was prepared to lampoon Rumsfeld and the Bush administration for insulting the intelligence of the American public, and dare I say it, the world, with such a moronic comparison. Now I am glad I have a government that is finally prepared to confront the REAL dangers of our time! Today Iraq, tomorrow…THE MOON!

  4. Well, I long for the Clinton days too—after all, they were the days when the World Trade Center still existed and everyone who worked there was still alive.

    But those days are over now. Sitting back and complaining about how scared the government is making you feel isn’t going to make the threats they are trying to confront—however unsatisfactory or inept their efforts may turn out to be—vanish. I face the thought of more war with no joy whatsoever, but I’d like to know what alternatives you propose. (Besides the president having extra-marital sex.)

  5. Hmmm. Seems I hit on a topic folks have a lot of feelings on. That’s a good thing, means folks are thinking about it.

    My alternative to war? Peace. We go on and on about how hard we’re trying to bring about peace in the middle east between Israel and Palestine and then we sit back and start implying we might open a can of whupass on Iraq because they “might” pose a serious threat to the United States. The sum of our evidence to justify a war with Iraq to date is roughly that we “believe” they have chemical weapons, we “believe” they are trying to procure nuclear weapons, and Saddam doesn’t like us. The first two statements may very well be true, and we know the last one is, but so what?

    I might “believe” my neighbor has mace and I might “believe” my neighbor is trying to procure a gun and I might know that my neighbor doesn’t like me, but none of that justifies me going over to his house first and shooting him dead on the off chance he might be planning on attacking me. That doesn’t mean I don’t keep an eye on him and react appropriately if I see him heading my way with mace in one hand and a gun in the other, but until it’s clear I’m in danger from him I’m not justified in moving against him.

    If the Bush administration has evidence that Saddam is headed our way anytime soon then they need to stop being so secretive about it and put it on the table for everyone to see. It’s not just the American public that’s getting scared over all the saber rattling going on, every single one of our allies has expressed reluctance to go along with an attack on Iraq until some much better evidence is provided that it’s justified. Bush isn’t just pissing off the folks in the Arab world, he’s pissing off some of our staunchest allies as well. Now word comes that White House Lawyers are saying that Bush doesn’t even need Congressional approval to launch an attack against Iraq so even if Congress can’t decide on whether or not it’s a good idea he could still go ahead with it if he feels like it. Does anyone else find it an odd coincidence that Bush comes from a family that made it’s wealth in the oil industry and Iraq happens to control about 10% of the oil reserves in the middle east?

    The implications of that aside, until there is some hard proof that Saddam is up to no good there is no valid justification to going to war with him. Insisting on doing so will alienate us from long time friends as well as the shaky alliances we have forged in the middle east. Good, bad, or otherwise, Iraq is a sovereign nation and should be treated as such.

  6. Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinding hate.  Julius Caesar

  7. Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar. – Julius Caesar

  8. That is a great quote; however I doubt the validity.  There is speculation whether or not those words came from Caesar.

  9. Speak my mind that is exactly what I’m going to do. First of all Clinton should have been impeached for his actions and if you remember Clinton did go To Iraq and bomb him for three days Where you then, probably not born yet. did it solve anything NO.  Be glad you have a president that has enough courage not to care about your personal opinion and protect the USA from this psychotic murderer.  Your alternative to war Peace what a bunch of crap. How do you think you get to peace. How would you like to be one of the 6 million jews that suffered through Hitlers regime there is no difference Sadam is doing the same thing killing his own people…He needs to be stopped and if the USA is the only one that dhas enough courage to step up to the plate and stop him then so be it…

  10. Be glad you have a president that has enough courage not to care about your personal opinion…

    No arguments there, Baby Bush could give a crap what the American people think…that’s EXACTLY what I do NOT want in an elected (or in his case appointed) official! Apparently you hate your rights so much you desire the sweet sting of the whip keeping you and the rest of the slaves in line. If you want to be a simpering lapdog for the Commander and Theif be my guest, just shut your yap about how happy I should be that a coke sniffing underacheiver is ruining the country that I love. One more sound out of you and it’s a rolled up newspaper across your snout!

  11. Donald Rumsfeld was envoy to the middle east from
    83-84. That’s when the U.S. vetoed economic sanctions against Iraq. I realize we can’t change
    the past, but why on earth are people so damn
    gullible. Why isn’t anyone on the news talking
    about the fact that we want a new regime and we
    want oil? It is never covered. I don’t know what’s going on, but this chemical weapon stuff is
    bad, but we gave them the anthrax, right? And we can’t figure out why everyone hates us. I wonder what else I don’t know. Why did we give him anthrax? Why doesn’t anyone at least ask any questions. The moon analogy is quite bizarre.

  12. Did you mean Rumsfeld’s analogy or mine? My analogy was meant to be absurd, so incredibly ludicrous as to be inconceivable, meant to openly mock an administration that treats the American people like doddering simpletons. Unfortunately it has become apparent over time that many Americans are doddering simpletons and as long as you give them a flag to wave or a catchy tune (let’s say “proud to be an American”) they are mesmerized.

    The Press will not ask the tough questions for several reasons, the primary one in my opinion is because when we have a handful of powerful business magnates that own almost all of the “free” presses the news will be bent to fit their own agendas. Right now we have a bunch of shameless cheerleaders for the war from local Radio stations to CNN. If you want REAL news in this country you will need to look elsewhere for it, American news is the best news money can buy. Please stay tuned while we lull you into unconsciousness with news about who won last nights American Idol…

  13. if we chose peace, we americans would be speaking german
    if we chose peace, we americans would still be payin homage to the british parliament
    if we chose peace, we americans and hundreds of Europeans would have been slaughtered by the bloodthirsty boxers in china
    if we chose peace, there would be no united america, but two bitter american nations
    if we chose peace, millions more chinese would have been slaughtered by the Japanese empire
    if we chose peace, thousands more of innocent Iraqis would be slaughtered by thier mad dictator

    vengence may be God’s
    justice and defence are ours

  14. What Renee obviously meant about the matter if bush cares about your personal opinions, was that if he considered and acted on your (the antiwar individuals in this room, not everyones) personal opinions, then nothing at all would ever happen in this country. How could anything happen? Every time bush, or any other person of political importance, tried to initiate a law or anything else, he would be forced to stop. That is because, no matter the issue, their will always be people opposed to it. President Bush cannot even hope to please everyone. His duty as president is to do what he thinks is the right thing to do, through the way our government system works. Everything bush has done; lowered taxes, went to war, was approved by our legislature. You cannot blame everything on Bush. How about blaming your own liberal democrats that voted to go to war???

  15. I have just read many of the comments posted above. Have any of you ever read a history book? Have any of you ever researched world history? Have and of you ever took it upon yourself to research World War I, World War II, and other war’s the United States has fought in? I don’t mean the quick overview we receive in high school. I really think that you should be more informed. This may help you have a better understanding of what is happening now.

  16. Can’t speak for everyone, but I am a bit of a history buff myself. World War II is of particular interest, but I’ve not limited myself to that particular conflict. I’m probably better read than the average American at least.

    You’re implying that having that background will provide a better understanding of what’s happening now. I agree, but that doesn’t mean that the war in Iraq now is at all comparable to conflicts of the past. But you seem to have all the answers so why don’t you fill us in?

  17. Big history buff here. My interests are mostly restricted to Asian and colonial/pre-colonial Australian history, but I’m a big fan of the American civil war and Old west era. I don’t see what connections can be made between the American civil war and the invasion of Iraq though.

  18. I don’t think I’ve read this thread before – it’s interesting to go back and read a pre-war discussion. 

    “If we chose peace, we’d…” Many arguments for war derive from a false dichotomy of “war or disaster” as if war were the only, or the best way of addressing a problem. 

    When a problem is big enough to consider war, it’s hard to think beyond it. But wars are often an echo of a previous war, so when we propose a war we need to think about its echo. That oscillation needs to be damped.

  19. I did not say that the Civil War is similar to Iraq. I do think some opinions are blatantly ignorant. I also asked if any of you have researched world history. Im not asking any of you to agree or disagree with the war in Iraq. I am not stating that I do. Im asking everyone to attempt to understand the history of the middle east and the world. Im asking everyone to understand the many events in that region leading up to now. I am asking everyone to understand past wars. Also, wars are not always fought to address a particular problem. Some are purely strategic and political.

  20. Obviously some of you dont already know. Ok, now try to come up with a better comeback.

  21. Fuck you. How’s that? Either put up or shut up. If you’ve got something to back up your shit then say it, otherwise you’re just another idiot who’s wasting my time.

  22. Thats real genius genius dropping the f-bomb. You’re whats ruining the country. Everytime someone disagrees, you talk like an idiot instead of backing your shit up. I agree with stupid and bastard. But evil, no. You’re a harmless, dick less shit with nothing important to say.

  23. Repeating yourself from your emails now I see. Projection is a terrible thing, you should seek counseling.

  24. Thats real genius genius dropping the f-bomb. You’re whats ruining the country.

    Ahh, the ‘f-bomb’ – it sounds so awful, so destructive.  For some reason, that invective has been more or less arbitrarily chosen as offensive.

    What’s really offensive is the misuse, or non-use, of apostrophes.  Hardly anything so clearly signals low breeding, lack of refinement, and a careless disregard for the feelings of others as the failure to use an apostrophe where it is properly required.  rolleyes

    Either that, or when you’ve got nothing in the way of supporting facts and arguments, you can get all bent out of shape over the ‘f-’ word.

  25. Just researching a Rumsfeld quote and decided to re-read this. Mrod929, I’m pretty sure that I would rather have a F-Bomb dropped on me than a bunker buster, or a daisy cutter, or a cluster bomb. Even if it was a CLUSTER F-Bomb I would far prefer it. Can you imagine it? FUCK!!!! Fuck-fuck-fuck-fuckity-fuck! Fuck! Fuck-fuck. Fuck.

    fuck.

    And then every now and then when a small child or a woman out hanging her laundry found one – Fuck! Better than a REAL cluster bomb that blows your arms and legs from your body – Bang! I’ll take an F-Bomb ANY day of the week and if we can perfect the technology I recommend we use them in all future wars. Apparently they do great emotional and psychological damage to pussies like Mrod929!

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