Thursday, December 25, 2003

Ideas Flowing, Hiatus Slowing, Waging War, Burden Of Proof

Since my time will be very limited on offline work projects, if I get a run of ideas, I will just post them as I took notes on them in real-time (similar to the Stream of Commute, but not always, as in this case, on the commute).

deeply opposed war. on principle. on the justifications, or lack of them.

when looking at the key points, you see there is little closure, and tons of speculation and obfuscation. this is used against those still making the case that the war is unjustified, as if the burden of proof is on those who begged the question of the wisdom of the action proposed (ostensibly in favor of other actions with the available resources), and not those who took action.

in reality, the administration generated enough fear, out of the fear of 9/11, to go ahead with the action, knowing full well that once the action was under way, they could rely on the human penchant to justify what is already done. This is exactly what happened. Once the action was committed to and ongoing, the nation was too, as the poll numbers drastically swayed, based upon nothing other than taking action itself.

it is here that the burden of proof seemingly changed. if I raise my objections to the war, I have to juxtapose them against charges that I don't think capturing Saddam was a good thing, that we are more secure now.

indeed, the whole point of the objection to the war was that Saddam was not clearly an imminent threat to us, to which we should devote our national life and resources, blood and treasure, to eliminating.

and is this really the rationale behind the war? that we are "more secure" now that Saddam is deposed? wasn't it more than that, that not only was he a source of insecurity, but that he was an imminent threat, or danger, to us?

if so, being "more secure" isn't good enough. for there's plenty of ways we can make ourselves more secure. in an odd way, we act as if the vagaries of the world economy and market are eminently predictable, and thus not a great threat if we cause international discord, while the actions of Saddam are clearly fuzzy and random, prone to unexpected and irrational novelty, leaving us a vague sense of anxiety and fear we cannot tolerate.

to be frank, it wasn't framed like this anyway. if I propose an action, and whether or not everyone is convinced or not undertake it, and then a year later look back and say, "you see, after our historic investment in alternative and sustainable energy, we have not only made ourselves, but our economy and the interlinked world economy more secure by being dramatically less dependent on Middle Eastern oil."

this would be frame, proposal, evidence, and proof lining up consistently. on the other hand, with Iraq, we have more than a handful of reasons, alternately used and emphasized, and end up with a success that does not follow from any of the legitimate justifications for the war.

can we morally justify going to war just to feel more secure, in a world that is inherently insecure, with international relations essentially being predicated on this fact (insecurity) throughout the modern era?

I hope not. it's less than rational, and not cooperative. not that there weren't rational reasons (though radical) for deposing Saddam, but these were not championed as justifications for the war, and obviously not so because of international backlash and conflict that would ensue.

so which was it that led to the war? duplicitous and visionary rationalism (pnac), or reactionary and well-meaning irrationalism?


also, obsession with an action, or behavior, once underway, as if the only action that could have been taken, instead of other actions, in which a better case could have been made, using American values and tangible benefits to American citizens.

the fears of Saddam were largely phantom, but our dependency on foreign oil, and the insecurity of Americans in a period of unprecedented unemployment (i.e. dependency on jobs, something that should be recognized by those opposed to the welfare state), are real, tangible things, and not phantoms.


stages. once underway (war), opposing is treason, hurts the troops, even if advocating they come home, along with a wiser course of action involving life and resources. as if once committed, must win, no matter the cost, or sanity or wisdom.

after, at least psychologically, with saddam captured, not about troops, but about questioning "success".

we can see real reason for war here. saddam. scary. get saddam. mission accomplished. we feel safer, more secure.

I respond, ok, why didn't you just say so in the beginning (rhetorical question), what did it cost, in life and prosperity (rather than measured in the more "romantic" blood and treasure)? Here's what we could have done...