Iraq War and Guestbook War
I believe in a peaceful future of humanity. But I am not a naive hippie. Nor a Trekker who has lost his sense of reality. I know the human nature that makes us struggle with each other. Most of all, selfishness of leaders and herd instinct of their followers. Under some circumstances, diplomacy is not sufficient to enforce international laws and to preserve our safety. Ultimately it may be even justified to start a war, sacrificing few at the benefit of millions. Nonetheless I am sure that the Iraq War pushed through by George Bush and Tony Blair is wrong.
A Star Trek site is certainly not the best place for real-world political discussions. We should leave out our preconceptions and all the problems of real life and just enjoy the show. After all, that's what Star Trek and any entertainment is chiefly made for.
But there are times when real life ultimately prevails. As this is a personal website, I have taken the freedom to express my personal opinions about real-world topics. The first time I crossed that line was on September 11th, 2001. I spontaneously expressed my heartfelt condolences to the victims and my death wishes to bin Laden, and later wrote an editorial about the attack and its consequences. Not a single person complained about putting the focus on real life, much less about the views I expressed. Quite the contrary happened when I decided to suspend site updates with the beginning of the US-British invasion of Iraq:
"George Bush is waging a personal and unlawful war against Iraq, a war that will cost the lives of thousands of innocent people and that will have incalculable consequences. Acting like that, Bush is undermining any effort to achieve peace in the Near East, the American-European friendship, and the authority of the UNO. Whilst my best wishes go to the US and British soldiers that the war will be over soon, I strongly disapprove of the motives of their leaders. This is not the time for wrong patriotism. I don't feel like doing business as usual and I will suspend site updates until further notice. Feel free to go to my Guestbook to leave comments."
When I posted this comment, I already knew that I would open a can of worms. First of all, "punishing" visitors was not my intention. As I said, my personal interests shifted, and I just didn't want to do business as usual, while people were dying in a war that I saw as unjust. But I finally recognized that refusing to go on having fun is not the right way either. As someone said on a German TV show: "I was asked if we could do this show during the war. But this is clearly better than turning war into a show."
It was obvious that many visitors would disagree with me on the topic, although our opinions may not be that far apart. After all, I do acknowledge that there are reasons to attack Iraq. But the time, the circumstances and the supposed motives of George Bush is something I can never approve of. There is something wrong with a world in which the leader of the most powerful nation may make up reasons to attack a weak country, against the will of most of his partners and of the United Nations. Even if the details are debatable (like the actual terrorist threat imposed by Iraq, the state of their chemical weapons, the true nature of Resolution 1441 or the extent of international support for the USA), this is what I criticized in essence. I will cheer when Saddam is removed from power and best of all dead, but this comes at a high price and will establish an unhealthy precedence for the future -- possibly leading to an endless circle of violence.
I am glad that most visitor posts in my Guestbook presented evidence and valid arguments instead of propaganda. But some resorted to intrinsic militarism and jingoism, or even to obsolete WW II prejudices. Whoever is talking bullshit like that and insults his opponents because of living in the wrong country is not worth being listened to at all. I am sorry that I permitted myself to be dragged down to that level.
Likewise, I would like to point out that not all anti-war people are alike. What the pro-war faction sees in them may be some sort of hippie movement, or violent street protesters, or even the "human shields" -- the idiots who go to Baghdad to keep the US from bombing. But that is not the peace movement. The real peace movement is composed of people of all ages and all political flavors who have made up their minds, who are further thinking about what they are seeing on TV, who are concerned about the future of humanity. The pro-war side is free to draw different conclusions and vote in favor of the old ways. But I won't allow myself to be accused of cowardice, of Anti-Americanism or even of being in support of Hussein only because I don't support the old ways any longer.
I am fully aware that I have provoked hostile reactions by some "patriotic Americans" (many of whom felt the need to insult Germany or France for not supporting them). But the USA is not a nation that blindly follows its leader, which would be sad and worrying. There are many Americans who are critical about their government. But this doesn't mean they shouldn't support their troops in times of war. And this solidarity shouldn't be a solely American matter. In a way, I am glad for the job the US and UK military is doing to end this nightmare of terror, oppression and war in Iraq, and I'm sorry if my opinion offends them (I'm also in contact with a fellow Trekker on his way to the Gulf). They must finish their job, now that there is no turning back, or Hussein will win once again. But "patriotic" can and must have a different meaning than gladly going to war whenever Uncle Sam calls and having blind faith in the wisdom of their leaders. True patriots, in very different fashions, act in the interest of their country. Bush, in my honest opinion, doesn't.
The bottom line is that I'm torn. I'm with the allied troops now (just like Saddam *could have* started this war as well), but I will not forget how Bush actually incited it.
A Warmonger Explains War to a Peacenik by Anonymous
Christopher Kurtz found this masterful piece. I know it has a definite anti-war bias and the facts are debatable. But I think it perfectly sums up the whole discussion about the Iraq War.
PeaceNik: Why did you say are we invading Iraq?
WarMonger: We are invading Iraq because it is in violation of security council resolution 1441. A country cannot be allowed to violate security council resolutions.
PN: But I thought many of our allies, including Israel, were in violation of more security council resolutions than Iraq.
WM: It's not just about UN resolutions. The main point is that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction, and the first sign of a smoking gun could well be a mushroom cloud over NY.
PN: Mushroom cloud? But I thought the weapons inspectors said Iraq had no nuclear weapons.
WM: Yes, but biological and chemical weapons are the issue.
PN: But I thought Iraq did not have any long range missiles for attacking us or our allies with such weapons.
WM: The risk is not Iraq directly attacking us, but rather terrorists networks that Iraq could sell the weapons to.
PN: But couldn't virtually any country sell chemical or biological materials? We sold quite a bit to Iraq in the eighties ourselves, didn't we?
WM: That's ancient history. Look, Saddam Hussein is an evil man that has an undeniable track record of repressing his own people since the early eighties. He gasses his enemies. Everyone agrees that he is a power-hungry lunatic murderer.
PN: We sold chemical and biological materials to a power-hungry lunatic murderer?
WM: The issue is not what we sold, but rather what Saddam did. He is the one that launched a pre-emptive first strike on Kuwait.
PN: A pre-emptive first strike does sound bad. But didn't our ambassador to Iraq, April Gillespie, know about and green-light the invasion of Kuwait?
WM: Let's deal with the present, shall we? As of today, Iraq could sell its biological and chemical weapons to Al Qaida. Osama Bin Laden himself released an audio tape calling on Iraqis to suicide-attack us, proving a partnership between the two.
PN: Osama Bin Laden? Wasn't the point of invading Afghanistan to kill him?
WM: Actually, it's not 100% certain that it's really Osama Bin Laden on the tapes. But the lesson from the tape is the same: there could easily be a partnership between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein unless we act.
PN: Is this the same audio tape where Osama Bin Laden labels Saddam a secular infidel?
WM: You're missing the point by just focusing on the tape. Powell presented a strong case against Iraq.
PN: He did?
WM: Yes, he showed satellite pictures of an Al Qaida poison factory in Iraq.
PN: But didn't that turn out to be a harmless shack in the part of Iraq controlled by the Kurdish opposition?
WM: And a British intelligence report...
PN: Didn't that turn out to be copied from an out-of-date graduate student paper?
WM: And reports of mobile weapons labs...
PN: Weren't those just artistic renderings?
WM: And reports of Iraqis scuttling and hiding evidence from inspectors...
PN: Wasn't that evidence contradicted by the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix?
WM: Yes, but there is plenty of other hard evidence that cannot be revealed because it would compromise our security.
PN: So there is no publicly available evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
WM: The inspectors are not detectives, it's not their JOB to find evidence. You're missing the point.
PN: So what is the point?
WM: The main point is that we are invading Iraq because resolution 1441 threatened "severe consequences." If we do not act, the security council will become an irrelevant debating society.
PN: So the main point is to uphold the rulings of the security council?
WM: Absolutely. ...unless it rules against us.
PN: And what if it does rule against us?
WM: In that case, we must lead a coalition of the willing to invade Iraq.
PN: Coalition of the willing? Who's that?
WM: Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, and Italy, for starters.
PN: I thought Turkey refused to help us unless we gave them tens of billions of dollars.
WM: Nevertheless, they may now be willing.
PN: I thought public opinion in all those countries was against war.
WM: Current public opinion is irrelevant. The majority expresses its will by electing leaders to make decisions.
PN: So it's the decisions of leaders elected by the majority that is important?
PN: But George Bush wasn't elected by voters. He was selected by the U.S. Supreme C...-
WM: I mean, we must support the decisions of our leaders, however they were elected, because they are acting in our best interest. This is about being a patriot. That's the bottom line.
PN: So if we do not support the decisions of the president, we are not patriotic?
WM: I never said that.
PN: So what are you saying? Why are we invading Iraq?
WM: As I said, because there is a chance that they have weapons of mass destruction that threaten us and our allies.
PN: But the inspectors have not been able to find any such weapons.
WM: Iraq is obviously hiding them.
PN: You know this? How?
WM: Because we know they had the weapons ten years ago, and they are still unaccounted for.
PN: The weapons we sold them, you mean?
PN: But I thought those biological and chemical weapons would degrade to an unusable state over ten years.
WM: But there is a chance that some have not degraded.
PN: So as long as there is even a small chance that such weapons exist, we must invade?
PN: But North Korea actually has large amounts of usable chemical, biological, AND nuclear weapons, AND long range missiles that can reach the west coast AND it has expelled nuclear weapons inspectors, AND threatened to turn America into a sea of fire.
WM: That's a diplomatic issue.
PN: So why are we invading Iraq instead of using diplomacy?
WM: Aren't you listening? We are invading Iraq because we cannot allow the inspections to drag on indefinitely. Iraq has been delaying, deceiving, and denying for over ten years, and inspections cost us tens of millions.
PN: But I thought war would cost us tens of billions.
WM: Yes, but this is not about money. This is about security.
PN: But wouldn't a pre-emptive war against Iraq ignite radical Muslim sentiments against us, and decrease our security?
WM: Possibly, but we must not allow the terrorists to change the way we live. Once we do that, the terrorists have already won.
PN: So what is the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security, color-coded terror alerts, and the Patriot Act? Don't these change the way we live?
WM: I thought you had questions about Iraq.
PN: I do. Why are we invading Iraq?
WM: For the last time, we are invading Iraq because the world has called on Saddam Hussein to disarm, and he has failed to do so. He must now face the consequences.
PN: So, likewise, if the world called on us to do something, such as find a peaceful solution, we would have an obligation to listen?
WM: By "world", I meant the United Nations.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the United Nations?
WM: By "United Nations" I meant the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the Security Council?
WM: I meant the majority of the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the majority of the Security Council?
WM: Well... there could be an unreasonable veto.
PN: In which case?
WM: In which case, we have an obligation to ignore the veto.
PN: And if the majority of the Security Council does not support us at all?
WM: Then we have an obligation to ignore the Security Council.
PN: That makes no sense.
WM: If you love Iraq so much, you should move there. Or maybe France, with all the other cheese-eating surrender monkeys. It's time to boycott their wine and cheese, no doubt about that.
PN: I give up!
"A Warmonger Explains War to a Peacenik" was found at http://www.minimumeffort.com/nutshell.html (now defunct).