To Cam: Perhaps I should have explained myself a little further, but I was annoyed and I wanted to go home. I did not dismiss Say’s comments as being irrelevant to life in general, or even irrelevent to his or others’ overall opinions of the U.S. What I did do was dismiss them as irrelevant to the question of whether the U.S. should take military action to effect a regime change in Iraq, removing Saddam Hussein and disarming both him and Iraq of the fully functional chemical and biological agents, and of any nascent nuclear technology.
While the relative wealth of the U.S. may be fodder for conversation about either socialist principles or the fact that Americans have amassed this wealth in a system with a much greater degree of freedom (and lesser degree of socialism) than in many of the countries that complain about the amount of wealth owned by American citizens and corporations, but they are not relevant to the Iraq question. Similarly, the amount we spend on defense is also completely irrelevant. The oil thing I’m not even going to bother with – it’s ludicrous, it’s made up in whole cloth with no facts on the basis of what some people who go in for grand conspiracies think “looks funny,” and it’s illogical given their premises.
Now, there are a few things Say mentions that initially look relevant, but really aren’t. Most of those apply to your Biblical reference about casting the first stone. That’s great, and good wisdom if one is thinking of stoning a woman for adultry, but lets look at the way people seem to be applying that wisdom. The lesson seems to be that you cannot take corrective action if you made a past mistake in judgment (or else some people may cry “Hypocrisy,” and that just won’t do at all). Aside from the fact that we’re not even talking about the same governments/administrations when we refer to alleged past American policies of supporting Saddam or not complaining when he gassed Iranians or Kurds, the policy of not being able to fix one’s mistakes is not one I would wish to encourage. Trying to sort out who is to blame after the problem is solved is all well and good, but it does not bear any relevance on whether the problem should be solved – or on the method one should use to solve it.
Now, as to your pearl of wisdom about walking a mile on another’s shoes, I do believe that a quick review of the U.S. and British dossier (it was actually based on facts assembled by Amnesty International) of Saddam’s human rights violations on his own people, or his treatment of the Kurds, will suffice to show that perhaps their current lot isn’t such that they would terribly mind being liberated and set up with a democratic state. Call up one of the old threads on Iraq – I put a link to the report on there. I believe that perhaps the “opinion on the street” you see broadcast back here that show Iraqi citizens’ support of Saddam could be influenced just a wee bit by the fact that Saddam would, at the very least, cut out their tongues if they criticized him to the Western media.
Lastly, as to the “callous” statement that there are casualties in war, is it not true? The U.S. is going to do its best to minimize casualties – even now there are plans being laid out not only to control the direct casualties by enticing the generals to surrender or avoiding civilian losses, but also indirect casualties, by seizing and protecting hospitals, water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, etc. However, there will still be casualties – and the deepest fear of most in the West is that Saddam will inflict them on his own people. We will do what we can to minimize them – including, if I understand what I know of the plans, putting American lives at greater risk in order to minimize civilian casualties. However, war will have casualties. The question to ask is whether those casualties are worth the good of threat reduction for the world and lifting the Iraqi people from under the current despotism that makes their lives so miserable. This is a decision leaders have to make and live with. Opposing threats on the international scale can sometimes only be accomplished with bloodshed – see WWII as a prime example. Acknowledging that fact is not the same as not caring about it.
Cam, even though we disagree, I appreciate your opinions and your thoughtfulness. I wish more people would put a little time into thinking about what they believe.