Various thoughts and questions

Friday, February 14, 2003

Grown male children
David Brooks on PBS Friday Newshour has that boyish “We can beat ’em, so let’s go get ’em!” attitude of kids on playgrounds, kid sports. He assumes we’ll win any conflict we enter (Vietnam is not in his memory bank) in a few weeks or months and then be gone. Home. Occupation is not in his vocabulary, but how else will security in a tribally conflicted region be established?

The “establish democracy” float is a government cover for a lack of ideas and plans beyond conquest. It would be nice to think they hadn’t locked themselves into the one-way street to war, but the difficulty of eventually backing down looks even harder. For once, the Frenchman (Ambassador de Villepin) has it right in today’s speech at the United Nation’s Security Council:

“No one can assert today that the path of war will be shorter than that of the inspections. No one can claim either that it might lead to a safer, more just and more stable world. For war is always the sanction of failure. Would this be our sole recourse in the face of the many challenges at this time? …

“• We all share the same priority—that of fighting terrorism mercilessly. This fight requires total determination. Since the tragedy of September 11 this has been one of the highest priorities facing our peoples. And France, which was struck hard by this terrible scourge several times, is wholly mobilized in this fight which concerns us all and which we must pursue together. That was the sense of the Security Council meeting held on January 20, at France’s initiative.

“Ten days ago, the US Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, reported the alleged links between al-Qaeda and the regime in Baghdad. Given the present state of our research and intelligence, in liaison with our allies, nothing allows us to establish such links. On the other hand, we must assess the impact that disputed military action would have on this plan. Would not such intervention be liable to exacerbate the divisions between societies, cultures and peoples, divisions that nurture terrorism?

“France has said all along: We do not exclude the possibility that force may have to be used one day if the inspectors’ reports concluded that it was impossible to continue the inspections. The Council would then have to take a decision, and its members would have to meet all their responsibilities. In such an eventuality, I want to recall here the questions I emphasized at our last debate on February 4 which we must answer:

“To what extent do the nature and extent of the threat justify the immediate recourse to force?

“How do we ensure that the considerable risks of such intervention can actually be kept under control?

“In any case, in such an eventuality, it is indeed the unity of the international community that would guarantee its effectiveness. Similarly, it is the United Nations that will be tomorrow at the center of the peace to be built whatever happens.

“Mr. President, to those who are wondering in anguish when and how we are going to cede to war, I would like to tell them that nothing, at any time, in this Security Council, will be done in haste, misunderstanding, suspicion or fear…

“In this temple of the United Nations, we are the guardians of an ideal, the guardians of a conscience. The onerous responsibility and immense honor we have must lead us to give priority to disarmament in peace.

“This message comes to you today from an old country, France, from a continent like mine, Europe, that has known wars, occupation and barbarity. A country that does not forget and knows everything it owes to the freedom-fighters who came from America and elsewhere. And yet has never ceased to stand upright in the face of history and before mankind. Faithful to its values, it wishes resolutely to act with all the members of the international community. It believes in our ability to build together a better world. Thank you. “


And Ambassador Straw was also right on with his 1066 statement :

“Mr. President, I speak on behalf of a very old country founded (laughter) founded in 1066 by the French.”

I love the oblique slams at Rumsfeld’s gratuitously rude and insulting “Old Europe” comments.

We’ve all seen bloody, destructive wars. We haven’t all learned much from them. Europeans fought each other for centuries before WWII was over and resulted in the stalemate of the cold war. In our short history we’ve had our own bloody Civil War and joined the wars of others. Yet here we are, rushing out the banners of war all over again. For what?

Thursday, February 13, 2003

How not to treat your friends
1. We have refused (backed out of) without explanation treaties that were important to our allies – global warming, nuclear test ban, the ABM and more.

2. We have declared our intention to go it alone in foreign and military affairs, skipping over the UN, and starting pre-emptive wars.

3. We seem to have really listened to those ultra conservatives who have hated and tried to block our participation in the UN for 60 years.

4. We have insulted and belittled our allies (“friends”) to the point where they are now actively blocking our efforts to subdue Iraq and North Korea one way or another.

Our leaders haven’t learned that Might does not make Right, that the bully on the playground usually eventually gets his comeuppance, that the schoolboy posture of bullying, insulting and name calling is counterproductive. When we really need these allies and friends to help us out of a jamb, what do you suppose they’ll do? They’ll ever so politely turn their backs on us.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

A quote from a book
After the needless death of a youngest child.

“To resist occupation, whether you’re a nation or merely a woman, you must understand the language of your enemy. Conquest and liberation and democracy and divorce are words that mean squat, basically, when you have hungry children and clothes to get out on the line and it looks like rain.”

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kinsolving, Harper Perennial, 1999, p. 383.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Television “news”
So we see endless footage about the space shuttle, the Twin Tower atrocity, the death of Princess Diana – to mention just the ones that come to mind at the moment. Politicians want to jump on the coattails of events like this to make themselves look good to future voters. It appears to be what the attack on Saddam and Iraq is all about. Scary to think that we might be starting a war for the media coverage it will give our President, but that seems to be what’s driving Bush to a war whose aftermath will be disastrous for us and for the Iraqis.

Weapons of mass destruction? Where?

A nuclear program? Where?

Links to terrorists? Who? Where? How? When?

Slaughter of their own citizens with chemical weapons? Yes, in the 80’s.

Attacks on their neighbors? Yes, in the 80’s and early 90’s.

Current threat? Where? On the USA? You’re joking!

Sunday, February 02, 2003

The space shuttle has disintegrated
All 7 people on board have been lost. I hope they never knew what hit them, but that’s probably untrue. What a terrible tragedy!

There’s incredible media mourning and grief. Repeated endlessly over and over. Nothing else to be seen.

What will they (the media) do when the body bags start coming home from Georgie’s war? And coming, and coming for years?

Posted on February 14, 2003, in US Foreign Policy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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