Friday, April 27, 2007

Let's be specific

Believe it or not, I've gotten to know Jeff Emanuel through discussions on blogs and through a few email exchanges. It's safe to say that we have massive, fundamental disagreements over politics and ideology, but he seems to be a nice guy who's mighty cordial to me.

Emanuel has been given a unique opportunity to be embedded, for a short period of time, with U.S. troops in Iraq, and he's started to write some about those experiences. His most recent column is a little odd to me because, well, it implies something which never actually occurred.

He argues that the work of the troops are 'winning over journalists.' Now, he acknowledges in his column that some - in fact most - of those embedded hold some sort of opposition to the war, so the troops are swaying their mind in the philosophical debate of whether or not we should be involved in this conflict. Instead, he argues that the journalists now, in essence, like the troops.

I'm not sure what this means because in order for this argument to work the journalists would have to have been vehemently opposed to the troops themselves ... which obviously isn't the case at all.

Kicking open doors harboring hostile individuals or standing guard over a building are dangerous things that - regardless of one's belief regarding the actual conflict - one has to say it takes a measure of courage to do. Likewise, spending large portions of time with any group of people in such dangerous conditions, sometimes resulting in some of them saving your life, will foster fond feelings of friendship between the members of said group.

That doesn't mean, however, they opinions of the war itself are any different.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Jeff's blog...

“The sense I get when talking to the other soldiers,” said a public affairs soldier, “is that the worst thing possible would be to give a date when we’re leaving, period. We all want to win, and to accomplish our mission, especially since we’ve put so much into doing it so far. To just up and leave would be terrible.” I asked what effect such statements as Harry Reid’s “the war is lost,” and Nancy Pelosi’s “the war on terror is not in Iraq” have on the troops’ morale and opinions of their mission, and also pointed out the relevance of John Kerry’s 1971 statement to Congress that nobody wants to be “the last man to die for a lost cause,” and asked how that – and the fact that Congress had just passed resolutions mandating troop pullouts in five months – and asked about that affect, as well. The response was, “It’s terrible. I mean, I understand political posturing and all that but it really is terrible. If the war is lost and we need to go home, then why do we need to stay here five more months, when I could die or my friends could die before we go home? The war is either over or it isn’t; this just doesn’t make sense.” The Specialist continued, “What we want is to keep helping the people here. The people at home who say these things, they don’t understand that these are people who have to live here after we leave, whatever the situation is. These people and the things that happen here aren’t real to them, and they can’t understand unless they’ve been here and seen it.”

Says it all, re the Democratic "leadership."

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Of course the journalists 'embedded' are against the troops themselves. It is not possible, in my judgment, to support the troops without supporting their mission.

Regarding Harry bin Reid, I am reminded of a quote by Abraham Lincoln: "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged."

12:42 AM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

“What we want is to keep helping the people here. The people at home who say these things, they don’t understand that these are people who have to live here after we leave, whatever the situation is. These people and the things that happen here aren’t real to them, and they can’t understand unless they’ve been here and seen it.”

Doesn't the italicized portion highlight also a fundamental problem in the conservative support of the war, namely that you can't understand unless you are there? It seems that, even if one supports the war, without knowing the complete consequences of completing the war, without knowing up close the sounds and smells of what it means to continually liberate Iraq, that is as meaningless a support as calling the war a lost cause is meaningless without being there.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think WWII was a good idea, but I wasn't there to fight it.

I'm glad the Union won the Civil War, but I wasn't there to fight it.

I'm happy we won the American Revolution, but I wasn't there to fight it .

Does the fact that I wasn't there to fight make my opinions invalid?

Or what I about this: I root for the Bulldogs, but I've never played college football.

Should I not cheer?

6:44 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Jeff is quoting a "public affairs soldier" who is expressing his thought that people who do not support the war and want to withdraw do not understand what toll leaving will take on the people of Iraq. They do not understand because those people are not real to them.

It's an understandable principle to have, where being "real" can make one have some fresh authenticity in one's views. Like in that old television show, you stop being fake/polite, you start being real/honest. But if the real brings that authenticity to your view, it does the same for supporting the war.

It is not a question, so I take it for the soldier, of the invalidity or validity of opinions. It's whether the opinion, moved by an encounter with the real, goes beyond "political posturing" to a decision that is authentic. But the same is then true of support for the war. Sure, you can think WWII was a good idea, but the sound and smell of the burning Japanese on Iwo Jima is not real for you. You can be glad that the Union won, but the sight of men without their jaws or their arms walking home through the woods is not real for you.

I take it that it was never for the soldier a question of whether you should or should not "support the war." Rather, to experience the real, this will show one the consequences of the decisions made through political posturing. Whether this means you, anonymous, can or cannot support the war is not at issue. It is a question of whether your own support is just as much political posturing as what goes on among the Democrats, and, therefore, meaningless and without understanding.

Also, note that the soldier says the exact same thing Jeff cited as Kerry's statement. The soldier is precisely asking why any soldier should die for something that is a lost cause: "If the war is lost and we need to go home, why do we need to stay here five more months, when I could die or my friends could die before we go home?" Why should he or any of his friends be the last man?

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Exactly. Which is why Harry's statement that the war is "lost" was completely inappropriate. It was treasonous, it was sabotage, and he should be arrested, exiled, and/or hanged. (I vote for number 3.)

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Republicans lost the war with mismanagement, narrow minded planning, poor decision making, lack of strategy, contrived intelligence, no real plan of attack or exit, and failure to complete the mission in Afghanistan. Democrats are merely trying to extract our troops with a degree of dignity and proper funding, something President Bush refuses to acknowledge. Like it or not, GOP, this albatross is around your neck, not Reid or Pelosi.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Xon said...

If the way is already over, then what is the point of "proper funding"? Proper funding for an exit is all you mean, right? Making sure that the planes and ships are all gassed up?

The impasse is still where it always was: is the war justified or not? The current debate over whether and how much and for how long we are going to continue funding the war still comes back to that basic question, doesn't it? Nobody who thinks the war is justified is going to countenance the kind of "exit strategy" the Dems are proposing, and is going to be aghast at claims that the war is already "lost."

Likewise, anyone who thinks the war was unjust from the get-go is going to jump on whatever political strategy they think is available to end the war as soon as possible. If that means this latest round of funding conditioned on an exit date, then they're going to be fine with that. But nobody should be surprised that supporters of the war are so vehemently against this move.

Whether the war really is already "lost" is precisely what the two sides are still disagreeing over. When your cause is just, it is hard to ever admit that you've lost, especially when the battles aren't being fought on your own turf. (Sherman and his ilk were able to break the will of the supporters of "the cause" directly; not a likely scenario for this war). And hearing fellow countrymen proclaiming that it's already over, no matter how incompetent the strategy has been up to this point, is appalling.

All of this said, mind you, by a conservative who OPPOSED the war from the beginning.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The war is not already lost nor has retreat been sounded by Pelosi and Reid. Proper funding is something the GOP has not done since "Just say No" and "No Child Left Behind" and any number of federal mandates. Republicans seems hellbent on reinventing the boogie man or woman rather than addressing the basic tenets of an ill-advised and somewhat convulted attempt at taking over the oil supplies of Iraq. If President Bush would get on TV tomorrow and enunciate this to the American people, his ratings would shoot through the roof. Additionally, the way to stop the civil war is to partition Iraq much like the former Yugoslavia: Kuridistan has been a de facto country for a better part of a decade; now just make it formal and establish a Sunnistan and a Shiastan and let them all have a real chunk of the oil profits. 30 years from now when the last of the Persian Gulf petroleum is pumped out of the ground, we will look back at the buffoonery of the Bush administrations and wonder why we went through all the lies and deaths of Americans needlessly.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

My point, Chuck, is that Kerry was vilified for saying in his speech before Congress that no one wants to be the last man to die for a mistake, for asking how we can ask any one of our soldiers to be that last man. Yet, this PAO asks precisely the same question, but since it comes from him we are supposed to say, "That's right! We should continue to prosecute this war! It's not over yet!!"

Of course, the PAO probably doesn't, or wouldn't say that he does, believe that Iraq is not worth the decades of warfare it will take to undo what a few years of American ham-handedness had done. As he will tell the embedded reporters who ask, this war is for the people of Iraq, rescuing them from themselves and their neighbors. As Emanuel's own blog claims, you simply cannot trust the Iraqi people, because they are either corrupt or incompetent, but altogether deadly and dangerous to soldiers and mercenaries. So, the PAO wants to say that we're trying to save the people, but the contractors hired to kill the untrustworthy ones. No doubt, a complicated situation.

But that just works that much more for the PAO's point: there's enough for someone on the outside to see that Iraq is not obviously a won war nor a lost war. To truly see what is going on in Iraq, you have to go and be there and be a part of it. Emanuel is doing that, and reporting back on it. Perhaps we'll get his first-hand, up-close experience of the real. Because, clearly, being in the thick and the middle of a complicated, dangerous mess where one's life is always in jeopardy grants one the authenticity to stand on principle. Or else the PAO is just wrong about that.

Chuck, if you want to murder a seated member of Congress, that bodes ill. Using the color of law to kill people who have different opinions from yours is itself a capital offense. Clearly, Reid did not commit treason, but if you believe that expressing an opinion about an on-going military operation that conflicts with your opinion is grounds for execution, then you are hardly a conservative, a Christian, or a decent human being.

It's bravado talk, internet machismo. So why do you say it? Do you really think that you are doing a great service to either Christ Jesus or the soldiers in Iraq when you want violence done against people who don't share your opinion? What possible reason could you have for saying such a horrible thing about someone elected to Congress, suggesting that he should be murdered under color of law? How do you go from "saying something inappropriate" to hanging the person who said it?

My leftist friends, the ones who march here in Athens and try to raise their collective voices together in the name of peace, they don't wish for anyone to die or be shot or be hanged. Violence, not someone using a situation for political advantage, is our true enemy, and it is against their principle to wish that further people die. Do you also believe in peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding? Or do you believe in a selective death, a killing that silences the threat?

You're not simply yukking it up on a message blog, having fun with pissing people off and toasting their weaknesses and insecurities, while you celebrate your inwardness and strength of spirit to stand tall for what you believe against the ignorant, the obscene, and the oppressive. If you want to tell a joke, have it be humorous. If you want to dissent, have it be courageous. If you want to kill, have it be out of mind. To be a follower of Christ means there is no moment where you can stop, switch it off, and then suggest that people be killed for their politics. Either the Gospel is one of love, or it is one of killing opposition. Before you speak or write so unwittingly next time, recall that even Michael refused to insult the devil. Before you continue to act by the unreasoning instinct of an animal, know that this will destroy you.

There are ways to dissent with the Democrats which do not call for their death. There are ways to dignify and grant honor to the people of our armed forces which do not impugn and insult those who would want them safe from harm. Can you not recognize that what we all want is for human beings, men and women, to not be shot, burned, stabbed, executed, torn in half, exploded?

Whoever would want those things for our armed forces, in order to give us who are not exposed to such things the appearance of security, that is someone who must be rebuked.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bless you, polus.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Poulousplagchanos: Since you again presume to criticize me for not being a good enough Christian, you must be a Catholic bishop - so, may it please Your Excellency:

Does Your Excellency have a problem with the actual statement by Lincoln? That congressmen (and I'll include Senators in that) who deliberately try to undermine and demoralize our military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged?

Expressing an opinion is one thing - deliberately attempting to demoralize troops for nothing more than political gain is quite another. It is sabotage. At least according to Lincoln. It does not seem that Your Excellency's problem is with me, rather it is with Lincoln.

Peace is great. Peace at any price is not. I hate to use pop culture examples, but think of Star Wars Episode 3. When instructing Dh. Vader to destroy the Jedi, Dh. Sidious said something to the effect of, when all the good people are eliminated, then there will be peace. Do we really want peace at ANY price?

Should we have let Hitler continue his reign of terror, on the grounds that "what we all want is for human beings, men and women, to not be shot, burned, stabbed, executed, torn in half, exploded [and therefore we don't want to go to war]??"

Should we leave Iraq to become another Taliban state (just as Afghanistan became when Soviet troops pulled out) from which Osama can launch more attacks against America? How many more 9/11's does there have to be before America unites behind our military to destroy these enemies?

Maybe I should ask a more basic question - does Your Excellency (and anyone else who deigns to respond) believe that there is EVER ANYTHING worth fighting for? Or should we have peace at any price?

Kneeling to kiss the pastoral ring, I have the honour to remain Your Excellency's most humble and obedient servant,

Chuck.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Given that the currents of the old Southern conservatism appeal to me, I still retain a profound and committed disgust of Lincoln and the aggravated federal dominion that he singlehandedly and dictatorially instated. So, I'm hardly in any kind of bind if you say that you side with Lincoln or my disagreement is with him. Of course it's with him: the cult of Lincoln has blinded those whose proper appreciation for conservatism should have turned them against both his pragmatic use of human beings as political chattel and his wanton disregard for the very principles of the republic he sacrificed to regain industrial might. I'll repeat a refrain some others are probably tired of hearing or reading from me: it is a sad day for conservatism when its most pugnacious defenders on the internet have lost all sense of its own most powerful principles. As a leftist, I'll weap for the loss of a stalwart rival, replaced as it was by the thousands of immature welps clamoring to all say the same things.

It's funny that you would bring up the destruction of the Republic in the Star Wars mythology. Although to most people who casually observe the movie, it is clear that the movements made by the Chancellor-then-Emperor are non-subtle allusions to one administration's move to eliminate the plurality of the republic in favor of congregating power into the hands of the administration, you want to say that it's about peaceniks wanting peace at any price. Given that we are daily sacrificing our own dignity and privacy and honor for security at any price, you should be asking why we would allow the administration of the FBI and CIA, directed by Bush officials, to purchase for us "security" at so great a price that we can't ever live peacefully in that security.

Now, if you want to say that the only way to have stopped Hitler was to kill him through armed military response, I have to ask two things. One, why, then, didn't the United States go on to kill Stalin with armed military response, when clearly the war crimes and horror of Stalin manifestly overshadow those of Hitler? Two, if your response to my suggestion that we not kill Reid out of a desire of peace is to point out that we killed Hitler for peace and we needed to kill Hitler for that peace, then I have to ask you if you consider Reid's statements to be as morally disastrous as Hitler's political and social policy of murdering human beings.

Because, it seems to me, that even if a person commits something you morally disagree with, there are degrees of guilt, and likewise degrees of punishment or rehabilitation. The punishment for failure to use one's turn signal is not the same for failure to not stick a knife into someone's stomach after raping them. But if you think that killing Reid for saying a thing is the proper punishment, when killing Hitler was the proper punishment, I do have to question if you see those things as morally indistinguishable.

I did not say that we should have "peace at any price." You support the war, so tell us all: what will it take for the Terror Alert to be green? When the United States finally, as you put it, "destroys our enemies?" What cost will it take for the War on Terror to be over? The same that still maintains the Wars on Poverty and Drugs? Again, it's not leftists who are in control of the death of the plurality of the Republic, nor were they back in the 1860s. The "party of Lincoln" retains the same flavor then as it does now: imposition of rule over the discontent, and a failure to properly manage a Reconstruction.

I do think there are things worth fighting for. The attack on Iraq, a near unilateral decision by the United States, was a declaration of war by a President upon a sovereign nation that bore no threat whatsoever to the US mainland (there was a threat to the soldiers enforcing the No Fly Zones, to be sure). Congress offered little resistance to the move, and neither did the populist press, and so to war the nation went and continues to go. If you want to say that the Iraqi people, themselves, were and are worth fighting for, then my response is that if they were always the cause, then they should always have been the cause, not the "security" of the people of the United States. By taking them to be the cause only after it had been revealed as fraud the accusations made by the US concerning Iraqi efforts to arm themselves with WMDs, we demonstrate just how cheaply we regard those same people we claim to be saving. If the people of Iraq are the cause worth fighting for, then a multinational coalition, just as what was cobbled together to prosecute WWII, should have been assembled, for military and for reconstruction efforts. Not just for the pragmatic reason of spreading the cost, but also to increase the levels of cooperation and mutual respect among the nations of the world at a time when that is sorely needed. Sovereign nations that cannot respect one another cannot trade with one another, but again why should I, the leftist, point out something so obvious to the conservative eager to give death to his enemies?

I do think there are things worth fighting for. It is this aftermath of using our soldiers to protect the free market profit of reconstruction corporations that ought to leave a distinct and sour taste in the mouths of anyone who thinks that a soldier's life should never be used to return a bigger bottom line to a corporation. They are not mercenaries, nor are they security guards, but they are the men and women of our armed forces, sworn to protect our Constitution and our republic, not the investments of KBR or Bechtel (before they pulled out). If the free market works as well as Emanuel claims it does in the post I earlier linked to, then let it supply Iraq with the armed power necessary for reconstruction. But because it fails, we send in our armed forces. All along the proper course of action should never have been the destroy the things we would later need to rebuild the daily lives of the Iraqi people, but it has been a strategic failure on the part of the US to play up our inability to discriminately kill as necessity to indiscriminately destroy. And the men and women will lose their lives to fight for obscuring that failure. That, to me, is not worth fighting for.

I do think there are things worth fighting for. I do think that the life of a soldier is a paradox: earnest training and preparation to do something we pray will never have to be done. It is because I value human life that I do not wish our armed forces to be used so wantonly as to settle a personal score, to intimidate the international community, to create research opportunities for the testing of new military hardware and techniques. I rather my brothers and sisters who chose the path of the sword be given more virtuous ways to take life, if ever at all, but the administration that you support has no problem with sending and resending, to the point of mental and emotional exhaustion, our brothers and sisters while isolating them from all the global support they could have had.

Peace is certainly worth fighting for, but anyone who does not see that violence as a means to peace is foolish is someone who doesn't really want peace but domination. We are called to love our enemies, not destroy them relentlessly. We are called to live humbly with those who wish our deaths, not repay them with sin sevenfold their sins against us.

Yeah, of course I'll call you out when you fail to adopt the attitude of one whose beautiful feet are for the spreading of the Gospel, not the trampling of the winepress. You presented and still do present yourself as a Christian, as someone whose catholicity is as grafted to the root of an olive tree growing for millenia. It's not your place to call for the death of others, and it's especially not your place to make that call in a petty and disingenuous way. Sacrificing one's humility and virtue for the refreshing feel of being internet cool, internet audacious, is a disturbing waste of one's soul and time.

No matter how many times God asks of us to leave vengeance to him, to wait for him to crush his own enemies while we love them and forgive them, you want to be the one to do the destroying for him—or at least to parade in the corners and the squares saying that others do it for you and you support them.

So, is that what you think is worth fighting for? Your chance to be sarcastic to a brother, cruel to a political superior, and full of ironic distance towards your own faith? Or what is all of this for, brother?

8:30 PM  
Blogger hillary said...

Likewise, anyone who thinks the war was unjust from the get-go is going to jump on whatever political strategy they think is available to end the war as soon as possible.

Not necessarily, Xon. Sometimes we have to make penance for our unjustness.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Again waiting upon Your Excellency's pleasure:

If the problem is with Lincoln, then why is Your Excellency worrying me? Go to Lincoln's grave and bother him.

Not wanting to belabor the Star Wars analogy, I will comment that I think different people can get a lot of different things out of it. For example, consider the lecture about Dh. Plagueis - the great temptation that the Chancellor used to draw Anakin into the evil side was the knowledge of how to manipulate cells and sub-cellular life forms to preserve life and keep loved ones from dying --- hmmmm what current controversy does that sound like? Others might see a quote slamming Christianity by referring to a Bible passage as 'Sith' or evil.

I think Your Excellency entirely missed the point of the Hitler example. I would recommend re-reading.

Finally, Your Excellency admits that there are some things worth fighting for. Is preventing another 9/11 worth fighting for? When Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan, did that not leave it wide open for the Taliban to take over and set up their government? And did they and Al Quaeda not launch 9/11? So again, is preventing another 9/11 worth fighting for? Or not?

Thankful for the opportunity to address Your Excellency on this the feast of my Patron Saint, I kiss the pastoral ring.

Chuck.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

I don't see why I have to talk to Abraham's corpse when you repeat approvingly what he said. Either you think Reid should be hanged, or you were just writing bluster and fill. Or writing with hyperbole. But if you want to put forward that you are not an independent, self-deciding man with his own opinions and thoughts and reasons, then I suppose you're free to admit that.

I readily grant that one of fiction's greatest assets is its ability to be interpreted from a variety of viewpoints. Whether Anakin chose to save Padmé's life by either directly manipulating DNA (if that is how you take the Force to work or take what the movie was suggesting about Midichlorians) or by a hokey religion, the point is still that Anakin was driven to do evil from both guilt of his lack of power and zealous devotion to what is ostensibly a good thing. The greatest rage of a truly impotent soul is to strike and kill what is effectively helpless, particularly out of fear for exposing that very impotency. Ostensibly, it is a good thing to have peace and security in one's homes and businesses. The question posed by the prequels is simple: what does it mean when one sacrifices so much for something that is good, when the cost of the sacrifices is too much, too destructive, and too reaching? It is the question of all of human history itself: the greatest evils done by humans against other humans and against the world were not for "selfish" or "diabolical" reasons, but were actually done in the name of the goods and virtues held most high at the time, but what does this say about us?

What I think you might not find acceptable is the hardest thing about virtue: there comes a time when virtue itself becomes a temptation and an evil. No doubt you accept that people do think that longer, healthier lives, and lives free of the debilitating and degrading diseases associated with neurological decay, are things that are ostensibly good. Perhaps you, yourself, treasure the youth and ability that permits you the time and passion to stand in public support of the men and women of the armed forces. But, clearly you also think that are some things we should not sacrifice in order to attain the sought-for good of longer and healthier or more productive lives: I take it you are against using embryonic tissue already slated for destruction or using fetal tissues produced from abortive medical procedures. The virtue of health is not to be compared to the virtue of dignity in human biological life, and no one person, as you perhaps call an embryo, should be killed and gutted for the rehabilitation of another person, the one who walks and talks and has relationships and loves. But, if all of this is true, and you are against research like that, then perhaps you do accept that there are some virtues or goods whose worth is not pursuing to the degradation or erasure of other, superior virtues or goods. Perhaps, then, you yourself can see that some people think that what is being done to others and ourselves is comparable to taking life to preserve another life, an exchange whose morality is extremely questionable or dubious.

So, the prequels' question still stands: what does it mean that people are willing to send brothers and sisters, fathers and husbands, into Iraq and Afghanistan as well as give up their own privacy and liberties, and that people refuse to count how many of our Iraqi and Afghan brothers and sisters are dying from disease, homicide, lack of a health industry, and warfare? Has any of these past six years truly brought about the security and peace claimed? Just as Anakin's madness and guilt and impotency pushed him further and further to try and do good in the world, perhaps our own madness and guilt and impotency pushes us further and further to try and do good. But we fail, just as he did, to preserve that one good thing. Because we continue to fail to learn what the old Jedi were trying to teach him: humility and patience, cooperation and learning through understanding, are the virtues that do not ever fail us. That is the Gospel message, afterall, and I see no reason why any person committed to that message should want to abandon it. Not even for the moment of facing down someone who wants to kill you should it be dropped or suspended—because what is our life here worth if you've gained it all but lost your soul? But, as the man says, should we fall aside and forget our humility and our patience, God is faithful and just and forgives those who confess and ask for it. Pride seems always to snag those most ardent public advocates of the Cross and the Resurrection, as though the old superapostles Paul was concerned with never really learned and are today still with us. Still, there is the lesson of the thorn—and the response to the prayer, of power perfected in weakness—that reminds us that humility, the true position of an obedient child of God, is a better mark than a bullying display of strength. The world—as the Christian realists, who feel no problem with destroying one's enemies, like to tell us, we weak and naive and simple believers—doesn't work that way: the world ignores humility and respects power. Militaries need impenetrable shields and armors against the weapons we create to break through shields and armors. Economies need unlimited access to limited natural resources to sustain the manufacturing of items we did not naturally come to need but could live without. Governments need access to our details and our conversations and our homes in order to protect themselves from the threats presented by our beliefs and behaviors we have guaranteed to us as right. So, the Christian realist says, we need to be as wise as this world and do what this world does, if we want to preserve our freedom and our liberty to live, as Christians, not of this world.

Let's be clear. I never 'finally admitted' that there are things worth fighting for, but it has always been my position that fighting for something does not automatically make that something a good or a virtue. Especially killing for it. As you said approvingly, Reid should be hanged for demoralizing our troops—neverminding that who should be re-read is precisely Reid himself, given that what he did say is not what you and anonymous and Jeff Emanuel reiterated. You want to commit violence on another to secure our ability to commit more violence upon others to preserve our peace and security and nonviolent lives in the world. This is obvious: you think a continuous war in Iraq will bring us or secure us peace, or at least prevent "another 9/11." But it is hardly intuitively obvious or self-evident that simply remaining in Iraq at war with its people, or even certain of its people, will prevent another 9/11, will produce peace and security, will make state- or transnational-corporation-sponsored terrorism a failure.

Instead, it seems self-evident and obvious that the increase and ubiquity of terroristic acts in Iraq, the very place where we positioned our troops, demonstrate the contrary of your claim. Now, I can see how someone might argue this: while it is obvious that we are at war with certain people in Iraq who are committing acts of terrorism, not all of which are being stopped or prosecuted criminally afterwards, the truth is that the absence of any other attacks on the level of 9/11 in the United States shows that peace and security are being effected in the US by this war. Or, one might say that it might look as though there are people daily dying from terrorism, but things really are getting better and the infrastructure really is being repaired. Or, in yet other words, even when a defender of the war argues that the "mainstream media" is suggesting the war is lost when the war really is being slowly and patiently won, the defender still has to commit themselves logically to the claim that it is obvious and self-evident, to a cursory first appearance, that the war is not going well. Afterall, there just wouldn't be enough bare facts for the press to report without wholly fabricating the events. The fact that we have to send in more men and women of the armed forces, for example, looks on first appearance as stressing a need to put more feet on the ground to stabilize a dangerous and deadly situation. So, all around, the point still stands: the war in Iraq on first appearance does not obviously and self-evidently appear to be a success in reducing or eliminating or destroying terrorism or terrorists..

That means that the job is on the defenders of the war to break through that illusion, one they logically accept (that is, accept as logical premise) when defending the war, and provide facts or arguments to demonstrate that the war is, contrary to the appearances we all have, going better than it appears.

Or, think of this in another way, and consider the nature of law enforcement after Columbine. Previous to Columbine, the strategy for patrol officers was to identify the scope of the incident, set up a perimeter to restrict entry or exit, and passively contain the situation until special teams arrived to resolve the incident. Afterwards, patrol officers began training in specific responses to on-going shootings, and these situations were set apart from barricaded suspects or hostage negotiation incidents as incidents that needed a particular and specific, active containment response. Now, a person can very well point to the years between Columbine and VT as proof that this strategy worked, but it is not a solid, undeniable support that it did work. Nor can a person point to the lack of such shootings as proof that it was an unnecessary change in tactics. All that we can do is recognize that following a policy—no matter how proactive—that is fundamentally preventative cannot be 1) justified as working on the basis that the thing being prevented hasn't happened nor 2) criticized as failing to work on the basis that it was unnecessary in the first place. What has to be done in this kind of situation is to demonstrate, conclusively, just how in actual practice the policy and carrying it out effects the goal of preventing what it is claimed to do, and especially so when for the large majority of people on first appearance it appears the policy fails.

Again, you can ask me all you want if I think preventing another 9/11 is worth fighting for, but asking the question does nothing for demonstrating that this particular war, at this particular time, done in this particular way, accomplishes the prevention of a 9/11. Nor does it demonstrate that the Iraq war is successful at preventing another 9/11 to say and point out that there has not been another 9/11. For eight years, there had not been an attack of the emotional and social magnitude as Columbine, either.

It's like you equate any fighting in Iraq as stopping a 9/11. But that can't be right, since fighting while withdrawing is not prevention. Nor are the current numbers of soldiers adequate prevention, or else why send more?

So, what does it take to prevent another 9/11, if that is what you think we are fighting for?

Also, what will it take to reduce the Terror Alert to Green, if prosecuting this war is not enough to reduce our Terror Alert from Yellow to Blue? These colors have specific and qualified conditions, so the nation is at more than just a general or a low risk of terrorist attack. And if not having experienced another 9/11 in six years is what we can expect for life in Yellow, then I wonder what we can expect for life in Blue, even Green. I also wonder what it will take to get to Blue or Green.

If you've given it any consideration, perhaps you could express your thoughts and opinions on reducing our threat levels. If "destroy our enemies" is your answer, then that's your answer. But, as with above, you'd have to be your own man and express your self, unless you're of the mind of only repeating and approving of what others say.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Can I see that quote from Lincoln please?

5:20 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Chuck wrote the quote in his first posting in this thread. I, being the sort of person who trusts others, thought he had it largely right. However, just googling the quote, I got this link.

So, as it turns out, that's not a direct quote from Lincoln, and the originator of it in the popular mind is a blogging writer. Bad copy editing is to blame. Still, I stand by my own dislike of Lincoln, and while I don't think the extended quote justifies the claim that Lincoln was advocating hangings for Congressmen, it does still support the contention they are under military jurisdiction and subject to martial law. Which is still reason to dislike Lincoln's politics and practices.

Of course, Chuck's reliance upon Republican talking points is already established, so it can't be helped that he made this mistake.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Lord how I don't wish to be dragged into this odd debate, but still ...

That's a complete misrepresentation of Lincoln's quote (both the actual and the weirdly paraphrased). Lincoln was specifically referring to the arrest of one particularly individual who was actively undertaking an effort to encourage desertions from the U.S. army as it was fighting a rebellion on its soil.

His [Vallandigham's] arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops; to encourage desertions from the Army; and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it.

Equating this with comments by Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or whoever has some sort of opposition to the War in Iraq isn't a fair comparison.

11:24 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

Ah, rebellion schmebellion! One man's "rebellion" is another man's fight for independence.

--Thomas Jefferson

4:46 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

Also, JMac, where's that italicized stuff on Valladingham coming from? Jaffa? Vidal? Genuinely curious...

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

[i]His [Vallandigham's] arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops; to encourage desertions from the Army; and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it.[/i]

And that doesn't apply here? Let's see..

1) Prevent the raising of troops. You've never heard of counter-recruitment, where anti war hippies protest outside ROTC buildings and recruiters offices, trying to discourage people from enlisting? Have you not heard of the left attempting to shut down ROTC, JROTC, and prevent military recruiters from recruiting on campus because of their noncompliance with the homosexual agenda?

2) Encouraging desertions from the Army. That doesn't happen today? Then how come all you need to do is mention the name Ehren Watada to a hippie and they immediately remove their hats, genuflect, and kiss the ground?

3) Leaving the rebellion without adequate military to quell it. See 1 and 2, plus the whole "pull out now" business advocated by many surrendocrats.

Seems perfectly fair to me.


The question still remains to His Excellency; IS there ever ANYTHING worth fighting for, or is this "we don't want bloodshed, we don't want people to be shot, burned, stabbed, executed, torn in half, exploded" an all pervasive ideology which will admit of NO reason for fighting for ANYTHING?

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, did you not support the troops when Clinton was president.

If your case to stay in Iraq is so weak that the centerpiece of your arguement is supporting the troops then we really should support the troops by leaving before any more of them have to die.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For you to say that the democrats support terrorism shows that you obviously are too ignorant of the facts to have a valid opinion.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Yeah Al, keep on with your ad hominem attacks instead of participating in intellectual discourse.

If you were ABLE to participate in intellectual discourse and answer questions, certainly you would - now, since you are not doing so, what can we conclude from that?

12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck, have you answered all of polus's questions?

4:43 AM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

Chuck, I already answered your question. Of course there are things worth fighting for. But no matter the nobility or the virtue of the thing fought for, not simply any fight is the proper way to fight for a thing. Meaning, just because one highly values the safety and prosperity of the people of Iraq does not mean that any fighting done for them is therefore just or proper or right.

If the fighting becomes an end in itself, and the slaughter continues for the sake of those already slaughter—at least one reason given by war advocates of why the war in Iraq continues—then I do stand against that as an unjust and unethical use of those gifted in warcraft.

But, again, I did answer your question. I reckon that you are capable of participating in an intellectual discourse and answer questions, but you haven't.

9:59 PM  

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