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an honest question

Let's go back in time. Just a short trip, say June or July of 2001, before most people knew who bin Laden was, before there was a gaping hole in the ground in New York City.

Now suppose - and remember, this all hypothetical - but suppose President Bush suddenly announces he has come across reliable information that Afghanistan has become one big terrorist meeting place and that those terrorists are more than likely planning on using whatever weapons and intelligence they have acquired to attack the United States.

Suppose even further that stories of how the Taliban were oppressing the people of Afghanistan were made more public, that our president stood up on a podium and denounced all the atrocities that women and children are facing in Afghanistan.

And then suppose that on the basis of the intelligence the White House has gathered, the United States would be sending troops to Afghanistan where they would invade, conquer and take over the country in an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks on the U.S. and and other regions.

We would go to war. We would protect our freedoms, protect our safety and free the people of Afghanistan from a tyrannical regime.

Would you have opposed this war? Would you have stood in the streets of major cities, decrying the president's efforts to keep our country safe? Would you have yelled out slogans equating Bush to Hitler? Would you have questioned the truth of the reports of future attacks on U.S. soil?

Let's keep going with our imaginations here and say that this is what really happened. That the president outlined the intelligence reports that say forces are gathering in Afghanistan; dark forces that want to rid the world of American heathens and evil capitalism. Bush outlines the atrocities that are taking place upon the people of that country.

But still, you don't believe him. He is just trying to make another notch in his Empire belt, you say.

You march. You chant. You organize convoys of human shields to go to Afghanistan.

Finally, the president relents due to pressure from the anti-war front. He agrees to seek some kind of peaceful solution, to appease the crazed warriors that seek to do damage to us. He calls upon the U.N. to help him come to a decision. They decide to do a study, to send people over there and check it out. They'll get back to Bush in a few months with their answer.

You are thrilled. The anti-war front has been heard. Your voices have been raised as one and you have been listened to. Victory at last. Peace is always the answer, right?

And then on a beautiful fall morning, you are walking to your A.N.S.W.E.R. meeting in NYC when suddenly the sky seems to implode. You look up and see one of the towers of the World Trade Center burst into flames, an explosion causing a shower of glass and paper and smoke and body parts to rain down on you.

impact3.gifYou cower in a doorway to avoid the falling ash and then it happens again. Another explosion. More debris. More fear and screaming.

Later, after you have gone home and washed the pieces of charred skin from your body, you listen to the news. New York. D.C. Pennsylvania. Thousands dead.

And then you hear the words Afghanistan and terrorism and Taliban.

How would you feel knowing that you played a part in making the president back off these terrorists? How would you feel knowing that your marches and your signs were part of the overall picture that caused the U.S. to wait it out; that your voice drowned out all the other voices that were shouting to go to war, to take these bastards out before they kill us?
If you don't think that could happen, substituting Iraq for Afghanistan, then the only thing that will bring you out of your stupor is reality. Unfortunately, when reality hits you it is too late in a case like this.

You, like the hypothetical young man above, will be cowering in a corner somewhere while fire falls from the sky or sarin works its way through your body. You will wonder why appeasement didn't work, why peaceful dialogue and human shields didn't make our enemy back down.

Foresight is an interesting thing. We have no way of knowing what would have happened. We only know what didn't happen.

Which is much better than hindsight, when you are clutching your children and praying for a peaceful death and you know that you should have believed.

How would you feel if your anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-everything crusade actually worked and we backed down? How would you feel as you and your family lay there dying knowing that Saddam has on his face a wry little smile as we succumb to his terror?

Just asking.

photos via BBC


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Brilliant! Just one problem ... you're trying to force logic on a group that defies logic.

A-fucking-men, Michele! Excellent post.

damn michele
you made my coffee turn cold
as i've said in my site i feel really torn on this issue
half of me wants to take out saddam hussein myself by sticking an shish ka bob in his throat, a burning shish ka bob covered in acid, botulism and anthrax

never said i was a pacifist

the rest of me
wants to wait for world support
for more proof
for some other way to handle it
the rest of me is thinking of vietnam

but damn
i was there on 911
and i was there at ground zero
and pushed aside human ash to set up ice tubs filled with gatorade for the heroes who were going into that burning hole to look for their loved ones

i've never quite thought about Iraq in this way
and now that you've got it spinning through my head
it will be much harder to think of it any other way

this is a tough one
to take out one of the biggest mo-fos in the world
seems to be a non issue
but how to do it and when
i dont know

i must say, however,
i was screaming mad about the taliban
a couple years before september 11th
something about the murder and mutilation of women
i woulda thought that was enough to take them out right then and there

but if humanitarian issues were enough reason for this country to go to war, we would have taken out saddam a long time ago, hell we sure had the chance the last time we kicked his ass

but then this country didn't exactly rush to war when it was just jews being murdered by the millions, nah it took pearl harbor

i may not be able to demand war with Iraq
but i sure cant lobby against it

hope the higher ups have more balls than i do

I still think it's crazy to send in troops without a declaration of WAR. Let's see what your congressmen think, and remember how they voted come election time. Either we admit that we don't have the cojones for warfare and let the bad guys roll us up, or we install miltary governors in the occupied territories after we crush their existing governments out of existence, and start teaching their children how to govern a country. Germany and Japan are often not the most supportive allies we have, but they no longer go around starting wars or invading neighboring countries. The same could be done for Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, and a number of other places around the globe. At a certain point, we have to be responsible to future generations.

In June/July of 2001 we already KNEW the taliban was a repressive regime. That's part of why so few countries had diplomatice relations with them. We already KNEW that it was a terrorists hotbed. We already KNEW the Osama Bin Laden was there.

By your convoluted hindsight logic, GWB SHOULD have done something besides take a six week vaction that summer.

I was watching on the History Channel (aka the War Channel) regarding the Gulf war, and an interesting point was raised. While we were fielding troops in Saudi Arabia, and had limited Arab support (the enemy of our enemy is our friend), the tradeoff was that we would not, repeat not assassinate Hussein. The Arabs were afraid it seemed, that if we would haul off and knock Saddam off, that nothing would stop us from doing the same to the Ayatollah, Quadafi, you name it. Guilty consciences, anyone?

But Michele is absolutely correct. I've thought, I've prayed, I've sweated bullets over what I really thought about this.

What I really think is that the world if a better place without Saddam Hussein. Pick your reason. We'll find Osama, believe me, we'll get there. But a nation ruled by a megalomaniac that cannot be reasoned with, and is hostile to our country, should be setting some alarms off.

My secondary question about all of this is ...... is there any chance we could just put a foot up Saudi Arabia's backside and be done with them? Please remember upwards of 16 people directly involved in the 9/11 attacks had SAUDI passports. Osama is the black sheep of an extremely powerful Saudi family, and receives quite a bit of funding from there.

Not to mention the flamin' idgits that make donations to "free Palestine" and whatnot, that were actually contributing to Al-Queda.



Rossi: " if humanitarian issues were enough reason for this country to go to war..."

What the fuck ever happened to "never again?"

You're a citizen, you decide why you support a war (if you do). For your 1/280millionth of the country "humanitarian issues" can be more than enough to go to war. It's enough for my 1/280millionth.

After reading the Amnesty International reports and some anecdotal ones from God knows where, I've realize that Saddam is one of the most brutal dictators in history - and may well be the worst one still in power.

Its so funny that whenever I point this out I always get answers from weasles who try their hardest to imply that I'm exagurating, but can't bring themselves to tell a direct lie and say that Saddam isn't that bad.

Fuck the weasles. "If this isn't evil then evil has no name." 100% true, and I voted for Nader.

The wheels were turning long before Summer 2001. You have to keep rewinding history to find the reasons why the people responsible for 9/11 planned the attack in the first place. Go back to when we were supporting Osama against the Soviets; to when we abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets were driven out. Back further to when we provided support to Sadam against Iran. The people who view the US as their enemy do not do so because of our inaction. They will not come to love us when we've marched into Arab lands and taken a nation by force. The world will not wave our flag as we march next into North Korea and Iran. Bush's war against Iraq is a near-sighted effort to revive his political fortunes in the face of a failed international vision and a failing national economy. He is pushing this nation and all the nations of the world into a very risky situation. War is not without a price.

Your comparison is no really fair, because Bin Laden was a known danger, he was known as a terrorist and it was known, that he is working on somehting big. The people who tought him still had informations about him. The point with Saddam is a different one and you're clever enough to see it yourself, I think.
I can understand that the USA feel dangered by Iraq. What I can't understand is that they feel war is necessary. But maybe it's how Aron writes here (I hope the link works, if not sorry!) and there are just two different angles t this topic.

We feel war is necessary, because war has already been initiated.
It started with the invasion of Kuwait... what we have now is not peace, but a delicate ceasefire...
Since then, he has violated the ceasefire both by his violation of the disarmament provisions of the ceasefire, and by firing on American troops and planes.

The first time one of his popguns went off, the war started up again.

We just haven't fired back yet.

All the piss stained liberals are gonna shit themselves when Saddam pulls a Jim Jones and gasses his own cities and citizens.

That IS who he most resembles.

All the moronic lefties who bankrolled the Rev. Jim slipped away and quietly denied ever supporting him. These are the same kind of shit-sticks that will deny ever supporting Saddam after he gasses or nukes or infects a major part of the middle east.

Remember the Kuwaiti oil fields?

"If I can't have them no one will" seems to be Saddam's response to defeat.

He's large and in charge and crazy as a hooty owl and like the bozo in the bunker with a bazooka, the only way your going to get him out is blow the whole damn thing to hell.

It this what we want to do?


Do we enjoy doing this kind of shit?


But someone has to do the crappy jobs and we are good at it, so get out of the way and cover your eyes, this is gonna get ugly.

Wow, this scenario is scary. I guess I'm convinced. The U.S. should just invade Iraq as soon as they've set up enough troops in the middle east. And after they've managed to achieve their hard fought victory by pushing buttons and watching missles streak through the air to demolish the enemy, the U.S. should set up a friendly government. Of course once that government is set up the U.S. will have to maintain a presence in Iraq to make sure no warlords or ursupers manage to take over again. While in Iraq the U.S. should fund propoganda...uh education systems that will teach the ignorant Iraqis to form a perfect democratic society based on the model of the U.S. With a flawless system used to vote deserving leaders into power and a quick and efficient bureaucracy. But that isn't enough. After they've managed to liberate the people of Iraq the U.S. should move on to other nations and liberate those oppressed people, like they have in Afghanistan. So after the U.S. controls, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan they can take over North Korea. Free the people in that country, feed, cloth and educate them. Because we know that is the ultimate motive of the U.S. government, to give everyone a good life, to create for them a country which is a bastion of hope and life, similar to that of the United States of America. So once they've liberated these nations the Bush Administration can look into other nations like Cuba, because their Communist government doesn't sound as great as the democratic American society, and if Communism is allowed to remain then the entire planet will be in danger, because the red threat hasn't gone away, it's simply lying in wait.
So there we have it. An entire planet sharing the same cultural values of the United States. A planet of fat kids eating McCain Lunchables, that is, meat and cheese that isn't even refrigerated. A planet of people who solve their troubles on talk shows, under the supervision of Jerry and jenny jones. An entire planet with the right to bear arms, a planet filled with people whose greatest fear is missing Must See TV Thursday. A planet with a failing economy, bad medicare, a President who wasn't even elected, racism run rampant, welfare, drug problems, homelessness, weak pollution laws, and of course a fast food addiction.
Oh, America, a model of perfection, from sea to shining sea...well the areas that aren't clogged with chemicals and garbage.

You apparently missed the point, Chip. I wasn't trying to change anyone's mind or convince people to go to war.

I was asking a question about a hypothetical situation.

By your convoluted hindsight logic, GWB SHOULD have done something besides take a six week vaction that summer.

...or Clinton should have done something long before leaving office.

But no. No one would have supported war with Afghanistan until we were attacked. Because most people -- left, right, or otherwise -- don't favor plunging into war just to save the world.

Now that we've been attacked, now that we know enemies will persue us here, the game changes.

That's what I see in Michele's hypothetical--neither Bush, nor Clinton, nor any other President would have proposed war on the Taliban before we were attacked on 9/11. So it wouldn't have happened.

But if it had, I would have cursed myself for being one of the protesters who stopped him. Except maybe I would have been tempted, as so many are now, to blame Bush for it. After all, by threatening war with Afghanistan, he would have caused the 9/11 attacks, right?

That's how some minds work.

Chip, you demonstrate that you understand the superficiality of freedom but have no clue what it really means.

It's not about Big Macs or national health care or shallow TV programs. It's about letting people freely choose what they want for themselves.

If they want banality, so be it.

It they want to create the most dynamic society in the history of humanity, they have to compete with us for that honor.

Similar thoughts ran through my head recently, but I couldn't have put it as well as you have. Excellent post. Maybe it will make some people think.

To answer your question, particularly the "How would you feel knowing that you played a part in making the president back off thse terrorists?" part, they wouldn't have thought that. Sept. 11 would still have been all America's fault. "We shouldn't have antagonized Osama", etc. etc.

I am typically only vaguely pro-war, but for better or for worse in the last year and a half i have none-to-begrudgingly supported Bush's decisions in Afganistan and now with Iraq. Terrorist issues aside, i thought Afganistan needed SOMEONE on the international stage to intervene, and when it comes to Iraq i am gangbusters.

Having stated that, now let me say this: if there ever was a faulty argument for my own perceived side of this particular arguement, i would say that it would be the one that you just presented.

First, you have partly issued a "sure, we'd have to kill thousands in their country in a pro-active strike, but it's better than losing a thousand Americans" argument. I don't think you meant it that way, and if enough people honestly construed it in such a fashion i suspect you might rise to its defense. However, at its base it is still just a "strike first; have the bigger stick" rationalization, which is just not quite what i was hoping it would be.

And it's not a good reason for war.

There is a basic prioritization of American lives at the base of that argument, and i suppose i'm just pacifist enough not to buy into that. Or, maybe not nationalistic enough.

Secondly, I don't think a pre-emptive strike on Afganistan would have necessarily avoided 9-11 because 9-11 was not a military action, it was a statement -- and the intention behind that statement would have continued to evolve until its development once again matched up with the available means.

Bin Laden is not necessarily comparable to Hussein and more than Bush is to the Queen of England. Two of those people are elected rulers, despite any amount of unfairness involved in their election. The situations are different. I won't begrudge you the evocative imagery of 9-11 for use in your argument, but at least it could be a little more congruent.

I don't mean this to be a trolling; please don't take it that way. It's just my honest reaction to your piece. Maybe there's a lot of political insight that i am lacking that could make this seem reasonable to me, but I'll be happy to both defend it to the best of my ability and learn from those more educated on the matter then myself.

Hindsight. That's all everyone talks about. If you did evreything "just in case", wouldn't the US have to destroy almost every "oppressive" (ie: un-American) regime, while using "hind sight" as an excuse? The US would then be seen as the oppressor, and not the "liberator" it likes to proclaim itself as. Which, of course, can not be possible since "Big Daddy" Bush must uphold the reputation of "the world's brightest beacon for freedom" (Bush's post 9-11 speech).


I'll bet the anonymous poster has worn all the printing off the "quotes" key from using all those scare quotes...

I'm sure this nameless poster can, and will, tell us who the real beacon of freedom is...

France? (can you say Vichy?)
Germany? (Oh hell, that's too easy)
Iraq? (Hey, this was a semi-serious question)
China? (Take this piece of paper and stop that tank)
England? (Hmmmm... closer...)
New Zealand? (closer still)
Australia? (closer... closer...)
Zaire? (WTF?!)

Michele, thank you for making the point that I have been trying to make for over a year. Brilliantly put.

here's another hypothetical:

what if somehow, through a series of favors, string-pulling, media manipulation and disinformation, a man who deserted his military post during time of armed conflict in the 70's became commander in chief, and was willing to send american men and women who enlisted to serve their country to their deaths on foreign soil?

oh wait...that's not really a hypothetical, is it?

Found this story from a bulletin board I read:


To quote one of the people on the board, "the interpreter finally realized she was on the wrong fucking side."



Michele stands history on its head. The Bush administration had a fully formed plan for war against Afghanistan on Bush's desk on September 10, 2001. The Pentagon had been negotiating basing and landing rights all around Afghanistan, in the surrounding 'Stan' countries, the previous year, and had US forces, material, trainers, and pre-positioned equipment there in advance of 9/11, just as we had pre-positioned the largest joint naval exercise of US and British fleets, in the waters just off Afghanistan, dropping anchor there in the Indian Ocean on 9/10/2001.

The evidence is that rather than seeking to pre-empt the 9/11 efforts, the Bush administration needed them to take place as a casus belli for the invasion and forcible removal of Afghanistan's Taliban leaders, as Japanese and Indian newspapers had reported was the US plan, as revealed in consultations with the regional powers, as of earlier that spring of 2001, with the date of the invasion said, presciently, to be October 2001.

Until all these questions, not theoretical but of the utmost importance to ask about the actual facts of those events, are asked of the Bush principles and answered satisfactorily, there isn't the slightest reason to believe much that they say about Iraq, especially given the clear example of a dozen or more lies from Bush himself on the question.

I'm surprised someone hasn't mentioned what would have likely happened. The Left would have made the case that the attacks on the WTC happened BECAUSE of American threatening to invade Afghanistan. There is no winning with Liberals. No matter what happens it is our fault.

This post did not deserve all the cheers the war mongers gave it. It lacked logic, historical perspective and a clear sighted analysis of the real world.

Michele's assumption here is that the war in Afganisthan would have prevented the WTC attacks. Considering how it turned out, it is obvious that WTC would have happened anyway.

And of course, as others pointed out Michele is taking a very narrow slice of history. What if Brzezinsk hadn't helped fund to the tune of $6 billion dollars what would later become the Taliban? What if American administrations since WWII hadn't supported repressive military dictatorships which led the breeding grounds of the most virulant Islamic militants?

The over-simplification of this post is breath-taking on other levels. The war in Afghanistan changed nothing vis-a-vis al-Qaeda terror, except kill a few thousand Afghanis people. The FBI issued a report today that the al-Qaeda threat is as strong as before the war in Afghanistan. The Afghanis are falling under the sway and chaos of the pre-Taliban period. What did we accomplish there except to vent our anger and revenge? Nothing!

How quickly we forget what happened at the time. We could have co-axed the Taliban to hand over Osama - they were willing under certain conditions [and if you don't believe me, go back to the news archives of the time, not reading the Bush administration propaganda, but comments of neutral observers and analysts, including one the day before the war in the WSJ, which laid out a clear case that we should hold off from going to war and negotiate with the Taliban]. We would have had him on trial, instead of him still being on the loose and a real and present danger. Through a judicious use of carrot and stick, we could have eased the Taliban back into the world community and out of isolation, and in that way ultimately help all the people of that country, and lower the threat of terror. You ignore all these things.

The same arguments apply to Iraq. The way to contain Sadaam is to beef up the inspection program (which sestroyed far more weapons than the last war).

So Michele, yes, even today I would march against the war in Afghnistan., and certainly I will continue to march against the war in Iraq.