[quote]Originally posted by FellowshipChurch iBook:
<strong>Fran was there [an American Civil] war? We both know the answer to that.
Real question is Was it worth it?
I think it was.</strong><hr></blockquote>
The problem with questions like this is that all you can know is how things have actually turned out. You can only guess how alternative histories might have turned out.
I can say that the costs of the Civil War were very high, in terms of lives lost, suffering, and economic damage to a young nation. The immediate rewards of Union victory were dubious. The post-bellum Jim Crow South was hardly much better for blacks than slavery had been. Freedom for the slaves, except for a rare few, was more of an abstraction than a practical reality. It took nearly a hundred years for any real progress to be made, a stretch of time during which racial enmities festered into problems which still face us today.
If somehow we'd manage to ride through the building tensions between North and South, triggered every time the question of whether a new state or territory would be free or slave, slavery might have died out over time without a war. Even with supposedly cheap slave labor, the free, more industrialized North was much stronger economically than the South. The spread of industrialization to the South, and mechanization of southern agriculture, might have greatly reduced the real or perceived economics of slavery. A growing shared American culture, with no enmity from a past war, might have turned against slavery, and might have resulted in laws which improved conditions for slaves until such time as slavery was abolished by popular sentiment, both North and South, instead of by force.
Am I saying that the Civil War was wrong? Well, it certainly didn't start on firm moral footing with freedom for slaves as a its goal. Wrong or right, however, the war was practically inevitable, and Lincoln probably made the best choice he could have under the circumstances, with both his strengths and his failings as a man of those times.
As for a war with Iraq... the best reason for it, if there's going to be a war, is to free Iraq's people from Saddam. But just like in the Civil War, the best reason isn't the primary reason we're heading into this mess. If it were the only reason we wouldn't even be considering war. Supposedly this war is intended to benefit the security of the US and of the Middle East, but whether we'll truly benefit or only make ourselves new and worse problems is far from clear, just as what Iraq and Saddam might do if not attacked is unclear. Whatever happens, we'll never know what else might have been.
I think the real reason why Americans want this war more than anyone else in the world is the illusion of control. People feel safer driving their own cars than they do as passengers in airplanes not because cars are safer -- by far, they aren't -- but because people feel safer when they believe they're taking charge of a situation, rather than being passive or at someone else's mercy.
Regardless of whether the UN approves an attack on Iraq or not, the world clearly perceives this pending war with Iraq as the US's war, Bush's war, a war which maybe or maybe not they'll stand by and let us fight. For people outside the US, there is little sense of buy-in for the feeling of taking control of the situation. If you're from France or Russia, it's like being afraid to fly, and only being given a choice of airlines rather than the option to drive.
[ 03-10-2003: Message edited by: shetline ]</p>