Groverat: sorry it's taken me so long to respond. I've been buried under a pile of freshman comp essays that require grading. I am also, at the moment, working my way through a fifth of Basil Hayden (a *fine* bourbon), so please pardon any weirdness.
Replies will be sporadic until Wednesday next (4/15), but I'd like to continue this discussion.
I hate it when people make arguments that are based on the idea that Bush is inherently evil, it's irritating. You are much more pleasant to deal with. Hell, maybe even productive!
Well, I'm *no* fan of Bush's. At all. If it is possible, I believe I despise him more than I did Clinton. For different reasons, of course. Clinton gave a bad name to liberalism. (I have argued ceaselessly that he was, in fact, a republican, and that it was his success in co-opting republican initiatives and getting them passed that was the root of the right-wing hatred of him. But that's another discussion.) Bush, on the other hand, is a hair-do and I want him gone.
To me it's not about conflict, it's about human impact. I am definitely a product of the idea that international affairs affect the people, not the leaders. So when someone tells me we're going to strangle the economy to punish the regime all that means to me is that we're going to starve the people.
I have to admit that this is a compelling position, mostly because it's rooted in that aphorism that "all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." I think, to a certain extent, we're on the same page here. SH is a turd and something must be done about him. Sanctions are incredibly problematic, and very probably do more harm to the people we want to help than to the government we're trying to punish. But the difference between us, I think, is that I think that in situations such as the current one, there are ways to go about accomplishing or goals without killing so many people, which is dangerous in terms of the geopolitics of the region. As I've said elsewhere, war is always a failure of the imagination. There are always ways to avoid it. The situation is SH is not the same as the one we faced in WWII (where we held out and held out until we were finally pre-emptively attacked by Japan); there was no aggression; there were no attacks; all the evidence attempting to link all the little pieces together were, shall we say, crappily done. There is always a better way.
With regard to containment and the USSR that was an unspeakable human tragedy. The humanitarian crisis in the later parts of the USSR's existence were astonishing and horrible, from the orphanages of Romania to the starvation and killings across Russia to uprisings in now-independent states. Stalin killed more of his people than Hitler, but we went after Hitler and left Stalin to be dealt with by his own.
Sure. There's no argument here. And there are, of course, many, many other examples we might bring up of the evils of tyrannical despots. I honestly don't know if the doctrine of containment had emerged fully by the end of Stalin's reign. But as you, I think, pointed out to me once, this reluctance to "do anything" coincided with the falling away of what had been the traditional American isolationist attitutude toward world affairs. My point is that it's not particularly remarkable that we didn't do anything about Stalin (barring, of course, our very clear knowledge that he had just beaten the Germans--a feat no one else [and I only grudgingly admit that we "beat" them] had ever been able to do...save for Japan, and those were relatively minor incursions). My god, man, look at the battle of Kursk. It must've looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings.
Anyway, my point here is that pick our fights carefully. And some not so carefully. Taking on Stalin would have probably ended in defeat. And a really, really nasty one.
There are other fights that we choose not to pick, as well. And my argument throughout this post-9/11 administration has been that if you want to take out one "bad guy" you have to take them all out. Anything other than that is hypocrisy.
To me inaction is the tragedy. Strangling the people to spite the evil leader is the tragedy.
Amen. To which I would only add that, sometimes, action can be equally tragic.
I was (and am) in college on 9/11 and the world has definitely changed.
Well, I'll put it this way: judging by your profile, you're probably around the age of the students I taught on 9/12/00 (freshmen in college in the Fall 2000). I taught the next day. They were scared. They were confused. They were angry. I decided to chuck our scheduled assignment so we could talk about things (it was during a unit on American political rhetoric during war, so it wasn't all that out of place).
I answered a few questions about all of it, and I did my best to keep my political positions out of the fray (as I always do...I over-compensate so much that most of my students think I'm a republican). Many of them didn't know where Afghanistan was. Most of them didn't know anything about the history of our involvement in the region (and I include Iraq, Israel, and Saudi in this group). I tried to explain, and I made sure that they knew we were in a non-teacher/non-classroom mode.
Did the world change for them? Sure. Did it change for me? No. I had been tempered by the first WTC bombing and (much more close to home) the Murrah bombing, and I knew that "terrorism" (I abhor the term, which you know, of course) was a very real threat. I'm not saying that "we got what was coming to us," but I am saying that I am not surprised that there was, at last, a successful attack on American soil. The world changes ever day. Every minute. Every second. I'm not so arrogant as to think that my moments are the same as everyone else's (and I'm not suggesting that you are, either).
I guess, now that I wind this up (and find myself longing for another glass of Basil Hayden), I'm asking this question: did the world *really* change on 9/11?
Thanks for welcoming me into the fold.