The debate joyfully rages on. (If you’re just joining, go back to 1st July 22nd entry, where the discussion starts, and read up from there.) Andrew’s words are in Green TextItalicized Text of any color is quoted material from previous posts.

The war was decisive yet humane. how often has that combination ever happened?

Humane? You recanted “good war” for “humane”? In the words of Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride), “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Webster’s defines humane as marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration. War is none of those things. Maybe you should switch from “Rambo II” to “Saving Private Ryan” – or at least to decaf. Yes the war was decisive. It was an awesome display of force and technological prowess. But given the disparity of our respective forces, we would have had egg on our face if it was anything less. Yes, we took great measure to protect Iraqi lives and assets, but to your previous point, that was motivated as much if not more by political and economic necessity than by our humanity.

Janeane Garofalo and Susan Sarandon can kiss my white Irish ass.

I noticed you didn’t invite Martin Sheen or Sean Penn to pucker up. Oversight?

The issue wasn’t the short term price of oil, but rather the long term (5 years and out) guarantee of it. Believe it our not, currently we only get a small percentage of our oil from the Middle-East, something less than 20%. We are getting a lot of our oil from South America, Canada, Russia and areas surrounding the Black Sea. But these countries are pumping it out at very high rates and peak production will happen quickly, probably in a few years. After that, Middle East oil will be the only game in town. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia.

Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. only had a ten year supply of oil without the Middle Eastern fields. Doom-sayers were adament that if we didn’t find an alternative to oil or play nice with the Arab nations that we would all be walking to work. But it didn’t happen. New techniques to locate new reserves, reach oil we couldn’t get to before, and/or get more oil out of existing wells was developed. This is no different than then. And technology is also on the verge of realizing man-made oil production through the Thermo-Depolymerization Process you mentioned earlier. If that pans out (and that looks pretty likely), the Middle East gets a lot less important. But all that is aside the real issue. It’s one thing to state oil as the primary goal of the war. However, that was never stated as even a tertiary goal. In fact it was adamently denied to be a factor. Will it come in handy? Damn straight. But it’s a little like taking over Fort Knox because you need the parking space and then serendipitously finding the basement is full of gold. Does anybody really buy the parking story? That’s the point.

Democracy is a human, not an American ideal. My guess is that only someone living under a democracy would ask your questions. Democracy isn’t the only benign form of government, but it provides the greatest protection from extreme forms. As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest”. Believing that democracy is not the “cultural norm” for Muslims is probably elitist, was Fascism the cultural norm for Germans? The recent Iranian student protests for democracy make it pretty clear that the desire is there.

Well I guess it’s my turn to claim that your explanation is simplistic. If democracy were the natural human organizational model, it wouldn’t be so scarce. True democracy, where everyone has an equal voice, is virtually non-existant. We are fooling ourselves if we think it even exists in the U.S. Only 51% of eligible voters turned out for elections in 2000, and most of them were woefully unprepared to be in a voting booth. Besides, true democracy (majority rule) doesn’t work anyway. Larry Flynt commented that “Majority rule only works if you’re also considering individual rights. Because you can’t have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper.”

Left to their own, people organize in heirachical command and control structures. There are leaders and there are followers, and the vast majority of people are followers. They don’t want to be abused, but they want to be led. Strangely, “The Matrix Reloaded” gets it right. Benign leadership/control requires that people be given the illusion of choice. Any parent knows this as well, and what frightens me is Bush administration gets it too. On the flip, everyone from Lord Acton to George Orwell has said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The result being that “natural” human organizations yield a constant struggle to be King-of-the-Hill. You follow the guy that’s there until he becomes abusive or weak and the next guy knocks him out. This is the basis of most unstable or oppressive governments. Further, virtually all social mammals operate on this theme. In cases where resource competition is not a daily struggle (and only in those cases), our intellect has allowed us to reason a way beyond the constant churn and consequent violence. The main way we attempt to address the problem is by separating power so that no one body/person has absolute power. In the USA this power is separated into a number of different bodies, each acting as a check and balance on the other – the Congress, the President, the Supreme Court, and the written Constitution. The system is notoriously slow and not in the least productive, however that was exactly the way it was designed. It is this design which provides the illusion of choice for us as citizens while protecting us from abuse and leader churn. Our so-called democracy is one way to achieve this checked power distribution and illusionary choice, but there’s nothing magic about it.

As for my comment that Muslims are culturally disinclined to democracy, I concede that I painted with too broad a brush – or at least the wrong broad brush. It is radical monotheists who are not inclined toward democracy. They have already yielded their will to their god, and will readily transfer that to a human leader replete with religious fervor. Certainly all Muslims are not radicals, the Iranian students are good evidence of that. But I fear that Iraq has more than an annoying share of radicals.

I support the policy of preemption, I think it is a necessary and inevitable reaction to the new reality of asymmetrical warfare, where small bands of individuals can threaten the world.

This is probably the most disconcerting statement you’ve made. You’re on a mighty slippery slope there. Our form of government is based on the notion that you are innocent until proven guilty. Now you are saying that guilt is provable prior to the occurrance of the crime. It’s easy to back preemption when you are the 500lb gorilla and the alleged perpetrator is half a world away. But if we are to avoid hypocracy we must practice the same basic philosophy at home. Are you prepared to be arrested because you’re sitting in a bar with a BAC over the limit and car keys in your pocket? I’m not. And I’m also thinking to a future point where America might not be the 500lb gorilla. How would we react if the Chinese launched a preemptive strike against us because we were experiencing civil unrest and had old stockpiles of WMDs in our possession. It’s not all that unlikely a future.

Even given that preemption is limited as our foreign policy, doesn’t that mean we should be invading Iran, Syria, and North Korea right now as a minimum? India is somewhat politically unstable and nuclear capable as well as being an increasing home for American business. Lots of interets at stake there. And Pakistan hates India and also has WMDs. We should get them too. Where does it stop? Who is the judge for what qualifies as justified preemption? There’s not a person or organization on the planet I would trust with that authority. This is not a world I want to live in.

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