[thechat] Arguments for war

Kath Kath at cyber-kat.com
Sun Sep 22 10:55:00 CDT 2002

I should state, first of all, that I'm an American - born and bred.

I consider myself a good citizen and a patriot, but my definition of "good
citizenship" and "patriotism" doesn't match George Bush's or John
Ashcroft's by any stretch of the imagination.

The freedom to disagree with the leaders of one's country has always been
as American as the proverbial slice of apple pie (I've always wondered -
don't they have apple pie in other countries? <g>) - and it's a freedom I
hold very dear.  Unfortunately it's a freedom that seems dangerously close
to extinction these days.

When Judah first posted the URLs for those two articles, I thought, "as an
anti-war opinion holder, I'm not interested in hearing pro-war
rationalizations," but I decided that keeping an open mind (something I
always try to do) requires hearing both sides of any argument - so I read

While I found most of the Den Beste essay arrogant and bombastic, I did
find some of the arguments thought-provoking.  Why *do* these people hate
us so much?

To say it's just because we are "ugly Americans" who think we are better
than everyone else and go around butting our noses into other people's
business is much too simplistic.  Maybe there is some validity in that
assertion, even if it is simplistic.  There are many people around the
world who have may justification for that argument, but they're not flying
airplanes into our skyscrapers.

I think there is some merit in the argument Den Beste presented that these
"terrorists" (for lack of a better term, since not all Arabs, and certainly
not all Muslims are in agreement with their sentiments and their methods)
find our way of life a threat to theirs.  Our freedoms and technology are
pervasive, persuasive, and our values seem directly opposed to their own.
Is that really a reason to kill thousands of people?  I don't see the
justification on their part - or on ours to kill them.

It seems to me that their culture and lifestyle *are* at odds with the 21st
century.  But is that a bad thing?  I don't know.  My attitude is - if it
works for you, go for it, so long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

We can leave them alone - they can leave us alone.  They can live in
isolation with their culture intact, however they want (of course there is
oil - but that's whole other discussion.  I'm leaving that factor out for now)

The issue that does bother me, however, is the question of whether this
culture and lifestyle is being forced on the citizens of these countries.
If it is a mandated lifestyle and people are free to leave if they don't
like it, that's acceptable, but if they are being held prisoner in their
own countries, it's not.  The latter situation should not be acceptable to
the free world in general.  It should be appalling to the world as a whole
- not just the government of the United States.

Which brings me to another thought that's been rattling around in my brain
for some time.  We as individual people are not the governments of our
respective countries - even if we have a hand in selecting those
governments as Americans do.

I didn't vote for George Bush - neither did well over half of my fellow
citizens (if you count all those who did not exercise their right to vote).
 Many of us do not support his reaction to the events of September 11th,
but in reality there's not a whole lot we can do about this - especially in
the current climate.

Yes, we can protest.  We can vote for those who also oppose these policies.
 We can find other like-minded folks and rally together.  Sometimes this
works, sometimes it doesn't.

Many of us are still too submersed in the shock and sadness of 9/11 to
realize the full implications of what our government is up to.  I only hope
we all "come to" in time.

What people living in other countries don't always understand is that the
average American citizen is doing the same thing you all are doing -
working hard to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and the kids
in school.  Most don't have the time or the energy to rally or protest.
This isn't an excuse, mind you, it's just a fact of life that most of us
haven't yet reached Maslow's "self-actualization" level.

Perhaps we need to re-think our way of life.  I don't know.

I do know I'm troubled by the fact that Americans consume such a large
portion of the earth's resources, but changing an ingrained lifestyle is
never easy.  It's difficult to give up comforts that you've grown
accustomed to.

I sit here in a two computer, two car and two TV household - all of which
consume a great deal of fossil fuel.  Could I live without them?  Probably,
I'd manage, if I had to, but I wouldn't want to.  Could all of you give up
your computers as well ?  Probably - but would you want to? <g>

I often feel guilty knowing I have these things while others barely have a
scrap of bread.  I assuage that guilt by doing small things - walking
instead of hopping in the car whenever I can - recycling - buying organic
and recycled products where I can - giving to causes when asked.

I do my best not to waste resources, but I know it's never going to be
enough.  I know that even if every American gave up their comforts and
conveniences it wouldn't solve the problems and shortages in the rest of
the world.  Life simply is not fair - it never has been and it never will
be.  We just all need to be aware of these injustices and do what we can
not to exacerbate them.

Does that seem arrogant?  Self-centered?  Snobbish?  I hope not, because
that's not the way I feel.  I feel fortunate - yes.  Entitled - no, not at

Madhu wrote:
>Did you know that in an earthquake in
>India in January 2001, 25000+ people died? Yes, 25000 people! Far worse
>than the WTC attack. Yet, how many Americans heard about it?

I remember that.  I did read about it on the CNN web site.  I also remember
thinking that it was a terrible tragedy, but I didn't equate it in my mind
with the attack on the WTC, simply because one was a natural disaster and
the other was man-made.  Sudden, violent loss of life is always tragic,
whether it is one life or thousands.

Average Americans do care about these things.  They rally and make
contributions and send aid whenever there is a disaster in another part of
the world.  Those contributions, and that aid most often comes from
individual citizens, not our government - and that fact often gets lost in
the translation and the noise of the political rhetoric.

Are we all good, thoughtful people here in the US of A - hell no - but
neither are the people in the other countries around the world.  We all
have our good guys and our bad guys.  It's unfortunate that the bad guys
always seem to grab the biggest headlines.

I find this chat list a very valuable resource because it opens my eyes to
the way the rest of the world thinks in a way CNN never could.  While it
matters to know where the governments stand, it matters more what the
people think.

Madhu's comments are a prime example of how we can each learn how the rest
of the world thinks.

I wrote before that we as individual people are not necessarily
representatives of our governments.  I think we should reach out to each
other as people more, and forget about the governments.  Through our
conversations, arguments, etc on mailing lists and blogs we can learn about
each other in ways that were never possible before the internet brought us
all into each other's homes and offices.  Most governments haven't learned
that yet, and those that have tend to fear the people to people connection
because it threatens and undermines their existence.

Listening and trying to understand can bring about a unity and a peace that
our governments never dreamed of - if we listen to each other, that is.

If we use trite expressions, and flame wars, and off the tip of the tongue
arguments, we're no better off than the leaders of our respective
governments - who for the most part are more interested in maintaining
their positions than they are in peace and understanding.

Well, I'm just about at the end of my ramble.  If you're still with me, I
did want to also mention something that did really disturb me about Steven
Den Beste's essay.

About halfway through he wrote:

"The existing Arab culture which is the source of this war is a total loss.
It must be shattered, annihilated, leaving behind no more traces in the
Arab lands than the Samurai left in Japan or the mounted knights left in

If you substitute "Jew" for Arabs in these sentences, as he mentions (and
dismisses) that someone else suggested, it's a chilling echo of the
sentiments that must have been spoken in Hitler's office.

That said, I remain unconvinced that an attack on Iraq is justified.

Kath ...
Me --> www.cyber-kat.com
work --> www.winebow.com

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