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January 19, 2003

The march: He’s already written about it, and Atrios has remarked on it, but I nonetheless have to note that watching Jim Henley get called a Commie by the “counter-demonstrators”, as he and I walked down 8th St SE toward the front of yesterday’s anti-war march, will forever remain one of My Most Memorable Political Experiences.

“Your Red Roots Are Showing!” chanted the Freepers as we approached.

The sign Jim was carrying read “PEACE NOW, SOCIALISM NEVER.”

I clapped Jim on the shoulder. “Thank you for your undercover service, comrade,” I said. “Your gold bars will arrive from Moscow shortly.” [05:47 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on The march::

misanthropyst ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2003, 10:26 PM:

Those zany conservatives and their atavistic ways. Imagine thinking there was once a global conspiracy of anti-capitalists who hungered for the demise of America and all it stood for. Surely in their heart-of-hearts they know there is no greater threat to the peace and prosperity of the planet than the US?

I mean, who would you rather trust with nuclear and biological weapons? Don Rumsfeld, or Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khamenei and Kim Chong-il? No question, dude.

Take it to the man...

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 01:14 AM:

Easy choice there: Ayatollah Khomeni.

He's dead. And much as I enjoy writing horror fiction, dead people are far less capable of pushing buttons and otherwise causing trouble than living ones.

Brian Newhouse ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 01:15 AM:

Q. How many misanthropysts does it take to change a lightbulb?

A. Those zany conservatives and their darkness-loving ways. Imagine thinking there was a universal conspiracy to shine flashlights on people's faces 24 hours a day...

Celia Marsh ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 01:28 AM:

I saw you! I thought I was projecting cause I'd read you were going to be there, but I did see you. And from where we stood (across from the botanical gardens) you *were* the front of the march, not merely at the front.

When I was looking for the source of the comment that rumsfeld made and you quoted (having forgotten where exactly I'd read it) I stumbled across this, which I found interesting because of the reasoning behind the introduction of the bill. I don't know about minorities in the army, but I know there are way too many kids in the army who are there because it will pay for them to get an education--more than 10 percent of my high school class, for example, joined immediately out of HS. (I don't know if this is a higher than usual number--we had a federal prison in town, and most of the guards were ex-military, so the kids may have been following in their parents' footsteps, not just paying for their education, but it's still a lot.)

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 03:40 AM:

Patrick, the grateful libertarians of the world (all three of us) salute your courage in exposing Jim's dastardly plot.

misanthropyst ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 06:38 AM:

Pardon the spelling - Ayatollah Khamani. But you did establish your bona fides - the desire for a sense of smug superiority. Wonderful fuel for the movement...

Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 07:38 AM:

Celia Marsh writes:
I know there are way too many kids in the army who are there because it will pay for them to get an education--more than 10 percent of my high school class, for example, joined immediately out of HS. (I don't know if this is a higher than usual number--we had a federal prison in town, and most of the guards were ex-military, so the kids may have been following in their parents' footsteps, not just paying for their education, but it's still a lot.)

Contributing to massive topic drift, I'll note two things, the first of which is that the fraction of my (rural upstate NY) high school class who went to the military was also at least 10%, without any military connection in town. In that case, it wasn't so much a "pay for education" thing, as a "get out of town" thing.

The second is that I have an uncle who retired from the Army several years back, who worked on the administrative side of the GI Bill program. His description of it was pretty illuminating-- some large fraction (75%-ish) of new recruits come in saying that they want the education funding, while a similarly large fraction of those will never actually take advantage of it. It's hard to go back to school if you've been out for a while, and many of them end up with families or jobs, and just never get around to going to college.

The Army loves the program, because when an incoming recruit announces his intention to particiapte, a large chunk of money is set aside for the eventual tuition payments, and a small amount is deducted from each paycheck. That money is put into interest-bearing accounts, where it sits until it gets used, and the interest from all those unused tuition allowances goes into the general budget.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 08:01 AM:

There really did exist a global conspiracy of anti-capitalists who hungered for the demise of America and all it stood for, centered in the Soviet Union. They really did possess weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, biological, chemical.

We didn't attack them.

Here's a question: why not?

Here's another question: in what way or ways is "preemptive defense" different from unjust aggession? Historical examples are welcome.

Next question: what happened to the war against Al Qaeda? Did we win? When?

Next question: other than the fact that North Korea doesn't have oil, why is Iraq (which doesn't seem to have weapons of mass destruction) worthy of attack, while North Korea (which does) given concessions?

Next question: If we're looking for evil regimes where the civil population would benefit from the arrival of the Third Armored Division, current events in the Congo would suggest that region would be a good one to visit. Why aren't we there?

Which brings us around to this: In what way is a desire to keep the US focussed on its legitimate goals evidence of Communist leanings?

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 10:53 AM:

Jim: A masterly summarization. So when are you starting your blog?

MKK

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 11:29 AM:

"Next question: other than the fact that North Korea doesn't have oil, why is Iraq (which doesn't seem to have weapons of mass destruction) worthy of attack, while North Korea (which does) given concessions?"

Oooh, ooh! I can answer that one! They are worthy of attack because the administration believe them to be an easy target, and will fold comparatively quickly, thus making a gentle first step in the pursuit of Pax Americana.

But the big reason is because the administration has been listening to Bernard Lewis. Lewis, you may recall, is *the* major scholar of the Middle East, and he's told them that the culture that prevails there is a culture of machismo, which only respects power and force. They have grown convinced that a complete victory in Iraq will substantially realign the power politics of the Middle East and make the entire region more respectful of, and pliant to, the US. Also, there are apparently all sorts of advantages to having the primary US military presence in the Middle East be based in a cowed and captive Iraq. It would allow us to give up military compounds in less amenable places.

I don't think I can do enough to recommend the This American Life episode entitled "Why We Fight". Available on the web in screaming audio.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 01:07 PM:

You also have to remember, unlike North Korea and the Congo, Iraq is a great tourist destination, once the neighborhood gets cleaned up.

I mean, what kid, after having seen the old Popeye cartoon with Popeye going in to Bagdad with the neon sign going BAG, DAD, BAGDAD, hasn't wanted to visit? Not to mention that whole Arabian Nights thing. Nice climate, pretty flowers (tulips, roses), and unlike some dictators (anyone remember the results of Imelda Marcos's shopping sprees?) Saddam seems to have relatively good taste and has built some of the nicest looking presidential palaces this side of Monticello.

There's also the whole Islamic thing--you invade Mecca or Medina or even Jerusalem, all the religious types go into apoplexy. But Bagdad? That's like invading Vegas. Replace one secular dictator with some other secular type? Who hasn't recently invaded the neighbors or set fire to oil wells? Great!

Then you get your filling station and Arabian Nights theme park all-in-one.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 01:22 PM:

Ahhh, interesting point Kevin.

Another benny: The vast and monied (or at leastly vastly monied) royal class of various arab nations who formerly had to fly across oceans for debauchery will be able to do so in Occupied Iraq, at American-owned results like Ceasar's Palace Bagdad or Disney's Aladdin Land.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 03:17 PM:

It seems to me that if I were Kim Jong Il, the new policy of preemptive defense combined with my having been named to the "Axis of Evil" would give me pause.

If I had agreed to stop developing nuclear weapons when I didn't feel so threatened, I'd look at these circumstances and strongly consider getting nuclear weapons now so that I'd be ready to commit aggression against a preemptive defense aimed at North Korea.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 03:29 PM:

Two other possibilities present:

a) Bush has no intention of starting a war in Iraq, but he must convince Saddam that he's eager for one if he's ever going to get the inspections.

b) Bush has no intention of starting a war in Iraq -- this is all one large ruse to get troops and equipment into place for the invasion of Saudi Arabia as part of the war against Al Qaeda.

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 03:38 PM:

"Next question: other than the fact that North Korea doesn't have oil, why is Iraq (which doesn't seem to have weapons of mass destruction) worthy of attack, while North Korea (which does) given concessions?"

Because, in the 'Left Behind' books, the antichrist
rises in Baghdad, not North Korea?

Kent Roller ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 04:42 PM:

You know, Jon, you might be onto something there, though I disagree with your biblical angle.

If I were to stray that far afield to deduce the reasoning behind invading Iraq, I'd refer to Zecharia Sitchin's Earth Chronicles series.

It's more likely that Bush is looking for some sort of seed ship, and we need to test out those F22s in preperation for a hostile return of the progenitors.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 05:09 PM:

The antichrist would look pretty stupid rising in North Korea. But Bagdad? It's built right next to the ruins of Babylon, and if you read the Arabian Nights (particularly the racy stories, like "The Porter and the Three Girls of Bagdad"), you know that it's an even more swinging place.

As for invading Saudi Arabia, that would only occur if an inconvenient revolution or something started up there. Which is entirely possible, but I'd put it some time after the conquest of Iraq. Give Saudi children a good ten years of going to Persia-Disney and Tamerlane's Palace then going back to Mecca and Medina and going "Damn! Why can't we do that here?"

I mean, the Saudis already declared Fatwa on Pokemon. Give the resentment some time to percolate and when the revolution comes, it may not be one of religious fanaticism.

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 05:40 PM:

I hope it's appropriate to post a note here about an issue I encountered a couple of blogs over: what would Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., have done under these circumstances?

There is no doubt in my mind that Dr King would have opposed making a war against Iraq under any circumstances. He consistently counselled peaceful responses to aggression, including attacks against himself and his family, in spite of his knowledge that he could not depend on the civil police apparatus for justice or even protection. "Preemptive defense" would clearly have been anathema to Dr King.

Most Americans, at least most non-African-American Americans, seem to be pretty ill-informed about the depth of Dr King's convictions and the events which proved their solidity in the face of real challenges. All sorts of material about the man and his times, along with Dr King's own thoughts about those times, is only a Google away.

(Will note in closing that I'm not of African-American ethnicity, just a guy with decent reading comprehension.)

Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 05:47 PM:

Jim, I had been going with your extra alternative (a) until recently, and still have a slender thread of hope that it will turn out to be the correct analysis of the situation. It was easier to believe it when there was a Congress at stake (another reason for talk without walk) and before the more recent deployments.

Of course, the goal of alternative (b) would also be served by conquering Iraq and using it as a forward base and back-up oil supply.

Gary Farber ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 07:29 PM:

"Next question: other than the fact that North Korea doesn't have oil, why is Iraq (which doesn't seem to have weapons of mass destruction) worthy of attack, while North Korea (which does) given concessions?"

The answer is simple, though the policy, of course, immensely debatable. Answer: because North Korea already has nuclear weapons, with a missile system capable of delivering them to its neighbors. (Not to mention enough artillery tubes pointed over the border at Seoul to lay waste to it and a good portion of the South Korean citizenry even absent the nuclear option.)

If Iraq had already achieved its nuclear bombs, as it undeniably would have absent the bombing of the Osirak plant by Israel in 1981, the 1991 Gulf War, and the subsequent temporary regime of inspectors, it is unlikely in the extreme that the US or anyone else would be threatening war against Iraq.

The argument, in a nutshell, boils down to, as Jim implied in his first post in this comment thread, whether containment still remains a viable policy against any and all new nuclear powers and against "non-proliferation" in the post-September 11th world, or whether it does not. Reasonable people may disagree on this critical question whose moral underpinning, and the implications of getting this wrong, doubtless bothers each of us.

(I remain, for now, still on my fence, still aware of how wrong I was to support containment of the Hussein regime, as a way to remove them from Kuwait [among other things], in 1991.)

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 08:05 PM:

"There's also the whole Islamic thing--you invade Mecca or Medina or even Jerusalem, all the religious types go into apoplexy. But Bagdad? That's like invading Vegas."

Just the cradle of civilization, at the meeting of the Tigris and the Eurphrates.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 08:52 PM:

It's okay, Randolph. Most of the cool artifacts have been carried off to museums a long way from the scene of the proposed fight, and the stuff that's still buried will survive anything except a direct hit.

If we go into Iraq, I want CNN to use "Babylon is Fallen" as their lead-in theme music for war reports.

Yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 08:54 PM:

"what happened to the war against Al Qaeda? Did we win? When?"

We're still fighting it - every week I see news items about arresting various Al Qeda types around the globe. It seems to be more of an international police action right now than a "war."

"other than the fact that North Korea doesn't have oil, why is Iraq (which doesn't seem to have weapons of mass destruction) worthy of attack, while North Korea (which does) given concessions?"

Gary answered that one. And if oil were the issue, Bush would be bowing to his daddy's oil buddies and lifting sanctions instead of preparing for war.

"current events in the Congo would suggest that region would be a good one to visit. Why aren't we there?"

Because they are not about to get nukes. It makes sense to depose Saddam before he gets nukes, not after, otherwise we will have to handle him with kid gloves like we now have to so with NKorea.

Any more questions?

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2003, 10:31 PM:

There's still the question of how our preemptive defense against Saddam is different from Saddam's preemptive defense against Kuwait.

Andrew Northrup ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 11:08 AM:

An answer that depends on whether or not "our" means the US, or the world as represented by the UN. The UN has some claim to legitimacy (or can, when it can be bothered) in resolving the nuclear issue. If it's the US alone, the difference is that there will be no military coalition to drive us out. And that's pretty much it.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 12:42 PM:

I am fascinated by the policy that the world's one and only superpower publicly announces that it's too terrified to mount any military action against a two-bit country which may or may not have a few small nukes, but it's rarin' to go against a four-bit country which probably doesn't have nukes but which certainly does have other WMD and has actually used some of them.

Some of the more cryptic posts way up topic might be clarified if everyone realized that the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Ayatollah Khameini are two different people, and that the latter is still alive.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 07:17 PM:

o/~ It's hard to even notice
That all this earth is hallowed ground --
Hunger still to feel it!
Basic as each breath --"

One of the cradles, I wish I'd written. That land has been settled for 12,000 years. Writing was invented there. Cities were invented there. The oldest known wheels have been found there. If there is a place which deserves veneration for its importance in human history, Iraq is one. Thinking about a war there makes me sick.

o/~ This land is burning
Turning to ash as it hits the air
Every line is a place on a map
It's a city or valley
A mark on these miles of fields"

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 07:43 PM:

Randolph, I fear you've committed a mondegreen. Our copy of BIG CIRCUMSTANCE doesn't include lyrics, but I'm pretty darned sure that it's: "harder still to feel it, basic as a breath" It's the extension of a previous thought: hard...harder still....

On the other hand, in my pursuit of checking, I found that the disc was misfiled, had to go hunting, and can now put it with the rest of the Cockburn, where it belongs, so that's all right then.

Ulrika "I might be drilled through the head with a shooting star" O'Brien

Gary Farber ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 10:25 PM:

"There's still the question of how our preemptive defense against Saddam is different from Saddam's preemptive defense against Kuwait."

The cute answer is that Saddam was, of course, merely taking possession of Iraq's 19th province, and was provoked by the al-Sabah family which was stealing the oil which was the rightful heritage of the Iraqi people. Whereas we, of course, are merely out to take the oil so as to cheapen the price, break OPEC, and destroy the economic base of Islamic fundamentalism and its war on Western hegemony.

The other view is that, strangely, Kuwait was conspicuously lacking in military threat to Iraq, whereas Iraq is conspicuously engaged, still, in a desire and endeavor to militarily threaten and dominate its neighbors, and, oh, yeah, eliminate the Zionist entity and kill all the Jews. (The latter less out of any consistent ideology than the fact that it's an idea sure to win popularity in the neighborhood.)

Perhaps these are all equivalent ideas. Perhaps the UN should have inspectors in Kuwait as we speak. Who knows what they might find?

I do find Simon Shoedecker's framing of the idea of "a few small nukes" to be quite interesting. Presumably Japan should have taken no notice of a mere "two small nukes." What's a "few small nukes" between friends, neutrals, or past enemies? Who could mind them?

Especially after they're set off. It's almost as if someone might might object to a couple of airliners bringing down a building or two. After all, urban renewal brings down more residences every year in most countries: what's to mind?

"A few small nukes." A phrase to remember. Who could object?

("That guy put a few small iron spikes through my skull -- not that I mind! == they were just a few, and small!")

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 10:50 PM:

"The other view is that, strangely, Kuwait was conspicuously lacking in military threat to Iraq, whereas Iraq is conspicuously engaged, still, in a desire and endeavor to militarily threaten and dominate its neighbors"

On the other hand, Kuwait was actively pursuing an *economic* threat to Iraq at the time. Whereas the US is not one of the neighbors Iraq supposedly threatens. (There's some question about Iraq'a actual ability to extend threat, these days, last I checked.)

Or are we supposed to pre-emptively strike every country that rattles its sabers against Israel, now, and in what way is that justified?

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2003, 11:09 PM:

Ulrika, you're quite right; it was the folk process at work. When I looked it up for the post, I decided I liked my mangled version better than the original, so that's what I put down. It just didn't seem worth writing attributions and explanations as long as the post itself.

Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 01:30 AM:

Gary, I used the phrase "a few small nukes" in my continuing frustrated effort to try to understand the policy of the Bush administration. I did intend a certain irony in the phrase, because nuclear bombs, "small" or otherwise, exist in context of other large-scale ways of killing people.

People killed in war are people killed in war, no matter how they're killed. The Iraq regime has committed large-scale massacres against its own people and against Iran's. Yet the Bush administration is loudly proclaiming its determination to launch war against this country, despite the certainty that many Americans, not to mention many more Iraqis, will be killed.

Yet North Korea, which may well not even have the nuclear weapons in question, is sending the same policy-makers cowering in terror to the negotiating table which they so firmly disdain in the other case.

And why? We're told that it's because NK has nukes.

Well, the US also has nukes. Much bigger ones. And it's threatened to use them.

In that context, cowering over North Korea seems silly.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 04:17 AM:

Following on my last remark--is there a Museum of the Civilization (or somesuch) in Baghdad? Because it would be a good place for one, thinks this architecture student who's been looking at way too many similar-sounding projects. There is a lot to be said, I think, for telling that story in one of the places where it happenned. It might also be good for the Iraqi people, many of whom, I'd guess, don't know that history. (Saddam Hussein does, however.)

A bit of searching with Google reveals this article on the Museum of Iraq (from the Mennonites, yet!) And late in his life, Frank Lloyd Wright designed various projects for Baghdad (none of which were realized, alas, but elements from them appear in the Grady Gammage Auditorium in Phoenix. And here is a discussion of Iraqi archaeological sites and current Iraqi art. There is a bit of information about the Iraq Museum at an Austrian web site.

But the big story here is that what is there is, in fact, being poorly cared for and often looted.

DAMN!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 07:49 AM:

Grady Gammage Auditorium! What a weird building. I've worked backstage there. Famously, there isn't a right angle in the place, save for the intersection of walls and floor. But the acoustics are astounding.

Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2003, 09:34 PM:

Ah, yes. Sighting Grady Gammage Auditorium on my first visit to Phoenix in the late '70s contributed greatly to the feeling that Phoenix was somehow, really, San-Jose-in-the-desert. (San Jose's Center for the Performing Arts was designed by the Wright Foundation, and has some points of resemblance to Gammage Auditorium.)

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2003, 02:08 AM:

With today's pin-up finished, I broke lose a bit of time to research this and, oh my.

The Gammage Auditorium is based, it turns out, on an opera house designed for Baghdad. I'm looking at a stunning rendering, a bird's-eye view perspective, entitled "Crescent Opera, Civic Auditorium, Garden of Eden." The subtitle is "Plan for Greater Baghdad." It is quite the Arabian Nights fantasy--"a circular structure surrounded by an alabaste colonnade and topped by an openwork, gilded metal crown containing a statues of Aladdin" (who Wright was choosing to represent ideals of social mobility and democracy.) There is an axis through the building, part of the larger plan requested of Wright, which slides under the building, opening out to a view of the Tigris, and aligned with Mecca. The circular form derives the orginal plan of the city set out by al-Mansur's, the second Abbasid Caliph and probably the Great Mosque at Samarra, as well.

References: there's a good reproduction of the rendering in the 12 volume monograph of Wright's works (I believe he's the best-documented architect, ever--the books on him overflow an entire shelf section in our library). The summary of the design I've been referring to is in The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Princeton University Press, 1996. Don't trust me right now, I'm tired enough to fall over.

Now, why didn't I think of the Garden of Eden?

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2003, 07:33 AM:

Simon: Well, the US also has nukes. Much bigger ones. And it's threatened to use them.

True in this context, but I like to point out that we are, knock wood, the only nation in the world that has actually used nuclear weapons in war. Or at any time, war or not, against a human target.

Helen Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2003, 12:09 PM:

I saw a youngish protester with a button on that said "Go Marines! Beat Iraq." I actually looked her dead in the eye and asked if she thought this was a football game.

I took pictures; might be a couple of weeks before I actually turn them around, but I'll post them when I do.

Mark ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2003, 04:30 PM:

To Kevin Andrew Murphy, Ayatollah Khomenei died in 1989. Ayatollah Khamenei is alive and is the lead Ayatollah of Iran today. Now I dont belive Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khamenei, Kim Jong Il, or Don Rumsfeld are the antichrists or antichrist but at the same time I dont trust any of them.