Thursday, February 7, 2008

Paradigm Shift

I supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq when it occurred in 2003. I voted for Bush twice. I put up a sign in my yard showing my support. The war made a lot of sense to me. Saddam had lost a war with us in 1991, and as a condition of his surrender he had agreed to disarm. All the intelligence agencies indicated that he wasn't disarming. Also 5000 children were dying every month due to U.N. sanctions that deprived kids of medical supplies and food. Starvation is a terrible way to die. I'm a person that is saddened by this type of suffering. I was willing to spend my tax dollars to help. Also, I believed this action would make the world safer. I believed Islam was a little bit crazy. Their doctrines for some reason led them to do strange violent things for seemingly irrational reasons, such as what occurred on 9/11. We needed to stabilize that region.

This was my starting paradigm. But slowly over the next few years certain facts started to undermine this paradigm. The first thing that I recall was the success of the Iraqi soccer team in the 2004 Olympics. I was pleased that they did well, knowing that they wouldn't be taken home and beaten for failure, as would likely occur if Saddam were still in power. President Bush expressed his pleasure at their success. But the players' reaction to Bush astounded me. They attacked him and American foreign policy in Iraq vitriolicly. They seemed to hate us. Those ungrateful bastards!! How can they speak of us this way after all we've done for them? Would they rather be going home to be beaten by Saddam? This made no sense to me. Within my paradigm, that is.

The next step in my shift resulted from contact with some Muslim people. I became friends with a colleague at work from Pakistan. At this point I had abandoned my previous Christian faith, but I said to my Muslim friend "I have to tell you, if I were an alien from another planet and I came to earth and picked a religion simply based upon the behavior of the adherents, I would take Christianity over Islam. Pat Robertson may be crazy, but he's not violent. Same with Falwell or Benny Hinn. You guys are violent. You must be in the wrong." My friend responded by asserting that I am looking at a very narrow window of history. It is true that Islam today appears more violent, in that Middle Eastern countries seem less stable. But consider the last 14 centuries. Islam looks very good in comparison with Christianity when considering that window. Also look at the teachings of the Qur'an. There is no reason to conclude that it is more violent than the Bible. He provided me with some resources to consider his claim. I looked into it.

I found a couple of good PBS documentaries (available at the library) that seemed to confirm his claims. These were Islam: Empire of Faith and The Crusades. Christianity doesn't look so great in comparison to Islam in these videos. I also scoured the internet looking for violent teachings from the Qur'an. I challenged anti-Muslim friends of mine to likewise show that the Qur'an is inordinately violent. There are a few things that aren't great, but certainly no worse than the Bible. One example critics often point to is Sura 9. If you'll look at my comments here, this doesn't really work.

The next component in the evolution of my thinking involved the failure to find WMD in Iraq. Ultimately we want to take military action when there is a threat to our own national security, and WMD was that threat. Without the WMD I started to wonder if this had been a mistake. It was great that people were able to be free, but perhaps if the goal is to make the U.S. and the world safe maybe the half a trillion would have been better spent elsewhere. But I can't blame Bush. The whole world thought he had WMD, as did the Democrats. Perhaps he was wrong, but it wasn't a lie. Bush probably thought he did have them. Still, I have to be unhappy about what Bush did. He may have meant well, but he's the top dog. He has to share some of the blame for this huge blunder. But regardless, we're in Iraq now. We have to finish the job and make the region stable.

My confidence in my Republican president was shaken, but not destroyed. Anybody can make a mistake, and this was an understandable one. Then I watched another show on PBS. Bill Moyer's Buying the War. This was an eye opener. He showed with video clips that this was more than incompetence. This was an effort to persuade us to go to war without good evidence, and the media itself was complicit.

This was very depressing for me. Now I started to think that Bush wasn't just honestly mistaken. He was at best incompetent, and at worst intentionally misleading us. He had gotten us into a war for the wrong reasons. And this war wasn't going well. Deficits were skyrocketing. And there didn't seem to be any good solution. I'm not sure we can afford to continue to fight this war, yet we couldn't just leave. Could we?

Enter Ron Paul at the South Carolina debate. He claimed that they don't attack us because we're free and prosperous. They attack us because we're over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. How would we feel if China built military bases in our country? How would we feel if China overthrew our legitimately elected leaders and installed their own? We need to look at things from the perspective of how we would feel if these things were done to us.

This was a complete revelation. Is he right? I had to look into it. I started to dig into things and Paul's assertions seemed to be true. I learned other things I was unaware of. One fact hit me pretty hard. It was about the starving children in Iraq. It was the U.S. and Britain that had forced this issue. Apparently Madeleine Albright was asked on 60 minutes in '96 whether the half a million dead children (at that point) was worth it. She said it was. This statement, which received widespread coverage in foreign press, was barely mentioned domestically.

And here was the real kick in the crotch. While I was unaware of this until it was needed as an excuse for war, Michael Moore, who in my view was a leftist crackpot, was well aware of it and was breaking laws smuggling food to these poor starving children in the year 2000! How is it that he, as a liberal crazy person, knows about this and is risking much to do something about it, and yet I as a supposedly more enlightened conservative was so in the dark?

What else am I in the dark about? If I'm wrong, someone please correct me, but there are a few other things I stumbled upon that the press didn't talk about that I think they should have talked about.

1-The U.S. initially may have given Saddam the green light to invade Kuwait
2-Bush the Elder justified the war with complete lies about babies in incubators
3-There is a lot of history worth knowing unknown to most Americans regarding our dealings with Iran that truly justifies their hatred of us
4-The U.S. has killed a lot of people without provocation. Consider tiny Laos, an impoverished country. We dropped more bombs on them then were dropped during the entirety of WWII, forcing residents to live in caves.

Due to this and other revelations, my old paradigm had crumbled. Our supposed free press, which in my opinion had to be amongst the best in the world, in fact could not be trusted to inform the people of what the real issues are. The politicians that I had supported were starting wars for reasons that weren't in fact being made clear at the time, and the real motivations simply weren't noble. The country I thought I lived in didn't really exist. I liked thinking that life was as simple as saying that they're the bad guys and we're the good guys. I liked thinking that we were the greatest nation in the world and the world's hatred of us was jealousy and irrationality. That vision of my country is gone now, and it's a sad, sad day.

12 comments:

Dustin Reed said...

I was 15 when we invaded Iraq, I really didn't have a strong stance either way. I didn't truly understand the justice for going In, I think somebody planted a memo with the hole Iraq connected with Bin Laden thing. Now after reading more and more about it i am worried it was all a big hoax . The fact of the matter is we started a war, I don't believe we should start wars. Most will say well we were attacked, Yes by Terroist not by Iraq. There is not a connection, Even Bush stated that during the debates in 04.

Our Foreign Policy is really jacked up, First we are friends with these guys then two years later we will bomb them, become friends and then again bomb them. It's like a Junior High Girl crush. The biggest thing that troubles me is the fact our Foreign Policy is putting our Government more and more in debt. We spend billions upon billions basing our troops in other countries. I believe we have three big government corrupt humans running for President. All I believe will continue our foreign policy that reeks of corruption. Hopefully things will change for the better.

Jon said...

Dustin, if you'd like to learn a thing or two about why people thought there was a link between Saddam an Al Qaeda, check that link I have to Bill Moyer's Journal on Buying the War. You need to set aside an hour or so to watch, but think of it as just plain good TV. It's an eye opener. Sad.

Will things change? Not if any of the top three candidates are elected President, and it does look inevitable that it will be either Hillary, McInsane or Obama. I think there is a real possibility that this country could go the way of the old Soviet empire. It's the same way all empires fall. They destroy their currency. It's not like we'll all be starving, but the old days of prosperity could be a thing of the past.

Dustin said...

I tend to agree with you, I believe It won't destroy us yet. We has a nation and people can run up enough debt for a while. However over time it will REALLY effect everything.

I remember in Grade School learning about the Gold Standard and how important it was to our country. Seems very far from what we are. All we can do Is abide by the Gold Standard, Use cash not credit and save money. Don't live out of our means like the big government Republicans and Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Fellhas, fellahs, fellahs...

Does Bill Moyers have an agenda to advance? Consider this: Bill Moyers worked first for Lyndon Johnson, then John Kennedy, and then Lyndon Johnson. What did he say about Bill Clinton's commital of US forces to Bosnia (they're still there, btw)? Moyer's not neutral, but he wants to portray neutrality.

What is a good reason to go to war?
Were Wilson's, or Roosevelt's, or Truman's, or Kennedy's and Johnson's reasons sufficient?

Have you never read the allegations regarding Roosevelt and his deliberately manuevering the US into WWII? Have you never heard of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and its bearing on our involvement in Vietnam?

Foreign Policy "jacked up" - what does that mean? Is foreign policy defined solely by what US armed forces are deployed in foreign lands? What about cash, goods, or other types of direct aid extended to foreign countries? The Peace Corps still exists, doesn't that count?

Where should we station troops? Only within the contiguous United States?

How much responsibility do the career (not appointed) State Department officials bear for our foreign policy, good or bad?

Corrupt candidates? How so? Simply because they are affiliated with one party or the other? This has been a two party country since just prior to the Civil War. Third parties have attempted to form, but to no avail.

If the United States is in such a wretched mess why do so many risk all that they have to come here and do it illegally? Because this country is still a beacon of hope for so many and will continue that way.

There is much to consider which is the reason for so many questions. Consider carefully.

Jon said...

Anon,

Bill Moyers may have an axe to grind, as everybody does. This doesn't mean you shouldn't consider the evidence he presents. I'm no leftist, as I think Moyers is. But I'll consider what he has to say anyway. Watch what he presents and decide if he's wrong. I'll listen to Rush Limbaugh and consider what he says. I won't dismiss him because of who he is, but I will if what he says is shown to be wrong.

A good reason to go to war would be when you are faced with a real threat to your national security.

Roosevelt was right, the rest were wrong.

I've heard of the claims about Pearl Harbor but I don't know the validity of them. Yes, I'm aware of the Gulf of Tonkin. Are you advocating such duplicity?

With regards to some of your other points, I say follow the Constitution. No, we should not have troops stationed in foreign lands unless removing them represents a threat to our national security. Do we need troops in Japan, Britain, Italy, Germany? I don't think so. The Soviets tried to sustain a similar empire. I think we're headed down the same path they were on, and we'll have the same results.

Why do people come here? We're prosperous. Sadly much of that prosperity comes from forcing people to ship their resources over here via unfair trade deals, such as what has occurred in Iran. We point big guns at them and tell them to give us their oil. They do, and we kill them to make sure things continue this way. That's the history of Iran. We also borrow lots of money. At the rate Bush has borrowed, he's taken about $11 billion per day. My lifestyle would be pretty good too if I borrowed $1 million per day, but eventually it would come time to pay the piper and I would be forced to tighten my belt. I see belt tightening day coming to the U.S. at some point.

Anonymous said...

>>A good reason to go to war would be when you are faced with a real threat to your national security.

What constitutes a real threat, that is how many ships need to be sunk along with their respective crews or how many aircraft need to be blown up along with hangars, etc, that is if Roosevelt was correct?

From the Japanese perspective the US refusal to continue to supply them with steel might have been seen to the Japanese as a real threat to their national security, so a good first strike?

Prosperity is the only reason that some will risk their lives to come to the US? So you would risk your life for a better pay check?

Jon said...

What constitutes a real threat, that is how many ships need to be sunk along with their respective crews or how many aircraft need to be blown up along with hangars, etc, that is if Roosevelt was correct?

That's a question that our elected representatives would need to decide. It's a complicated matter, but it's the type of thing they get paid for. Certainly an oil deal where British companies don't profit as much wouldn't qualify.

From the Japanese perspective the US refusal to continue to supply them with steel might have been seen to the Japanese as a real threat to their national security, so a good first strike?

From their perspective, maybe.

Prosperity is the only reason that some will risk their lives to come to the US? So you would risk your life for a better pay check?

I didn't know it was dangerous to come to the U.S. But yes, a better paycheck is the main motivation for almost every foreigner I know. In fact I can't think of a single foreigner I personally know that isn't here for that reason.

Anonymous said...

>>I didn't know it was dangerous to come to the U.S. But yes, a better paycheck is the main motivation for almost every foreigner I know. In fact I can't think of a single foreigner I personally know that isn't here for that reason.

It is considering some attempt to cross the 90 miles separating Cuba and Florida on something other than the Pacific Princess.

It is when some risk being locked in the back of a truck and left by the roadside in Backwater, TX/AZ/NM in 100 degree heat, when the Border Patrol gets too close.

But would you risk your life for a better paycheck? Life is more than a paycheck isn't?

Jon said...

OK. For some people it is dangerous to come here. So what? You asked why people come here and I told you. We're prosperous. We borrow about $11 billion per day from private banks, and that makes us feel like we're prosperous, but in the near future when the interest on the debt is demanded we may not feel so prosperous.

Actually, I would risk my life for a bigger paycheck if I made very little money. Money is freedom and safety. With money you can buy health care and food. Without money you go hungry and treatments for illness are not available. There's no question that poverty increases your risks of death, so you'd have to weigh the risk of death from poverty against the risk of death from attempting to swim from Cuba to Florida. Your decision would probably be based on how poor you were in Cuba. Come on into America where we are in the midst of borrowing ourselves into oblivion. It should be fun while it lasts, but it will end. And the private Federal Reserve Bank (which many think is run by the government, but in fact is owned by private investors) will own all of us.

Anonymous said...

Yes I asked and you gave an answer. "Ham salad" or "Because I said so" would have been possible answers also.

Your focus on poverty ignores those who come here legally (who have demonstrated to INS that they have the funds to support themselves as well as to leave).

Five years ago I worked with a fellow from India who drove a BMW SUV and one of the first flat screen TV's (paiod cash for both since he didn't like making payments). He risked nothing to come and wasn't looking for a larger check.

>>Come on into America where we are in the midst of borrowing ourselves into oblivion. It should be fun while it lasts, but it will end.

You planning on moving to Canada or Mexico?

>>And the private Federal Reserve Bank (which many think is run by the government, but in fact is owned by private investors) will own all of us

Any names to share?

Jon said...

I don't know where you're going with any of this. You asked why people come here and I gave my answer. You say you know someone who came here for other reasons. OK. What are you getting at?

Anonymous said...

Just trying to get a little lower than the 100,000 ft view that's been printed.

Yes, you did anwer the question and then you toss in extras about the Federal Reserve and who runs it. I could ask where you are headed with that, but I won't.

Thanks for time.