Hentoff on the Anti-Warriors

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In the Village Voice, Nat Hentoff asks does being against the war mean you're for Saddam?

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  1. I am glad so many “anti-war” types made such a big stink about the war. It really exposed many for the anti-Ameircan snakes they are. Yes it shows how morally bankrupt the Left is — “progressives” marching in SUPPORT of a tryannical, racist, reactionary, warmongering dictator. Their lofty reason for this: because Bush looks like a chimp. Keep an eye on this crowd, I wouldn’t be surprised is many of the athiestic Left converted to Terrorist Islam, so strong is their hatred for America.

    And no I am not just aiming this rant at the Left — many conservatives and liberarians are equally (or more so?) guilty. I mean, what the fuck? So-called libertarians marching with Communists, linking to authors that support the death of American soliders (Lew Rockwell), mindlessly and stupidly repeating Iraqi STATE propaganda (Justin Ramindio). Yeah great job guys, the US State is sooo terrible you supported instead the Iraqi State, a regime that throws people into acid and plastic shredders. The Kurds face the equivalent of an ATF Waco Assalt every fucking day by Saddam yet the Lew Rockwells of the world are too buys equating Bush to Hitler.

    One year ago I was skeptical about the war. Now I am convinced that it was the right thing to do. I am not sure how big a role my disgust at the vile anti-war Left and their lackeys on the anti-war Right and in the anti-war “libertarian” movement played into my conclusions, but they did play a roll. If your goal was to convince me that the war was wrong, you failed and failed big time.

    End of Rant.

  2. Please name one single antiwar libertarian who has made any comments at all supporting the Iraqi state. Please note – “supporting the Iraqi state” does not mean “opposing the U.S. government”

  3. Political power and warfare are zero-sum games. What weakens one player strengthens the others. To oppose the war one must accept that ones actions will benefit and therefore “support” Saddam regardless of one’s intentions.

    As a thought experiment consider this: How would the actions and positions taken by a genuine war opponent differ from that of an agent of Saddam’s sent here create political opposition to the war?

    Good intentions are important yet we must also hold ourselves responsible for the easily foreseeable unintended consequences of our actions.

  4. Why isn’t it possible to be pro-American, anti-Iraq and still oppose the war? I don’t recall any line in the Constitution that says swearing loyalty to your country means agreeing with everything the government does. In fact, isn’t that the real arrogance and hubris of the Bush administration — the idea that they ARE the country, rather than merely the people we elected (or didn’t elect, depending on your viewpoint) to run it?

    People who are against the war (most of us, at least) don’t want the U.S. to lose the war; we just don’t want the U.S. to be in it. That’s an important distinction. Besides, if you’re going to claim that opponents of the war are therefore supporting Saddam, doesn’t that mean the Bushites therefore support the dictatorial regimes of Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and all those other countries they aren’t invading (at least not yet)?

  5. By those standards, Shannon, is it OK to say that war supporters objectively support the death of Iraqi civilians?

    If not, what’s the difference?

  6. >>People who are against the war (most of us, at least) don’t want the U.S. to lose the war; we just don’t want the U.S. to be in it

  7. Neolibertarin Chimp,

    Better watch out, Lazarus Long will give a lecture about how none of this has to do with liberating Iraq from a tyrant.

    BTW, if you were really interested in such things as “liberation” and ending atrocities, you’d be chomping at the bit to get into the Congo right now. Over 3.5 million people have died their since 1998 due to invasions, a civil war, etc., all to get at that country’s diamonds, etc.

  8. I’m not sure exactly where Jude Wanninski is on the political map (some sort of supply-sider in economics), but check out this poorly titled piece,

    “In Defense of Saddam Hussein”

    http://www.polyconomics.com/searchbase/12-14-00.html

  9. >>Good intentions are important yet we must also hold ourselves responsible for the easily forseeable unintended consequences of our actions.

    Such as killing women and children, unifying the interests of Arab moderates that sort of hate us with those of Islamists who REALLY hate us, creating a new generation of future terrorists, and entangling the US military in a occupation that will last for decades?

  10. Jesse,

    I’ll answer for Shannon, since your comment is so odd. Those for the war objectively support the killing of the particular civilians killed during the war, and because of the war. They also objectively support the saving and improving of countless lives which is a result of the war.

    I’m not sure why it needs to be mentioned, but 200,000 Iraqi children died last year to preventable causes. Causes that would be circumvented in a country with a more humane (if not entirely democratic) government and Iraqs oil wealth.

    “The difference” is that the anti-war movement has no comparable future benefit to point to, offered no roadmap to how to achieve the better future offered by the hawks. In a future with no war against Iraq, millions continue to die, or exist in a living hell, and we all wake up one morning with Manhattan a smoking crater.

    The anti-war movement failed, and the war started not because George Bush is an imbecile, Fox News is a corporate shill, Americans don’t go to Europe enough, Dick Cheney wanted new contracts for Halliburton, or any other simpleminded nonsense anti-war types have been spouting, but because the pro-war side offered better arguments about the future shape of the world after war vs. without war than the anti-war crowd could counter.

    This is because it is easier to make better arguments when you are right.

  11. Let me spell this out for you, Chimp.

    The war is (allegedly) being waged to help the Iraqi people and topple Saddam. Therefore, being against the war means you are agains the Iraqi people, and for Saddam.

    The Great Society was created to end poverty. Therefore, if you are against Great Society programs, you are against ending poverty, and in favor of children having inadequate nutrition and shelter.

    Kind of different when it’s your ox being gored, eh?

  12. JDM,

    “‘The difference’ is that the anti-war movement has no comparable future benefit to point to, offered no roadmap to how to achieve the better future offered by the hawks. In a future with no war against Iraq, millions continue to die, or exist in a living hell, and we all wake up one morning with Manhattan a smoking crater.”

    Then those in the anti-war camp will hold you to your promises, because that’s all you’ve pointed to so far. Promises are cheap.

  13. Gary: You just can’t resist. 😉 But you are correct, it isn’t really about liberation. But I will spare everyone the lecture on the “why”, as it is mostly irrelvent now that the shooting war started. Just watch and see if I am right (Paks/Saudis clamp down on terror, N. Korea caves, etc.)

    JDM: Very good post. I believe the war was a brilliant Machevellian scheme by the Administration to make the West safer in the face of Islamism. But it will also make those in Iraq better off.

    It will be a win for Bush, Americans, some corporations, average Iraqis and the neocons.

    It will be a loss for the Left, the UN, the EU, Saddam, the anti-war movement, terrorists and Islamists.

  14. joe,

    Bravo.

    Obviously if you are against affirmative action, you must be for racism. 🙂

  15. Jesse:

    War supporters and war opponents alike can be said to “objectively” support the consequences of whatever it is that they advocate. As JDM noted, war advocates objectively accept the Iraqi deaths that result from the war, but only because they recognize that the amount of civilian suffering and death under a prolonged Saddamite “peace” would have been much greater. You seem to be arguing the gun control line, only at the macro level: focus on the relatively low number killed by X, while completely ignoring the much larger group that would be killed in X’s absence.

  16. Lazarus Long,

    “It will be a win for Bush, Americans, some corporations, average Iraqis and the neocons.”

    There you go violating your own rule.

  17. BTW, predictions about the outcome of this war are about as likely to be accurate as commenting on Franks’ war plans. In other words, predictions and prognostications are all so much farting into the wind. Lazarus Long should take his own advice on this matter.

  18. I’m not arguing any such line, Xlrq. I’m just sick of people going on about how their opponents “objectively” favor things they obviously don’t actually favor, without recognizing that the same rhetorical tool could be used against them.

    As it happens, I *do* think this war and the subsequent occupation will kill more Iraqis than would have died under the policies I prefered. Of course, I didn’t favor “a prolonged Saddamite ‘peace'” any more than I favored war. It’s a rare day indeed when there’s only two options on the table, particularly two as unpleasant as those.

  19. joe,
    your argument is full of holes!

    “The Great Society was created to end poverty. Therefore, if you are against Great Society programs, you are against ending poverty, and in favor of children having inadequate nutrition and shelter.”

    IF we win the war, Saddam is toppled, which frees the Iraqi people. For the “Great Society” it can be argued that it would never work from the beginning. For your argument you have to prove that removing Saddam from power will NOT result in toppling him and that this wouldn’t result in freeing the Iraqi people. That is a pretty stupid argument.

  20. I can see why they call you “Chimp”…

  21. Or chump.

  22. Neolibertarian Chimp,

    You are mixing things up a bit here. The argument is not whether invasion will or will not topple his regime. The argument is whether invasion will lead to a better Iraq. Better meaning better for the Iraqi people. And quite frankly, for your argument to work you will also have to prove whether toppling said regime will better for the Iraqis. Simply because something changes doesn’t mean that the change is for the better in other words, though that seems to be thrust of your argument. “If we get rid of Saddam, all will be better and flowers will grow out of our butts.” You have just as many unfounded pre-suppositions as anyone else here it appears.

  23. Gary how can ANY new regime be any worse????? They throw people into fucking vats of acid and plastic shredders!!?

    Anyway as others have said that is isn’t really important now. the US is committed in the this war, we should support the troops. Really I am just pissed at sites like Lewrockwell and anti-war.com who continue to spout off their bullshit while people die for freedom. People like Jesse I am cool with. Its ok to question, but the anti-americanism part sickens me!

  24. Jesse,

    “Objectively supporting” is in contrast to “subjectively supporting.” No one is saying, I don’t think, that anti-war people do what they do for the purpose of supporting Saddam, simply that their action objectively aids his cause.

    It might have been interesting to see an article about the policies you preferred which result in removal of Saddam without war.

    Gary,

    No one is making promises. If your aim is to be able to carp, you will find plenty to carp about whoever is responsible for any action taken in the real world. It will be easy, since we can now never know what the future would have held if the war hadn’t started.

    To me, the showstopping argument that the hawks had was always that this is the path does the best job ensuring that terrorists never get their hands on nukes. I never saw that countered in print or otherwise. The means of achieving that end – freeing Iraqis from a band of inhuman thugs – happens to be a benefit in and of itself.

  25. May as well note that the war hasn’t been won yet, and while it will almost certainly be won, we will only be able to sift through the pieces and make a truly accurate judgement of its effects afterwards. Personally I never really understood why Bush I set Saddam up in the first place. He was a great ally for America for decades – that’s why America installed him! My best guess is that it was just convenient to fight a war to distract public opinion at the time, Saddam was an expendable stooge who had slipped up, and in that sense it succeeded in its objective. Right now his son had been able to focus American attention on the issue first with threats and now putting his money where his mouth is. It’s a fairly safe gamble, and barring any complications such as the “millions of bin Ladens” – who are, after all, hypothetical and will most likely emerge during someone else’s term – will definitely succeed. Bush has pulled off a Machiavellian coup all right, however protecting the West from Islamic terrorists – Saddam an enemy of Osama’s and as secular as Ghandi, even if his polar opposite in most other respects – was not and is not its objective and this war should not be regarded as a failure if terror stateside increases a thousand fold, if the seeds of festering destabilization are sown in the fertile crescent, if a thousand American soldiers or expotenentially more unarmed brown people die. Bush desires a war not for its own sake, not other, but his own. He and his staff have outmaneuvered the American people, who are floating even now to an almost unconscious state of patriotic orthodoxy. If it goes well or long, he may coast to a second term on the sentiment. Well done, George.

  26. Jesse writes:

    “As it happens, I *do* think this war and the subsequent occupation will kill more Iraqis than would have died under the policies I prefered.

    I’m genuinely curious as to how you think this will come about, and if you could briefly describe the policies you prefer, I’d read with great interest.

  27. Anon, I don’t think we’ll be stupid or cowardly enough in the future (*cough* Bill Clinton) to let those new bin Ladens reach operational maturity.

    As to the anti-war crowd, of course they must come to terms with the unintended consequences of the policies they advocate (as I’ve discussed under previous blog topics). Being against war clearly does not automatically make a person favor Hussein, though throughout the debate over war, I’ve repeatedly decried the anti-war movement’s sweeping of Hussein’s atrocities under the rug. I think it’s fairly clear now that to the left (primarily), the weak, oppressed, and downtrodden, whose “plight” they so often lament, are merely political expedients. They’re great when they’re roused into “direct action” in the street, or when they’re voting early and often for the Dem-du-jour, but they’re dropped by the wayside when it’s necessary to take a prinicpled, visionary stand on their behalf.

  28. Okay, okay, we’re all responsible for the consequences of our opinions, whatever those myriad consequences may be, pro and con and indifferent!! We’ve all heard the reasons for and against this war ad nauseam, and it’s ridiculous to bother to repeat them all now. But try to understand that when someone says that anti-war protesters are supporting Saddam, they leave out the other half of the equation, i.e., the reasons someone may be against the war that have nothing to do with supporting Saddam.

    I thought and continue to think that this war was a mistake, but I do hope that time will prove me to be a dumbass.

  29. You know, it strikes me that the hawks might have had a better case had they gone into this saying “We need to liberate the Iraqi people from the monster Hussein (oh, and he has chemical weapons, so this will also make us safer)” rather than the other way around, as they seem to have been doing. Put that way, they’d be in a better position to paint any opposition as uncaring about the fate of the Iraqi people and actually standing up for the tyrant. But I guess I shouldn’t be doing their dirty work for them.

  30. >>I thought and continue to think that this war was a mistake, but I do hope that time will prove me to be a dumbass.

    Well said, fyodor…I’m right there with you.

    The upside of being a pessimist: you get to genuinely enjoy being wrong.

  31. JD, nah, wouldn’t have mattered. They would still be yelling about money, oil, hegemony, and daddy. And if they stressed the “humanitarian” over the “national interest/security” issues they would have had a harder time getting Republicans (Armey, etc [I forget who else]) on board.

  32. “I’m genuinely curious as to how you think this will come about, and if you could briefly describe the policies you prefer, I’d read with great interest.”

    Well, it’s kinda academic now, isn’t it? Very briefly, I think that America’s prewar policies — especially the economic sanctions — actually made it more difficult for internal opposition to Saddam to develop, with the result of reducing the options until it really looked like the only way to depose Saddam would be outside military intervention. Deliberately or not, this fits the agenda of those in Washington who’d like to keep a post-Saddam regime on a tight leash. But it’s not the best way to get rid of a dictator — and when it comes to creating the conditions that allow liberty and self-government to flower after the dictator is gone, I think the current approach is actually counterproductive. One thing that drove me crazy about the prewar debate was that it pitted the advocates of military action against the advocates of intense sanctions, and I just don’t have a dog in that fight. Neither one really puts power in the hands of the Iraqi people.

    Now, the main reasons I opposed the war are seperate from that: I don’t think Saddam was a threat to American security, and I think the war will actually make us less secure in the long run. But I certainly would like to see him removed from power, if only for his poor subjects’ sake; and I hope this war ends with his head on the end of a long stick. I just don’t think a war is the best possible route to that destination.

  33. JDM,

    Actually, you are making promises, and so quite frankly are those who are for the war. And if you deny that what Bush has said about a post-Saddam Iraq is a promise, then you are a lieing sack of shit. Put up or shut up. BTW, I see that you’ve dropped the other two prongs of your argument for the war.

    Neolibertarian Chimp,

    Yes, it can get worse. You could have a decade long civil war there where millions die. Or it could be better. Like I said, farting into the wind.

    geophile,

    Saddam’s war crimes only became the fodder of the pro-war movement when it was convenient for them to use it. As a long-standing member of AI, I’ve seen all manner of action reports about his regime’s barbarism. But mentioning them these days is a bit of hypocrisy on the part of those who IGNORED (SEE Donald Rumsfeld & crew) this butchery for so many years. The complicty and hypocrisy makes me want to vomit, especially in light of how the good work of others is turned into today’s propaganda talking point. Where were you when we were fighting the good fight, eh?

  34. I love how Ronald Bailey crows through the mouths of others (in this case, Nat Hentoff). This essay on the dread Justin Raimondo’s site called bullshit on Bailey some time ago.

    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/barganier1.html

  35. Tuning Spork,

    We at AI asked for years, I mean over a decade, for nations in the West to give a crap about Saddam’s terror regime. We begged, pleaded, and practically gouged our eyes out asking for Western governments to look into and call Iraq onto the mat for its human rights abuses. No one gave a shit. Given this track record, why should I and others who’ve spent much of our lives devoted to such issues remotely trust ANY Western government when it begins to use such phrases as “human dignity” and “freedom?”

  36. I’ll concede that the right has used Hussein’s human rights abuses to sweeten the pot for war to get the moderate left on board, and to make the far-left look bad, but it does still make them look bad nonetheless, as they’ve come up with no solutions of their own. The “no blood for oil” rhetoric helps no one. I also applaud you for caring about this stuff, but that hasn’t helped anyone either, though it may have made you feel better.

    I appreciate Jesse’s view on a third option without war, but to me it just looks like more wishful thinking.

    For my part, I don’t think human rights abuses can be a serious barometer for whether or not the U.S. should take action. My general ambivalence to the merits of this conflict continues, but I’d suggest at this point that many of those staunchly opposed to this action could benefit greatly from doing what I’m doing: observing, being glad that lots of poor folks will soon be relatively free, and hoping that as few people are killed as possible.

  37. Hey Gary Gunnels. When you say nobody gave a shit about the atrocities in Iraq, doesn’t that include our former piece-of-shit president bill clinton? Interesting how you try to blame this administration for things that happened before they ever came to Washington.

    I’ve written my last check to AI. You should feel proud.

  38. dg,

    Actually, I was referring to the Reagan administration you dipshit. They are the ones who trade with Iraq, provided them intelligence, etc. And I also included ALL Western governments. That includes France and Germany I might add, and I’ll toss in the former USSR and China as well (though they weren’t/aren’t Western). Please read what people write.

    Let me qoute myself:

    “We begged, pleaded, and practically gouged our eyes out asking for Western governments to look into and call Iraq onto the mat for its human rights abuses. No one gave a shit. Given this track record, why should I and others who’ve spent much of our lives devoted to such issues remotely trust ANY Western government when it begins to use such phrases as ‘human dignity’ and ‘freedom?'”

  39. dg,

    Oh yes, to fit the party line stance you want me to fulfill, the Clinton administration wasn’t very helpful yes, he’s a bastard, blah blah blah. I get so sick of this noxious part-line agitprop bullshit.

  40. geophile,

    Do you know how many political prisoners I and others have helped save? Hundreds. There are people right now who aren’t being tortured for their religious beliefs or their ethnic heritage or their political ideology because I and people like took at stand against such BS. When are you going to take a stand? That’s the problem with you keyboard warriors, you let everyone else do the fighting.

  41. geophile,

    We could use some help with this.

    http://web.amnesty.org/pages/sau-140203-action-eng

  42. “shit”, “asshole”, “bastard”, “shit”, “asshole”…

    Man, all this high-brow debate is wearing me out.

    Frankly I think both sides are embarassing themselves here. Why doesn’t everyone just shut up and walk away from the keyboard for a while? Have a beer, or whatever you prefer to do while releasing tension.

    This sort of foolishness is why I try to stay away from Hit’n’Run Comments.

    The point here is very simple: no, anti-war doesn’t equal pro-Saddam. On the other hand, a significant part of the anti-war movement has diplayed a viciously anti-American slant (does “a million Mogadishus” ring a bell?), which tends to imply a pro-Saddam slant.

    But, I suppose it’s more fun to spit on the other side than actually discuss anything…

  43. geophile,

    Need I remind you that Saddam wouldn’t be in power without the help of the US and other Western nations in the first place? Who do you think helped the Ba’ath party into power in the first place? Dare I say that such actions are evil? I shall. If anything, Franks is cleaning up a mess his own government created in the first place. We at AI and other organizations just happened to put up the bright neon sign pointing the way, and waited for the fickle, unreliable, nihilist, perfidious, back-stabbing, hypocritical Western governments to take some notice. I am not self-righteous, I am proud for what I have done. If that makes you uncomfortable, then may I suggest that this your conscience speaking.

  44. Casey Tompkins,

    Nothing wrong with profanity, unless you are a puritan. 🙂

  45. I can’t speak personally for the actions of governments gone by, and I suspect that’s part of the reason why you’ve passed the buck. I’m in the here and now, what more can I say?

    As to the cleanliness of my conscience, this is the sound of me not dignifying your bloviation with a response.

  46. geophile,

    I didn’t pass the buck, you did. I acted, you sat at home eating cheese fries and playing nintendo.

  47. I agree with Neolibertarian Chimp. We can’t really get out of the war without a lot of lives being lost.

  48. Inspections worked. Another six months with the Army standing by would have done it. Bush could have been a hero.

    Kudos to you, Gary.

  49. Lefty,

    Inspections were a flipping mess.

  50. Inspections could have been stronger, but no one even wanted to try. This war has been in the can for years.

  51. Well Bush did back “smart inspections” in the summer of 2001.

    Can we add that phrase to the “fighting words” compilation above?

  52. By all means, save them by the ones and twos if you can. Your rank self-righteousness and personal attacks, however, belie insecurity.

    These unfortunate souls wouldn’t be in a position to be persecuted to begin with if there wasn’t a regime in place that wished to do them harm.

    You should consider well the fact that in the end Tommy Franks will save more lives than Amnesty International’s sunshine policy toward vicious, power-mad dictators ever could.

  53. Moot. It’s all moot! Right now, as you’re reading this, the guns are firing. The bodies are dropping. And the only way this will ever stop (both the insanity of torture as well as the insanity of war) is if we toss that ring back into the fire from whence it came.

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