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To Julie

Posted by Kathy G on 2/15/03 at 09:04 (109219)


I shall look forward to hearing firsthand accounts from you about the large protests in London. You have much more credibility than our press does at reporting the mood of the English. After stating on these boards that I support possible war, I am already beginning to rethink my position.

I'm usually very decisive but this one is tough. I listened to Henry Kissinger and everything he said seemed to make sense. First of all, if anyone had told me thirty years ago that I would ever think that Henry Kissinger made sense, I would have laughed them out of the room. But following Henry, I listened to Ted Kennedy and he made sense. All I can say is, it's a good thing I'm not on the Security Council!

Re: To Julie

Julie on 2/15/03 at 09:26 (109226)

Hi Kathy

There are huge crowds converging on central London right now, and millions, apparently, marching all over Europe.

Thanks for your confidence in me, but I feel anything but a reliable witness right now! If you want considered, credible reporting of the British mood you should log onto http://www.guardian.co.uk .

You're not the only one who is being indecisive! So am I, so are lots of people. It's hard to take a firm stand on either side, partly because as I said the other day, we don't know enough about what's really going on and are being fed a daily barrage of hype and cliches which it's hard to sift through, but mostly because the world just isn't black and white, and this issue isn't either. All I can see right now is a lot of grey, and I feel as though I'm sitting on a sharp and uncomfortable grey fence.

There's a good deal of sense being talked on both sides of the issue, but I have to say that the 'anti' arguments were made rather more convincingly than the 'pro' during a 90-minute TV forum on Wednesday night .

On the one hand I'm glad about Hans Blix's latest report and the effect it seems to have had, and glad the inspectors are being given more time because it puts off the evil day and allows time for a possible miracle. On the other hand, I can hear Saddam Hussein laughing.

Re: To Kathy and others interested

Julie on 2/15/03 at 09:33 (109227)

For an up-to-the-minute report on the marches in London and elsewhere, go to


Re: To Kathy and others interested

Julie on 2/15/03 at 09:39 (109228)

...and Kathy, for a nice little piece by another fence-sitter who keeps changing his mind, go to


Re: To Kathy and others interested

Suzanne D on 2/15/03 at 09:45 (109230)

Thank you, Julie. I appreciate your giving us your perspective. As others have mentioned, you are wise and full of knowledge on many topics. I have not been able to get out of my head the picture of Saddam Hussein laughing, as you mentioned. I abhor war - as I'm sure everyone does - and yet, I believe it was John who made the point that sometimes we have to stand up and take action.

I'm not writing much about it all as I feel so unqualified to do so, but I am thinking a great deal and reading all I can. And I look at two children in my classroom each day whose fathers are over there - the boy whose father's outfit we have been corresponding with and a little girl whose father went to Kuwait a few weeks ago. The other day I asked the two of them to stand under our flag, and I asked the class to think of their fathers every day as we say the pledge. Perhaps that is my part: to help awaken in young children respect for our country and those who seek to protect us and others around the world. And to realize that freedom is a privilege and one everyone does not share.

It is a sobering time.


Re: To Julie

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/15/03 at 09:58 (109234)


The Guardian UK web site is one of my bookmarks. We used to have to listen to short wave radio to hear foreign broadcasts. Now, one can log on to numerous press sites representing almost any country in the world -- the beauty of the information superhighway!

Re: To Julie

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/15/03 at 10:07 (109235)

A few more bookmarks:



Re: To Kathy and others interested

Kathy G on 2/15/03 at 10:11 (109238)

Julie and Suzanne,

Thank you for those links, Julie. The article by Timothy Gartan Ash that is found via a link in that last article is particularly good. He manages to sum up, quite succinctly without being glib, the feelings that I believe we are all having. He does a good job of weighing both sides and then, like so many of us, not knowing which side is right. He also does a good job at pointing out George Bush's possible motivations for insisting on action right now.

It is indeed a sobering time, Suzanne. My daughter sent me a copy of the email that UNH sent out to each student, telling them of the increased security on campus and advising them to stay in touch with their families. The campus is quite spread out and although they have a plan in place, it would be a terrible place to try to secure should an attack take place. Add to that the fact that so many students live in apartments and it gets even more complicated. The university is very close to the Seabrook Nuclear Plant and since little has been done to shore up our ocean defense of the plant, they are in a very vulnerable location. I try not to dwell on just how vulnerable they are or I would go snatch her and bring her home!

It is good to know that I am not alone on my 'fence' as far as this whole situation goes. We can just pray that the decision that is ultimately made will be the right one.

Re: To Julie

pala on 2/15/03 at 10:46 (109247)

julie and ed, thanks for those links.

Re: To Julie

JudyS on 2/15/03 at 13:08 (109269)

Kathy, Julie - I can't help but think that the kind of indecisiveness you're mentioning may well be the best position of all. Maybe it's not even indecisiveness - maybe it's good, strong critical thinking. After all, both sides have solid, valuable philosophies.

Re: Heartfelt opinions from me about Iraq

Carole C in NOLA on 2/15/03 at 13:13 (109270)

Oh gosh... after reading about the extent of the European protests I just don't see how we can possibly go to war now. I fear this would be a big mistake now, due to world opposition to it. The war would alienate the rest of the world from us at a very bad time for that. Just as no man is an island, no country is an island. Well, some of them actually ARE! LOL But that's only geographically and not politically.

This is a scary time for the world. If we go to war, we risk alienating all of our allies and a substantial portion of Americans too. Plus, nothing unites a country like a common adversary (as we have seen since September 11th). Because of this I wonder if the Iraqis might not return to an equally oppressive regime after the war, even if we oust Saddam.

But, if we don't go to war, we have a small group of insane radical religious nuts who are determined to destroy the world so we can all be saved. (groan) They could probably do it.

I think the BIG question here that isn't really being addressed, is whether our enemy right now is primarily Al Quaida, or primarily Iraq itself.

If it is Iraq, then I think we need to realize that the results after we win such a way will be no better than after we won against Afghanistan and possibly worse. I am not so sure that we are willing to go to war for this, especially without even the slightest moral support from our allies (other than Tony Blair, bless him!). But even Prince Charles does not support us in this and has said so publically.

If our primary enemy is Al Quaida, it has been amply demonstrated that Al Quaida has no governmental bounds. We cannot fight this type of terrorist in a war against governments as in past wars. We fought Afghanistan, and Bin Laden just left and Al Quaida simply popped up elsewhere. If/when we trounce Iraq, Al Quaida will just pop up in various other countries.

Our approach to the problem of vanquishing Al Quaida is frighteningly rigid and inappropriate. We need to learn from our own history. Americans won our Revolutionary war partly because the British were used to conventional wars of that era, where people lined up and fought in a battlefield rather than fighting Americans hiding in the trees and taking pot shots, and so on.

Similarly, Al Quaida terrorists could win here because we are approaching the battle by proposing fighting enemy **countries** in what has become the traditional way of our times, rather than by figuring out a new approach that is better suited to the present situation and better fits this elusive enemy.

Yes, I am still a die-hard conservative and GWB supporter, and yes I do think that this war is urgently needed. However, no, I don't think we can do it with world politics being the way they are now. Also I think we desperately need to be adaptable in how we fight it.

I hate discussing politics among friends, because I love each of you for your own individuality and uniqueness that makes you YOU. I don't think there is an ultimate truth to which we would all suddenly agree, and nod our heads, 'Yes, Carole! You know, I was mislead and now I'm sure you are right!!' That will never happen. LOL But please don't beat me up too badly because this post is from my heart. Like everyone here, I just want the world to remain like it is or else better. I think maybe we can all agree that that would be a reasonable goal.

Carole C

Re: Heartfelt opinions from me about Iraq

Nancy N on 2/15/03 at 14:39 (109285)


Even though you and I are on totally opposite sides of the political fence, I'd like to say that I think you've done an admirable job of summing up the whole Iraq dilemma. There are a few things you pointed out that I'd like to expand on a little (and I find it terrifying to think that I might come out in support of a war at some time--but the one thing your post shows especially effectively is that there are so many 'ifs' in this situation--and they are BIG IFS.)

I think world support is crucial to any action we take. As it is, I dread my proposed trip to London for Christmas this year if we take unilateral action. I don't want to be associated with a government that comes across to the rest of the world as being that full of itself, regardless of whether it's right or not. Without world support, we'll be shown as the cowboy-with-guns-blazing image even more than we already are now. America has a massive global image problem--which is one of the many messages we should (operative word) have taken from the 9/11 attacks. But we appear to have missed that one, as a culture. I think, as I think Thomas Friedman said on Oprah last week, that most Americans have no idea what's done overseas in their name, and therefore why so many people elsewhere hate us. And unfortunately, we can probably never know the true extent of our foreign policy. But I think we're now reaping what we've sown, in terms of foreign policy--Osama and Saddam were both supported and encouraged by our government in days gone by. And we left Afghanistan the first time without helping them get back on their feet at all. Sanctions against Iraq have affected innocent people much more than Saddam, who I imagine couldn't care less. (We would all do our country a great service if we started paying more attention to what's done in our name around the world, both good and bad, so we can voice our opinions to our representatives. I think most Americans are woefully uninformed about global affairs.)

I'm slightly off my original topic, but leading into another point you made, which is the way in which we handle problems. Sanctions against someone like Saddam are useless because the man gasses his own people, so why should he care if they starve? It's got no effect on him personally, so he doesn't care. And of course, it's impossible to impose sanctions against someone like Osama. So those old-school methods are not going to work any more than the concept of conventional warfare, as you mentioned. We have to find new ways to skin the cat (which is part of why, as far as Saddam is concerned, I mentioned that there are other military measures we can--and should--try short of all-out invasion). Otherwise, we will suffer the same fate as the British back in the Revolutionary War.

You are a die-hard supporter of GWB, and I am counting the days until he's out of office. Because of my differing perspective, not only am I wondering, as you are, if we're addressing the real problem, but I strongly suspect that we're addressing Iraq as a smokescreen for something else--be it the state of the economy, or the fact that we still haven't found Osama/destroyed Al Qaeda. Or even (perhaps somewhat less likely) a desire to finish the job his dad started a decade ago.

I also worry that Karl Rove knows that 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened for GWB's approval rating and is pushing the whole war idea to get that approval rating back up. Karl Rove scares me more than GWB does, because he is the ruthless brains behind the White House and I fear he has more power than any political consultant ever should. I get the sense that there's such a push for war from the White House that perhaps there's a secondary motivator that's being wrongly pushed to the forefront, causing the urgency, and that makes me want to know what's really going on.

My own fear is that an attack on Iraq will be considered an act of war by Al Qaeda, who will begin a full-scale terrorism war of their own on US soil. And if we've gone into Iraq on our own, I fear that, in such a circumstance, the rest of the world will sit back and say 'We told you so, and you didn't listen, so you get what you deserve.' I don't know if it would come to that, but I wouldn't blame anyone for reacting that way, if we have been so selfish and impudent and decided to strike first, against every principle we stand for, without regard for the consequences.

I am thinking out loud here as much as anything else. But I think if I had to sum up my thoughts, it would come down to this: IF there is evidence of weapons in Iraq and IF they can't be dealt with via inspections and IF there is any close resemblance between Saddam and Hitler and IF we can get global support (which we had a year ago, as you'll recall--but it was squandered when we suddenly started picking on Saddam), and IF we are going to spend time, money, and effort in building a new governmental system for Iraq, then I think we probably should do it. But there are an awful lot of IFs in that statement, and to me, they'd all need to be met.

Perhaps I'm too skeptical--but perhaps others are not skeptical enough. As with most things in life, I suspect that the answer is not in black or in white but somewhere in the grey area that lies between. But if we don't have healthy discussions from both sides, we'll never even find the grey area, much less the truth that might lie there.

Like you, Carole, I'm wary about posting political discussions on a board like this, with my friends, since I've been bit before. But since you approached the subject with such a level head, I thought it was worth replying to you, agreeing with and expanding on some of what you said from a different viewpoint. I think we learn a lot this way, and I hope that I haven't written anything that makes you feel like I'm saying 'You're wrong!' I think you pulled the key points out admirably. I'm certainly not intending to beat up on anyone, as I hope nobody will beat up on me.

Actually, I think it's pretty healthy to discuss our different viewpoints, because we all learn a lot from it. We can't really know what we think until we know what the other side thinks--and we might be surprised to find out that we're not always so far apart after all. I don't think any of us want massive destruction, chaos, and loss of life. We all want to solve the problem--it's just a matter of figuring out which problem we're solving, and what's the best way to approach it.

Thanks for listing your thoughts, Carole. I may not agree with you politically, but I echo many of your concerns and I respect you for sharing them with us.

Re: March update, and some questions in my mind

Julie on 2/15/03 at 15:03 (109287)

Police estimates of the number of people on the march in London: 750,000. The organisers' estimates: 2 million. Either way, it was the biggest political protest ever in London, and by implication in Britain. It was echoed in many major European cities. People who have never marched in their lives before turned out. You may have seen the pictures and heard the reports by now. It's an incredible sight, and there can't be much doubt that Bush, Blair and co. will have to think again.

Wonderful posts, Carole and Nancy. Actually, I don't think any of us are that far apart, and I think we all want the same things. Political orientation seems to be less important in this situation than in almost any other I can think of in recent history.

I've got two questions: aspects I am mystified and unsure about.

Nancy and others, here and elsewhere, have said there are options open to us besides war. Leaving out conventional diplomacy, which is clearly not an an option that is likely to be effective with Saddam, what do people see these options as being?

I would also like to know whether people think it really is 'all about oil'. Of course oil must be part of it. But is it 10 percent of the motivation for war, or 90 percent? Is this war being pushed entirely or almost entirely for reasons of American economic interests, and is 'weapons of mass destruction' merely one of the cliches? Or is the war being moved on by the genuine conviction that the world must be rid of an evil dictator and his stockpile?

Thoughts, please.

Re: March update, and some questions in my mind

Carole C in NOLA on 2/15/03 at 16:03 (109297)

Oh, boy. I hope I am not jumping in too deep here.

I cannot contribute as I might like to a discussion about oil, because of sworn constraints related to my occupation. So I'll just leave that topic for the rest of you.

I feel certain the main motivation is defense. If the present administration was that concerned about the economic changes they simply would have progressed with them more slowly. From a conservative point of view there is no need to cover up, because these changes will result in a more stable economy in the long run, not less stable.

As far as non-war alternatives for getting rid of an individual who is dangerous to our country, I'm sure there are a plethora of possibilities. As an illustration of one of these possibilities, if my recollection is correct then a few months ago we successfully targeted a high up member of Al Quaida with an unmanned drone.

Carole C

Re: March update, and some questions in my mind

Nancy N on 2/15/03 at 16:19 (109301)


I found the name of the woman (Jessica Tuchman Mathews) who was on Oprah last week, and her foundation's website (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, http://www.ceip.org) . She has a column there where she outlines a comprehensive plan for what she calls 'coercive inspections,' that is, UN inspections backed up by military force. I missed most of what she had to say on Oprah, so it was instructive to me to read the column, because she was the one who mentioned that there are military options short of invasion. The column is at http://www.ceip.org/files/Publications/jtm-outlook-feb9.asp?from=pubdate and there is also a section of their site dealing solely with the Iraq issue.

I think her ideas are quite sound--and she does say that coercive inspections might take up to a year to be fully effective, but I think Saddam would get the message pretty quickly if inspectors could order airstrikes on sites that are being 'cleaned up' or moved to another site. And so would countries like North Korea.

I have also heard of ideas like toppling Saddam and putting someone else in power (much like we did when we foolishly chose to put Saddam himself in power), or we could strongly (diplomatically or militarily) encourage him to go into exile. And there are also smaller military operations that could be tried before an all-out war, I'm quite sure, though I am not enough of a military expert to specify what they might be. But there simply must be other ways.

I think it's about oil in several ways. I think it's about Bush and Cheney's connections to the oil business and keeping their buddies who are still in that business happy. (You notice how, despite the fact that we already have prototype fuel-cell cars, GWB is talking about replacing the internal combustion engine some 20 years from now, when he will long since be out of office.) I also think it's about France, Germany, and Russia's relationships with Iraq regarding oil. Of course, I also think it's foolish to completely discount two countries (France and Germany) who were ravaged by two wars in the last century when they say that war is a mistake--surely they would know better than those of us in the US who have never experienced a war on our own soil. They may be the flies in the ointment, but would it kill is to consider their opinions?

War may bring a temporary fix to the economy, but will someone please explain to me how GWB can push for a tax cut (for all his rich buddies again--the rest of us will never see a cent of it) when the new Homeland Security office is so crucially underfunded. Please explain to me how tying their hands and then cutting taxes, virtually assuring that they will remain underfunded, is going to help any of us. Please explain this to me, because all I can say is that it sure looks to me like another GWB bait-and-switch routine, where he tries to please everybody by telling us what we want to hear, and then turns around and weakens all the promises he's made. And let's not even get into the civil liberties that have been our right for over 200 years, which have been summarily tossed out in the name of fighting our 'invisible enemy.' As Ben Franklin said, 'Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserves neither and lose both.' Franklin was a man WELL ahead of his time.

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/15/03 at 16:44 (109303)

The current protests have been orchestrated by anti-war groups. The numbers of people marching looks impressive, nevertheless, they do not represent the views of the 'silent majority,' at least in the US.

The US has the support of much of Eastern Europe, Israel, United Kingdom, possibly Spain and Chile so we are not going it alone. Even if we were going it alone, doing what is right is more important than achieving a worldwide concensus.

Al Queda could not survive without state sponsorship. It is true that we will have to shift tactics, nevertheless, one must look at the states that support terrorrism and be willing to hold them responsible. Terrorists must be denied safe havens, monetary support and weaponry.

Re: silent majority

Carole C in NOLA on 2/15/03 at 17:35 (109305)

Dr. Ed,

I hope you are right! As I have mentioned, I am staunchly behind GWB and I am stunned by the outcry both here and abroad, against a possible invasion. I really did not have cold feet about it until I saw the news reports today about the marches in Europe. It looks like we are almost completely alone in this.

Israel is behind us, to be sure, though I feel like the U.K. is becoming more divided. I was shocked beyond belief that Prince Charles would come out against invading Iraq and that was a big blow to my confidence in international support for invading Iraq. I regard Chile and Eastern Europe as very minor players in this though perhaps I underestimate their power on an international level.

In determining what is right, I think that the response of the international community shapes the probably outcome of various courses of action that the U.S. might take. This war can only be right and just if it can be reasonably expected to produce the right outcome. Without much international support, I wonder how things will turn out in years to come. Making martyrs and becoming the evil white devil won't help us in preventing the worst possible scenario.

I was especially impressed by one of the points you made: 'Terrorists must be denied safe havens, monetary support and weaponry'. That is so true. They may not need totally safe havens, since they seem to be operating even within our country by simply not drawing attention to themselves; but they do need money and weapons. We do need to shift tactics, and to go after these resources vigorously.

All in all, I have great confidence in GWB although I have a whole lot more confidence in his father and Dick Cheney. I wish 'Bush the First' was still top dog. I hope both Georges spend a lot of time chatting on the phone about all of this just to make sure nothing is done in a hot-headed fashion.

Carole C

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/15/03 at 18:01 (109309)

then why is bush kissing saudi tush? follow the money trail....again.

Re: March update, and some questions in my mind

pala on 2/15/03 at 18:02 (109310)

what occupation carole?

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/15/03 at 18:16 (109312)

ed, my previous sentence was probably too brief to make sense/ have you correlated your full support of gwb, your realization that terrorists must be denied monetary support etc and bush's cozy relationship with the saudi govt. , a big monetary suporter of terrorists, or so i seem to remember reading before my brain was blown by current events....and now maybe 'follow the money trail again' makes sense. (last i heard weren't surviving families of 9 11 suing saudi govt for their above support?) please correct me if i'm wrong, i was not following things as closely then.

Re: silent majority

Nancy N on 2/15/03 at 19:05 (109318)

Good point, Pala. There's real evidence of support for terrorists in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Yemen than in Iraq. And yet....

Re: Frontline Report

Nancy N on 2/15/03 at 19:09 (109319)

I just saw a promo on PBS for this week's Frontline report, which deals with the Iraq situation. Just thought I'd let you know in case anyone is interested--I don't know if they all show Frontline at the same time, or if each PBS station has its own slot, so I can't help you with that part.

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/15/03 at 19:18 (109320)


It is not only GWB that has taken a soft line on the Saudis. Virtually every prior administration in the US has due to our habituation to low priced petroleum. The Saudis, to an extent, have been paying off Bin Laden and his followers with the hope that they will be left alone.

Development of alternative energy sources will lessen our dependence on Middle East oil. Clinton/Gore were, supposedly, environmentalists but did incredibly little to develop alternative energy.

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/15/03 at 19:23 (109321)


Eastern European countries, despite their limited ability to mobilize troups, are really up and comers. They have only recently thrown off the yoke of Communism and seem to understand what it takes to preserve freedom better than the 'old' Europe. The Czechs have sent special units trained in countermeasures to chemical warfare -- contributing what they had learned as members of the Warsaw Pact.

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/15/03 at 19:29 (109323)


There are states in the Middle East, that, as official state policy support, finance and arm terrorist groups. Those states include Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan do not overtly support terrorist groups. Nevertheless, those states have populations which are divided on issues concerning Islamism. A number of individuals and groups within Saudi Arabia and Pakistan support Bin Laden and are Islamists. Those governments are walking a fine line, trying to appease the Islamists groups and maintain their regime.

Re: silent majority

Nancy N on 2/15/03 at 19:36 (109324)


Still doesn't answer the question of why we've singled out Iraq over everyone else. We know for a fact that North Korea has nukes, but we offer them energy assistance! We don't know for sure what Iraq has, we just know GWB doesn't like Saddam because of what happened with Poppy. If we know that Iran, Syria, and Libya are sponsoring terror, why aren't we going after them as well?

There are a lot of holes in the argument, is all I'm saying. The burden of proof for this war is on the Bush administration, for those both at home and around the world. And I for one don't feel that anyone has proved anything to me about Iraq. No, Saddam is not a nice guy. Shouldn't be allowed to run a 10K much less a country. But neither should plenty of other world leaders. So why the emphasis and, even worse, the headstrong push, on Iraq?

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/15/03 at 21:50 (109331)

what it takes to preserve freediom is the willingness to question authority and see behind the lies and profiteering of whatever group is in power at the moment.

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/15/03 at 23:14 (109333)


There is still information that has not come out pertaining to WMD and Iraqi links to Al Queda. Al Queda training camps do exist in Iraq. It is likely that more information will be revealed once the conflict is resolved.

The Iraq issue has been many years in the making with recent events being a result. We have had inspectors there for years with Iraq playing a shell game to evade them. What will inspectors find under similar circumstances given one more month or one more year?

The current conflict with North Korea is much earlier in development and is being dealt with at the diplomatic level. It is not impossible that that will escalate to a military conflict.

The primary focus is Iraq now, but once that portion of the conflict is over, the focus will shift. There are other terrorist states but they will see that we are determined to stand up to them, militarily if there is no other choice.

Re: silent majority

Nancy N on 2/15/03 at 23:22 (109334)


Re: inspections:

I read the article at http://www.ceip.org/files/Publications/jtm-outlook-feb9.asp?from=pubdate this afternoon and really feel that this idea of coercive inspections could be just the answer to the situation. It would give the inspections real teeth by allowing inspectors to order airstrikes on sites that are suspicious, and would allow us to use the technology at our disposal to see what's both above ground and below, making it a lot harder for Saddam to hide what's going on. Take a look, because I think it's worth considering--it solves the problem using UN inspections and military means, without resorting to a full-scale war, and still makes an example for other countries who may be up to the same tricks. It might take a little longer, but as I said elsewhere, I think the first or second airstrike would be enough to convince Saddam and others that we mean business.

At the very least, it's worth considering before we jump in blindly with guns blazing and take on the responsibility for a part of the world where we're vastly hated.

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/16/03 at 01:27 (109341)


Saddam has been avoiding comprehensive inspections. The inspection process failed and the inspectors left in 1998, returning in 2002.

Presumably, many of the weapons are hidden in schools, nurseries, daycare centers so we would have to bomb them under this proposal. The weapons are also mounted on trucks and railway cars making this option, again, problematic.

First, Saddam would have to accept such a proposal. If he says no, then what? If he says yes, he can still play the shell game -- it is a big country and he can move weapons around or place them in or near civilian targets that we would not want to bomb. What if he says yes, we demobilize, then he changes his mind again? This can go on for a long time and we and the Iraqi people still have to contend with Saddam.

I beleive that plans are for what will hopefully be a short war. That is based, in part, on the assumption that a lot of Iraqi soldiers, provided the opportunity, will defect. It is also based on the premise that a lot of Iraqi civilians will be glad to see Saddam go. Predicting the future is tricky but what we hope to accomplish is 1) removal of Saddam with as little loss of civilian life as possible, 2) removal of weapons of mass destruction ( it will be interesting to see how many components have the markings 'Made in Germany or Made in France' -- The Israelis noted that components of Scud missle guidance systems that landed in Israel in 1991 were German made), 3) some autonomy for ethnic minorities such as the Kurds, 4) establishment of a democracy in the middle of the Middle East, one which may act as a counterbalance to the dictatorships nearby and be an ally of the US and ,yes Pala an economic motive: 5) a new source of oil for the US so we can tell the Saudis to 'take a hike.'

Re: To Kathy and others interested

Julie on 2/16/03 at 03:16 (109343)

Suzanne, thanks very much for your kind words. I don't feel wise at all, though.

Ed, thanks for your bookmarks - I shall explore them.

Re: To Kathy and others interested

Julie on 2/16/03 at 04:51 (109345)

Kathy, many thanks for mentioning Timothy Garton Ash's article in the Guardian. Unaccountably I missed it when it appeared ten days ago, though I read the paper every day. It's exactly as you say: a clear rundown of the arguments for and against, and a particularly good summary of the possible motivations. For Americans especially, it would be helpful to read his differentiation of the Bush and Blair motivations.

The title of the article is 'In Defense of the Fence'.

Here is the link, for those who would like to read it - highly recommended:


Re: No, not so silent - not in Europe

Julie on 2/16/03 at 05:09 (109346)


Yesterday's marches in Europe were a genuine protest, by people who, whatever their political views, are unhappy - in Britain particularly - about what they see as an extremely serious, unprecedented action being taken without their consent, without their even being consulted.

To deny the unquestionable importance of yesterday by saying that the protests were 'orchestrated', and therefore suspect, is very unwise. Of course the marches were organised - all marches are organised. They have to be. The fact is that this one drew enormous numbers of people, well beyond the wildest hopes even of the organisers. Whether you like it or not, it was a true people's protest.

There is a report today in the Observer, which you can read on the Guardian website if you'd like to know more:


Re: No, not so silent - not in Europe

Julie on 2/16/03 at 05:21 (109347)

Another link to another report on yesterday's march:



Re: silent majority

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 07:29 (109350)


I'm sorry, but there is no such thing as a short war. And you need to define what you mean by 'short' in the first place. A week? A month? A year? Two years? Three?

If weapons are hidden in the places you list, I see no problem with bombing them overnight when they're not occupied. If they're being used to hide weapons, I question how much education is really going on there in the first place. And if they are used for legitimate purposes, it's easier, and cheaper, to donate money to international aid organizations to replace those schools, etc, than it is to let Saddam run the inspections.

Speaking of which, who cares if Saddam says no? It's not his show, it's the UN's. We need to demonstrate that fact. The burden of proof in the inspections process is on Saddam. I believe that the article is correct when it says that Saddam protested the use of U-2's before, but allowed them to be there because he knew he had to. The whole idea is to give the inspections teeth, rather than letting Saddam play the 'shell game,' as you put it.

You have quite a laundry list of goals for this action. Do you realize how long it will take to achieve those goals? You list establishment of a democracy--which many of us would call nation-building. Do you recall that we have a president who firmly stated while he was campaigning that he does not believe in nation-building? (Everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten those pre-election statements.) We didn't believe in nation-building when the Soviets left Afghanistan, and by leaving ourselves allowed that nation to deteriorate to the point where Osama could become the terror tyrant that he is. Have we learned our lesson? I'd like to think so, but this is a president who shows again and again that he has no regard for anything but what he personally believes to be the truth. I'd love to believe that he wouldn't abandon Iraq after nearly destroying it, especially in light of world terror, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did.

As for military items, sure I bet there are parts that say Made in France or Made in Germany. I bet there are also parts that say Made in Russia or even Made in USA. Don't forget, we supported this guy for a long time. And if those parts aren't in Iraqi weapons, I bet there are plenty scattered across the globe being used by people we'd least expect. Nobody exists in a vacuum. We sell weapons all over the place--it's a big source of income from us, and again, I think this is just one of our foreign policies that's come home to roost.

You last mention oil. Yes, oil, a new source of oil so we can keep running the SUV's we think we need, so we can keep destroying the air supply on the planet in addition to depleting its natural resources. Let's not forget that our president and veep have strong (and questionable) ties to the oil industry and perhaps even committed corporate crime while they were part of that industry. Couldn't possibly have anything to do with their reluctance to encourage things like conservation or alternative fuel sources, could it (the concession to fuel cells in the State of the Union is a joke--in 20 years, if we keep up the way we are, we won't be going anywhere because nothing will be left. Fuel cells better pop up sooner than that--and in fact have thanks to car companies' prototypes, which have existed since before the SotU address)?

I think there are an awful lot of assumptions in your laundry list, Ed. I'd love to believe that it's all black-and-white and that it's as easy as 1-2-3. I really would, it would make it easier for me to sleep at night and to be labeled an American. But I need to have more than assumptions to support an all-out war, and I think the majority of Americans (according to several respected polling sources) are with me on that one.

Re: silent majority

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 07:30 (109351)

Well said, Pala. I'd add preservation of the civil liberties that allow us freedom in the first place, too. You only know what you've got when it's gone...

Re: To Julie

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 07:32 (109352)


I agree. The people who scare me the most are the ones (on both sides) who think they have it all figured out and won't entertain any opposing ideas. Their minds are clamped shut so tightly that they simply won't see anything else. In a situation like this, there's always info that we don't know and won't know until it's over, but there are also always more ideas and perspectives to be considered, from both sides of the argument. I'm prepared to agree with the pro-war stance IF (and only if) they can prove their assumptions to me beyond all shadow of doubt. Until then, I'm staying skeptical.

Re: No, not so silent - not in Europe

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 07:38 (109353)


The march/rally (they weren't allowed to actually march) in New York yesterday drew up to half a million people--about five times what organizers expected.. They were both old and young, seasoned protesters and folks who'd never been to one before). New York, having been bitten so badly the last time, is quite worried about what kind of target they'll become if we go to war--as all of us should be.

And I certainly don't think that the anti-war groups have the monopoly on orchestration... oh no, not by a long shot!!!

Re: Fuel Cells

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 07:46 (109355)

See http://nytimes.com/2003/02/16/opinion/16BKEN.html for excellent information on fuel cells and other oil-saving technologies. Isn't it an interesting aspect of American psychology--let's not wean ourselves from our addictions, it's more fun to keep them and die fighting for them.

Re: What happens next?

Julie on 2/16/03 at 08:52 (109362)


One of your premises is 'the establishment of a democracy in the middle of the Middle East'. But is this what the present US government and the CIA want? Read the article in today's Observer by Kanan Makiya, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. It would appear that the democratic opposition in Iraq, hitherto promised support by the US, has been ditched.


Re: silent majority

pala on 2/16/03 at 09:28 (109364)

we are determined to stand up to them if they have oil and are not saudi cronies in bed with bush.

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/16/03 at 09:34 (109365)

a short war? heard adm. saying they think they'll take over for a while then create puppet govt. they said it should take about ten years. you thinkt that's long enuf to drain every drop of oil out for bush family coffers?

Re: Frontline Report

Kathy G on 2/16/03 at 10:20 (109369)

Thanks, Nancy, I'll look for it.

In order to personalize just how 'ugly' Americans are considered in Europe, consider this. An acquaintance of my husband's just told him that she had been on her annual trip to Germany. She is American but of German descent and goes there every year. She said the hostility toward America over there is unbelievable. One bank refused to change her American currency over to German and most shops refuse to take the American Express card. In some stores, she was ignored and could find no one to wait on her. She says she will not go back there again. She was quite upset as she had not run into this ever before.

According to a English friend of my sister's, the dislike of America is not new, outside of the British Isles. She claims that they have never liked Americans or Brits, for the most part, 'on the continent'; ie. France, Germany, Italy and Spain. This whole episode has just heightened that dislike.

So, if the people don't like us, doesn't it make sense that their officials would not back this war. I mean, they want to get re-elected, right?

Not that this is particularly relevant to the discussion but it is interesting to note.

Re: Frontline Report

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 10:43 (109371)

I think it's all quite relevant, Kathy. Again, our attitude toward the rest of the world is coming back to haunt us. And I don't mean our individual attitudes, I mean the one we project to the rest of the world. And not just politically, but also through the mass exportation of our 'culture'--films, pop stars, etc. Is it any wonder were not as popular as we think we should be?

I was in Germany this summer and didn't run into the problems your friend did--but then, things hadn't got so far in the Iraq situation by July, either. It's a shame, though. We all have to share this planet, and it would be an awful lot easier if we could do so amicably.

(And you're absolutely right about the elections--Schroeder won on an essentially anti-American campaign. That should certainly send a message. So should Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize.)

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/16/03 at 11:03 (109375)


Yes, a lot of assumptions. But they are more than assumptions: they are goals. No one believes those objectives are easy, quickly achieved or with a clear path. The Middle East is replete with repressive dictatorships which impoverish their people despite all the oil money. There is better than a 30% unemployment rate among young men in the Middle East -- they can join the military or join radical Islamist groups.
Nation building is the way to effect positive lasting change. The Israelis have demonstrated how to take a piece of land that was desolate, bring in agriculture, industry and education -- that is one of the REAL reasons why their Arab neighbors resent their presence (Arafat is an Egyptian who embraced leftist ideology and has little interest in Islam, other than a 'tool' to perpetuate the conflict).

The reason we supported Iraq in the 1980's was because of their war with Iran.

Alternative fuel sources -- yes. GWB is the first president in years to actually do something about that as he is actually funding development of hydrogen power for autos. I am politically conservative but a strong environmentalist. I had high hopes for the Clinton-Gore administration in the area of environment in 1992. They spent 8 years doing little more than create more regulations, failing to be pro-active in the area of alternative energy.

Re: Fuel Cells

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/16/03 at 11:09 (109376)


One argument made against development of alternate technologies has been the cost. But what does a gallon of oil REALLY cost? In order to answer that one must add back in the cost of environmental damage and the amount of dollars spent on the military, that is, the military cost of keeping open the supply of 'cheap' foreign oil. When you do that, the costs of alternative energy sources no longer appear prohibitive.

We have not had leadership in this country willing to move forward, proactively, on the development of alternative energy sources. Clinton/Gore, despite their pro-environment rhetoric did little in this area.

Re: Frontline Report

john h on 2/16/03 at 11:12 (109377)

When I hear about the hatred of Americans in Europe I very clearly remember Normandy and the Fields of Flanders. I remember all the Gold Stars in the windows in my home town. We are not a perfect people but neither are we mean. When the bell rings we usually answer. After the defeat of Germany and Japan we helped build them back to two of the most prosperouus nations in the world. We have never had an empire. We occupy no country except Afaganistan who we are trying to revive as a self standing nation. I make no apologies for America. Yes, we appear to be arrogant to many but I am very proud of our country, our freedom, and our democracy Very near my home is a Jewish Temple, Catholic Church, Mosque, and Baptist Church. Our Hispanic population is growing rapidly. People are fighting to get into our country so we cannot be all that bad. I feel most fortunate to have been born an American and proud to have served a career in our Military Forces during which time the Iron Curtin came down and now it is those nations who were behind the iron curtin that stand with us. How things do change..

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/16/03 at 11:17 (109378)

the focus on hydrogen power by bush is to delay other sources that would happen much sooner, so gm can give bush a big hug$$$

Re: What happens next?

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/16/03 at 11:23 (109380)


There will be differences in between what the US government would like to see and what can practically be accomplished. There are some major dilemmas. The Kurds want and deserve an independent, or at least, an autonomous region. Part of 'Kurdistan' is in Turkey so the Turks feel threatened by an independent Kurdistan. They have told us that they would not tolerate such an entitiy and would not cooperate with us if we allow it to happen.

There is a substantial Shiite Muslim population in Iraq that has been persecuted by Saddam. They have more in common with Iran. That will be a volatile issue in a post-Saddam Iraq.

Don't forget that many of the current boundaries and 'nations' are artificial entities constructed by the British and French after defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WW1. Iraq is a conglomeration of Arabs, Turkomens, Kurds, Assyrians held together somewhat forcibly. 'Selling' people with disparate philosophies, background and goals on democracy will be tough.
One thing about dictators such as Tito in Yugoslavia is that they use coercion to keep auch countries together.

Many have suggested that the process of nation building in post-Saddam Iraq will be a harder task than the war itself.

Re: silent majority

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/16/03 at 11:29 (109381)


The hope is that the war itself will be short. The nation building that will occur afterwards may take decades. It is my hope that the reluctant allies including the UN will be willing to help in that phase.

I don't think it is completely fair to refer to a post-Saddam government as a 'puppet.' One is not a puppet just because they are pro-US even so we had responsibility for their ascencion. Did you consider the post-WW2 governments in Japan and Germany to be 'puppets' of the US?

Re: Frontline Report

Ed Davis, DPM on 2/16/03 at 11:43 (109382)


My mother and her family lived in Italy during much of WW2. When the American bombers came, air raid sirens went off and the family went into the basement. They feared for their lives but cheered the American bombers.

No country has ever done so much for the world as the US has. We have done so without looking to occupy or build an empire. Sure we are not perfect and there are often some ulterior economic motives.

Re: Frontline Report

Carole C in NOLA on 2/16/03 at 12:35 (109394)

John, I learned a very important lesson in 1979.

My baby girl was just a year old, and we had new neighbors who also had a baby girl just a year old. We were both families of three, and both husbands happened to do the same thing for a living. The only difference was that the husband of our neighbors was having a devil of a time finding a job. So, thinking this was the right thing to do, my ex-husband managed to get him a job at his place of work.

The lesson that I learned is that nobody will hate you more than someone you bend over backwards to help. We never expected gratitude, but civility would have been refreshing now and then.

I think that if the U.S. helped other countries less and took a more conservative approach to guarding our borders, we'd experience a lot less hostility on the international level. It may seem like reverse psychology, but not being quite so helpful sometimes is better.

Carole C

Re: silent majority

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 12:36 (109395)


I'm glad to see that you seem to be willing to take other sides into account somewhat. So many people right now are not, and that's what scares me most. People who've decided which side they're on and refuse to listen to anyone else are closed up in their own little worlds and aren't helping anyone.

However, Iran is no excuse for the fact that we supported a madman. And we put him in power in the first place. US foreign policy seems to be rather short-sighted, since we can look both at Saddam and at Osama as examples of how we essentially have grown our own enemies. It's a bit like fertilizing the weeds in you garden and then wondering why you can't see the roses. It's fine to take a side in the present, but we need to get better at checking out exactly who we're supporting in order to minimize this phenomenon. We will probably never perfect it, but we can strive to do better.

My point about alternative fuel sources is that GWB is totally behind the 8-ball on hydrogen fuel cells. It's all very well to say you're going to spend money to develop them, but they've been developed by companies like BMW, which has several prototype fuel-cell cars already. The work has been done--perhaps not perfected, but it's still already been done. Trying to take credit for an invention that already exists seems somewhat disingenuous to me. And has anyone bothered to think beyond the cars themselves? It's all well and good to say you're going to make them, but then are you also going to actively build the infrastructure to support them, i.e. tear down the gas stations and build hydrogen filling stations? Let's face it, Big Oil can't win this one no matter what because hydrogen is the most common element in the universe--even if they shift gears, their profits will have to go into building new facilities and trying to patent the process for fueling fuel cells. And they're so entrenched in their current world that they're going to fight this process tooth and nail.

Notice how nobody's thinking about the details. Just focusing on the big items that get the attention. And they're also ignoring steps that can be taken in the meantime to raise oil-based fuel economy. I'm having a little trouble figuring out how you can be a strong environmentalist and still support GWB, who so obviously couldn't give a fig about the planet we live on. The fuel-cell line came out of nowhere, after two years of watching him actively work to defeat any measure having to do with energy conservation of any kind. Sounds to me like something Karl Rove dug up just to make GWB sound good. Remember Dick Cheney's energy task force? What a complete laugh--and on the off chance that it wasn't, GWB and our 'underground' veep didn't exactly make their case by refusing to turn over documents. And Ari Fleischer's 'blessed way of life'--come on, we need to become a global citizen and not act like it's our divine right to use far more than our share of the natural resources. Just another reason why people hate us. We're sitting at the global table, hogging all the food, tossing the leftovers to everyone else, and then saying 'What hunger problem? We don't have a hunger problem, how can you possibly be starving? And what's this about cleanup? We don't see a problem there, either, so why should we do anything about it??'

Simply put, as a global citizen, we need to grow up--for our own good as well as everyone else's.

Re: What happens next?

Julie on 2/16/03 at 12:47 (109397)


I entirely agree that the process of nation building in post-Saddam Iraq will be a difficult task, and I'm aware of the history and at least some of the current problems. I believe that task will be far more difficult if there is a war than if Saddam is disarmed and deposed by less extreme means.

Jessica Mathews' article in the Washington Post, to which Nancy posted a link earlier today, is instructive and interesting, and as far as I can tell it makes good sense. Inspections with real teeth could conceivably do the disarming job (the present system is a farce) and supporting the democratic opposition could conceivably (I'm not saying it would, only that it could) achieve the deposition.

You refer to the political dilemma that arises vis a vis Turkey, one of the most repressive, brutal regimes in the world with a disgraceful history of treatment of its own Kurdish population. If the US is not supporting the democratic Iraqi opposition because it is afraid of what Turkey thinks - for shame! Acceptance of political realities can go only so far.

You say there will be differences between what the US government would like to see and what can practically be accomplished. But the question is, what exactly would the US government like to see? A liberated Iraqi population with responsibility for and control of its destiny? Or a 'changed regime' placed in power on the assumption that it will act according to US interests?

The civilised, thoughtful discussion that has been taking place over the last few days has been useful and instructive - certainly it has for me. I want to thank you and everyone else who has contributed to it for helping me to sort out my thinking - a laborious process that continues.

Re: Frontline Report

Nancy N on 2/16/03 at 13:48 (109402)


I'm sorry to hear about the experience you had. I'm not sure that it's fair to categorize everyone based on one experience, though. I've had a similar experience to yours this week--a student of mine from last quarter, whom I bent over backwards to keep from failing, is furious at me and thinks I'm 'petty' because I gave him a D. I had a minor confrontation with him on Friday in the school lobby where he did his best to convince me that he'd put forth far more effort than I ever saw in class. I guess if you're to believe his theory, he must have an evil twin who came to class while he himself was off doing work that the evil twin later destroyed so I couldn't grade it? And so that I would think he was a slacker and didn't care about his grade, I guess. (It's a long story, but suffice it to say that he could not demonstrate much retention of course material at all, and fought me the whole way, therefore I gave him a grade that reflected what he demonstrated that he knew.)

Anyway, I talked to a mentor of mine about it afterwards, because as I insisted to this kid, I didn't decide to give him a D, I gave him a D based on the knowledge he demonstrated in class. And I was being generous with the D--in my gut I wanted to refuse him credit because he missed a full quarter of the classes for the course, and put forth hardly any of his own effort. But here's the key point--I made a big effort to get him in during study hall to make up the work he missed when he was out for the first week, and I suspect that he would have been better off if I'd left him to his own devices. I don't think that the problem is that I tried to help him out--I think the problem is that he wasn't accountable to himself, and perhaps he even felt some wounded pride because my efforts meant that he couldn't (or wouldn't) do it on his own. (There's a theory of education that says you don't do any more for the kid than the kid is willing to do for him/herself (there are many theories, and I don't think any one is necessarily better than another--it's all very situational). There's another one that says you should keep dangling the carrot in front of them, which is more the approach that I took.)

When I read your story, I suspect the same may be true--the hostility may have come from a sense of wounded pride. But I don't think the solution is to become more isolationist and refuse to help anyone. I think the solution is to let people (or countries!) go it alone as much as they can and only give them a prod in the right direction when they've made a great deal of effort on their own--or when they flat-out ask for it. There are right and wrong ways to do all these things, though unfortunately it can be a hard call.

Re: Frontline Report

JudyS on 2/16/03 at 13:50 (109403)

Carole I agree with you so much regarding the US borders. As much as I appreciate the founding fathers/mothers' philosophy that said 'give us your weak, weary,' etc. the fact is that times have changed so dramatically that we just can't do that anymore. I think that, when I fall off the fence, it will very likely be towards the Bush administration's efforts - but I sure do resent the fact that there seems to be very little attention paid to the border problem. It would seem to me that terrorism within our own borders should be the primary concern right now. In fact, as extreme as this sounds, I'd be inclined to lock them up tight right now and throw away the key.

Re: Frontline Report

Carole C in NOLA on 2/16/03 at 14:06 (109407)

Judy, I do agree with you wholeheartedly, although I also respect and think about other opinions we are reading on this board too. Nancy, I'm going to read your post again because although we are often on different sides of the fence, your posts always give me food for thought and something to ponder.

Judy, don't you live in the San Diego area? I lived in Spring Valley in the 1970's and the constant swarm of illegals moving through our neighborhood on their way north was mind boggling to me. People who don't live there just should, for a couple of weeks, before they decide on the border issue. It is even more scary in this post 9/11 era.

Carole C

Re: Frontline Report

JudyS on 2/16/03 at 14:54 (109409)

Bravo John - very well said.

Re: silent majority

Dr. Z on 2/17/03 at 07:36 (109439)

And this is why we have to take a very close look at France. We should never forget what the French are doing.

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/17/03 at 10:00 (109454)

while we're looking closely at france let's not look at the fact that haliberten, cheney's company, has made an estimated 13 billion dollars on anti terrorist profit so far. and carlyle,a bush family business interest will make billions when we go to war. let's , instead, take a close look at france. yeah, that's the ticket.

Re: silent majority

Nancy N on 2/17/03 at 10:10 (109457)

You lost me, Dr. Z. I can't figure out what you're referring to in regard to France. Help me out?

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/17/03 at 10:39 (109458)

just last nite i went to google, typed in bush war profit and there were a lot of articles linking bush to carlyle a company that will make big profit on war, and cheney to haliberten, a company that has already made a big profit on fighting terrorism.

i would be interested to get other folks here reading that stuff and telling us what you think. obviously i am a biased reader , reporter of this stuff, cuase i think you can guess my opinion of this administration.

anyone interested in finding out if these guys profit from the war, should at least take a look at this stuff , even if you are a bush and war supporter. i didn't have much time to look at it, and i could be wrong in my summation. but i'd love to have others to discuss it with.

Re: silent majority

pala on 2/17/03 at 10:54 (109462)

just typed in bush carlyle and came up with some amazing stuff. it is at buzzflash.com if ayone is interested. carlyle is a very big defense contractor. i don't know wether to cry, yell or buy stock in carlyle.

Re: well said John

Tammie on 2/17/03 at 15:54 (109516)

How beautifully said, my family and I agree . You will not find perfection anywhere. You will never find 100% of people that all have the same beliefs. As I remember it has something to do with our country.It gives us that choice and allow us to remain alive believing it. I agree and respect you for remaining open about how you feel! Thank you!

Re: new messages added to old string

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/06/03 at 23:20 (112084)

Does anyone actually read messages if they are added to an old string?
Just curious.

Re: new messages added to old string

Carole C in NOLA on 3/07/03 at 00:10 (112086)

Well sometimes, Ed, but not always! :)

Usually if it's off the first page, it works better to start a new thread.

Carole C

Re: new messages added to old string

wendyn on 3/07/03 at 07:58 (112096)

When I read messages in reverse I do.

Re: new messages added to old string

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/07/03 at 14:59 (112161)

Well, I am surprised.