Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Imperfect Nothingness

It has been about a week and a half since Rev. Wrights words really hit the main stream media. It has been a little over a week since Sen. Obama (he-who's-middle-name-shall-not-be-mentioned for you Potter fans) first tried to distance himself from the Rev's words. At that point, Sen. Obama said he had never heard these remarks while in church. It has now been a little less than a week since Obama gave the speech that is suppose to end this news story.

However, the speech has become its own news story. If you get your political information from the TV, you might believe the speech was a modern day Gettysburg Address. If you read papers and opinion pieces, then you have probably seen mixed coverage of this speech. I believe most of the coverage has been wrong.

The speech, entitled A More Perfect Union, needs to be put in its proper context and then read. Sen. Obama has a gift for oration, so to cut out any of the theatrics, read it. First and foremost, this speech is damage control. The different sound bites from Rev. Wright have been hurting Sen. Obama in the polls. To continue his run for the Democratic nomination, and perhaps the Presidency, Obama needs to get this story killed, or directed in a path he is more comfortable with. Second, this is a campaign appearance. The Pennsylvania primary is towards the end of April.

I printed out the speech from Fox News. Their printable version goes on for seven pages. The speech is much like the rest of Obama's campaign, sounds good, but really full of nothing. There are a few very noteworthy references, my favorite are those that go back to our founding fathers. Obama raises many problems in the speech: racism, health care, and the war in Iraq to name a few. However, nowhere in his speech does he give a solution to any of them. Nowhere in the speech does he tell us what would be different about an Obama Presidency.

If anything, I find parts of the speech offensive. Obama says the sermons from Rev. Wright were bad enough they have the potential to widen the racial divide. He then goes into the following paragraph:

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed. [Emphasis mine]

First, Sen. Obama recants what he had previously said about Rev. Wrights comments on Fox News. On Fox News, he hadn't heard these comments while he attended church. Now, he has. Secondly, no, I have never heard anything in my own church, or any church I have ever attended, that approached what was said by Rev. Wright. I am also offended that Obama condemns Rev. Wrights comments, but then assumes that every pastor, priest, or rabbi would say things equally offensive or racist.

Obama then goes on to draw a moral equivalency between Rev. Wright and his own grandmother. I won't quote the whole passage here, as it has been repeated everywhere. However, Sen. Obama seems to think that because his own grandmother confessed her own failings in private, it is the same as Rev. Wright telling one of the largest church's in Chicago that the United States deserved to have 3,000+ people killed on Sept. 11th. Or perhaps her own comments in private that hurt Sen. Obama's feelings as a child were the same as Rev. Wrights racist remarks from the pulpit of his church.

Sen. Obama puts the racism that people today in both the white and the black community face in some historical context, and tries to explain it from their perspective. When Sen. Obama tries to explain the, "…similar anger...," in the white community, he does so in a very insulting way. To quote the Senator, "Most working – and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience…" Sen. Obama would have us believe that white Americans who were born in this country can't feel these same things?

The insults and lack of answers continue for the rest of the speech. Obama uses many of the typical scare issues used in politics today: poor schools, health care, the housing crisis, out sourcing jobs, and the war in Iraq. Like many politicians, Obama gives no answers to these issues. As with the rest of his campaign, he says great things, but they have no real substance.

If anything, Obama's speech shows he is no different from any other politician. He tries to scare voters, he raises a number of issues, but he has no answers. At the end of the day, those who supported Obama in spite of Rev. Wright will continue to support him. Those who were going to vote for Hillary or McCain won't change their mind because of this speech. It was an interesting campaign stop, but nothing more.


Anonymous said...


familyman said...


familyman said...

OK, seriously though Andy.

I think Obama has very clearly made the point that he disagrees with the specific statements made by Wright that have caused this controversy. While at the same time standing by Wright as a friend, pastor and "family" member.

Haven't you ever had a friend or family member that you knew to be a good person even though you may disagree with them on a particular subject? Don't you love them even though they are not perfect? Or does someone have to agree with you 100% to have your approval of them as a person?

Mrs. Familyman said...

In my opinion, the media has blown Rev. Wright's speech way out of of proportion.

Even if I thought that Rev. Wright was way out of line, to make such an enormous issue of the Rev. Wright and his relationship to Obama is trying to use the illogical argument of guilt by association.

Where is the outcry about McCain who has gone out of his way to associate himself with Rev. John Hagee and Hagee's assertion that (and I'm paraphrasing) "the people in New Orleans brought Katrina upon themselves because the population of New Orleans is nothing but sinners?"

Fox News??? Really, Andy????? I know that you often quote Fox News as one of your sources, but I hardly would call Fox news an "unbiased" source.

The interpretation that I took away from Rev. Wright's speech was that he was expressing outrage that the political system is run primarily by corrupt wealthy white men. If you look at the amount of money that is required in this day and age to run for any public office, let ALONE the presidency, that point is hard to argue. I'm a suburban white woman, and EVEN I understand that kind of outrage.

Comments that I've heard and read by those who were offended by Wright's speech state that they took offense at the use of the phrase "G-D America", and/or Wright's criticism of America with respect to its foreign policies. Making the point that America brought 9-11 on itself BECAUSE of those foreign policies and the violence and hatred those policies create is vastly different that the thinly veiled racism behind John Hagee's comments with respect to New Orleans and Katrina.

Andy D said...


There is a difference between saying something in private (like a friend might, or like Obama's grandma) and saying something in front of a congregation and trying to convince them that the U.S. government created AIDS to kill black men.

Mrs. Family,

First, it isn't an illogical association. Obama himself has called this man a mentor and someone he bounces ideas off of. That brings forth two questions. If this is someone that Obama himself believes is wise, how much of Wrights views does Obama share. Secondly, if Obama doesn't recognize the character of this pastor, what happens when Obama has to make a decision involving someone like Ahmadenijad?

I have searched for something similar with this Rev. and McCain. I can't find it. Secondly, to the best of my knowledge, McCain has never referred to Rev. Hagee as a mentor and advisor. Even if Rev. Hagee and Rev. Wright are just as repugnant, McCain hasn't had the same relationship that Obama has.

I used Fox News for the transcript of Obama's speech, and I made a reference to Obama denying he had ever heard these words from Rev. Wright. I wasn't relying on Fox News analysis. I was relying on their transcript of Obama's speech, and Obama's own words during a Fox News interview.

Rev. Wright believes the US brought 9/11 on itself. That is an absurd stretch in and of itself. Rev. Wright believes that White people created AIDS to kill black men. Neither of those statements are worthy of defense. Rev. Wright is a racist and hates the U.S. How much of Rev. Wrights beliefs does Obama share?

Mrs. Familyman said...

I think there's a huge difference between publicly using racially charged language to describe a situation and actually telling a congregation that they should hate someone because of their skin color. The latter is racist, the former is not.

For a pastor, an effective sermon is one that stirs people's emotions. That's what he was doing.

As far as I and common sense can tell, Hillary Clinton HASN'T ever been called a n*gger.
How is that untrue?
(I will back down on this one if you can provide some evidence to the contrary.)
She doesn't have the perspective of an inner-city ethnic minority. She's led a privileged life. That absolutely makes her perspective different than somone who lives on the south side of Chicago. That was Rev. Wright's point.
Just because he used the "n" word and he was speaking passionately to the point of sounding angry still doesn't make it a racist comment.
The government IS currently run by a majority of privileged wealthy white men.
How is that untrue?
The African-American community has a right to be upset by that fact. They are not truly represented. It would be next to impossible for someone with very little economic means to win an election. You DO have to be "in the club" to succeed in American politics.

It IS ABSOLUTELY an illogical assosiation.
I regard my own father as a wise man. He built his own business from the ground up, and has run it sucessfully for nearly 40 years. Do I sometimes turn to him for advice? Absolutely. Do I agree with him on every single opinion he holds? Absolutely not. Have I ever known him to make a racist comment? Rarely, but yes. As an adult, do I call him on it? Yes, I do. Should I disregard everything he says because on a rare occasion he made an objectionable comment? Absolutely not.

Wise people are not infallible people. If you disagree, please give me an example.

The fact is, that people who are demonizing Obama for his association with Rev. Wright, are really making the assumption that Obama is some sort of zombie with no intellectual integrity. I'm more confident about Obama being able to make an intelligent, informed and INDEPENDENT decision than I am about George Bush being able to do the same.

Even if you didn't rely on Fox News for analysis, it's been my experience that they can edit soundbites, transcripts and videos in a biased way.

You yourself quote that Obama denies that he ever heard these words from Rev. Wright. As far as wondering how much of Rev. Wright's beliefs that Obama shares, I'd take the word of Obama over that of Wright. Trying to determine what someone believes or doesn't believe by listening to the beliefs of a third party, no matter how closely associated, is really quite illogical.

I'm not going to completely defend Wright's comments with respect to the US government creating AIDS to kill black men. It does sound like Wright is wearing a "tin-foil hat" with respect to this one. But I will say that I can understand how a black person from Wright's generation, with knowledge of the Tuskegee Experiments from the 1930's to the 1970's (and if you don't know what I'm talking about you can Google it) might be a little paranoid about that issue. And how that could be a common belief in certain communities.

Let me help you out. John Hagee has endorsed John McCain. John Hagee has made no secret of HIS hateful opinions. John McCain welcomed the endorsement.
Louis Farakhan endorsed Obama. Obama repudiated the endorsement.

Why are are the endorsements of hateful white evangelical pastors okay, but the endorsements of hateful black pastor(s) not okay? Its a HUGE double standard. (I'm still not buying that Wright is as hateful as he's been made out to be)

I listened to a longer excerpt from Rev. Wright's speech about "chickens coming home to roost" than the one Fox News played. The "... coming home to roost" quote was taken from Malcolm X.
I'll paraphrase...
Wright quotes the bible about "Happy shall they be... to dash the heads of children against rocks." He makes the point about how hatred of our enemies turns to hatred of the unarmed innocent.
"Violence begets violence
Hatred begets hatred
Terrorism begets terrorism"
Americans took this country from the Indians by the use of terrorism.
We killed innocent people when we bombed Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and fought in Grenada.
We killed innocent children without even batting an eye.
So why should we be surprised when terrorists attack us?
Wright asked several times what our response should be to 9/11 - Did he advocate vengance? No. He advocated self-examination.

By this logic, the argument that the US brought 9/11 on itself is NOT an absurd stretch. The US is NOT above reproach when it comes to violence in the world. Peaceful people will not have let it be rationalized away.

Criticizing America is not the same as hating America.

Andy D said...

First, a very interesting comment Mrs. Family. Well thought out and very passionate.

I am going to try and address all of your points, but if I forget to hit something you really felt I should have addressed let me know.

I don’t think I am demonizing Obama for his associations with Rev. Wright. I am trying to demonize Rev. Wright to a certain degree because I think his words are repugnant and inexcusable for someone who claims to be a pastor. Rev. Wright is allowed his opinions (no matter how tin foil hat they get) but the question is: How much of this does Obama believe?

I agree with you 100 % when you say that we should listen to Obama’s answer to this question. The problem is, his answer hasn’t been consistent. He said he never heard these words, then he said of course he heard these words. Which is the truth?

Do his actions give us any indication of what he believes? Not really. Obama made comments I felt were racists, but not very many of them. Both he and his wife Michelle have done things that tend to lend weight to the theory that Obama believes at least a little of what Rev. Wright has said. Should we believe that Obama has never agreed with Rev. Wright but continued to attend this church anyways? Should we believe that Obama may share some of the views Rev. Wright has expressed but not all of them? Obama himself has gone out of his way to show how important Rev. Wright is to the Obama family.

The real question is with voters who may be on the fence. Will they vote for a candidate who chooses to associate himself with this kind of person? Only November will tell.

Finally, the 9/11 comment. Rev. Wright has made a number of comments that attacked the United States, and that is where my biggest problem with him is. Rev. Wright would draw a moral equivalence with Americas actions to end World War II, and a group of terrorist trying to kill as many Americans as they can in one attack. The US dropped atomic weapons on Japan in the hopes that it would bring WW II to a close and thereby save lives of those who would have died in a more prolonged war. This was the same theory Grant and Sherman had when they brought their war to the civilians of the South. While deaths in both of these cases are terrible, they hopefully spared others. Osama bin Laden did what he did not to save other lives, but with the hopes he could recruit more people to kill even more people. The two are not the same. Most people prefer peace. I am not sure who your reference is too. I prefer peace, but I won’t allow people to equate the actions of the United States with those of a mad man and a monster.

Criticizing America is not the same as hating America. Rev. Wright passed the “criticizing” stage many years ago.

familyman said...

Andy says - "The US dropped atomic weapons on Japan in the hopes that it would bring WW II to a close and thereby save lives of those who would have died in a more prolonged war. This was the same theory Grant and Sherman had when they brought their war to the civilians of the South. While deaths in both of these cases are terrible, they hopefully spared others."

The idea that it's OK to kill innocent children in the hopes of saving the lives of soldiers is deplorable.

You may be able to accept it as an unfortunate fact of life. I don't.

How many children's lives is it worth to win in Iraq?

Andy D said...

I didn't say it was O.K., I said it was terrible. However, at the same time it may have saved many, many more lives. How many women and children do you think would have died in a prolonged land invasion of Japan? That was the alternative.

Peace only exists as long as there are those willing to defend it. War is "all hell", but sometimes it is a necessary evil.

I don't think it is necessary to take these drastic steps in Iraq. We are winning that war on many fronts, and by many measurable areas. I don't think anyone in Bush's administration, or the administration of the next president would argue for such drastic measures. However, lets look back at Mrs. Family's comparison. Do you think Osama would hesitate to set off a nuclear weapon in one of our major cities if he could? How many women and children would die from that? Once again, the actions of the terrorist and our government are very different and are done with very different goals in mind.

familyman said...

Andy - Drastic steps have ALREADY been taken in Iraq. Children have been dying by our weapons since day one of the invasion.

Yes, Saddam was a murderous tyrant who killed thousands upon thousands of his own citizens including children.

So is it better that we kill them instead?

We're bringing peace and democracy, so it's excusable if we kill them?

Mrs. Familyman said...

Andy - You and I are going to have to agree to diagree.
This will be my last post on this and other topics, mostly because you and I are not going to change each other's minds, but also because I find that you selectively answer poster's responses.

For example, here are some points that I wish you would address:

-The underprivileged and minorities have the right to be outraged by a political system that doesn't truly represent them since the majority of elected officials are privileged wealthy white men.

-A wise person is not an infallible person.
Should you castigate a trusted advisor because you disagree with them on one or more key points?
I've also seen video of Rev. Wright encouraging his congregation to get tested for AIDS. (we'll leave his views on AIDS in America out of this for now...) Following your logic, his congregation shouldn't follow this advice either either, since he's such a hate-spewing crack-pot and an example of someone with horrible character.

- Why are the endorsements of hateful white evangelical pastors okay, but the endorsements of hateful black pastors not okay?

I know that its easy to be outraged when you infer that someone's opinion is that America brought 9-11 on itself. Its easier to be jingoistc rather than to examine the opinion that you find so offensive.

I inferred that Rev. Wright's verbal attacks on America had more to do with "What goes around comes around" or "Kharma" rather than a "tit for tat" relationship between current events. Wright wasn't equating the acts of 9-11 with violence, that in your view, was a "necessary evil." He was pointing out that America has its own history of perpetrating terrorism. Just ask the American Indians.

I agree with you that Bin Laden is a monster and a mad man.

But whether you're talking about Hitler or Bin Laden, they way they get people to follow their insanity is by breeding hatred.
If hatred breeds violence and violence breeds more violence, how do we stop the cycle? The use of violence in Iraq is not "winning the hearts and minds" of those people whose innocent children are murdered. It only breeds more hatred and therefore more violence.

If you examine hatred right here in the US, how do we end THAT cycle?
The way to diffuse it would be to try to understand how those emotions got to that point. I'm certainly NOT saying that you have to agree with someone who spouts offensive viewpoints, but it surely would go a long way if we all tried to walk a mile in each others' shoes from time to time. I'm really suprised that you don't do this more often considering that you embrace Christianity.
I find the fact that you are demonizing Rev. Wright without looking at the issues from the perspective of a black 60-70 year old inner-city pastor as extremely closed-minded. I took a peek at some other posts on your blog, and I was shocked to see that some people actually think that its "easy to be a black man in the current culture of political correctness. " Are you kidding me??? Some people don't even TRY to understand any perspective but their own.
I'm not saying Rev. Wright speaks only the truth and that I find his viewpoints beyond reproach, but you can't argue that he has a vastly different perspective than yours and mine.

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." - Albert Einstein

I get frustrated with people like you who want to see the entire world as black and white (absolutely NO pun intended) instead of shades of gray. The world is just not that simple.

You think that Wright is hateful and anti-American. It can be easy to confuse empassioned anger with hatred. I think that he's justifiably angry with the status quo, and critical of America, as EVERY citizen should be critical of their government.

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." - President Thomas Jefferson

familyman said...

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28).

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14).

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it (1 Corinthians 4:12).

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble (1 John 2:9-10).

All just words to make people feel good in Church I guess. But nothing you'd actually want to put into practice in the real world. Because here in the real world we kill our enemies and any one else who happens to be in the neighborhood.

That's why I think Rev Wright said God Damn America. Because if you read the Bible, we are doing exactly what God tells us not to do.

Andy D said...

Familyman, let's take this arguement a step further. You and Rev. Wright believe we have committed a terrible sin by fighting in Iraq. By early arguments, I am guessing that you also condemn our actions towards Japan during WW II.

If we hadn't used atomic weapons in Japan, and the result was a war that lasted another four years and produced tremendous casualties (including women and children) during a land invasion, would you have supported that? If we hadn't acted in Iraq, but Saddam continued to brutalized his people and continued to use WMD's on his own people, you would be ok with that?

My question is, at what point is it ok to respond to violence with force in your mind?

Andy D said...

This response is for Mrs. Family. I get the impression she won't be reading this site any more, but I wanted to respond to her for my other reasons.

I am sorry my response to your post seemed to upset you. I started my post complimenting your previous comment. I also said point blank:I am going to try and address all of your points, but if I forget to hit something you really felt I should have addressed let me know.

You seem offended that I didn't hit every single point, and I am sorry about that. I answered what I thought were the big ones, but also put in the above sentence so you would feel free to ask me to answer a different point.

I won't answer all the questions you asked here, because of space. My wife has advised me to devote and entire post to responding to your comment, and I am mulling that over.

I get the impression that you and other Obama supporters are mad because I condemn Rev. Wright and question the second messiah by doing so. Sorry, I think these are some legitimate questions that I want answered as a voter before I am willing to pull the lever for Obama.

Rev. Wright has shown himself to be a racist and a hate monger in the truest sense of the world. The Main Stream Media didn't do an in depth investigation to find out about Rev. Wright. They bought his DVD's from the church's own website and took clips from those to show on the news. If Rev. Wright and the Church feels these DVD's accurately portray the good Rev., why shouldn't we?

Obama has said this guy is a close adviser of his. Why shouldn't I be worried? Rev. Wright hates America, Obama refuses to wear a U. S. Flag label pin, and Michelle Obama has never been proud of the U.S. until Obama won a few primaires. Isn't that enough to make you concerned?

You are free to vote for whoever you want. But let's not gloss over Rev. Wright. He isn't a wise spiritual leader who made a few distasteful remarks. He is a racist who hates America and someone who wishes to make a living selling DVD's with those comments. The question is: How much of this does Obama agree with?

familyman said...

He refuses to wear a lapel pin...that bastard!

familyman said...

Andy, I wanted to think about this a while before replying.

First of all, I notice you didn't respond to the Biblical passages I quoted. They all seem to make it pretty clear that the God of the Bible is saying bless those who persecute you. Feed your enemy. Love your enemy. It is God's job to avenge, not yours. If you truly believe in the things that are preached in Church. How do you justify violence as a means to solve conflicts like this?

Here's where I stand on Japan - We had the Atomic bomb. We needed to demonstrate it's power. Did we really need to drop the first one on a densely populated city? The bomb dropped on Hiroshima instantly killed some 80,000 people. The majority of whom I'm going to assume were non-combatants. Couldn't we have dropped the first one on an unpopulated area to demonstrate it's power, and then delivered an ultimatum? Wouldn't that have made a very similar impression on the Japanese? Why should our first option be to wipe out innocents?

On Iraq - I don't think we should have charged in with our "Shock and Awe" offensive. The military knew for a fact that many many innocent people (The people we're supposedly liberating) were going to die as a direct result. And I think our going in that way has resulted in diminished opinion and stature of our country around the world. We no longer inhabit the moral high ground in the world community like I think we once did.

I understand that military force is sometimes unavoidable. But any equation that tries to determine how many children's lives it's acceptable to forfeit in return for saving soldiers' lives is a non-starter in my book. As adults in this crappy world it is our burden to deal with war. To drag children into it is evil. And in the long run it's completely counter productive to anything we might be accomplishing.

I know that Saddam Hussein was an evil person. He killed children. I understand that. But the fact that we kill children for more noble reasons doesn't excuse the fact that we are killing children.

In the best case scenario in Iraq the violence will cease for some period of time. But Iraq will be left with physical and emotional scars that will last for generations. We in America will be lucky if we aren't cast as the boogey man in Iraqi bedtime stories for years to come. This is not peace. Our actions in Iraq have bread a whole new generation of terrorists. How is that peace?

You can't drop bombs on people and tell them you're bringing peace and expect them to believe you.

Individual soldiers act with incredible bravery at times. But speaking collectively of America. How much courage does it take to bomb the hell out of a country like Iraq?

Real courage would have been if George Bush had said, "We will bless those who persecute us. We will love our enemy."

To your question - at what point is it ok to respond to violence with force? In Iraq specifically I think force would have been warranted if there was a REAL and specific and imminent threat posed to the safety of the United States. Which there wasn't.

There is a quote by Nietzsche - Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.

I think there are a lot of people who's families have been destroyed that would say we've become the monster.

Andy D said...

I will try to do this as a point by point case.

First, I do believe the things that are taught in my church. I think your larger question is, "If the Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to turn the other cheek to our enemy, how do we ever justify force?" This is a question I posed to a pastor when I was going through confirmation classes. How does a Christian ever justify going to war? The Pastor's response is still with me today. If we don't go to war, or don't attack our enemies, what will they do? If a soldier doesn't shoot an enemy on the battle field, what will that enemy go on to do? If he might go on to kill more people, then you have to do your job as a soldier.

On a more global scale, any nation should only go to war when the result of not going to war is unacceptable. In WW II, if we had stayed out, Japan and Germany would probably have conquered large areas of Europe and the Pacific.

In Iraq, there were a number of UN mandates telling Saddam to disarm. Almost every intelligence community in the world thought Saddam had WMD's. Saddam would later tell us in captivity that he was trying to project to the world that he had more WMD's than he had. We knew that Saddam had no problem using them. To those people like myself who support the war, the thought of the damage Saddam could do with those WMD's was unacceptable.

You are correct that we should try to minimize civilian casualties wherever we can. No one can tell today what Iraq will look like a generation or two from now. Much of that will depend on the next President, and the one after that. There will always be people in the world who use us as a bogey man. There will be terrorist that use us as a recruiting tool. However, your argument that we may have somehow made things worse in Iraq, or that terrorist wouldn't still recruit other terrorist if we hadn't gotten involved in Iraq offends me on two counts.

First, who knows how many terrorist there would be in the world today if we hadn't gone into Iraq. Al-Queda, Hezbollah, and Hamas have had no problem recruiting prior to our arrival in Iraq. Nothing happens in a vacuum. I can make the argument that terrorist recruitment would have gone up because Osama could have continued to use the "paper tiger" label.

Secondly, no nation has ever taken more care and tried to avoid civilian deaths as much as ours. Some portion of the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are both due to the fact that we aren't willing to carpet bomb the enemy. We aren't really ready to take the fight to the civilian populace. I think that is a good strategy. However, it has resulted in deaths that we may not have had if we had simply carpet bombed Iraq.

There may be a number of families who believe we are monsters. No matter what action we take with our military that will always be the case. The real question is: Are we safer today? and can we live with the way we fought the war. I think the answer to the first question is Yes. To the second question, I think we should have used the surge earlier, but I think e are fighting the fight we need to now.

familyman said...

OK, my turn.

1. How does a Christian justify going to war.
Well like I said, I understand the necessity to resort to violence in the name of self-defense. But obviously you and I are never going to agree if the invasion of Iraq was an act of self-defense on our part. I don't think it was given the fact that Iraq never attacked us.

I do still find it interesting though that so many Christians like yourself will adamantly claim to believe whole heartedly in the teachings of the bible, that say turn the other cheek, love your enemy etc. but when push comes to shove you advocate the absolute opposite approach to the situation.

2. It seems you are trying to draw some parallel between our moral obligation to go to war against Japan and Germany in WW II and our going to war against Iraq now. The BIG difference of course is that Japan attacked US soil unprovoked and Germany declared war on US shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. So, our going to war in 1941 was truly an act of self defense.

But you're not addressing the issue you asked me about. That is the use of atomic weapons on the population of Japan. You think dropping the first one on the civilian population and killing 80,000 civilians was really our best option? Like I said, why not drop the first one on an unpopulated ara and then offer an ultimatum?

3. You say, " Almost every intelligence community in the world thought Saddam had WMD's."
Here's another one where you and I could go around and around forever. It's very well documented that nearly all the incriminating intelligence that pointed to Iraq having WMD's in 2003 was either, flat wrong, twisted or outright fabricated.

4. You say, "You are correct that we should try to minimize civilian casualties wherever we can."
Here is the crux of my argument. If the administration really cared about civilian casualties they wouldn't allow mortar strikes into Iraqi neighborhoods from miles away. They wouldn't allow commanders to order their attack aircraft to fire on taxi cabs driving down the street. You talk about civilian casualties as if they are unavoidable. You talk about it like we're the good guys because when we shoot a laser guided missile into a house in Iraq only a few civilians die instead of a hundred, because we're being careful. I've heard this kind of reasoning too often.

People say, "It is terrible that children have to die like this. But you have to understand. These are terrible people we're after. There's no telling what they'll do if we don't kill them first. It's very unfortunate that there are civilian casualties, but we really are trying our best not to kill too many."

Does that pretty accurately sum up your position on the issue of civilian casualties?

OK, so let's put on our imagination caps for a minute. Let's just say that the CIA tracked down a terrorist cell and it happened to be right next door to your house. They have intelligence that tells them there is a very high value target in this house next door to yours. So they send down 25 heavily armed federal agents. The agents storm the house. There is a fire fight. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition are spent. And as horrible as it is to contemplate 3 members of your family are killed by stray bullets. Your wife and 2 of your kids are laying dead at your feet.

Are you telling me you wouldn't be outraged at the recklessness of those agents? Are you telling me you would accept that as a price that unfortunately just had to be paid in the fight against terrorism?

Now how is that any different than one of our fighter jets targeting a suspected insurgent house only to find out that there was a wedding going on next door and now the Bride and half the wedding party are dead? Ooops sorry. We didn't mean to kill your bridesmaids. We were just flying by at 1000 mph and shooting missiles.

5. You are right to some extent when you say that much of our future relationship with Iraq will depend on our next President. But there will be families who will never forget or forgive what this President has done.

6. It isn't MY argument that we've made things worse in Iraq. It's the Bush administration's own National Intelligence Report that said the Iraq War has been the most effective recruiting tool al-queda's ever had.

7. You say, "no nation has ever taken more care and tried to avoid civilian deaths as much as ours."
I love how you couch it in terms like "taken more care". Yes, we're shooting missiles and lobbing mortars with such care.

8. I don't really understand this next argument that carpet bombing would save lives.

9. You say, "There may be a number of families who believe we are monsters. No matter what action we take with our military that will always be the case."
Unless of course we stop invading other countries and killing their children. Then maybe they wouldn't think we were monsters.

I might lose my family friendly rating for this next part, but here's my quote of the day - Bombing for Peace f#@&ing for virginity.

You can take that last bit out if it is going to stop you from posting the rest of my response.

familyman said...

Ooops - typo -

That should be "Bombing for Peace is like f#@&ing for virginity.


Andy D said...

This is starting to fill like the SAT’s… goes…

1) I thought I answered this one in my last comment. I don’t advocate for military intervention in every situation. There are times when using force is the best option. It is terrible that we live in a world that requires that, but as long as there are evil people, there may be a need for force. If you are truly curious about how a person can read the bible, be a devout Christian, and still do things that to your eyes don’t agree with the bible, we can continue this discussion elsewhere. I would also recommend C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

2) I am not trying to equate WWII and the War in Iraq. There are some similarities, but there are also many differences. To answer your question point blank: I think dropping an atomic weapon on an isolated area would have been a waste. First, it would have been difficult to do what is effectively and “atomic test” in Japan without catching someone in the radius. More importantly, Japan didn’t give in until after the 2nd weapon was dropped. After Hiroshima, they were still willing to fight. It took Nagasaki before Japan surrendered. So I think your theory they would have surrendered after a drop with no casualties when they didn’t surrender after Hiroshima doesn’t hold water.

3) The intelligence of the world community said Saddam had WMD’s. Saddam wanted the world to believe he had WMD’s. Some of his generals still to this day believe he had them, but they were hidden or sent to other nations.

4) To the first part of your argument, and time a large scale military force is involved, civilian casualties are unavoidable. In Lone Survivor, the author states point blank that if our rules of engagement had allowed him to fire first on civilians, his fellow seals would still be alive today.

You can not invade a country, remove its leader, and allow the people to elect a new government (all while fighting foreign terrorist) without civilian casualties. Our government tries very hard to minimize those. However there still our casualties. The only way to avoid it entirely is to not get involved in any military conflict ever.

Your made up scenario would have me very angry. I won’t deny that people are hurt and there lives destroyed in Iraq. However, our military, and the coalition forces tries very hard to minimize that.

5) This is true. There always are in war.

6) Again, nothing happens in a vacuum. How many terrorist would have been created after 9/11 if we did nothing?

7) I am only stating what I see as fact from my point of view. I am sorry if you don’t like my choice of words.

8) I have lost track of what you are referring too. I think you misunderstood my argument. My point was, we could easily carpet bomb most of Iraq with little to no loss of life of our soldiers. However, the civilian populace would be devastated. We decided to go in the way we did to avoid more civilian deaths.

9) We didn’t invade anyone during the 90’s and Osama still came after us. Your quote, while catchy, is simply silly. It also shows a lack of understanding of why the military is and isn’t used. Peace can only be protected by those who are willing to fight for it. Congress and the Supreme Court can’t protect our peace and our nation from foreign forces. Only our military can. Perhaps you should consider being a little more thankful towards them.

familyman said...

OK Andy,

We're going in circles here of course. I'm just going to respond to the last one -#9 in our countdown.

Your quote, while catchy, is simply silly.

I think the message in that quote is anything but silly. There's humor in it, yes. BUT THE POINT FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME IS THAT WE WERE NOT ATTACKED. THERE WAS NO REASON TO START DROPPING TONS OF BOMBS ON IRAQ. So to say, "We're coming in to bring peace and prosperity and we're going to start by bombing the hell out of you." makes no sense.

Sorry for shouting.

It also shows a lack of understanding of why the military is and isn’t used. Peace can only be protected by those who are willing to fight for it.

I'm not so naive as to think we don't need a military/department of defense. But I think that is exactly what it aught to be. DEFENSE. The American way that I grew up knowing did not include starting pre-emptive wars. And you can give any rationale you want for why we went into Iraq, but the fact remains that we started the Iraq war. The department of defense was used as a department of offense.

Congress and the Supreme Court can’t protect our peace and our nation from foreign forces. Only our military can. Perhaps you should consider being a little more thankful towards them.

I am extremely thankful for every threat to our national security that the military has confronted. It's too bad that the bush administration basically took their eyes of the real threat in Afghanistan to manufacture one in Iraq.