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I want the US to lose the war in Iraq

 
 
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 08:35 pm
"Can an American want the United States to lose the war in Iraq and still be patriotic?"

This was a question posed to Prof. Lawrence Lessig in a recent broadcast of Bill O'Reilly's cable show. Now, as Lessig correctly points out, this is a loaded question: "It not-so-subtly implies that those who oppose the war want the United States to lose and, even worse, want American soldiers to die." Even without the McCarthyite implications, the question is problematic: what would it mean, after all, to "lose" the war in Iraq? As far as I can tell, no one has ever figured out what would constitute victory in the war, so it seems that we can't even define "defeat" as simply the absence of victory.

Lessig, for his part, contended that "a patriotic citizen could in principle want the nation to lose a war if the war is unjust and if losing meant that fewer American soldiers would die for no good reason." I think that's a fair statement. It does, however, require some further elaboration. What exactly does it mean for a war to be "unjust?" And at what point can we say that soldiers are dying "for no good reason?"

As to the first point, libraries could be filled with the books written on the question of "just war" theory; I won't attempt to summarize all of the arguments, dating back to Thomas Aquinas and earlier, regarding the problem. We should, however, be able to agree that waging war in contravention to international agreements is, at least prima facie, "unjust." If a nation has pledged itself to obey certain rules before initiating aggression, and if we hold that such promises are both legally and ethically binding, then its failure to abide by those rules is manifestly unjust -- and that is true even if the object of the aggression is, by all measures, an evil, cruel, intolerable regime.

Furthermore, a war that is unjust in its origins does not gain legitimacy by virtue of the passage of time or by the fact that, having once initiated the conflict unjustly, the aggressor comports itself honorably and in accordance with the laws and usages of war (that's the difference between jus ad bellum and jus in bello). Nor is an unjust war made any better by the noble intentions or worthy goals of the initiator. In other words, a war that starts out unjust will remain unjust, and the initiator of such a war has only one obligation: to end it and to make the appropriate amends.

The question, then, is whether this war is an unjust war. I've posted some of my thoughts on this subject elsewhere. Just to summarize those remarks and to make my opinion clear, I think the US's attack on Iraq constituted an illicit war of aggression, contrary to the UN Charter and international law, and that the persons responsible for the decision to attack should be held legally accountable for their actions. The war in Iraq, in short, is an unjust war.

Having resolved this question, it becomes rather simple to assess whether or not US troops are dying "for no good reason." It is, I would contend, never a good reason to die in an unjust war. Indeed, the only honorable response for an individual to take would be to refuse to fight in such a conflict, just as an aggressor nation's only honorable response is to cease hostilities and attempt to rectify its wrongs. And that, in sum, is what I want the US to do.

To be sure, an immediate cessation of hostilities would require an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. That's true, and I want that as well. Of course, such a precipitous withdrawal would undoubtedly lead to chaos -- although it might be difficult to distinguish that chaos from the chaos that currently reigns in Iraq, but at least fewer Americans would be dying. It is, nevertheless, incumbent upon the US not only to cease its aggression but to make amends, i.e. to make it so that Iraq is in no worse position than it was before the war, and preferably to make it better. This is no place to lay out all the possible scenarios for this to happen; I believe, however, that it is at least conceivable both for the US to withdraw and for it to take steps necessary to make Iraq a stable, peaceful state. And since it is possible, it must be done: to do otherwise would be to act unjustly.

Now, for most people, such an immediate withdrawal would signal defeat for the US. As I mentioned before, I'm not quite sure what "defeat" means in this context, but if immediate withdrawal means we are defeated then so be it. Better that we admit defeat and recognize our obligations under international law than to prosecute an unjust, lawless conflict.

I'm sure that Bill O'Reilly and his kind would say that no patriotic American could hold such a position. Does that mean that I'm not a "patriot?" Well, I want the US to stand for legitimacy and order in the world. I want it to uphold its promises and fulfill its solemn obligations. I want it to cease acting in a way that threatens not only its own safety but the very fabric of international society. I want it to avoid acting in a way that threatens to destroy an international regime of laws that, up to now, has only benefitted it. Truly, if a patriot wants the best for his country, then there is no one more patriotic than me.

So, can an American want the United States to lose the war in Iraq and still be patriotic? Yes. And I am one of those Americans.

EDIT: corrected some spelling errors
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 08:53 pm
Well said.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 08:54 pm
Good one, Joe.
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Larry434
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:13 pm
Well, that certainly turns the definition of what a patriot is on its head.

Patriot: : one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:15 pm
Yeppers Larry, it sure does. Then again there's always the possibility that people will start to think for themselves. (I doubt it)
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:18 pm
Joe, that was excellent and I agree with you completely.
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:23 pm
Larry434 wrote:
Well, that certainly turns the definition of what a patriot is on its head.

Patriot: : one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests


A patriot supports it's countries authority....a true patriot recognizes when the leaders of the country are overstepping their authority and putting it's citizens at risk and speaks out.....whether popularly or not.....motivated by love for his/her country.....
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Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:34 pm
The correct answer is "No." I have never thought that someone who was against the Iraq war was unpatriotic for that reason alone. Dissent is fine ... speaking one's mind against the war is fine. However, if you want the US to lose the war in Iraq, you are rooting for the enemy. Anybody who roots for the enemy in a battle against their own country, is not a patriot in my book. They are decidedly unpatriotic. You can spin it how you want, but I question your patriotism if you are rooting AGAINST the US.

Just earlier this evening we saw a thread on "Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty" where various liberals were trying to discount patriotism ... as if it's actually a bad thing. Now we're being advised that those who are against the war, and beyond that are in fact against the US, are full of "patriotism"? Hogwash.
blueveinedthrobber
 
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Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:36 pm
not discounting patriotism...but the recent definition and application of it...big difference.....
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:37 pm
Just exactly why are they the enemy, Tico?
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Ticomaya
 
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Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:39 pm
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
Just exactly why are they the enemy, Tico?


Reason #1: They are shooting at and trying to blow up our troops.

Are they your friends, Gus?
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:41 pm
Ticomaya wrote:
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
Just exactly why are they the enemy, Tico?


Reason #1: They are shooting at and trying to blow up our troops.

Are they your friends, Gus?


Of course they are...we blew half their f*#king country up and then started shooting at them....I don't believe they were shooting at us before that.....it would sure be more convenient if they'd just lie down and let us kill them....but the inconsiderate bastards just won't cooperate....
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Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:52 pm
Bi-Polar Bear wrote:
Ticomaya wrote:
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
Just exactly why are they the enemy, Tico?


Reason #1: They are shooting at and trying to blow up our troops.

Are they your friends, Gus?


Of course they are...we blew half their f*#king country up and then started shooting at them....I don't believe they were shooting at us before that.....it would sure be more convenient if they'd just lie down and let us kill them....but the inconsiderate bastards just won't cooperate....


At which point did they become your friends? When they cut off Nick Berg's head? When they set an improvised explosive device alongside the road so it would blow up scores of Marines driving by?

I don't really care so much if they are your "friends." Others may think that line crossed at some earlier point -- I don't -- but when you start rooting for them over the US, it is precisely at that point that you cross the line with me, and have become unpatriotic.
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neue regel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:54 pm
'we blew half their f*#king country up and then started shooting at them....I don't believe they were shooting at us before that.....it would sure be more convenient if they'd just lie down and let us kill them'

Let's hold the phone here for a second. First, much of the resistance is not even Iraqis but rather terrorists from other countries, engaging our troops. Secondly, we aren't walking around popping caps at the first thing that moves. Do we need a reminder of the beheadings to help us remember that these aren't 'good guys?'

I don't understand the disconnect here.
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  2  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 09:55 pm
they're not my friends...they are people being told they must kill their enemies...just like our people are being told they must do the same...the real enemies here are the handful of leaders...on ALL sides of a war...who force people to kill others in order to be good citizens and patriotic countrymen....they issue their orders from different sides but they will all burn in the same hell for it.....IMO
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blueveinedthrobber
 
  2  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 10:00 pm
and btw I don't want the US to lose the war...I want the war to be over.....the only winners have been the people profiting from the business of war.....I would like to see them brought down.....
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Instigate
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 10:00 pm
We arent fighting the Iraqi people. Just terrorists and some remaining Saddam loyalists This war has had the effect of drawing terrorists out of surrounding Middle Eastern countries into a centralized and open location where they can be more efficiently and quickly destroyed than if they were still dispersed throughout the ME. We've also been able to capture a lot of terrorists from which we can "glean" information on their respective organizations. We wont get them all, but well get a lot of them.
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nimh
 
  4  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 10:04 pm
Ticomaya wrote:
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
Just exactly why are they the enemy, Tico?

Reason #1: They are shooting at and trying to blow up our troops.

You occupied their country.

If your country is occupied, you tend to start shooting at the occupiers.

Since they are now shooting at you, you consider them your enemy.

Question is, would they ever have become your enemy if you hadn't first occupied their country?

Cant really break it down any further than that.

Does "patrotism" really equate with supporting your government in any foolish endeavour it might enter once it entered it, and considering whoever happened to end up the unfortunate brunt of it, and responded with violent resistance, your enemy?
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Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 10:07 pm
Bi-Polar Bear wrote:
they're not my friends...they are people being told they must kill their enemies...just like our people are being told they must do the same...the real enemies here are the handful of leaders...on ALL sides of a war...who force people to kill others in order to be good citizens and patriotic countrymen....they issue their orders from different sides but they will all burn in the same hell for it.....IMO


How nice. The same could be said about the kamikaze pilots who gunned and then slammed their planes into our ships at Pearl Harbor. You might have even considered them your "friends." If you rooted for the Japanese and hoped that they beat the US in WWII, do you think you should be considered "patriotic"?

(And BPB I noted you never said you were rooting for the enemy against the US. You appear to be playing "devils advocate," and that is why I'm engaging you, and not Joe, who appears to be the only one (along with Gus, I suppose) who has admitted to be rooting for the enemy.)
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2004 10:08 pm
The good news is those here that want the US to lose in Iraq are in the minority. Does this type of thinking and the "bad" press get back to those serving and is it disturbing to them? Yes.

Rumsfeld said it best:

Question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, how do we win the war in the media? It seems like that is the place where we're getting beat up more than anybody else. I've been here -- this is my third tour over here, and we have done some amazing things. And it seems like the enemy's Web sites and everything else are all over the media, and they love it. But the thing is, is everything we do good, no matter if it's helping a little kid or building a new school, the public affairs sends out the message, but the media doesn't pick up on it. How do we win the propaganda war?

RUMSFELD: That does not sound like a question that was planted by the press.

(LAUGHTER)

RUMSFELD: That happens sometimes. It's one of the hardest things we do in our country. We have freedom of the press. We believe in that. We believe that democracy can take that massive misinformation and differing of views, and that free people can synthesize all of that and find their way to right decisions.

Out here, it's particularly tough. Everything we do here is harder, because of television stations like Al Jazeera and al-Arabiya and the constant negative approach. You don't hear about the schools are open and the hospitals are open and the clinics are open, and the fact that the stock markets are open and the Iraqi currency is steady, and the fact that there have been something like 140,000 refugees coming from other countries back into this country. They're voting with their feet, because they believe this is a country of the future.

You don't read about that. You read about every single negative thing that anyone can find to report.

I was talking to a group of congressmen and senators the other day, and there were a couple of them who had negative things to say, and they were in the press in five minutes. There were 15 or 20 that had positive things to say about what's going on in Iraq, and they couldn't get on television. Television just said we're not interested. That's just sorry. So, it is, I guess, what's news has to be bad news to get on the press.

And the truth is, however, it gets through eventually. There are people in the United States who understand what's really going on over here. They do understand that thousands of acts of kindness and compassion and support that are taking place all across this country. They do understand that large portions of this country are relatively peaceful. And something like 14 out of 18 of the problems it's had, incidents of down around five a day as opposed to the ones in certain places like Baghdad that are considerably higher.

And the Internet is helping. More and more people are seeing things that are taking the conventional wisdom and critiquing it and arguing it and debating it. And that's a good thing.

So, we are a great country. And we can benefit from having a free press. And from time to time people will be concerned about it. But in the last analysis, look at where we've come as a country, because we have had a free press.

And we've -- I mean, I've got a great deal of confidence in the center of gravity of the American people. What hurts most is in the region, where the neighboring countries whose help we need are constantly being barraged with truly vicious inaccuracies about what's taking place in this country. And it's conscious. It's consistent. It's persistent. And it makes everything we try to do in neighboring countries, where we're looking for support, vastly more difficult.

And we, as a country, don't do that. We don't go out and hire journalists and propagandize and lie and put people on payroll so that they'll say what you want. We just don't do that. And they do. And that's happening. And Al Jazeera is right there at the top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take one more question, and then give a chance for some (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I just have a comment as an officer who is likely going to come under that stop-loss during his time here. I just want to say that there are people who understand the importance of keeping the integrity of a unit, and the stabilization of units is also a very good thing. And I wanted to thank you for that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we do understand that sacrifice comes with us all.

RUMSFELD: Well, God bless you for saying that. It is -- as I say, it is no fun for anybody to have to make that decision that they want to extend somebody beyond when they had every reason to expect they wouldn't be extended, or to have to impose a stop-loss to maintain unit integrity for the benefit of everyone in the unit and the effectiveness of our force.

But we do have to do it from time to time, and I thank you for speaking up and for saying that a great deal. God bless you.

All right, thank you, folks.

(APPLAUSE)

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0412/24/lad.02.html
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