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Musicians Know Best

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Okay, I’m convinced – time to turn over the government to musicians because if we enjoy their music, then surely they know what’s best regarding foreign policy. I think the judgment shown in letting rip with a fireworks display in a crowded broom closet speaks well of musicians everywhere.

What’s that you say? It’s not fair to tar all musicians for the dangerous mindlessness of a few? It makes at least as much sense as turning to musicians for advice on the affairs of state. I love musicians, I AM a musician at least on some level, but as a class, musicians are some of the most insular, unrealistic, blind, dogmatic people I know. This may be great for making art, but it is really bad for making public policy:

    Russell Simmons & David Byrne Organize New Anti-War Initiative

    Hip Hop, Rock Stars Launch “Musicians United to Win Without War,” Sending Message to Fans: Use Tough Inspections, Work with Allies through the UN to
    Disarm Saddam Hussein, DON’T INVADE & OCCUPY IRAQ

    New York City – Building on the momentum of the week’s events, artists spanning the contemporary musical spectrum gathered today to announce the
    creation of yet another arm of the anti-war movement. From Jay-Z to Dave
    Matthews to Emmylou Harris, members of the coalition represent the potential
    mobilization of hundreds of millions of Americans whose voices have not been
    heard yet; audiences often left untapped, but powerful forces that can spell
    trouble for the Administration in its move towards a preemptive attack.

    “In the rush to war, the voices of reason and debate have been trampled and
    ignored. Musicians United to Win Without War represents a diverse group that
    feels that war is not an inevitable, forgone conclusion” said David Byrne, former lead singer and guitarist with Talking Heads and a co-founder of the latest addition to the national grassroots anti-war campaign.

    “Iraq’s been contained for 12 years,” added Russell Simmons, the legendary co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and one of hip hop’s most influential leaders. “Hundreds of thousands don’t have to die. Stand up, demonstrate, and have your voice heard,” Simmons urged fans worldwide.

    “What we are facing is a complex and multi-faceted problem. Simply bombing
    Iraq would only create more problems, making an already bad situation much
    worse,” said REM’s Michael Stipe.

    The launch follows on the heels of record-setting protests across the globe and a “virtual march” on Washington that jammed phone and fax lines and flooded email boxes in every Senate office throughout the day on Wednesday. A full-page ad, signed by dozens of hip-hop and rock performers, also ran that day in the New York Times.

    “Our groundswell of support is clearly growing as more and more Americans
    begin to reject the Administration’s arguments for war,” said Tom Andrews,
    former Congressman and National Director of Win Without War.

    Members of Musicians United to Win Without War include:

    Laurie Anderson
    Eric Benet
    T. Bone Burnett
    Kandi Burriss
    Busta Rhymes
    David Byrne
    Blu Cantrell
    Capone & Noreaga
    Rosanne Cash
    Dave Chavarri
    George Clinton
    Sheryl Crow
    Ani DiFranco
    Steve Earle
    Missy Elliott
    Brian Eno
    Fat Joe
    Free & AJ
    Jagged Edge
    Peter Gabriel
    Emmylou Harris
    Joe Henry
    Natalie Imbruglia
    Daniel Johns
    Donnell Jones
    K-Ci & Jo Jo
    Angeliique Kidjo
    Kronos Quartet
    L’il Mo
    John Leventhal
    Christian Machado
    Massive Attack
    Dave Matthews
    Natalie Merchant
    Mobb Deep
    Ann Nesby
    Pharoahe Monch
    Lou Reed
    Raphael Saadiq
    Ryuichi Sakamoto
    Russell Simmons
    Bubba Sparxx
    Sonic Youth
    David Sylvian
    Suzanne Vega
    Caetano Veloso
    Lucinda Williams
    Bryce Wilson
    The Youngbloods
    Zap Mama

    Win Without War is a mainstream voice advocating alternatives to unilateral action or preemptive strikes. The coalition consists of 32 organizations including the National Council of Churches, MoveOn.org, the NAACP, NOW, the Sierra Club, and Artists United to Win Without War. It supports tough United Nations inspections to disarm Saddam Hussein and opposes a US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

This group is trying to find support with centrists: note the “mainstream voice” language. The arguments are the same however, and are specious.

First, there aren’t “hundreds of millions Americans” to mobilize against the war. there are under 300 million Americans in the first place and over half of them favor military action against Saddam.

David Byrne says “the voices of reason and debate have been trampled and ignored”: this is insane, every possible argument in every possible direction has been aired in every possible forum. This would be impossible to miss unles you have been stuck in recording studio with your head up your ass.

Russell, even conceding the point that “Iraq has been contained for 12 years,” what leads you to believe that it can be contained in the future as Saddam continues to develop and accumulate weapons of mass destruction. Wouldn’t you imagine that he is doing so toward some goal? And by the way, the only way “hundreds of thousands are going to die” is if we don’t do anything: the latest estimates of total casualties in an invasion of Iraq range from the hundreds – not hundreds of thousands – to 30,000 if all goes horribly wrong, which isn’t going to happen.

And Michael Stipe, the plan is not to simply “bomb Iraq,” the plan is to overthrow the totalitarian regime of Saddam Hussein and liberate the terrorized citizenry, and, actually, it isn’t all that complicated.

The only thing that has gained “inspections” and “containment” whatever utility it has eked out, has been the credible threat of force, this credible threat cannot be maintained indefinitely, wich is why Saddam is doing all he can to stall, delay and drag things out until, he thinks, we lose our resolve and move on to other issues. Remove a couple of hundred thousand troops from around his borders and remove “containment.” In other words, there is no “winning” without war.

Regarding anti-war protest in general, I completely defend anyone’s right to voice their point of view as forcefully as is reasonable, but I also know words have consequences, as does Max Boot:

    Saddam Hussein’s mouthpiece, the newspaper Babel, which is run by his son, Uday, has praised the demonstrators for inflicting “humiliating international isolation” on Britain and the United States and for ushering in “a new chapter in the global balance of power.” Seeing that his enemies are divided, Hussein has continued to not fully cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. In his defiant interview with Dan Rather, he even sneered at the United Nation’s demand that he destroy his Al-Samoud 2 missiles.

    ….All this should be no great surprise, considering the ignominious history of peace protests over the last century. The record is fairly clear: When the demands of protesters have been met, more bloodshed has resulted; when strong leaders have resisted the lure of appeasement, peace has usually broken out.

    Antiwar movements during the Civil War and the Philippine War of 1899-1902 helped prolong those conflicts by giving false hope to Washington’s enemies.

    ….In 1933, the Oxford Union passed its infamous resolution: “That this House refuses in any circumstances to fight for King and Country.” When Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich in 1938, declaring that he had delivered “peace for our time,” he was greeted by cheering throngs who sang “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Across the Atlantic, the America First Committee mobilized more than 800,000 people to keep the U.S. out of the war.

    ….The Vietnam rallies are usually judged to have been successful because they stopped the killing of Americans in Southeast Asia. The killing of local people is another matter. The U.S. pullout led directly to the communist conquest of Saigon and Phnom Penh in 1975. The results were a human rights disaster. Tens of thousands of South Vietnamese were executed, hundreds of thousands wound up in brutal “reeducation camps” and more than a million sought to escape in leaky boats. It was even worse in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge slaughtered more than a million “class enemies.”

    ….The “peace” crowd remained undiscouraged. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, demonstrators chanted “No blood for oil,” warning that U.S. military intervention would lead to thousands of body bags coming home. If the protesters had been in control, there is little doubt that a nuclear-armed Iraq would now occupy Kuwait and probably some of its neighbors.

    ….It is perhaps too much to expect self-doubt from any political activist, right or left. But given the dismal record of antiwar demonstrations, today’s marchers should heed Oliver Cromwell’s advice to the Kirk of Scotland in 1650: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.” [LA Times]

You can put as many qualifiers like “mainstream” and “patriotic” in the mix as you would like, but you are still providing aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein and egging on his defiance of global will. Keep it in mind.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • The Theory

    that’s one heck of a list of artists.

    however, I tend to disagree sleightly. I play guitar. Does that mean that I have no political intelligence to run for office? You make it sound like just because you have musical talent you have no right to stick your nose into other matters.

    or maybe i just missread you.

    *The Theory… would like to see Tom Petty in control of the music industry, at least*


  • Eric Olsen

    No, I am not saying being a musician disqualifies anyone from anything – just that taken collectively musicians are about the last people I would take advice from on anything other than music. I am saying, why does anyone think that just because someone is a celebrity, he/she knows what the hell they are talking about?

  • I disagree, too. You start by ridiculing them, suggesting we turn the government over to musicians, to poke fun at them, make them seem unimportant or unworthy.

    But they never suggested any such thing. They are merely expressing their opinion, which they have the right to do.

    Why do artists seem to protest the rush to war? Because in this one sense, the rightwing is right — these “media” really are centrist. And the rightwing media can keep leftists off the front pages, but they can’t do much about celebrities, an idea they helped create.

    In the media two weeks ago, the protest of many millions worldwide was given short shrift, at least in my local (“liberal”) newspaper, the Star tribune. (They later apologized.) Reason? Your guy calls protests “focus groups.” I.e., nobodies. But when the idea is expressed via somebodies, you mischaracterize them.

    So how does one get through? Even elections don’t seem to express the will of the people in Bush’s America. He reaches into other countries and overthrows their representative leaders (ministers in Canada and Germany). No one matters but him and his pals. Voters, civilians, musicians — we are just collateral damage waiting to happen.

    Here’s an interesting question. Sure, a lot of apparent Hwood flakes are anti war w/o UN approval. But why are so few good actors and actresses for war regardless of UN approval?

    The hawks are all bad actors — Eastwood, Heston, Schwartzneggar, Sonny Bono (rip), Bruce Willis.

    Why do you suppose this is? Is it because to be a centrist (i.e., to understand a broad spectrum of human nature) requires empathy, as does being a decent actor?

    It could just be fashion, as you imply. But I don’t think so — and you invalidated your point with your first sentence anyway, making a false claim on behalf of the musicians. Live by the sword, die by it!

  • Also, quoting Oliver Cromwell, one of the most unarguably evil, radical, Christian fundamentalist/militarist British-Taliban people who ever lived, the genocidal killer of tens of thousands of children, and the thief of an entire nation, and the detroyer of a rich and brilliant culture, in the name of “rhetorical equity” might not be the best choice, especially when there are cleaner hands to examine, like Hitler’s and Pol Pots.

  • And your last sentence invalidates you, Eric, from ever claiming the high ground of patriotism, or a lover of American values, or a defender of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    War is not to be equated with patriotism. Butchery is not to be equated with virtue. Preemptive strikes are not to be equated with self-defense. Killing people is not the path to peace.

    It is a disgracefully un-American thing to say, and in my opinion, Eric, you will be ashamed of having said it many decades from now. It was a telling moment, a testing moment for your convictions, and you blew it.

    What you said is the perfect kernel of fascism and brutality, and it came out of your ordinarily gentle mouth, and then you hit POST and put it in print.

    This will not reflect well on you. You will think about it for years. Pray top God you do not spen the rst of your life defending it in your mind, and blaming other people for forcing you to it.

    We are accountable for our actions and our words. It’s heavy, man. It’s the difference between having healthy souls and those that live only marginally, in the shadows of brutality and recrimination.

    Be for the war policy — but don’t be against America. Take out Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il — but do not take out Thomas Jefferson.

    There is a precious baby in this bathwater, and you just threw it out.

    I don’t call people traitor, unless they giuve nuclear secrets to the enemy or something. No argument is worth such a terible and grievous accusation. I don’t believe in public hiumiliation, Red Guard style.

    But what you have said is a profoundly negative and aggressive thing to say, particularly for a communicator who is bound by his very calling as writer and thinker and persuader to find common ground, to believe in the power of reason and compromise and democratic process and joint endeavor, to speak decently to those opponents who are also one’s countrymen.

    I weep for America, I truly do, that we have come to this — citizens branding one another, threatening one another, demonizing one another. O tempora, o mores. How can we survive this moment of failure and shame? The kharma, the gathering punishment for our vanity and hubris, is so bad.

    Surely the bad guys have won if we have allowed our values to be so shredded, to behave in so indecent a fashion.

    And the worst is that you redirect people’s gazes from our actual enemies, the Osama bin Ladens of the world who have vowed to destroy us, and have shown their seriousness, for this sideshow political exhibition.

    I say we fight our intractable enemies, to the death if need be, and we bring bring all power and persuasion to bear on those that can be contained and negotiated with (Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel, Palestine).

    If the world agrees Saddam is inbtractable and must be taken out, I am with you 100%. But I will not go against the world in order to “save” it. Nor will decent people anywhere.

    Shock and awe war against all of Islam in an age of suitcase bombs is just a poor plan. They have things that can shock and awe us right back. And they won’t attack “military targets.” They’ll attack our cities and hospitals and schools. They’ll burn us, and we are a weak nation this way. You saw how we have panicked in the wake of 9/11. Has any country gone crazier in history in the wake of such an attack? We are crazy now. This conversation is a moment in the endless shock wave emanating from that event. We are not up to the kind of world war with endless civilian casualties, and perhasps the end of our way of life, you are calling down on us.

    In such a world, in such a dire situation, negotiation must be lifted to the highest possible art. People throughout history have seen negotiation as the only thing separating opposed parties from perpetual war. Today instead, we hear peevishness from people unskilled at nehgotiating — they cannot even put a decent alliance together against an evil dictator — so they do what they WANT to do, rain death on an old enemy.

    This is the most irresponsible attitude in American history since Mccarthyism, which likewise, like you, sought to strip the shield of civil rights away from Americans, by equating their opinions (in a democracy, no less!) with treason.

    You have a child, I believe, Eric. I have two. We are not the sole possessors of fire anymore. I can;t indulge myself in these rants. I have to defend my children and their future.

    We have to live in the world. Bombing people is no way to run any kind of relationship. Let’s be adults, and respect one another, and work toward rational solutions.

  • Eric Olsen

    Mike, you are a very emotional person, and rather qick to jump to extreme conclusions. I made it very clear that everyone is entitled to express their opinion. I defend everyone’s right to disagree with me. I believe I prove that by encouraging free expression right here and by trying to keep the discourse relatively civil and opinions respected, regardless of perspective.

    I stand by the last point as purely a matter of fact: express your opinion, that opinion has consequences. I didn’t make up the part about Saddam drawing encouragement from anti-war protests – it’s simply a matter of fact. I don’t wish to prohibit, or even inhibit, people from expressing themselves, only to remind them that they do not express themselves in a vaccuum.

    Regarding others matters of fact, I have three children 18, 15 and 3, and I take their lives and the world they are going to live in very seriously – all the more reason why it is critical to resolve the situation in Iraq and to begin the process of reforming the Arab world.

    You have the crucial points exactly wrong: sometimes “bombing” – war – is exactly what is needed to make the world a better place, to create an environment where real peace, lasting peace, not just the temporary cessation of conflict, can be fostered. This is exactly one of those times.

  • mike

    Hey, did you know that if Hitler was alive today, he would draw encouragement from the collapse of Soviet Communism and conclude that all his efforts were not in vain; and also be thankful to Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party for their role in bringing this about? He might say, “Well, now, those right wing Republicans are great: they hate Communism as much as I did.

    I’m pointing this out simply as matter of fact, not because I’m trying to make any inferences.

  • Tom

    Nice to see someone else feels the same way I do. Looking to celebrities for political messages is like asking your neighbor – pure opinion. What I don’t like is the way celebrities act like it is their duty to present the Truth to us, as if they have been imbued with a special power to see things we normal people can’t. And most often, their opinion is fueled by very biased information – as you note, Stipe looks only at the very act of war and not the outcome.

    How have we “redirect[ed] people’s gazes from our actual enemies, the Osama bin Ladens of the world”? The war on terror is very much ongoing – we just don’t hear much about it because, as Bush and administration pointed out when it began, it was going to be very slow and very long. If you’re not paying attention you may miss the reports – but we are definitely seeking and finding terror cells all over the world.

    Eric’s final statement, that those who oppose war are “providing aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein and egging on his defiance of global will”, and which Mike Finley rails against, is absolutely true. Those who oppose war may not be INTENTIONALLY standing behind Saddam, but he *is* using that as support for him and his regime. Do you really want to lend support to someone like this?

    The problem with the war protestors is that they cannot see past the act of war. They cannot see that Saddam is not complying because he wants to get in good with the rest of the world, he is doing so because it will cause further strife among the pro- and anti-war contingents, particularly among those in the UN Security Council. He has agreed “in principle” to destroy his missles, but also somehow claims he does not know how to destroy them. Crush them, blow them up, whatever – do something that prevents them from ever functioning again. This is yet another stalling tactic. He claims he’ll destroy them in order to stave off a vote in favor of war, but he has yet to actually do so. And while he may begin destroying them, there is no requirement on how many per day, etc. – he may simply destroy one a day, knowing that he is *technically* complying without really having to sacrifice the majority of his weapons.

    If Saddam would drop the BS and simply do what the UN says – and made it EASY for the UN to do so, I would be as against the war as any anti-war protestor. But he is not doing that, and is making a mockery of the process by continuing to toss little nuggets to the world – a “lost” weapon magically found by his people here, a hand-written document of chem/bio weapons destruction there. But nothing he does is an earnest attempt to disarm, despite his claims to the contrary.

    Mike Finley called out Eric based on one sentence that actually is true, then proceeded to make abusive comments not about the subject but about the writer himself, resorting to using his children as a bargaining chip. That’s low and entirely uncalled for. And comments like “Nor will decent people anywhere” only disservice your argument, Mike, because it puts you in the position of being the Good, the “decent,” and anyone else who opposes you as the Bad. And that’s just plain wrong.

  • Eric Olsen

    The totalitarian extremes on both sides of the political spectrum seem to have curved around and joined each other in tactics and respect for the individual.

    John Kennedy contributed as much to the downfall of communism as Reagan did.

    The point is: supplying hope to a mortal enemy can have very real and dangerous consequences.

    However, I still believe that everyone should speak their conscience.

  • The Theory

    protesting war in a backword way “encourages” Saddam… sure.

    and your phone provider supports pornography.

    are you against abortion? you better check on the companies of the products you buy. many of them are using your money to support abortion clinics.

    watching MTV promotes the degradation of women.

    etc etc.

    What I’m saying is that many of our actions have backwords consequences. That does not mean we support the things. But neither do I nessisarily think that that means we should stop speaking our opinion.


  • mike

    Hey, did you also know that the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan was encouraging to Libya, Syria and other secular Arab dictatorships that fear religous extremism, and also to Iran, which hated the Taliban? By destroying the Taliban, we gave aid and comfort, and encouraged the oppressive behavior of, these wretched dictatorhips.

    I’m pointing this out simply as a matter of fact, not to make any inferences.

  • mike

    And are you aware that our defeat of Nazism gave aid and comfort to Stalin, and helped him consolidate his dictatorship? By defeating Hitler, we helped insure the survival of the brutal Soviet dictator. So anyone who supported the U.S. in World War II is automatically a supporter of Stalinist Communism, and has blood on his hands.

    I’m pointing this out simply as a matter of fact, not to make any inferences.

  • The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak — was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:





    What is most depressing about Eric’s post is the assumption that citizens have no role or voice in government. Essentially, Yanks are merely subjects of a corporate oligarchy (please feel free to provide me with contrary evidence).

    Maybe it’s just the anarcho-libertarian-social-democrat-cyberpunk in me, but the fact that the Canadian Ministry of External Affairs has recommended it is not safe for Canadian citizens to travel to the States, seems to indicte your government is going postal, and taking the rest of us with them.

    But it’s not just me, it is your diplomats too. (from the NYTimes)

    The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.

    The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism. But rather than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?

  • It’s true. I am an emotional person.

    I apologize if I crossed a line. But I felt you, Eric, crossed a line into grim territory with this:

    “You can put as many qualifiers like ‘mainstream’ and ‘patriotic’ in the mix as you would like, but you are still providing aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein and egging on his defiance of global will. Keep it in mind.”

    That sentence is:

    untrue (shades of gray do exist in the world, contraty to Safire’s ridiculous attack on the “yes, but” crowd last week)

    unfair (our obligation here is not to have a perfect report card Saddsam-Husseinwise, but to do THE RIGHT THING by our values and our consciences)

    and un-American (it is our right and duty as Americans to speak our mind, and those who seek to intimidate us from those rights stand in opposition to the deepest values of the fonding fathers)

    … and ain’t no one gonna change that.

    Bombing innocent people is wrong. Particularly if the whole world advises you against it, and you do it anyway, in contempt of them, and in defiance of their right to life, liberty, and the rest.

    But I’m emoting. Not that you’re emoting when you pee all over musicians fopr expressing their opinions.

    Is it emotional to say that David Byrne has his head up his ass? I think it is, but I don’t know what name the emotion has.

    I’m passionate out of conviction. Your “logic” is also passion — note the name-calling and contempt throughout your piece. Not exactly Betrand Russell, m’lord.

    And Eric, how logical is it to say that Brian Eno, etc. are lame because you know musicians, and they are lame?

    I’ve had my say, which is all I can expect, I suppose. But you should know that you’re not just preaching to a right wing choir, here, Eric.

    I know, you say you’re a progressive, and that is not incompatibe with subscribing to the war plan. Lots of liberals are aboard for the war. But it is antithetical to shitting on Americans for expressing their views.

  • Eric Olsen

    There are a few different issues here:

    1) I don’t object to anyone speaking their mind, I encourage it, it’s crucial for a democracy, but

    2) I object to celebrities being given the serious policy spotlight simply because they ARE celebrities. Why should being a good singer, songwriter, rapper, guitarist, etc., make anyone think that these people know shit about anything else. Advice in their field? Sure, but why are they given the spotlight on any other subject?

    I object to the young and impressionable being influenced by what celebrities have to say because they ARE celebrities so they get the spotlight, and they are revered by many of their fans so their opinions are given greater weight than that of a postal worker or grape picker.

    3) Whoever speaks out on any subject should know that what they say will have consequences, and just because the consequences are unintended – as Tom mentioned – doesn’t mean they aren’t real. There is nothing whatsoever un-American about saying that.

    I could just as easily say that making pro-war statements have consequences as well, and it would still be true. I just happen to think that is the right thing to say right now, and the right thing to do.

    4) This ritualistic litany about bombing innocents has got to go. However many innocents are unintentionally bombed, there will be 10,000-times more innocents liberated from brutal, sadistic rule. THAT is the moral crux of the matter. Your argument would logically NEVER take action for fear of the consequences.

    Is Afghanistan better off now than before we started bombing their innocents? I and 99% of Afghani’s vote yes. I am very sorry for the innocent dead, but I am very happy for the liberated living.

    No human action is ever perfect – to demand perfection is to demand inaction. That is not moral.

  • Yah, that David Byrne, he’s just a hearthrob. Now why can’t the kidz just do as they are told, we’d have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!

    As for brutal, sadistic rule, what’s up with Columbia? Just wondering.

    As for Afghanistan, now that they’ve been hung out to dry by the US government, where’s the liberation? If I recall correctly, liberation comes from within, it is not imposed, like regieme change. So the Afghanis go from a Pakistani based religious government to a warlord-based government. Don’t see much liberation. Just more poverty, brutality and landmines.

    Give me one nation under a groove, elect George Clinton!

  • Eric Olsen

    Do you mean Columbia Records or Colombia the country? Jim, even you can’t tell me Afghanistan isn’t better off now than under the Taliban – and, give me a huge fucking break: no change is going to come from within a totalitarian country like Iraq unless the “totalitarian” part is removed. Once again: anti-American at every possible turn. What’s the point?

  • Do you mean Columbia Records or Colombia the country? Jim, even you can’t tell me Afghanistan isn’t better off now than under the Taliban – and, give me a huge fucking break: no change is going to come from within a totalitarian country like Iraq unless the “totalitarian” part is removed. Once again: anti-American at every possible turn. What’s the point?

    Well considering this, you may have a point.

    As for Afghanistan, from the articles I read in Globe and Mail, and see on CBC teevee, the country doesn’t seem any better off than in the last 30 years. Maybe I just ain’t buying into the propaganda, who knows?

    You still haven’t responded to any of my fact based postings. Simply just hiding behind the “anti-American” shield isn’t cutting it. My point is that your government has dis-associated itself from the citizens, is a grave danger to the peace and security of the rest of the world, and is run by a corporate oligarchy.

    Let’s face it, the world hates the ugly American, get over it. You are fat, ignorant bullies. Be honest and accept that.

  • Eric Olsen

    Nope, no anti-Americanism there. By the way I am 6’1″, 180 pounds, have low body fat, am well-educated and hate bullies.

    Your generalizations are absurd.

  • Wow, you’re really channeling your own inner Jann Brady, aren’t ya, sweetcheeks?

    I wasn’t talking about _you_, I was talking about your disfunctional upper-management controlled country which has delusions of democracy.

    Fitting that you don’t address any of my points about oligarchy, militarism, or outright disrespect of the Talking Heads.

  • I’ve felt bad about this all day. I agree I was too emotional. (But that is a cheap shot, too — everyone writes emotionally here. Just that my motions were anger and “judgment,” and other people’s were contempt, sarcasm, and being snooty. It’s not like I was the sole exception to the rule of logic here.

    I just think this is a very dark hour for our country, and we’re cursed with poor leadership just when we need leadership of the very best sort. We need a Lincoln, but we’ve got a Harding — worse, at least Harding had no “principles.”

    We need wise judgment and suprerior communications skills. What we’ve got is rash behavior, an eccentrically “moral” approach to the complexity of international affairs, and a zeal for using raw power we have never seen in this country before. We’re in a terrible spot.

    Everyone I know is on a losing streak, losing their jobs, their benefits, their hopes. And instead of addressing this massive transformation in American life, from a realm of relative security to precious little, we get this bullheaded, injudicious adventurism. Even 41 is rebuffed, when he has Scowcroft appeal to the White House by NYT editorial.

    Now, add to this, that if you disagree with the president, peaheads call you a traitor. I’ve disagreed with presidents all my life, and I plan to continue the practice, unless one of them does something right. That doesn’t make me a traitor, it makes me sentient.

    In school, they teach you that’s a good thing. But, they teach logic there, too.

    How you think this is a good thing bewilders me to bits. I’m trying like the devil to empathize, but it isn’t working. It’s too easy, too canned. Where is the seat and tears that led to this conclusion that the right thing to do is commence killing people you don’t know?

    That seems emotional, too.

    It can’t happen both ways the administration forecasts, Eric: happy liberated throngs PLUS a kazillion shock ‘n’ awe cruise missiles targeting Baghdad. I’m no psychologist, but I know enough that people will side with a tyrant they hate when attacked by a powerful outsider that have reason to doubt. What do they call it, the Stockholm syndrome — siding with your captor?

    Just like I would be if someone attacked our country, even with Mr. Bush in the Oval Office — I would fight to the death to defend it — maybe (who knows what theyw ould really do). It wouldn’t have anything to do with Bush. It’s our country at stake. I sure wouldn’t rush out and say “Hurray for Canada.”

    Of course, some will be grateful. But what algorithm do we run that justifies the rescue of some by the obliteration of others? Especially where there are a lot?

    It is not true that my position is “perfection.” Asw I said before, I appreciate that there are shades of gray here perhaps more than you. I see specific downsides to our attacking a Muslim country — a PR disaster for the west that we may pay for for many years with our own blood.

    There are many ways to undo a tyrant. I wrote a book about this, Transcompetition. It sold over 3000 copies worldwide, too — so you know who you’re dealing with. None are guaranteed, but none guarantee the deaths of innocents, either. They use politics — leveraging the will of the people to stop even a tyrant like Misolevic.

    I was for the UN’s actions in 1991 against Saddam.
    I was for the bombing of Yugoslavia. I was for the attack on Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, which was far from “perfect.” Clearly the Taliban was horboring the people who attacked our country. Civilians died, and that was bad, but we were justifed in cleaning Al Qaeda out of that country.

    But Iraq is not like these situations. We have no American-killing enemies hiding there. Iraq has not killed any Americans. They appear not to have a nuclear program, and it is an open question whether they have or do not have chemical and biological weapons. No harm is done by screwing around with them until we establish that they do or do not have them.

    Why start a second war, one that is not absolutely necessary, when you are already involved in a one war, which is absolutely necessary?

    We have alreadsy seen how the original war has disappeared from the headlines, because we are so intent on Iraq. Why? You say it’s not oil, or globalpolitik. It’s for the good of the Iraqi people. Several reasons have been advanced. It changes almost by the month.

    Beware of the crocodile’s tears. Bush was 100% uninterested in the Taliban’s oppression of women until 9/11. Only when we bombed hell out of that country did we use the liberation of the women — who, by the way, continue to be oppressed — as our glorious rationale. Once bitten, twice shy, as Great White said.

    my position prevents any kind of intervention. We interact with other nations all the time,

  • Mm, last line was a dangler … please ignore.

  • Dawn

    Are you telling me that is ugly? Well I say you are a fucking moron. All of you dumbasses who disagree with Eric are morons. As his wife I am entitled to say so!

    Oh yeah, and Jim Carruthers, FUCK YOU!

  • Oh yeah, and Jim Carruthers, FUCK YOU!

    WhooHoo, at last I get laid, so, when and where Dawn? And does Eric mind? We could video tape it for his perusal later.

  • What did I do to piss you off this time – baybee!

  • I am saying, why does anyone think that just because someone is a celebrity, he/she knows what the hell they are talking about?

    Well, why does anyone think that just because someone is a politician that THEY know what they’re talking about?

  • Or a person with a free weblog account, for that matter.

    None os us has good information, that being the famous first casualty of war. So we have to go with our experience and our judgment.

    My sister has lived in France for 30 years. I have often disagreed with some of the French stands on issues, like they opposed Reagan bringing down the plane with the Ardea Lauro hijackers in it (who killed Leon Klinghoffer).

    The French described Reagan’s act as destabilizing; we saw them as mincing around in the presence of evil.

    But this is not that. France has a conservative government. It believes in NATO (as do I) It has interests in Iraq (as do we).

    I lack great info. But I trust France more on this issue than I do Colin Powell, who has told too many untruths in the past month, and badly tarnished his reputation.

    To be anti-administration, of course, is to be anti-American to those who have evidently sworn fealty to the administration, anfd to bully all who disagree with it. Think Brownshirts. Think Michael Savage. Think riots in streets of palm Beach.

    So be it, and we’ll see what the voters say next time — if this administration permits another election.

    We are all living on borrowed time, and Ann Coulter is right, we can all die, even though we have mighty weapons.

  • Dawn

    Jim, I suggest as our northern neighbors you Canadians better mind your p’s and q’s, you never know when the American Cowboy might rise up and strike your Francy pants down with our iron fists of outrage.

    All the punditry in the world cannot undue our moral obligation to kick Saddam Hussein’s ass. The war on terrorism isn’t over, and Iraq is country #1 on a long list of places I hope find small insignificant excuses to piss us off.

    I (and believe it or not MOST AMERICANS) have grown weary of our country’s giving nature to the rest of the world. Let’s see what would happen should the U.S. decide to stop giving aid to the entire FUCKING world because we are sick of anti-American attitudes like yours. Just because God saw it fit to give you just enough brain cells for you to be able to sputter out words in order to make complete sentences, doesn’t mean what you say is important.

    Jim, I here and now say, you suck the biggest ass ever. I wish I could drive up to your worthless country and kick your ass, but not unlike your pussy French friends, you would just come out waving a white flag.

  • Finally, we’ve put emotion behind us.

    Good show on Nightline about “just war” theology last night. Not coincidentally, fundamentalists approved of the moral rightness of a preemptive strike on Iraq, and mainstreamers saw it as unjustifed — (organized) religion exactly mirroring what is happening in the U.S.

  • Eric Olsen

    Look, back to reality: Mike and Dawn are emotional, Jim and I are smartasses. I love everybody.

    As to he facts: I see Iraq as the same war, I don’t distinguish between Saddam and al Qaeda. Attacking Iraq will – and I realize this is contrary to intuition – not make us more unpopular in the Islamic world, but begin to turn public opinion around, if we follow through and stick around to make sure the country gets off on the right foot.

    As far as internal struggle and tears: I am able to separate myself from the emotion to try to make the best decision based upon logic. Is this cold? Yes, but emotion foten obscures logic – emotion is, I believe, the entire foundation of the anti-war movement this time around because I sure can’t see the logic.

    The question is: is war better or worse than the consequences of non-war? I say non-war is much worse in this case, people will die either way and that is what the anti-war side refuses to acknowledge – people die as a direct result of Saddam Hussein’s regime every day and they will continue to do so until he is gone.

    I would wish to avoid personal attacks henceforth here, please. Thanks.

  • Maybe, maybe you all are masked Israelis? Reading all this heated and friendly debate I feel mostly at home, as this is the language of debate so often frequent in my country (especially on a “politica” discussion on TV and in the Knesset (Parliament).
    But then I remember that back in 1976 in London during a scorching and most unusual heat wave, I had the same feeling. The British lost their cool and even the policemen were far from being polite. Everybody was swearing! So, it’s all a question of weather…
    In my Sodot book (sorry, still only in Hebrew) a Christian lover says to Anna, his Jewish girlfriend, “The Jews are always knowing all the answers, right?!”
    To which she answers, “My name is Anna.”
    Then tears come to his eyes and he says, “Forgive me. I’m such an ignorant.”
    And indeed, every musician has a name, and so has every human being. Is it right to assume that the silent majority has no objection, that silence always signals acceptance? Not everybody knows to sing or prefers to do so in a choir alone. The beauty of humanity is that we are so versatile and different, that every human being has a unique personality. Would you like to live in a world where everybody walks in step with the Leader? This is the universe of Saddam Hussein, an universe we agree has no right of existence, not only in Iraq etc but also not in our Western democracies. When you use the “Do not supply hope to the Enemy” argument, the danger is that you might become the Enemy mirrored. It is an old saying that teaches, “Choose well your enemy, because you might become him.” We cannot choose the enemy, but we still can choose not to adopt its arguments.
    Regretfully, I must say that in my country this sort of arguments has gained much ground. Nothing is more persuasive than fear and hatred. So, we have stopped providing the Hammass with Hope. The result is that Despair aids them even more.
    Life could have been so much better if we knew beforehand which is the right path to go. Since we do not know, and since to a large extent our ignorance is fabricated by The Leaders everywhere, even in our enlighted democracies, we must voice our gut feelings, we must balance the self assurance of our goverments with our huge question mark. Of course we are all living inside our skins, and a far away human life has no face. But what if Iraq was in Alabama, now, in 2003, with USA’s present technology, not two hundred twenty seven years ago? Won’t you rather ask, demand of your goverment to first try any diplomatic means possible, the UN, etc, and then hit only well defined military targets?
    It has worked some twenty years ago when Israel hit the nuclear Iraqi plant. For sure it can be implemented today with the much higher technology USA has access to now.
    By the way, while we are debating, there is a war going on in Iraq.

  • Eric, the fact you wake up every morning next to Dawn and are still alive is a tribute to your manhood.

    That said, I would like to point out that I think regime change is good. In fact I would like to see changes in the autocracy in China, Pakistan, the USA, Russia, Canada, and all around the world. However, I don’t think unilateral war is the way to do it. I don’t trust Bush, he has no credibility. Open source government, now and forever.

  • Eric Olsen

    I wish all to speak their minds. I also want minimal damage to the Iraqi infrastructure because I want minimum possible damage to civilians and because we are going to have to rebuild everything we destroy – and much much more. Thanks C – you are a voice from somewhere very deep.

  • Eric Olsen

    Jim, whatever this war may be, it will not be “unilateral.”

  • Jim, I here and now say, you suck the biggest ass ever. I wish I could drive up to your worthless country and kick your ass, but not unlike your pussy French friends, you would just come out waving a white flag.

    Just to clarify, I spent seven years in the Canadian Navy as the only Cook / Combat Diver, which means I can kill your ass with both explosives and the salmon mousse.

    The reason I think a war with Iraq is stupid is because I have first hand experience in the military. I don’t want to serve in a stupid, pointless war and don’t think anybody else should have to either.

    As a point of reference, Canadians are stone cold killers when asked to be. The rest of time we are the nice quiet neighbours who never attracted any notice.

  • We in Minnesota try to get along with Canadians. Cross lines with them on fishing rights and you sleep with the walleye.

  • We in Minnesota try to get along with Canadians. Cross lines with them on fishing rights and you sleep with the walleye.

    Not for nothing did David Cronenberg have a cameo in “To Die For” with Illeana Douglas skating over Nicole Kidman’s corpse. Did I mention I have an autographed copy of his filmography?

    Yes, you look so, how should we say, morbid?