micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Saturday, September 28, 2002
I quoted Jim Henley in the previous entry and so it is nice to see that he has since written a post on the same topic. Henley makes two points that interest me. First:
For the next phase of the conflict over the conflict, UO sees two issues: First, the "soft opposition" to conquering Iraq is going to have to decide which way to jump. UO suspects that if you assign primacy to keeping weapons of some destruction out of the hands of Saddam Hussein, as many administration critics do, you're ultimately going to have to come down on the pro-war side.No disagreement here. This is largely why I have argued that the anti-war activists should concentrate on the larger imperial plans of the White House.
Long-term, any opposition to the war has to cluster around one of two sets of principles, which we'll tentatively - and tendentiously - call "pro-american" and "anti-american."As Henley anticipates, I for one have problems with these labels. I am anti-war but consider myself to be neither pro- nor anti-American. Moreover, I agree with parts, but not all, of both positions.
I do believe that an interventionist foreign policy is the most sure way to assume that there are always going to be people who wish to attack the U.S. “Deterrence” via the U.S. military runs the risk of becoming imperial IMHO.
And I do believe the U.S. does “deserve to be secure from other countries' arsenals” but so does every other country. I do not believe that the U.S. has a greater right to not be threatened by other countries than do other countries and I believe that in attempting to prevent other countries from becoming or remaining a threat that the U.S. will have to be in a position to threaten other countries more than those countries can threaten the U.S. Preventing other countries from being a threat is unobtainable and attempting to reach that goal is necessarily unjust.
I also am of the opinion that other countries have a right to be a threat to the U.S. so long as the U.S. is a threat to them. Thus Iraq, in my estimation, has a right to nuclear weapons.
The practical definition of a “rogue state” is a state that the U.S. doesn’t like so I don’t think of the U.S. as being in that category, despite yesterday’s joke. I do believe that the U.S. is a greater threat to the population of the world than any other country not because it is more nefarious than every other country but rather because the U.S. is the only country with a realistic chance of putting its imperial ideology into practice around the world.
I don’t know what the “international community” is exactly and I have doubts about the U.S. being involved in such a project without trying to dominate it for its own interests.
Violent action against U.S. hegemony can be justified in my opinion although it is not always the smartest or effective move. At least as importantly, violence against the U.S. by opponents of U.S. hegemony is going to happen so long as the U.S. continues its attempt to more or less run the world. I have long believe that and my first reaction last year on September 11 to people wailing about “how could this happen?” was “Did you actually think something like this wasn’t going to happen?” If anything, I’m surprised by how little terrorism there is against the U.S.
It is tragic when civilians die but I don’t believe that U.S. citizens are justified in complaining about anything happening to Americans that the U.S. government has done to other people around the world. And I do believe that if killing U.S. civilians would lead to preventing the U.S. government from killing a greater number of people around the world, then killing the Americans would be justified. I am uncomfortable saying that both because I do not want to see Americans die and because the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 show that the average American and virtually no policy maker respond to seeing American civilians die by saying, “maybe we shouldn’t kill civilians.”
I’m not sure what “camp” I belong to or how many people share my beliefs. I think that all anti-interventionist sentiment is positive if only because limiting the imperial ambitions is a good thing. And yet Henley is right to say:
The problem for any effective antiwar movement will be, of course, that the two tendencies will instinctively despise each other. That can limit cooperation.“Despise” might be a little bit strong but I will say that I am uncomfortable with arguments against intervention that depend solely on the risks that will be faced by members of the U.S. military and the U.S. public. Short of humanity’s elimination, the U.S. is able to match the damage that any country or group can do to it. Yes Americans might die but a lot of non-Americans will die if the U.S. continues its current foreign policy. And since I do not value the lives of Americans any more than those of non-Americans, I find that to be the larger issue.
I want to thank Henley for this excellent sketch of one issue faced by anti-interventionists. I would like to briefly expand on what he said by posing a question.
Conflicts between anti-interventionists are interesting but a separate, and perhaps more interesting, question is what can anti-interventionist movement do in the foreseeable in future to rein in the White House? In other words, what can stop Bush and those who follow him from regularly knocking off governments they don’t like and justifying it as a preemptive strike?
There isn’t an easy answer and yet it is a question that needs to be asked, and answered.