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Sunday, April 13, 2003

An acquaintance of mine emailed me from Kamchatka about the war. I replied.

>Hello, David!
>Has decided to write to you the message in connection with last events in
>the world.
>Our family constantly looks news to find out new messages on events in
>Iraq. It is very a >pity to me, that in this war peace citizens suffer.
>What to mountain is brought with loss of >the close person to their
>relatives. I heard, that in USA pass statements against war. For >whom
>this war is necessary? On TV spoke, that some journalists were lost.
>David, keep well ! I hope, your government soon will think again and will
>listen to >opinion of the public.

I think you picked a good person to ask, because, for the most
part, I favor President Bush's current policies. He's made some terrible
mistakes, in my opinion, such as not keeping the Turks in line, not
standing up for the poor Kurds at long last, and supporting the most
obscene proposition of modern times, "Palestinian" statehood. He asked for
the approval of a lot of people who's approval we don't need, thus giving
the false impression that every other country in the world gets a vote in
our foreign policy (even the ones that don't let their people vote), and
prolonging the prewar suspense to the point that many people seemed to be
expecting it to start a third world war.
I believe that a good response to the September 11th attack is to
adopt a more assertive stance in the entire near east (which I favored
before the attack anyway, because I think it is good not to leave Arabs
with the impression that they can do whatever they want to Jews, Kurds,
etc., or that they have any real right to oil revenue when they didn't dig
the wells, build the pumps, trucks, roads, refineries, Suez Canal, etc.).
This attack puts us in a position similar to that if Israel. I don't
believe that organizations like Al Queida and the Taliban are entirely
distinct from other Islamic Fundamentalist and Pan Arabic Nationalist
movements like Hezbola, the PLO, Chechen terrorists, the Baath Party, and
hundreds of small secret cells tolerated or supported by most governments
in the region. They share common ideology, although some of them have
historically paid lip service to Marxism in order to get Soviet support,
and many more of them now portray themselves as fundamentalist Muslims in
order to get money from Saudis and disguise their secret bases as mosques.
The next major attack on in the US (in about 4 years) will be from some
group no one's ever heard of, like "The Flaming Sword Of Justice" or
something. So I think it would not make sense to just retaliate against Al
Queida, as if anyone in that region is innocent of terrorism except for the
Israelis, Turks, and to a lesser extent, the Kurds. We just can't take them
all on at once, because that would be like invading China. But they are not
really independent sovereign states like Europe has. The entire Arab world
is more like one giant confederacy (one language, one religion, one
culture, many states; something like the US was before the civil war). If I
had been President, my first move would have been to offer India air
support for an invasion of Pakistan. They have the sheer numbers to just
wipe it off of the map. Pakistan was a bad idea from the start. "These
people can't even get along with Ghandi, so let's give them their own
country, bordering on China". It's a good thing I'm not the President.
It seems rather likely to me that the things Bush says about Saddam
Hussien are true, and in any case, now that it is started, pulling out
would constitute losing a war with Iraq! Caving in to foreign public
opinion would do horrible damage to our sovereignty. And the domestic
opposition is not what it might seem, it's largely made up a very vocal
minority that traditionally supports the other side when we have wars. A
couple of things that I think Russians would find surprising about
Americans is how many of us are Communists, and how many of us wish to
think of ourselves as European. Whenever you hear an American say bad
things about Europeans, usually we don't mean real Europeans, we mean
bisexual American drug users who once spent a summer in Europe and fancy
themselves more sophisticated than the rest of us. I just wandered very far
off of the topic! Anyway, most of the Americans opposing the war right now
do so for reasons of their own personal self image (preferring to think of
themselves as lovers of peace) than because they have any viable
alternative to propose. While peace is preferable to war, brief,
infrequent, victorious wars are preferable to the other kinds.
I have rambled on at some length without really answering your
question very directly. Maybe that is because it is refreshing for me to
hear a question on the subject! There is a lot of talk going on here on
this subject, and it is mostly by people who made up their minds a long
time ago. The main reason for this war is that the first gulf war (which I
was opposed to at the time, when I was in high school) remains unresolved.
It ended with a conditional cease fire, the conditions of which are not
being met. If the state of "peace" had gone on much longer, more people
would have been killed by conditions in Iraq than might be killed in this
war if it continues as it has, and all of the people killed by sanctions,
and directly by Hussien, were non-combatants. It's better for soldiers to
die instead, to the extent that this is possible.
The Iraqis have been tied directly to an earlier bombing of the
world trade center, an attempt to assassinate our fourth worst president,
and the use of mustard gas on civilians. Iraq is probably at a crucial
juncture now, where they are somewhat of a threat, but still relatively
easy to subdue. If we were to wait for the threat to become clearer, it
might very well be too late to anything without serious fear of major
repercussions, like with North Korea.
A mistake that I think Americans make much more than any other
people is to act as if foreign policy is primarily altruistically
motivated. Every nation takes whatever position its leaders think is in
that nation's own interest. If Luxembourg expected to serve its interests
by invading Canada, they would most definitely do so. France, Russia, and
Germany do quite a bit of business with Iraq, so we should not be taking
their position as personally as we have been. The leaders of those
countries are just doing their job by trying to protect the interests of
their own nations, as should be.
This letter has gotten very political. When I first got email, I
had hoped that I'd be discussing things like this with people from all over
the world, so I'm glad you brought this up. I probably should have written
less though, so I could have answered you sooner.

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