Monday, July 18, 2005

Pacifist! Volume II 

I was surprised by the vigorous response my earlier post on pacifism elicited from folks, but decided, after a few responses, to let it rest. Then I ran across this terrific piece from Max Boot in the LA Times (Hat tip: Austin Bay and Harry's Place) which observes how certain WWII era pacifists (or "young intelligentsia" as George Orwell put it) were antiwar in 1942, and played the moral equivalence routine as between Hitler and Germany, on the one hand, and Churchill and Britain, on the other.

In a funny way, it makes me feel better to know that there were people like this around then too, and it didn't get in the way of ultimate victory. It's harder to know, of course, whether this kind of lunacy contributed tragically to the death of x million more people in Europe, but then, who's counting? It is significant to realize that this pacifist philosophy lives, but does not learn from history.

Somebody commented in response to my first post that "I. Like. War." Far from it. It's hard to imagine a more frivolous comment impersonating seriousness. I have children (boys) who may someday choose to fight in one. But I believe that war is essential to defending freedom, which cannot be taken for granted. My parents came to this country to escape fascism, so I feel fortunate to be here. When people are being slaughtered in tiny corners of the world, the only country that lifts a finger to help is the US. Pacifists would be willing to live in a totalitarian state (they wouldn't fight for freedom, after all). I simply would not be willing to. I do believe that the current war this country is fighting is a just war, thrust upon it over an extended period of time, culminating with the 9/11 attacks.

So, for the pacifists among the readers, I salute your philosophy. Just identify yourselves please, so we can get serious and move on. Thanks.


By Blogger Paul F., at Mon Jul 18, 06:35:00 PM:

Sorry to bother you, but this is a comment on a post way back in 2004, august 2004 to be exact. I was just wondering if you still had the three-page note from Donald Justice on one of his poems? I am really very interested in Donald Justice, and I would love a copy. My email address is paul-flahive@uiowa.edu. I hope it would be possible to get a copy. I would be happy to pay for postage or whatever costs incurred  

By Blogger Callimachus, at Tue Jul 19, 01:48:00 AM:

Reading Oliver Kamm introduced me to the book "Semi-detached Idealists: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1854-1945," by Martin Ceadel. My wife then got me the book for a gift. It's an absolutely wonderful exploration of just the people you're writing about.

John Middleton Murry, editor of the pacifist journal "Peace News" during WWII, wrote in that magazine on 9 August 1940: "Personally I don't believe that a Hitlerian Europe would be quite so terrible as most people believe it would be."

Ceadel quote the Marquess of Tavistock, founder of the pro-Nazi and antisemitic British People's Party, who served on the national council of the PPU through 1943. "In Peace News, 30 October 1942, he invoked the following rationalisation for Nazi aggression in Europe: "... the very serious provocation which many Jews have given by their avarice and arrogance when exploiting Germany's financial difficulties, by their associations with commercialized vice, and by their monopolization of certain professions."

Then there's Vera Brittain, of whom Kamm wrote, "In one of her regular letters to her fellow-campaigners, on 3 May 1945, Vera Brittain maintained that the gas chambers were being publicised by the allies:

'... partly, at least, in order to divert attention from the havoc produced in German cities by allied obliteration bombing.'

Thus an ethical objection to war - grossly misguided, but not inherently ignoble - became a position indifferent to tyranny and genocide, uncomprehending of the moral imperative of combating evil, and even complicit in support of that evil."  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 19, 08:21:00 AM:

Callimachus -

What a fabulous reference. Thank you for that. Extremism of all sorts finds bizarre alliances throughout history, right? You have the pacifist left aligning with the isolationist right again, just as in WWII. You have Pat Buchanon lined up with these pacifists and ironically, at this moment, writing an absurd piece saying we really shouldn't have fought the Germans after all. Father Coughlin and Huey Long come back to roost. Oddly enough, people only seems to remember the right wing loonies from WWII, not so much the lefties, because I think FDR was president and basically drowned them out. I think the same will happen here in reverse. Very few will remember the bizarre right wing opposition to the War in Iraq and Terror generally because GWB's presidency will again silence them, but the leftie craziness (moveon, Michael Moore, Sulzberger, Dean) will live on forever.

It is remarkable how these things repeat themselves.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jul 19, 10:38:00 AM:

Cardinalpark, I guess you'll need to admit it to yourself, first.

The Pope opposed the illegal invasion of Iraq for reasons formulated by St Augustine of Hippo and later by St Thomas Aquinas:

"A just war can be waged only as a last resort and by a 'legitimate authority'. It must be fought with 'right intentions', for example in self-defence or to redress a wrong, and with a reasonable chance of success to avoid excessive death and injury. The theory of just war also holds that civilian casualties must be avoided, that the means used must be proportionate and that the ultimate goal should be to establish a peace 'preferable to what would have prevailed if the war had not been fought'."

Your pacifists are straw men, a group, by definition, holier than the Pope.

The military timetable was rushed, diplomatic channels weren't exhausted, international opinion was ignored, the security council was dismissed; the coalition was not led by a 'legitimate authority' (take the pulse of the region); the war's intention was to remove WMDs, none found; Iraq was not a threat to the USA; Iraq had not attacked the USA; 100,000 Iraqis, and counting, are dead; the war in Afghanistan, against the Islamists, was the proportional response to 9/11; the only 'peace' envisioned by the neo-cons was a 'piece' of Iraq's assets.


By Blogger Callimachus, at Tue Jul 19, 12:49:00 PM:

Your pacifists are straw men, a group, by definition, holier than the Pope.

Somehow, in reading what "Anonymous" said the Pope said about the Iraq War, I missed His Holiness' references to "military timetables," "international opinion" and "the security council." Seems like "Anonymous" confuses Michael Moore and the Holy Father.

It's a common problem for the Left, presuming everyone who disagrees with Bush or America agrees with them personally. It paves the way to cozying up to the Islamists.

"the coalition was not led by a 'legitimate authority' (take the pulse of the region);"

What region? The Middle East? Was the "pulse of the region" around Afghanistan in favor of the U.S. invasion, which "Anonymous" claims fits the definition of legitimate? Was the "pulse of the region" of the Confederate States of America in favor of Lincoln's military destruction of slavery?

The "100,000 Iraqis, and counting, are dead" meme has long been proved as a bad bit of guesswork by the Lancet authors. The real figure is not known, but most serious anti-war ones tend to settle on a figure closer to 20,000. Certainly tragic, but the 100,000 has been discredited so often and so well that it leaves those who cling to it open to the charge of wishing for that many dead Iraqis, the better to carry their arguments. Hardly a Christian attitude.

"the war in Afghanistan, against the Islamists, was the proportional response to 9/11" but the Pope's passage refers to the means used in war, not to the war itself. Perhaps "Anonymous" should spend more time studying and less time shooting from the hip.

But perhaps "Anonymous" also can enlighten us on how Iraq under Saddam, Qusai and Uday is "preferable" to Iraq without them. With statistics and details.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 19, 12:50:00 PM:


Was the First Persian Gulf War, in your opinion, a legitimate and just war?

Was the US military action in the former Yuogoslavia a just use of force, again, in your opinion?  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Tue Jul 19, 01:49:00 PM:

Callimachis: remind him not to use Molly Ivens as a source. Cardinal: the Senate was in hysteria on the eve of the first Gulf War- it was nearly rejected. It wasn't until the US prevailed with extradinary ease that the War became universally acclaimed.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Tue Jul 19, 02:18:00 PM:

As far as Bosnia, Richard Holbrooke writes:

"This was Clinton's most important action in regard to Europe -- an action opposed, incidentally, by most of his political advisers. It was a classic commander-in-chief decision, made alone, without congressional support and with only reluctant backing from the Pentagon. But it worked: Without those 20,000 troops, Bosnia would not have survived, 2 million refugees would still be wandering the face of Western Europe, a criminal state would be in power in Bosnia itself. . ." From today's vodkapundit.com.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jul 19, 04:07:00 PM:

Callimachus, I didn't quote the Pope. I quoted the Times definition of a just war.

But, yeah, I agree with you: you did miss His Holiness' references to "military timetables," "international opinion" and "the security council."

Read the article, or this one. Or just Google "Pope," "Iraq," and "war," though I doubt you care one whit what the Pope thought. Most Americans didn't, since -- face it -- George Bush is the real religious leader in the USA.

America lacks legitimate authority. It's UN turf. It's an illegal war. Not surprisingly, not one Muslim state committed troops to the "coalition of the willing." Attacking Iraq without UN approval was tactless.

"the 100,000 has been discredited so often and so well ..."

The Economist addresses the common complaints and explains the methodology.

" ... that it leaves those who cling to it open to the charge of wishing for that many dead Iraqis, the better to carry their arguments. Hardly a Christian attitude."

Another straw man.

Re. proportionality, "the overall destruction expected from the use of force must be outweighed by the good to be achieved." The Islamists were in Afghanistan.

Re. the preferable before/after, satisfying one criteria doesn't qualify a war as just. But I wasn't arguing that Hussein's Iraq was better, was I? Check out Naomi Klein's article, "Baghdad Year Zero," linked in my post.


By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 19, 04:27:00 PM:

Anonymous -

It would be helpful if you answered my previous questions. But I suspect you won't.

The UN abdicated responsibility when it allowed for 16 violations of its resolutions by Iraq and the cease fire agreement negotiated to halt hostilities in 1991. In fact, like the Korean War, the first war never ended. And if an organization fails to enforce its resolve, then somebody has to do it.

Since the UN ultimately became embroiled in Iraq bribery (launched by the infamous "I can do business with Saddam" quote from Kofi Annan in 1998; who knew how much he meant that, huh?), I'd say there was little credibility to the notion that the enterpirse would now turn on Saddam.

So ultimately I think your argument, while articulated nicely, fails in fact on a number of points.

But again, it would be helpful of you simlpy made plain your positions:

1) on the first Persian Gulf War
2) on the Bosnian action

Can you do that?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jul 19, 05:40:00 PM:

No, Cardinalpark, I'm not going to spend (yet more) time marshalling opinions on Kuwait or Bosnia. Perhaps you could simply lay out the logic trap you have in store and we can review the premises together. That would be fun.

I should point out, however, that my values are pretty mainstream Canadian.

The Prime Minister of Canada speaking to the House of Commons, April 8, 2003

"Canada took a principled stand against participating in military intervention in Iraq. From the beginning our position has been clear. To work through the United Nations to achieve the goals we share with our friends and allies. Disarming Saddam Hussein. Strengthening the international rule of law and human rights. Working towards enduring peace in the region.

"We worked very, very hard to achieve a consensus in the Security Council. We hoped with a little more time and with robust inspections that war could be averted and Iraq could have been disarmed.

"We argued that a multilateral approach through the United Nations was key to enhancing the international legitimacy of military action and would make it easier after the war was over. We applied these principles in deciding not to join the coalition when the war began without a new resolution of the Security Council.

"The decision on whether or not to send troops into battle must always be a decision of principle. Not a decision of economics. Not even a decision of friendship alone.

"Our friendship with the United States is far stronger than some of our critics would have us believe. Our friendship is far stronger than those who scare-monger would have us believe. It is far stronger than some who purport to speak for the business community would have us believe. Close friends can disagree at times and can still remain close friends.

"I remember as a young Member of Parliament when Mr. Pearson spoke out in the United States against the war in Vietnam. But the United States administration was disappointed. And I suspect that even the American ambassador at the time was disappointed. But our friendship did not suffer. Neither country has ever been in the business of economic retaliation over disagreements on issues of foreign policy. That is not what our relationship is all about.

"The closeness of our relationship goes well beyond economics alone. Many of us remember with pride some 23 years ago when Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador in Iran, rescued Americans in the US Embassy in Teheran. That is what our friendship is all about. A friendship that is found in the relations between our two national governments, our states and provinces, our cities, our institutions of learning, our businesses, our hospitals. Above all in our people who work together, marry one another, go to one another's schools and universities, play in the same sports leagues, and even sometimes live in one country and work in the other.

"The decision we made three weeks ago was not an easy one at all. We would have preferred to be able to agree with our friends. But we, as an independent country, make our own decisions based on our own principles. Such as our longstanding belief in the value of a multilateral approach to global problems. An approach which we believe is more than ever necessary. As we face the threats of global terrorism, environmental damage on a vast scale, and many other extremely difficult challenges.

"The true test of our principles and our values is precisely whether they guide us when our choices are very difficult. I am proud that this House has spoken so clearly for our principles. I am proud of this country. And I am grateful for the support of Canadians."


By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 19, 06:07:00 PM:

I didn't think you would. Because you probably are bright enough to understand fully the logical problem you have, and what the exposition of your positions would imply...no matter what.

I think that's probably enough since you don't want to take that step. Seems a trifle disingenuous, dontcha think?

And as an aside, I would never generalize about a "Canadian" position.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jul 19, 06:41:00 PM:

Oh, stop being coy.

Cardinalpark, you overestimate my intelligence, not to mention my energy. If you're keen to cover the issues in two other wars and have something to teach me, do it.

I don't get the scare quotes on Canadian. Mainstream values exist here. I'm just telling it like it is north of the border, in the context of just war, UN involvement, legitimacy, etc.


By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 19, 10:33:00 PM:

Anon- not trying to teach a thing, merely engage in a proper debate...in fact i'm trying to learn from you but can't do it without full disclosure re: your honest position on those other conflicts.

Everything else from you is a dodge.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Wed Jul 20, 12:48:00 AM:

Was that free rider or free loader? Canada certainly qualifies on either score.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jul 20, 10:32:00 AM:

Cardinalpark, it would be helpful of you simply made plain your positions:

1) on the first Persian Gulf War
2) on the Bosnian action

Can you do that?


By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Wed Jul 20, 04:55:00 PM:

Happy to:

1) I supported the Persian Gulf War, and agreed we should expel Iraq from Kuwait. I did not agree with the decision by the first Bush Administration to enter into the agreed cease fire and certainly did not agree with the decision to abandon the Kurds and Shiites. I thought that was dishonorable.

I thought we had sufficient provocation to renew the Iraq conflict in 1998, and disagreed with the brokered agreement by Annan which gave rise to OFF.

Ultimately, PG I was both morally and strategically a just war, in my opinion, but we abandoned morality for the sake of "strategy" in its conclusion.

2) I struggled with the decision to attack the Serbs but ultimately concluded it was the right moral decision. In my judgment, it would have been far preferable strategically for Europe (whatever that is) to have managed this crisis in its backyard, to have stopped what was essentially a Yugoslavian civil war. When they failed to act, and Milosevic demonstrated himself to be a genocidal maniac, hell bent on war with Croats (Catholics) and Bosnians (Muslims), it fell to the US to stop him. Keep in mind that this was very much out of keeping with historical US strategic relationships (as defined in WWII).

So this action was, in my judgment, also just and correct, with a heavy balance towards the moral and not the strategic interests of the US.

Anon, there you go.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jul 21, 11:08:00 PM:

Weren't those both UN-sanctioned?

At an emergency summit, 12 out of 20 states in the the Arab League condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, but they voted "21-1 in favor of a resolution demanding the immediate and unconditional removal of US and British soldiers from Iraq. (The lone dissenting vote was cast by Kuwait)."


By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Fri Jul 22, 07:47:00 AM:

1) The UN did sanction expelling Iraq from Kuwait. Remarkably, the UN fully supported leaving Saddam in place. Disgusting.

2) The UN did not sanction our action in Bosnia. It was unilateral, and supported by the British only.

I must admit, I have no idea why people give a nickle about an organization which is not popularly elected and which generally supports and defends reactionary, totalitiarian regimes which ignore human rights.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jul 22, 11:14:00 AM:

Well, the purpose of the Gulf War was to liberate Kuwait, right? Marching on Baghdad and deposing Saddam Hussein would have to be justified by more than expedience.

Re. Bosnia, are you referring to a particular campaign in the Yugoslav wars? The UN Protection Force was deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in mid-1992 and served until 1995.

Sounds like UNPROFOR had a frustrating experience.

"I must admit, I have no idea why people give a nickle about an organization ..."

Because unilateral action lacks credibility. Review my comments in this thread, and pretty much every post I've made on this blog. You guys are your own worst enemey, I swear.

" ... which is not popularly elected ..."

I prefer my embassadors be appointed by elected officials.

"... and defends reactionary, totalitiarian regimes which ignore human rights."

Sorry, are you still referring to the UN or did you just switch gears to American foreign policy?

"For 60 years, my country – the United States – pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East."
- Condoleezza Rice at the American University in Cairo

We could bitch back and forth on this one until the cows come home, but it wouldn't make a goddamn bit of difference.

This is from the editorial in the latest issue of Harper's, and after reading it last night I've decided to stop trying to engage Americans with meaningful dissent. So this is my last post regarding your country, on this blog or anywhere.


" ... from an appropriately anonymouse source identified as 'a senior advisor' to president George W. Bush and quoted last October in the New York Timies Magazine by the journalist Ron Suskind. The source was explaining why people like Suskind (authors, editors, stenographers) have become irrelevant: they belong to 'the reality-based community' and therefore make the mistake of thinking that words matter, that something can be learned from the study of history or in the attempt to align causes with effects. But, said the source, speaking in the disembodied voice of the oracle at Delphi:

'That's not the way the world really works anymore ... we're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Sun Jul 24, 08:28:00 AM:

Anon: it's always about us.. right. Never attribute any wrong to the ME thugs who contribute to their own chaos. Example, OBL decries US troops being in the homeland post Gulf War, right? Well, we were there because the Saudi government sought our protection after Saddam had raped and ransacked Kuwait. So, right.. it was our fault. We liberate Kuwait, save the Saudi's butts- and are lambasted as imperialists.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Sun Jul 24, 09:04:00 AM:

Which reminds me of several other incidents over the years. We aid OBL's resistance in ridding Afghanistan of Soviet domination- and voila, Islamic terrorism is our fault. We go into Bosnia and protect Muslims from being slaughtered and it's our fault. 244 Marines on a UN peace keeping machine are killed in their beds in Lebanon... sorry, we screwed up again. Bad ol' imperialistic America, up to no good again.

Peace (something the thugs no little about).  

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