The debating was pretty strong on both sides, with the dove side being more principle-based, and the hawk side being more evidence-based. In the Q&A, though, I found that the dove got pushed into some pretty tight corners by sticking to principles through logical extremes. Be sure and let drop your impression here after you’ve had a chance to listen…
I don’t think so — pretty much everyone present would probably hold to a restricted definition of “apostle” which included “a vessel of inspired, canonical revelation”. We did have one Hindu, however. He enjoyed the debate a lot, and hopes to become a regular attendee. He was not, however, dissuaded from his incoming pacifist stance of “All wars are unjust”.
Ok, finished the mp3s. Sounded like a lot of fun (too much laughing for a debate).
At least from the audio, it sounded like our military man got the best of the pastor. Maybe it would have been a more stark debate to have a pacifist debate the military man.
When the preacher had his analogy of the neighbor with guns in his house turned around on him, I sensed weakness, but when he was pushed into classifying our fight against Germany in WWII as unjust, I think he lost the debate. He even said, at one point, that all the countries around us could get taken down one by one, and that we still could not fight a just war against the aggresor until directly attacked. Weak.
My favorite line was, “I have no military experience, although I do own a Navy Seals cap”.
Sounds like your take was about the same as mine. Brian’s insistence on literal self-defense only I thought went too far. I could have swallowed it better if he had a better description of a line between just/unjust that Operation Iraqi Freedom crossed, but is not crossed in WWII, for instance.
Another favorite quote from the pastor was, “The UN is like a taxi. When it’s going our way, we hop on and ride it; when we disagree, we stay off and condemn it.”
I really appreciated the tone of friendship maintained throughout. Both guys seemed like pretty delightful people. Debate can be a wonderful thing when people stick to attacking the proposition and not the person.
Well, as elders in the same church, they are friends.
I had a little trouble understanding the point about the UN at first. Since he stressed the point that God gave authority to nations to bear the sword, not to (something like) the U.N., I thought, well then what’s wrong with the U.S. bucking the U.N. to take care of Iraq? But I think his point is that U.N. sanctions carry no God-given authority, therefore the U.S. cannot use them as an excuse to attack Iraq.
I can’t stand the U.N. I see it as creating moral equivalency between despotic nations and democratic nations, and they lose all credibility when they put nations like Syria and Cuba on the Human Rights Committee. To me it is a total waste of money.
Hey, just listened to the mp3s. Unfortunately, I was working at the time, so I couldn’t pay as much attention as I needed to.
I agree with you guys that “self defense only” is probably not the only definition of just war. I think it’s the most important and fundamental criteria, but not the only. So, his insistence on that (especially in the context of WW2) weakened his otherwise very good argument. He also didn’t step on the throat of pragmatism as much as I would have liked. And, more could have been made of our bad historical policies in the middle east with respect to the rise of Islamic terrorism.
However, the pro-Iraq war debater also weakened his argument by linking Iraq with the “War on Terror”. Although they are now linked it is due to our actions, not those of Saddam.
Having served as an intelligence analyst in the Marines during the “war” part of the Iraq war, I take issue with the notion that this war has only now become part of the war on terror. I realize that the whole story wasn’t really told to the American people before we went to war, and that realization is truly a realization, not speculation, but the reason we went to war was to combat terror, from the very beginning.
From the very beginning, while we said it was all about WMD, the real reason, which I find to be much more reasonable, if a bit naive, was to bring prosperity and democracy and liberty to that part of the world, in order to be a catalyst for change in the region.
Here’s how the reasoning works. Ask yourself why there are terrorists. Terrorists are people who are usually unemployed, and have little prospects for any kind of life other than poverty. Saddam, for example, took advantage of this among the Palestinians. If you became a suicide bomber, he’d give your family 25 grand. I’m not kidding. I know that was made public at some point, so look it up. And it was probably oil for food money he was using to do it. But anyway, it is the poor people who are bitter about their lot in life and want someone to blame for their woes. Since they’re Muslims, they cannot comprehend that their poverty has anything to do with tyrranical Islamic regimes that oppress them, but rather, as they are told when they go to Mosque, it is the West’s fault, and particularly the US’s fault that their country is going down the tubes. How, they ask, do you suppose the US has all that money, while we have nothing? It is because they are stealing it from us! These are uneducated people. They don’t need to see proof of something like that. Their imam teaches them this, and they simply believe it. Just like how many fundamentalists believe all kinds of crazy things that are contrary to common sense, just because their pastor told them so.
So Bush and his buddies saw this situation and decided to do something about it. They decided to try to force these oppressive governments out of power, bring about revolution in the Middle East. How do we do this? Well, we can topple the Taliban in Afghanistan; that’ll be a good start. And it was. And then we can topple Saddam. Now we’ll have two countries that we have liberty and will begin to become prosperous. It won’t happen overnight, of course, but particularly Iraq will eventually be a powerhouse in the Middle East, and all the people will be free and rich, just like us and Europe. Then they won’t hate us anymore. Then the other countries will see it, and the people of those countries will suddenly say to themselves, hey, these Americans aren’t so bad after all. And look, freedom makes you rich! Let’s overthrow OUR dictator and institute lots of reforms and we’ll get rich too!
And pretty soon, the whole world is safe for democracy once again.
If only the Americans had more patience. If only the Muslims had a little bit less resolve and a little more greed, then it would have worked perfectly. Unfortunately, the American people don’t understand what we’re trying to do, and therefore they aren’t willing to support it. For some reason, Bush and his buddies aren’t being honest with us about what they’re trying to do. I suppose he can’t, because of how the Arab world would view it. They’d think that we were treating them all like children, and they’d all hate us. So I guess for that reason, all of this is only stated between the lines, but not openly. Because of this, no one in America can support what’s going on, and some of our politicians are capitalizing on the ignorance and confusion of the American people about what we’re trying to accomplish to gain power for themselves.
If we pull out of Iraq now, it will be a disaster. Not that I mind a good disaster once in a while, but I predict that we won’t be pulling out of Iraq as soon as everyone thinks, despite appearances. Just mark my words.
But anyway, this has been about terrorism from the beginning. ALL about terrorism. But while Saddam WAS IN FACT sponsoring terror all over the world, as well as providing a safe haven for terrorists, nonetheless, taking him out of power has more to do with the long term strategy for the Middle East as a whole than it does about removing one dangerous man from power. Bush has had a long range vision here for the future way, way down the road. He’s trying to solve the problem of terrorism. I hope his successor appreciates that, and finds a way to carry on that vision, even if a little bit differently.
I don’t mind being wrong from time to time. But your assertion that the Iraq war has been all about terrorism from the beginning does not seem to add up to me. I don’t doubt that Bush viewed it as fighting terrorism from the beginning, but I believe he was wrong, dead wrong. Just as I believe he was wrong about the existence of WMDs, or links to al Qaeda. As I said, though, I’m willing to be wrong – so let me see the evidence. Let’s see some credible evidence.
I have heard about the 25K for families of suicide bombers. If that is the only link between Saddam and terrorism, we have some problems. First – Palestinian terrorists attack Israel, not the US. Also, charities from “allies” like Saudi Arabia and Qatar also provide funds.. Should we be invading their countries?
Further.. It’s my view that imposing democracies is 1) not our job regardless of how secure it makes us and 2) extremely naive in light of historical realities in the Middle East. Strategically, it’s flawed. While promoting freedom is good, it’s not going to work, for several of the reasons you listed above. Islam has found a convenient channel of agression – us. While you’re right about some of the reasons (indoctrination, etc.), there are some other reasons you’re leaving out. Namely, the fact that we’ve been over there for 60 years, intervening in the affairs of Middle Eastern nations, and doing it badly at that. The fact that we’ve blindly supported the nation of Israel. The fact that our interventions in part have to do with securing our own financial interests (preserving the oil pipeline), always a great reason to go to war. The imams may be evil, but they’re not idiots. We’ve supplied them with plenty of reasons over the years to hate us, not just because we’re free and they’re not or we’re rich and they’re poor.
However, I have to say that if you expect to have access to all of the evidence you’re asking for, you’ll only be disappointed. This isn’t a democracy – it’s a democratic republic. We can second guess our leaders, and we can vote them out, but we’ll never be privy to all the information they’re privy to. Intelligence information is classified, and it’s classified because it has to be. If it ceases to be classified, it ceases to be of any value.
If you want to see all the evidence that links Saddam to Al-Qaida, then go work for the CIA, work your way up to the upper echelons, and eventually you’ll gain access to it all, and you’ll see for yourself. This kind of stuff has to remain limited in its distribution. It’s a matter of protecting our intelligence gathering assets.
For example. Let’s just say that there’s some king somewhere, and that king has a secretary. Let’s say this secretary is passing us information about that king. Now if we make it public that we have this precise information, that king will hear of it, and a number of bad things will result. First and foremost, he’ll probably execute his secretary for treason. And not only does it mean that someone will die (perhaps unjustly if he is doing the right thing), it also means that we’ll no longer have that source of information. Furthermore, the king will be able to protect himself from whatever threat to him may exist as a result of our knowing this information.
We NEED that king to have to wonder just how much we know about him. If he doesn’t know what we know, he’s a bit more afraid of us, and doesn’t know how to deal with us. We are an unknown. He fears that we may know something, but he doesn’t know what we really know. But if we make it public, then not only will that king know, but the rest of the world will too. It defeats the purpose of our knowing it in the first place, because now it is no longer a weapon in our hands that we can use against them.
So all that to say we simply cannot and never will make all the relevant information public. That’s why we elect our leaders to be in the know, to be the guy that has to know all that stuff, and make the best decision he can. As I said, that doesn’t mean we can’t second guess his decisions, but it DOES mean that we can’t make the decision for him, and we shouldn’t suppose that we can.
In other words, it is not up to the American people to judge whether or not there actually was some connection between Saddam and terrorism. I cited one example of a connection to terrorism in general, because I know it has been made public. Al Qaida has also publicly made statements about needing to cooperate with Saddam. If that isn’t enough for you, I’m sorry, but it’s all you’re going to get for now. Just because you haven’t seen more evidence than that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The other thing we need to understand is that 99% of reliable intelligence information would never stand up in a court of law. Intelligence doesn’t work like our law courts. In our courts, we have to prove someone guilty beyond reasonable doubt. There is no such thing as intelligence information that is beyond any doubt. No such thing. So if we wanted to convict Saddam of being connected to Al Qaida beyond reasonable doubt using intelligence information, no such thing could ever be done. Nothing in intelligence works that way. It’s a whole lot of educated guesses. That’s simply how intelligence works. That means sometimes, we’re going to make mistakes. That’s simply the nature of the beast.
Our media, our country right now, is turning a blind eye to this, and acting as if intelligence is typically far more certain than it EVER is. Everybody thinks that satellites can make out peoples’ fingerprints, and everything is always very cut and dry, because of the greatness of our technology. It isn’t the case. It always involves a whole lot of guessing and presenting decision makers with possibilities and probabilities. They never have the certainty that a judge has when he sentences someone.
All that being said, I can tell you this much. An assistant secretary of Defense, once upon a time, in an interview with a small British media company, made an offhand comment about how Russian special forces had helped Iraq, in the months leading up to the war, take their WMD’s to Syria. Now I myself can neither confirm or deny this, but I can tell you that the Iraqi government did in fact smuggle all sorts of things to Syria, and many things were confiscated at the border by our troops to prove it. Perhaps you remember about trucks full of gold.
You’ll have to be satisfied with that. None of it proves that Bush made a great decision. It just means he’s human and made the best decision he was able to.
I agree with Gospelordeath in every one of his elequantely written books that he has placed in this blog. One thing I think that what not mentioned enough for us true believers :) is this: Would you rather the worlds richest commedity (Oil) be in the hands of “tyrrants and terrorists?”