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Rumsfeld wins Harold Laski Memorial Fellowship

Joe Pluta
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Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Who's deleting their posts?
Anway, it's past 11:30. No more for me tonight.
Joe
Alan Labout
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Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 100
Jason: Do you consider yourself to be in a position, to possess the requisite knowledge, to make an accurate determination regarding the need to invade Iraq?

No, I don�t. In fact, you seem to be missing my main point which is that neither you nor I have any idea as to what is actually going on in Iraq. That�s why we rely on other people to interpret these events for us. Of course, as Americans, you and I are more inclined to believe the interpretation of Donald Rumsfeld over, say, the Iraqi Minister of Information. This predisposition is perfectly understandable, but that alone does not make it valid. Rumsfeld told us that there were WMD�s in Iraq. His Iraqi counterpart said there were not. And guess what? As of today it�s the Iraqi who was right.
Jason: The next thing you imply is that invading Iraq was "tragic". On what do you base this? The fact that one of the 20th centuries most brutal and murderous dictators has been deposed? That millions of Iraqis are now free? That tthere will be no more mass graves filled? That he will no longer use chemical weapons against his people and his neighbors? Just exactly what is "tragic" about deposing Saddam Hussein?
Jason, Stop for a moment and take a look at that last paragraph of yours. Please. Here you are trying to convince me that your convictions are not a product of propaganda, and all the while you�re offering up the very political cliches that would suggest that they are: "brutal and murderous", "dictator", "Millions of Iraqis. . . free", "mass graves", "chemical weapons against his people".
If you would be so kind as to send me a picture of a single Iraqi mass grave that you�ve personally visited, I will immediately rescind my assertion that you have no direct knowledge on the subject. Until then, I remain unconvinced that you are any less dependent on third-party interpretations�i.e., susceptible to being misled--than the rest of us....
Sonny Gill
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:


The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet. - William Gibson
Consultant @ Xebia. Sonny Gill Tweets
Mapraputa Is
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Joe: And yet sometimes it seems that you hate anybody who still has theirs.
I do not hate anybody, I am just perplexed.
I still love my country and everything it stands for, warts and all. And I'm a lot older than 12. I've seen the good and bad of my country, far more than you'd probably be able to guess, and I'm able to honestly say that on balance I believe that America is the greatest country on the planet.
Oh. I do not see any reason why you cannot say so.
P.S. There is a bad anecdote. 80-old man came to the doctor and say:
"My neighbour said he has sex 7 days a week, and I can have sex only 3 days a week."
Doctor: Open your mouth.
The guy: Ok.
Doctor: you know, I do not see any reason why you cannot say the same.


Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Mapraputa Is
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Joe: You consider the fact that we stand for the national anthem to be critical thinking at work?
Nope. I consider it an act of conformism.
Or do you disagree with standing for the national anthem before a game, like you disagree with children standing for the pledge of allegiance before the school day?
I do not disagree, I am just just saying: watch out for propaganda, if you still care about your soul!
Mapraputa Is
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Jay: Growing up in a free society.
Ok, let's talk seriously. Maybe I was too controversial, I do not know. When I was on a plane that was to bring me here, I had no (I hope) prejudices, I truly believed this is a birth land of democracy. Or otherwise why would I leave my beloved place of birth. I sincerely expected to see The Difference. I *wanted* to see it. It's hard to explain...
Well, to continue, I do *not* regret I wasn't born in a free society.
That's not your fault of course. As Joe has said, I just happened to have won the lottery and have been born in one of the better societies this planet had to offer. These early experiences shape us and color our perceptions. Where you see state sponsored brainwashing behind everything, I see free expression.
I do not see any "state sponsored brainwashing", no. I see volunteerely actions of people, "free expression" as you call it. You think it makes it better -- I think it makes it worse.
The bias is quite evident really. One who proudly stands and salutes the flag is brainwashed according to what you would seem to have us believe, while someone who would have a knee-jerk reaction against saluting the flag would be an enlightened free-thinker.
Hm... Let's re-write your passage:
The bias is quite evident really. One who proudly reject saluting the flag is brainwashed according to what you would seem to have us believe, while someone who would have a knee-jerk reaction to salute the flag would be an enlightened free-thinker.
How is this?
[ December 03, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
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That's not your fault of course. As Joe has said, I just happened to have won the lottery and have been born in one of the better societies this planet had to offer. These early experiences shape us and color our perceptions.
Ugum. And you happened to have won the ticket to see things *how they are*, didn’t you? I bet this is how you imagine things! And the rest of us are just... Eh, Traumatized by our historical experience. That's by the way what I thought too, when I was... Never mind. Too dumb to confess
And you really believe in this?? I can only hope that neither you not your children will have to answer for this "beliefs"....
But then you believe you will never have to!
Keep you God!
[ December 03, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Mapraputa Is
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Nabokov!
That's the guy!
I read his short poems when I was in Russia.
It was about how he was taken to be executed, among his beloved birches.
His last sentence was: "And I woke up crying it wasn't real".
I read this when I was in Russia still and I thought that's the last thing one can pay to his country -- to dream to be killed on its land and to cry when realized he was not.
Michael Ernest
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So far starters, Joe, I think Map has said my piece for me: naivete starts with the idea of being born in the 'best' country in the world. It implies the idea that everyone else looks to the US and says "man, if only I was born there."
What I find truly naive is the idea that anyone gives a shit about your idea of patriotism and is somehow out to destroy it. What's naive is the proposition that people who don't agree with your attitude toward patriotism must therefore be opposed to it. What I find naive is the underlying premise: you seem to think you are not simply entitled to your enthusiasm, you seem to think your approach to patriotism is right. Moral correctness; not much of an improvement on political correctness.
It's another variant of "America, love it or leave it." For me, that idea is bullshit. "Defend it," absolutely. What anyone chooses to feel for their country is what it is; what a person chooses to do for their country is the only meaningful test.


Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
- Robert Bresson
Mapraputa Is
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Sheriff

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Posts: 10065
Jay: Growing up in a free society. That's not your fault of course. As Joe has said, I just happened to have won the lottery and have been born in one of the better societies this planet had to offer. These early experiences shape us and color our perceptions. Where you see state sponsored brainwashing behind everything, I see free expression.
The bias is quite evident really. One who proudly stands and salutes the flag is brainwashed according to what you would seem to have us believe, while someone who would have a knee-jerk reaction against saluting the flag would be an enlightened free-thinker.

Dammit, *you* personally got enough of *other* experience to knock out of
your generation thinking stereotypes? I cannot get what still holds you back!
Mapraputa Is
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Jay: Growing up in a free society. That's not your fault of course.
Of course.
It's just an intrinsstic deficience I cannot overcome . No way. Just because I was born in a wrong society. Sure. Just because I am not an American. That's it, I am sure. Tragic conditions of my place of birth prevent me from seeing the truth. Yeah. Sure.
You people are pathetic.
Do you really believe in all this crap?
I am waiting for Jim to kick my ass because I can trust nobody else to kick my ass.
Jim, are you ready?
[ December 04, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Alan Labout
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Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 100
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Maybe it is you who has the lack of experience?

I think the "experience" that Map is referring to is that of having everything you've come to believe in suddenly called into question. In other words, not just being exposed to ideas that contradict your own, but being exposed to them in their natural context.
I'm not sure that any of us can really say what it means to be born in a "free" country, or a "totalitarian" country, or a country which has been "oppressed" by this or that "dictator". At best these terms are only crude approximations for phenomena that are actually very complex. Most Americans will generally assume that their country is "free", and that any country with drastically different notions of "freedom" must therefore be "not free".
My own "experience" suggests that the level of propaganda in the U.S. is not less than that in Map's country; if anything, it's probably greater. The main difference is the degree to which people go along with the official line. Americans have no real reason to complicate their lives by constantly questioning the world around them in search for Truth, whereas in Russia this is probably closer to the norm. That's why life is "better" here. I personally think it�s great that there are people like Joe and Jason who believe wholeheartedly in their country�s morality; this is what makes a country strong, and if you get right down to it, this is one of the main victories of the U.S. system versus the Soviet one: i.e., not so much the system itself as the way the system was perceived by its citizenry. For the purpose of creating a healthy nation it is much better for a citizen to be blissful and ignorant than wise and skeptical. I would venture to guess, though, that Map�s inquisitive mind keeps her from accepting such simplistic and primitive notions as patriotism.
The mistake that you may be making, Map, is to assume that American patriotism and Russian patriotism are the same thing. American patriotism tends to manifest itself in mindless empty acts, such as mumbling the Pledge of Alegiance before class, humming the national anthem at football games, and hanging flags on anything that doesn't smell bad. But whether this contributes in any meaningful way to the American propaganda machine is debatable.
Joe King
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Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Michael Ernest:
So far starters, Joe, I think Map has said my piece for me: naivete starts with the idea of being born in the 'best' country in the world. It implies the idea that everyone else looks to the US and says "man, if only I was born there."
What I find truly naive is the idea that anyone gives a shit about your idea of patriotism and is somehow out to destroy it. What's naive is the proposition that people who don't agree with your attitude toward patriotism must therefore be opposed to it. What I find naive is the underlying premise: you seem to think you are not simply entitled to your enthusiasm, you seem to think your approach to patriotism is right. Moral correctness; not much of an improvement on political correctness.
It's another variant of "America, love it or leave it." For me, that idea is bullshit. "Defend it," absolutely. What anyone chooses to feel for their country is what it is; what a person chooses to do for their country is the only meaningful test.

I totally agree with this. It seems like (and Bush came out with the very words) that most Americans think "you're either with us or against us". Its a bit odd that in a world with so much variety, people think that everything is black and white. Life isnt about good and evil, its about everything in between. Why do they not realise that not all people either love or hate America? Its almost as if if you dont agree with them that America is the perfect county, then you imediately must hate it and want the whole place destroyed.
It also seems to be seen as bad for an American to be critical of their government. I think Joe summed it up when he said:

I still love my country and everything it stands for, warts and all

I find this slightly worrying. Its great to love your country, but to love everything it stands for, even the bad things, kind of says "I'll ignore the bad things cos overall its good". Surely its better to say "I love my country, it does a lot of great things, but there are some things that I'm not happy with". One of the whole points in democracy is for a society to be continuously improving itself. To steadfastly hold to the opinion that your country is perfect is infact slightly damaging for your country, because it encourages ignoring the problems and not doing anything about them
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Alan Labout:

The mistake that you may be making, Map, is to assume that American patriotism and Russian patriotism are the same thing. American patriotism tends to manifest itself in mindless empty acts, such as mumbling the Pledge of Alegiance before class, humming the national anthem at football games, and hanging flags on anything that doesn't smell bad. But whether this contributes in any meaningful way to the American propaganda machine is debatable.

Alan, it's no small number of people who have given their lives, through civil and military service, to defend this country and the people in it. While I understand you are trying to make a certain point, I think it's overstepping to describe American patriotism as little else but tired gestures that signal compliance instead of passion.
Joe Pluta
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Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
What I find naive is the underlying premise: you seem to think you are not simply entitled to your enthusiasm, you seem to think your approach to patriotism is right.
It's as right as any position you've got, Michael. And to have beliefs is not naive. Just the opposite: not having beliefs is cynical.
If your point is that Map has the right to her opinion just because everyone has an opinion, then I have the same right, and the brainwashing argument should never rear its head again.
If, on the other hand, you are able to take the position that one political system is better than another, then I submit that American democracy is the best thing going on the planet.
"Love it or leave it"? More like respect it or don't let the door hit you on the ass. The anthem, the pledge, those are issues of respect.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Joe: You consider the fact that we stand for the national anthem to be critical thinking at work?
Map: Nope. I consider it an act of conformism.
I see. So the entire world is conformist, since that's the standard at every Olympic game since it was introduced. The entire world believes that standing for national anthems is a symbol of respect.
But you're smarter than the entire world. If anything is naive, that's got to be it.
Joe
Joe Pluta
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Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Anyway, I realize there are opposing views. And I appreciate them, I do. I like to hear what other people have to say about ideas I've held pretty dear for my entire life. It forces me to make a conscious decision about those things.
And you know what I conluded? That I am a proud American, no matter how non-PC that may be these days. Being a proud American means that I believe in the American democratic system, and that, with all its warts, it continues to be the best system currently going. There are others that are pretty good, others I feel are not so good. I won't get into a nation by nation critique because, as Al points out, I don't really have enough first-hand knowledge. I can only go by the results I see, and American results are historically pretty good.
Are we perfect? No way. Do we screw up? Absolutely. Am I pissed off about certain things our Congress does? Well, if you read my postings on visas, you'd know that I do indeed have differences with my elected officials. It's not like I automatically rubberstamp every action by the pols and say "AMERICA ALL GOOD ALL THE TIME".
And I can even reconcile myself with the folks that think patriotism is a bad thing. The "patriotism vs. nationalism" thread has a lot of good, interesting byplay in it.
Becasue it's not that I don't think you have a right to your opinion. I just think it's annoying that I can't have mine without being called brainwashed or naive. I am neither. I am simply a man who believes he is lucky enough to live in a country whose moral compass matches his own. Whether this is by nature or nurture is open to debate, but the fact of the matter is that I believe in the underlying principals of American democracy.
If it's okay to have your beliefs, it's okay for me to have mine.
I've said all I need to say on this. You all know where I stand, and further carrying on by me won't make any difference. I'm just an example of someone who willingly and knowingly professes his love and honor for his country, as passe as that may be today.
Joe
Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
AL: No, I don�t. In fact, you seem to be missing my main point which is that neither you nor I have any idea as to what is actually going on in Iraq.
That would require an assumption about the other person.
AL: Rumsfeld told us that there were WMD�s in Iraq. His Iraqi counterpart said there were not. And guess what? As of today it�s the Iraqi who was right.
I will repeat this again. It is a known fact that the Iraqis had chemical weapons and nuclear and biological weapons programs. You need look no further than Halabja nd the Iran-Iraq war for definitive proof. We can also look back at the Israeli destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor. But why not look at what the inspectors found as well as what the Iraqis themselves have stated:
In 1996, after years of denials, Baghdad effectively admitted stockpiling about 4,000 tons of chemical weapons precursors and more than 100,000 empty munitions casings -- none of which have been accounted for by the inspection teams. (source)

UNSCOM also exposed an extensive biological weapons program, but because of the dual-use nature of many relevant production facilities, such as vaccine plants, the UN inspectors were unable to eliminate this threat. (source)

The head of the UN Special Commission overseeing the
destruction of Iraqi weapons (UNSCOM) told the Security Council June
24 that UNSCOM has "utterly, unambiguous" test results showing that
Iraq put VX nerve gas in missile warheads. (source)

ALISON CALDWELL: Richard Butler, if the coalition forces haven't yet found weapons of mass destruction, does that mean they aren't there, or that they were never there?
RICHARD BUTLER: No it does not. Everyone in the Security Council knows that there was a residual quantity of weapons left in 1998 when Saddam shut me and my inspectors down and threw us out.
I can tell you the exact numbers, Alison, of chemical weapons, biological weapons and missing missile parts. Everyone agreed on that; the Security Council, the Russians, the French who so strongly opposed the Americans last year, everyone agreed.
Five years later, Hans Blix, my successor reported to the Security Council that there was this residual quantity of weapons unaccounted for. Iraq said it didn't have them anymore. When Hans Blix and his inspectors tried to find them, Iraq wouldn't let them do so, or wouldn't produce the evidence of their destruction. So that was hanging out there.
Let's call that quantity number one. Quantity number one did exist and it was never properly accounted for.
...
RICHARD BUTLER: I think those trailers were mobile laboratories. Look, everyone knew that Iraq had a major biological weapons program and a chemical weapons program, a missile program that was illegal, and has striven to get an atomic bomb.
That's quantity number one. They remain unaccounted for to this day. They've either been destroyed by the Iraqis or buried (source)

Did Iraq cooperate with the weapons inspections?
No. Iraq claimed its arsenal of banned weapons was smaller than its actual size�for example, Iraqi officials insisted until 1995 that a biological weapons research was for defensive purposes only�and tried regularly to outfox the inspectors. Iraqi tactics included having troops fire warning shots at the unarmed inspectors, confiscating documents from UNSCOM and refusing to hand over other documents, spying on U.N. personnel, stonewalling while materials were removed from sites in advance of the inspectors� arrival, sabotaging monitoring equipment, and preventing UNSCOM from using its own helicopters and surveillance aircraft. Iraq increased its resistance at suspect sites it had not declared as weapons facilities, and tons of material used to produce unconventional weapons went unaccounted for.(source)

There is a huge difference between something not existing and something not being found. You would have us believe that these unaccounted for materials simply vanished into thin air. That's putting quite a lot of faith into Saddam's regime I would think.
AL: Jason, Stop for a moment and take a look at that last paragraph of yours. Please. Here you are trying to convince me that your convictions are not a product of propaganda, and all the while you�re offering up the very political cliches that would suggest that they are: "brutal and murderous", "dictator", "Millions of Iraqis. . . free", "mass graves", "chemical weapons against his people".
Actually, that's all truth, not propaganda. Unless you would care to dispute any of it. Or if the truth is used to motivate, does that make it propaganda? That said, my convictions are a product of personal experience, not propaganda.
AL: If you would be so kind as to send me a picture of a single Iraqi mass grave that you�ve personally visited, I will immediately rescind my assertion that you have no direct knowledge on the subject. Until then, I remain unconvinced that you are any less dependent on third-party interpretations�i.e., susceptible to being misled--than the rest of us....
While nowhere near as dramatic, I did actually have pictures I took from a KC-135 tanker of the terrain Iraqi Kurds were forced to flee to in April 1991. This was just at the nexus of the Turkey-Iran-Iraq borders. To be quite honest I've never seen such a hostile environment in my life. In one instance, we could just make out people trying to make their way through this frozen snow covered mountainous terrain. It was quite sad really.
[ December 04, 2003: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Mapraputa Is
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Al: ...and if you get right down to it, this is one of the main victories of the U.S. system versus the Soviet one: i.e., not so much the system itself as the way the system was perceived by its citizenry.
What did I say -- this guy is a genius!
I tried not to say it, but what the hell... His book about Russia is amazing -- there is no single misconception and no single untruth in 448 pages! *You* try to write a book about a foreign country and not have natives laughing at you. I would never believe this is possible, until I saw it with my own eyes! Eugene could share my excitement but he is lazy.
The mistake that you may be making, Map, is to assume that American patriotism and Russian patriotism are the same thing.
I do not even know what Russian patriotism is. I did not have these people around me, so I only read about them. Strange thing, Russian patriotism is always mysterically followed by anti-Semitism, and this is why I did not investigate this phenomenon closer, I prefer to make my investigations on something that doesn't smell bad.
Mapraputa Is
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Joe: I see. So the entire world is conformist, since that's the standard at every Olympic game since it was introduced. The entire world believes that standing for national anthems is a symbol of respect.
Absolutely. "The entire world" (if there is such thing) is wrong. And I am no shy to say so.
But you're smarter than the entire world. If anything is naive, that's got to be it.
Not only me. There are thousand of us, displaced people, who do not fear to tell our experience.
Joe Pluta
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Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Absolutely. "The entire world" (if there is such thing) is wrong. And I am no shy to say so.
(...)
Not only me. There are thousand of us, displaced people, who do not fear to tell our experience.

Okay, Map. I don't think I really understood your position before this. It's a lot clearer to me now. If I read the above correctly, you're convinced that your experience gives you an insight that the majority of the world just doesn't understand, and that this insight comes at least in part from being displaced from your homeland. And since that is an experience I certainly am unable to relate to, it's unlikely we'll share a common insight on the issues.
Up until this point, I had thought that you were assuming my positions to be in the minority and that I just ignored the world around me. And thus the heat of my responses; I am not knee-jerk in my beliefs, they are based on a wide array of my own experiences and on considerable introspection.
And now that I know where you really stand on the issues, I think it will be easier for me to respond gracefully.
Thanks!
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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Joe: I just think it's annoying that I can't have mine without being called brainwashed or naive.
This is indeed bad if you feel so. If I contributed to this impression, I apologize. I think we all should be free to utter our believes without fear of being labeled as "brainwashed" or "na�ve".
Mapraputa Is
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Joe: If I read the above correctly, you're convinced that your experience gives you an insight that the majority of the world just doesn't understand, and that this insight comes at least in part from being displaced from your homeland. And since that is an experience I certainly am unable to relate to, it's unlikely we'll share a common insight on the issues.
You got it perfectly right, Joe.
Up until this point, I had thought that you were assuming my positions to be in the minority and that I just ignored the world around me.
Um... Not really. I did not think your position was in the minority and I never thought you ignored the world around you.
And thus the heat of my responses; I am not knee-jerk in my beliefs, they are based on a wide array of my own experiences and on considerable introspection.
I never doubted that. And if you are afraid I feel superior to you because of my allegedly superior experience, that's not the case. "superior experience" is a burden, if you have nobody to share it with.
Joe Pluta
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"superior experience" is a burden, if you have nobody to share it with.
That's as true a statement as I've ever heard.
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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Joe: That's as true a statement as I've ever heard.
See? I knew we can talk! You do not need to have exactly the same "experience", you can have very remotely similar, to be able to understand! And so do I! Joe, I can understand 1/10000000 of what you feel, but I want to understand.
Mapraputa Is
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Jay: Growing up in a free society. That's not your fault of course. As Joe has said, I just happened to have won the lottery and have been born in one of the better societies this planet had to offer. These early experiences shape us and color our perceptions.
I do realize that all I am saying sounds awfully like someone being born out of the luck is forever envious I do realize there is no way for you to stop believing that. I realize this because this is how *I* myself thought until I was kicked out of this comfortable thought (and I insist on "comfortable" epithet). Even if it was *me* who kicked myself out of this comfortable thought. The stupidest thing I could do!
Now you think you see the Truth because you were born in the *right* country and I was *not*, and there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- I can do about it! How is this for despair? You will die with this belief. All I can do is to try to discourage my guys from killing you so you can die your natural death at the age of 80-or so- still believing America is the greatest country in the world.
So... Like... How is this for despair?
Joe Pluta
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Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
You do not need to have exactly the same "experience", you can have very remotely similar, to be able to understand!
I'm going to ponder this epiphany, Map. I don't want to sound overly dramatic, but this really changes the way I think about things, and especially about the people who post here in MD. It's no longer an issue of trying to identify a consensus opinion, which is what I've been trying to do. It's more about assimilating other viewpoints and then making conscious decisions about the validity of those viewpoints within my own perception, and then allowing for the differences. And while I doubt that many of my personal opinions will change in any significant way, I have a feeling I'm going to regret the tone of my stance on some things.
Ugh.
Introspection - for those who can't handle drugs.
Joe
Jason Menard
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Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
still believing America is the greatest country in the world.

Whether or not I believe it to be the case, that is not what I said anywhere in this thread. I would urge you to re-read what I have stated. Actually my belief is that the great democracies on the planet are the superior forms of society (oh how not politically correct to actually state a belief that one thing can be superior to another :roll: ). That doesn't include just America, btw. If you would like to debate the relative merits of the capitalist democracy over the socialist communist systems as they have been implemented on this planet, we can do that.
[ December 04, 2003: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Alan Labout
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Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 100
Jason: I will repeat this again. It is a known fact that the Iraqis had chemical weapons and nuclear and biological weapons programs. You need look no further than Halabja nd the Iran-Iraq war for definitive proof.

Shall we play competing authorities on the subject? Here's the opinion of the UN's former head weapons inspector, a former U.S. marine:
http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/09/08/ritter.iraq/

Actually, that's all truth, not propaganda. Unless you would care to dispute any of it.
How could anyone dispute any of it? These are just limp notions that you've offered up. Each of these terms would first have to be defined--and that task alone would lead to argument after argument. Or, as we are more apt to call it, history.
Perhaps you could help me by explaining what you mean when you say that Iraqis are "free" now? Do you mean they are free from Saddam Hussein? I would have to agree with that. Do you mean that they are free from America? Definitely not. Maybe you mean that they are "free" to do certain things that you equate with freedom. What are these things? Or is "freedom" a word that basically means "the way we do things in America"?
I once said that Democracy can only exist in America, and my Russian friends didn't take my words as I had intended. By that I meant that no matter how democratic any other society is, it will never really be considered "democratic", because the U.S. has all copyrights on the word. The same, I think, concerns the word "freedom".

Jason: While nowhere near as dramatic, I did actually have pictures I took from a KC-135 tanker of the terrain Iraqi Kurds were forced to flee to in April 1991. This was just at the nexus of the Turkey-Iran-Iraq borders. To be quite honest I've never seen such a hostile environment in my life. In one instance, we could just make out people trying to make their way through this frozen snow covered mountainous terrain. It was quite sad really.
Fair enough. I'll scratch your name off the list of 100+ million Americans who support this war based solely on the information the government gives them without actually having first-hand experience to govern their convictions.
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Shall we play competing authorities on the subject? Here's the opinion of the UN's former head weapons inspector, a former U.S. marine:
http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/09/08/ritter.iraq/

Dude, do you REALLY want to base your case on this guy? There are even insinuations that his remarkable about face was in response to blackmail. Personally, I think it's probably more about trying to push his book, since nobody really wants to listen to him anymore.
(Another link)

Maybe you mean that they are "free" to do certain things that you equate with freedom. What are these things? Or is "freedom" a word that basically means "the way we do things in America"?
Nope. Freedom is freedom to live by a set of basic human rights. In America, we refer to them as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we have articles of our Constitution which clearly outline those rights. Read it sometime, it's a cool document.
Any government that does not allow some form of these basic freedoms is not a free government. It is a fact that under Hussein, Iraqis did not have these freedoms. My daughter-in-law could explain it to you in great detail. As you point out so eloquently, since you've never been there, you really have no idea. I believe my daughter-in-law.
As to democracy, that is government of, by and for the people. That is, officials are elected through the will of the people, although the definition is a bit blurred, since the US Presidency is not decided by a true democratic vote, but instead through a representative republic. But in general, democracy means free balloting of the populace to decide the primary positions of political leadership. Note that by this definition, we've really only really followed that since the 19th amendment (or even the 26th).

By that I meant that no matter how democratic any other society is, it will never really be considered "democratic", because the U.S. has all copyrights on the word. The same, I think, concerns the word "freedom".
Um. I'm pretty comfortable that at least the Aussies have gotten it right. All kidding (and bombast) aside, freedom is entertained by more countries in the world than not these days, at least according to the numbers.

Fair enough. I'll scratch your name off the list of 100+ million Americans who support this war based solely on the information the government gives them without actually having first-hand experience to govern their convictions.
Like thousands and thousands of Americans whose lives have been touched by Iraqi emigres, I have second-hand experience, and it's far better than anything you've provided. Exactly where do you get your information?
Joe
[ December 04, 2003: Message edited by: Joe Pluta ]
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Alan Labout:
Shall we play competing authorities on the subject? Here's the opinion of the UN's former head weapons inspector, a former U.S. marine:

The anti-war crowd just love Scott Ritter, right alongside Michael Moore and Noam Chompsky. Most people don't view Ritter with much credibility however, and certainly not more so than Richard Butler, who was actually in charge of the mission when it had to leave in 1998. You'll have to do quite a bit better I'm afraid. And as far as him being an "ex-Marine", while this is technically true, the time he spent in was fairly negligable.
AL: How could anyone dispute any of it? These are just limp notions that you've offered up. Each of these terms would first have to be defined--and that task alone would lead to argument after argument. Or, as we are more apt to call it, history.
I never particularly viewed murderous as a "limp notion", but I guess we all have our own moral compasses.
AL: Perhaps you could help me by explaining what you mean when you say that Iraqis are "free" now? Do you mean they are free from Saddam Hussein? I would have to agree with that.
Do you view this as a bad thing?
AL: Do you mean that they are free from America? Definitely not.
Of course not. They are an occupied nation. That's what often happens when one loses a war. As an occupied nation, and given our legal status as the occupying power, we are required to provide governance and other services in the interim. A nation doesn't go from brutal dictatorship (sorry about the use of "limp notions" there) to representative democracy overnight. It's not an instant process. However, we have experience in this field, and we will assist them in transitioning to a representative government that respects its people and its neighbors.
AL: Maybe you mean that they are "free" to do certain things that you equate with freedom. What are these things?
You know, little things like freedom to dissent, freedom of the press, freedom to gather, freedom of expression, freedom of religion. Freedom not to be "disappeared" by Saddam's security services because of some perceived infraction against the government. Freedom not to end up an unidentified corpse rotting in a mass grave. Freedom not to have your children put in prison for the crime of not joining Saddam's youth group. Freedom from your government targetting your village with chemical weapons. Freedom from ethnic cleansing campaigns. You know, the whole life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness thing. Maybe you believe that we are the only ones entitled to such freedoms? Or at the very least, maybe you believe that it is not worth getting your own hands dirty to help provide these basic freedoms to others? I mean, it's great if they can achieve these things on their own, but if they can't, f@#k 'em, right?
AL: Fair enough. I'll scratch your name off the list of 100+ million Americans who support this war based solely on the information the government gives them without actually having first-hand experience to govern their convictions.
Don't forget the list of millions of Americans who are against this war based solely on political biases without any first-hand experience to govern their convictions.
Alan Labout
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 100
Originally posted by Michael Ernest:

Alan, it's no small number of people who have given their lives, through civil and military service, to defend this country and the people in it. While I understand you are trying to make a certain point, I think it's overstepping to describe American patriotism as little else but tired gestures that signal compliance instead of passion.

Okay, and I appreciate their actions. I think Joe put it best when he said that it's a matter of respect. Although I personally don't feel any need to profess my love for my country by standing and placing my hand on my heart during the national anthem, I will do it because I respect the people around me, people for whom this is important. It really is a matter of respect.
What I was trying to say, though, is that many of the acts that may seem highly patriotic to non-Americans are actually rather harmless. I mean, what can a seven-year-old really understand about the words in the Pledge of Allegiance?
So I suppose the interesting question would be how long (how many recitations? how many years?) does it take for the Pledge recited by this seven-year-old to go from just words to actual conviction....
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
I have a feeling I'm going to regret the tone of my stance on some things.
As you may notice, however, the tone of my stance on deposing Hussein is not one of them.
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
I have a feeling I'm going to regret the tone of my stance on some things.
Joe!
Now I know why I liked you from the very beginning!
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Joe: My daughter-in-law could explain it to you in great detail. As you point out so eloquently, since you've never been there, you really have no idea. I believe my daughter-in-law.
Why you don't let her speak here???
Alan Labout
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 100
You know, little things like freedom to dissent, freedom of the press, freedom to gather, freedom of expression, freedom of religion.
Thanks, Jason, for being so consistent in your reasoning. Again, though, you seem to be missing my main point, which is that this is "your" idea of what freedom is, an American one. Obviously, most Americans would agree with you. But each of these concepts is open to interpretation, and if we were so inclined (don't worry, I'm not) we could argue endlessly about what they really mean. This would not be a very fruitful endeavor, however, and would only lead us to a single conclusion: what is "freedom of the press"? It is exactly those freedoms and those limitations of freedoms that, as a whole, we Americans refer to as "freedom of the press". Of course, it would be hard to argue with that....
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
Why you don't let her speak here???
((Laughing))
I don't "let" her do anything. She's an American citizen, and free to do what she wishes. Which does not include debating with the folks here. I'm the only one in my family who finds any use at all in some of the more radical opinions here. Everybody else thinks it's a complete waste of time posting here. In fact, if I stop visitng MD, it will be at the behest of my family, particularly my wife.
Joe
Mapraputa Is
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Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Jason: Whether or not I believe it to be the case, that is not what I said anywhere in this thread.
You are right. Sorry for attributing this view to you.
BTW, this was the first time I was brave enough to call you "Jay"! I still fell guilty.
Actually my belief is that the great democracies on the planet are the superior forms of society (oh how not politically correct to actually state a belief that one thing can be superior to another).
Hey, this is Meaninless Drivel! Where else can we discuss our politically incorrect stuff?
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Joe: In fact, if I stop visitng MD, it will be at the behest of my family, particularly my wife.

You are kidding, right?
So your family thinks it only makes sense to discuss your position with those who already approve it, right? :roll:
Just your American idea of freedom!
Joe Pluta
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 1376
And you Al, are ignoring my point:
Freedom is freedom to live by a set of basic human rights. In America, we refer to them as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we have articles of our Constitution which clearly outline those rights. Read it sometime, it's a cool document.
It is widely understood that there are certain basic human rights. When I mean widely, I mean the entire civilized world, as evidenced by no less global a body than the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.
That body has written a document called the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights. That document is NOT written solely in American English; the UN thought it important enough to make it available in over 300 languages. In that document are clearly laid down the things which civilized peoples have agreed upon as basic human rights. The English version is here.
I turn your attention to Article 3 of that document. It says, in its entirety:
Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Recognize those words, Al? While we were the first to say them, even the UN, has seen fit to apply those same principles across the world.
You may not ilke the fact that the words freedom and democracy are indelibly associated with America. But there's a good reason for it: whether you like it or not, the American constitution is simply one of the best written safeguards of human liberty ever devised, and so those of us who believe in the Constitution have a natural set of concepts by which we measure "human rights".
And most of the world agrees, at least as represented by the UN. The UN hasn't seen fit to change those words for over 50 years, and I don't foresee any changes anytime soon, despite your objections.
Joe
 
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