Wednesday, August 02, 2006

iraq warThere is an essay that’s been hopping from one email address to another claiming it was written by a Dr. Vernon Chong, and even though that’s not true (the identity of the actual author is unknown) I would like to take some time and respond to it as I’ve noticed its sentiments represent a worrisomely large segment of the population. Take a few minutes and read it first then read the reaction below.

From what I can tell the author is a fabulous propagandist peppering his arguments with distortions, half-truths, and counter-factual spin. These types of scare tactics are commonplace and can fortunately be detected and disproved by the alert reader.

He mentions that during World War II Americans relinquished plenty of civil liberties only to have these freedoms returned to them in spades. As this is definitely true, with the second World War there was a clear objective, dismantle the Axis powers, and a blueprint by which we could attain that objective, after which our civil liberties were restored. In the current war the premise is a lot more nebulous. Now we fight an ideology, not Nations, for an indefinite period of time. If we handed over our civil liberties it may be for 10, 20, 30 years or more. This is unacceptable. What would make us a free nation if we give up our freedom?

The author also mentions our national division toward our war efforts, the crux of his argument being that primarily uncivilized, reactionary factions of Islam are to blame for these atrocities. As he could be correct in so stating, how can we be serious about who is the enemy when our own government is two-faced on who they claim as an ally? Our ties to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, despite internal strife and overt hatred toward the United States, are public and need no further elaboration. It was my understanding that a country was either with us or against us, yet these Muslim countries have it both ways.

Lastly, he makes a comment on the Abu Graib torture scandal, denouncing criticism of our treatment of the prisoners by stressing that the prisoners' crimes are more appalling than our crimes. This portion is perhaps the most laughable, merely listing their despicable actions does not justify our disgusting behavior. If we adopt the morality of terrorists as our own ethical yardstick we have already lost the war. One of the most damning elements of warfare is that both sides resort to such extreme measures in order to claim victory they begin to resemble each other. Unfortunately, this has already begun and it's people like the author who want to push us even further in that direction.

The burden of proof is incumbent upon the government, if they are unable to persuade - not manipulate - us into consent then they should not be allowed to initiate military action without consequence. It is not until they surmount this crucial first step that we should be willing to entertain a dialog about the duration of a subsequent war, suspension of civil liberties, etc. If we accept anything less than these terms we are doing ourselves, along with hundreds of thousands of innocents, a disservice.

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