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OfflinePhred
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Whether This War Was Worth It
    #4328732 - 06/23/05 03:34 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

I'm posting the following essay partly in response to a post of Ancalgon's in the thread titled "Did the President Lie about Iraq" but also partly because I had been meaning to post it for a few days anyway and it just kept slipping my mind. I believe Kagan has done an excellent job at looking at the unknown (and too often unknowable) potential perils of inaction as compared to the anticipated (and too often unanticipated) perils of action.

As we all know already, whenever someone somewhere does something bad, we can choose to act or choose to let it slide. This is a favorite trope of those opposed to the death penalty, for example (and of defense attorneys everywhere, really ) -- "Why put this young man to death? His death won't bring back his victims, after all!" And we all know it is a lot less trouble to do nothing than to do something. Clinton was a consummate master of doing nothing, as is the UN (anyone remember Rwanda?) and I'll be the first to admit that there are times when doing nothing is actually the correct course of action.

But was allowing Hussein to continue his hijacking of a once vibrant nation the correct course of action? Read Kagan's essay and decide for yourself.


Phred





Whether This War Was Worth It
In Analyzing Iraq, Consider the Effects of Having Done Nothing
By Robert Kagan?Post?Sunday, June 19, 2005; B07

Serious scholars still debate whether the Civil War was necessary, never mind the more obvious "wars of choice" such as World War I, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, the Korean War, wars in Vietnam and Kosovo, and the Persian Gulf War. To a certain brand of American isolationist, even World War II was unnecessary and counterproductive. So there is nothing remarkable about polls showing Americans wondering whether the recent Iraq war was "worth it." It is a great American myth, voiced by John Kerry last year, that the nation goes to war only when there is no question about the necessity of going to war. There's always a question. Even if the Iraqi insurgency disappeared tomorrow, George Ibrahim al Washington became president of Iraq and every liter of Saddam Hussein's onetime stockpile of chemical and biological weapons suddenly appeared in the desert, historians would still spend the next century debating whether the war was "worth it."

Wars remain subjects of debate not just because their "necessity" is in doubt but also because their results are mixed. No war has produced unmitigated successes. The Civil War did not completely "free" African Americans, who remained oppressed for another century. World War I destroyed Europe, and helped pave the way for the rise of Hitler and the Soviet Union. World War II defeated Hitler but enslaved half of Europe behind the Iron Curtain and introduced the world to nuclear warfare. The Persian Gulf War drove Hussein out of Kuwait but helped produce the Osama bin Laden we know today. Add to that the millions of innocent lives lost, and the toll of these wars, generally regarded as "successful," is high. Does that mean those wars were not "worth it"? Demanding unmixed results and guarantees against the unintended consequences of war is as unrealistic as demanding absolute confidence in the "necessity" of going to war in the first place.

One simple answer to the problem is not to go to war, ever. But for those not inclined to absolute pacifism, the question of whether a war is worth it has to go beyond such simple categories as "necessity" and whether or not the aftermath of war is an unmitigated success. It requires delving into the messier and hazier calculations that good historians spend careers contemplating.

One problem is that we always know what did happen as a result of war, but we never know what didn't happen. What if we had not gone to war in Europe in 1917, Korea in 1950, or even Vietnam in the 1960s? Would we have rued those decisions not to act as much as we now rue the decision not to drive Hitler out of the Rhineland in 1936? To answer such questions requires predicting, with only the conflicting and incomplete evidence available, what the world would have looked like had we not gone to war. We know what happened as a result of not going to war in 1936. We know, in particular, that British efforts to avoid war in 1936 and then in 1938 at Munich did not prevent war at all but only delayed it. Yet we can only try to guess what might have happened had Imperial Germany been allowed to conquer Europe, or had communist victories in Korea and Vietnam been allowed to stand unchallenged. A few years ago Michael Lind wrote a provocative book titled "Vietnam: The Necessary War," in which he argued that, even knowing what we know now, it was correct for the United States to fight a limited, losing war in Southeast Asia -- to "lose well," as he put it -- rather than allow a quick and easy communist victory.

To assess whether the Iraq war was worth it requires seriously posing the question: What would have happened if the Bush administration had not gone to war in March 2003? That is a missing but essential piece of the current very legitimate debate. We all know what has gone wrong since the Iraq war began, but it is not as if, in the absence of a war, everything would have gone right. Those who want to have this debate cannot simply point to the terrible toll in casualties. They have to address the question of what the alternative to war really would have meant.

There is not much dispute about what kind of leader Saddam Hussein was. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright once compared him to Hitler, and the comparison was apt in a couple of ways. Hussein, as we will soon relearn in excruciating detail, had contempt for human life and no qualms about killing thousands of his own citizens and many thousands more of his neighbors' citizens, about torturing women and children and about using any type of weapon he could buy or manufacture to burn, poison, infect and incinerate political opponents and even entire populations, so long as they were too weak to fight back. This alone placed him in a special class of historical figures, a not irrelevant factor in determining whether his removal, even at the present cost, was worth it. Was it not worth at least some sacrifice to remove such a man from power?

A more intriguing question is whether a decision not to go to war in 2003 would have produced lasting peace or would only have delayed war until a later date -- as in the 1930s. There is a strong argument to be made that Hussein would have pushed toward confrontation and war at some point, no matter what we did. His Hitler-like megalomania does not seem to be in question. He patiently, brutally pushed his way to power in Iraq, then set about brutally and impatiently making himself the dominant figure in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, using war and the threat of war as his principal tools. In the early 1980s he invaded Iran and fought it to a bloody standstill for the better part of a decade. No sooner had that war ended than he invaded Kuwait. He fancied himself the new Saladin, much as Napoleon and Hitler had fancied themselves the new Caesar.

Many argue that, even if all this is true, Hussein was nevertheless contained through sanctions and no-fly zones and therefore could be deterred. Many advanced this argument before the war, too, even when they believed with as much certainty as the Bush administration that Hussein did have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. And, indeed, although for most Americans the question of whether the war was "worth it" revolves around the failure to discover the stockpiles that most believed he had, nevertheless the key issue, I believe, remains the same as before that failure: whether Hussein could have been contained.

For another fact not in dispute is that Hussein remained keenly interested in and committed to acquiring weapons of mass destruction, that he maintained secretive weapons programs throughout the 1990s and indeed right up until the day of the invasion, and that he was only waiting for the international community to lose interest or stamina so that he could resume his programs unfettered. This is the well-documented, unrefuted -- and unnoticed -- conclusion of both David Kay and Charles Duelfer. Whether Hussein would have eventually succeeded in acquiring these weapons would have depended on other nations' will and ability to stop him.

That is a question to which we will never have a definitive answer, and yet it is critical to any judgment about the merits of the war. The most sensible argument for the invasion was not that Hussein was about to strike the United States or anyone else with a nuclear bomb. It was that containment could not be preserved indefinitely, that Hussein was repeatedly defying the international community and that his defiance appeared to both the Clinton and Bush administrations to be gradually succeeding. He was driving a wedge between the United States and Britain, on one side, which wanted to maintain sanctions and containment, and France, Russia, and China, on the other, which wanted to drop sanctions and normalize relations with him. The main concern of senior officials in both administrations was that, in the words of then-national security adviser Samuel "Sandy" Berger, containment was not "sustainable over the long run." The pattern of the 1990s, "Iraqi defiance, followed by force mobilization on our part, followed by Iraqi capitulation," had left "the international community vulnerable to manipulation by Saddam." The longer the standoff continued, Berger warned in 1998, "the harder it will be to maintain" international support for containing Hussein. Nor did Clinton officials doubt what Hussein would do if and when containment collapsed. As Berger put it, "Saddam's history of aggression, and his recent record of deception and defiance, leave no doubt that he would resume his drive for regional domination if he had the chance." Nor should we assume that, even if the United States and others had remained vigilant, Hussein could have been deterred from doing something to provoke a conflict. Tragic miscalculation was Hussein's specialty, after all, as his invasions of Iran and Kuwait proved.

It is entirely possible, in short, that if the Bush administration had not gone to war in 2003, the United States might have faced a more dangerous and daring Saddam Hussein later on and felt compelled to act. So, in addition to whatever price might have been paid, certainly by the Iraqi people and possibly by Iraq's neighbors, for leaving Saddam in power, we might have wound up going to war anyway. There is the further question of what the entire Middle East would have looked like with a defiant, increasingly liberated Hussein still in power. To quote Berger again, so long as Hussein remained "in power and in confrontation with the world," Iraq would remain "a source of potential conflict in the region," and, perhaps more important, "a source of inspiration for those who equate violence with power and compromise with surrender." Whether historians judge the war favorably will depend heavily on whether post-Hussein Iraq does indeed provide a different sort of inspiration, but, again, the effort to change the direction of the region was surely worth paying some price.

This may be no solace to those who have lost loved ones in this war -- and it certainly does not absolve the Bush administration from the errors that it made before and after the war and continues to make today. But these are the kinds of considerations that ought to be part of any serious debate over whether the war in Iraq was "worth it."


Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes a monthly column for The Post.

??2005?The Washington Post Company
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/17/AR2005061701217_pf.html


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OfflineVex
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4328786 - 06/23/05 03:56 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Why read all that when the answer is a simple "no"


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Vex]
    #4328798 - 06/23/05 04:01 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Gee, Vex, whatever happened to that vaunted "open-mindedness" and "enlightenment" we shroom afficianados are supposed to possess?

What's the matter? Afraid to have the brainwashing done on you by the lefties in the MSM undone?



Phred


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OfflineRonoS
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4329005 - 06/23/05 05:03 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

I think the most important sentence in that entire article was at the end. "it certainly does not absolve the Bush administration from the errors that it made before and after the war and continues to make today."

I think "errors" is a nice way of saying "Lies"...


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Rono]
    #4329020 - 06/23/05 05:08 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Still pushing that whole "lying" canard, I see. Oh well.

No comments on the salient points of the essay itself?



Phred


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OfflineJ4S0N
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4329044 - 06/23/05 05:13 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Worth it for who? The Iraqi people who lost loved ones? The American economy? The nations deficit? The soldiers that will never come home?

War is no good for anyone


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"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." ~ William Colby, Former Director, CIA


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InvisibleGijith
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4329074 - 06/23/05 05:22 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

I think the question isn't worth answering


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OfflineRoseM
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4329116 - 06/23/05 05:36 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

You bet your sweet ass the war was worth it.

But, I would've waited a year or two and caught Bin Laden first. Let the UN finish doing what it wanted to do. Formed a better coalition... ya know... the LOGICAL stuff. The shit the UK suggested in the Downing Street Memo.

I also, wouldn't have lied to go to war. That betrays the very kids who have died, and were injured in Iraq. :smirk:

Saddam broke his promises to the USA, when we left Iraq the last time, and he didn't do what the UN insisted. He shot at our planes. He denied his people the aid they WERE given. Saddam had long since lost his country ruling privileges in my book.

I think this was FINE legal grounds for war because of things SADAM ACTUALLY DID... so WHY did we have to blur 9/11 with Iraq, and why did we have to cry WMD's? That is why we were TOLD to go to war. And we were told this by the guy who controls our fucking military!

I'm happy Sadam's gone... but I never feared him, not after the first Gulf War... before, yeah I was a bit afraid... I'd never known an American war in my lifetime.

I'm just fucking pissed that we cut our hunt for Bin Laden short, and pared it down to a skeleton crew... and that we had no plan for AFTER THE Iraq MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED.

And where were the Iraqis with the flowers? Weren't they supposed to fill the streets?


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OfflinePhred
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Rose]
    #4329313 - 06/23/05 06:44 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Cervantes writes:

Quote:

You bet your sweet ass the war was worth it.

But, I would've waited a year or two and caught Bin Laden first.




So your objection isn't on the action taken but on the process by which that action was taken? How lawyerly, how Kerry-esque a point of view you present! I admit I'm more than a little surprised to read it.

What is your logic behind waiting? I note that bin Laden has yet to be captured. What is your rationale for giving Hussein two and a half (or likely more) years to further brutalize his people, subvert further the Oil for Food program, and possibly restart his nuke program? Would Hussein have likely been easier or more difficult to overthrow in ... say... 2006 or 2007 than he was in 2003? If your answer is "easier", would you provide a few supporting reasons why you believe that would have been the case?



Quote:

Formed a better coalition...




Oh please. Do you honestly think the addition of a few platoons of Frenchmen would have made the slightest bit of difference? Which military power of any significance was missing?

Quote:

I also, wouldn't have lied to go to war.




Assumes facts not in evidence. No one has yet shown Bush lied to get the US into it.

Quote:

I think this was FINE legal grounds for war because of things SADAM ACTUALLY DID... so WHY did we have to blur 9/11 with Iraq, and why did we have to cry WMD's?




Because after 9/11, everyone's way of looking at the world changed. Things which were in the past tolerated from the world's bad actors were no longer judged tolerable. As for the WMD issue, the intelligence services of the world believed Hussein had neither destroyed all his stockpiles nor had he destroyed his WMD programs. You know... the shit the UK suggested in the Downing Street Memos.

Quote:

I'm just fucking pissed that we cut our hunt for Bin Laden short, and pared it down to a skeleton crew...




Ah... the old "can't walk and chew gum at the same time" canard. You are of course aware that the troops used to resume hostilities in Iraq would be of quite literally no use in the search for bin Laden, aren't you? He'll be found not by lining up a daisy chain of troopers linked arm to arm at one end of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Kashmir or Uzbekistan or wherever he hangs his turban these days and marching slowly across the country beating bushes and poking gopher holes with bayonets (as if the leaders of said countries would ever allow such an operation in the first place), he'll be found through an informant or a traitor or SIGINT intercepts or overflights by spy drones or all of the above. It's quite possible to do both simultaneously and you have no evidence that everything I mention isn't being done as you read this post.


Phred


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InvisibleVvellum
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4331269 - 06/24/05 04:29 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Was the war worth it? As an American citizen who pays taxes and knows guys out in Iraq, my answer is no. Iraq posed no threat to the citizens of my country.


Edited by bi0 (06/24/05 04:49 AM)


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InvisibleVvellum
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4331310 - 06/24/05 04:53 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Ah... the old "can't walk and chew gum at the same time" canard. You are of course aware that the troops used to resume hostilities in Iraq would be of quite literally no use in the search for bin Laden, aren't you? He'll be found not by lining up a daisy chain of troopers linked arm to arm at one end of Pakistan or Bangladesh or Kashmir or Uzbekistan or wherever he hangs his turban these days and marching slowly across the country beating bushes and poking gopher holes with bayonets (as if the leaders of said countries would ever allow such an operation in the first place), he'll be found through an informant or a traitor or SIGINT intercepts or overflights by spy drones or all of the above. It's quite possible to do both simultaneously and you have no evidence that everything I mention isn't being done as you read this post.




...so, the billions and billions of tax dollars being spent in Iraq cannot be used to further strenthen and fund intelligence and covert operations in the search for bin laden? Give me a break.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4331403 - 06/24/05 07:30 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

> Whether This War Was Worth It

Honestly, I don't know... and ironically, this is why I am so upset at Bush. The president lied to me, again and again and again. He knew what he was doing and he lied to me intentionally because he didn't trust that I would support his reasons for going to war. This, I will not forgive. I don't ask a lot from my employees, but I expect them to speak the truth to me. I hired Bush to run the country, not to pull the wool over my eyes when he needs my support.

Time will tell if the war was worth it or not. The problem is, I don't know why we went to war. I was told we went to war because of WMDs, a connection between Iraq and Bin Laden, and the dire threat of terrorism from Iraq. These were pretty good reasons go to war... unfortunately, they were lies. If we went to war to help the people of Iraq, then I definitely think it was worth it... If we went to war to help stabilize the oil market (laugh), then no it was not worth it. If we ... Do you see my problem? How can I judge the worth of something if I don't understand the motivation behind the action.

What I do know, all other factors ignored, is that we went to war with Iraq because of Bush's ego... and for this, the war is certainly not worth it. Other reasons may mitigate this, but the lies don't help me to trust that other reasons really exist... or that any good that comes out of the war is simply by accident.

Quote:

This is a favorite trope of those opposed to the death penalty, for example (and of defense attorneys everywhere, really ) -- "Why put this young man to death? His death won't bring back his victims, after all!"




At risk of derailing this thread, I want to comment on this as well. The only reason I am against the death penalty is because if we make a mistake and execute the wrong person, we cannot give them their life back. It has happened in the past and it will happen in the future. As long as there is a chance that an innocent person is executed, I cannot support the death penalty. (If other want to discuss this, please start a new thread...)


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InvisibleSwami
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Seuss]
    #4331547 - 06/24/05 09:51 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

What I love was when Bill O'Reilly was asked point blank if he would sacrifice his son for the "liberation" of Fallujah. No answer.

Same goes for our patriotic Congressmen. They believe in it so mcuh as to send someone else's sons to their death.

I would ask the exact same to the hawks here: would you willingly sacrifice a loved one for the sake of oil, elections, or whatever the hell it is we are doing there besides creating more anti-American sentiment and breeding more terrorists.

A simple and honest "Yes" or "No" is sufficient response although that won't happen as it is too direct and to the heart of the matter.


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Invisibleblacksabbathrulz
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Swami]
    #4331576 - 06/24/05 10:20 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

No I wouldn't sacrifice a loved one, however I will certainly support anyone who wants to fight the war, and these people KNOW they may die. You can't sacrifice anyone to a war, that is the person's choice alone, so it really is a retarded question to ask someone if they would sacrifice their son like Moore did to O'reilly.


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Invisible1stimer
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Phred]
    #4331725 - 06/24/05 11:32 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

What pisses me off about the iraq war isnt so much the war itself, its all the lies behind it. You want to know how to tell if Bush is lying. Just wait for him to open his mouth.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Swami]
    #4331756 - 06/24/05 11:42 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

I would sacrifice myself if it meant a better life for the Iraqi people. However, I don't believe that the Iraqi people's best interests were at heart when the war was launched (or now for that matter). I personally feel that the war was about one thing and one thing only... lil' Bush jr. had a personal grudge with Saddam and is shallow and egotistical enough to destroy the world to get him. Well... he got him... and now we are left with this mess.

> You can't sacrifice anyone to a war, that is the person's choice alone

Your right... those draftees would have volunteered for Vietnam if we had just given them more time to think it through... They weren't forced to fight a war they didn't agree with. They weren't jailed if they refused. The politicians that were running the war obviously had the soldiers best interests in mind before politely asking them to make the right choice and go into battle.

> so it really is a retarded question to ask someone if they would sacrifice their son like Moore did to O'reilly

I disagree. Perhaps the word sacrifice isn't the best as it implies that they know their son may die... but to ask somebody how they feel about a loved (or child) serving in Iraq is certainly not a retarded question. How many members of congress have children or grand-children fighting in Iraq... ONE? I don't see Bush leading by example and taking his daughters to the army recuitment center to sign up for a few tours of duty. Hmmm... I wonder why not...


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Invisibleblacksabbathrulz
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Seuss]
    #4331875 - 06/24/05 12:15 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Seuss said:
I would sacrifice myself if it meant a better life for the Iraqi people. However, I don't believe that the Iraqi people's best interests were at heart when the war was launched (or now for that matter). I personally feel that the war was about one thing and one thing only... lil' Bush jr. had a personal grudge with Saddam and is shallow and egotistical enough to destroy the world to get him. Well... he got him... and now we are left with this mess.

> You can't sacrifice anyone to a war, that is the person's choice alone

Your right... those draftees would have volunteered for Vietnam if we had just given them more time to think it through... They weren't forced to fight a war they didn't agree with. They weren't jailed if they refused. The politicians that were running the war obviously had the soldiers best interests in mind before politely asking them to make the right choice and go into battle.

> so it really is a retarded question to ask someone if they would sacrifice their son like Moore did to O'reilly

I disagree. Perhaps the word sacrifice isn't the best as it implies that they know their son may die... but to ask somebody how they feel about a loved (or child) serving in Iraq is certainly not a retarded question. How many members of congress have children or grand-children fighting in Iraq... ONE? I don't see Bush leading by example and taking his daughters to the army recuitment center to sign up for a few tours of duty. Hmmm... I wonder why not...




I understand what you are saying, however, people know when they sign up for the war that they may have to fight a war that they don't agree with, and they may have to die for something they don't agree with, but they still chose to sign up. Bush didn't take his daughters to the recruiting center, because they probably didn't want to go. If they wanted to that would be their decision, a person can't just take their kids to sign up for the military.


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InvisibleSilversoul
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: blacksabbathrulz]
    #4332020 - 06/24/05 12:47 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

blacksabbathrulz said:
No I wouldn't sacrifice a loved one, however I will certainly support anyone who wants to fight the war, and these people KNOW they may die. You can't sacrifice anyone to a war, that is the person's choice alone, so it really is a retarded question to ask someone if they would sacrifice their son like Moore did to O'reilly.



Not everyone in the military who's over there signed up because they wanted to go to war. True, they did sign up with the knowledge that they might be called to do so, but usually they just want money for college. Like bi0, I have friends getting shot at over there as we speak. Friends who don't support this war, and definitely do not support president Bush. If they come back in a casket, you bet your ass it won't be worth it.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Silversoul]
    #4332067 - 06/24/05 01:01 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

> but usually they just want money for college.

I really dislike this practice, but I understand that it exists. People shouldn't be required to bet their life for a chance at college... and the ones that do are simply taking advantage of the system that was setup to help the soldiers that are risking their lives in order to protect my rights and liberties (in general, not just with Iraq).


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Invisibleblacksabbathrulz
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Re: Whether This War Was Worth It [Re: Silversoul]
    #4332254 - 06/24/05 01:47 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Paradigm said:
Quote:

blacksabbathrulz said:
No I wouldn't sacrifice a loved one, however I will certainly support anyone who wants to fight the war, and these people KNOW they may die. You can't sacrifice anyone to a war, that is the person's choice alone, so it really is a retarded question to ask someone if they would sacrifice their son like Moore did to O'reilly.



Not everyone in the military who's over there signed up because they wanted to go to war.  True, they did sign up with the knowledge that they might be called to do so, but usually they just want money for college.  Like bi0, I have friends getting shot at over there as we speak.  Friends who don't support this war, and definitely do not support president Bush.  If they come back in a casket, you bet your ass it won't be worth it.




It definitely wouldn't be worth it :frown:


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