Monday, November 27, 2006

Links of the Week

I've changed the title of Monday's weekly post from "Articles of the Week" to the more appropriate "Links of the Week." The weekly schedule is:

Monday: Links of the Week

Tuesday: List of the Week

Wednesday: Misc.

Thursday: Photo of the Week

Friday: Misc.

Saturday: Video of the Week

As soon as I figure out how to post this schedule in the sidebar I will.

And now, without further ado, the Links of the Week:

What are the odds of dying?

Darfur. I wrote about this a few days ago... At the start of his first term George W. Bush received a memo about the genocide that ocurred in Rwanda while Clinton was President. Bush scribbled on top of the memo, "Not on my watch." Well, it is happening on his watch. In the NYT article I've linked to (you'll need Times Select) Kristof writes about the incredible heroism and sacrfice he has witnessed in Darfur:

"Invariably, the most memorable stories to emerge from genocide aren’t those of the Adolf Eichmanns, but those of the Anne Franks and Raoul Wallenbergs. Side by side with the most nauseating evil, you stumble across the most exhilarating humanity."

Of course, like Rwanda, all of this is happening on our watch.

Harriet Brown writes about helping her daughter cope with anorexia. "I stood in the middle of the kitchen and thought of how our lives had shrunk to the confines of these four walls. The counter and sink were piled high with dirty plates, ice cream tubs, glasses and pans. Between shopping, cooking, eating with Kitty, spending time with Lulu and going to work, my husband and I had no time for cleaning, much less anything else. Suddenly I was filled with fury. I grabbed a dish and smashed it on the linoleum, where it broke into half a dozen pieces. I broke another, and another, and another. There were so many things I couldn't fix or make right, so many feelings I couldn't handle."

Great article on the black/white and rich/poor achievement gap. The writer does a good job of presenting all sides. As I've written before, I feel that if MTC ran our own charter school in the Delta, if we had the kids from pre-K to 12th grade, we would be one of the highest achieving schools in the state.

Why the U.S. loses "Small Wars."

Finally, on a lighter note, Microsoft's new music player, the Zune, is a mess.


Anonymous said...

It kills me that the same folks who condemn Bush for sending our troops overseas, getting involved in an internal sectarian conflict in Iraq, and want to "bring our troops home" seemingly no matter the possible slaughter that may ensue if we were to do so, often are the same folks who condemn Bush for not sending troops into Darfur, or at least call on him to do so. Odd . . . but then that's the Left!

Robert said...

Dear Anonymous:

We did not send peacekeepers into Iraq to stop or slow an ongoing genocide. We invaded it to topple its government, explicitly for reasons that were false, and maybe secondarily for more sinister ones.


Robbie Pollack

Anonymous said...

It does not matter, with regard to the point being made here, why we GOT IN. I'm pointing out the hypocrisy and twisted logic of those who argue we should GET OUT. The reasons they offer for why we should get out are, among others: that we are involved in an internal conflict and, like in Vietnam, we should not get involved in such matters, and; we should not put our soldiers at risk, either for such reasons, or (sometimes it seems from what the left says) for any reasons. It is illogical to argue that we should get OUT OF Iraq for these reasons and yet argue to go INTO Darfur, when involving ourselves in Darfur involves the same circumstances. Moreover, if you argue that getting involved in other nations' internal conflicts is justified to stop or slow genocide, then you should be arguing to STAY in Iraq, because such a slaughter will most likely occur should we leave.

Ben Guest said...

We didn't get involved in an internal sectarian conflict (civil war), we created one.

By my count this is the third time in 25 years we have screwed Iraq. The first was when we supported Saddam with money, weapons, and a blind eye as he gassed and tortured his own people. The second is when we asked the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam and then turned a blind eye while they were slaughtered during Bush I. And the third is the worst of all: more than a hundred thousand Iraqis dead, 3,000 US troops dead, and more than 30,000 US troops wounded under Bush II. And a country that is now worse off than they were under Saddam. Oh, and Iraq is now a breeding ground for terrorists and extremists. But at least Bush caught Bin Laden...

I do agree with you that to pull the troops out now would result in a terrible slaughter, a slaughter that we would be responsible for. I agree with Colin Powell's position that if you break it, you own it. Well, we broke Iraq and now it is our responsibility.

The only solution that achieves any kind of victory is to drastically increase the troop levels, somewhere between 500,000 and a million, to secure the country. But you and I both know that a draft is the only way to get that many troops and you and I both know that is not going to happen.

So, then the decision becomes do we pull out now and let Iraq descend into chaos or do we pull out a year from now (and another 1,000 US troops dead and 10,000 wounded) and let Iraq descend into chaos?

As for Darfur, people are being slaughtered with machetes. All we have to do is attach some troops to a UN Peacekeeping force to stop them. Or did we learn nothing from Rwanda? Of course, there is no oil in Darfur, so why would Bush and Cheney be interested?

Anonymous said...

I enjoy debating you, Ben, but you should ditch the tired cliches (e.g., intimating Bush and Cheney went into Iraq for oil). (As an aside, given the central importance of oil to our economy and our safety, since the prime job of any administration is to protect the nation, it would not be irrational or immoral for any administration to do what is necessary to secure oil, just as it would not be immoral for any administration to do what is necessary to prevent Americans' slaughter under any circumstances. In fact, it might be immoral to do otherwise.)

Firstly, we didn't create a sectarian conflict - we may have unleashed it, but hatred between the involved groups existed before we entered the picture; Saddam merely kept a lid on it. Greater freedom releases pent up emotions -no way around it.

Secondly, whether involving ourselves in Darfur involves 10 or 100,000 troops, if you oppose continued involvement in Iraq b/c it's an internal conflict (it is now, whether we caused it or not, and CONTINUED involvement is the issue) and because you don't want American troops injured/killed and want to "bring our troops home", then, based on application of these principles, you must oppose involvement in Darfur.

Finally, it's funny that you characterize our abandonment of the Iraqis under Bush I as "screwing Iraq," when if we had done otherwise back then it would have involved us doing exactly what we did under Bush II - invading and taking over, or at least getting outselves involved in internal conflicts, in Iraq. Seems you now condemn Bush I for not getting involved in Iraq, and Bush II for getting involved in Iraq. Your a well-meaning fellow, Ben, but confused.

And one more aside - Iraq may be worse off now than under Saddam. This could either be a slow descent into a worse-off condition, or it could be growing pains. Growth - of nations or individual people - involves pain, sometimes chaos, until things reach some resolution or some equilibrium. Our nation was worse off after throwing off the British - we lost prestige, wealth, and power, we were much more vulnerable to attack, we experienced economic and political chaos under the Articles of Confederation, etc. That's growing pains. I'm sure you would not now argue that we should have stayed under King George's boot rather than risk the turmoil that ensued and that is the natural consequence of growth and change. Granted, Iraq's growing pains now are worse, but that still is not an arguement for choosing not to grow, or that these are not indeed growing pains.

Ben Guest said...

The instability that we caused by invading and then not securing Iraq caused the conditions for the civil war that now rages. Would you at least agree with that statement, anonymous? In any event, I think that we both agree that the U.S. now has responsibility for the country.

As for Bush I, he was wrong to ask the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam and then turn his back while they were slaughtered. He should have not asked them to rise up or he should have supported them with troops. I guess we just disagree on this.

If you are the same anonymous who commented on the Exodus post you have an interesting idea of morality. I think it is immoral to invade another country for their oil. Again, we will just have to disagree on this.

I don't oppose continued occupation of Iraq. As stated, I am for a continued occupation of Iraq with an overwhelming number of troops. If that is not going to happen (and it's not) then we have to acknowledge that we have lost and our troops are dying for nothing. If they are dying for a lost cause then we should bring them home. Don't you agree?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we can agree on most of what you say in your last post. And yes, this is the same Anonymous (I only use Anonymous b/c I've forgotten my password). But I must disagree that invading another country to secure the flow of oil is immoral. A nation's leader's responsibility is to his nation's security, not to the rest of the world. Should the oil supply be cut off or severely reduced, food no longer gets delivered around the nation, industrial production ceases,and because our military would be at a standstill and also we could not patrol our borders, we would be invaded by immigrants seeking to live here as well as leaving ourselves vulnerable to hostile armed attack. Thus I think protecting the supply of oil is tantamount to maintaining national security, which, if any president were to neglect, we would call him at best incompetent and dangerous, and at worst a traitor. But more to your point concerning whether invading another nation for oil is moral or not: nation-states have no moral standing one way or the other. Nation-states cannot be condemned to hell or be granted eternal life in heaven. There is no moral dimension to this thing called a "nation." It is just a thing, and acting upon this thing by entering it when some want you to do so and others don't, means nothing. Invading it is tantamount to petting a rock - the act has no moral dimension. Thus invading another nation in and of itself is neither moral or immoral.

Ben Guest said...

So, you think an administration deciding to invade another country to take their oil is both rational and moral? I thought you were a Christian? And you call me confused. Okay. So, you think Saddam was justified, rationally and morally, in invading Kuwait to take their oil?

Anonymous said...

You initially stated that you think it is "immoral to invade another country for their oil." This phrase "for their oil" is much more vague than your new phrasing, "to take their oil." Stealing, of course, is not a moral act. A country acting to prevent another country from holding the industrialized (and in effect then, the whole) world hostage by using its ample supply of oil in an aggressive manner, might not constitute "tak[ing] their oil," depending on how that goal is achieved. I do not believe Bush invaded Iraq to "take their oil," and that would not be morally defensible. My defense was of a country invading "for their oil," meaning to prevent this country from holding the world hostage with its oil, which I believe was more likely the motive than this "stealing." So - as I stated in the last post, the act of merely "invading" a country has no moral dimension; what one does while there, and the motives for going there, can turn an invasion into a moral or immoral act. Invading a country "for their oil" - and more specifically for the reason I stated above - is morally justified. Invading "to steal their oil" would not be. Thus Saddam would not have been morally justified in invading Kuwait "to take their oil," if indeed that was his motive.