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After Kerry Wins . . .

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That was another very thorough and well-grounded defense of your argument, Oldsalt.  Thank you.  I'd like to add that you and the others who are going to vote for Bush are really swaying me more to your side; but it's also because my father is an American soldier, who had been in Iraq in the first year of the war (feb 2003 to March 2004) and is about to be deployed there again.

I'm VERY well aware of the overwhelming support the military has for Bush.  I LIVE in a military post--so I can see it all the time.  What I meant by your argument "loosing weight" was that Bush is gradually loosing the support.  I didn't say an overwhelming majority oppose him, and I certainly did not intend to imply that the military would support Kerry more.

My father, unfortunately, seems to one of those few disillusioned soldier who think their lives are being wasted for oil.  We discussed this about a month ago, but he wasn't entirely certain.  Before being deployed he sincerely believed--as nearly all soldiers did--that there were WMD's in Iraq. 

I'm not sure how widespread this growing distrust and disillionment is in the military, but I certainly know that my father is part of it--and it may be growing.

Tom, you can tell your father that he was right: the war in Iraq happened because of oil. It just wasn't the our oil interests; it was France's, and the Russia's interest in oil that caused the war. Now that the story of the utter corruption of the international community is ever so slowly making its way into the publics awareness, by way of the UN Oil-for-Food scandal, we are learning that France and Russia (to name only the biggest players) told Saddam not to worry about the storm gathering on his doorstep because they wouldn't let the US go to war against him. Saddam couldn't let the status of his WMD be known because of the damage to his prestige. It was their oil deals that allowed Saddam to keep them in line, not ours. (For anyone interested in the UNScam story, check out the Wall Street Journal archives. Their journalist is the only one who has been on this story, to the shame of the rest of the media.)

So, your father is correct, in a way, just not the way he thinks.

I know our guys are getting tired; they have every right to be.

Nothing wears you out like living in an atmosphere of fear, and there's no greater atmosphere of fear than a war. When I was in Viet Nam, I always felt it worse while in relative safety at a base hospital than I did at a forward aid station. The occasional missle, or hand granade, or sniper, is harder to live with than the constant. In my experience with soldiers in the field, this isn't something that they talk about very much, or even recognize for themselves. It is a part of the job, so once accepted, most are loathe to bring it up. It plays on the mind like chinese water-torture, though, and is very wearing.

The reason for the loss of morale is (generally speaking) two-fold.

1. Among the reservists and Guardsmen, it is because they have been deployed repeatedly since Bosnia. These are people who have said that they will leave their jobs and their families to serve in an emergency. This differs from our regular forces, who have already made the decision to be separated from their families on a regular basis. Though a business is supposed to hold a member's job, the reality is that a member suffers loss of pay and loss of promotion. The "emergency" in Bosnia, and like adventures, isn't quite what they had in mind.

The second, and ultimately more important, reason for any general loss of morale is due to what is happening here at home. Aside from what they hear from family and friends, the "news" they get consists of the distorted reports, and down-right lies, of the media. The people who are there know that we aren't getting the truth, bad or good. The media (and the Dems) have pounded at the idea that we have no business in Iraq and are losing. Many loudly vocal citizens agree. How long would you be keen to keep at it when you know that, not only do you not have support at home, but that your fellow soldiers, Marines and sailors are being abused? Why would you want to continue to fight for your country when your country rejects your efforts? Shades of Viet Nam; I can't tell you how much it disgusts me.

Part of the blame for this lies with the Bush administration for an almost total lack of propaganda backing the war and the actual thinking behind it. What they do tell us is inarticulate drivel.

We are "nation building," not because we are so wonderfully altruistic, but because we are seeking to neutralize the enemy and all that backs him. It is the long-term goal to secure the US. If you read the history of the Middle East, it is easy to see how they came to this solution. (Plus, of course, they have the example of post WWII to inspire them.)

For those who worry about Iran: Do you honestly think that the military that has planned, fought and won two spectacular battles has no plans drawn up for that country? And Syria? Just because Bush plays the political game doesn't mean that we won't take care of Iran. Only an irresponsible government announces its plans for war for the world to see. The clues are there to see, however, if you pay attention.

Most of this war is being fought behind the scenes, as Bush told us would happen. Just because we don't hear about certain things doesn't mean nothing is happening. Remember that our resources in men and material are not unlimited. Wars are fought and won based on logistics as much as force. Even the US is not able to be everywhere at once.

I reiterate that what happens on the home front, the support given the troops especially, is as important in the conduct of the war as any other variable. It doesn't mean that we sit back and swallow our opinions, but it does mean that we must trust the professionals to a certain extent. We are ignorant of too much information to opine with certainty. Remember, knowing the philosophy of science won't make you a rocket scientist, anymore than knowing Objectivist philosophy will make you an expert in warfare or geopolitics.

As an aside: The Deifer (sp?) Report is some 1000 pages long. The media took a paragraph from the first few pages and have turned it into an election talking point. They chose what they did because it seems, taken completely out of context, to justify the stance taken by so many reporters. If you slog your way through that report, however, you will get a much different picture of the danger Iraq posed than the one the Dems and the MSM is painting. You will also have a good understanding of the role our "allies" in Europe, the UN, certain media people, and various politicians in several countries played in making war with Saddam inevitable. It also gives an (inadvertant) insight as to why the media has treated everything associated with Iraq the way they have. It is an important report, and I highly recommend it.

I'm sorry for all the long posts. I don't know if the subject doesn't lend itself to brevity, or I'm too inept to express myself succinctly. B)

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If Kerry is elected, I believe he will run the war in a similar vein as Bush is doing now.

For Heaven's sake, Kerry thinks the whole war has been ILLEGITIMATE from the get-go, as it didn't pass the "global test" of the UN! How can you expect him to continue the war if he doesn't even think we have a RIGHT to fight it?

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For Heaven's sake, Kerry thinks the whole war has been ILLEGITIMATE from the get-go, as it didn't pass the "global test" of the UN! How can you expect him to continue the war if he doesn't even think we have a RIGHT to fight it?

Is there confusion here? Which war are you talking about? The War on Terrorism or the Iraq War?

President Bush sees the latter as an aspect of the former. On the other hand, Senator Kerry says the Iraq War is a diversion from the War on Terrorism. It is the Iraq War that he has talked mostly about in terms of getting the "community of nations" involved. I have never heard him complain about lack of international involvement in Afghanistan. He has whined mostly about the U. S. not catching more of the Taliban there. (In that, he is right, but for the wrong reasons -- as usual.)

I do not support Senator Kerry. (I voted Sunday, and for none of the above.) Nevertheless, it is important to keep the various "wars" straight.

And nevermind that we are not officially at war at all!

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Is there confusion here? Which war are you talking about? The War on Terrorism or the Iraq War?

President Bush sees the latter as an aspect of the former. On the other hand, Senator Kerry says the Iraq War is a diversion from the War on Terrorism. It is the Iraq War that he has talked mostly about in terms of getting the "community of nations" involved. I have never heard him complain about lack of international involvement in Afghanistan. He has whined mostly about the U. S. not catching more of the Taliban there. (In that, he is right, but for the wrong reasons -- as usual.)

I do not support Senator Kerry. (I voted Sunday, and for none of the above.) Nevertheless, it is important to keep the various "wars" straight.

And nevermind that we are not officially at war at all!

Of course there would be no war in Iraq without 9/11 and the War on Terror, so I view the War in Iraq as a mere battle in the larger war.

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Is there confusion here? Which war are you talking about? The War on Terrorism or the Iraq War?

Both, in a way. Since Kerry thinks the Iraq War has been illegitimate because it didn't pass the "Global Test," isn't it reasonable to conclude that he may just as well think that a war against Iran--or Syria, or Saudi Arabia, etc.--would also be illegitimate, for the same reason?

If we have a President who won't fight unless the French give him permission to, we have a problem.

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What options would be left to us but a draft, and a greatly degraded military force as a consequence, if the professionals leave in droves.  I wouldn't count on them "just taking it" as MisterSwig suggests.

I don't think military professionals will abandon the war in droves simply because of whom we elect president. Their desire to protect Americans will outweigh their disgust with whoever is elected. Can you imagine a soldier coming home and telling his wife and friends: "I didn't want to fight for that no-good liberal traitor, so I left the military and abandoned all my buddies in Iraq." I don't think people join or leave the military because of who is president.

One should also consider the fact that many soldiers are trying to leave now, and Kerry isn't even president.

If the military disintegrates, I think it will be primarily because of this nation's self-sacrificial war policy, which is accepted on both sides of the aisle. You cannot practice such an idea consistently and expect your military to survive the effects.

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Please don't counter with the fact of our nuclear weapons.  As I've said before, the culture is no where near the point where it would allow wide-spread use of nuclear weapons.  To continue to use this as a point of debate, at this time, is to engage in constructing fantasy scenarios while America struggles for its continued existence.

The use of nukes is not a fantasy. It is a vision of victory. A vision which this country sorely needs if it wants to avoid mass slaughter of its troops. To give up on such a vision is to give up on victory.

I would not ask Objectivists to give up on the vision of a rationally egoistic culture, simply because today's culture is faithfully altruistic. If today's culture cannot accept the idea of wasting enemy nations to the point of unconditional surrender, then we should try to move the culture in that direction.

I found it interesting that you specifically mentioned that you didn't want me to counter with the nuke argument. So I went back and read some of your previous thoughts on this subject. It seems to me that, in the past, you have found various reasons to be against the use of nukes in this war--reasons which, even if true, I take to be insignificant compared to the costs of not nuking the enemy. For example, in this quote you argue that using nukes would not be good because of our dependency on Middle Eastern oil:

My first reaction to 9-11 was that we ought to nuke 'em all. It would send an indelible message to anyone who thought twice about attacking us again. Upon further reflection, however, I think that would be like shooting ourselves in the foot. We are defending our way of life, as well as our physical lives. That way of life requires fuel and a large part of that fuel comes from that region. We have valid interests there as long as we are barred from energy exploration and exploitation in this country. We've painted ourselves into a corner over this fact. Even if we had scrapped the laws barring energy independence on 9-12, we'd still not have had the time to make ourselves independent of Middle Eastern oil.

Elsewhere you seem to argue that using nukes would not be good because we should be concerned about the destruction of innocents:

If you advocate a nuclear attack, you are in fact advocating the destruction of innocents. It is unavoidable. Unfortunately, we will find ourselves facing the destruction of innocents no matter what we do, but I find the attitude that it doesn't matter to be abhorrent. This isn't a case of erecting a strawman, it is a part of the moral question being discussed. To pass off the death of innocents as a non-concern because one feels no responsibility for them is easy, especially since that person will most likely be sitting comfortably at home while others deal with the consequences. That is, indeed, taking no responsibility.

And elsewhere you argue that using nukes would not be good because, in addition to the world's economy tanking, the citizens of this nation would not stand for such a destructive act:

[T]o those who insist that we ought to nuke the enemy and be done with it: Aside from the fact that the economy of the world would tank if we destroyed the countries of the Middle East, this country would not stand for the destruction of all those people. You can talk about the ethics of collateral damage all you want, the people of this country would not allow it, or allow anyone who did it to remain in office. At this point. You may come to the (correct, as far as I'm concerned) ethical determination that this is the proper thing to do, but without the citizenry behind you, you would murder this country for all time by such an act. We may not have to ask for permission to protect outselves, but we do live in this world and the world would condemn us completely if we used nuclear weapons, and they would have most of the American people with them. If you think that the anti-Americanism and America hatred within this country is bad now, what do you think it would be after the destruction of Iran, for instance, whose government is as corrupt as it gets, but whose people are actively seeking freedom.

I suppose that if we weren't dependent upon Middle Eastern oil, if we showed the proper "concern" for innocents, if we knew the world's economy wouldn't tank, if we knew the world wouldn't hate us, if we knew that our citizens were ready and willing to support it, I suppose then you would advocate nuclear action against our enemies. But even then I'm not so sure.

In general, though you admit it would be the right thing to do, it seems to me that you are solidly against the use of nukes. (You argue repeatedly against using them.) If this is true, then I can understand your unwillingness to advocate their use as a means to victory in this war.

However, if you are not against the use of nukes on principle, then I cannot understand why you would put "oil", "innocents", the "economy", or "anti-Americanism" above the lives of our soldiers.

I would rather advocate for a self-interested war policy with the use of heavy bombing of enemy civilian population centers (including the use of nukes if necessary) than advocate for something that is going to result in more of our own soldiers dying in a seemingly never-ending, "generational" war against a military tactic (terror).

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I don't think military professionals will abandon the war in droves simply because of whom we elect president. Their desire to protect Americans will outweigh their disgust with whoever is elected. Can you imagine a soldier coming home and telling his wife and friends: "I didn't want to fight for that no-good liberal traitor, so I left the military and abandoned all my buddies in Iraq." I don't think people join or leave the military because of who is president.

One should also consider the fact that many soldiers are trying to leave now, and Kerry isn't even president.

If the military disintegrates, I think it will be primarily because of this nation's self-sacrificial war policy, which is accepted on both sides of the aisle. You cannot practice such an idea consistently and expect your military to survive the effects.

MisterSwig:

First a caveat: I really didn't expect to have any further discussions on the election. I'm exhausted from doing so much writing; this is obvious from my last few posts, which are rambling. This is due to the nature of my illness, so I ask your indulgence. If you can't grant it, there's no need to read further. That said . . . .

MisterSwig, you're assumptions about our military are contradictory:

1. You say that service members won't forsake their buddies or the security of this country just because Kerry is elected president.

2. You say that if they do, it will be because of the self-sacrificial war policies of both parties.

You are partly right to think that the professional forces will not leave their buddies or the security of the country. No one I know in the military would do such a thing lightly (such as Kerry did in Viet Nam). These are people who have dedicated their lives to this country and the people they serve with. I will tell you, too, that during a war, loyalty to their compatriots is the greatest priority. This is called unit cohesion. It is drilled into them. But it is more than that. During a war, there is an intimacy that happens only to those who exist in the reality of battle. One's world becomes constricted to the moment, because there is nothing more "right now" than someone trying to kill you. This mind-set exists even when you are not immediately engaged in battle, because you must maintain a constant high state of alertness, even when the bullets aren't flying at that split second. The individual isn't alone in this, everyone in the unit is in the same boat. It is imperative that the unit acts as just that -- a single unit, because each one depends on all the others to do their job if anyone is to survive.

Our culture, and so, our military, couches this fact in altruistic language. They always have. They don't have the philosophy to understand that one doesn't require an ideology of self-sacrifice to attain unit cohesion, or as a motivation to fight. A rational assessment of the situation would tell you that it is necessarially "all for one and one for all" if you are to survive. I don't expect people who have never considered such a concept to adopt this reasoning. I expect them to use the best method they have to evaluate, and express, what is required to achieve the mission and survive. Even so, the military doesn't promote self-sacrifice as the actual operating principle. General Patton said it best: (paraphrasing) The military doesn't expect you to die for your country; they expect you to make some other poor bastard die for his country.

Everything in the training and equipment is geared to protect the life of the fighter. In almost every instance of heroism I know, the hero didn't act self-sacrificially -- he was doing his job. That so many heroes (mostly unsung) do their job in a spectaculor fashion speaks to the character and integrity of the hero, not to some sick need to sacrifice himself. That is precisely the method and motivation of our current enemies, not our own people.

The military doesn't act without a purpose. They do what they do to complete their mission. If you understand this, you will see the contradiction I spoke of. Why should they continue their (life-threatening) work when their mission has been repudiated by the very people they are working for? THIS is when they would be acting self-sacrificially.

Do not make the mistake of projecting your philosophy or motivations onto those who do not share them. The vast majority of our forces in Iraq do not see what they are doing as "dying for the Iraqis." This is your assessment, not theirs. They are there doing their job, running a mission that they believe in. They are the ones on the ground. They are the ones who know what is actually going on. We do not. They know who is trying to kill them and why. That is the reality they live with daily. This is why we must trust their assessment. When we try to replace their knowledge of the facts with our ignorance, we insult them. In effect, we are saying to them that they are good enough to go out and die for what we believe to be the facts, but not for what they know, and worse, that we are willing for them to die for our belief, but not for theirs.

MisterSwig, I know that you are sincere when you worry about what you consider to be the unnecessary deaths in this war. I understand and appreciate your passion. I am passionate about this, too. Very. I don't think that you mean to insult the men and women who put themselves in the line of fire for the security of our country, but this is what you do. If the country does the same by electing the likes of Kerry, why would anyone choose to remain in danger?

Or is this what you are counting on? On the Chris Matthews show, Kerry said that casualties were justified when legitimated by fighting under the auspices of the UN, but not when we are fighting for ourselves. Are you counting on our forces to sacrifice themselves for this?

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In general, though you admit it would be the right thing to do, it seems to me that you are solidly against the use of nukes. (You argue repeatedly against using them.) If this is true, then I can understand your unwillingness to advocate their use as a means to victory in this war.

However, if you are not against the use of nukes on principle, then I cannot understand why you would put "oil", "innocents", the "economy", or "anti-Americanism" above the lives of our soldiers.

I would rather advocate for a self-interested war policy with the use of heavy bombing of enemy civilian population centers (including the use of nukes if necessary) than advocate for something that is going to result in more of our own soldiers dying in a seemingly never-ending, "generational" war against a military tactic (terror).

I am not against the use of nuclear weapons. Such weapons are not the panacea, however, that you seem to think they are. There are pluses and minuses to the use of any weapon.

When contemplating the use of any weapon during war, one must give thought to the entire context governing the decision to use one weapon over another, including the consequences. These consequences involve more than the lives of our military personnel, and military planners must look at all of them.

I had "second thoughts" about turning the Middle East into one huge piece of glass because I got over my emotional response and began to think critically about what would happen if we did so.

The economic ramifications for the country extend beyond the lack of energy for business and personal use, and all that means. The consequences for the military of wiping out the production of oil in the Middle East includes endangering our ability to conduct the war. The military runs on oil. In order to keep fighting, a huge part of the oil reserves of this country, with whatever we would be able to buy in the markets that are left, would have to go to the military in order for it to remain viable. (This is why there was rationing during WWII.) This is a vital logistical concern -- you can't run a military, much less a war, without enormous logistical support, which depends (and includes) on fuel. (Most members of the military don't even carry a gun, they support those few who do.)

Would the citizenry back up the use of nuclear weapons? If they won't, it would mean more than just political suicide for the president who authorized their use; it would mean suicide for the country because such use would split the country violently, and could end any support for fighting the enemy. We are already dangerously split. As long as the country is in the grip of its unreasoning fear of anything nuclear, the use of these weapons will be confined to deterence.

That doesn't mean that I think it will necessarily remain like this. If we were nuked ourselves, god forbid, I think the gloves would be off. Right now, however, I don't think it is a politically viable option. We are fighting over 50 years of anti-nuclear propaganda and you won't overcome that overnight.

"Collateral" damage: I want to put my concerns for the slaughter of innocents into perspective. When I speak of concern for "those who have to clean up the mess," I speak with some authority. My family was among the first military families allowed to live in Japan after the war. My mother was a nurse and worked with the American medical team that dealt with the survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. She never disputed the need to use those bombs -- she recognized that their use saved thousands of American lives (and even saved Japanese lives). She still had nightmares for the rest of her life. I don't take the consequences to our own people lightly, whether they are suffered by our forces or those civilians who work with our forces. Dealing with the aftermath of a mass slaughter isn't inconsequential to those who do it; it makes them a part of the "collateral" damage. If you are genuinly concerned about these people, you must take this fact into consideration. It isn't to be taken lightly.

When I say that those who refuse to fight any other way but the nuclear way are living in a fantasy world, I mean that they are not making sober judgments based on ALL the facts that need to be considered. The actual effect of not fighting unless it is a nuclear fight is no different than John Kerry saying he won't fight unless the war is sanctioned by the UN -- there is no engagment with the enemy either way and they win by default.

As for the "slaughter" of American forces: there has been no slaughter. Death on the battlefield is to be expected. The men and women who make up our forces understand this. Military planners calculate losses before every battle. Our country has invested more to protect its forces than any other country in the history of the world. It shows in the training, the equipment, and the tactics used. We've done an unprecedented job and it has resulted in amazingly few casualties in two theaters of the war. We've had fewer casualities in three years of war than we suffered in almost any single major battle fought in the Pacific in WWII. It will take a much greater danger to our military than the one they face right now to push us to accept the consequences of going nuclear in a big way.

Lebanon, Somalia, the Khobar Towers and the USS Cole were worse than a slaughter. They represent lives thrown away because they were allowed to die without answer, and to no purpose. For a soldier, sailor, or Marine, this is senseless slaughter, not dying on the battlefield to secure (and avenge!) your country.

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Boy, I am tired!  Please forgive the gross mistakes in grammar and spelling in my last two posts. :D

Funny, but I didn't notice any. Perhaps I was too over-awed by your solid grounding in facts and your clear, logical reasoning.

Also, as I read it, I saw that your words were worthy of a much larger audience than you are likely to find on OO.net, so my mind was racing ahead and formulating schemes for directing Objectivists and other clear-thinking people to your postings.

So stop being so damn apologetic! It's bad enough when other people criticize you unjustly, but it is absolutely obscene for you to criticize yourself. CUT IT OUT! :P This is my last warning before I really get nasty. :confused:

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Funny, but I didn't notice any.  Perhaps I was too over-awed by your solid grounding in facts and your clear, logical reasoning. 

Also, as I read it, I saw that your words were worthy of a much larger audience than you are likely to find on OO.net, so my mind was racing ahead and formulating schemes for directing Objectivists and other clear-thinking people to your postings.

So stop being so damn apologetic!  It's bad enough when other people criticize you unjustly, but it is absolutely obscene for you to criticize yourself.  CUT IT OUT! :P  This is my last warning before I really get nasty. :confused:

This was my thought and feeling also about oldsalt's post. I don't like feeling pity for heroes: they don't deserve it. :D

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