[SPORK] Something I REALLY want John Hall to Try To Understand
Sat, 22 Mar 2003 15:41:05 -0500
>>> Doing the "RIGHT" thing the "WRONG" way is
>>> still "WRONG." The end does not justify
>>> the means -- something most of us learned
>>> in elementary school but which, apparently,
>>> many of us have forgotten.
>> I have to say that I agree with you in a
>> vacuum, but when the expense of my moral
>> superiority is counted in the coin of human
>> lives, my moral superiority leaves a very
>> bad taste in my mouth.
> No obligation.
> Inaction does not put the responsibility for
> Saddam's atrocities in our laps. If you
> believe otherwise, then we must also be to
> blame for *everything* evil in the world.
> You can sign up for that. I do not.
I will admit that I disagree with you on your opinion of inaction.
I remember when we first reported on station for =93Operation Restore Hope=
=94 in Mogadishu, Somalia. Although I was an engineer in the Navy, our shi=
p carried U.S. Marines. They returned to the ships often with stories of h=
ow welcome we were, how the populace regarded us as "angels" who had come t=
o rescue them from the oppression of General Aideed (who ruled the fiefdom =
of that part of Somalia).
We stayed there for many months, doing absolutely nothing because our new P=
resident, Bill Clinton, was determined to find a "better tasting" political=
solution. In fact, the routing codes for our orders indicated that they ha=
d come directly from the White House instead of the usual military channels=
, something we never saw in the Gulf War. I suppose that he was doing his =
best to demonstrate how "different" he was from George Bush, Sr.
Eventually the people in Mogadishu came to despise us because we witnessed =
the misery of their lives, day after day, and did nothing. They actually s=
eemed to hate us more than their oppressors because it was obviously within=
our power to do something about it, and yet we did nothing but legitimize =
their oppressors with endless dialog.
Not a whole lot is different there today.
Before 9/11 we thought that our policies of "contain and erode" were morall=
y "better tasting" than direct action. After all, they had worked with the=
The attack on America by a handful of talented and driven men, trained and =
supported by interests in several countries, changed the way that we looked=
at a lot of things. Our actions since then are not simply following a =
=93chain of responsibility=94 so we can mete out just punishment. The fact=
is, we are now faced with an enemy than can *not* be contained. Afghanist=
an was a nation state that helped support the infrastructure of terror. It=
is no longer anywhere near as effective. Soon, Iraq will no longer be any=
where near as effective, either.
I=92m sure that there is more to come, and I sympathize with the world as i=
t stands up and takes notice of this.
I don't know how accurate these facts are, but I read somewhere that though=
we represent 5% of the world's population, we drive somewhere around 40% o=
f the world's economy. Even if it is inaccurate, I think it is safe to say=
that America is probably one of the most economically influential countrie=
s in the world. I also read that we spend about 4% of our GNP on supportin=
g our military, a number that is not great when compared to the percentages=
other countries devote to their military. But I also read that the 4%, wh=
en expressed in actual dollar amounts, is more than all the other countries=
of the world combined. An exaggeration? Perhaps. But I think that it is=
safe to say that the US has the most capable and effective military in the=
When you look at the power wielded by this small percentage of the world's =
population, economically and militarily, you have to admit that it is quite=
Drifting back to Mogadishu, I remember how wrong it felt to *have* the powe=
r to help those people and do absolutely nothing about it except stand asid=
e and bear witness.
Thinking of the power that we wield as a nation, I have a similar feeling w=
hen I imagine us doing simply nothing about Afghanistan or Iraq.
This brings me back to my original point, where I disagree with Jeff's stat=
ement on inaction.
Without a single entity of even coalition of countries that can even be one=
quarter as effective as we are right now, how can we just sit there and do=
How can that possibly NOT be construed as support for Saddam's regime?
I don't "sign up" for assuming responsibility for "everything evil in the w=
orld" that is ridiculous... but neither will I stand idly by and let "every=
thing evil in the world" have free reign.
Especially when the power that I wield is a threat to that evil whether I u=
se it or not.
As such, I am a target, no matter what I choose to do.
Michael E. Cummins
Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
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