4.0945 Responses on War and Protest (3/171)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 25 Jan 91 00:26:01 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0945. Friday, 25 Jan 1991.

(1) Date: Thu, 24 Jan 91 1:33 +0200 (95 lines)
Subject: RE: War and Protest

(2) Date: Thu, 24 Jan 91 10:01 C (50 lines)
From: "PAULO FRANCHETTI" <FRANCHET@ccvax.unicamp.ansp.br>
Subject: RE: 4.0929 War and Protest

(3) Date: Thu, 24 Jan 91 08:25:34 MDT (26 lines)
Subject: Re: 4.0929 War and Protest

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 91 1:33 +0200
Subject: RE: War and Protest

"Patrick J. O'Donnell" <U1095@WVNVM> writes:

Those who protest
against the war, however, are not by their protest saying that they
condone the attacks on Israel; rather, they are suggesting that Israel
would not have been put in this position in the first place (nor in
the incredible position of being pressured not to respond) had the
Allies sought other alternatives rather than war.
Hussein is evil or
mad or both, but it is a little hard for some in this country to
swallow all the moralizing rhetoric that goes along with the war
(and rhetoric does kill, just as metaphors for war can lead to real
bombs) when officials int his country, in the Soviet Union, France,
Germany, etc., have known that Hussein is evil or mad or both for
many years, and have armed him to the teeth anyway. To my mind, this
war is more the result of one of the most misguided foreign policies
in the history of the world than it is the case of fascistic madman
rising to power: he never would have assembled the fourth largest
military in the world had we (and by we I mean all of the countries
listed above and more) not provided to him in the first place--yes,
in exchange for oil, which is exactly what the slogan no blood for
oil refers to. We are now in the horribly ironic position of
trying to destroy, as it were, our own Frankenstein, but we, the
producers of the world's weapons, provided him with the power that
he has to threaten Kuwait, Turkey, Iran, and Israel.
[end deleted]


I have great sympathy for Mr. O'Donnell's dilemna. There is little
doubt that there is much about which one ought to be dis- gusted in the
background of this war. The West cynically supported Iraq against the
advice of - among others, Israel. Mr. O'Donnell thinks that it was
because of oil; I am less convinced than he that this was the chief
motivation for the support he received. I think that, in the case of
the US, a major motivation was to support an enemy of Iran; the US was
deeply committed to support of the Shah [perhaps oil was a major
motivation, then], and later its national pride was deeply wounded by
the ill treatment of the American hostages and the embarrassing failure
of the ill fated rescue mission. Thus, support for an enemy of Iran was
perceived as an extremely inviting method of "getting back." Other
nations were in it for money, as simple as that, just plain greed, the
denials of France not withstanding and the confessions of Germany
confirming. The Soviets, who need no oil at all, were in the game for
power, in their attempt to gain influence in the Middle East [perhaps, at
least partially, to comprimise Western oil scources]. For these reasons
alone, the slogan "No blood for oil" is at the very least simple minded.

There is a much more serious problem. The protest may be likened to the
statement "Yes, you seem to be behaving with adequate motivation now,
but we know how corrupt your motivation was in the past; therefore we do
not trust you and we will not support you." The possibility for
rehabilition is ruled out by a cynicism that seems to imply that nations
NEVER behave well. Isn't that a great over-simplification? Even if
there is reason to accept this cynical approach which would, by the way,
rule out all meaningful international action, is it not possible that out
of the most selfish motivation imaginable that a nation may act
properly? Is there not sufficient reason to examine the action in the
light of its intrinsic correctness? Taking into account motivation, of

James Joyce asked if it were possible - through angry, undirected action
which accidently produced a thing of beauty - to call the product art.
That problem is not settled; but he had no difficulty in admitting that
the object might be beautiful [or worthwhile, or correct]. That is what
is asked of you, at the most fundamental level.

The Western nations have been bad; but Saddam Hussein is evil, satanic.
He has invaded, captured, raped and annexed a nation, Kuwait, without
provocation. He has bombed civilian concentrations in neutral and
distant Israel without cause or provocation. He was given a reasonable
chance to withdraw from Kuwait; he not only refused, he laughed at the
presumption of the West and taunted them. He attempted to make hostages
of foreigners in his country and use them to "protect" military targets
[and has repeated the threat with captured soldiers, forced, after
obvious beatings, to testify on TV in his behalf]. He invented
unsubstantiated scapegoats, a plot by Israel and another by Kuwait
against Iraq. He could produce substantiation for neither.

Yes, Saddam Hussein is evil. While there is reason to believe that the
West has been bad, there is a fundamental difference between bad and
evil. Unlike the evil, those who are bad can and indeed do behave both
properly and well. Those who can not see that difference, I fear, are
trapped in a one dimensional world where neither action nor choice are

__Bob Werman
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------58----
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 91 10:01 C
From: "PAULO FRANCHETTI (IEL/UNICAMP)" <FRANCHET@ccvax.unicamp.ansp.br>
Subject: RE: 4.0929 War and Protest (2/54)

Ellis Knox, a Ph.D., wrote:

> Many people have voiced the opinion that war is not the way
> to solve the problems in the Middle East. This opinion
> baffles me. Implicit in this argument is that WE control
> events there.

I wonder how can someone be so naif... When he asks if WE (they,
americans) control events in Middle East, the only answer is YES, by
diplomacy, or by 25,000 ton of bombs! The argument of his entire letter
is unworth of a humanist. This, for example:

> I see in the West many people horrified by the war and
> deeply critical of their governments' policies. Where
> are such people in Iraq? Where are the demonstrators,
> the critics? Why is the Iraqi decision to go to war
> historically and politically understandable, even tolerable,
> and yet the Western decision to fight reprehensible and
> bloodthirsty?

and this:

> What we have had to do was to try to maintain political
> balance in a part of the world driven not by politics but
> by religion.

If there were such critical people in Iraq, we must be sure that now,
those are not yet dead are with Saddam. And, it goes for itself, I
presume: what a kind of right Ellis has in mind, if he thinks that West
(!) can always exterminate people (in american Far West or asiatic
Middle East) to bring civiliz- ation and political ethics to barbarian

I apologize for my English, in which I can hardly express any idea. But
I thought it was interesting to discuss here, among Humanists, how
humanistic erudition is not sufficient to save a brain from barbarity.

| Paulo Franchetti |"franchet@ccvax.unicamp.ansp.br"|
| Departament of Literary Theory | phone: (55-192) 529035 |
| Institute for Language Studies | fax: (55-192) 391501 |
| Universidade Estadual de Campinas | telex: (019) 1150 |
| Campinas -- Sao Paulo -- BRAZIL | |

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------34----
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 91 08:25:34 MDT
Subject: Re: 4.0929 War and Protest (2/54)

Alexander DiLella avers that the West has "created" Saddam Hussein: this
is a common argument, but it is misleading at best. We did not create
the man's values, his morality, or his ambitions. We sold him tools.
Perhaps we shouldn't have. Perhaps we should have let Iran become the
major power in the MidEast, should have allowed it to grow strong
instead of being bled in a costly war. You remember good, old,
rational, humane Iran, don't you?

However that may be, it's a done deed. Saddam is still not our creature.
I say again, it is a peculiar form of American (Western?) arrogance that
assumes that it is the cause of all that happens in the world, for good
or ill. Give these people some credit. They were producing both
monsters and high culture for centuries without our help.

I am not trying to absolve us of all responsibility; I'm merely trying
to point out that, even should we "learn" our "lesson", the world will
still produce a Saddam Hussein with depressing regularity. There's more
to the equation than arms merchants and imperialism.

Ellis 'Skip' Knox, Ph.D.
Historian, Data Center Associate
Boise State University DUSKNOX@IDBSU.IDBSU.EDU