This is what we are up against

Wolcott lists quotes from Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today; Jack Beatty, journalist, biographer, and Atlantic Monthly senior editor; Father Andrew Greeley, columnist and novelist and considers them three wise men because they support his view:

This time of the year we celebrate ”peace on Earth to men of good will.” Americans must face the fact that they can no longer claim to be men and women of good will, not as long as they support an unnecessary, foolish, ill-conceived, badly executed and, finally, unwinnable war. [James Wolcott. Three Wise Men. 25 December 2004]

There are many things to consider here. One is that his opinion about the merits of the war in Iraq are just that – opinions. However he elevates them to truths and then condemns (judges) those who disagree with him as unworthy. Another is his populist argument using celebrities to support his view rather than the merit of their arguments. These methods should raise skepticism in anyone trying to make sense of Wolcott’s position.

Then there is the point brought up by a religious leader on Fox News Sunday this morning about the golden rule. What does it mean to your neighbor when you do nothing about his suffering? What does it mean when you turn a blind eye towards the suffering of others? What does it mean when you not only not do anything but condemn those who act to attempt to relieve the suffering?

There are so many issues to examine. “Badly executed” does not seem to correlate very well with unprecedented measures of combat effectiveness demonstrated by the US in its Iraq campaign. “Ill conceived” seems to deny more than ten years of UN resolution violations and a 1998 act of the US congress among other factors. “Unnecessary” implies that the filling of mass graves, the oil for food scandal and many other attrocities should have been ignored and allowed to continue. “Unwinnable” will only occur if we become loosers ourselves in our attitude and in our caring for others. These opinions have plenty of room for honest disagreement without casting aspersions and judgments on those who disagree.

We saw what this kind of thinking did in Vietnam: the killing fields of Cambodia, the boat people, thirty years of oppression. Do we want it to happen again? Do we really want to accept such misery as inevitable? Or do we think it is possible to do better – can we accept that the benefits of our own liberty and freedom can be exercised by others?

What is it we should stand for?

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