Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reader Mail

I don't get a lot of comments, and I can't particularly complain - mostly I just like to babble and email the odd duck that shares my drinking habits. But I recieved what seems like a record number in the last day, so I shall address them here:

First, Kevin and Goon regarding Cindy Sheehan: it is possible to be glad you didn't meet the President in retrospect because you're aware of what a voice it's given you in shaping the lives of others. Most of the people in this world roll with what life gives them, and when it comes up roses despite the daisies they know enough to be thankful and hope that they can make an impact on the lives of others. As for horrible altar-boy, Eagle Scout raising, Marine-inducing mother Cindy Sheehan (so sayeth Jon Stewart), it doesn't matter whether I like her personally or not, I don't know her, but I can sympathize with her loss, I can still appreciate the impact she's having on dialogue about the war. I can appreciate the fact that she's raised awareness about a president who did refuse to meet with her (important things to do, like biking with Lance and playing his presidential guitar - and it's not like he has a good track record about being open, attending funerals, et al), and I can appreciate the parallels with our own MN State Senator Becky Lourey, who said:
"There is an isolation here of President Bush from the people," said Lourey, "(and)it seems to me as I am looking around that it is wrong, that a person who makes life and death decisions is insulated from the people who suffer the consequences of those decisions."

More than anything, I appreciate the fact that there is a segment of the population that doesn't think Cindy Sheehan should be talking at all and that she's doing a disservice to her son and to her country. I fully believe they're wrong.

As for nation building exercises, you won't actually get an argument out of me that reservists in the National Guard are more suited for nation building than full time soldiers - different set of skills, less likely to shoot, no arguments. You won't even get an argument out of me that nation building is inherently wrong. We have a long and illustrious history of nation building, and if you're completely against globalization to the point of isolationism maybe you have some issues with it, but it's been a much more constructive process than financially penalizing countries and beating on them again and again until you hope they learn a lesson. My argument, and this is only a tiny little piece of all of it, we'll just skip past WMDs and all that jazz, is that if you're going to send reservists and machinery to Iraq, and you know they're used to fight forest fires, flooding and other natural disasters, and in states with a high poverty level where local resources are not sufficient and national intervention is a necessity, perhaps it would behoove you to include some sort of provision for the reallocation of resources in your nation building plan to compensate for lack of resources domestically. There wasn't a good plan to get into a war. There weren't good contingency plans to handle the war, despite the fact that serious issues were already arising in "management" during Afghanistan. There weren't/aren't good plans to get Iraq out of the pacification stage into the self-management stage (at least not by the Administration). There aren't good plans to get us out (my local newspaper has engagement announcements that include, (I quote loosely) "will be married when back from his tour of Iraq in 2007). And there were even fewer plans to mitigate how it would affect us domestically. I like Francis Fukuyama's (subscriber link) quote in "Nation Building 101" in The Atlantic on the problem (though he uses one of my least favorite excuses, 9/11 changed everything - but at least he references Michael Ignatieff, one of my favorite sources for how human rights should be considered in the context of dystopic studies), that there was a:
"failure to develop contingency plans against the possibility that the Iraqi state would almost completely collapse"

at which point Fukuyama draws parallels between failed states, poverty and terrorism (among other issues).

Of course, if you really need to read about nation building, The Rand Organization has their whole study on line in PDF format, and Wikipedia has a brief little article detailing the history.
Some critics say Bush's zeal for running Iraq and transforming it into a democracy sounds just like the nation-building efforts he campaigned against. On Oct. 11, 2000, then-Texas Gov. Bush said: "I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean, we're going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not." But yesterday White House press secretary Ari Fleischer proved the critics wrong once again. "During the campaign, the president did not express, as you put it, disdain for nation-building," he said. So there you have it." --Kamen, 02.28.03


Anonymous said...
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klund said...

What I don't like about Sheehan is that it seems like all she's doing is playing politics. She met with the President once already, what more does she expect? Is W going to come out and say, "You know, you're right! It was a mistake to invade Iraq, and I killed your son for no good reason."? I don't think so.

She knows the President isn't going to meet with her, and she knows that even if he did, he isn't going to say anything different than he's said a thousand times. All she's doing is getting face time on TV by blackmailing the office of the President. And that's what really bugs me.

I believe that her grief is real, and I sympathize with her loss. I also tend to agree with most of what she says. However, I strongly disagree with her methods and her disrespect to the President (not the person, but the office).

So there you have it. And, since this will appear on your blog, I will follow the requirements to include at least one Wiki link.