This article was last modified on April 14, 2007.

Pensees: April 2007

I took part in an online forum from April 12-14, 2007 via the Appleton Post-Crescent. As I don’t have permission to post the words of others, I offer here some snippets of my ramblings. Perhaps someday, some of these can be expanded out to full essays with better research and documentation. As they are, they are just thoughts, and their accuracy is only as good as my own memory.


“I do not believe for a second that Iran has any desire whatsoever to pursue nuclear weapons. I believe there is clear evidence to the contrary.” (I have said this many times, including here on The Framing Business.)

“I sincerely believe Iran does not want to have a nuclear weapon. I ask you kindly to show me evidence they desire one or have the ability. I can show you multiple pieces of evidence that they would not want one and have no ability to make one.”

“Iran does NOT have a stated purpose to destroy Israel. It does NOT have a stated purpose to destroy infidels or non-Muslims. …rhetoric like this is tossed around and that is how we end up seeing them as barbaric rather than a civilized country. My assumption is you’re thinking about the claim that they want to “wipe Israel from the map”. I ask you to check your source, because this phrase was NEVER spoken. What was said was (I’m paraphrasing) “we wish to remove the Zionist regime from the pages of history”, which is a sentiment shared by most of the world (pretty much everywhere but America).”

“Iran is not providing weapons to the insurgents in Iraq. In fact, in many parts of Iraq, the Iranians are helping American soldiers with security detail.”

“It is possible that Iran has the most to gain if we pull out of Iraq. I think that’s a subjective and speculative claim. I could say the Kurds would have the most to gain, or the Iraqis. I understand your point, but an Iraqi-Iranian alliance is not in and of itself a bad thing.”

“Iran is the last place we need to be fighting.”

“I support Iran’s defiance of the UN inspectors.”

“Furthermore, as there are Jews in the Iranian government, it is safe to assume that Iran is not anti-Semitic (at least not as an establishment). So if he (Ahmadinejad) is anti-Israel, it’s purely political, not racial.”

“As far as his Holocaust comments, I don’t disagree with his comments when taken in context. He has not denied the Holocaust. His point was that it was GERMANY who was responsible for the Holocaust, yet the Arabs were the ones who were left with the burden of giving the Jews a home. How is that justice? The Arabs gave up land for a group they had nothing to do with, and Germany goes unpunished. Would you say that’s historically inaccurate or would you call the creation of Israel just? Because I can’t say that.”

“I disagree with the idea that jihadists could take over Iraq or that Iran somehow supports 9/11-style attacks. The facts haven’t changed: al-Qaeda are Saudi-influenced Muslims whose primary concern is getting America out of the Middle East. Iran has no connection to al-Qaeda and never has.”

Israel / Palestine

“I’ll absolutely agree with you the conflict in Israel/Palestine/Lebanon has gone on much too long and I do hope for peace.”

“I do understand the historical and Biblical ramifications of the state of Israel. I just don’t happen to think that religious belief should guide political decisions necessarily. You’re right they had settlements there, but we can agree that both Israelis and Palestinians had settlements. So from my point of view, giving it to one and not the other is unfair (I would have preferred a binational state). The Israelis, in my mind, had no more claim to the land than Celtic people have to England or American Indians have to America.”

WWII-Era Japan and Pearl Harbor

“I don’t accept the argument that Pearl Harbor or Hawaii was the United States. For me, it’s akin to attacking an embassy.”

“I fully accept the fact the territory was American. …It’s a fine distinction with a variety of legal interpretations. If a child was born there, yes, they’d likely be considered an American citizen (John McCain was born in Panama, for example). But to say it’s within national borders would be legally incorrect — the federal laws did NOT apply there.”

“I don’t mean to imply that Pearl Harbor wasn’t a “big deal”, though I think you might be exaggerating a tad with the [idea of Japan calling the Pacific Ocean a] “Japanese lake” and all that. Japan was a weak country, made even weaker by its dependence on Chinese oil. It posed no major threat to anyone. Whether we should have fought back or not is debatable — I believe in defense, but not in disproportionate offense.” (Japan was not a weak country in terms of land control, having much of Southeast Asia at this point… but land mass alone does not constitute power.)

“I am looking into Japan’s government and economy from 1918-1941 at the moment, but my understanding is they were nothing of any real significance. Dependence on foreign supplies, a weak economy and a limited population generally translate into a weak country.”

After looking into Japanese history, I made some concessions: “My current thinking on Japanese strength is as follows: Japan was very powerful after World War I, having captured much of Southeast Asia. Even entering into WWII they were a fairly powerful country. So, my assertion they were a “weak” country can be pretty easily disputed. I would point out by the 1930s they were becoming economically hurt (due to the Great Depression), the military was stretched pretty thin on the Western front (if Russia would have declared war on them prior to 1945, Japan would have been doomed) and they were reliant on American steel and Chinese oil. So, I will concede that “weak” was not the proper way to describe them, but they were certainly much more vulnerable in WWII than they had been 10 years prior…” (The important part of a debate is no to be right, but to grow and learn from the debate. I will glady accept this defeat knowing that I will be better prepared in the future.)

American Isolationism and the UN

“You’re almost right in saying I think we shouldn’t worry if other countries control resources. There’s nothing wrong in worrying about a lack of resources. But I think it’s silly to have the position that America has some special claim to resources and can take them by force. If I bring a sandwich to work and some stronger co-worker forgot his lunch, he has no moral claim to punch me and take my sandwich. Oil, and any other resource, should be secured via business and fair trade relations.”

“I would also agree that my primary concern is American mainland. I see other countries who build a strong defense without placing military bases in 100 countries, and they survive just fine and have adequate tax dollars left over to help out their people. So my priority is a strong (well-educated, healthy) America rather than a global presence.”

“…our [positive] economic impact on a country via the military is by no means an argument for a base, but rather one against a base in my mind — because that says to me funds are going to these countries rather than our own people.”

“I’m absolutely an isolationalist. I fully accept that label. What causes [isolationism] to be “discarded as unworkable”? Moving towards a more isolationalist standpoint and creating a more federated world government would lessen the burden for all.”

“I am not opposed to America intervening when a country specifically asks for help (Darfur, Liberia, Kuwait, etc.) — just when we make the decision over their heads.”

“I see no contradiction between isolationism and federalism. I am not so extreme in my isolationist views that I don’t think we should communicate or trade with other countries. I simply wish we would keep things that aren’t our business just that. A federalism where we had leaders who represented us on the world stage (like the UN, only democratic) would not be anti-isolationist, it would simply be cooperative.”

“I want an isolationism where we are part of a federalist body like the UN, just as I said. The UN is not democratic in the slightest. If you believe this, you do not understand the UN. With its lack of power to enforce decisions, and the core members’ ability to veto decisions, it is quite the opposite of democratic. It allows one country to say that the other countries’ votes have no power at all.”

“The Secretary General may be elected democratically. That is beside the point. When the Security Council votes, a handful of members have full veto authority. So if the vote is 100-1, but that one has a veto power, it doesn’t pass. That, to me, is as undemocratic as it gets. In America, we at least have the two-thirds veto override. The UN has no such procedure. Who the figurehead is over the organization doesn’t really matter much to me.”

Moral Relativism and Anti-Americanism

“I wouldn’t consider my positions relativist. I simply place my absolute values in other places than you do. I don’t see why any country should be treated as different from any other.”

“My views are not anti-American, but very pro-American. I wanted to make it clear that I do love my country. People that see my views as un- or anti-American express their own pro-American ideals in different ways. I don’t see being pro-American as pushing a strong military or striving for economic dominance. I see it as being a positive force in the world and keeping a good reputation by helping others and assisting our own people. Our foreign policy decisions over the past 50 years (and more so the last 6) have eroded our good name in the world… to want our country to reclaim its legacy of being a beacon of freedom and hope, I don’t think I’m anti-American.”

“I don’t care if people think I love my country or not, but I do care if they think I’m anti-American. As I love my country, clearly I can’t be anti-American.”

The Vietnam War

“Asserting American moral superiority because we’re a “bulwark of democracy” is, to me, no justification, and a gross mischaracterization — if anything, I see America as anti-democracy. Using Vietnam as one example, why is it legitimate to use war to push our version of democracy unwillingly on to people, but it’s illegitimate for North Vietnam to push their brand of communism? That seems absurd. Not only are we denying countries (and their people) the chance to make their own mistakes and choices, but we’d rather kill millions and destroy their economy in the process.”

“Did I say that the United States “made aggressive war against the people of North Vietnam”? I don’t believe I did. Which part of SEATO (the Manila Pact) am I misunderstanding?”

“I did not say “America wants to kill millions and destroy the economies of countries in the process”. I said “we’d rather kill millions and destroy their economy” in reference to Vietnam. I did not say that the GOAL of the Vietnam War was to kill millions or destroy an economy, nor did I say we WANTED these things. What I said was that we would rather go to war than allow a country to choose its own government (with the predictable byproducts of war being mass death and economic ruin). Whether you accept conservative or liberal interpretations of Vietnam, the fact we intervened to impose our preferred form of government and that millions were killed in the process is really not disputable.”

“My Vietnam statement is accurate to the letter. We were a part of the SEATO Treaty, as you claim. But the deal was supposed to be that war would only happen if the signees were unanimous. They weren’t — America went AGAINST the other signers. And we were at war to push our version of democracy — you’re saying the same thing I am, only in different words. The fact we were on the side of a democratic government against a communist government doesn’t make us pro-democracy, as this is only one example against many counter-examples. (If a guy goes around raping women but then buys his girlfriend flowers, he’s not pro-women.)”

“As for SEATO, I quote: “Despite being intended to provide a collective, anti-communist shield to Southeast Asia, SEATO was unable to intervene in the conflicts in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam because an intervention required a decision of unanimity, which was never reached; France and the Philippines objected. Intervention in the Vietnam conflict was sought again later, but France and Pakistan withheld support.” So, while your statement “South Korea, Australia, New Zealand all had military personal in Vietnam” is correct, my statement that America went against the signers of the treaty is also correct — because they went against the decision to be unanimous. Maybe America didn’t go against Australia, but they went against the treaty itself.”

A Bulwark of Democracy?

See also “The Vietnam War”, above…

“How can I consider America a “bulwark” of democracy? While America might be democratic (though some have argued it’s not), our long history shows we have no preference for supporting democratic regimes over non-democratic regimes. In many cases we knowingly overthrew democratic regimes to install dictatorships. This is widely documented. So to say America is a “bulwark” of democracy sounds silly. America has no interest in spreading democracy or liberating people as far as I can recall.”

Also try another article under Historical / Biographical
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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