Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Open letter response to "Dear Mr. Obama" video.

I was surprised to find recently that these kinds of propaganda videos/emails seem to stay almost entirely within right-wing circles of discussion. I have googled and either nobody who is a progressive or skeptic is examining the claims or having a balanced discussion about these or they are so drowned out by the same kinds of passive-aggressive postings with little to no added value. Even the right-wing sites that are discussing this are not discussing any salient ideas. It seems like the ultimate "bumper sticker" mentality -- i.e. bumper stickers aren't going to change anyone's mind and really only serve as membership cards in a particular mindset.

So, I figured that this would be a good response to make open to add to the fray and maybe open up some lines of communication about the premises of these kinds of thoughts.

YouTube - Dear Mr. Obama

Anecdote is not plural for data. This, of course, is an anecdote. There are certainly many more military personnel who do not believe as this gentleman does: Take this Zogby poll as some actual data. http://www.zogby.com/news/readnews.dbm?id=1075 Here's a choice example:

  • Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll shows just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay “as long as they are needed”
  • While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say U.S. role is hazy
  • Plurality believes Iraqi insurgents are mostly homegrown
  • Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11, most don’t blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks

  • The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

    “Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).
    This shows that many in the military are actually
    a) not very clear on the whole as to our mission (not surprising since the rationale was based on lies and has morphed many times as the previous reasons turned out to be bunk or lies)

    But, I think it's more likely that he is like many Americans who look at some outcomes of our involvement in the war and conclude that the end justifies the means. Additionally, none of these people seem to be looking at the cost, and the opportunity cost, of the resources we have expended in Iraq. I'm not saying that Sadaam was not a bad guy, but is it worth the estimated $3 Trillion dollars it will cost? I find it hard to believe that there wasn't something better for our grandchildren to spend that money on than a war of convenience that was sold to us by a bunch of lies. We were never in Iraq to "spread freedom". The original intent was (as the lies go) because we _knew_ that Iraq had WMDs and that they would not hesitate to use them on us. Oh, and then sprinkle in 9-11 over and over until even our troops think that we were going in there because of some link to 9-11. The troops were lied to (probably still are) just as the American people were so it is not surprising to see some make these claims based on their experiences on the ground.

    Here is some more data -- from actually asking Iraqis if they feel they are better off. This one from 2007. 90% think they were better off under Sadaam. http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/view/14282 It's no wonder since many go without electricity, water, etc. for hours or days at a time. They've been force from their houses. It is very dangerous in many parts still.

    The following two statements were made by the gentleman in the video:

    "Iraq was not a mistake" and "Those sacrifices were not mistakes"
    "When you call the Iraqi war a mistake, you disrespect the service of everyone who has died promoting freedom."

    As to the first, the gentleman appears to be making this claim primarily because of the freedom we have given the Iraqis. Although that was a noble outcome, the price in human life to do this and the $3 Trillion dollar pricetag that we are _borrowing_ to pay for, as well as the fact that we diverted our attention and resources away from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda (the _real_ people who attacked us on 9-11) are all evidence that it was a mistake of Vietnam proportions. In addition, we were not prepared for the aftermath of the war and didn't understand the region and the issues so that it was not even the right time for doing this even if it were the best use of our resources.

    As to the second, that is just not true. It is often put out there that any criticism of the mission is "bad" and "disrespectful" to the troops. But this seems to be based on a fallacy that if the war was a mistake, then those who died are no longer respected which is absolutely not the case and a non sequitur. This is a corollary to the "Love it or leave it" fallacy. There are other alternatives, such as the more correct understanding that the sanity of the mission is a completely distinct cognitive and emotional issue from our respect for those who have served the mission. I don't know anyone (and I doubt that people holding this belief could even point me to one person) who believes otherwise and impugns the military for the mission. Everyone knows that they did not make the mission or decide to do it-- that was the "decider". I believe that it is the ultimate support of our troops to criticize them being put in harm's way for purposes that are really not necessary for our national security (a war of convenience like Iraq). And for them to be put on stop-loss to do it is even more abhorrent to me.


    Redacted wrote:

    From: Sender redacted
    To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
    Sent: 9/7/2008 7:48:18 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
    Subj: Fw: must see...

    Every American should see this,,,pass it on,,,,,,,,,,

    'This commercial was done by a local kid. You have to watch the whole thing.. When he finishes talking and walks away, you get a sense of how this could be the commercial of the campaign season.

    Bob Cook and I were on the Lake County Republican Central Committee together.
    His son Joe returned from Iraq last year and I was at the celebration to welcome him home.'

    Hi, My son Joe just did a commercial for John McCain.
    Please pass this on.


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