No War Is Good

  1. Madeleine Albright, then the US secretary of state, was asked on national television what she felt about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US economic sanctions. She replied that it was "a very hard choice", but that, all things considered, "we think the price is worth it".
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  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   Stargazer
    I'm sorry, I must be feeble, but your point is completely escaping me.
  4. by   Q.
    And do you have a source or transcript from that interview?
  5. by   VivaLasViejas
    I think context would be important here; this makes Madeline Albright sound like a cold-hearted bytch, when there has to be much more to the statement than that. Could you please clarify this so we know how to respond? Thanx.
  6. by   Nancy kisor
    In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the
    Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: "Good
    and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday.
    People who we don't know massacred people who we do. And they did so with
    contemptuous glee." Then he broke down and wept.
    Here's the rub: America is at war against people it doesn't know, because
    they don't appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even
    begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a
    rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an
    "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air
    force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.
    The trouble is that once Amer ica goes off to war, it can't very well
    return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the
    sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once
    war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its
    own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place.
    What we're witnessing here is the spectacle of the world's most powerful
    country reaching reflexively, angrily, for an old instinct to fight a new
    kind of war. Suddenly, when it comes to defending itself, America's
    streamlined warships, cruise missiles and F-16 jets look like obsolete,
    lumbering things. As deterrence, its arsenal of nuclear bombs is no longer
    worth its weight in scrap. Box-cutters, penknives, and cold anger are the
    weapons with which the wars of the new century will be waged. Anger is the
    lock pick. It slips through customs unnoticed. Doesn't show up in baggage
    checks.
    Who is America fighting? On September 20, the FBI said that it had doubts
    about the identities of some of the hijackers. On the same day President
    George Bush said, "We know exactly who these people are and which
    governments are supporting them." It sounds as though the president knows
    something that the FBI and the American public don't.
    In his September 20 address to the US Congress, President Bush called the
    enemies of America "enemies of freedom". "Americans are asking, 'Why do
    they hate us?' " he said. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of
    religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and
    disagree with each other." People are being asked to make two leaps of
    faith here. First, to assume that The Enemy is who the US government says
    it is, even though it has no substantial evidence to support that claim.
    And second, to assume that The Enemy's motives are what the US government
    says they are, and there's nothing to support that either.
    For strategic, military and economic reasons, it is vital for the US
    government to persuade its public that their commitment to freedom and
    democracy and the American Way of Life is under attack. In the current
    atmosphere of grief, outrage and anger, it's an easy notion to peddle.
    However, if that were true, it's reasonable to wonder why the symbols of
    America's economic and military dominance - the World Trade Centre and the
    Pentagon - were chosen as the targets of the attacks. Why not the Statue
    of Liberty? Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the attacks has
    its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the US
    government's record of commitment and support to exactly the opposite
    things - to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military
    dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside
    America)? It must be hard for ordinary Americans, so recently bereaved, to
    look up at the world with their eyes full of tears and encounter what
    might appear to them to be indifference. It isn't indifference. It's just
    augury. An absence of surprise. The tired wisdom of knowing that what goes
    around eventually comes around. American people ought to know that it is
    not them but their government's policies that are so hated. They can't
    possibly doubt that they themselves, their extraordinary musicians, their
    writers, their actors, their spectacular sportsmen and their cinema, are
    universally welcomed. All of us have been moved by the courage and grace
    shown by firefighters, rescue workers and ordinary office staff in the
    days since the attacks.
    America's grief at what happened has been immense and immensely public. It
    would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish.
    However, it will be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity to
    try to understand why September 11 happened, Americans use it as an
    opportunity to usurp the whole world's sorrow to mourn and avenge only
    their own. Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard
    questions and say the harsh things. And for our pains, for our bad timing,
    we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced.
    The world will probably never know what motivated those particular
    hijackers who flew planes into those particular American buildings. They
    were not glory boys. They left no suicide notes, no political messages; no
    organisation has claimed credit for the attacks. All we know is that their
    belief in what they were doing outstripped the natural human instinct for
    survival, or any desire to be remembered. It's almost as though they could
    not scale down the enormity of their rage to anything smaller than their
    deeds. And what they did has blown a hole in the world as we knew it. In
    the absence of information, politicians, political commentators and
    writers (like myself) will invest the act with their own politics, with
    their own interpretations. This speculation, this analysis of the
    political climate in which the attacks took place, can only be a good
    thing.
    But war is looming large. Whatever remains to be said must be said
    quickly. Before America places itself at the helm of the "international
    coalition against terror", before it invites (and coerces) countries to
    actively participate in its almost godlike mission - called Operation
    Infinite Justice until it was pointed out that this could be seen as an
    insult to Muslims, who believe that only Allah can mete out infinite
    justice, and was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom- it would help if some
    small clarifications are made. For example, Infinite Justice/Enduring
    Freedom for whom? Is this America's war against terror in America or
    against terror in general? What exactly is being avenged here? Is it the
    tragic loss of almost 7,000 lives, the gutting of five million square feet
    of office space in Manhattan, the destruction of a section of the
    Pentagon, the loss of several hundreds of thousands of jobs, the
    bankruptcy of some airline companies and the dip in the New York Stock
    Exchange? Or is it more than that? In 1996, Madeleine Albright, then the
    US secretary of state, was asked on national television what she felt
    about the fact that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of US
    economic sanctions. She replied that it was "a very hard choice", but
    that, all things considered, "we think the price is worth it". Albright
    never lost her job for saying this. She continued to travel the world
    representing the views and aspirations of the US government. More
    pertinently, the sanctions against Iraq remain in place. Children continue
    to die.
    So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilisation and
    savagery, between the "massacre of innocent people" or, if you like, "a
    clash of civilisations" and "collateral damage". The sophistry and
    fastidious algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take
    to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead
    American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How many
    dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch mesmerised,
    Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A
    coalition of the world's superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of
    the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world, whose ruling
    Taliban government is sheltering Osama bin Laden, the man being held
    responsible for the September 11 attacks.
    The only thing in Afghanistan that could possibly count as collateral
    value is its citizenry. (Among them, half a million maimed orphans.There
    are accounts of hobbling stampedes that occur when artificial limbs are
    airdropped into remote, inaccessible villages.) Afghanistan's economy is
    in a shambles. In fact, the problem for an invading army is that
    Afghanistan has no conventional coordinates or signposts to plot on a
    military map - no big cities, no highways, no industrial complexes, no
    water treatment plants. Farms have been turned into mass graves. The
    countryside is littered with land mines - 10 million is the most recent
    estimate. The American army would first have to clear the mines and build
    roads in order to take its soldiers in.
    Fearing an attack from America, one million citizens have fled from their
    homes and arrived at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The UN
    estimates that there are eight million Afghan citizens who need emergency
    aid. As supplies run out - food and aid agencies have been asked to leave
    - the BBC reports that one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent
    times has begun to unfold. Witness the infinite justice of the new
    century. Civilians starving to death while they're waiting to be killed.
    In America there has been rough talk of "bombing Afghanistan back to the
    stone age". Someone please break the news that Afghanistan is already
    there. And if it's any consolation, America played no small part in
    helping it on its way. The American people may be a little fuzzy about
    where exactly Afghanistan is (we hear reports that there's a run on maps
    of the country), but the US government and Afghanistan are old friends.
    In 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA and Pakistan's
    ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) launched the largest covert operation in
    the history of the CIA. Their purpose was to harness the energy of Afghan
    resistance to the Soviets and expand it into a holy war, an Islamic jihad,
    which would turn Muslim countries within the Soviet Union against the
    communist regime and eventually destabilise it. When it began, it was
    meant to be the Soviet Union's Vietnam. It turned out to be much more than
    that. Over the years, through the ISI, the CIA funded and recruited almost
    100,000 radical mojahedin from 40 Islamic countries as soldiers for
    America's proxy war. The rank and file of the mojahedin were unaware that
    their jihad was actually being fought on behalf of Uncle Sam. (The irony
    is that America was equally unaware that it was financing a future war
    against itself.)
    In 1989, after being bloodied by 10 years of relentless conflict, the
    Russians withdrew, leaving behind a civilisation reduced to rubble.
    Civil war in Afghanistan raged on. The jihad spread to Chechnya, Kosovo
    and eventually to Kashmir. The CIA continued to pour in money and military
    equipment, but the overheads had become immense, and more money was
    needed. The mojahedin ordered farmers to plant opium as a "revolutionary
    tax". The ISI set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan.
    Within two years of the CIA's arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland
    had become the biggest producer of heroin in the world, and the single
    biggest source of the heroin on American streets. The annual profits, said
    to be between $100bn and $200bn, were ploughed back into training and
    arming militants.
    In 1995, the Taliban - then a marginal sect of dangerous, hardline
    fundamentalists - fought its way to power in Afghanistan. It was funded by
    the ISI, that old cohort of the CIA, and supported by many political
    parties in Pakistan. The Taliban unleashed a regime of terror. Its first
    victims were its own people, particularly women. It closed down girls'
    schools, dismissed women from government jobs, and enforced sharia laws
    under which women deemed to be "immoral" are stoned to death, and widows
    guilty of being adulterous are buried alive. Given the Taliban
    government's human rights track record, it seems unlikely that it will in
    any way be intimidated or swerved from its purpose by the prospect of war,
    or the threat to the lives of its civilians.
    After all that has happened, can there be anything more ironic than Russia
    and America joining hands to re-destroy Afghanistan? The question is, can
    you destroy destruction? Dropping more bombs on Afghanistan will only
    shuffle the rubble, scramble some old graves and disturb the dead.
    The desolate landscape of Afghanistan was the burial ground of Soviet
    communism and the springboard of a unipolar world dominated by America. It
    made the space for neocapitalism and corporate globalisation, again
    dominated by America. And now Afghanistan is poised to become the
    graveyard for the unlikely soldiers who fought and won this war for
    America.
    And what of America's trusted ally? Pakistan too has suffered enormously.
    The US government has not been shy of supporting military dictators who
    have blocked the idea of democracy from taking root in the country. Before
    the CIA arrived, there was a small rural market for opium in Pakistan.
    Between 1979 and 1985, the number of heroin addicts grew from zero to
    one-and-a-half million. Even before September 11, there were three million
    Afghan refugees living in tented camps along the border. Pakistan's
    economy is crumbling. Sectarian violence, globalisation's structural
    adjustment programmes and drug lords are tearing the country to pieces.
    Set up to fight the Soviets, the terrorist training centres and madrasahs,
    sown like dragon's teeth across the country, produced fundamentalists with
    tremendous popular appeal within Pakistan itself. The Taliban, which the
    Pakistan government has sup ported, funded and propped up for years, has
    material and strategic alliances with Pakistan's own political parties.
    Now the US government is asking (asking?) Pakistan to garotte the pet it
    has hand-reared in its backyard for so many years. President Musharraf,
    having pledged his support to the US, could well find he has something
    resembling civil war on his hands.
    India, thanks in part to its geography, and in part to the vision of its
    former leaders, has so far been fortunate enough to be left out of this
    Great Game. Had it been drawn in, it's more than likely that our
    democracy, such as it is, would not have survived. Today, as some of us
    watch in horror, the Indian government is furiously gyrating its hips,
    begging the US to set up its base in India rather than Pakistan. Having
    had this ringside view of Pakistan's sordid fate, it isn't just odd, it's
    unthinkable, that India should want to do this. Any third world country
    with a fragile economy and a complex social base should know by now that
    to invite a superpower such as America in (whether it says it's staying or
    just passing through) would be like inviting a brick to drop through your
    windscreen.
    Operation Enduring Freedom is ostensibly being fought to uphold the
    American Way of Life. It'll probably end up undermining it completely. It
    will spawn more anger and more terror across the world. For ordinary
    people in America, it will mean lives lived in a climate of sickening
    uncertainty: will my child be safe in school? Will there be nerve gas in
    the subway? A bomb in the cinema hall? Will my love come home tonight?
    There have been warnings about the possibility of biological warfare -
    smallpox, bubonic plague, anthrax - the deadly payload of innocuous
    crop-duster aircraft. Being picked off a few at a time may end up being
    worse than being annihilated all at once by a nuclear bomb.
    The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use
    the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free
    speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back
    on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defence
    industry. To what purpose? President Bush can no more "rid the world of
    evil-doers" than he can stock it with saints. It's absurd for the US
    government to even toy with the notion that it can stamp out terrorism
    with more violence and oppression. Terrorism is the symptom, not the
    disease. Terrorism has no country. It's transnational, as global an
    enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble,
    terrorists can pull up stakes and move their "factories" from country to
    country in search of a better deal. Just like the multi-nationals.
    Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained,
    the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the
    planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are
    not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and,
    for heaven's sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence
    secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America's new war, he
    said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to
    continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory.
    The September 11 attacks were a monstrous calling card from a world gone
    horribly wrong. The message may have been written by Bin Laden (who
    knows?) and delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been signed
    by the ghosts of the victims of America's old wars. The millions killed in
    Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel - backed by the
    US - invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation
    Desert Storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting
    Israel's occupation of the West Bank. And the millions who died, in
    Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican
    Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and
    genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled
    and supplied with arms. And this is far from being a comprehensive list.
    For a country involved in so much warfare and conflict, the American
    people have been extremely fortunate. The strikes on September 11 were
    only the second on American soil in over a century. The first was Pearl
    Harbour. The reprisal for this took a long route, but ended with Hiroshima
    and Nagasaki. This time the world waits with bated breath for the horrors
    to come.
    Someone recently said that if Osama bin Laden didn't exist, America would
    have had to invent him. But, in a way, America did invent him. He was
    among the jihadis who moved to Afghanistan in 1979 when the CIA commenced
    its operations there. Bin Laden has the distinction of being created by
    the CIA and wanted by the FBI. In the course of a fortnight he has been
    promoted from suspect to prime suspect and then, despite the lack of any
    real evidence, straight up the charts to being "wanted dead or alive".
    >From all accounts, it will be impossible to produce evidence (of the sort
    that would stand scrutiny in a court of law) to link Bin Laden to the
    September 11 attacks. So far, it appears that the most incriminating piece
    of evidence against him is the fact that he has not condemned them.
    >From what is known about the location of Bin Laden and the living
    conditions in which he operates, it's entirely possible that he did not
    personally plan and carry out the attacks - that he is the inspirational
    figure, "the CEO of the holding company". The Taliban's response to US
    demands for the extradition of Bin Laden has been uncharacteristically
    reasonable: produce the evidence, then we'll hand him over. President
    Bush's response is that the demand is "non-negotiable".
    (While talks are on for the extradition of CEOs - can India put in a side
    request for the extradition of Warren Anderson of the US? He was the
    chairman of Union Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas leak that killed
    16,000 people in 1984. We have collated the necessary evidence. It's all
    in the files. Could we have him, please?)
    But who is Osama bin Laden really? Let me rephrase that. What is Osama bin
    Laden? He's America's family secret. He is the American president's dark
    doppelgänger. The savage twin of all that purports to be beautiful and
    civilised. He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid to
    waste by America's foreign policy: its gunboat diplomacy, its nuclear
    arsenal, its vulgarly stated policy of "full-spectrum dominance", its
    chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military
    interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its
    merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor
    countries like a cloud of locusts. Its marauding multinationals who are
    taking over the air we breathe, the ground we stand on, the water we
    drink, the thoughts we think. Now that the family secret has been spilled,
    the twins are blurring into one another and gradually becoming
    interchangeable. Their guns, bombs, money and drugs have been going around
    in the loop for a while. (The Stinger missiles that will greet US
    helicopters were supplied by the CIA. The heroin used by America's drug
    addicts comes from Afghanistan. The Bush administration recently gave
    Afghanistan a $43m subsidy for a "war on drugs"....)
    Now Bush and Bin Laden have even begun to borrow each other's rhetoric.
    Each refers to the other as "the head of the snake". Both invoke God and
    use the loose millenarian currency of good and evil as their terms of
    reference. Both are engaged in unequivocal political crimes. Both are
    dangerously armed - one with the nuclear arsenal of the obscenely
    powerful, the other with the incandescent, destructive power of the
    utterly hopeless. The fireball and the ice pick. The bludgeon and the axe.
    The important thing to keep in mind is that neither is an acceptable
    alternative to the other.
    President Bush's ultimatum to the people of the world - "If you're not
    with us, you're against us" - is a piece of presumptuous arrogance. It's
    not a choice that people want to, need to, or should have to make.
  7. by   Stargazer
    Dear Lord, that was hard to read. Next time a simple link to the article itself instead of a terrible cut and paste job might be a better idea.

    Can you please offer a context for this article? A link? Where was it published and when? Who was the author?

    I have a better idea now of what your point is, I think, although you still haven't bothered to actually articulate a cogent or coherent point of view. I've made it no secret that I am no fan of the Bush administration, nor of going to war. And there ARE some valid points in this article.

    However, it's hard to step back and make any kind of linear sense out of this article without being bludgeoned by the hysterical hyperbole. And clearly, this was written soon after Sept. 11th, before we put forces in Afghanistan. A lot has happened since then, which the author of this piece obviously did not have the benefit of knowing yet.

    Again I would ask you to state your thesis, concisely and clearly, and for the sake of the time I wasted slogging through that article, I sincerely hope it's a little meatier than "War is bad, 'mmmkay?"
  8. by   maureeno
    the article posted above is dated...we did overthrow the Taliban........

    what is pertinent to today is BushII's proposed budget neglected to fund any rebuilding of Afghanistan and many dangers there remain. Warlords, opium,terror training camps... Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Kolbe says that when he questioned the administration on the oversight of reconstruction or humanitarian aid it couldn't offer a satisfactory explanation. Just an oversight....

    what is pertinent is we now propose war to liberate Iraq; will we meet our commitment to rebuild?
  9. by   Q.
    Originally posted by Stargazer
    Dear Lord, that was hard to read. Next time a simple link to the article itself instead of a terrible cut and paste job might be a better idea.

    Can you please offer a context for this article? A link? Where was it published and when? Who was the author?

    I have a better idea now of what your point is, I think, although you still haven't bothered to actually articulate a cogent or coherent point of view. I've made it no secret that I am no fan of the Bush administration, nor of going to war. And there ARE some valid points in this article.

    However, it's hard to step back and make any kind of linear sense out of this article without being bludgeoned by the hysterical hyperbole. And clearly, this was written soon after Sept. 11th, before we put forces in Afghanistan. A lot has happened since then, which the author of this piece obviously did not have the benefit of knowing yet.

    Again I would ask you to state your thesis, concisely and clearly, and for the sake of the time I wasted slogging through that article, I sincerely hope it's a little meatier than "War is bad, 'mmmkay?"
    Yeah. (with the exception of not being a fan of Bush and all...)
  10. by   kmchugh
    OK, so I read that article. I see that particular article as no more than an opportunity to twist facts and history to once again, make the US look like the international version of Snidely Whiplash. Another poorly written opportunity to blame the US for the terrorist attacks on the WTC. Where's that whippin the dead (and wrong) horse smiley?

    Kevin McHugh
  11. by   sunnygirl272
    Originally posted by kmchugh
    Where's that whippin the dead (and wrong) horse smiley?

    Kevin McHugh




    dammit...can't get it to work as an image....
    Last edit by sunnygirl272 on Feb 19, '03
  12. by   eltrip
    Hmmm, an article without a title or author that quotes (part of) a comment heard on an American newscast without citing That source either.

    Language afficianado that I am, I did notice the British English spellings used. Attempting to work out the details, however, would be a wild goose chase (yes, I'm mixing my metaphors).

    Any English or Nursing Professor would give such writing an F just for failing to cite references.
  13. by   maaliray
    The author's name is Arundhati Roy. She lives in the U.K. and has wrote two booker-prize winning novles. I have actually heard her speak when she came to Stanford University to give a leacture. That article you posted is pretty damn old!
  14. by   maaliray
    Arundhari also was a guest speaker at: Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, and University of Chicago.

    http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/m...rs_corner.html

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