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Building a better war(2 posts)

Building a better warczardonic
Mar 6, 2003 1:32 PM
There is an interesting interview on Salon with Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. He crystallizes many of the reasons why I and others are dubious of Bush's war plans even while we assert that Saddam is an evil person who should be overthrown. (For those of you who are unaware, as was I: HRW is not a pacifist or anti-war activist organization.) It is a good read for those against the war (as advertised) for humanitarian reasons and for those who support the war for humanitarian reasons.

Roth also makes some worthy points about the potential pitfalls of our war on terrorism:

Are we in danger of picking the wrong partners in the war on terrorism as we did in the war on communism?

Yes. One of the things we saw during the Cold War was that it provided a readymade excuse to ignore human rights. You saw this in the U.S. support for the Contras in Nicaragua, the murderous Salvadoran government. In Africa you could see it in U.S. support for Mobutu in Zaire or Siad Barre in Somalia, Doe in Liberia. There were a range of vicious tyrants around the world whom the United States supported militarily, economically, because they were on our side in fighting communism.

That kind of logic, we fear, is picking up again today in the name of fighting terrorism. Not only is that simply wrong morally in a very straightforward sense in that the U.S. should never be on the side of murder, torture and repression, but it is also profoundly counterproductive.

If the United States is going to win the fight against terrorism, it cannot do that by itself. It's going to need cooperation from people around the world to help with law-enforcement efforts to dissuade would-be terrorists. But the United States will not be able to gain that cooperation if it sends the signal that the ends justifies the means because that's precisely the warped logic of terrorism. Terrorists believe that the ends of their vision of a just world somehow justify their means of blowing up the World Trade Center. That logic is one that we have to be very careful not to embrace ourselves -- accepting murder or torture or repression in the name of the very laudable goal of fighting terrorism. . .
Cowboys and IndiansFunston
Mar 6, 2003 10:09 PM
Didn't the settlers fear the Indians, who were known to use terrifying tactics at times; so they were conquered and put away to near extinction. Maybe it's in our blood to be insecure. Isn't it a scary thought...