Contre La Guerre
The Daily Reckoning
September 14-15, 2002
By Addison Wiggin
“…because it will be a catastrophe for the people of the region undefined particularly the Iraqi people already terribly victimized by the dictator Saddam Hussein and ten years of sanctions,” reads a pamphlet handed to me on the way to the office this morning.
It’s a beautiful day in Paris. Sunday. Families on this day, as is the Parisian tradition, walk together around the city visiting their friends and neighbors. “Bonne promenade” undefined have a nice walk – shopkeepers will say to you today upon leaving their stores. The city is quiet but for the occasional kids screaming in delight while they play together…or a street musician entertaining cafe-goers. The sun gleems off the Seine like diamonds hanging seductively ’round the neck of a lover.
On a day like this it’s hard to imagine what would motivate anyone to take up arms against an unknown enemy thousands of miles from their home… or print pamphlets condemning the same and distribute them around the local marketplace. The man who handed me the pamphlet was missing his top two front teeth… and smelled like he’d seen the wrong side of one too many “last nights”. The banner at the top of the pamphlet he gave me reads: Le 5e.com(muniste). It’s apparently the journal of communist party headquartered in my neighborhood. (Of course, the very mention of the ‘C’ word will throw more than one reader into a mind-numbing tizzy, but there it is all the same.)
Perhaps it’s because a statistic passed across my desk this week that showed some 80 percent of the US public supported a first-strike against Iraq. Or maybe that one passerby on the Daily Reckoning discussion board suggested they were going to use our site for a ‘teach-in’ in Washington D.C. to help people identify HATE sites… or maybe it’s just because it’s Sunday, I’m hanging out in the office, and the Daily Reckoning is free. I don’t know… but it seems as good a moment as any, to suggest that it might be better for you not to get wrapped up in the collective non-thinking that leads a nation to war and focus instead on your family, your friends… a loved one.
The world, of course, remembered 9-11 this week. Friend and colleague John Forde wrote on Monday: “Eleven is a number. Nine is a number. Tomorrow, we’ll be swimming in numbers.
…65,000 total personal items found in the debris, including 437 watches, 119 earrings, and 80 bracelets…
…9,000 tons of wreckage driven from Ground Zero to the Fresh Kills landfill every single day of the 10-month cleanup…
…2,800 degrees Fahrenheit before the steel at the World Trade Center core started to melt…
…2,823 people believed killed in the collapse of the towers in New York alone. 189 killed at the Pentagon. A total of 3,052 including passengers on the four planes…
…519 victims identified by DNA testing so far…
…26 hours after the attacks, the last survivor was found buried in the rubble…
“19 terrorists” said CNN.
“Possibly 10,000 casualties” said Guiliani.
Numbers and statistics have a way of dehumanizing any event… 9-11 is no different. Does it help to remember that 250,000 burned alive at Dresden… 220,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki… 300,000 tortured then killed at Nanking… 6 million in Germany… 11 million in Stalin’s purges? Not in the least. Will these statistics save the life of a single Iraqi or American soldier?
“The U.N. will either be able to function as a peacekeeping body as we head into the 21st century,” Bush told the AP yesterday, “Or it will be irrelevant. And that’s what we’re about to find out.” Wouldn’t the true role of peacekeeper be that of talking Bush down off his high horse? “Make no mistake about it,” the US president added. “If we have to deal with the problem, we’ll deal with it.”
The wheels of politics are churning. My advice, take a walk with your family… tend the garden… read a book. Forget politics if it leads you to take up arms; Forget race if all you see is the color of someone’s skin; Forget religion if it leads you to hate. “As far as possible without surrender,” writes Max Erman in the poem Desiderata, “be on good terms with all persons.”
“Together we can stop the war,” reads the toothless man’s pamphlet.
“You’re dreaming, buddy…” I can’t help but think.
The Daily Reckoning
September 14, 2002
P.S. Another DR reader posted 35 questions the US government has yet to ask, let alone answer, about their planned invasion of Iraq… Flotsam & Jetsam below…
P.S.S. As this is primarily a newsletter about markets and money… this is the last word you’ll here from me on the politics behind the war.
THIS WEEK in THE DAILY RECKONING
09/13/02 LAST MAN STANDING
by Bill Bonner
“…The last man standing – the only member of the ‘committee to save the world’ triumvirate still in office, the Caesar of central banking – cannot last much longer…when Greenspan’s reputation gives way…we think…so will the dollar, and the consumer…”
09/12/02 BUY, SELL, OR HOLD?
Guest Essay by Dr. Steve Sjuggerud
“…The interest rate movements that have historically had the most dramatic effects on the market have been changes in the interest rates set by the Federal Reserve – in particular, the Fed Funds rate. When the Fed is raising interest rates – look out!…”
09/11/02 INSUFFERABLE DEVELOPMENT
by Bill Bonner
“…when people get together they need collective myths to give their pathetic lives an ersatz meaning…and allow them to boss other people around. They pick up the latest faddish pretensions like bums picking up cigarette butts, sucking in the noxious fumes as long as they last…”
09/10/02 THE GREAT ‘GDP’ HOAX
Guest Essay by Sean Corrigan
“…For the best part of the century, Say’s aphorism came to be taken as a truism. Namely, it was accepted that if you worked to produce a saleable good – or to offer a saleable service – you were then entitled to exchange it for the fruits of someone else’s efforts…at a price to be freely negotiated between the two ofyou…”
09/09/02 UNITING EUROPE
by Bill Bonner
“…Collectively, we have often observed in these letters, people lurch from one absurdity to another. They may believe that they must rescue the Holy Land from the infidel…throw maidens into volcanoes to appease the gods…make the world safe for democracy…or bring Europe together under a single government. No matter how preposterous the cause, it gives rise to the most extraordinary exertions and sacrifices – often, acts of valor and selflessness so glorious that we are inclined to forget the sordid circumstances…”
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HEADLINE, NEWS And INSIGHT: Investing For The Nationalistically Challenged… Textbook Rules For Driving Your Economy Into The Dirt… DDGU – In Theory If Not In Practice…
Eight Myths About International Investing
by Mark Nestmann
“…The fact of the matter is, international investing is safer and more profitable than ever, and it’s perfectly legal to participate…”
How To Ruin Your Economy
by John Mauldin
“…the Japanese failure to deal with their problems is the single most serious threat to a stable world economy. In a world full of things to worry about, this is near the top of my list…”
Threatening the Dollar’s Worth
by John Myers
“…The engine that has driven gold to its highest levels in two years is the massive growth of credit and money in the United States, a process that is sucking cash out of the mainstream stock market and blasting it back into the gold market…”
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FLOTSAM AND JETSAM: When Communists And Libertarians Agree…(Sounds Like A Horrible ‘B’ Movie From The ’70s, Eh?)
35 QUESTIONS THAT WILL NEVER BE ASKED ABOUT IRAQ
– From A Post On The DR Discussion Board This Week,
Attributed To Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s Office
“…Soon we hope to have hearings on the pending war with Iraq. I am concerned there are some questions that won’t be asked- and maybe will not even be allowed to be asked. Here are some questions I would like answered by those who are urging us to start this war.
1. Is it not true that the reason we did not bomb the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War was because we knew they could retaliate?
2. Is it not also true that we are willing to bomb Iraq now because we know it cannot retaliate- which just confirms that there is no real threat?
3. Is it not true that those who argue that even with inspections we cannot be sure that Hussein might be hiding weapons, at the same time imply that we can be more sure that weapons exist in the absence of inspections?
4. Is it not true that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency was able to complete its yearly verification mission to Iraq just this year with Iraqi cooperation?
5. Is it not true that the intelligence community has been unable to develop a case tying Iraq to global terrorism at all, much less the attacks on the United States last year? Does anyone remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and that none came from Iraq?
6. Was former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro wrong when he recently said there is no confirmed evidence of Iraq,s links to terrorism?
7. Is it not true that the CIA has concluded there is no evidence that a Prague meeting between 9/11 hijacker Atta and Iraqi intelligence took place?
8. Is it not true that northern Iraq, where the administration claimed al-Qaeda were hiding out, is in the control of our “allies,” the Kurds?
9. Is it not true that the vast majority of al-Qaeda leaders who escaped appear to have safely made their way to Pakistan, another of our so-called allies?
10. Has anyone noticed that Afghanistan is rapidly sinking into total chaos, with bombings and assassinations becoming daily occurrences; and that according to a recent UN report the al-Qaeda “is, by all accounts, alive and well and poised to strike again, how, when, and where it chooses”
11. Why are we taking precious military and intelligence resources away from tracking down those who did attack the United States- and who may again attack the United States- and using them to invade countries that have not attacked the United States?
12. Would an attack on Iraq not just confirm the Arab world’s worst suspicions about the US- and isn’t this what bin Laden wanted?
13. How can Hussein be compared to Hitler when he has no navy or air force, and now has an army 1/5 the size of twelve years ago, which even then proved totally inept at defending the country?
14. Is it not true that the constitutional power to declare war is exclusively that of the Congress? Should presidents, contrary to the Constitution, allow Congress to concur only when pressured by public opinion? Are presidents permitted to rely on the UN for permission to go to war?
15. Are you aware of a Pentagon report studying charges that thousands of Kurds in one village were gassed by the Iraqis, which found no conclusive evidence that Iraq was responsible, that Iran occupied the very city involved, and that evidence indicated the type of gas used was more likely controlled by Iran not Iraq?
16. Is it not true that anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 US soldiers have suffered from Persian Gulf War syndrome from the first Gulf War, and that thousands may have died?
17. Are we prepared for possibly thousands of American casualties in a war against a country that does not have the capacity to attack the United States?
18. Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a 100 billion dollar war against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30 years occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to “build democracy” there?
19. Iraq’s alleged violations of UN resolutions are given as reason to initiate an attack, yet is it not true that hundreds of UN Resolutions have been ignored by various countries without penalty?
20. Did former President Bush not cite the UN Resolution of 1990 as the reason he could not march into Baghdad, while supporters of a new attack assert that it is the very reason we can march into Baghdad?
21. Is it not true that, contrary to current claims, the no-fly zones were set up by Britain and the United States without specific approval from the United Nations?
22. If we claim membership in the international community and conform to its rules only when it pleases us, does this not serve to undermine our position, directing animosity toward us by both friend and foe?
23. How can our declared goal of bringing democracy to Iraq be believable when we prop up dictators throughout the Middle East and support military tyrants like Musharaf in Pakistan, who overthrew a democratically-elected president?
24. Are you familiar with the 1994 Senate Hearings that revealed the U.S. knowingly supplied chemical and biological materials to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war and as late as 1992- including after the alleged Iraqi gas attack on a Kurdish village?
25. Did we not assist Saddam Hussein,s rise to power by supporting and encouraging his invasion of Iran? Is it honest to criticize Saddam now for his invasion of Iran, which at the time we actively supported?
26. Is it not true that preventive war is synonymous with an act of aggression, and has never been considered a moral or legitimate US policy?
27. Why do the oil company executives strongly support this war if oil is not the real reason we plan to take over Iraq?
28. Why is it that those who never wore a uniform and are confident that they won’t have to personally fight this war are more anxious for this war than our generals?
29. What is the moral argument for attacking a nation that has not initiated aggression against us, and could not if it wanted?
30. Where does the Constitution grant us permission to wage war for any reason other than self-defense?
31. Is it not true that a war against Iraq rejects the sentiments of the time-honored Treaty of Westphalia, nearly 400 years ago, that countries should never go into another for the purpose of regime change?
32. Is it not true that the more civilized a society is, the less likely disagreements will be settled by war?
33. Is it not true that since World War II Congress has not declared war and- not coincidentally- we have not since then had a clear-cut victory?
34. Is it not true that Pakistan, especially through its intelligence services, was an active supporter and key organizer of the Taliban?
35. Why don’t those who want war bring a formal declaration of war resolution to the floor of Congress?…”
Editor’s note: Since these questions were posted by a Daily Reckoning reader, please don’t respond to me directly. I urge you post your comments, questions and on the Discussion Board:
The Daily Reckoning
Click on the Discussion Board and look for the thread “Hard Questions For War Hawks”… Thank you.