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Thursday, March 20, 2003

The public discourse on the war is a good thing, except when people are engaged in posturing and pronouncing, rather than listening and understanding. It doesn't make for much of a discussion if everyone is shouting at the same time, but I suppose it's better than no discussion at all. Sometimes I think people on opposite sides of the debate deliberately misunderstand each other. I know for sure that they mischaracterize each other.

I'd hate for anything I say in support of U.S. ("and coalition") troops to lead people to believe I've bought into the war strategy. I still think it's wrong for the United States to defy world opinion and snub its own allies. An invasion across international borders in a hostile region, whatever laudable goals it purports to have, is likely to have unintended and unforeseen consequences that the world will have to deal with for generations to come.

On the other hand, I'm equally dismayed by those who believe that anyone who opposes the war is somehow supporting Saddam Hussein or dismissing the threat he represents. Believing war is not the way to make the world more peaceful doesn't mean endorsing tyranny and repression. Having reservations about one country overthrowing the government of another, however illegitimate it's perceived to be, doesn't preclude opposing Saddam as a matter of principle.

Nor do I believe that peaceful protest against public policy is treasonous. I don't think marching against the war creates any greater danger for citizens of any nation. People who break the law should expect to be arrested; that's part of the deal. Peaceful dissenters shouldn't expect to be treated like traitors or criminals, though.

When protesters resort to vandalism, I think they do their cause, which is also my cause, more harm than all the peaceful dissent in the world can overcome. Violence and destruction in the name of peace is hypocrisy. And I don't think that criticizing protests, even the peaceful ones, is any more treasonous than the protests themselves.

A little more respect, mutual and reciprocal and flowing freely in both directions, would be good. That should go without saying, but apparently it doesn't, and that's why I felt it necessary to say it. That doesn't mean I have to bow my head whenever President Bush speaks, but I do have to listen to him before I decide he's wrong.


Low branches of the old oak, with fields, trees and clouds beyond.

I don't dismiss the sincerity of people who disagree with my views. However, I don't believe the motives of all those at the highest level of decision-making are entirely pure. There are probably people involved in demonstrations who don't have a genuine interest in affecting public policy. Some would rather stop traffic, or stop business as usual, than stop the war.

Knowing that there are people on both sides with ulterior motives and hidden agendas doesn't invalidate the sincerity of those who believe they are doing the right thing, whatever that may be.

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I hold Iceland and Eritrea in the highest esteem. However, I think I'd feel more secure if France and Germany were on board as well. Apparently the administration doesn't agree.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Shuffling Into Spring
"I know from experience that there's always a surprise around the bend. Sometimes it's a little hill, and sometimes it's a big pit of snarling vipers. The only way to survive is not knowing, because if you know it's the vipers, you don't stay on the road."

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