March 1, 2003


John Brady Kiesling: “The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.”


Clayton Simmons

Though I do not support unwarranted war, I’m not so sure that America’s most potent weapon is international legitimacy. America has historically attempted to stand for what is morally right, not simply what is legitimate in the eyes of the international community. It may be that in the past allies have agreed with our international policies, but I don’t think we necessarily adopted them based on what they would think. Further, I believe that in the near future, standards that we have always held dear may be looked upon with more and more contempt from others. Let us base our beliefs on anchors of traditional values and moral uprightness, not the moving tides of our times.

Derek Gomez

In an ideal world, America would act solely on what’s morally right. Sadly, as Sean pointed out, incidents in our past have shown this not to be our primary motive. Clayton’s got a point that international legitimacy is not as important as it’s made out to be — but that’s not to say it’s not useful.

I think it’s quite obvious though when you balance out all the good that the US has done over its short existence against all the bad, the good outshines the bad. Some pretend that the US is the real enemy or the actual terrorists, highlighting our non-compliance with the Kyoto Protocol or noting our non-ban on capital punishment of violent felons. Even if capital punishment is wrong, saying that since Iraq and the other Axis of Evil nations also have it equates us morally, is outright offensive. It ignores the fact that this is the same country which liberated Europe three times (if you include the Cold War) and is a beacon for immigrants from all nations around the world — not without reason, ask any new immigrant. Point is, with all its faults, historical and current, the US is likely the most moral country on earth.

The liberation of Iraq from its national-socialist regime will only be worth it if America follows through as it did with Japan. And as “selfless” as it may sound, the liberation of the Iraqi populace from a dictator is as much in America’s interest as was Japan’s liberation (propping him up and containing him would only serve to hurt the citizens further). But the only thing we hear from the antiwar camp that the only consequences will be negative consequences. While Saddam’s national-socialism isn’t the primary target of the War on Terror, it can be argued that keeping WMD out of the hands of an unstable enemy is not a trivial pursuit.

I know I’m not changing minds here — they’re already long made up on both sides. Those not decided at this point which way they stand on this war probably don’t care. I’ll remain a supporter of this war as long as I see its mission and motivation is good. As no one can know exactly what will happen, I feel the benefit of the doubt should be given to the US rather than its enemies. That’s not based on blind patriotism, but historical actions.

Clayton Simmons

First, I am fundamentally against war… I don’t think anybody would rather be in a fight than at peace. But doesn’t taking a look at the middle east make you wonder if perhaps a fight (for basic civil liberties and against oppression) has already been going on there for years?

I’m not saying that low levels of civil rights in another land justifies a pre-emptive strike—indeed it doesn’t. America has traditionally allowed other countries to conduct their own affairs as long as they have not interfered with the general well-being of mankind. But when and if another country puts the entire world at serious risk, it’s time to worry. Just ask France how they feel about trying to make an appeasement agreement with Hitler during WWII while he commenced to roll over every country around her.

The possibility of taking the offensive, of course, is new ground for America in the conflict with Iraq. But I think that America’s utilitarianism approach (i.e. doing the most good for the most people) may warrant a more serious consideration of war’s justification in this case. I respect President Bush’s patience thus far. Many countries in a similar position would not have had the patience to work with the U.N. the way he has. I also understand his frustration with a thug dictator’s attempts to sway international opinion by buying time.

I realize, Sean, that our perceptions of America’s moral uprightness differ. And as long as you put America on the same moral ground as Iraq, I can see why you would think that our president looks like Sauron. Isn’t it great that in our next free elections, Americans can vote him out if that’s what they want.

I tend to agree with Derek’s comments that all things considered, America is the most moral country in the world—hollywood, politics, moral corruption and all the rest considered. I know that sounds presumptuous, but I think historical facts lend themselves to a fairly firm and unapologetic assurance of this.

Lastly, as an American I think that one of the most patriotic things we can do is criticize our country’s policies that we do not support. Educated people with strong opinions and the ability to objectively debate issues are what make America strong… but, taking quick stabs at our president (equating him to Tolkein’s Sauron character) surely does more harm than good to the furthering of our current state of affairs.

I truly hope that every alternative route will be thoroughly considered before striking Iraq. And I think that’s what the majority of people hope for, too.

I’m sorry that Mr. Kiesling left his job and I hope this doesn’t prompt every other government employee who has disagreements with America’s policies to leave theirs. I wish he would have continued to use his eloquence to actively protest the policies that he didn’t agree with.