A Reasonable Question


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33 Responses to A Reasonable Question

  1. george rebane says:

    A society does not have to be civilized (by our or any standard) to be seen as a civilization. All it has to have is clear cultural boundaries that distinguish it from other societies with other cultures that value and seek to perpetuate their norms of behavior.

  2. Ben Emery says:

    It all depends what side of the fence we are looking from.

    10 Chemical Weapons Attacks Washington Doesn’t Want You to Talk About

    1. The U.S. Military Dumped 20 Million Gallons of Chemicals on Vietnam from 1962 – 1971

    2. Israel Attacked Palestinian Civilians with White Phosphorus in 2008 – 2009

    3. Washington Attacked Iraqi Civilians with White Phosphorus in 2004

    4. The CIA Helped Saddam Hussein Massacre Iranians and Kurds with Chemical Weapons in 1988

    5. The Army Tested Chemicals on Residents of Poor, Black St. Louis Neighborhoods in The 1950s

    6. Police Fired Tear Gas at Occupy Protesters in 2011

    7. The FBI Attacked Men, Women, and Children With Tear Gas in Waco in 1993

    8. The U.S. Military Littered Iraq with Toxic Depleted Uranium in 2003

    9. The U.S. Military Killed Hundreds of Thousands of Japanese Civilians with Napalm from 1944 – 1945

    10. The U.S. Government Dropped Nuclear Bombs on Two Japanese Cities in 1945

    • rlcrabb says:

      Yeah, Ben, we’re no angels, but there’s a special place in hell for ISIS. If you want to go on comparing us to nazis, go for it. In my book, if you add up all the good this country has done compared to the bad, I’d still put us centuries ahead of those motherf**kers.

      • Ben Emery says:

        I don’t compare us with the nazis but us melting people skin off with napalm or white phosphorus who were no threat to us is just as bad as anything ISIS is doing. I admit ISIS is a bunch of mother fuckers who exemplify everything I stand against and think they are sub human beings that are evil.

        FLASHBACK: Weapons of Mass Destruction Employed by US to Imolate Falluja: White Phosphorus is a Chemical Weapon

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      “Police Fired Tear Gas at Occupy Protesters in 2011” vs ISIS burns a POW alive and posts the video.

      Ben, you really do have a faulty moral equivalence gene.

  3. fish says:

    This is a different style for you! It has that “Revilo” feel to it!


  4. Steve Frisch says:

    Yeah, I have to say I am not with Ben on this one.

    I think the US has a legitimate foreign policy objective in the destruction of ISIS as a force in northern Iraq and Syria, and that since ISIS is itself an offshoot of or merely a renamed Al-Queda in Iraq, and allied itself with Al-Queda supported rebel groups in Syria, and has formed groups in Libya, Egypt, southeast Asia and Europe, we are seeing here the birth of another post Bin Laden transnational Al-Queda terrorist group, this time by carving out their own geographic base of support in an anarchic region rather than taking over a state as they did in Afghanistan. If we play this one out based on its current trend ISIS becomes the new government of Syria in the next decade, and that we simply cannot afford.

    To me, like it or not, the question has gone well beyond the efficacy of past US intervention in Iraq, which I did not support, and has moved to whether or not the US can countenance an international terrorist offshoot of Al Qaeda with a geographic base of operations that can operate internationally.

    The Syrian civil war and ineffectiveness and excesses of the Shiite majority armed forces of Iraq have also led to ISIS having a base from which they can raise taxes and fund their operations independent of any recognized civil authority. Having this base of support attracts investment from private entities who have a stake in the expansion of extremism from throughout the world, and there is pretty strong evidence that ISIS is being partly funded by these interests.

    It is also relevant that ISIS has declared themselves a Caliphate and thus the legitimate representatives of all Muslims worldwide, regardless of the authority of other branches of Islam or national states. As a Caliphate they claim religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide and that the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the caliph’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas. As such, if allowed to stand, ISIS could be a significant destabilizing force in the Middle East that topples governments and through terror almost guarantees a further cycle of radicalization and violence.

    The issue is no longer “how” it happened and is what do we and others who are threatened by ISIS do to respond. I am rarely a hawk, but on this I am a hawk, because we simply cannot afford the consequences.

    I support )and have supported) US military intervention to destroy ISIS. The question is what form that intervention takes. Right now intervention is in the form of assistance to the Iraqi army and militia forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting ISIS; US air support; intervention in financial transactions; and US intelligence assets. Clearly that is not enough and a higher level of intervention is necessary. I would support continuing those interventions, but also increasing support to Syrian militia groups fighting ISIS, supporting Jordanian and Turkish direct intervention cross their borders (although this would be very difficult for Jordan who does not share a common border with ISIS controlled territory) working with the Iranian Qud forces on the ground and in the air who are fighting ISIS, and potentially commitment of US military forces on the ground to support direct attacks against ISIS controlled territory.

    In my eyes the rise of ISIS is no different than the rise of Al Queda in Afghanistan, and intervention in Syria an Iraq is warranted.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Your ability to look past the events that created this hydra is astounding. WE created this haven of vipers. The only difference between our dropping white phosphorus on civilian men, women, and children, and ISIS burning a guy in a cage… is the cage. They are killing people on a local level, whereas, we laid ruin to a whole nation. Their’s is a religious war; our’s was one from an ever-changing list of misguided revenge and fabricated fear. Both are incredibly asinine.

      If you can say, “Yeah, we did that. Now, let’s move on.” to the one, why not the other? We can burn people in the streets, but they can’t? We can topple a nation, but they can’t? Burning one guy in a cage and cutting off the heads of a few others is worse than killing tens of thousands and destroying a whole country? I would think that only depends on who’s keeping score.

      You’re right, Steve, we now have no choice. But let’s not lie to ourselves that it wasn’t our actions that brought this evil to power and gave it a place to thrive. Even those of us who were against invading Iraq in the first place had no idea what price we would pay for our idiocy in doing so. And I say “our idiocy,” because, although many lay this at the feet of W and his cohorts, it was us, the American people and our democratic republic, that made that decision, and I fear that we, and our children, will suffer for it for a long time to come. (Or, it might all be over in the blink of an eye, which would satisfy many of our own religious fanatics.)

      • rlcrabb says:

        You’re living in the world of “what if?” Chris. We supported Saddam and it’s our fault, we took him out and it’s our fault. The middle east is a cesspool of extremism no matter what side you’re on. We could have sat back, did nothing, and hoped for the best, but there’s no way anyone could say that the situation there would be any better off. We should always admit our shortcomings, but not be stricken with analysis paralysis when the time comes to act. It’s not just ISIS. It’s become a disease that’s spreading from Afghanistan to Nigeria, whether you call it Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, or the Taliban. Although it’s fashionable to blame all the world’s ills on the white man, these yoyos have been nuturing this crap for over a thousand years.

        • Chris Peterson says:

          No “what if” here. It’s the old hole in the ground; how we get out depends on knowing how we got in.

          This is a religious war, and if history teaches anything at all, it will never end until it all ends. Although I don’t buy into this being in any way a “white vs them” thing. Jews and Palestinians are of the same tribe, and they’ve been at it since each decided that their god is the real one. You can’t fight crazy, and we’ve got plenty of our own in that game.

          From a practical standpoint, I could get rid of all the rats in my barn if I could get them all in one place. What we need is a giant, metaphorical piece of cheese.

      • Steve Frisch says:

        Well Chris you may be astounded but I did not support the invasion of Iraq the second time, was outspoken against it, and believe it was a failed policy, which as you pointed out helped lead to this pit of vipers. But we are now in a pit of vipers and the consequences of the vipers spreading internationally are too high…so we have to do something to control them. It is where we are. Bismarck would call that Realpolitik….

        • Chris Peterson says:

          You’ll get no argument from me on that, Steve. It is what it is. My point, clumsily made no doubt, was to the original question of “civilized or uncivilized.” Were we? Did we enter this, and conduct ourselves, in a way that distinguished ourselves from the evil we fought?

          If there’s any doubt of that, then we certainly need to learn from our mistakes, which makes admitting to our mistakes, paramount, moving forward. I don’t think they are just a bunch of purely heinous creatures who enjoy the act of burning people alive; I think it’s their clumsy attempt to hold a mirror up to what they see as our own actions, and by doing so they recruit more zealots who are eager to join the fight against “the great beast.”

          Fight them? Absolutely, but in an honorable way that contrasts their barbarism to our sense of justice. That’s our strength, and that’s the only way to defeat them.

          It’s not time to get really ugly; it’s time to come clean.

      • Ben Emery says:


        The US Armed Forces are occupying a foreign land using banned weaponry due to its inhumane nature for the profits of the energy industry, and we are considered the good guys?

        I don’t think so. This doesn’t mean I condone ISIS and their tactics but the only difference between their tactics and ours is the fact that our immoral and disgusting tactics kill people by the hundreds and thousands while theirs kills people one at a time. The US’s entire history is filled with stuff like this and we choose to ignore it. I call it out for what it is.

        Do we really think it matters to those who are murdered how they were slaughtered?

    • Ben Emery says:

      So Steve,
      What side of the multiple factions are we on?

      We sided with the Shah of Iran and performed a coup on Mosaddeq in the 1950’s. The US sided with Pinochet along with his coup and assassination of Allende 1970’s. We sided with Saddam, Osama, and the Mujahideen in the 1980’s. We sold weapons to the Iranians while funding/ arming death squads in Central America in the 1980’s. We paid Iraqi’s not to kill American forces with the surge in 2006.

      These are examples off the top of my head I am sure there are many many more where they came from. We create our own worst enemies with our imperialistic foreign policies.

      ISIS, is something we should be very concerned with but siding with groups militarily is the wrong strategy, which has been proven over and over again throughout history. That is if we believe that human lives mean anything and that democracy and the empowerment of people are the objective.

      ISIS is the antithesis of these values and qualities but winning by who is willing to use the most inhumane tactics is not the way forward if we are going to advance humanity in any sort of way.

  5. Does Benny have a country in mind the U.S. should emulate, or can he point to one that is less bad than the U.S.?

    We are not perfect–hell, we’re human–but I defy anybody to come up with a country–in existence or long-gone–that has done as much as the U.S. to promote freedom and the common good.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      The premise of your question is erroneous. WE are not supposed to emulate other nations; WE are supposed to be the one that others emulate. Placing us on the top of the dung pile still puts us on the dung pile.

      But, for the sake of conversation; what about nations like Sweden, who mind their own business and spend more time taking care of their own people then meddling in the affairs of others? At one point, we were such a nation, and even though we were the strongest nation on Earth, you had to actually harm us before we attacked you.

      Now, if you behave in any way that we don’t approve of, we will move in and establish a military base. We were that “shining light on a hill.” Now, we are the king of the dung heap, who burns, pillages, tortures, and kills any who oppose us. Who justifies bad actions by pointing to what they’ve done good in the past? (“Sorry we destroyed your whole nation, but we did get rid of one guy after previously destroying his ability to wage war.”)

      There’s no virtue in being the biggest guy in the insane asylum.

    • Ben Emery says:

      My name isn’t Benny. So if one nation or people does atrocious acts it justifies another nation for doing something just as atrocious or even worse?

      So would you say ISIS is justified in their acts since just as bad acts of violence were done by previous nations? Lets say by the US and UK?

      Nice logic.

  6. Barry Pruett says:

    Really great comments here about ISIS. For those that supported the Iraq toppling, one of the altruistic goals was to create democracy, and hence prosperity, in the region. Obviously that did not work, but the goal was true. As I think Gen. Powell said, “you break it, you fix it.” Unfortunately, this mess is of our Republic’s own making and we have an obligation to fix it.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      I would implore that we reinstate the draft, and stop sending kids over 4, 5, or 6 times. 220 veterans are committing suicide here every day. That’s incredibly sad, and unnecessary. If the people want; we could once again allow subscription and allow people to sell their spot, like we did in the Civil War.

      Anything but the never-ending horror of war for those brave enough to volunteer.

  7. Don Baumgart says:

    More and more every day I cringe when I see the never-ending horror of war walking American streets on blades of metal instead of the legs they took to battle. What the hell have we done?

  8. Ben Emery says:

    Lets take a look at some other non weapon related deaths. There are plenty more but this is a good example of what was being done in our name.

    U.S. Operatives Killed Detainees During Interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq

    The records reveal the following facts:

    A 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was “”undetermined”” although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death. Notes say he “”struggled/ interrogated/ died sleeping.”” Some facts relating to this case have been previously reported. (In April 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld authorized the use of “”environmental manipulation”” as an interrogation technique in Guantánamo Bay. In September 2003, Lt. Gen. Sanchez also authorized this technique for use in Iraq. Although Lt. Gen. Sanchez later rescinded the September 2003 techniques, he authorized “”changes in environmental quality”” in October 2003.)
    An Iraqi detainee (also described as a white male) died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being interrogated by “”OGA.”” He was standing, shackled to the top of a door frame with a gag in his mouth at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force injuries. Notes summarizing the autopsies record the circumstances of death as “”Q by OGA, gagged in standing restraint.”” (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Abdul Jaleel.)
    A detainee was smothered to death during an interrogation by Military Intelligence on November 26, 2003, in Al Qaim, Iraq. A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of General Mowhoush, lists “”asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression”” as the cause of death and cites bruises from the impact with a blunt object. New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as “”Q by MI, died during interrogation.””
    A detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison, captured by Navy Seal Team number seven, died on November 4, 2003, during an interrogation by Navy Seals and “”OGA.”” A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of Manadel Al Jamadi, shows that the cause of his death was “”blunt force injury complicated by compromised respiration.”” New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as “”Q by OGA and NSWT died during interrogation.””
    An Afghan civilian died from “”multiple blunt force injuries to head, torso and extremities”” on November 6, 2003, at a Forward Operating Base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Abdul Wahid.)
    A 52-year-old male Iraqi was strangled to death at the Whitehorse detainment facility on June 6, 2003, in Nasiriyah, Iraq. His autopsy also revealed bone and rib fractures, and multiple bruises on his body. (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Nagm Sadoon Hatab.)


  9. Steven Frisch says:

    Yeah, I really don’t like the “Benny/Gorgey” dynamic. How about people call each other by their actual names and discuss an issue with ideas and respect?

  10. Steven Frisch says:

    Ben, I go around with you on the same issue all the time. I love ya’ man but I think your world view is completely unrealistic. We live in the world as it is.

  11. rlcrabb says:

    How does one fight a clean war? Should we issue a warning before we drop a bomb, or declare that there is an age or sex limit for combatants? Everyone that comments here is well aware of the bad policies our country followed in places like Nicaragua and Iran, but I weary of these charges of “war crimes” against the Japanese and Germans in WWII. It’s utter unadulterated bullshit. Have you seen the HBO documentary on the liberation of the death camps? Have you heard of the rape of Nanking? War is hell, Ben. You can try to be as humane as possible, but if you are fighting a ruthless, determined enemy, you have to be ruthless and determined.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Have I seen the liberation of the death camps? Yes, in Mr. Barry’s history class in the 8th grade. He showed us film after film of it.
      And the rape of Nanking? Haven’t “seen” it, but my Dad, even though he was at the beginning of the war, at Pearl Harbor, shipped over for a year after victory and was aboard a sub that went up the Yangtze river, deep into China, and he told me of the carnage.

      I think what both men were trying to instill in me was a sense of right and wrong; evil and good, and the measures that have to be taken to defeat the evil. What they were not trying to teach me was that we need to be able to do the same things to win victory.

      All my life, from comic books, to movies, to books, to military experience, it has always been shown me that the good guys always win. I really don’t know what I would base my morality on, if not that central reality. And even though the actions of the few would have us fight for real estate, or oil, or power, or some lofty ideal that we must somehow force upon the rest of the world, every soldier who ever picked up a weapon in defense of our country still has those basic thoughts of Mom, home, and apple pie.

      And at the risk of more “what if’s”, it has been the actions of the few that have brought us to the situation we are now in. It’s was the meddling of our government figures in the affairs of others that created today’s enemies, not the doings of the everyday citizen. And that’s the quandary of the kid from Small Town, Iowa today, as it was for me decades ago; that the razor-clear line of purpose has been all but erased from the battlefield. To a man they will tell you that they do not return to combat, time and again, for an ideal; they return because of their common bond for those in their unit.

      So, basically, it’s the idiocy of our civilian leaders that has made our bed, and it’s also their ignorance that has included torture, rendition, and our own form of gulags in today’s warfare, which only fans the fire of our opposition.

      The American soldier still fights a “clean” war; what is otherwise known in our military as honor. I hope that never changes.

  12. Steven Frisch says:

    This quote is on the wall in my office for a reason:

    To understand the actual world as it is, not as we should wish it to be, is the beginning of wisdom.

    BERTRAND RUSSELL, Mortals and Others

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