Saturday, December 16, 2006


My response to Hesham's Response

So it was Hesham's spam filter that blocked my comment. He then replied, and tired of using red herrings, I guess, resorted to attacking straw men and ad hominem attacks. I guess that he is trying to cover all the logical fallacies he can. Anyway, here is my response to his response, and yes, this one also triggered his spam filter. I have added the links on this one for anyone who wants to read about them.



No problem on the delay. I’ll try to leave html out of this one so that the spam filters don’t get triggered. Either way, this is your blog, you can post what you want, you have no obligation to post my stuff here.

Let me try to answer your questions:

“Did the hundred of thousands of people that perished as a result of the US invasion killed for WMDs? Where any found?”

Obviously, everyone knows that the answer to your second question is no, no WMDs have been found. I guess that you are not disputing my point that everyone in the world except the Iraqis and Scott Ritter believed that they did have them. If you do have a citation to someone else who thought that they didn’t *before the war*, I would be interested in seeing it. There may be others, but it seems beyond dispute that almost everyone did think that they did.

I think that your first question got garbled, but I’m guessing that you are asking who is responsible for all the deaths in Iraq. Obviously the invasion by the US and her allies allowed the current situation to result.

Look, you don’t like the invasion. Fine. Then put yourself in the place of George Bush and tell me what the right thing to do is given that:
1) your intelligence services and indeed, all the intelligence services in the world are telling you that Saddam has a WMD program.
2) support for lifting the sanctions is spreading, in large part because of the bribery that is taking place from the Oil for Food program, and because the way that sanctions are (probably rightly) being blamed for the deaths of large numbers of Iraqi children.
3) Saddam, if left in power, will almost certainly be succeeded by Uday or Qusay, who are arguable even worse.
4) the UN Security Council, despite passing Resolution 1441, which stated that the “Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations”, is willing to do nothing to prevent further violations.

If Saddam were still in power today, it seems almost certain that the sanctions would have been lifted. If so, then according to the Duelfer Report, “Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability—which was essentially destroyed in 1991—after sanctions were removed”. So without the invasion, we would have Saddam, who twice attacked his neighbors, and then his sons, brutalizing the country, while developing WMDs. If you can say absolutely that that situation would be better, especially in the long term, than what is happening (and will happen yet) in Iraq, fine. I don’t think that it is an open and shut case.

“Besides our favorite dictator, which other government has a history of using chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons against civilians?”

The US is clearly the only power to use nuclear weapons against anyone, civilian or otherwise. Most of the nations in WWI used chemical weapons. According to this page,
biological warfare has been used since the 6th Century BC. The US may have tried to use biological weapons against the North Koreans and Chinese during the Korean War, but it is far from certain. If you believe that the US is forever forbidden from doing anything in international affairs because we nuked Japan, fine. I disagree.

As an aside, I have no idea where you are getting the 500,000 figure for deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The usual numbers that I have seen are 140,000 for Hiroshima, 80,000 for Nagasaki. The total population of both cities combined was only about 500,000 at the time of the bombings. You are right in that there were some sources that state that the Japanese were willing to surrender before the bombings. But that is far from certain; all we do know for certain that they did not surrender before the bombings. If it would have taken an invasion to defeat the Japanese, then I do not see how you can possibly argue that the bombings did not save more Japanese lives than it took. Just in the Battle for Okinawa, 50 to 150 thousand civilians were killed, and at least 60,000 soldiers. Obviously the prime consideration was the prevention of US casualties, but that doesn’t negate that the bombings killed far fewer Japanese than an invasion would have.

“So the US was ok to participate in the Nazi Olympics in 1936 since the holocaust didn’t occur until 1938?”

I believe what I said was that you had your facts wrong. I guess that you are conceding that, albeit only by attacking what I didn’t say. You didn’t say that the US was wrong for participating, you said that we were wrong for participating because of the holocaust.

It is always easy in hindsight to say what was right and what was wrong. How about this: Can you please provide a list of all the countries that were more morally foresighted than the US and did boycott the games? Depending on how extensive the list is, maybe we can decide if this is a fair criticism of the US.

“The Nazi ideology has always been racists and evil, whether it was 1930, 1936 or 1938 or 2006.”

I defy you to show where I wrote anything that would contradict that.

“Your logic of

1936 Nazi is Good
1938 Nazi is Bad”

I admit it, you easily defeated the argument made by that straw man. However, if you want to address me instead of him, you will notice that I did not say “1936 Nazi is Good”, I said that the holocaust did not begin until 1938. I actually wrote a line something like “Of course bad things were happening in Germany in 1936, but it was not clear at that time just how evil the regime was” but took it out since it seemed so obvious that it insulted your intelligence by including it.

“Is a good example of why education should not be served like fast food; all you get at the end is junk.”

So is this aimed at my education or yours? You seem to be the only person getting their facts wrong in this discussion.

== Begining long quote ==
“…difference between having your facts wrong and lying…”

“That’s ok for me and you, but if the secretary of state, defense and the head of the CIA call for action based on evidence that are “certain and accurate” then it is one of three things:”

“1. They are incompetent
2. They are lying
3. Both”

“Even if I go along with your “having you facts wrong” argument, then who is responsible for not only Iraqi deaths but American as well?”"
== Ending long quote ==

So then you are admitting that I’m right? That simply calling administration officials liars because they are wrong about WMDs is not only wrong but a shallow and superficial argument? After all, option 1 would seem to prove that you think that that is possible that they are not lying.

Look, the administration blew it on the WMD intelligence. I admit it. I never stated otherwise. I did say that they were not the only ones, and that it is not clear that they were lying. You aren’t disputing that here.

“Grab a good book at the library you work at and take the time to actually read some of the books on politics and law, and stop laughing at people that don’t agree with you…this is not 1938 anymore….”

A) You have no idea how much or what I read, just like I have no idea of your reading habits. Perhaps instead of trying to be insulting about me, my education, and my personal habits, you could instead address my arguments?
B) I didn’t laugh at anyone. I pointed out several factual errors you made (errors that you do not dispute making) and I tried to present reasoned, point-by-point explanations for why I disagreed with you. I pointed out my belief that you don’t understand the US as well as you think you do.
C) I have no idea what the 1938 reference is supposed to mean.

“Come on, if you really believe any of the stuff you have written then I can send you a few books from Amazon that you really must read.”

I’m not sure what stuff you think that I can’t possibly believe. You haven’t stated any fact that you think that I have wrong. You have completely dropped the discussion of my original point about AJE. Instead you just keep bringing up more reasons why you don’t like the US. If you want to post some books that would be good for explaining what I am wrong about something I wrote here, I’ll be willing to take a look at it. If you want to state some reason why what I wrote here is wrong, I’ll gladly look at it. Or you can continue to raise red herrings and attack straw men.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


My response to Hesham

Hesham hasn't gotten around to approving my comment on to appear on his blog even though it has been nearly 24 hours since I made it. That is fine, it is his blog and he can set the rules. So instead I'm going to post it here. This is in response to his comment to me made 7 December at 5:20 PM:


Your response to me was so filled with red herrings and off topic, it is difficult to know where to begin. Let me try anyway:

“These freedoms are given to an individual and not governments.” When did I say otherwise? As the Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” God gave us as individuals the right to free speech, freedom of religion, free press, etc.

“It is useless to debate freedom of speech and freedom of whatever, if the is a limit set by an external source on what information an individual can receive.”

This is completely irrelevant to the question at hand. First because it is not true, there is always external limits on what information an individual can receive, the most immediate and easiest to demonstrate is time. You or I do not have enough time in our lives to receive all the information that is available. If your statement was true, then free speech is therefore impossible. If you want to take that position, fine, but then just state free speech is impossible, don’t argue that Americans lack it because of the AJE issue.

“Back in the soviet era, a person was free to choose any book from the library as long as the state determined what books are available in the first place.”

And your point is? How is anything in the AJE case related to this? The government is not forbidding anyone from carrying it. It isn’t stopping the network from starting its own cable channel if it wants to. It isn’t stopping it from starting its own broadcasting network. The individual cable companies each looked at this new channel and decided that there was not enough demand for it. You may think that is the wrong decision. I do. You seem to be arguing that the government should require cable channels have to carry every possible network, no matter how few people would want to watch it. Fine, but don’t argue that you are supporting free speech, because you are arguing the opposite.

Moreover, speaking of “nothing … worse than not knowing something except for knowing if half of it and thinking that you know it all”, I work in a library, and your library example is so wrong about this that it is laughable. What is happening with AJE is much more like what happens in every library all over the world. Even in your dream world of absolute freedom, libraries still have limited budgets, staff, and space, and so constantly have to make decisions on what to buy, what to keep, what to discard. Freedom ends when it is no longer the librarians that are making these decisions.

“The media in the US might be against the current administration because its failure in the various ventures it had embarked on, not because the whole premises of war was based on lies and deceits perpetuated by people in the highest offices, nor is it because of the huge loss of innocent lives. There is a huge moral difference there.”

Again, this just shows that you have no idea what you are talking about. First, even at the shallowest level, the American media constantly criticizes the Bush Administration for the wrong intelligence about WMDs.

Second, there is a difference between having your facts wrong and lying. Even if the administration was wrong about the WMDs, that doesn’t automatically mean that they were lying. If I were to ask you, “how many states does the US have?” and you honestly thought that there were 52 and you tell me that, you aren’t lying, you have your facts wrong. As far as I recall, the only people before the war who didn’t think that Iraq had WMD were the Iraqis and Scott Ritter.

Last, on the level that you can only get to by really going past the surface, the one that you claim that Americans and our media are in capable of going past, the reasons that the Bush administration gave for going to war were not just that Iraq had WMDs. If you go back and look at the reasons given at the time, you will see this.

“Justification for slavery was made on economical basis as well…”

So? My decision not to buy everything I saw at Carrefour today was also made on an economical basis too. Was that equivalent to slavery? It did have somethign in common with slavery though. It was completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

“Moreover, the US was a willing participant in the Olympics held in Nazi Germany, even while the atrocities of the holocaust were being committed.”

Again, you don’t know what you are talking about. The Berlin Olympics occurred in 1936. Kristallnacht, usually cited as the beginning of the Holocaust, occurred in 1938. I suppose that you could complain that the US and the rest of the competitors should have seen what was coming and preemptively boycotted. I guess that you are in favor of a policy of preemption sometimes after all.

“An affiliate Nazi party was allowed to exist in New York…”

I’m confused, are you now arguing that the US has too much freedom? It would prove that the US had freedom if they had banned fascist parties before the war?

“…[there] were many US politicians [who] routinely attended their party meeting to discuss mutual…”

At this point we are so far away from the AJE issue that I can’t even see it anymore. Heck, if you just want to criticize American politicians for their racism, you don’t have to look that far in our past, the dean of Democratic senators (and fourth in the presidential succession) was once a Grand Cyclops and Kleagle in the Klu Klux Klan. You know what else that fact has to do with the AJE issue? Nothing.

I never said that the decision not to carry AJE was moral (or immoral for that matter), only that it was the result of free speech, not the negation of it. If you want to argue that the decision is wrong, fine, I’ll back you 100%. But again, you keep talking about America and her culture, but you sounds as ignorant of it as I’m sure I would if I tried to lecture you about yours.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Who is doing the killing in Iraq?

Hesham asks "What does it mean to kill rape and burn close to a million people for the sake of some ill-defined ideas and values?" Well, let's attempt to break out of the "shallow confines of the tabloid world" and ask the really important question: Who is doing most of the killing in Iraq?

It always seemed to me from news reports that most of the civilian deaths are not from American military action but from the insurgents. Maybe that is wrong, so let's look at Iraq Body Count. The most recent day of casualty list (11 November) has reports for 63-65 deaths. Let's look at each one:

At least 10 and perhaps 12 dead, killed by "Gunmen believed to be local Sunnis".

Police found 12 unidentified bodies in the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, no word on who might have killed them.

"A civilian was killed ... when a bomb inside a car detonated", so unless the US military is now having to resort to car bombs, this was probably not them.

Two people were killed in a suicide attack on a police station in Zaghinya, near Baquba. Again, I'm fairly certain that the US has not resorted to suicide attacks on civilians.

Police also reported finding at least 25 bodies dumped around the city.

A car bomb followed by a roadside bomb killed three people ...
"The first bomb exploded causing no casualties and when the Americans gathered, a second bomb went off, ripping children to pieces and sending pieces of flesh scattered all over the street..".
Again, this doesn't seem like the work of the US.

Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi intelligence officer in south Baghdad. Tahsin Ali Mahmud was ambushed as he was driving through Baya neighbourhood, the source said.

"Eight people died and at least 38 were wounded when two bombs hidden under parked cars exploded among noontime shoppers in downtown Baghdad's Hafidh al-Qadhi square".

So, there you are. Maybe this day was exceptional and most days have huge numbers of civilians killed by the US military, but I doubt it.

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