Scroll down for Amygdala archives! You know you want to. [Temporarily rather borked, along with rest of template.]
Amygdala's endorsements are below my favorite quotations! Keep scrolling!
Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
Commenting Rules: Only comments that are courteous and respectful of other commenters will be allowed. Period.
You must either open a Google/Blogger.com/Gmail Account, or sign into comments at the bottom of any post with OpenID, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, AIM account, or whatever ID/handle available to use. Hey, I don't design Blogger's software: sorry!
Posting a spam-type URL will be grounds for deletion.
Comments on posts over 21 days old are now moderated, and it may take me a long while to notice and allow them.
I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
TIMING: I'm still on the fence about war with Iraq. But I have been leaning a bit more heavily on the pro side with each passing week, for a number of reasons.
One reason is that so few of the anti-war arguments I hear hold up, or are based on assumptions I know to be false, or are logically and factually fallacious.
There are, on the other hand, a number of valid anti-war arguments, number one being that war is terrible, and if there is any way to find a better alternative, it should be looked for to all the borders of reasonability.
And that's the primary reason I'm still not ready to march for war -- yet, at least -- although I am not inclined to march against war. It's also a primary reason that I respect any thoughtful person and argument against this war. War should only be undertaken for the most serious of reasons; even incoherent and ignorant arguments against it should be listened to, and at worst, responded to and corrected. And I believe it would be immoral to not examine all the possible arguments, and give them due consideration, when so many lives are at stake.
I believe, for reasons I've stated in bits and pieces, and for reasons I've not stated yet, because I do better at making my arguments, and coming to my conclusions, in smaller bits than in Big Essays, that Saddam Hussein is a threat to his neighbors, to the world, and to me and thee, later, if not sooner.
That's the War For Self-Defense Argument.
There is also the War To Liberate Iraq's People Argument, which is valid, and need not be constrained by the counter-argument that there are other bad regimes, because one response is that You Have To Start Somewhere, and it is far easier to, if possible, Do One Thing At A Time -- though we do not have that option against al Queda, of course.
There are various counter-arguments, still, to that, of varying validity, ranging from "who appointed the US the world's policeman?", "why should the world trust the US to decide who to overthrow?," "what will the unforseen consequences of this doctrine be?, " and so on. I'm not going to address those further just now, though I think the last is far and away the most powerful. As it always is.
There are other pro-war arguments, but the third biggie is: The War To Set The Mideast Straight Argument. A very tempting one, with the pros and cons Thomas Friedman (the man the right considers a horrid leftist, and the left considers a horrible neo-conservative, so he takes it from all sides) outlines today.
That argument tempts me, but I don't believe it to be sufficient, on its own, to go to the ultimate act of engaging in war.
But I think the War For Self-Defense Argument is ultimately the primary moral argument, though there's a compelling secondary case for The War To Liberate Iraq's people -- particularly in light of, as the left justly and correctly points out, the immense moral responsibility the US has for past degrees of support of Saddam Hussein, as well as for the betrayal of those who rose against Hussein in 1991.
What makes little sense, of course, is the argument that notes all the various ways the US bears responsibility for certain degrees of past support for Hussein, and then concludes that therefore the moral thing to do is walk away. This is not a line of moral reasoning I'm familiar with, nor find compelling. (I won't even address the pathetic idea that if we're just nice to Hussein and the Iraqi people, and everyone else, and cease being such a sinning, imperialistic, militaristic, right-wing, country, and send food and medicine and stuff, he won't be a threat any more, and everyone will like us; this is a child's notion of the world.)
We teach children that if you make a mess, you should clean it up.
The US did not, in any way, create Saddam Hussein or the Baath Party, nor bring him to power, nor bear any responsibility for any of that.
But we did give him varying degrees of support in the Iran-Iraq War, and the US Government did become entangled with his regime in many and various ways before and after that war, and we bear responsibility for that, and for cleaning up after ourselves, and most of all, for righting the wrong of betrayal of the Iraqi people in Gulf War I in 1991.
But as I said, the primary argument that pushes me towards supporting a war is the war of self-defense.
It's uncontrovertible that Saddam Hussein would have had nuclear weapons by the mid-Nineties, if not for the first Gulf War, and the subsequent inspection regime. Uncontrovertible unless you want to call the International Atomic Energy Agency a liar.
Combined, of course, with his huge missile arsenal and program.
If not for the Gulf War of 1991, Saddam Hussein would today rule Kuwait, have the largest military in the Mideast, have the largest oil reserves in the world, be armed with innumerable missiles armed with nuclear weapons, biological weapons, and chemical weapons. This is inarguable, I believe. Anyone?
He would politically and militarily dominate his neighbors -- if not outright have conquered more of them -- and he would be in a position to economically twist the arm of pretty much the world, from the US and Canada to Europe to Russia to Japan.
One can only speculate what might have happened from there, in that alternative world.
Somehow, none of this seems like a very good idea to me, and I'm almighty grateful it didn't happen.
And as I've recently written in comments on Matt Welch's and Matthew Yglesias's blogs, the fact that I was four-square, in 1991, behind a response of supporting Desert Shield to protect the contemptible Saudi regime from threat of further conquest by Iraq, and then using containment and sanctions to deal with Iraq, weighs most heavily upon my current analyses.
Because it eventually became clear that I was entirely, completely, terribly, wrong in 1991.
If the policy of containment and sanctions that I supported had been followed, there would have been no reduction of Hussein's military, and no reduction whatever of his nuclear, chemical, and biowarfare power.
There would have been no inspection and destruction regime.
And Hussein would have achieved his nuclear weapons.
And what then, my friends? And what then?
So I learned the limitations of sanctions and containment when the goal is to prevent a regime from acquiring nuclear and other weapons and power, rather than deal with the threat ex post facto, as we did with the Soviet Union.
Could we have gotten by by a similiar policy against Iraq in the Nineties and through today? Perhaps. I expect most of us would still be alive, to be sure. Would that world be a better place? I think surely not.
Would that world be sufficiently worse that the cost of Iraqi and other lives in the war in 1991 was, retrospectively, justified? Fewer dead, ultimately, less suffering? That's the key retrospective question.
I think so, though this is arguable, and not incontrovertible.
Most obviously, it retrospectively seems highly plausible, though also not indisputably so, that the war should have continued on to Baghdad in 1991, and the fallout of that risked, and a democratic regime created.
But that was then, and we can't change the past.
Which brings us to the question of today: is Saddam, and the continuation of the Baathist regime still a threat?
Surely so. The best argument for an alternative policy is that he doesn't presently possess nuclear weapons, or ICBMs, and that inspectors can continue to prevent him from acquiring them.
The problem with that argument is that it rests on some premises that, when examined, get the legs kicked out from underneath them.
Hussein already succeeded, in the past, in having the inspectors withdrawn. The only reason -- the only reason -- they are back is that he was convinced that the US would go to war, and that admitting inspectors was the only possible map to delay or prevent that war.
Or would anyone care to make the case that he simply reformed, is sincerely peaceful, and is sincerely disarming?
I didn't think so.
Inexorably, if the threat of imminent war -- personified by the buildup of military force in the region against him -- is withdrawn, Hussein will see the inspectors out the door again.
I see no rational argument as to how this would not happen.
So, inevitably, the only way to continue to have an inspection regime continue is to continue to maintain a near-imminent threat of invasion.
This is not militarily, logistically, economically, practically, sustainable or doable.
Powerful as the US military is, the US, nor any conceivable coalition, cannot maintain an invasion force on the doorstep of Iraq indefinitely. Nor would it be politically sustainable by any of the involved countries.
So, the argument for the continuation of the inspection regime fails on this basis: it cannot, and would not, be continued indefinitely, or even for any significant length of time once the military threat against Iraq is withdrawn.
Which brings us back to the situation where Saddam Hussein, once again, in a few years time, if not sooner, is nuclear-armed, with missiles, and biological and chemical weapons.
And I don't see that as tolerable.
Reasonable people may, and do, disagree on this, and I remain entirely open to discussion of it, and introduction of facts and arguments I've not run in to, but right now, I don't see allowing Hussein, or his successors, to again arm himself to the point of such a threat, to be nuclear armed, as tolerable.
I point to North Korea as one example of some problems that would result.
The time when a regime has acquired such weapons and become such a threat is the time we call too late.
I do recall that non-proliferation was and is a liberal goal, as well as a sensible goal of most people.
(Another point is that inspectors cannot do more than be annoyances against his programs of development of weapons of mass destruction, in such a large country, absent his cooperation with them -- which most certainly will not come; there is a highly prevalent misunderstanding that inspectors are there to find stuff, rather than to confirm the regime is cooperating. But this is a secondary point, given that absent the ongoing imminent threat of attack, they wouldn't be around very long, anyway.)
Which brings us back to the question of "why can't we give this all more time?"
A good question, but cold reality intrudes: we can't keep this up for a year, or two, or three. Here's just one outline why.
This is an uncomfortable argument to make, because an inevitable response is "so you're saying that the morality of killing a lot of people has to be weighed against questions of mere cold-hearted economics and logistics and weather? How can you say that? Is it moral to kill people because it costs too much to wait, because politics might interfere if we wait? (And besides, isn't this about oil, anyway?)"
Well, I'm not some ultimate arbiter of morality. This is something everyone has to decide for themselves. And I respect those who believe the answer is "no, it's not moral." I think there are some good cases to be made for that.
And it's the reason I'm not ready to go march for war. Today. But, uncomfortable as I am with it, I do lean strongly in the direction of believing that practicalities of what is possible, and least awful, have to be weighed against other awfulnesses.
We don't get neat and clean choices. We don't get "parachute in an agent to do away with Hussein or wipe out the Bad Weapons Forever." We don't get to be morally pure and never hurt anyone.
I'd like to live in that world. But it's not the world we've been dealt.
The hard choice may need to be made.
The choice of war now, rather than war later.
I welcome any and all thoughtful arguments to convince me the way I'm leaning is wrong. I'd be very happy to see a better answer. This is not my dogma, this is my thinking, offered in good faith.
(I should probably wait and put this through a couple of drafts, but that is Not My Way. I'm going to throw it up here, loose and wandering though it is, and see what response, if any, I get; I can always redraft it later, and besides, this way you get to make fun of me more easily -- ever so much more entertaining, isn't that?)
ADDENDUM: Matthew Parris has a quite interesting dove's take; the Philosophical Cowboy has some interesting responses. ADDENDUM 2: Thoughtful commentary on my post here. One of those somethingorother not-quite Attorneys General of a state -- in this case, Delaware -- comments in this case, Fritz Schranck -- writes on what I said. Avedon Carol disagrees. Further comments here.
Hmmm. It's amazing how spectacularly wrong this is, and in so many spectacularly interesting ways.
For instance, there's the rather shady conflation of prior evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program (granted) and its application to the present day. Amygdala never actually comes out and says past and present are irrelevant and if Saddam once had a nuclear weapons program, he always has, always will, and does so right now... but its clearly the suggestion.
I suppose we'll have to nuke Japan over again, because they remain an imminent threat to Pearl Harbour.
It might be fun to deconstruct the whole thing, to expose it for the half baked, wishy washy nonsense, the unctious concern trolling that it was back then and is now.
But what's the point? History has spoken, the verdict is clear. The war was a disaster, it was an obvious disaster, it was a predictable disaster, and a whole lot of very 'thoughtful' and 'concerned' people who really should have known better somehow managed to convince themselves that it wasn't.
Ah well, I suppose this what passes for 'reason' in the American discourse. Instructive in a historical way, and kind of funny.
I'm shutting down comments on this post now, which I hadn't felt it necessary to do until you thought it would be helpful to be the first person in more than five years to lend me the benefit of your wisdom.