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« Policy Break--Told You So | Main | Politics and Relationships »

February 18, 2003

Free Reads -- Chris Bertram

Friedrich --

Do you have a strong opinion about whether or not the US should take Saddam out? I don't know that I do. It seems to me that while there are good arguments to do so there are also good arguments to abstain from doing so. I'm not sure which side I tip towards and I'm not sure it matters (even if, in a pinch, I choose to root for the home team). Saddam's a really, really bad guy -- but war isn't a prospect that thrills me. Shallow soul that I am, my strongest opinion has less to do with whether or not to go to war than with how the public debate's being conducted by both sides. I'm annoyed by the generally low level of it -- the name-calling, the hysteria, the contempt, the accusations of moral idiocy ... Sheesh.

Chris Bertram, who tilts antiwar, is one of the few observers I've found who's doing a first-rate job of keeping the good points from both sides in full view, and in his excellent posting today he does a far better job than I ever could of spelling them out. And you know what? They're all worth wrestling with.

Sample passage:

Americans, having actually been attacked by Al-Qaida on September 11th are naturally disposed to accept a much lower standard of proof for such [an Iraq/Al Qaeda] connection than Europeans and, even if skeptical, are likely to be sufficiently risk-averse to act on the supposition that there might be something in it. Europeans, by contrast, seeing the public case for war being erected around propositions they think dubious (at best) are likely to become more anti-war the more the Al-Qaida line is pushed. The Al-Qaida argument bolsters support for war in the US, but undermines it in Europe.

Talk about level-headed. The rest of Chris's posting can be read here.



posted by Michael at February 18, 2003


Hmm, it might be a good idea for you to continue being unsure about whether the US should take out Saddam...good for your relationships that is. My boyfriend and I broke up over this very issue. I have such heartfelt opinions about it that I couldn't handle a couple of comments he made. Ridiculous!?

Tonight we try to do like the U.N. and see if we can work things out.

Posted by: laurel on February 18, 2003 3:26 PM

Hey Laurel, Very sorry to hear the unhappy romantic news. And believe me I'll take your advice to heart. Promise to bring us up to date on how the summit meeting went? Eager to know the results. Eager also to know how it was your political disagreement rattled the relationship. Politics and relationships -- now there's a subject that's ripe for blogging.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 18, 2003 10:56 PM

Well...the summit meeting- ha!

Our disagreement briefly stated: I applaud President Bush's stance, he doesn't. He at one point said that if we go to war with Saddam, it will be Bush's fault. That was the beginning of the end for me. My eyes are on the oppressed people of Iraq, of North Korea, and of other countries. (find a way to say that and not sound corny) If there's a man out there that can apply pressure to the leaders of these countries and precipitate a change, then I hold that person in very high regard.

I've left a million things please no one tell me the situation is far more complicated. I know I know.

As far as my boyfriend, I'm afraid future summit meetings will have to occur in order for a resolution to be found. A date for continueing discussions is being considered. (ohmygosh)

Posted by: laurel on February 19, 2003 9:18 AM

Why not talk about something other than politics? There are SO many other fun things to do on a date. For instance, go see "Daredevil." It's great! (A good date movie, too!)

Posted by: Yahmdallah on February 19, 2003 10:59 AM

God, no - what a horrible peice of crap! (Of course, maybe that could give you something to agree on...) Maybe it's because I'm such a huge fan of the original Frank Miller comics, but I was hugely disappointed...

(BTW, you guys have flipped around the buttons on comment box (from where they are on other blogs) so that I keep hitting the "close" button when I want to post. Is this an insidious plot to make sure that only people who are really paying attention take part in the discussion? )

Posted by: jimbo on February 19, 2003 6:19 PM

It's Yahmdallah vs. Jimbo on the topic of "Daredevil"! And we're off!...

Sorry if the layout of our buttons is a little unconventional, by the way. You give us 'way too much credit, though, if you think we made any conscious decision about that, or have any control whatsoever over that kind of thing. We're just doing our middle-aged, nontechie fumbling best with what our blog-maker gave us.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 19, 2003 7:03 PM

In the realm of thoughtful posts about pro/anti-war arguments, Kevin Drum, at has up a (typically) thoughtful post about various pros and cons of a war (the second post from the top, at the moment).


Posted by: Mark on February 20, 2003 1:49 AM

Regrettably my romantic history is such that I've never exactly had a relationship that could be broken by politics or religion. I suspect, however, being a practising "apatheist" rather than a practising political being, religion rather than politics would be the deal-breaker for me...

Posted by: James Russell on February 20, 2003 6:24 AM

Henry Gould, at HG Poetics has been a reluctant and sensible supporter of military action against Iraq. It's made him, in his words, a "pariah" in the poetry world, and on the poetry mailing lists I've seen a good deal of vituperation and "more in sorrow than in anger" condemnation of him. When he writes about poetry he's really wonderful, though I don't always agree with him.

Posted by: Mike Snider on February 20, 2003 11:58 AM

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