catapult magazine

catapult magazine


"I don't think war is noble"


Feb 06 2003
03:02 am


We already can’t buy good cigars here anymore. What more do you want? How much more must we sacrifice??


Jan 19 2003
08:47 pm

Maybe I’ve missed it, but I don’t see any discussion about the continent’s biggest crisis: the imminent war with Iraq. Where do you stand?

(note: answer 3 means, “Let’s only take action as a member of the U.N. and avoid any unilateral involvement.”)

(another note: The poll title is an Ani Difranco lyric that’s been going through my head.)


Jan 20 2003
05:37 am

And don’t forget people – vote early and VOTE OFTEN!


Jan 21 2003
03:09 pm

I had a chat the other day with a friend who is against any kind of war, period. If I understood him correctly, his argument is that war is never good. There’s no such thing as a just war. When I ask him about protecting basic human rights (ie WWII), he still argues that it’s better not to kill than to kill—for any reason at all. Once you take upon yourself the task of taking another life, you have done something to yourself and your world that cannot be undone. Even if wrong is being done elsewhere in the world, killing the wrongdoers only adds to the total population of murderers on earth rather than lessens it.

Of course, there’s still the matter of whether or not it’s good to trade many lives for few. In other words, isn’t it better to kill 100,000 soldiers than to let 1,000,000 innocent oppressed people die because of genocide? He argues NO, because it’s still a matter of what you’ve done to yourself and what kind of a place the world has become with war in it. (I hope I’m doing justice to the pacifist point of view here.)

From this, I drew the conclusion that to my friend, the QUALITY of life is more important than the existence of the life itself. I hope I’m not off here, but he seemed to think it a fair conclusion.

Now, I don’t think that I agree with him (although I’m certainly mulling it over), but it raised an interesting question as to the basic assumptions of life/civilization. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?


Jan 21 2003
04:14 pm

I certainly don’t think war is noble. It seems to me that there are times when war is necessary though. For example, if we are attacked and the citizens of this country are in danger, defending ourselves would seem to be a necessary thing. However, to the best of my knowledge, the Iraqis are not amassing on our borders.

I think war may also be necessary when there is a country that repesents a clear and presnt danger to the rest of the world. I think Germany in WWII would come under this heading.

Finally, I would be sympathetic to an argument that we might need to go to war to rescue the citizens of that country if they are being oppressed by a cruel dictator who violates their human rights. I think an argument might be made on these grounds regarding Iraq, but I don’t think such an argument actually has been made yet.

In fact, so far, the only reasons for going to war that I have heard from the administration have been that we have secret information that no one else gets to see that proves that the iraqis have weapons of mass destruction and are going to use them. This info remains something only the administration has details on though. The other reasons for going to war seem to be that we are angry about 911 (though if so, why pick specifically on Iraq) and that our gasoline is getting too expensive (sell the SUV and buy a Prius then).

Of course, maybe I missed something. I’ve been pretty busy lately. Was there a really good justification when i wasn’t looking?


Jan 22 2003
03:34 am

I believe President Bush started stating his case against Iraq in April. If you need to see classified information in order to believe it, than you ought to sign up for the CIA. However, there’s plenty of public information to justify preemptive measures, namely Saddam’s refusal since the ‘90s to give inspectors full, unrestricted access. Hmm …. what could he be hiding? Saddam is also a Napoleonic dictator of his people and has murdered his fellow Muslims. Kurds, anyone? He’s also a supporter of Osama bin Laden.

I think the arguments against Saddam are cumulative and stretch back 10 years or so. I don’t know if you’re looking for a concise one-sentence summation or what.


Jan 22 2003
08:26 am

Sorry to contradict you here mrsanniep, but Saddam is no supporter of Osama bin Laden. In fact they hate each other’s guts. Saddam is a secular dictator who, though he uses Islam when necessary, has repressed and persecuted the kind of fundamentalists that make up Osama’s bandwagon. If Osama had a chance, he would take out Hussein in a heartbeat. And vice versa.

Also, Hussein is no worse than 100 other dictators around the world. As the last months have shown, North Korea is a greater threat. But I don’t see any eagerness on the part of Bush to rescue the oppressed North Koreans.

I reject any notion that this is a just war. I don’t much like political marches, but I marched with 25,000 people a few days ago to try to stop the Canadian government from sending troops to join the madness. It felt good.

I’m not the kind of peace activist that Rob was talking about, but I’m pretty sure about this one. Can anyone come up with a better argument for invading Iraq other than:

1. Saddam is a bad guy
2. They might have weapons of mass destruction
3. They might support terrorism
4. I trust the CIA

The best argument I’ve heard is about stabilizing the world supply of oil and American access to it. At least that makes sense.


Jan 22 2003
09:21 am

Dan – If I recall, the last time there was trouble in the Persian Gulf, you Canadians paraded out your token rustbucket, the HMCS Toronto. No offense, but protest all you want up there. I’m not sure the help is necessary anyway.

I think your comments about Saddam and bin Laden NOT being eachother’s best friend are somewhat myopic when you look beyond their actions and their ultimate goal: to blame and terrorize America. Both have wrongly blamed America for actions and murders they both knew the other committed to their respective people.

Here – I copied this for you from my favorite political rag:

There are two arguments for war with Hussein’s Iraq. The first is grounded in realism: Saddam Hussein poses a threat to our security. This case can be made in a complete moral vacuum. It isn’t contingent on moral categories like tyranny, cruelty, whatever. Saddam is an actor on the global stage whose aspirations conflict with America’s, and since the international system is a Hobbesian state of nature, we have every “right” to protect our interests by any means necessary. Such arguments are important, necessary, and in this case, I believe, persuasive.

But it is the second argument, the one rooted in morality, which I find more compelling. To some, this colors me a warmonger or imperialist ? a term invariably thrown around by people eager to close off a debate, rather than have one. But so be it.

The cultures of the Middle East are rich and impressive. But at the moment, they are also stagnating in a cesspool of bigotry, poverty, and oppression of every sort. Even the ? by most accounts ? decent societies of the region, like that of Jordan, are being held back by the undertow of bile which flows freely through the Arab street. In 1990, for example, the king of Jordan had to show fealty to an Iraqi dictator he surely must have despised.

What a staggering embarrassment it must be for the denizens of North Africa that many of their poor neighbors south of the Sahara have been more successful at embracing democracy and the rule of law than has any Arab regime. I have every confidence that there are untold millions of Arabs who desperately want to live normal lives and that there are millions more who would shed their ideological blinders if given the opportunity. Donald Rumsfeld was right when he said we should think of these populations as hostages, not as citizens.

Those who fetishize “stability in the region” really mean the stability of cruelty and tyranny (and those who blame Israel for the attitudes of the Arab street are arguing, in effect, that it would be better to abandon one friendly democracy than to establish 50 of them). A stable, Nazi-run Europe would have been no friend and an unstable but democratizing Middle East would be no foe. After the Gulf War, the signs were there for a U.S.-led transformation of the region, but we turned our backs on those we had encouraged to rise up and embraced, once again, those committed to keeping their subjects down. Until that status quo is crushed and flushed clean by the tide of history, there will always be bin Ladens. Indeed, that is where the moral and realpolitik cases for war intertwine.

The biggest favor the United States ever did to militaristic Japan was to crush it militarily. Our victory ushered in prosperity, democracy, and a productive peace. The Iraqi people would be lucky if we did them the same favor.


Jan 22 2003
11:57 am

So the two arguments for war are first of all, because Iraq is a threat, that gives us the right to invade them. By the same logic, can’t we then take over anybody we feel like, as long as they have a credible army tht we consider a threat? Should they be allowed to attack us if they consider us a threat?

The second argument is the one I too find more compelling, though if our goal is to make life better for the average Iraqi, I would question whether a violent and destructive war would be the best way to do that. Joe Average Iraqi is bound to get the bad end of that deal, since he doesn’t have a presidential palace to hide in.


Jan 22 2003
12:57 pm

Don’t get me wrong mrsanniep, I would never make the contention that the US military needs Canadian help, nor anybody else’s for that matter. The US didn’t need military help during the Gulf War either, but it was an international coalition, which meant that it wasn’t perceived as being just the USA attacking. War is a public relations issue. Bush is loosing the public relations war right now, both internationally and domestically (I think).

What the US wants now is not military backing— it wants the moral support of other countries like Canada, in its bid to invade a sovereign country which has not attacked it. Canadian politicians are under intense diplomatic and economic pressure to cooperate and I’m not sure they can stand for what is right under these circumstances. The majority of Canadians are against a non-UN sanctioned invasion, and it seems public opinion in the US is going that way as well. But Bush is determined to do what he set out to do. I still think it will be March, unless the opinion polls go down and Bush is forced to invade earlier to get the popular support that comes with victory.

Did you hear the frustration in Bush’s voice yesterday when he compared this situation to a bad movie he didn’t want to watch? He’s losing most of the international support he started with by showing he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the United Nations. America and rogue nations are some of the only places where you can get political milage by undermining the UN.

The US undermined the forerunner to the United Nations, the League of Nations, in the 1920s because Americans wanted to do their own thing rather than cooperate with the rest of the world. In the 1940s, Americans found that cooperation was inevitable and later played a key role in founding the UN. Memories are short I guess.

Like BBC said, Hussein may blame America and hate America and wish he could shoot a nuclear missile at America, but the truth is that he’s not much of a threat. Mongolians hate the Chinese and many there wish they could nuke China. But that doesn’t give the Chinese the right to invade.

As for the moral argument, Japan and Germany are the exception rather than the rule. More often an occupied country soon despises it’s occupier, no matter what the intentions of the occupier.

The only way this could work if we could actually garner the kind of money that was dumped into Europe and Japan after the 2nd WW and dump it into Iraq — and I’m not just talking about developing the oilfields, which is likely the main thing that will get any attention. I’m talking about building a well rounded economy from which all Iraqis can benefit. I don’t hear anyone talking about that sort of thing. That’s why I don’t think the moral enterprise can succeed.

PS By the way, I hold both American and Canadian citizenships — I don’t favour either, but I get involved in the debates from wherever I am located at the moment.

PPS And aside from various and sundry rustbuckets, the Canadian military also contributed 24 fighter planes to the Gulf War effort. Plus some beaver traps and a couple of canoes.


Jan 22 2003
02:10 pm

Isn’t it true that up until a few years ago, the Canadian army had more generals than tanks?

OK, now that I’ve got my potshot in, I should thank my northern brethren for allowing the US Army to use its LAV III (Light Armored Wheeled Vehicles) in order to train our troops while we were waiting for GM Defense to crank out the Strykers.

Obviously the moral component it a big one in this situation. So how does the fact that we’re Christians in this culture affect our view of this situation?? Ie. the whole Ishmael vs. Isaac and OT prophecies. As Christians we have spiritual eyes as well as practical ones.

Here’s a bonus- it’s from an email I got from a wife of a Christian Foreign Service Officer working in Shanghai about meeting the Pres with her three children when Bush visited there recently:

Bush came along and shook Chris’s hand first, noticing that he was all dressed up, and said, “You’re looking sharp today, boy!” Chris was SO PROUD and SO PLEASED at the recognition (if only GW had known what a struggle I’d had to get him to wear a jacket and a tie)! Then he shook my hand and I told him how much we value his strong leadership at this time, that we are 100% behind him. He went on and took the girls’ hands and
talked to them.

Then I leaned over and mentioned that we pray for him every day. He stopped dead in his tracks (a definite security NO-NO … the SS men got REALLY antsy). He searched my eyes as if to see how much I really meant what I was saying. Then he gave me the! most amazing and unexpected personal response, Paul said for a good 20-30 seconds. He told me what the
effect has been on him, waking up every day of the crisis and knowing within himself that he is being faithfully prayed for. He almost pleaded with me not to give up, but to persist with it, for this is only the beginning. Then he looked me even more squarely in my eyes, and gave me a very personal and specific series of instructions about the very things he most needs prayer for, on behalf of himself and of the nation. He urged
me that the threat against America is very great, and that one of our focuses in prayer to God needs to be “the shielding of America” … and wisdom for him as he leads the country through this time.
I don’t know why, but as I looked straight back at him directly into his face, he let me see for those brief moments a tiny part of the agony he himself is going through, and the weariness. He finished the conversation by putt! ing his hand on my right shoulder, almost as if it were the close of a commissioning, but affectionate too in a brotherly sort of way.