Don’t Forget the Iraqi People

I’m far from the only blogger who commemorated the Iraq War’s pentannual mark with an evaluation. In response to my own, one commentor linked to the assessment of Bob Lonsberry, a right-wing journalist and radio personality who also happens to be lds. This commentor advertised Lonsberry’s essay, “Iraq is Costly and Successful,” as “honest” and “refreshing.”

Lonsberry has no reservations about the war. Oh, he is critical of the cost of the conflict, and the way the war was handled during the first few years. But for him, there is no doubt about the value of the war. “It was brilliant and successful.”

The essay is littered with the typical militarist cliches and language. “Weakness invites attack, strength assures peace.” “It is only in the last year—in the era of the surge—that we have begun to fight…In a war, you either fight all out, or you lose.” It wistfully mentions taking on the government of China, ruefully suggests that we should have taken control of Iraq’s oil resources, and hearkens back to the games of Realpolitik our nation played with Iraq and Iran (Lonsberry doesn’t miss out on the opportunity to send chills down his reader’s spine by hearkening back to Bush’s dreaded “Axis of Evil”). The essay virtually reeks of testosterone. That view of the world may be very exciting in paperback thrillers and Hollywood blockbusters, but is a rather dangerous way to try to maintain either peace or a democratic society.

Lonsberry’s central argument is based on the now trite conservative platitude: “We are fighting the terrorists over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here.”

The second success—the larger success—is of great significance to us. We changed the venue of the war with militant Islam. We captured the initiative in the war on terror.

They wanted to fight our civilians in our country. We wanted them to fight our military in their country. Instead of slashing unarmed stewardesses and killing helpless business people in America, we duped them into attacking armed soldiers and Marines in Iraq…

…We turned the stampede of militant Islam. We got these morons to engage us far from our homeland, under conditions favorable to us, in a situation where we could bring our military might to bear. The key to insurgency or terrorism is battlefield initiative—they get to pick the where and the when of the fight. By invading Iraq, and drawing the attention of the swarm of terrorist wasps, we asserted the initiative and picked the where.

It is true that we have yet to suffer any attacks on our soil since 9/11. We could argue that this is because of improved border and port security or intelligence operations in the aftermath of 9/11. You could argue that the invasion of Afghanistan disrupted the communications and organization of the most prominent terrorist network. Or you might argue that this is simply because the terrorists are biding their time, waiting for the next big opportunity to make a splash. It is ludicrous to argue is that there have been no terrorist attacks in our land because we’ve made Iraq the designated battleground.

Remember, we’re talking about terrorists. They don’t engage you where you prefer; they don’t even engage whom you prefer. If they did, we’d call them soldiers.

The successful London terrorist attack and the foiled transatlantic aircraft plot both show that terrorists can and will select their targets without any consideration for which venue we’ve chosen. The National Intelligence Estimates for 2006 and 2007, documents drawn up by experts on the subject, both suggest that we are at greater risk of terrorist attack because of the War in Iraq. Lonsberry’s premise is fundamentally flawed.

But sadly, this is not the greatest problem with Lonsberry’s perspective. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that he is right, and the decision to fight in Iraq has contained hostilities to the Mesopotamian region, like some vast sheet of flypaper. In his reasoning, I notice that he entirely disregarded one enormously crucial factor.

The people of Iraq.

Seven hundred thousand dead. 4.5 million displaced. Communities in shambles. Chaos reigning in many regions. No end in sight. The people in whose land we fight apparently don’t even enter into the equation for Mr. Lonsberry. The closest he comes to addressing the issue is his tepid support for the elimination of Hussein. He does not seem to consider whether the subsequent government will be able to survive or better meet the needs of the Iraqis as relevant to the conversation. The people of Iraq are seemingly superfluous.

How barbaric.

Perhaps a few trillion dollars and a few thousand lives is the going rate in defense of our homes, our families, and our liberties. But it would be reprehensible to claim that we are justified in thrusting the cost on the backs of a foreign people, of making their homes the battleground for our freedoms! We cannot be so ignominious as to consider it acceptable that the Iraqis serve as proxy casualties.

This war in Iraq, with all its attendant destruction and misery, can be considered worthwhile and a success only if as a result of it the people of Iraq are assured greater liberty and security. If such success is not achieved, no amount of U.S. benefit can justify the catastrophe; their suffering shall be answerable upon our heads, and we deserve all the animosity which our arrogance has engendered. As it is not our own society being ravaged, our own benefit must be of secondary import.

I’m deeply ashamed that so many of my faith have supported the sort of arrogance which presents U.S. interests as far more important than that of other people, and which suggests that those interests trump basic morality. Perhaps more people need to spend some time in reflection upon what it means to follow a Deity who is the father of all mankind, and who implores us to consider the needs of others at least as much as our own.

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31 Responses to “Don’t Forget the Iraqi People”

  1. yani in seattle Says:

    As a foreign-born LDS who now lives here in the United States, I am dismayed by the arrogance I find generally in the American population but also sadly in our midst in regards to how much more valuable we perceive our interests to be in comparison to other countries’. I agree with your post 100%. In the five years of the Iraq war, I have never heard anyone in our Church meetings pray or even mention the Iraqi people who are the victims of this war. This has bothered me and I have tried to raise the issue when I can. In the media, I haven’t heard any serious attention paid to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people dead, injured, or displaced, or about the destruction they are dealing with now. The focus has never been the Iraqi people. It is truly sad.

  2. D. Sirmize Says:

    “The essay virtually reeks of testosterone. That view of the world may be very exciting in paperback thrillers and Hollywood blockbusters, but is a rather dangerous way to try to maintain either peace or a democratic society.”

    Derek, I challenge you to make the case that testosterone didn’t create America or play a prominent role in making it great. I challenge you to demonstrate that testosterone didn’t end the World Wars, and create the lifestyle that you and I enjoy today. Testosterone unwisely used can be harmful (as you argue it was in Iraq), but you’re wrong to discount it’s obvious role in our success.

    Perhaps I was wrong to suggest that Lonsberry’s article might be refreshing to some of your readers. Most of them, I’m finding, eat whatever flows from your keyboard like candy. I should have known you’d never stoop to agreeing with a “militaristic” conservative.

    No, the world isn’t a paperback thriller or Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s also not a drum circle or candlelight vigil. Liberals love to point out how Bush never cared for the Iraqis until it was time to invade them. But liberals themselves never cared for the Iraqis until it was time to ream bush for invading them. Your concern for the less fortunate is only proportional to the political hay you can make out of them.

    When a prominent liberal offers a feasible, real-world plan to defeat Radical Islam, that’s when I’ll give any credence to your empty, self-righteous criticisms.

    Oh, and Yani- I’m sorry you’re forced to live in such an arrogant, selfish, horrible country. The country you came from is surely much more benevolent and Christlike, and is no-doubt actively sacrificing on behalf of the world’s oppressed.

  3. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Well, whether or not testosterone played a prominent role in making the U.S. great really rather depends on what you consider “great.” The world with its cowboy, John Wayne machismo would tell you that being great means being the king of the mountain, the most powerful, the one with the most toys, the one who can get their way. And yes, that definition of great does indeed require a great deal of testosterone, as well as pride. But the teachings of the Savior seem to suggest there is another definition of great, and his teachings involve nothing associated with testosterone.

    And I would suggest that testosterone has much more to do with starting wars than ending them.

    I wonder why you feel liberals never cared for Iraqis until it served our political purposes. The fact that we weren’t pounding the drum to use violence doesn’t mean we didn’t care about them. Perhaps it means that liberal feel that there are higher, more noble paths to help the underprivileged of the world than bloodshed.

    I have no hesitation to agree with people of any political persuasion who are willing to make logically and morally sound arguments. Lonsberry simply didn’t fit that bill.

  4. D. Sirmize Says:

    “Perhaps it means that liberal feel that there are higher, more noble paths to help the underprivileged of the world than bloodshed.”

    Could be, but if liberals were touting these higher, more noble paths in Iraq’s case, I sure wasn’t hearing them. In fact, other than just maintaining the status quo, I heard no liberal proposals to help Iraqis in the situation they were in. Not one. Maintaining the status quo over there was certainly not noble, and the pre-invasion containment policy was completely ineffective.

    It’s easy for you to criticize the testosterone-laced empirical record. I wonder what history would look like were the U.S. to implement your holier-than-thou pacifism. No doubt you think it would look like the cover of a Jehovas Witness pamphlet.

    “I have no hesitation to agree with people of any political persuasion who are willing to make logically and morally sound arguments.”

    Sorry, but I’m calling you on this one. I’ve read through most of your archives and am hard pressed to find one conservative/Republican argument you’ve agreed with. By your record here, either conservatives are wrong 100% of the time or you’re a partisan hack.

  5. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I’ve talked about some alternatives to militant foreign policy in a few of my recent posts. Such words as “persuasion, gentleness,” “meekness,” and “love unfeigned” come to mind. I somehow don’t think that the Savior meant for those to be applied exclusively to ecclesiastical leadership.

    I would note as well that while we should always be concerned for our less-fortunate brothers and sisters around the globe, the times in which we should be most concerned is when it is our own actions have exposed them to tragedy and misery (see my posts about moral responsibility). We were not directly responsible for the suffering of Iraqis prior to the Iraq War (well, except for when the Reagan administration gave Saddam the WMDs with which he gassed his own citizens). We are directly responsible for the condition Iraq is in right now. Their welfare should therefore be our primary concern in our decisions, not entirely absent as in Lonsberry’s essay.

    “Sorry, but I’m calling you on this one.”

    Call away. I’m amused that you would consider me partisan, as I am a member of no party, and am perfectly willing to criticize the Democrats when they deserve it.

    I have been willing to agree with some conservatives, such as McCain (torture), or Harry Browne and Ron Paul (on foreign policy; while Browne is a libertarian, he would most likely be considered more akin to the conservatives). But of course I believe conservatives are most often wrong. It would be rather silly to call myself a liberal Mormon if I didn’t, wouldn’t it?

  6. D. Sirmize Says:

    The meaning of the word “partisan” can also describe the polarized nature of “conservative” and “liberal”. These ideologies (to one of which you proudly tie yourself) are de facto parties. The word “partisan” applies well here.

    “Such words as “persuasion, gentleness,” “meekness,” and “love unfeigned” come to mind.”

    Ok, then. Let’s narrow this approach to Radical Islam. Please tell me how we deal with people willing to strap bombs to themselves and blow up as many people as they can with “persuasion.” Help me understand how gentleness and meekness can reverse a culture of hate. Do tell how “love unfeigned” quells the fury of a people who get so offended at a cartoon that they are willing to kill over it.

    There are, in LDS scripture, times where men of God (presumabely testosterone-laden men) rightly took action that doesn’t fit your pacifist model. You want to be the people of Ammon. Fine. But remember that while that approach resulted in the conversion of a few Lamanites, it was never adopted by the prophet-led government and was readily abandoned by the subsequent generation. Pacifism isn’t always the wisest course of action.

    Humor me. Give me a historic example of a successful foreign policy where we’ve used the “persuasion, gentleness,” “meekness,” and “love unfeigned” approach and had success. Sure looks like it’s working in Palestine and Cuba…Oh wait a minute- that’s right- those are all America’s fault anyway so they don’t count.

  7. jennifer Says:

    Sirmize – your discourse mirrors your ideology in that you try to bully and insult people, then are surprised when they don’t come around to your way of thinking.

    Regarding “people willing to strap bombs to themselves and blow up as many people as they can” – – – – it seems that suicide bombings worldwide have only increased dramatically since our military invasion of Iraq, not decreased. Maybe time to try something w/ persuasion, gentleness, kindness, etc. ? The phrase CHARITY NEVER FAILETH is not limited to one’s visiting teachers; it works with colleagues, neighbors, extended family, and even between communities and nations. I have seen love unfeigned work in the most surprising and unexpected ways, and turn otherwise hardened people into friends. It’s a simple but powerful concept. I’m with Derek on this 100%.

  8. D. Sirmize Says:

    “I’m with Derek on this 100%”

    Well of course you are.

    “Your discourse mirrors your ideology in that you try to bully and insult people.”

    Insults? Where? Bullying? Again, where? I’ll admit I’m sarcastic, but that’s for humor’s sake. If you’re offended at my sarcasm, well, that’s your problem.

    Re: Suicide bombing rates- I made no reference to the number of suicide bombings. I’m talking about the posessed mind willing to do it.

    Now to your charity and love unfeigned- if that works so well, why is there so little of it in the liberal wing of the blogosphere? If it’s such a powerful weapon, why not use it?

  9. Derek Staffanson Says:

    D. Sirmize, I believe I gave a scriptural example in a comment for a prior post. The subject of that post also described some successes of persuasion over militant coercion. I could cite the examples of woman’s suffrage, the civil rights movement, and the liberation of India (which was able to liberate itself through nonviolence from an empire which had shown itself willing to respond with incredible brutality to colonial resistance). Non-violence has been proven to work, if only we’re willing to cast off the natural man, our pride, and use the more humble methods. I can’t think of any examples of persuasion or nonviolence in difficult situations in the history of our foreign policy, because we’ve always been too willing to reach for the gun.

    Interesting that you mention Palestine. Israel has been very successful in quelling Palestinian terrorism with militant violence, haven’t they?

    Please note I’ve never said that it is never right to use force, only that we’re far too eager to use that option.

    Go on if you wish. We obviously see things very differently, I doubt we’re going to convince each other, and I’m not interested in going around in circles with you.

  10. D. Sirmize Says:

    “Interesting that you mention Palestine. Israel has been very successful in quelling Palestinian terrorism with militant violence, haven’t they?”

    Interesting that you mention my mention of Palestine, because it proves my point about liberals and Radical Islam. Liberals constantly claim that Radical Islam will be placated and peaceful if only Israel/America stopped using violence against it. Why then, after so many territorial concessions, is it still unsafe to attend a wedding or visit a discotec (why one would hang at a “discotec” anyway is beyond me, but that’s beside the point)?

    Your comment- brief as it is- about “militant violence” perpetrated by Israel tells me all I ever need to know about your attitude on the Israel/Palestine situation and your concept of Radical Islam.

    Call me a skeptic, but after near-obsessive research on radicalized Islam and listening to my military friends recount experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t see today’s terrorists falling to the ground and converting en masse.

    I simply can’t compare the evil of the Lamanites (circa Alma 17) with the evil of today’s Muslim extremist. There are some similarities, but consider that the Lamanites had Nephite roots and cross-defections were common. Their evils described in Alma don’t come close to the evils of both Lamanites and Nephites later in the BoM. Alma’s Lamanites killed for treasure. Radical Islam kills to kill.

    Radical Islam lies closer, mentally and culturally, to the two civilizations during the final battles. That kind of evil isn’t simply loved into repentance or talked into laying down arms. It’s a form of mental illness pounded into heads from birth. It’s not easily shed. AT least not as easy as you seem to think it is.

  11. MarcusDcas Says:

    Thanks again Derek for a wonderful, intelligent and thoughtful post in your blog. A few years ago I was in despair due to the apathy and disregard for the effects of war I’ve seen in the society as a whole, and perhaps most importantly among the LDS community.

    You, and all the others of my brothers and sisters in the gospel, that I’ve seen speaking up against this atrosity since then, has meant a lot to me.

    I think the main thing (among many) that struck me about the article was the pure egoism of it all. The fact that others have to suffer and die because the most militarized nation in the world wants to feel safe.

    My, what a shallow short term way to receive some temporal believed safety.

  12. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Sirmize, wow. I am far, FAR more friendly toward the military than Derek and most of his readers, but you really need to look inside and check that you don’t canker yourself with hate.

    In the first place, you ARE being a bully. You’re bringing in arguments and assuming what positions people will take (i.e. Cuba being our fault). But perhaps the most disturbing thing is that you are taking a cynical, almost contemptuous attitude towards scriptures we are supposed to hold dear. It sounds like you have already decided that love unfeigned won’t work, and that it certainly isn’t worth so much as a try on these murderous towelheads. You have no idea what will work, and you don’t so much as try to put yourself in others’ shoes. I admit that is difficult when we’re talking about something as evil as the tactics used by terrorists, but as believers, we are required to forgive all men.

    I do understand what you mean about testosterone not being an entirely bad thing. Testosterone is often what gets things done. But you have to admit if it is not kept in control, misery inevitably follows.

    I share your frustration with many on the left who seem to be unable to give America any kind of break. It wears me down like almost nothing else, and I’ve fought with Derek over it a number of times. But I try to take things away to better myself where he may be right. Such as praying for the Iraqi people. It couldn’t hurt to do a little more of that. Anyway, take or leave what I have to say. I just don’t want you to hurt yourself with all the tense, angry energy you seem to have.

  13. D. Sirmize Says:

    “It sounds like you have already decided that love unfeigned won’t work, and that it certainly isn’t worth so much as a try on these murderous towelheads.”

    You seem to be accusing me of racism, Aaron. That’s a pretty serious accusation- especially when the rest of your words are drenched in Christlike tolerance. It’s an accusation I take serious offense at.

    If my words betray hate, it’s a hatred toward an evil mindset, not a race or creed. If my criticisms of Radical Islam constitute racism, by the same standard you might call Derek’s recent comment about Israel antisemitic and racist as well. Can we please have an honest discussion without somebody playing the race card?

    “But perhaps the most disturbing thing is that you are taking a cynical, almost contemptuous attitude towards scriptures we are supposed to hold dear.”

    Not at all. I simply contest parts of their application in modern politics. Just because I interpret a thing or two differently than you doesn’t mean I don’t hold the scriptures dear. I haven’t read enough of your comments on this blog to know where you sit politically, but you seem to fall right in line with Derek and most other commenters here when somebody doesn’t read certain scriptures the same way you do. Were I using the same language to argue a point you agree with, I doubt you’d be calling me a bully.

    As for my tone- please don’t take me wrong. I’m cynical because of the world I live in. It’s kind of like the hardened cop who deals with daily immersion in darkness by joking about it. Compared to the bulk of blogs and Internet forums out there, my tone is downright cheery.

    What you mistake for angry energy is political passion, and a desire to make my point in hostile territory (let’s face it, there’s not a lot of charity or love unfeigned coming from this crowd). Personally, I enjoy a healthy spar on my blog. I’d rather hear from all types of commenters I don’t agree with and who are passionate in their beliefs. My contrarian take on Derek’s posts takes his regular audience aback- not because of “tense, angry energy”- but because my comments deviate from the lockstep lovefest.

  14. CStanford Says:

    To D.Sirmize:

    “I simply can’t compare the evil of the Lamanites (circa Alma 17) with the evil of today’s Muslim extremist. There are some similarities, but consider that the Lamanites had Nephite roots and cross-defections were common. Their evils described in Alma don’t come close to the evils of both Lamanites and Nephites later in the BoM. Alma’s Lamanites killed for treasure. Radical Islam kills to kill.

    Radical Islam lies closer, mentally and culturally, to the two civilizations during the final battles. That kind of evil isn’t simply loved into repentance or talked into laying down arms. It’s a form of mental illness pounded into heads from birth. It’s not easily shed. AT least not as easy as you seem to think it is.”

    For one thing, I had understood clearly that Iraq under Hussein was not a radical Islamic state, not linked to Al-Qaeda or the 9-11 attacks. If we had to engage the terrorists on their own turf, why not focus all our energy on Afghanistan?

    Another thing: Alma’s Lamanites killed for treasure? What Book of Mormon are you reading? They extracted tribute and plundered, yes, but read carefully in Zeniff’s account, Ammoron’s letter and the rest of the war chapters and you’ll see that they had a deep ideological motivation, not so different from that of the radical Islam you’re talking about – though actually, your comparison to the two civilizations near the end is pretty good – the Nephites fought for revenge and with the conceit that God was on their side, like radical religionists of any stripe. Although, how far do you mean to take the comparison? Do you want to contemplate how us good guys with the constructive testosterone might possibly degenerate into a depraved and doomed society because we don’t want to back down and be wimps?

    And oh, how desirable it must be to show that our enemies now are so different from the Lamanites (or the second Gadianton group), that we needn’t pay attention not only to Moroni’s failure to invade a hostile *neighboring state* but also Gidgiddoni’s wisdom in refusing to engage a stateless band (resembling terrorists) *in their own territory.*

    A country can be defended strongly, decisively, but also morally – look at Capt. Moroni. – But oh no, we can’t expect that any modern American commanders might act as he did, because this is the Real World. Besides, we’re facing such an insane, sub-human enemy that just kills to kill. Gosh, are we fighting ideologically-motivated humans or orcs?

    If you don’t want to take the Book of Mormon as relevant modern advice against invading other countries in the name of self-defense, maybe you could try Section 98 – but oh no, that’s not for worldly governments, is it? How convenient. Of course, when it comes to defending the Inspired Constitution let’s all invoke Moroni with righteous pride.

    No, everyone who disagrees with invading other countries in the name of “freedom” must be made into ultra-pacifist straw men who advocate a “lockstep lovefest” of weakness that invites attack that we will then of course refuse to resist.

    Maybe I’ve made a straw man out of you, and if so I don’t want to keep it. You can respond with clarity and reason, or resort to more of the same, hotly protesting your righteousness, but lest you accuse me of copping out, I’ll let everyone know I’m away from the Internet for a week.

  15. Aaron Orgill Says:

    You know yourself better than anyone on here. I’m just asking you to consider searching your own heart. I know from personal experience that racism is born of buying into certain stereotypes. You seem to lump everyone into the same category who might have a problem with what the U.S. is doing, so there’s step one.

    I am sorry you feel the world is such a terrible place that it’s turned you cynical. I can certainly identify with such an attitude, but have heard repeatedly from the pulpit that we are not supposed to let ourselves get hardened to the world. So kudos for your honesty, but don’t kid yourself that it’s a good thing. Ultimately we are commanded to be of good cheer.

    I very seldom agree wholeheartedly with Derek. He can back me up on that. You look at almost any other post and we argue very intensely on more than half of them. I consider myself libertarian, and am very frustrated with extreme elements of both parties. You seem to come from the Sean Hannity school where if I make one comment in agreement with Derek, I must be a liberal, hence your line about “seeming to fall in line with Derek and the rest of his ilk.” I added the last line, but it certainly seems in keeping with the tone of your response.

    I don’t mind some passion. Just seems you are painting with an awfully broad brush to call it a big “lovefest,” which has a definite hippie connotation, and I don’t believe for a moment that it’s anything but intentional. It’s too bad that we can’t just disagree, we have to slander our opponents. Doubtless you’ve experienced this from the left, who love to show Republicans as ignorant, white-trash rednecks, but if you’re going to resort to the same things we’re never going to get anywhere.

  16. Derek Staffanson Says:

    CStanford, you’re anticipated some of the points when I finally am able to put together my opus on militarism and war. You are right in trying to liken the scriptures in that manner. I get rather perplexed who are all in favor of quoting the scriptures on Sunday, but feel that the business world or politics are somehow excluded from such comparison.

    Yes, Aaron, I can indeed back you up on your less than unconditional agreement with me or my views. And I appreciate you’re willingness to stand up and be heard despite this lack of total adherence.

    (and the willingness of the supposedly mindless drones who follow me as well, Jennifer, CStanford, Marcus, and Yani 😉

  17. D. Sirmize Says:

    Aaron:
    “You seem to lump everyone into the same category who might have a problem with what the U.S. is doing, so there’s step one.”

    Do I? Do demonstrate where and how. Regarding my statements on Radical Islam, I am very careful to distinguish between Islam in general and it’s radicalized elements. You have to stretch to find anything remotely related to racism there. Not only do you refuse to retract your accusation, your rather judgmental comment reinforces it. Interesting that nobody else here is willing to call you on that.

    Aaron again:
    “You seem to come from the Sean Hannity school where if I make one comment in agreement with Derek, I must be a liberal, hence your line about ‘seeming to fall in line with Derek and the rest of his ilk.'”

    I can’t stand Sean Hannity, and I never called you a liberal. I stated honestly that I hadn’t read enough of your comments to know your political orientation. Why are you trying to put words in my mouth?

    CStanford:
    “Alma’s Lamanites killed for treasure? What Book of Mormon are you reading?”

    The one I bought at the Distribution Center, what about you? Does your copy have Alma 17:14 in it?

    “and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.”

    Cstanford again:
    “If we had to engage the terrorists on their own turf, why not focus all our energy on Afghanistan?”

    One word: Iran. I believe the entire impetus for the Iraq war was to plant U.S. forces in Iran’s backyard. Right or wrong, dumb or stupid- I won’t go into it here. But that’s what it was about.

  18. jennifer Says:

    I have put a great amount of thought and study and discussions into my political/religious views. I can hold my own just fine in discussions with neighbors, ward members, online groups, friends, and extended family. -(often we end up noting the common ground and agree to disagree on the rest, but remain friendly). The vast majority of these people have dramatically different ideas than I do.

    I like Derek’s blog along with a couple of other sites because we have independently reached similar conclusions on many topics – but also because of the civil dialogue. Disparaging remarks about people who agree with Derek is disparaging, regardless of what other sites or discussions may involve. Can we discuss issues without being mean? Can we have a dialogue without sarcasm? Can we disagree and be polite? Sure we can. Happens all the time.

    Thanks Derek for the articles. I know I can always find good discussions here.

  19. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I never called you a racist, just suggested that you try on the possibility that prejudice was coloring some of your comments. If it wasn’t the case, reject it and move on, and I’m sorry.

    And based on one single comment on one single post, you said that I seem to fall in line with the “Derekites,” which is exactly like Hannity, at least on the rare occasions I can handle the yelling for long enough to listen. You can have the reddest Republican on there and if he/she argues with any given point, he throws out the L-word. I know you had a disclaimer that you didn’t really know me, but you still felt the need to make an observation that I was probably like everyone else on here. I daresay that whatever strong disagreements we have here (and believe me, Derek and I have had some doozies), it is also mostly very civil, and there are some very intelligent people contributing, who I would never classify as puppets. If you’re expecting to gain some points, it might be wise to treat people with a little respect and not just toss in a hand grenade into a crowded room.

  20. D. Sirmize Says:

    “If you’re expecting to gain some points, it might be wise to treat people with a little respect and not just toss in a hand grenade into a crowded room.”

    I’m not here to gain points. I’m here to make points and argue points intellectually and logically. I don’t have the time or energy to invest emotion in little Internet communities.

    As much as I disagree with him, Derek’s posts are well-written products of much thought, and no-doubt prayer. Such forums usually make for worthwhile discussion of issues- if the participants can get past worrying about who sounds mean and who’s bullying whom. I’m past that point personally, and if y’all can get past it too, all the better. But regardless of what the rest of you do, I will continue to read and contribute to this blog- as I consider it worthwhile.

  21. MarcusDcas Says:

    Derek, I wouldn’t mind being a mindless drone if you were in charge of running the country 🙂

    And D. Sirmize, I disagree with your view of the world, mostly, but I like the way you write, it’s eloquent and well written. And that part about Iran “the entire impetus for the Iraq war was to plant U.S. forces in Iran’s backyard” I feel is very true. It’s been their intention from the start. It’s an important part of the world for many reasons, none of which justifies what has happened.

    See ya

  22. D. Sirmize Says:

    MarcusDcas, thanks.

  23. Frank Staheli Says:

    I appreciate Bob Lonsberry for some things, but his “Fight them over there” theory is a crock. It is in reality the “They are just little brown people so let’s experiment in their backyard” theory.

    I served in Iraq, and I watched the aftermath of an innocent family being gunned down in their minivan because they wouldn’t stop at a Coalition checkpoint. I watched the aftermath of a woman being shot in the back of the head because her husband did not want to wait an hour for a traffic checkpoint so he turned their car around and went the other way.

    There are much better ways to fight terrorism–not the least of which is to get America’s fat butt off of the couches of about 95% of the countries in the world. It cannot be logically contended that we have made America safer by fighting in Iraq. Meanwhile, our borders are as porous as the Atlanta Falcons’ defense.

  24. Derek Staffanson Says:

    I agree that there are seriously ethnocentric–if not outright racist–undertones to the line of reasoning which Lonsberry and many others on the Right have followed. And it is tragic to hear stories of individuals who’ve died as a result of the occupation. Sometimes, when we hear the numbers, we lose sight of the fact that each of the several hundred thousand dead was a person.

    Just to be absolutely clear, when you talk about getting the U.S. off the couch of other nations, do you mean removing U.S. bases and troops from foreign nations? If so, you and I would in this instance be in complete agreement.

  25. D. Sirmize Says:

    “I agree that there are seriously ethnocentric–if not outright racist–undertones to the line of reasoning which Lonsberry and many others on the Right have followed.”

    Derek, this statement embodies one of many obstacles to ever taking a liberal seriously. Everything. EVERYTHING is racism to you.

    Have a problem with illegal immigration? Racist!!! Against Affirmative Action? Racist!!! Have a problem with Obama’s loony pastor? Racist freaking pig!!

    I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll restate it now. Liberals only started caring about the Iraqi people once they discovered they could use it in their arsenal against Bush. The UN was doing nothing. Liberals were proposing nothing (actually, in the lead up to the war, many prominent libs- think Clinton, Kennedy- were proposing military action).

  26. Derek Staffanson Says:

    So, D, you see no racism in the concept that it is acceptable for “little brown people” (it is common for servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan to call them “Hajis” ) to suffer in our experiments? I would point out that Frank, who made this observation about Lonsberry’s attitude in no way considers himself a liberal (at least not in the modern use of the term).

  27. D. Sirmize Says:

    Derek, if you’ll notice, I responded specifically to your statement and no part of Frank’s. I’m not sure what percentage of our soldiers call Iraqi’s “Hajis”. I do see racism in that, if that’s what you’re asking. Further, I see nothing racist in Lonsberry’s attitude, and I never called Frank a liberal.

  28. CStanford Says:

    Since I see this thread is still alive:

    D. Sirmize, you quote Alma 17:14, after I already pointed to other evidence of the Lamanites’ ideological motivations, pre and post Alma 17. I’ll point them out specifically here:

    Mosiah 10:12-18
    Alma 54:17-18

    I’ll grant that the Lamanites weren’t quite as aggressive until the Amulonite, Amalekite and Zoramite agitators – and then Amalickiah – got to them (Alma 43:6-8), but that just points to what I see as another hole in your argument: by the time the War Chapters start, the Lamanites have ceased to be simply a bunch of Vikings (which as Mosiah 10:12-18 makes clear they never were anyway). So if you want to say that the War Chapters are not relevant to our current situation, don’t hide behind “Alma’s Lamanites killed for treasure” – that’s very sloppy.

    If you try to duck by saying “I never said that Moroni’s Lamanites killed for treasure” then I have to ask you: on what basis then do you exclude Moroni’s example (I mean of never invading) from modern relevance? If you want to claim that Pres. Hinckley’s apparent interpretation (that the Iraq war is an appropriate emulation of Moroni) is right and that we should all share it, then say so without hesitation. Goodness knows, you don’t show much restraint in most of what you write here anyway.

    Also, the last paragraph of your April 10 comment is absolutely wrong in my personal experience at the very least. I heard, saw and read plenty of liberal opposition to not only the Iraq invasion before it started, but also the Afghanistan invasion well before it started. To point to the “prominent libs” as you do, in support of your false claim that “Liberals only started caring about the Iraqi people once they discovered they could use it in their arsenal against Bush” *is* then one example of you lumping people together in the same category (see March 25 comment), not to mention the most vulgar of straw-man abuse. In fact, your whole April 10 comment is an example of this, as was your other comment about the “lockstep lovefest”.

    I’m just waiting to see what color of fire you breathe in your reply to this.

  29. D. Sirmize Says:

    “So if you want to say that the War Chapters are not relevant to our current situation, don’t hide behind “Alma’s Lamanites killed for treasure” – that’s very sloppy.”

    I’m not saying they’re not relevant. I brought up Alma 17:14 because Derek linked to a post where he used this very scripture to point out the Lamanites’ evil. I brought it up above because it’s that scripture that said they killed for treasure, which indicates their motives at that time were different than Radical Islam’s motives today.

    I refuted Derek’s point with the very scripture he quoted. Hardly “sloppy,” my friend.

    “If you want to claim that Pres. Hinckley’s apparent interpretation (that the Iraq war is an appropriate emulation of Moroni) is right and that we should all share it, then say so without hesitation.”

    I do claim that Pres. Hinckley’s apparent interpretation (that the Iraq war is an appropriate emulation of Moroni) is right and that we should all share it.

    There you go. No hesitation. I re-watched and re-watched that statement and read it again and again trying to convince myself that’s not what he meant. But when it comes down to it I really think that’s what he meant. Note though, that he said it in a reluctant and somber tone, as if he knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. It was the tone of his voice that convinced me that’s what he meant.

    “I heard, saw and read plenty of liberal opposition to not only the Iraq invasion before it started, but also the Afghanistan invasion well before it started.”

    Well good. Please cite a few opposing arguments for me then. I don’t want to be wrong when I argue this in the future. I paid close attention at the time and I know how to use Google very well. I’m not saying there wasn’t widespread liberal opposition to the invasion. I simply can find no proposed alternative plan to help the Iraqi people offered by a prominent liberal in the months leading up to the invasion, other than maintaining the status quo (under which millions were dying). So if you got ’em, roll ’em out and prove me wrong.

    “not to mention the most vulgar of straw-man abuse.”

    The only thing more abused in cyber arguments than playing the “strawman” card is playing the “abuse-of-the-strawman” card. I reiterate once again: Before the Iraq invasion, I never heard any prominent liberal (individual or organization) lament the plight of the Iraqi people under Saddam and the corrupt Oil-for-Food program. Such laments only surfaced after the war became unpopular.

    There ya go- fiery enough for you?

  30. Cstanford Says:

    You’re even more picky than I am when you’re on the defensive. I’ll try to split hairs with something approaching your precision.

    If the most prominent liberals have failed to shed enough tears for all the injustice in the world, and failed to make enough big plans with teeth against them, I’m not surprised. Maybe some prominent liberals are cynical enough to only see human suffering as political opportunity but I still believe it might have been that most were busy focusing on their own country’s problems.

    Or maybe a lot of people feel that we made things worse by going over there and are now calling attention to that human suffering which was *our* responsibility. I wasn’t aware that millions were dying in Iraq before we invaded this time – more homework for me to do, in order to see if it’s true that they were so much worse off before we went over there and smashed up what they did have, out of our Great Concern for their well-being and our desire to bring them Democracy – that is what seems more self-righteous to me.

    As for the Lamanites: I’ll separate the 2 points I had tangled.

    Point 1: Derek cites Alma 17:14 to argue that the mission of the sons of Mosiah seemed as hopeless as the prospect of peaceably winning over our enemies today – not specifically named by him, but since he was responding to your comment, let’s agree he was referring to fanatical terrorists. You read the verse to mean that the Lamanites that Ammon and his brothers went to weren’t as evil as “today’s Muslim extremist”, by which who do you mean? Do you mean the “tiny fraction” (as you admitted in your Feb. 20th comment to “Diplomacy and Religion”) of those who recruit children for suicide bombers? Because your words of March 25 above were: “Radical Islam kills to kill.” So much for careful distinctions. I repeat: that sounds more like orcs than people with an ideological motivation.

    In anticipation of all the places you could answer what I write below with “you’re talking about before or after Alma 17”: your reading of the verse is incomplete. Look at lines 5-6 in your Distribution Center copy: if the Lamanites delighted in murdering the Nephites, how is that not killing to kill?

    I’d answer: because it is motivated by ideology. I don’t accept that sociopaths or monsters are found in greater numbers in “radical Islam” than in society generally. Fanatics aren’t the same thing. I refer again to Mosiah 10:12-18 in pointing out again that the motivations of the Lamanites went beyond simple blood-lust or treasure-lust before the sons of Mosiah ever went on their mission. This went back to the beginning: see Jacob 7:24.

    And I say the evil perpetrated by the Lamanites under the Nephite dissenters did compare to that of the Lamanites in Mormon’s time: massacring an entire city of the enemies because you’re angry that you killed your own people? Come on! (Alma 25:1-2, and I don’t think the evil of their act was lessened by the evil of their target). True, these are not the same Lamanites that the sons of Mosiah succeeded in converting and they probably wouldn’t have been as bad if not for the Nephite dissenters.

    But I think the Lamanites’ hatred towards the Nephites on their own at times was as strong as that of modern radical Muslim terrorists against the United States. You’ll note, I’m sure – and I would call this to Derek’s attention too – that in Jacob’s time the Nephites never won the Lamanites over. And despite the successes of Ammon & co. there were still plenty of Lamanites left over to be brought to war (even though they tended to convert and be pacified when shown mercy: Alma 62:27). I have to agree with you that it’s not very realistic to think we can win over the most hardened fanatics: again, Alma 43:6-8, also 23:14. So I also would say to Derek: be aware that sometimes diplomacy does fail and we have to defend ourselves. I think he’d agree with me, which is why I don’t accuse him of “holier-than-thou pacifism”.

    Point #2: I can and do compare the evil of the Lamanites (circa Alma 25-62) with that of today’s belligerent extremists, fundamentalists, nationalists and authoritarians of all stripes. And in that I repeat that I see the War Chapters are relevant to our situation. I see that you see them as relevant in a different way, and I’m glad you stated that clearly.

    I also compare the evil of the second Gadianton Robbers (3 Nephi 2-4) with today’s terrorist groups even though the comparison isn’t perfect. And in that too I see relevance to how we ought to defend ourselves against terrorism today.

    I want to know: how do you connect “I believe the entire impetus for the Iraq war was to plant U.S. forces in Iran’s backyard” with “I do claim that Pres. Hinckley’s apparent interpretation (that the Iraq war is an appropriate emulation of Moroni) is right and that we should all share it”? Did Pres. Hinckley have a conviction that Ahmadinejad has claimed Amalickiah’s mantle and that our invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do to position ourselves close to him?

  31. Cstanford Says:

    I did not mean to put an emoticon in: that was supposed to be a quotation mark and a closing parenthesis.

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