Reactions to John Corry’s case against war, A Sober Dissent, with a special reply by Mr. Corry:
About your article, “Bull.”
— J. Gedroic
I wish that those that say “don’t attack, we’ll only make ’em madder than they already are” would just start drinking.
— Brad McKee
Kudos to Mr. Corry. As a longtime conservative and American Spectator reader, I was (and am) a strong supporter of the Cold War and the (first) Persian Gulf war and I’m hardly a leftist, peacenik etc. However, I am shocked by the President’s Iraq policy.
Conservatives should be anti-war in general, though not pacifists. After all, war costs a good chunk of change (conservatives should be frugal), permanently expands the federal government leviathan, and degrades the culture (witness the huge changes for the worse during WWI and Vietnam, and to a lesser extent WWII). The income tax made its first appearance in the Civil War, and grew tremendously in WWI and WWII.
Mr. Corry is absolutely right. We will pay dearly for this war in both blood and treasure if the President follows through with an attack on Iraq.
— Sean Fama
Front Royal, VA
Methinks you doth protest too much, Mr. Corry. Protest too much and by the way, where is your solution? By way of omitting your solution, you reveal yourself as a liberal disguised as a conservative with a yellow streak down your back a meter wide. Of course, commies like yourself oppose the war against Iraq in any case where American arms would triumph, because just like your Fuerher, Hillary Rodham Hussein, it doesn’t matter what ultimately happens, as long as we lose. I find it difficult to stomach your protestations of conservatism with all that nonsense about the dearth of dissent within this country, because every punk who did it during Vietnam did it again. I volunteered and served in combat there, and cowards are the same today as then. I remember them well. “I didn’t like the war,” “I didn’t think it was right,” and on and on. A coward is a coward and this country is full of them. One day, men (I use the term loosely in your case) will dangle at the end of a rope arranged by a brute like Saddam Hussein in this land because they couldn’t manage the intestinal fortitude it took to keep it free.
— Brian Barfield
John Corry has been spending too much time with the Wine & Brie crowd. Blah, Blah, Blah, if we attack they’ll use their weapons, he writes, but like the rest of do-nothings he offers no solutions only opposition and then hides behind the label of intelligent conservative. Sounds a little elitist to me! John needs a little deprogramming and the title of Hostage of the Week, but not quite enemy of the week. Don’t worry John, we won’t give up on you.
— Aftan Romanczak
I don’t think John Corry is a coward but then again I’m not a bully boy. He gets to write his dissent in a conservative forum and then implies that conservatives are branding him a peacenik or a lefty and that his view is somehow being stifled. I heard his argument months ago. A criticism of his arguments is not a stifling of dissent. Now that he brings it up, this is a common claim of leftists and peaceniks. Being in the minority requires toughness and his whining is distracting from his argument.
Disagreements between civilian and military leaders on tactics or the aftermath of war historically do not make the case for always listening to the military leaders. I would rather hear General Shinseki’s and Professor Wolfowitz’s arguments than merely appealing to authority by calling one General Eric and the other merely Paul.
Setbacks in war are not arguments against war. The fact that Turkey has different interests than the United States is not an argument for our government not protecting us. The fact that many in the world are willing to fight to the last American doesn’t impress me at all.
Mr. Corry’s argument seems to be to bide our time and hope that something really bad will not happen (something bad already happened!). Unlike him I won’t put my faith in the rationality of Saddam Hussein. In fact the premise seems so flawed by his past behavior that any reasoning that goes forward from this premise is delusional. We have spent over twenty years ignoring the alarming rhetoric coming out of the Middle East. We have seen an escalating attack on Americans and American interests which led to the massacre of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans on American soil. These attacks were facilitated by Nations like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and of course France.
The fantasy that nation states don’t play the pivotal role in terror needs to be abandoned. These states must change or be wiped out. Inaction will only encourage bolder and more ruthless attacks. I believe Mr. Corry has pointed out legitimate dangers ahead. These dangers however came about through our past appeasement and “head in the sand” foreign policy. If we fail to act we will face far greater threats in the not to distant future.
I have noticed among dissenters of both the left and right an interesting case of projection. In their view we are not considering the consequences of our actions. This of course is not true. There has been at minimum a very public discussion of many risks and attempts to mitigate them. This process is useful. What I don’t hear from the dissenters is what are the consequences of inaction. Mr. Corry offered nothing to replace the government’s policy other than the implied Clinton approach to radical Islam and North Korea.
— Clif Briner
Your theme, that the “bully boys” are bound to have their way, was repeated far too many times. You want to be taken seriously, as an “intelligent conservative,” and then you besmirch the freedom-bringers by repeatedly referring to them as “”bullies.” As for your contention that the poor backward people in the Middle East can’t embrace democracy, which you say is, what, a day dream — just before reading your con article, I read the WSJ online’s “On the Ground,” in northern Iraq, up-to-date which sure tells me you are out to lunch, and if truth be told, an elitist.
Maybe there will be some horrendous events, over the next decades, as some of the more radical Islamofascists do get more radical, using conventional weapons. Guess what? It’s going to happen, no matter what. You are going to have big-time egg on your face, IMHO, when the aftermath of freeing Iraq turns up the gory details you try to sweep under the rug. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, even in the best of situations, and the dictators in the Middle East, led by Saddam, are quite adept at hiding the truth. So, watch out! Chirac is going to be toast.
I suppose there will always be a “respectable” point of view, intellectually honest, that believes in isolationism for America. We all love the story of an ostrich putting its head in the sand, which could be applied to this position. But, did you know that is not a true habit for that bird? Expanding on this, it’s far past the time for Americans to, not just grudgingly, but happily, with full power and engagement, realize that the Earth is now one. True isolationism means to spend a while not venturing too far out in space! While we get our human race in order, and courageously face down the death bringers, who now have WMD at hand.
You are right about one thing. When Iraq goes democratic, Saudi Arabia must be soon to go, so all that free money the rulers now buy their regal lifestyle with, by funding Wahhabism and terrorists all over the globe, will be cut off, and spread out to the masses there. This is a sine qua non, if we are to avoid further wretched calamities.
To end on a semi-humorous note — as that noted Surgeon General under Bill Clinton, Joycelyn Elders, once said—“We all die of something,” so, be not faint of heart, in the coming hours of humanities life-or-death struggle. The brave humans who are to die protecting and spreading freedom just might be the real-life examples of the soldier Forrest Gump saved, who was so mad at him, because it was his destiny to die on the battlefield fighting with his boots on. Not to say it’s predestined for any single individual, but, to turn our back on the to-the-death war that’s been declared on U.S., all civilization, is to just offer an easier target. Maybe you should just draw a bull’s-eye on your back.
— James F. Crystal
I enjoyed your article. The bloody scenarios outlined therein are frightening but plausible. I personally hope that we destroy, not exile, Arafat, Assad, and Hussein. I do not share your hand-wringing concern about offending Arabs. They largely hate us anyway, and will continue to regardless of what happens in the months to come. However, they respect two things: power and success. Conversely, they hold weakness and vacillation in contempt. Pulling our punches in a conflict with Iraq will be perceived as weakness, and may encourage miscalculation on the parts of the region’s surviving murderer/dictators.
I am confident that some of the contours and boundaries of the Mideast will be redrawn in 2003, with attendant bloodshed. Sadly, I am further confident that we will have to deal militarily with North Korea within the next 1,000 days. These days remind me of the summer of 1914, and that of 1939 as well. May God save this blessed nation.
Thanks again for your insights.
— Michael Omohundro
Mr. Corry, your line — “The bully boys are in charge, and watching foreign policy unfold is very much like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Disaster seems inevitable, but still the train moves on. It has been clear for some time now that no matter what the inspectors find, the White House will have its war” — tends to think in very small terms while the “bully boys,” as you call them, understand what you apparently don’t: it’s not about radical Islam versus the West but about something much more fundamental than that.
You should consider reading some of Victor Davis Hanson’s work that occasionally runs in NRO. He can explain much better than I could that this a clash of cultures and radical Islam is just the most nominal actor in this present version of a what may be a never ending “war,” for want of a better word.
You go on to say, “There are some 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, many of them restless young males already indoctrinated with the idea that America wants to wage war against Islam. The invasion, of course, will confirm their belief.” Yet apparently you don’t seem to grasp the idea that an overwhelming show of strength (as in lots of very dead Iraqis in a very short span of time regardless of whether they are wearing uniforms or not) on our part will temper the restlessness of these young Muslim males.
Please don’t point out the Israeli problem because the Israelis haven’t shown the Palestinians their truly hard side for twenty years now and that’s easily seen by the parade like atmosphere when the Palestinian mobs bury another, “martyr.”
These are horrendous and ugly thoughts for civilized people to consider, but when one is in a knife fight one doesn’t spare time and efforts for civilized niceties.
Have a good day,
— Russ Harris
So, John Corry falls into the fallacious trap occupied by so many of his liberal cousins, that dissent in and of itself is something to be admired.
Corry may comfort himself with his own grisly speculations, but can we at least divest him of the title “intelligent conservative”? Although he certainly sounds intelligent, his piece is based entirely on speculation and opinion, vice fact. To which he is entitled.
However, I get the sense that he has been rather picked on lately by so-called “bully boys” and their mean-spirited ilk. I’m not going to defend him, nor should anyone feel compelled to defend such specious opinion and speculation. Tolerance, my foot!
John Corry has the right to say his piece; he said it; and now nobody’s supposed to criticize what he said? Even if it’s stupid? Even if the critic isn’t a bully, but another intelligent conservative?
For Pete’s sake, Editor, what was it that compelled you to run this below-average screed in your otherwise fine publication? A misguided sense of “fairness”? No, I think this is a blatant ploy to stuff this week’s Reader Mail, and I cannot resist.
Finally, with regard to Gen. Shinseki: despite the fact that he’s a military professional, he was also “wildly off the mark” with his black beret idea. He’s allowed to have bad ideas, and we’re allowed to criticize him for that too!
— Mark Stoffel
Mr. Corry’s article could have had a greater ability to convince had he not spent the first paragraph attempting to convince the reader that one shouldn’t call him names due to the positions he holds, and thereafter using the derogatory term “bully boys” to describe those who disagree with him.
I would have though, based on his first paragraph, that he would think little of an article that tried to convince liberals to support the war by referring to those who oppose one as “Saddam lovers.” Yet, his article did exactly that, but in reverse.
— Matt Thullen
John Corry’s piece is disgusting:
First, he despairs of the lack of “toleration” for dissent by conservatives — and then he engages in juvenile name-calling (“bully boys”?). Apparently no one taught him that name-calling is evidence of intellectual exhaustion; perhaps what he mistakes for a lack of toleration of dissent is really nothing more than a lack of patience for stupidity — perhaps if he came up with something thoughtful, it’d be taken seriously.
Which brings me to the second reason the piece is disgusting — it is not serious, it’s just one big whine. If Corry wants to make the case against action against Iraq because bad things might happen he’s obliged to argue that other, less risky courses of action are available. Instead, all Corry has is the whine that all would be well if Saddam had been left alone — that “because Saddam hasn’t sold weapons to Al Quad yet, it follows that he never would.” People hadn’t plowed airplanes into buildings before September 11th, either, but it happened.
Given the absolute inability of inspections and/or embargoes to prevent Saddam from continuing his WMD program, on what are we to put our faith that leaving Saddam in power will insure none of his WMD are ever used against us by Saddam, either directly or through proxies? Is this — “We can trust Saddam to continue denying Al Quad WMD” — really the foundation on which Corry wishes to build our security? Yes, there is risk in taking action; there is also risk — significant risk — in doing nothing, which Corry fails to address in a serious manner.
— Brad Bettin
P.S. If rejecting foolishness is a “lack of tolerance of dissent,” then I plead guilty.
I too am concerned about we might be unleashing with too much unilateralism. But causing Islamic nations to hate the U.S. more? It’s hardly possible to squeeze more hatred for us out of many such countries. The only thing the U.S. might do to make Islamic nations “like” us is to nuke Israel and save them the trouble.
— John Earnest
My view is that when we move to free Iraq, we will find that Iraq has already provided Al Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction and that they will be used on targets all over the world. We will be especially hard hit in the southern U.S. because of the eternal ease of moving massive amounts of material and unlimited personnel over our criminally porous southern border. But, the attacks after removing Saddam will be better than the same attacks later by a still-in-power Saddam who would use them, through terrorist organizations, for extortion. The first nuke would be for effect. What would we be willing to put on the table to avoid the second nuke, Kansas, Israel?
Certainly, the invasion of Iraq will have unintended consequences. Some of those I count include regime change in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the creation of the new state of Kurdistan, and, possibly, the removal of UN headquarters to a location far less palatable for the mistresses of the delegates of most third world countries.
Mr. Corry, your analysis overlooks one thing (at least).
There is nothing to stop Saddam from spreading WMD to eager young terrorists now.
Think of it this way. Churchill is told, “If we fight Hitler now, he’ll give Stukas to Finland.”
— Lloyd Daub
I tried very hard to listen to John Corry’s arguments against war with Iraq. But he ruined the atmosphere of reasoned debate by his constant ignorant or dishonest use of the phrase “the bully boys” to describe those carrying war to Iraq. He knows — or should know — that gratuitous aggression is absolutely not the motive, that at worst the Administration is disastrously incompetent, that at best it is spectacularly prescient. Bullying has nothing to do with it, and the word “bully” is purely dishonest, pure slander. Contrary to Corry’s whining, there are no neocons threatening show-trials if he makes an argument against the war. But first he has to actually make an argument, which he did not.
Corry displays his lack of full understanding with this sentence: “Meanwhile many of the restless young males live in unstable countries where the governments tend to support the West — think Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan — but the general populations do not. The leaders of these countries fear, with good reason, that the invasion will increase the pool of recruits for terrorist organizations.” On the surface it is correct, yet it misleads away from understanding the nut of the situation. Yes, of course, anything we do will increase recruits, but they were increasing plenty fast while we did nothing. So we will have to defeat them (although they will never be eradicated), the first order of business being to prevent them from getting the worst weapons from a state.
But Corry is apparently ignorant of the primary reason for spite toward America on the Moslem street. Here’s a clue: an opinion poll showed the U.S. is more highly regarded (i.e. hated less) by people on the street in nations that are not our allies than in nations that are. Translation: many Moslems have contempt for the way the U.S. preaches democracy and then props up their own tyrannical governments, which is why people living under our “ally” governments hate us more. Why would Moslems dance in the street when thousands of Americans are incinerated? Well, who is more contemptible, your own, say, corrupt oppressive Egyptian government (that at least shares your religion) or the Yankees who preach freedom and then fund the police state of your oppressive government?
Corry fails to factor that the tendency of Moslem societies is not to simply choose sides in conflict like Americans would do, it is as the proverb (paraphrased) says “me against my brother, me and my brother against the tribe, me and my tribe against the nation, me and my nation against the world”). In practice such a cultural attitude works out not as a web of nice mixed loyalties but as a cascading hierarchy of hates. Of course they cannot say out loud — or perhaps even allow themselves to think too consciously — that the driver of their hatred for America is that we’re depriving them of the fruits of democracy and pluralistic society. No, they must say out loud that they hate us because of our infidelity to Islam. Would they love us if we all converted to Islam? Would they cease to resent our power? Ask the Ottoman Turks how that worked out.
It is quite possible that we could teach the majority of Moslems to hate America less than they hate their own governments. This is already happening in Iran. At this point, military action against Iran would flip the street’s hatred toward their own government towards us; so it’s smart to leave hands off. But the situation in Iraq is clearly different; there is a large enough faction so hateful of Saddam that their opinion of us will improve if we remove him. It is not necessary that Iraq achieve a full Constitutional democracy overnight — or in a century — only that the forces of progress be allowed to come up out of hiding and contend with the forces of terrorist society. Saddam is the lid on the forces of progress and moderation.
Already we see the authoritarian governments of our allies scrambling to discuss enough reform to placate their populations, a trend plainly resulting from the mere threat of democracy someday in neighboring Iraq!
Moslems are not ignorant of the concepts of democracy and liberty, and it is the most contemptible racist snobbery to think they don’t aspire to these things (though only time will tell if their societies are capable of making such a transition). To the degree that fundamentalist Islam is incompatible with pluralism they must compartmentalize their minds, saying they are motivated in their politics only by Islam, even if they harbor a secret longing for freedom. If we only wage reactive military war against their most extreme terrorist elements, they will see us only as self-interested infidels on the top of their hate list, in which case they won’t bother to oppose the terrorist elements. But if we wage war against tyranny while smoothing over ideological contradictions with Islam by paying careful lip service to the “peaceful nature” of Islam, then they will know in their gut that they have something to lose — i.e. their own potential freedom — by cooperating with terrorism against us.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s because it appears to be the policy assessment of the President. Given a correct understanding of the situation, it is hard to see how Bush could have played the cards fate (and his predecessors) dealt him any better.
— Eric Richter
Grand Rapids, MI
What is wrong with you? On 9-11, 3,000 Americans died in a war that America didn’t even know had begun. There is evidence that Bin Laden considered nuclear weapons, blowing up bridges etc. He joked about our cowardice in regard to Somalia. We hadn’t invaded anyone. This attack was planned during Bill Clinton’s presidency. It seems to me that bin Laden could and did find plenty of people who hate America during this time: Arab governments have fostered hatred against America for years. If we do nothing, Arabs will conclude that America is weak. I think this would increase suicide bombers more than a war. Also, New York and Washington might get nuked.
Do you truly believe we can contain a madman like Saddam? Does containment ever work? It sure hasn’t worked with Korea. I am sick of “peace” platitudes. America is worth fighting for. If our Fathers had thought as you do, we’d all be speaking German!
I read your article and I see talking points, but not real thought. What would your solution be? Should we leave American troops near Iraq indefinitely while inspectors plod through Iraq looking for what Saddam intends to hide forever? I promise this. Saddam will throw out the inspectors as soon as he believes he can get away with it. Should we ask the UN pretty please can we protect the American people? Can we really count on the UN to protect Americans? Ask the people of Cambodia, Rwanda, Serbia how good the UN is at protecting people. Of course, the ones who could offer the most insight are dead: just like 3,000 Americans murdered on a beautiful day in September.
— Terry Brennan
Mr. Corry: We need to do our very best to eliminate the organization that was responsible for the horrifying devastation on Sept. 1, 2001. Their mind set is evil, and it is obvious that negotiating a peaceful co-existence is not possible. Give me liberty, or give me death!
— Jack Boyer