Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Boomers' War

A lot of Baby Boomers like to brag about how they ended the Vietnam War with the brilliant tactic of taking it to the streets and protesting.* Alas, that same generation has brought us a whole new foreign policy disaster.

Ironically, the generation that used to rail against guys like LBJ and Bob McNamara includes a whole new crop of misguided warmongers. Baby Boomers, conventionally defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, were instrumental in starting and prosecuting the current war in Iraq. First of all we have the Decider himself, George Walker Bush. Then there are his neoconservative advisors like Douglas Feith, Stephen Hadley, “Cakewalk Ken” Adelman, and John “My Mustache Will Destroy the UN” Bolton. And don’t forget Condoleezza Rice – so much for the idea that if women were in charge then there wouldn’t be any wars. George Tenet said that the case for war was a “slam dunk”, but what he meant to say was… We should count Dubya’s friend across the pond, Tony Blair, too. Finally, we have the Republican Mephistopheles himself, Karl Rove. These people are the Boomers' version of David Halberstam's "Best and The Brightest" who led us into Vietnam.

Then there are the folks who were cheering from outside the Bush Administration, like Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. (The Boomers get Alan Colmes, too. Sorry.) Bill Bennett, born in 1943, is a bit too old to be a Baby Boomer. He had a date with Janis Joplin, though, so I think he is a member of the club.

Sorry guys, but I can’t let Democrats off the hook either. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Tom Daschle all voted for the war before they voted against it. (John Kerry is a bit too old to make the list.) If I had time, it would be interesting to see just how many Baby Boomers voted for the war in Congress. Over a hundred, certainly.

The Baby Boom generation was, in its way, a great generation. They advanced feminism and pioneered gay rights. (They don’t get much credit for the civil rights movement, though, since they just showed up at the tail end.) A lot of the choices open to the younger people are there because Baby Boomers blazed the trail.

The Baby Boomers should remember, however, that they sent young men and women to die in a fruitless war just like their elders.

This is admittedly a bit unfair, because many Boomers opposed the war. (Individuals such as Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich can hold their heads up high on that count.) On the other hand, Boomers love to ally themselves with the hippest members of their generation, the people who listened to Hendrix and went to Woodstock. No matter how square they were at the time, Boomers get to say that they belong to the generation of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”. Alas, they also belong to the generation that brought us “You don’t introduce new products in August”. **


*There are a couple of problems with this claim. First of all, Baby Boomers hardly invented protests. An older generation of civil rights pioneers showed them how to do it, and they were emulating others themselves. Secondly, the Vietnam War lasted an awfully long time. According to Wikipedia, the first Vietnam War protest happened in 1963. The war ended in 1975. Twelve groovy years of people power

** Andrew Card, born in 1947, referring to our wonderful, shiny war.

Posted by Woody Mena at May 6, 2007 9:09 AM
Comments
Comment #219587

Wars are bad when your side loses. If we had achieved our objectives in Vietnam, the world would have been better. I am glad the good guys won in S. Korea, even thought the country is still divided and the south was undemocratic and corrupt for a generation AFTER the war. The Norht was (and is worse). The same was true of Vietnam. In that case the bad guys won, however and they still have have not held a free election or addressed their human rights problems.

A secure, reasonably democratic Iraq would be great. The problem is not the war, but the probable outcome. Nobody would advocate having Saddam back (if he were still alive) and a stable Iraq w/o him is desirable. I think there is still a chance of that, but the problem would be the outcome in either case.

Posted by: Jackj at May 6, 2007 10:31 AM
Comment #219589

Jack,

We could argue the merits of the Iraq War endlessly. Saddam was a bad guy.

It is safe to say that many, many Baby Boomers dislike Bush and think the war was a terrible mistake. It was in large measure their generation’s war. They were the misguided “Best and the Brightest” this time. If they want to take credit for the good stuff then they have to take blame for the bad stuff.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 6, 2007 10:44 AM
Comment #219591

By the way, I think you notice when you start researching this stuff is how many Baby Boomer icons are not themselves Baby Boomers.

Jane Fonda, for example, was born in 1937, making her a member of Silent Generation. (Many people no doubt wish she had lived up to the label!) Ditto with Bob Dylan, Streisand, Joan Baez, etc., etc.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 6, 2007 11:14 AM
Comment #219598

Jack,

The problem is not the war, but the probable outcome.
Any war we win would make the world better from our perspective. However, many Americans are not so crass as to believe that means we should be fighting wars all the time with anyone who disagrees with us. Historically, we’ve picked our fights carefully, and only entered into wars when our own security was at risk and with a plan. Good intentions do not justify immoral actions. Remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, not that I seriously believe Bush ever had any. He’s on a more direct route paved with greed and powermongering.

If we had achieved our objectives in Vietnam, the world would have been better.
Honestly, I don’t know if the world would be a better place had we won Vietnam. Perhaps we would still have believed in the domino theory and gotten into more and bigger wars needlessly. Part of what Reagan did that was so brilliant was to win the war against communism without firing a shot. His reluctance to fight directly may have come from lessons learned in Vietnam. Bush Sr. and Clinton put us on the path to doing the same in Iraq, which Bush Jr. FUBARed.

Nobody would advocate having Saddam back.
Iraq would be much better off with Sadaam than with the current situation. It’s not just me that says that, it’s most Iraqis. The US and the world would have been better off as well, as Sadaam was powerless and his regime crumbling naturally under the international embargo. The success and threat of those kinds of embargos in the future could have been the most powerful weapon at Democracy’s disposal in future conflicts.

Anyway, to answer the question posed by this post, yes, I am extremely disappointed in baby boomers. They were supposedly going to do a lot of good when they came to power. They failed big time. Just by voting these morons in they failed. I’m sick of it and voting for OBama.

Posted by: Max at May 6, 2007 12:44 PM
Comment #219608

Max

People say lots of things to polls, but I have never seen a poll of Iraqis that show a majority would have favored keeping Saddam. Please link if you have one. If you think Saddam was better, I will accept that as your opinion. The thing you cannot logically say is that the sanctions would have been on today had we not invaded. At the time of the invasion, most intelligence services thought Saddam had WMD. That was why we could keep sanctions. We now know that Saddam did not. That being the case, the sanctions would have come off. You realy cannot have it both ways. W/o WMD, no sanctions.

Today, the probable outcome would have been Saddam more confident than ever having stared down the U.S. once again, w/o sanctions and enjoying the high income from high oil prices. That does not sound like a great situation to me.

Re War – it should not be undertaken lightly. I only point out that our perception of Iraq is almost entirely colored by the probable outcome. Had we succeed in establishing a stable Iraq, it would have avoided some of the costs we are going to incur if we pull out.

Re S. Vietnam - It is always interesting to do the alternative history. If we take it just narrowly, the South was less corrupt and oppressive than the North. I am taking the analogy of S. Korea. Our loss in Vietnam as a disaster for the people of Indo China. Avoiding those millions of deaths would have been good.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2007 1:25 PM
Comment #219639

Jack,

I have never seen a poll of Iraqis that show a majority would have favored keeping Saddam. Please provide a link if you have one.

Done: Here’s the poll

(Without sanctions)Today, the probable outcome would have been Saddam more confident than ever having stared down the U.S. once again, w/o sanctions and enjoying the high income from high oil prices.

No, because if started creating an arsenal again, the sanctions would go back in place. Since there’s no arsenal building, maybe some of that oil money would have finally gone toward making the country a better place.

I’m not arguing that Sadaam is great guy. I’m saying it was hubris that made Bush believe he could simply waltz in and remove a dictator without substantial resources or a plan. Bush assumed this war would be such a cakewalk that the baldfaced lies he used to get us into the war would be immediately forgotten. In other words, I believe that Bush used the rationale you are using, that if you win all is forgotten, as an excuse to get this country into a war. But the ends do not justify the means. In this country a leader is not supposed to lie to the people and get away with it, even if they win. It’s an important rule to follow, even if it just discourages others in the future from taking a “winner takes all” mentality.

Posted by: Max at May 6, 2007 4:53 PM
Comment #219641

Woody, the baby boomers learned of peaceful non-violent protest FIRST from India and Mahatma Ghandi. They learned of it in their college world history and literature courses.

It is an oft made mistake by Americans that anything they do, was of their own creation, invented, developed, and promulgated by them. What an incredibly ignorant mistake to make. Everything about our nation was imported, including its founding ideals.

America had become a nation of inventors regarding technology, but all invention stands on the shoulders of previous ideas and inventions and are created, tested, and developed with machines and tools previously invented by someone else.

America did not invent war, nor the peace movement, and the boomers were beneficiaries of the broadest number of educated persons ever to come through higher education at the same time ever in the history of mankind. It started a revolution in our culture that placed a premium on education, intelligence, credentials like never before.

Everything since the 1960’s has been about the rest of the people of the nation catching up with the educated boomers, both conservative and liberal, and the American people have yet a very long way to go complete the catch-up. There have been a number of attempts to brand the educated, credentialed, and intelligent as elites, a form of enemy of the masses, who presume to lead the uneducated where they do not wish to go.

Afterall, we have a republic, a form of government founded upon the concept of the elected educated elites leading all others in the management of the nation and internal and external affairs. When the elites bungle their management, it makes the uneducated anxious, critical, and distrusting.

No big deal except that our form of government is also a democracy, and democracy which cannot trust the management by the elites, becomes revolutionary. That too was the founding of our nation, origin. Revolution by an untrusting and anxious citizenry.

The Democratic Party won control of the Congress in ‘06, but, many are still not clear on just what it is they won. Allow me to make it piercingly clear. Democrats won the opportunity to restore trust, confidence, and following by the American people.

Democrats now also have the opportunity to further undermine this nation and move it toward Revolution should they fail to honor the prize they won with integrity, honesty, and commitment, NOT TO POLITICS, but, to setting right the problems and failures that loom large in the minds of the people.

The problem of Iraq.
The Failure to manage the nation’s finances.
The problem of global climate change.
The Failure to insure the same or better quality of life for future Americans and their offspring.
The problem of Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism.
The failure to educate the people to be critical and demanding of their leaders.

These and more are what Democrats won in 2006. Failure to recognize this, will lead these Democrats to fail their party, the American people, and our nation’s future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 6, 2007 5:05 PM
Comment #219650

Boomers learned of peaceful non-violent protest FIRST from Mahatma Ghandi…in their college world history and literature courses.

Who learned it by studying Thoreau.

I agree though that we’ve inherited some horrible problems. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Posted by: Max at May 6, 2007 5:38 PM
Comment #219651

Max

I should have specified reliable poll.

“Methodology: Face-to-face interviews with 2,000 Iraqi adults in Baghdad, Anbar and Najaf, conducted in late November 2006.”. This is not a scientific poll. I assume you have taken a statistics course. And did you notice anything about the numbers and the choice of provinces? I suppose it might be true that 90% of Baathist think Saddam was a good guy and 90% of those who recently had their house destroyed favor the peace of a dictator. There is also a difference between hypothetically saying times were better back then and actually wanting the old guy back.

Re sanctions, maybe you want to check out how hard it is for the UN to do anything at all. Who would put those sanctions back on? The oil for food programs shows the respect sanctions were getting anyway. It is just nieve to believe sanctions could have been reapplied absent his actually invading a nieghbor.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2007 5:43 PM
Comment #219654

I should have specified a reliable poll.

Take your pick of sources…

USA TODAY: Iraqis out of patience

Iraqis Wish to Put up Saddam’s Statue

In all honesty Jack, I can find information to support both sides. However, I challenge you to find me a poll saying a significant number of Iraqis want the US to stay in Iraq.

You can keep slamming the UN, but I believe they were involved in the sanctions to begin with, and they worked. Bush’s method didn’t. If we want to fight terrorism, and not alienate the world, we will need to do so through international agreements and cooperation.

Posted by: Max at May 6, 2007 6:05 PM
Comment #219658

We were successful eventually in getting out of Vistnam. Sonething to be proud of. Our big mistake occured shortly thereafter when we we went back to smoking peacepipes. We should have pushed harder and purged the militarist out of power and made provisions to keep them that way. We should have heeded Eisenhaur’s warning. Lets not fail this time. The world is depending on us.

Jack
As you well know historical speculation ,though fun,is impotent and unreliable. If we had won Vietnam ,Nike would be making shoes there. We lost and Nike is making shoes there.The puppet regimes we were backing in the south were not democratic either and likely never would have been. Had we won there is a great possibility China would have entered the conflict. They ALWAYS do when their buffer states are threated. We can speculate all day on what might have happend but what we do know happened was the loss of over 50,000 American soldiers,1-2 million Vietnamese, untold treasure and a portion of our boomer generation forever scarred physically and mentally. We also know the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was based on fraud much like Bushcos WMDs. No good will come of this.

Posted by: BillS at May 6, 2007 6:56 PM
Comment #219660

I guess the point is: not everybody from the worst generation was a hippie.

Posted by: andy at May 6, 2007 7:55 PM
Comment #219661

Max:
“Who learned it by studying Thoreau.”

Yes. Beat me to the punch there. Well done, Max.

David:
“Everything about our nation was imported, including its founding ideals.”

I strongly disagree. Our founding ideals were and are very unique. Even though they were influenced by an amalgamation of ideas that were floating around in the world during the Enlightenment, they were filtered, distilled, and condensed through the minds of men that were highly intelligent and creative. As such, we ended up with something that was and is much more than the sum of it’s various parts.
Additionally, there is great deal about this nation that is in no way imported. To give an obvious example: the Arts. Music, Painting, Literature, Poetry, and Theater. We’ve been highly innovative and totally unique in our American expressions. Not to mention Science, Engineering, Architecture…
I think we really have done quite a lot all on our own.

Woody, interesting post. I find it funny though! I mean, isn’t it a little egostistical to think that there wouldn’t be a certain percentage of incredibly stupid and thick-skulled Boomers along with all the super-intelligent and wise ones who are against the Iraq War? :^)
Could it be that some of these Neocons were dropped on their heads as babies?

FYI, technically I rank as a tail-end Boomer: 1962

Posted by: Adrienne at May 6, 2007 8:11 PM
Comment #219664

Woody,

There are total “boobs” in every generation. GW certainly tops the list in my generation, but he rose to power thru the efforts of previous generations and what I can only describe as political laziness by the following generations.

In fact I would argue that this Republican’t movement began with Ronny Raygun and ever since then the belief has grown that government can sustain itself without taxation. The MIC has grown disproportionately and we’ve allowed nearly all of our infrastructure to begin to crumble.

Sadly things are bound to deteriorate even further. I would estimate that less than 30% of Americans under 30 could pass a naturalization test. Yet, we flock to meet a queen!

Politics or WWE Raw, what’s the difference? I’ll bet more 18 to 30 year olds could answer questions related to WWE than they could related to our own government. We’ve become lazy.

Posted by: KansasDem at May 6, 2007 8:41 PM
Comment #219665

Max

I expect many are unhappy with the situation as it is today. I am too. That is not the same as wishing for the past. It is also much easier to demand something that you do not expect to get. I was in Europe when the Berlin Wall came down. It was really fun to watch many of the lefties suddently not so enthusiastic about U.S. troops maybe leaving. Some German leftists even suggested that it was okay for us to go home, but we should leave the comissaries and AFN.

It is not slamming the UN to point out that sanctions would have come off. Bush critics take great pleasure in pointing out that Saddam did not have WMD in 2003. W/o WMD the main justification for sanctions was gone.

Re putting them back on, what about those sanctions on Sudan, or maybe the effective way sanctions are dealing with N. Korea or Iran?

Adrienne

You make a good point re the founding ideals. There is no such thing as a truly original idea. But when they are modified and improved sufficiently, they become unique. The U.S. developed the ideas of liberty well beyond what was imported.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2007 8:41 PM
Comment #219673

KansasDem,

Bush was certainly influenced by people of an older generation.

I was curious how the 2004 vote broke down by age. You can see it here:

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html

The only age group that gave a majority to Kerry was the 18-29 year olds.

I couldn’t find the numbers for 2000.


Posted by: Woody Mena at May 6, 2007 9:42 PM
Comment #219676

Baby Boomers are a fascinating group. They have and are changing society and Amerian living for ages. It is clear to me that the debates we have politically are far more aggresive and inclusive due to their efforts.

As a 40 year old manager, I do find them interesting. Slightly off topic, but I think oddly linked is how many times I have to deal with Baby Boomer parents during job performance. Over the past 10 years that I have been responsible for coaching and managing employees, I am shocked at how many times I have been called to task by … parents. Terminations, poor job performance, promotions, demostions, etc. … contested by parents.

Specifically calls from parents asking me to explain myself as a supervisor/manager. Arguing with me about the validity of their childs termination. Now I work in banking, when an employee’s cash drawer is constantly $50 off, you have no choice but to terminate. But there I am, on the phone with a parent. Mind you I cannot talk to them about “anything”. That would be illegal.

They have gone as far to come into the office in an attempt to get attention and discussion.

Numbers? I can point to three such discussions already this year and dozens over my short management career.

I remember reading an article in Time several years ago that discussed the Baby Boomers and raising children. The point of the article and my small experience, was that Baby Boomers has such confidence and conviction about being right and driving results that they often missed passing those traits onto their children.

I would be interested in anyone else that might have experience along these lines.

And to the point of this post, Baby Boomers are always very proud of their creations and neglect their failures.

Posted by: Honest at May 6, 2007 9:59 PM
Comment #219679

Adrienne, if I mix Thai Stick with Australian woojie weed, I as an American may have synthesized a new “high”, but, it does not negate the fact that I imported.

Our Republic came from Rome. Our democracy came from the Ancient Greeks, our “all men are created equal” came from Christianity which was an imported religion.

The first car was made in Germany. The brains for the wireless we call radio came from Italy. Our understanding to make the nuclear bomb was imported from Germany. We are a nation which has always imported. It is the great strength of this nation that all of its people originated from somewhere else, including our own “native Americans”, who emigrated across the Berring Land Bridge.

It means America has the capacity to recognize greatness in others and make it their own, whether that greatness be in other governments, other cultures, or other religions. France has the best health care system in the modern world by many objective standards. If we reject it out of hand because it is foreign, we are not acting on our strength nor in true American tradition.

Most other modern democracies in the world have not resorted to preemptive war, the killing of innocents, rendition, torture, as a means of protecting and defending their democracy. We should import such concepts and methodologies, don’t you think. Call them our own, if you wish, afterward, that’s fine, a rose by any other name smells as sweet.

The problem with trying to reinvent the wheel is that one wastes all the time and effort reinventing the failures and mistakes that went into inventing the wheel the first time by the original inventors. Better to just take the wheel, give credit to others for having invented it, and go on to improve it for one’s own purposes.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 6, 2007 10:20 PM
Comment #219685

David, you can smoke and think whatever you like. Me, I’ll stick with resinous Humboldt homegrown (even though I don’t really smoke weed these days) and stand on what I said regarding America’s founding ideals, and the men who shaped our government — because I honestly don’t think what we have is something that can be considered imported from anywhere.

We are a nation which has always imported. It is the great strength of this nation that all of its people originated from somewhere else,

I agree, but that has nothing to do with the fact that even though we are a relatively young country, we have been, and are often totally unique and creative enough to not have imported everything that we have.

It means America has the capacity to recognize greatness in others and make it their own, whether that greatness be in other governments, other cultures, or other religions.

Again, I agree, yet we should also have the capacity to recognize and take pride in what we who were born and raised in America have managed to accomplish, create and innovate all on our own. There really is plenty to point at and choose from in this column.

France has the best health care system in the modern world by many objective standards. If we reject it out of hand because it is foreign, we are not acting on our strength nor in true American tradition.

Couldn’t agree more. Best in the World. In fact, I think we’d do well to copy France’s fantastic healthcare system here in America. We’d all be much better off.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 7, 2007 1:06 AM
Comment #219687

Jack,

I expect many are unhappy with the situation as it is today. I am too. That is not the same as wishing for the past.

If we didn’t succeed in making life better for Iraqis than it was under an Islamist Stalin that’s truly sad. That’s my main point, so I think we agree.

It is not slamming the UN to point out that sanctions would have come off…. What about those sanctions on Sudan, or maybe the effective way sanctions are dealing with N. Korea or Iran?

Absolutely agree with you. The sanctions would be called off, because they worked! Regarding N. Korea, Iran, etc. I still believe sanctions are viable solution. What we need is international standards countries must adhere to in order to do business with the rest of the world. Getting agreement is not always going to be easy, but I think many countries would sign on to not doing business with a country that was demonstrably working on a weapon of mass destruction. It would mean more than Bush’s bluster at this point.

Posted by: Max at May 7, 2007 2:14 AM
Comment #219688

Max,

To say that the sanctions in Iraq worked is an attempt to rewrite a history that never existed. They did not work at all.

The sanctions were there to get Iraq to comply with several UN Resolutions that they refused to comply with. They were still not in compliance with them when we invaded in 2003. That we found no great hordes of WMD is not a testament to how the sanctions work but rather how they utterly failed.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 7, 2007 2:27 AM
Comment #219691

Jack,

It is not slamming the UN to point out that sanctions would have come off. Bush critics take great pleasure in pointing out that Saddam did not have WMD in 2003. W/o WMD the main justification for sanctions was gone.

Yep. No WMDs. No sanctions anymore, that will have been the logical UN inspections outcome in 2003, indeed. And? Where is the outrageous scandal?
Iraqis having enough supplies again???
You aren’t to sanction a nation just because it *could* be (first time or again, whatever) threatfull in the future, are you?

A dictatorship will have survive longer, and civil war will have not happened in the next years. But both were not why Bush goes into Iraq. Not until the WMDs he *knew* they were there can’t be found, at least.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at May 7, 2007 4:15 AM
Comment #219692

Rhinehold,

That we found no great hordes of WMD is not a testament to how the sanctions work but rather how they utterly failed.

By such logic, that we still found no security in Iraq is not a testament to how the Bush pre-emptive doctrine work but rather how it utterly failed.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at May 7, 2007 5:02 AM
Comment #219693

The title of this thread says it all.

This is not a “boomer’s” war. It is OUR war. It doesn’t matter if you support the war or hate GWB, If we lose this war, YOU lose also.

Posted by: tomd at May 7, 2007 6:04 AM
Comment #219695

Philippe

It depends if you thought Saddam Hussein’s regime was a threat. When he had the options, he developed and used WMD and attacked four of his neighbors at various times. He supported terrorism and starved his own people. There is no reason to believe he would have changed his habits. In fact, had his stature been elevated by winning against the U.S., he is likely to have been even more dangerous. Remember that he maintained much of the infrastructure to recreate WMD and some WMD is very low tech. Any ruler of a state with the money and the will can produce various kinds of poison gas, for example.

All decisions involve choices and often those are choices between things you might not want. I do not know if 2007 with Saddam sanction free, oil prices high (BTW driven by demand, no instability in the Middle East) and feeling very strong would have been better or worse than what we have today. I think we would be in a situation similar to 2003 with a stronger Saddam. Nothing in history is inevitable, but I believe a confrontation with Saddam was a high probability, if not 2003, then later.

RE the civil war in Iraq - everybody tells us that these are 1000 (or more) years old fault lines. Saddam was holding them down by using terror. He was killing thousands. He just did it more quietly and over a longer period of time. Maybe leaving him in power could have postponed the conflict, but not avoided it.

As I have written on many occasions, with the benefit of hindsight, I would have advocated a different course, but we must always remember that taking a different decision at an early point would not solve all the problems, but merely lead to a different problem set. There were no good options in 2002.

BTW - congratulations on your new president.

France is a great country & Americans are interested in it. If reforms work, you can expect to change sides. The right will take to praising you (like Thatcher) and the left will give you a hard time. You can never expect to be in favor on both sides.

David & Adrienne

It depends on what you mean by imported. Your car was imported. Ideas are not imported; they are adapted. I agree that a U.S. strength is to allow smart people and ideas to come to the U.S. Once here, however, the U.S. environment modifies them. People can create here what they could not in their own countries. Their ideas mix with others and create something different. It is the synergy where the U.S. thrives.

I do not think everybody would agree with you about French health care, but consider that example. Should we import their system? No. We should mix and match and then improve it. That is what we do. The French system uses lots of drugs and techniques developed in the U.S. It is never a one way street.

Ideas can never be transplanted. They grow new and different in each place. The U.S. has been the biggest idea generator and applicator in world history. We do that by being usually open and adaptive. Einstein was born in Germany, but he chose to be American. This is a common path. People with roots in other places have come to America to let their ideas flower and bear fruit. We should thank others for the fertilizer; they can have some of the fruit.

Posted by: Jack at May 7, 2007 8:05 AM
Comment #219696

tomd,

Agree that it is everybody’s war, in the sense we will all try to face the consequences. And responsibility is spread over more than one generation.

The title was just meant to stir things up and provoke argument.

I did point out that not everyone responsible was Republican.


Honest,

I have heard very similar stories about higher education. Baby Boomers have become known as “helicopter parents” because when they drop their kids off at college they still hover around and try to intervene when they hit a rough spot.

Of course intervening with your kid’s boss is even weirder.

Rhinehold,

So if we found a lot of WMD there you would say the sanctions were working???

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 7, 2007 8:11 AM
Comment #219697

I need my coffee. I meant “we will all face the consequences”.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 7, 2007 8:14 AM
Comment #219704

Jack,

It depends if you thought Saddam Hussein’s regime was a threat. When he had the options, he developed and used WMD and attacked four of his neighbors at various times.

And the sanctions get the options away from him.
I never thought Saddam regime was a threat to the US or even Europe.

He supported terrorism and starved his own people.

Sudan. North Korea. Syria. Palestinia. RdC. Haiti. Russia (within Tchechen region). You name it.
But only one Iraq War.

There is no reason to believe he would have changed his habits.

Wrong. He was mortal. As proven.
He also didn’t rebuild his former WMDs stockpile. As proven.
You can force people people to change. Just offer no other choice, except death. It works.
As proven.

In fact, had his stature been elevated by winning against the U.S., he is likely to have been even more dangerous.

I’ll bet the stature lost of the US by losing in Iraq make thing far more dangerous to us occident than whatever Saddam (or OBL, btw) could have dream or even achieve.

Remember that he maintained much of the infrastructure to recreate WMD and some WMD is very low tech. Any ruler of a state with the money and the will can produce various kinds of poison gas, for example.

I agree, but what? We can’t attack every low tech state just because they could easily produce various WMDs. Because every states today, as you said, could. If we failed to show how powerfull *and* the good guys we’re each time we attack one state, it’s even worst.

Pre-emptive doctrine has its limits. The 1% sub-doctrine within make it paranoid, for example.

I do not know if 2007 with Saddam sanction free, oil prices high (BTW driven by demand, no instability in the Middle East) and feeling very strong would have been better or worse than what we have today. I think we would be in a situation similar to 2003 with a stronger Saddam.

Yep. But less iraqis will have been killed by us since 2003 than in today situation. Which is spawning the next conflict stage.

I believe a confrontation with Saddam was a high probability, if not 2003, then later.

We’ll never know, as the occident became the aggressor.

There were no good options in 2002.

But there were less worst ones (waiting inspections end, building an UN’s legitimate international coallition, moving Iraq rebuild effort leadership to international body right after the battle end instead of staying as an occupant; planning for the peace, not just the battle), which were deliberatelly ignored for ideological reason.

BTW - congratulations on your new president. France is a great country & Americans are interested in it. If reforms work, you can expect to change sides. The right will take to praising you (like Thatcher) and the left will give you a hard time. You can never expect to be in favor on both sides.

I’ll wait and see before eventually rejoice about the output. I dunno if I’ll changes side if reforms works, as I’ve voted against Sarkozy not by opposing his reforms but his manicheist view of the world.

I don’t believe - in particular in the global world of today - that every issue, whatever complexity, can be reduced to a set of smaller issues that each can be solved by simple solutions including good vs bad/moral vs immoral/evil vs devil binary ones. Big issues are not only the sum of smaller ones. Their systemic relationship are often a big part of the bigger issue…

Anyway, I guess I’ll watch closer what the newly Bayrou’s created party, the Democrate Movement, will comes in the next few months.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at May 7, 2007 9:37 AM
Comment #219705

Jack,

The U.S. has been the biggest idea generator and applicator in world history. We do that by being usually open and adaptive. Einstein was born in Germany, but he chose to be American.

That’s quite forgotting the choice context!
He choose to flee Nazism and, in particular, the nazi’s rising antisemitism.

Most of his major publications were done before he got american citizenship. His scholarship happened for the most part in Swiss, were he was living and working in 1905, which is his annus mirabilis. AFAIK he kept his swiss citizenship too.

Einstein was a very smart brain before being whatever nation’s heroe. If US can brag about him, the Swiss education system should as well then.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at May 7, 2007 10:03 AM
Comment #219709

Well Jack, it’s always delightful when this rarity occurs: I agree with you completely!

Let me just add a few thoughts to what you wrote…
The way I see it, at some point creative people need to stop giving all the credit for what they do to the first person who invented the tools or mediums they use to create something.
Just as at some point they need to stop giving the lions share of the credit to who their ancestors and relatives were, and where they originally came from.
A person living in America (or any other country), is shaped by the people, and the land, and the government around them in many and various ways. Often, we don’t and won’t know how much that is the case until we go somewhere else in the world, and it becomes extremely obvious.
Finally, and beyond that, sometimes it’s wise to stop giving too much credit to all of the above factors combined as well, and give a certain measure of credit to our own unique brains, as they do have the full capability of being undiscovered countries unto themselves.

Hope that makes sense. :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at May 7, 2007 11:10 AM
Comment #219723

That’s quite forgotting the choice context! He choose to flee Nazism and, in particular, the nazi’s rising antisemitism.

Yes, after the Swiss education system failed Einstein and the Swiss started collaborating with the Nazis, Einstein chose to flee to the United States where he could freely pursue his studies and voice his opinions.

That we found no great hordes of WMD is not a testament to how the sanctions work but rather how they utterly failed.

I have no response to this. People will have to read your statement and decide for themselves. I will only correct your statement that we found “no great hordes” of WMDs. We found no WMDs at all.

Posted by: Max at May 7, 2007 1:25 PM
Comment #219748

Jack said: “Once here, however, the U.S. environment modifies them.”

Duh! Talk about stating the obvious! Ya Think? I mean learning another language alone has that effect. When learning Spanish and interacting with and learning Hispanic culture, I was exposed to a fatalistic perspective that I never knew existed before in other cultures.

But, that does not negate the fact everyone and everything about and in America originated from somewhere else. Even our Founding Fathers were engrossed by Europe’s Rennaissance, and religious revolution against state and church melded power. Voila, an enlightened U.S. Constitution which precludes the state establishing a national religion. You know, little imported stuff like that.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 7, 2007 7:37 PM
Comment #219760

David

You mention the fatalistic culture. That is one reason Spain, despite it’s New World posessions, didn’t make the jump into greatness. BTW - many cultures are fatalistic. Americans notably are not. That is why so many were … backward.

Everything originated somewhere else. America is no different in its borrowing. It just develops idea better. Clearly, many of the ideas of our founding came from Europe. Just as clearly, we were better at making them work than anybody in Europe at the time. They were applied differently in American and they were different.

You know the motto novus ordo seclorum. Our consitution really was that. The founders studied history from ancient times and reformualted it in a way that was new and unique. It was a new order of the ages.

Posted by: Jack at May 7, 2007 9:30 PM
Comment #219765

Actually, America become great because of the Freemasons. ;)

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 7, 2007 9:51 PM
Comment #219797

Jack, well, backward is a loaded word. More factually, one can say those cultures did not enter the modern industrial and technological age with the speed and fervor Americans and British did. But, it is just as accurate to state they avoided the many pitfalls and costs which Americans and British incurred as well.

The aboriginal tribes in the Amazonian forest, are not, as you put it, ‘backward’. They are the happiest by any measure of any society on earth, absent the stress, dependency, addictions, and conflicts all other societies that raced toward invention and specialization designed to convert millions of human beings into machines for capital wealth building to benefit a very, very few. Slavery was just one such enterprise.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 8, 2007 8:30 AM
Comment #219801

Max,

Yes, after the Swiss education system failed Einstein and the Swiss started collaborating with the Nazis, Einstein chose to flee to the United States where he could freely pursue his studies and voice his opinions.

Albert Einstein scholarship ended when he graduated at Bern’s ETH in 1900. I fail to see how he could have been locked in Swiss education system for the next 33 years!
Afterall, he was not a bad student, right.
He worked at Swiss Patent Office in Bern, during which he did his major revolutionary achievements. He also worked in Prague, Zurich and Berlin. He traveled from Germany to US one month before Hitler became Chancellor. 32 years after leaving the Swiss education system…

Anyway, if you want to do some americanism revisionism, please be our wikipedian collective guest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_einstein#Youth_and_schooling

You may need to back up your claims, though.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at May 8, 2007 8:44 AM
Comment #219809

David, I know you’re a highly intelligent guy, so why aren’t you grasping what Jack and I are in (almost miraculous) agreement upon?

Let me give you a metaphor here:

I’m an artist. My paintbox is filled with pigments that have come from all over the place and I want to use them to create a painting. I need to cut and sand down a wood panel, using tools I have for that purpose. Then, I need to prepare the panel for the paint, so I’m going to open my jar of gesso (usually tinting it either gray or black as I tend to prefer a dark ground for my work) and sweep it over the entire surface of the panel with a smooth, wide brush. If the gesso is uneven in areas, I’ll sand it down with a piece of fine sandpaper until it’s perfectly smooth. Then I’m going to draw my preliminary lines, nothing too detailed, but just enough to see where my paintbrush will be going later. I’m then going to open my can of turpentine and pour some into a jar — this to clean my brushes as I work. Then, I’ll mix up a medium of linseed oil and a bit of damar varnish, for when I want to thin the paint for use in certain areas of the panel. Then, I’m going to open my jars of paint and put various amounts of colors on my palatte — I use an old pyrex dish. I have brushes made of various fibers and textures and widths I will use, as well as a palette knife for the painting. Thus, properly prepared, I will create the painting. This might take a few days, or up to a month. When I am satisfied, I will let the panel dry for a few weeks, or as long as a month, depending on the thickness of the paint that I used. When it is dry, I will finally glaze it using a mixture of damar varnish crystals disolved in turpentine. Now it is done, and I’m very pleased with my work — either I, or someone else who wants to own it is going like looking at it for many years to come.

Another person buys a painting kit. It’s got a lot of the same things in it that I use to make a painting, but this person doesn’t know and was never shown how to use them. They use one of those poor quality pre-stretched canvases, and don’t bother to prepare the surface at all. They pick up a tube of paint and squeeze some onto one of the brushes provided in the kit. They make a big mess on the canvas, and everything is too thick and gloppy. Some of the brushes lost hairs as they ground it into the raw canvas and are now adhered to the surface of the paint. It looks like crap as it hardens. They wasted their money, they feel angry and disappointed and repelled by what they ended up with.

I could give you the same kind of example using other metaphors — like cooking, or chemistry — but surely you get the point. Whether ideas are imported or not isn’t truly the point — it’s how intelligently and skillfully they are blended and used, and what you end up with.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 8, 2007 11:28 AM
Comment #219813

I won’t be able to log in for a couple of days. But feel free to fight amongst yourselves… :)

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 8, 2007 12:32 PM
Comment #219835

Woody what a slap in the face for us boomers. You gave us a look at some of the bad that we did but what about the good. Civil Rights, Equal Rights, man to the moon and the good that came from that.
So Woody if you aren’t a boomer, tell us what good did your generation due?

Posted by: KT at May 8, 2007 5:18 PM
Comment #219881
So Woody if you aren’t a boomer, tell us what good did your generation due?

I can’t tell for Woody, but my generation is making people, more people, aware that our ecosystem is smaller, weaker and in bigger danger than imagined previously.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at May 9, 2007 5:55 AM
Comment #220038

Sorry Philippe; that was the boomer generation also. Take a look at the 60’s and the flower children, Mother Earth catalogs, Green Peace etc.

Posted by: KT at May 10, 2007 7:40 PM
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