Caithris mentioned that she didn't really think the protests were doing any good at this point, because we're already at war, and Bush has too much invested in winning the war to ever consider listening to the protestors and pulling out.
I agree that in their current numbers, the protestors are unlikely to to affect any major changes in the current state of affairs, but i'm not sure i agree that that means the protests are useless.
From a personal moral perspective, it's important to protest in whichever way you prefer, regardless of the effect or lack thereof that it will have. In that regard, it doesn't have to be out in the street protests, it could be just sitting at home and verbally harassing the president in abstentia like i and a lot of others do, but i'm not going to be critical about those who feel the need to make more public demonstrations. It's their conscience they have to live with, not mine.
Furthermore, if no one protested then Bush would have the illusion of conformity. The protestors are making sure that no one can ever make the claim that the US population was 100% behind the war. They're also usefull in an international aspect, they show the world that not everyone here agrees with Bush, that not everyone thinks this war is a good thing. The people in other countries are still quick to call us Imperialists regardless, but at least it's better than nothing.
It may also have an impact during the next election. The war would probably be perceived in a better light if there weren't so many people quick to criticize it. A lot depends on how the war turns out, and a lot more depends on how the economy goes, but to some extent when people are getting ready to vote, they'll look back over the past four years and one of the things they'll remember will be the amount of civil unrest about Bush's policies.
Is it just me? Or does the coalition advance in Iraq seem to be following some version of Xeno's Paradox?
Note: i say "we" in this a lot, by "we" i mean the US as a whole, because i and a lot of the people who might read this live in the US. I don't agree with most of the things that "we" have done, or that "we" believe, but i am an American, and these are things that the country as a collective whole has done and seems to believe on average.
Why are we in this war? Well, if you listen to the administration's propaganda, it's cause of 9/11 and WMDs. How did 9/11 get worked in? I'm not quite sure, i'm not sure if even the Bush administration has worked out exactly what the link is supposed to be, but they don't worry about it too much i'm sure because they know if they repeat it often enough the American populace will believe. So let's take them at their word for the moment, why did 9/11 happen? In large part because bin Laden is upset about the US presence in Saudi Arabia. Why do we have a US presence there and when did it happen? After Iraq invaded Kuwait, to protect Saudi Arabia, to stage the attack for the first Gulf War, and then afterwards to maintain the no fly zone. So why did Saddam invade Kuwait? Because Saddam asked the US if it was okay to do so, and we said sure, go ahead. So they invaded Kuwait, and were very suprised when we suddenly protested afterwards.
At this point conspiracy theorists probably go nuts. After all, by telling Saddam to go ahead we were insuring we would be handed the excuse to insert a permenant miltiary presence into the middle east. However i suspect there was something simpler at work. The diplomat who the Iraqis spoke to said that America didn't interfere in regional disputes. The diplomat was probably realistic/cycnical enough to realize that the US _doesn't_ care when a major power picks on it's neighbors. We didn't care about China and Tibet, we didn't care about Russia and Chechnya. I'm sure there are a lot of others that i don't know about because no one cared enough about it to make it into a news issue.
The problem was that the diplomat wasn't cynical _enough_, at least so i'm guessing. He didn't realize that we suddenly _would_ care about a powerful country picking on a small neighbor if the small neighbor had something we wanted, and they were already friendly with us. The same thing is happening with Taiwan. No one cared about Tibet, but when China started threatening to invade Taiwan we suddenly cared, because Taiwan has a big economy and does lots of trade with us.
Which means that this whole mess is really just the result of our own hypocrisy coming back and hitting us in the face. But of coruse we haven't learned anything, we're doing it all over again.
We need to get rid of Saddam because of his WMDs. You mean the WMDs he might have, he says he doesn't have them, and we haven't found them yet. I wouldn't be _suprised_ if it turns out that Saddam is lying his ass off, but there's a difference between belief and evidence. If our highly vaunted supposed morals mean as much as we like to pretend, then belief in the existance of WMDs alone is not enough to justify an invasion. The fact that he's a dictator who's guilty of various human rights abuses is a much better reason, but that's not the primary reason they keep touting, they just pull that argument out when people start poking holes in the 9/11 and WMD arguments.
And now we get back to hypocrisy. If we're so concerned about WMDs and human rights abuses, why are we invading Iraq instead of North Korea?!? Not that i think invading North Korea would be a _good_ idea, but at least in that case there would be some kind of logical consitency! North Korea says the have WMDs, or at least are actively working towards them! They started up a nuclear reactor and kicked all the UN people out! They said that if we attacked them they'd nuke us! They actually have missiles that could reach the US! Now check me on this, are any of the above true about the recent state of affairs in Iraq?
And once you move off of WMD issue, there are tons of countries with horible human rights cases, most of those we don't care about, a lot of them we probably haven't even _heard_ of. The Taliban was getting worldwide coverage for their treatment of women, among other human rights issues, and the destruction of ancient cultural artifacts _long_ before 9/11. We didn't care until after bin Laden pissed us off, but _then_ we were quick to point out how horrible the Taliban are and how much the people of Afghanistan would apprecaite us "liberating" them. Of course to the best of my knowledge we haven't even carried through on half the promises we made concerning Afghanistan. Once we gained military supremecy there we didn't really give a damn about making more than a token offering to the people.
Same thing with Iraq. I remember back after the first Gulf War, people said the UN sanctions wouldn't do much good, they'd mostly just make live miserable for the civilians. Well they were right, but nobody cared to point it out very much until after we wanted to go back to war with Saddam. Most people still don't talk about the roles of the UN Sanctions, they just talk about how much the people are suffering. It's only some of the more liberal writers who have actually gone into depth looking at all the reasons for why things are the way they are.
I don't know what the real reason we're invading Iraq is, not the reasn why the country thinks we're invading, but why those in charge have decided that we should. They want the oil. They want to gain a more permenant military presence in the mid-east and asert a Pax Americana. They want to distract the people from the economy. They want to flex the American muscle and show the world who's boss in order to soothe their egos.
None of the likely reasons i can think of are very good ones, but in some ways i hope they do have reasons like that. I guess it's better to believe that the government has less than pure ideals at heart and is smokescreening the public than to think that the government is so delusional that they've fooled even themselves about what's going on. I guess.