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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Not In Our Name


Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful response to the Not In Our Name "Statement of Conscience" that I posted.

I was going to wait a few days to respond  in order to see what others on the list might be thinking, but I have been encouraged by Aldo de Moor to forward an email that I sent to him today concerning the issue at hand.

While this is certainly not a complete response to your post, since it hardly addresses where I am tend to agree with you (for example, regarding the language used in the NION statement), still,  it gets directly at some critical points relating to those matters where we seem to be at odds.



Hi Aldo,

Thanks for your words of encouragement. They were needed and are appreciated. I certainly agree with your "practical interpretation of buddhism."

Still, you no doubt saw Henry van Eyken's response to my posting the NION "Statement of Conscience"  on the bootstrap list. I can't say that I feel very encouraged by his analysis. Sure, Hussain is an evil man. But that's not the point. The possibility of a horrendous pre-emptive war with the resultant lost of many innocent lives and a further eroding of international stability (and the likelihood of increased terrorism in response to it) for what might turn out to be no better reason than that Bush wants it ought be reason for considerable debate. No doubt Henry's comment that a statement of conscience doesn't help the analysis of the complex situation we're facing is correct--it is, after all, only a statement of conscience. But his either/or, right/wrong analysis doesn't help either. He wrote:

The question in my mind now is: will good fortune rid us of Hussain before he uses his weapons, in which case no war is necessary. Or will he be able to build up an arsenal and a band of co-conspiring terrorists to threaten his neighbors and the world beyond, in which case we better take preemptive action. You see, whether we will be "wrong" or "right" won't be known for some time to come.

"Good fortune"?  What about weapons inspection?  How clear is it that he has this "arsenal"? We have only Rumsfeld's word on the Iraqi "co-conspiring terrorists"--van Eyken's comments sound to my ear like so much falling into line with the disinformation we're being handed by the Bush administration and a compliant US press. And if he's had these "weapons of mass destruction" for years and hasn't used them, why should we be rushing into war--which might impel him to use them--without substantial debate and unilaterally, without support of the UN and the international community? And the very notion of America initiating a pre-emptive war is alarming to me in the extreme. May not Pakistan follow our lead and use its atomic weapons on India?  A letter today to the editor of the NYTimes summarizes something of my view:

A large number of thoughtful, patriotic Americans oppose an attack on Iraq based on a genuine concern that the cost to our country will be greater if we do than if we don't.

It is incumbent on the administration and Congress to persuade us otherwise before committing us to a war that will take many lives and is likely to be very costly in fiscal and international political capital.

If a solution other than war to the Saddam Hussein menace exists, we should be wise enough to find it; it will be more satisfying to outwit Saddam Hussein than to kill Iraqis.

Many of us believe that the call to war against Iraq is the boyish whimsy of our president and that the reluctance of other leaders to object arises from political considerations.

We implore sensible people, and especially Congressional leaders, to raise their voices in objection to any indulgence of presidential hubris that seems determined to lead us into a questionable war with the associated, tragic waste of lives and resources.  
I'll respond to Henry in the next few days if no one else on that list finds his compliance with the position being disseminated by the press troubling. But I hope some other voice of reason rises in response to his expression of. . .well, FEAR that the Bushites are whipping up. Expressions of fear are of even less value than those of conscience.


Aldo de Moor wrote:
On Fri, 27 Sep 2002, Gary Richmond wrote:

Aldo, forgot to hit Reply All. G

Myself, I'm sick to death of the whole thing. Of course, I keep trying
to find ways to encourage opposition to "all this" on-line and in my
work at the college, but one can begin to feel as absurd as Sisyphus
(Camus' version), especially when one finds oneself either (1) preaching
to the already converted or (2) running across idiocy amongst the "best
and the brightest" that one meets on and off line or (3) finding
oneself--or being made to feel--hopelessly naive.

Don't give up, Gary. Remember, all static (and apparently hopeless
looking) situations are in fact the resultant of incredible forces below
the surface. Lots of critical capacity is building, definitely in Europe
and, I'm sure, in the US as well.

Let Bush & Ideological Sons continue the War on Terror. Ours is the
"Meta-War" on Terror: we have to continue to be in pragmatic mode and
examine and investigate un- or insufficiently challenged assumptions.

The world has become an incredibly complex and dynamic place. Lots of
reactionary people are afraid, and desperately looking for stability,
which they think to have found in a policy of going strong on an easy
target. Their real goal is not obliterating Iraq, but safety. Let's keep
trying to find ways to provide alternative ways to safety.

Keep in mind my practical interpretation of buddhism: aim towards your
goals, but be satisfied with being involved in the process. Even if you
never reach your objectives, feel that your voice matters. Persistence

Take care,


---/// e-mail: ademoor@uvt.nl
IN|F/OLAB phone +31-13-4662914/3020, fax +31-13-4663069
|/// home page: http://infolab.uvt.nl/people/ademoor

Dr. Aldo de Moor
Infolab, Dept. of Information Systems and Management - Tilburg University
PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands

Henry K van Eyken wrote:
3D9530CA.F840FE9E@sympatico.ca"> Gary.

First thing I should say that I myself am somewhat leary about George W.'s mix of motives w.r.t. a military action against Iraq's Saddam Hussain. (Please, notice that I did not say "against Iraq.") Which of his motives are presidential, I ask myself, and which are personal?

From my reading over the years - including a biography of Hussain by an Iraqi author - I have come to understand that he is a student of such dictators as Hitler and Stalin and that he has been advised by members of the former communist soviet establishment how to rule with an iron fist. Also that he has used chemical and biological agents during the war against Iran, notably on Iraqi's. Also that he financially supports families of kids who blow themselves to bits in attempts to bring terror to the Israelis. (And, no, I am not taking sides here in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.) Also that he applies his rule with a gun close at hand and that he has used it to kill people who simply disagreed with him. You may have noticed that pictures and videos of Hussain's cabinet meetings show all those in attendance with their hands on the table and the room in which they are seated having curtains all around. You may also have noticed that usually there stands a military guard right behind Hussain's seat. In short, it is wise to regard Hussain as a very dangerous person. Also as one who is quite prepared to take "everybody" with him when his time is up. Hitler aimed to do just that with his maniacal pursuit of the war in Russia and his scorched-earth directive for the destruction of Germany - which to Albert Speer's credit was not carried through. I fear that Hussain will be no different. (I could also refer to such stories as Iraqis murdering infants in Kuwaiti hospitals, but then again, we subsequently learned that those stories were concocted by a PR/advertising agency on behalf of Kuwait while the Kuwaiti "elite" was having a helluva good time in Egypt while American troops were drawing their line in the sand.)

The question in my mind now is: will good fortune rid us of Hussain before he uses his weapons, in which case no war is necessary. Or will he be able to build up an arsenal and a band of co-conspiring terrorists to threaten his neighbors and the world beyond, in which case we better take preemptive action. You see, whether we will be "wrong" or "right" won't be known for some time to come.

The previous paragraphs sketch the disturbing picture of this member of a democratic society not being sufficiently informed to shape a clearly defensible position about whether or not to concur with military action against Saddam Hussain.

Your post is no help, really. It refers to a "Statement of Conscience," but, personally, I think it utterly unconscionable to take a laissez-faire attitude with respect to Hussain and thereby condone the immense risk of exposing large numbers of people (friend and foe alike!) to weapons of mass destruction - especially so with the lesson of Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler still fresh in our minds. Turning to the web site you referred to, it immediately strikes me as riddled with sloganeering, polysyllables, and attempts at misrepresentation. Examples: "Not in Our Name" is sloganeering and the use of bold face to state "The statement appeared in the New York Times on September 19" gives a first impression of the statement being written by highly respected editorial writers, whereas the subsequent lighter print tells us it is merely an advertisement. Then, further catering to the readers' herd instinct, it tells us that "The New York Times ad [ not simply "the ad"] features a diverse list of influential names."

It seems to me that somehow we shall need to learn to find better ways for citizens in democratic societies to arrive at their judgments. Somehow we shall have to learn to properly inform ourselves; how to filter out what is true; how to evaluate and judge the remaining sober; and then, how to act.

"Statements of Conscience" signed by influential names are inadequate for dealing with urgent, complex problems.


Gary Richmond wrote:

The beginning of "A Statement of Conscience"  NION (Not In Our Name)

Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression.

The signers of this statement call on the people of the U.S. to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world.