I believe that Todd Roberson’s argument about “lackluster” liberals (Daily Nexus, “A Lesson for the Liberals,” April 3, 2003) is as unfair as he claims “anti-war protestors’ favorite arguments” are. Mr. Roberson generalizes when he says, “They have clearly not taken the time to respectfully listen to their fellow citizens and leaders with conservative ideas.” He also seems to take personal offense at the protestors signs, failing to understand that these signs are not directed specifically at conservatives, but rather toward the sentiment that the war we are currently fighting is not about freeing an oppressed people but rather about gaining a foothold in the world oil market. This war and the protests are not about political parties. I say this thinking of many friends of mine who claim conservative party leanings (even who voted for Mr. Bush) who feel that this war is as wrong as any liberal. I feel that Mr. Roberson is a victim of his own generalizations here.
He asks for arguments against specific points: “Support for war comes from the belief in the morality of self-defense and defending those who cannot defend themselves. Iraq’s neighbors cannot defend themselves on their own, as the first Gulf War demonstrated.”
Firstly, it is a very naive supposition to believe that morals are the only thing fueling this war. It is a well-known fact that wars are good for the economy, and this one in particular has shown that oil is a strong motive. If it is not, then why are we not invading North Korea? Iraq’s neighbors, which includes Turkey (normally a U.S. ally, but who in this situation has chosen to denounce the U.S.’s actions and not allow the U.S. to station in Ankara) and Iran (most obviously not an ally to the U.S. and consisting of mostly Shiite Muslim, Shiite being the Muslim sect to which most of the Southern Iraqi’s belong – the ones we are “saving”). A lot of the countries are all in about the same boat as Iraq, if not more capable of defending themselves. This is not to point out their strength, but rather to point out Iraq’s weakness due to a decade of U.N. sanctions.
“Conservatives see Hussein as a threat to the lives of millions of innocent people. Thus, conservatives believe that as a matter of defending innocent people it is necessary to conduct a war against Iraq.”
Once again, this is a huge generalization about conservatives. I would also like to point out that, according to a Reuters news reporter, an Iraqi man was quoted as saying that he welcomed the war, not as a respite from Saddam Hussein, but rather as a quick alternative to the slow death being provided by the sanctions. One cannot claim to want to free a people yet be indirectly responsible for the deaths of half a million Iraqis.
I would also like to mention that it is once again a naive point of view to suggest that apparent “liberals” cannot reconcile war with morality, as though all war protestors are barefoot hippies putting flowers in rifles. Mr. Roberson speaks of immorality and brings to attention the analogy of the knife and the gun: “To know that someone is going to attempt to kill innocent people and do nothing is immoral. If someone with a knife were running to attack an innocent person and you were standing there with a gun, would you stand there and watch, or try to save an innocent life? And what would you want done if you were the one being attacked and the other person had the gun?”
The U.S. is indeed the person with the gun in this situation. However, the gun is pointed not at the assailant, but rather the victim.
In closing, I would like to agree with Mr. Roberson when he says, “Politics in this country will be much less antagonistic if we all just understand each other better.”
Alice El-Bizri is a junior physical anthropology major.