The Issues

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, Universityof Wisconsin - Green Bay


Either energy is serious, or it isn't. If it isn't, then stop blathering aboutconservation and changes in lifestyle. If it is serious, than controlling energy amountsto controlling people, and you may have to fight to prevent someone controlling yourenergy resources.

The Emir's Faucets

The Emir of Kuwait, we're told, had solid gold bathroom fixtures, or maybe they wereplatinum, or plutonium. While I was in Kuwait, I met people who had been tortured, hadspent months in hiding, and had had friends and loved ones disappear or be killed. Justexactly what is the relevance of the Emir's plumbing?

Why Didn't We Finish the Job?

We did. The UN mandate for Desert Storm was to expel Iraq from Kuwait. What part ofthat didn't we do?

So why didn't we go on and topple Saddam Hussein?

Why don't we just let the generals fight the wars? Clausewitzonce noted that "war is politics conducted by other means." The only reasonsrational nations fight is for political ends. Irrational nations fight for adventure orplunder perhaps, but then rational nations have to fight to defend themselves againstthem. So war is inherently political. If you want a war free of political constraints youwant what never was, never will be, and never can be. While we're at it, I'd like anabsolutely unrestricted research budget.

The last general who got to fight a war absolutely on his own terms was probablyNapoleon. He'd probably have been much better off if he'd had a politician reining him inand giving him reality checks.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are Still Repressive

Nobody elected us to remake these countries in our image. That was never our mission.

The Media

Ever since the Gulf War, the media has been cringing in embarrassment over the way theywere "handled" by the military. There are two main reasons why:

So while many media critics lament the "uncritical" reporting during the GulfWar, my perception is that between the inherent excitement and fast pace of the events,plus adroit work by the military, for the first time in many years the media covered anevent solely by reporting the facts largely devoid of ideological spin. The Gulf War wasreporting done the way it ought to be done if the media were doing their jobs properly.

A good indication of how the media would like to have handled the conflict was the wayone network tried to get permission to film inside the facility in Dover, Delaware wherebodies would be returned. The military refused access and were upheld in court. Exactlywhat information would filming there have provided the American public? Howbodies are processed for burial? Any funeral director can tell you that. The number ofcasualties? Maybe, if there were any suspicion the casualty figures were being faked. Butthere are too many ways to spot fakery to make that an even plausible scenario. We're justtoo open a society. There is no information whatsoever to be gained by filminginside the facility; the only purpose of doing so would be to create emotional impact.Creating emotional impact takes us outside the realm of journalism and into the realm ofentertainment or political advocacy. Both are protected by the First Amendment but theydon't carry the same aura of sacredness as informing the public. The government is obligedto help keep the public informed; it's not obliged to keep them entertained or to providematerial for political activism.

The Embargo

We're causing immense suffering to the people of Iraq by continuing the embargo.

Excuse me. Who's causing the suffering? It wouldn't be Saddam Hussein by anychance? And it wouldn't be the Iraqi people, who allowed him to come to power and aredoing nothing to get him out?

We also caused immense suffering in Germany during World War II. The suffering wascaused by the actions of Adolf Hitler, who was allowed to come to power by the Germanpeople, and who failed to take effective action to remove him once his policies had provendisastrous.

Does this seem harsh? Ask yourself two questions:

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Created30 December 1999

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