July 19, 2006


A couple of days ago, I asked what you thought about the explosion of violence in the Middle East. Some of you had opinions, some didn't. That's cool. You know you can say what you think or just choose to keep your mouths shut whenever you wish. But it is slightly unfair of me to expect answers when I don't offer my own thoughts in response. So what do I believe?

I believe that reactions to provocations are inevitable but such reactions must be proportionate to the offense. I believe violence is inevitable but discretion is the true test of belief. I believe each country is sovereign, allowed political and economic free will, just like its people. I believe we should avoid insinuating ourselves into every situation - whether it supports democracy or not, whether it supports what we believe to be important or not - but I also believe in helping where we can. I believe we, as a country, should express our opinions, help right wrongs, but do so using force as a very last resort. I believe that elitist leaders hell bent on creating legacies and avenging past wrongs place innocents in harm's way and, worse, don't care. I believe that terrorism will exist forever and while we should do our very best to resist it, we will never be able to truly consider any terrorist-related mission accomplished. I believe you can love your country without supporting everything it does.

Of course, I also believe that bears do shit in the woods, that the Pope is Catholic, that Grant is buried in Grant's tomb, and that, if a tree were to fall in a forest without anyone to hear it, it would probably make a sound. So, you know, I could just very well be crazy.

Last night, I finished Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men. While only slightly remarkable, it did contain one wonderful quote especially applicable now. You can be patriotic and still believe that some things cost more than what they're worth. That's me. I'm patriotic but I sure do believe that some things aren't worth the steep price we're expected to pay for them.

Posted by Chris at July 19, 2006 07:04 AM

Hubby is reading the Ann Coulter book, "Godless". He wanted to see what all the hoopla was. Amazing ly, he has looked up all her points and issues and found credible references. So for all the slander by the press, it appears Ms. Coulter isn't that far off. I read it next.

Posted by: Maribeth at July 19, 2006 07:31 AM

For two people who are fairly opposite in a strictly political sense, we sure do agree on a lot of stuff.

Although, I have to say, I think this new Pope might be a teensy bit Baptist. I heard a rumor that he disapproves of dancing. ;)

(by the way, why don't Baptists have sex standing up? Looks too much like dancing!)

Posted by: Contrary at July 19, 2006 07:48 AM

I'm particularly fond of this bit:

I believe that elitist leaders hell bent on creating legacies and avenging past wrongs place innocents in harm's way and, worse, don't care.

Too bad it won't all fit on a bumper sticker. :)

Posted by: Betti at July 19, 2006 08:37 AM

On the Today Show this morning, Newt Gingrich was on talking about how all this violence in the Middle East is the begining of World War III and that we should get involved and stop it before it gets worse. As evidenced by Iraq, I think that things get worse once we get involved. It was really hard for me to listen to his whole interview because my mind tends to shut off as soon as I see his name so that I can avoid the load of bullshit that comes when he talks.

But, Amen to all of your points. I definitely agree. (Also, I met someone this weekend who thought that the Pope was Jewish until she was in her mid-30s. I laughed for a long time about that one.)

Posted by: Jessie at July 19, 2006 08:40 AM

Well said!
And giggling at the baptist/dancing comment. Too funny. ;)

Posted by: Traci at July 19, 2006 09:45 AM

Didn't Kevin Costner do this speach in Bull Durham?

You make very valid points but I do think if the U.S. is to not insinuate ourselves into every situation it should be across the board. And That includes foreign aid as well as other good things the U.S. does for other countries. We will end up becoming Isolationists like pre WW I times.

Posted by: Bill at July 19, 2006 09:54 AM

but how do you know the tree makes a sound if you aren't there to hear it?? [see, this is where my philosophical, argumentative side kicks in. hehe]

also: I believe you can love your country without supporting everything it does. Amen to that!

Posted by: Judy at July 19, 2006 10:10 AM

Well said, Chris.

I think there's a pretty broad gap between the pre-WWI Isolationism Bill mentions and the Marshall Plan-induced world policing we've been doing since WWII. We could be a lot less invasive and still be able to provide aid as needed.

The Middle East has never been and probably never will be peaceful. As long as we keep going in every few years and poking them all with sticks, stirring up the ant's nest, it definitely never will be. They're the ones who live there; in the end, they have to come to an agreement they can all live with.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at July 19, 2006 10:22 AM

Well said Chris.. that's a very good quote...

Posted by: Sue at July 19, 2006 11:05 AM

You read my mind AGAIN, so there is no need for further elaboration...

Posted by: Michelle at July 19, 2006 11:24 AM

I agree, 110% on every single point you made. Absolutely. But I have no doubt we will somehow get ourselves not only involved but entrenched in this battle (no matter what administration is 'in charge') and we will come out of it with fewer and fewer resources to deal with the issues that would truly make a difference. The AIDS crisis in Africa, for example (there are so many, truly, where we could save so many truly innocent lives. It simply seems that unless there is a war, we don't poke our head in.)

Posted by: Amy at July 19, 2006 11:27 AM

Do you have any problem with me linking to this post?

Posted by: ann adams at July 19, 2006 11:41 AM

How many Amens do I have to say?

Posted by: Heather at July 19, 2006 11:41 AM

I agree... especially the part about using force as a last resort.

To expand on that, I think that as a country we should put more value on the lives of our military men and women. If my husband is sent to war, I think the country as a whole should be pretty damn sure that it is a last resort... that our intelligence has been checked and re-checked, that every attempt at diplomacy has been exhausted and that we're sending them in with MORE than what they need to accomplish the mission.

AND... we should be prepared for them to come home with injuries, mental and physical, and have the means to support their recovery.

Posted by: Betty at July 19, 2006 01:09 PM

Of all your points I agree with this one the most: "I believe we, as a country, should express our opinions, help right wrongs, but do so using force as a very last resort."

In day to day life, (person to person), discussion and compromise will get you much further than demands and violence. It only seems logical that world leaders should be able to resolve issues in the same manner. The reaction of Isreal is extremly disproportionate -- much like the U.S. reaction in most cases. I fear it has come to who has the biggest guns, and a result we will only see more countries like N. Korea creating weapons in blatant defiance of UN demands, and more rogue political cells using terrorist tactics.

I wrote about this once on my blog, after the train bombings in the UK. I felt the human race had lost all sense of compassion and humanity, and stated that the saddest part to me were the innocent people were being thrust into these battles -- not just as victims and but also as soldiers. Someone left me a comment saying I wouldn't be so compassionate if a terrorist were holding a knife to the throat of my children.

And for a brief fleeting moment, I lost all compassion and secretly wished a bomb would fall on their evil head.

Posted by: krystyn at July 19, 2006 01:10 PM

Very well said. I agree very much with that quote.

We are very much on the same page with our thoughts on our president, and the messes he gets us into.

Posted by: Karen at July 19, 2006 01:56 PM

Hi, I found your blog from the link on Issa's World. This is the only post I've read so far, but I wanted to just say that I completely agree with you, and I am so saddened by what's happening in the Middle East. There is no way the Israeli response has been proportionate.

Posted by: FFF at July 19, 2006 02:01 PM

Actually, hmmm, I guess my comment sort of came out wrong. It sounds like I somewhat agreed with the commenter on my blog and saw things their way.

What I meant to say was the commenter made me temporarily lose all peaceful notions... I wanted to drop a bomb on their head. I stopped blogging for a while, it really bothered me....

Posted by: krystyn at July 19, 2006 02:09 PM

I like this quote: "You can be patriotic and still believe that some things cost more than what they're worth."

If Idealists ran the world, I think it would be perfect but, alas, we don't really run the world, and often we just sit around hoping and wishing it gets better. I know most of us make a difference in our immediate lives and our local environment, but as far as global change, it seems like we have little impact or say. That's because bombs speak louder than words. Oooh, I know! We need to drop a big LOVE bomb filled with ecstasy and start a big old planetary rave!

I don't have the answers either. I'm just saying.

Posted by: Ms. Q at July 19, 2006 02:23 PM

I respect your post, but honestly how could Israel be safe without the use of violence. They are not dealing with rational people on the other side, without the use of force Israel would suffer more and more innocent deaths. The amount of force necessary is really hard to debate, is the goal to kill the same number of people and damage the same amount of property is that what would be fair in your judgement? I would hope that if violence is used it is used for the purpose of ending the violence and not an aye for an aye. I think that would be the option with at least the best chance at ending the violence.

Posted by: linda at July 19, 2006 03:01 PM

My first thought was that you should submit this to NPR's This I Believe segment because I agree with you 100%.

I think I gave the easy answer when you asked for our opinions on this last time ("...give peace a chance") which is so much nicer than actually thinking about the situation. The hard answer is that I don't think that what is going on in the Middle East is ever going to "blow over" until something major blows up. Unfortunately I think the hatred runs so deep that many, many people are going to die before any side chooses to seriously talk peace with the other. It scares me what's going on there and I wish I could say it'll all be over soon, but I don't think it will be.

Posted by: Beth in StL at July 19, 2006 06:49 PM

I believe that you couldn't be more correct. Very well said.

Posted by: Kelly M. at July 19, 2006 10:10 PM

I believe that you couldn't be more correct. Very well said.

Posted by: Kelly M. at July 19, 2006 10:10 PM

I believe that you couldn't be more correct. Very well said.

Posted by: Kelly M. at July 19, 2006 10:10 PM

Very well-said, Chis. I agree with all of it. Really. Even though I love "my country," I remain critical. It's very hard. These are sad and scary times.

Posted by: haley-o at July 19, 2006 11:39 PM

I should really not write anything about this. Because I always feel the need to explain myself silly. Because I'm shy and not "politically inclined". I do know I love my country--Israel. I hate violence. I wish we could all be friends.

Posted by: haley-o at July 19, 2006 11:46 PM


As my uncle used to paraphrase... the real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. You can't change the nature of man's evil spirit.

I'm my opinion, it's interesting to see what humans will do to justify their actions. There is no limit. Our jobs as parents is make sure our babies know the difference. Eat or be eaten.

Posted by: Johnny Gun Smoke at July 20, 2006 01:22 AM

Ack! I must have missed that #2 question that day.

I have somewhat of a friend in Beirut, and she serves up hot, fresh, front-line news to the Internets on a daily basis when heavy stuff starts happening, like this. I could link you up to the blog if you like.

Anyway, I guess you could say I'm biased towards the Lebanese because of this, but I still think Israel is making a mountain out of a molehill. Or at least a mountain out of a much smaller mountain. Just becausr two soldiers were captured by a militant group, even a political militant group, can't possibly authorize you to bomb cities, kill civilians, and fire at ambulances. Argh. Yes, this gets on my nerves.

And you are definitely barking up the right tree about being patriotic without being a yesman to what your country does. A coutry is people and culture, not the flavour-of-the-term administration. I like Canada, I even love it. I feel a warm fuzzy feeling when I find out that an author of a good book I just read is a countryman of mine. But in world events, I think globally (or try to, at least), not nationally.

Posted by: Gavin at July 20, 2006 01:53 AM

Great post, Chris. I could not have said it better myself...


Posted by: jen at July 20, 2006 07:57 AM

My father is pretty convinced that Cheney is the anti-christ... some times I do wonder if he's right.

Posted by: Autumn at July 21, 2006 01:18 PM