Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Thursday, 13 June 2002

# 2:40 AM


Checked with my mother; Roger was born in 1922. He would have been eighty years old later this year.

Further to my complaints about the local anti-war protesters: my father is of the opinion that there haven't been any effective protest agitators since Mario Savio. He was in Berkeley at the time of the Free Speech Movement, so I think he is likely to know what he is talking about.

It also occurs to me that one of the assertions I made in that post may be misinterpreted. I said that the protesters take the position that War is Bad, end of discussion, and this is an absurd stance. Now, in an absolute sense, war is bad. To quote Eisenhower:

Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than eight thousand people... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

The catch is that international politics isn't a matter of absolutes. There are situations where war is the best available action for a nation to take. There are more situations where making a credible threat of war is the best option. You will notice that Eisenhower did not abandon WWII just because it was the colossal waste of money and lives that he knew it to be. The alternatives were worse. On the other side, the Vietnam-era antiwar protesters were credible because they could show that that war was not our best available option.

The trouble with the current crop of protesters is that most people realize that sometimes war is necessary. The protesters' position comes across as "war is never necessary," and that's an absurdity, at least to their audience. The pro-war demagogues can therefore run right over anyone raising objections to this war, by claiming that their position is equivalent to this absurdity. That's a lie, but it's a lie that gets believed.


The Neilsen Haydens are full of interesting posts lately. Patrick has a couple of snappy ones on nuclear power and one on people's reactions to Coleen Rowley (the FBI whistleblower). Read the comments on both. Teresa has a long chewy speculation on Mr. Bush not knowing that there are black people in Brazil. Again, read the comments.