Jejudo, South Korea
I was going to stay out of this one. I tried, I really did. The only thing I was thinking about was the facticity of facts and I was going to post that in the philosophy forums. The problem with facts is primarily two-fold: they become extremely hard to pin down and they aren't compelling.
Example: Don't go near that cliff, it's two hundred feet down. You might fall and kill yourself.
Answer: Don't tell me what to do. I know that. I won't fall, I'm not stupid enough to do that, and if I do fall that's what I wanted to do anyway.
While I agree that the Left has said some pretty stupid things -- Bush and Hussein are not morally, politically, or personality-wise the same -- I fail to see how that defeats any arguments that might be legitimate (more later). The Left and emotionalism are not synonymous, anymore than the Right and jingoism are synonymous.
Or are you really going to tell me that those on the 'right side' never use emotion to persuade people?
It's not so much that the facts you give are irrelevant as that they never have been in dispute -- more or less. They were not in dispute in 2000. The belief then was that containment was the correct action. That he has not used any of these weapons on another country in twelve years is just as much an argument that containment works as it is an argument for war now. The change in thinking occurred as a result of 911.
The change then is not based on new facts that have come to light, it is based on a change in belief as the result of an event, not the event, a fact, itself (I'll add an aside on this later). It is now believed that America is vulnerable, but the idea that America was invulnerable was a mistaken belief and I can show that with a list of facts if you want.
The advantage of making the argument that he might use them sometime in the future is that you only have to be right once. Of course, weapons of mass destruction may not be important as the weapon of choice on 911 was box cutters (a fact).
Why I think I understand what you mean by subjective fact, I think it's probably better to avoid that usage. Facts are objective in that they are true regardless of what we believe. We call things facts if we inter-subjectively agree on them (and there's the rub). The problem is that people, on all sides of the political spectrum, use the term 'fact' to mean their belief. When you say subjective facts, you mean the way people use the word, but no saying, no statement, no word is a fact. These refer to facts, they aren't facts themselves. But this is tricky, facts are tricky, tricky things.
Needless to say, stating something as a fact is pretty much useless if the opposing party doesn't think it is a fact or, even if they think it is a fact, that it is irrelevant or insignificant to the issue.
An aside: does anybody remember the secretly televised interview of Bin Laden as he laughed and smiled at the fall of the twin towers? In that interview, he said something like, "With my training in engineering, I did not imagine that the twin towers could fall, praise Allah." Now this is all from memory right now so please correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember thinking, "So much for your knowledge of engineering."
But that's not what he thought. He meant that it was factually impossible for the twin towers to fall. So, how did they fall?
God must be on our side.
Facts, by the very nature, are interpretable and that's why they aren't compelling. For while I disagree that facts are subjective, we can have no facts without a point of view.
But that's another thread.
And so, what's my view. Luckily, I found an article that pretty much covers most of what I believe. It snubs the Russians and the French -- getting a little tired of that (though I know another interesting article that points out French bullying in Eastern Europe), but here it is:
author: Fred Kaplan
It is hard to remember when, if ever, the United States has so badly handled a foreign-policy crisis or been so distrusted by so many friends and foes as a result. I am among those who thought, and still do think, that Colin Powell's U.N. briefing last month made a good case that Iraq remains in "material breach" of its obligations under international law; that it constitutes a menace to its neighbors; that it is hiding, and probably continuing to develop, weapons of mass destruction;
There may be a case for preventive war, but if the aim of the war is protecting the international order, then that case should be acceptable to the agency that represents the international order. Specifically, if the war is supposed to enforce a U.N. resolution, then the case for war should be acceptable to the United Nations. (Bush implicitly accepted this premise last fall when he took his argument to the United Nations in the first place.)
So far, the administration has failed to make that case. This failure is not simply a matter of French or Russian obstinacy; the United States has not yet convinced even the three-fifths majority in the Security Council (nine out of 15 members) that would be necessary if there were no veto.
What's particularly disturbing about these failures is not so much their legal implications as their political and diplomatic ones. If the administration lacks the acumen or persuasive power to deal with such familiar institutions as the U.N. Security Council or the established governments of France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Chinaóeven Canadaóthen how is it going to handle Iraq's feuding opposition groups, Kurdish separatists, and myriad ethno-religious factions, to say nothing of the turbulence throughout the region?
I watched a BBC 'town meeting' tonight, a tit for tat 'conversation' between people from Jordan and people from New York (and Ed Koch of all people) on this issue. I found the most interesting comment came from a Briton. He said that the polls are misleading, most Americans are asking the same questions everybody else is:
Are we being a juggernaut?
Shouldn't we listen to others?
Is there another way?
What happens next?
I think that's probably true.
But, you never know, Bush may be right. Let's hope, as JP alludes, that he is if this goes through.
[This message has been edited by Brad (03-08-2003 11:03 AM).]