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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Me and Iraq

posted by on December 23 at 22:24 PM

I should post something once a day, I suppose, about Iraq, so that folks that would like to let me have it—and, man, I deserve it—for supporting the invasion of Iraq five years ago have a place to vent and don’t need to hijack every comments thread. So here goes: I was for it, I was wrong, and I’d like to see us get the hell out of there—which I wrote in August of 2005, on Andrew Sullivan’s site (when he gave me the keys to his blog for a week), and reprinted in a revised form in the Stranger.

In 2006 my feelings of guilt over my support for the invasion lead me to donate the max to Ned Lamont, the anti-war Dem who challenged pro-war Dem Joe Leiberman. I also gave dough to Bob Casey and the ACLU—again, to pay my debt to society where the Iraq war is concerned.

Having shot off my mouth so… effectively… in 2002, today I bite my lip where this war is concerned. I’m not trying to hide my past support for the war—the pieces are still up on our website, for crying out loud—but I believe my initial support of the Iraq invasion forever disqualifies me from holding forth on issues of national security. So I’m going to stick to road-testing triple-pronged dildos, as a wise man once urged me to do.

And to those that insist the Stranger supported the invasion of Iraq… uh… that’s not the case. My “say yes to war” piece was a sidebar to Josh Feit’s much longer, and much more prescient, anti-war piece. I was one of just two pro-Iraq-war staffers at the Stranger. (My fellow traveler had the good sense to keep his/her mouth shut.) Anyway, read Josh’s piece here. He was right, I was wrong.

RSS icon Comments


Based on reading Josh's writing, the worst thing a public figure like you can do is change your mind...especially about the Monorail, or unless it's Josh doing a Cronkite, in which case it's okay because he likes jazz.


Hey, it's all sport at The Stranger, Dan, whether it's war, people or dildos. You taught us that.

Posted by Josh works for a Flip Flopper? | December 23, 2007 10:36 PM

Good enough.

I'm still not voting for you for President.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 23, 2007 10:40 PM

Is this in response to that relentless Republican douche who's spamming the comments?

Thanks for seeing the error of your ways. Next time listen when Josh gives you the metaphorical slap upside the head in his writing (at least when it is concerning middle east policy, feel free to ignore him on the dildo and broadway musical advice).

Posted by Brandon h | December 23, 2007 10:42 PM

"but I believe my initial support of the Iraq invasion forever disqualifies me from holding forth on issues of national security."

Bullshit. We've all been wrong about something at some time or another. Something big. Like the war.

Many, many of us initially supported the war, Dan: We did because we were lied to. Not just by the idiots- Rumsfeld, Cheney, and co- but by the people who we thought were competent grownups and who we now know either lied to us or should have known better- Powell, Rice, and Tenet.

Being wrong about the war doesn't disqualify you from holding forth on issues of national security. The exact opposite. It *requires* you to do so more dilligently so as to make up for that one totally human mistake.

Posted by Big Sven | December 23, 2007 10:43 PM

We are all human thus always prone to err.
When we fail to accept this we lose the ability to understand our mistakes.
In losing that capability we also lose the capacity to learn.

...and in failing to recognize and appreciate that capacity in others, we err as well.

Posted by Packratt | December 23, 2007 10:44 PM

P.S I'd rather see someone flip-flop to the right decision than stubbornly try to defend the wrong one (*cough* bush and kerry Election 2004 *cough*)

Posted by Brandon h | December 23, 2007 10:45 PM

I think there's no better way to bring bitter, partisan factions together than by building a monorail.

In Iraq! :)

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 23, 2007 10:46 PM

If you are truly sorry about supporting the war Dan you should go over to Iraq and do charity work for the kids who have been displaced and maimed and killed in YOUR war.

But you won't do that because like commenter #1 says:

"Hey, it's all sport at The Stranger, Dan, whether it's war, people or dildos. You taught us that." I will "spam" the SLOG no more. You sloggers are so fucking shallow ...

Posted by douchebag | December 23, 2007 10:53 PM

If Dan Savage supported or didn't support the invasion of Iraq really doesn't matter. Had he said "no" it would've happened anyway. So he said "yes" and that just shows he was a stupid fucking cunt at the time. Really. We all knew what the story was at the time. If Dan claims he didn't , then he's a fucking idiot. But if he says he's sorry, so be it. In the end, his opinion was only his. It didn't mean shit to anyone in the world.

Posted by M | December 23, 2007 11:08 PM

@8 How fucking delusional are you? You think that a sidebar opinion piece in a local alt-weekly was the tipping point in the rush to war? You think that the Congress, when voting on the AUMF said, "Well, the Director of the CIA, the Secretary of State, and the President are all saying there are WMDs and the intent to use them, but I'm still unsure. Wait! This article by someone known for his syndicated sex advice columnist in The Stranger is arguing for war. That settles it! I'm voting for war!"

In fact, are you so delusional as to not realize that the war was a fait accompli? Did you think that after putting a a couple hundred thousand combat and support troops in position to invade, Bush was not going to invade, no matter what Congress did?

If so, you're really not qualified to comment on politics, or for that matter, anything.

Posted by Gitai | December 23, 2007 11:13 PM

Yes, @8, let the war forever be known as "the War of Dan Savage (in Iraq)."

Posted by Andy | December 23, 2007 11:13 PM

I'm sure that if Dan had just talked to the President and Vice-President, there would have been a different outcome.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 23, 2007 11:15 PM

M@9, "We all knew what the story was at the time." If we is 25% of the population, then I guess you are right.

We're to the point that the former-war-supporters-turned-war-opposers strongly outnumber the been-against-it-all-along. Can you people in the latter group please SHUT THE FUCK UP with the self congratulatory back slapping? If you want to make friends and influence people, acting like insufferable know-it-alls is a terrible strategy.

Posted by Big Sven | December 23, 2007 11:22 PM

Distrusting the government is a funny thing. Theoretically, good citizens will want to take their government at their word as often as possible. Unfortunately, several instances in our recent history(to say nothing of our extended history) have undermined this genuine desire to believe our government is right. So many people have become jaded, and don't trust a single word out of anybody in power. Regardless of how wise one might look in hindsight by taking the opposite position of the government in every situation, it's not the proper relationship between an individual and the state, and will eventually lead to the destruction of both, if done on a large enough scale.

So, in 2003, during the build up to the war, we had a large contingent of citizens who hated and distrusted our current president. Up until this point, there was no evidence to believe that anyone in the administration was outright lying to us about anything. It was entirely possible that they knew something that we did not, that necessitated a war. In fact, with the facts as they presented them, there was a reasonably good justification for military action for many people, especially those who would desperately like to believe that the government would not outright lie about something as serious as war. Again.

It is strange that someone who was alive during the last time this sort of insane nonsense occurred in our country would have the faith necessary to believe the government in these matters again, but it is not completely irrational. As a rather young lad at the time, I certainly had less reason to distrust the rationale for us going to war, than Dan had to trust it. It was, in fact, a perfectly normal response of a someone who knows that if the government is lying about this sort of thing, then the country would probably be fucked anyway. So why not hope for the best?

After all, our country is fucked now anyway. So what prize do I get for being right this whole time? If I'm not getting shit for my opinion, stop giving Dan shit for his.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | December 23, 2007 11:27 PM

BigSven... Sorry you think 75% (if that's really accurate) mislead, unknowing, under-researching idiots makes it all okay.... I'm not bragging for being right. I'm saying it doesn't matter. It was way out of our hands. So NO I WON'T SHUT THE FUCK UP. Thank you.

Posted by M | December 23, 2007 11:37 PM

and "BigSven" is a really pussified name.... btw. What are you - a lumberjack with a tiny lil' peepee?

Posted by M | December 23, 2007 11:41 PM

I'll never understand why changing one's mind on an issue after finding sufficient evidence is considered a sign of weakness? I would assume the opposite to be true. What's so wrong about being wrong now and again?

Posted by Geoffrey | December 23, 2007 11:44 PM

Simply put, Geoffrey, owning up to ones mistakes, that is, taking ownership and responsibility for ones words and actions is generally considered a sign of maturity, and recognizing that a post-adolescent self-absorption represented by constantly needing to be "right, to be on the "winning" side of the argument is inherently self-destructive.

Which of course explains why so many neo-con wannabees are completely incapable of doing it.

Posted by COMTE | December 24, 2007 12:00 AM

The Slog comments page has become an ugly, dark place.

Posted by Jimmy Legs | December 24, 2007 12:04 AM

So I was against going in, but when it comes to leaving I am torn.

If U.S troops leave Iraq, do you (sloggers) believe that there will be a genocide and racial cleansing in Iraq between Shiites and Sunni's?

If so:do we owe it to the Iraqi people to stay until relative stability?

Also if so: How can we justify intervention in the genocide in Darfur where we don't have a military presence if we discontinue a military presence and cause a condition for genocide in Iraq?

Just wondering what you all thought about those questions...

Posted by Chris was here | December 24, 2007 12:11 AM


I opposed the war from the beginning and have generally been rather annoyed about how those in the media who got it wrong continue to be respected and continue to appear on the TV nightly (or the newspaper daily) explaining how the world works to millions of Americans.

You were one of the few people whose war support I could understand - the regimes in the Middle East are brutal in their treatment of gays and lesbians. I saw your view as misguided, but I at least could understand your motivation.

Nonetheless, thank you for this post. If more in the media would be as brutally honest about their own work the media would be the better for it. No one gets it right all the time; no one should reasonably expect that. So when folks in the media screw up they should acknowledge that regardless of how hard it is (and for folks like Joe Klein it's an insurmountable mountain apparently).

Again, thanks for this post.

Posted by Kevin Lyda | December 24, 2007 12:25 AM
Distrusting the government is a funny thing. Theoretically, good citizens will want to take their government at their word as often as possible. Unfortunately, several instances in our recent history(to say nothing of our extended history) have undermined this genuine desire to believe our government is right.

It's funny that you say that because something like 90 percent of African Americans opposed the war from the very beginning. People who have always had it easy from the government, and are consequently complacent, find it very easy to trust anything that people in power say. Others, who have gotten screwed over on a regular basis, know better.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 24, 2007 12:27 AM

Is that statistic really accurate? It seems surprisingly high. What percentage still oppose it today?

Posted by Chris in Tampa | December 24, 2007 12:45 AM

Your assuming that the rationalizations for war were reasonable. They were not. It amounted to speculation and anyone could have found that out, you did not need to distrust the government in order to do a little research or even to have a modicum of healthy skepticism. Joe Wilson wrote and said the yellow cake in Niger was bullshit! No one listened.

Are war opposers bitter? Yes, but only because the stakes were/are so great. Admitting being wrong is positive step in the right direction, perhaps forgiving the reformed supporters is our next step. It is true that bickering and i-told-you-so doesn't help at all and it would not have mattered anyway since the it was the people in power's decision.

But, it's not ALL the fault of the public at large or Joe Blow who supported the war. Republican control or not, it is congress's job to check the president. They didn't do that. The biggest fault of all, though, is with the media for not informing the public and doing the hardcore investigation they are supposed to do.

Posted by Brandon h | December 24, 2007 2:02 AM

P.S When I refer to the Media, I mean all media, I'm not just picking on The Stranger. Specifically, i'm thinking of CNN/MSNBC/CBS/NBC/ABC really.

Posted by brandon h | December 24, 2007 2:06 AM

Dan, I really don't know what the fuck you are apologizing for, when this guy is just trying to get a rise out of you. If this guy really thought this way, he would be going after Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton, or John Kerry, or half of Congress. Just delete the fuck.

Posted by No name | December 24, 2007 2:31 AM

Sorry I'm not finished. I am a little drunk, so I won't blather on here too long. But war, any war, is not a static situation. EVER. Changing your mind on a war is not a bad thing. It means you think tactically. But we all got fucked when GW started this shit. And it was because of 911 paranoia. Don't feel bad Dan because of that asshole. Good night.

Posted by No name | December 24, 2007 2:37 AM

Jesus Christ its early. Where's my beer.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 24, 2007 5:14 AM

I can understand where the spammers are coming from - not that I think they're right to ever hijack the comments or ignore Dan's change of heart because that's petty and immature - because Dan's piece was like a thunderclap at the time. I've almost forgotten Josh Feit's antiwar piece because Dan's opinion was both more direct and a bit of a shock considering where it was being published.

I think most lefties in Seattle regard the Stranger as "their" paper and the antiwar spammers probably took Dan's opinion as a betrayal of sorts. Of course the Stranger also criticizes antiwar protesters so that probably keeps them mad even though Dan has changed his mind.

Dan's opinions can be mercurial. Anyone else remember his near endorsement of John Carlson? (He ended up backing Locke but wrote a piece saying he might vote for Carlson because Locke was such a do-nothing governor.) He writes impulsive opinions like this at times. It's something I keep in mind when I read his stuff.

Posted by Matt from Denver | December 24, 2007 6:31 AM

If Saddam were still in power today, does anyone think that there wouldn't still be calls for his removal from both Republicans and Democrats?

Posted by raindrop | December 24, 2007 7:03 AM
Yes, @8, let the war forever be known as "the War of Dan Savage (in Iraq)."

Indeed, I remember that fateful morning when Dan Savage, deeply troubled by Saddam Hussein's imaginary refusal to discontinue his nonexistent nuclear weapons program, finally summoned the joint chiefs of staff to his office at the Stranger and, after some brief discussion of tactical issues, finally said, "I've had enough. Send out the F-16s."

Posted by tsm | December 24, 2007 7:09 AM

@ 30, what's your point? Saddam's not in power anymore, we're in a fucked up war with no end in sight, and that's what we have to deal with now.

Posted by Matt from Denver | December 24, 2007 7:28 AM

@32 - I think raindrop's point is, in essence, "Stop making fun of me for supporting Bush."

Posted by tsm | December 24, 2007 7:30 AM

Politics is aesthetics.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 24, 2007 7:39 AM

So lets recap the recent actions of our glorious anti-war movement.

-attacked Dan Savage for a sidebar piece in 2002
-held some of the dumbest and most poorly organized protests in recent memory
-Pushed strenuously for meetings with myriad of officials.
-assembled an endless number of coalitions and held some rather uninspired conferences.
-often fought against the only serious political part at least somewhat on their side

None of which has accomplished a whole hell of a lot.

Now of course people say "well then why don't you do something." My response is that I don't really care enough. Sure I want the war to end and have always though it was a mistake, but on the scale of issues that I am concerned about, its not at the top.

Posted by Giffy | December 24, 2007 7:59 AM

The forgiveness of sychophants and the condemnation of psychotics are pretty much of equal value. Stop courting both.

It's not my place--or the place of any Slog commentator--to dole out the pardons. It is also hugely inappropriate for you to ask.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | December 24, 2007 8:07 AM

Matt from Denver: The end of the war IS in sight, unless you are fiercely pesimistic. The surge worked. Iran is pulling back on its IED atrocities. There's even some progress politically with power and oil revenue sharing. These are the facts dude.

Posted by raindrop | December 24, 2007 8:13 AM


I hope you're not beating yourself up over this. I mean, lots of people supported the war initially. We're only human.

But, why self-censor yourself on future matters of national security? You were wrong once - just once. To me, that isn't enough to justify keeping your trap shut on a subject this important. I say keep talking - let us decide whether or not to listen. Consider it your patriotic duty or something.

Posted by James | December 24, 2007 8:16 AM

Dan has more important things to beat himself up over. Like his "review" of Sweeney Todd.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 24, 2007 8:21 AM

and his friendship with that shiteater Sullivan

Posted by republican faggot? BRILLIANT | December 24, 2007 8:31 AM

jesus people. do you really think dan is contrite about this? he's sad and tired adn tired of getting beaten up and just wants some xmas cheer. christ...sympathy for dan?

Posted by haha | December 24, 2007 8:43 AM

@ 37, you may have a very different idea of what "success" is than I do - for example, I think Iraq will need to be a stable democracy before we can say we're successful, and currently there's no reason to have an optimistic outlook for that. Unless that happens then the whole thing was a colossal waste.

Posted by Matt from Denver | December 24, 2007 8:47 AM

Raindrop @37.

No. The surge isn't what has temporarily reduced the violence. Muqtada al-Sadr told his Mahdi army to back off for 6 months, and they did. When the six months is over, or whenever al-Sadr decides he's bored or pissed again, the violence will escalate right back to what it was like at the beginning of the year, surge or no surge.

Posted by SDA in SEA | December 24, 2007 8:52 AM

it is easy to hide behind an anonymous post on a blog and say all kinds of dumb shit knowing no one will ever know who you are. Unlike dan and a handful of people here that actually come clean about who they are and issues they were mistaken on by linking to their name and making themselves known. Maybe the SLOG should only allow non cowards to post instead of the BLOWHARDS that hide behind a dumb nick name.

Posted by -B- | December 24, 2007 8:55 AM

I thought Savage was and is brave about his opinions.

Posted by postergirl | December 24, 2007 8:58 AM

Beating Dan up over his 2002 article is retarded.

(1) Most polls showed between 65%-75% of the population favored the war just prior to the invasion. So if Dan was wrong (which he was) he had lots of company. A strong majority of the population agreed with him, at least back then.

(2) Uh, much as I love Dan's books and Savage Love, he's a sex advice columnist, who is known to occasionally write contrarian and provocative pieces just for effect. Not exactly the most credible source for foreign policy advice. The political columnists in his own paper disagreed with him. It is ludicrous to believe that Dan's 2002 article swayed public opinion or the actions of congress or the White House. Blaming Dan for the war is beyond absurd. If you want to blame anyone, blame the assholes in the White House that lied to us all, and the mainstream media that lapped it up without questioning anything.

(3) Unlike our stubborn recalcitrant president, Dan changed his mind when presented with new evidence and facts. Just like roughly half the population of this country. And he publicly apologized. I wish Bush would do that.

I opposed the war from the outset. Various factors in my background made me far more skeptical of the government than most people are. I'm old enough to remember Vietnam. I remember being disappointed in Dan's article when I first read it. I was pretty sure he'd be proven wrong, but I also knew there was the possibility that I was wrong. In hindsight, it turns out he was wrong. He's acknowledged that he was. I hold no anger at all toward him. At worst, a mild disappointment in him for having been duped, just like half the population of this country.

Move on.

Posted by SDA in SEA | December 24, 2007 9:13 AM

Dan should only be criticized for relying on faith and hope rather than reason. If done correctly, the war could have freed Iraqis from oppression. It was silly to believe, however, that the War would liberate Iraqis. Wars are rarely fought for such causes. But it is an excusable mistake.

The Iraq War was a complete AMERICAN military victory. Bush was right. Dan was right. The USA won the military battle. The military war was won in the Spring of 2003. The experts predicted this.

They also predicted, however, that the occupation of Iraq would be very difficult(remember Colon Powell: "you broke it you bought it"). As predicted, the American occupation has been an utter disaster. Bush and Dan were both wrong about the occupation, but for different reasons.

Dan's mistake was believing the Bush administration would commence "nation-building" a la Japan post WWII. According to him, "a Republican administration recognizing that support for dictators ... is a losing proposition; a commitment to post-WWII-style nation-building in Iraq" [is] terrific news for people who care about human rights, freedom, and democracy." Those goals were ignored by the Bush administration. Bush's mistake was making the end game about controlling oil, establishing a military presence, and prosecuting a religious war. The war was for the benefit of war profiteers, neo-cons and religious zealots not for the Iraqis. Dan had no reason to believe Bush would deliver human rights, freedom and democracy. He let hope and faith trump reason.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Posted by Medina | December 24, 2007 9:19 AM

Oh Dan sweet Dan, I forgive you.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | December 24, 2007 9:39 AM

That ass spammed me and Metblogs in August after I called a clueless git or something similar. And on a day I was in transit to take care of a cancer-ridden relative.

I still have the posts and his Qwest DSL IP, though. I held off on filing an abuse claim because he finally got the message. Maybe I should rethink that.

Anyone wants it, just say the word.

Posted by dw | December 24, 2007 10:16 AM

#49 is hilarious. Durrrrrr!

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 24, 2007 10:17 AM

If 75% supported the war, then it was only because the American public is the most chronically and willfully misinformed population in the developed world. It was obvious from the beginning that the government was shitting in our mouths and calling it a sundae.

That said, lots of people were fooled. Dan is obviously sorry for his initial position. And, I'm surprised this has even come up again since Dan has made this clear several times since. And, all because of some troll who is just trying to get a rise out of him.

@26 has it right. Douchebag troll should spend his energy harrassing government officials (especially Demorcrats) who supported the war and aren't in any rush to see it end. Douchebag is little more than a scared bully who is afraid of the real bullies.

Posted by Mahtli69 | December 24, 2007 10:18 AM

There's only one way for Dan to properly atone--he must personally hunt down and take out Osama Bin Laden--hisself!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 24, 2007 10:23 AM

Bully for @44-46 bully-bully for Dan and Josh for debating the war in public. Shame on the cowardly critics who stay anonymous and deride others who took part in the public debate.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy causes; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Posted by Rough Rider 5/23/10 | December 24, 2007 10:31 AM

This is not going to become an annual holiday tradition is it? 'Cause if it is I think we should all shoot ourselves in the head a few time.

Posted by Just Me | December 24, 2007 10:43 AM

Well Dan, no worries.

I supported the war too. I was hornswaggled by the chimp from Texas. Iraqis paid the price.

Fortunately for me, the commander in chief up here at the time, the Right Honourable Jean Chretien, said "Non!" to joining the coalition and we Canucks only went to war in Afghanistan. I supported that war then, I support that war now and I think that most reasonable people can agree that chasing after Bin Laden in a country that sheltered him makes reasonably good sense in a completely unreasonable world. Even Bush got this one right.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

The Wet One

Posted by The Wet One | December 24, 2007 11:00 AM

"people can agree that chasing after Bin Laden in a country that sheltered him makes reasonably good sense in a completely unreasonable world. Even Bush got this one right"

Who says theyre chasing after Bin Laden? If you beleive that, youre just as high and drunk on the kool aid today as you were then.

Afghanistan is a corrupt hell hole controlled by war lords, fundamentalists, and drug smugglers. The Talis are just kicking back, but control huge chunks of the wild lands in the Pakistani border.

Once Nato leaves it will become an 80's style Lebanese shooting gallery.

So much for the informed Canadians.

Posted by SeMe | December 24, 2007 11:16 AM

Imagining world peace is like thinking about infinity.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 24, 2007 11:23 AM

There are, for the most part, more well-thought-out, intelligent comments on this thread than I've seen on all of Slog in the past year. I'm proud of you guys. And you too, Dan. It takes a big man to admit he was wrong.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | December 24, 2007 11:36 AM

What I want to know is exactly why Dan changed your mind. It still seems like Dan is ideologically supportive of American military force used as a coercive measure for so-called social liberation.

Dan, would you support a military invasion of Iran based on the justification of social liberation? I personally don't agree with miliatry force as an agent of posistive social change, but I would understand the sentiment based on the extreme oppressivness of the Iranian government.

Posted by Laura | December 24, 2007 12:33 PM

Laura, Dan is already on record as supporting the use of tactical nukes against Iran by Israel (search the archives). So am I, for that matter. Some day we may regret those words, too (but I don't think so).

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | December 24, 2007 1:13 PM

Was this stated on Slog? I've only recently started reading it.

Under what justifications have you or Dan supported a nuclear strike against Iran?

Posted by Laura | December 24, 2007 1:25 PM

"tactical nukes" sounds like a "little bit pregnant. There is nothing of the sort except in the mind of right wingers and poorly informed people.

Will the nukes not harm the Iranian Jews?

Not even Sharon supported that position.

Sounds like you guys are even further right than Israel's Likud party and at odds with the majority of Israelis most of whom want negotiated moderate solutions.

Posted by SeMe | December 24, 2007 1:33 PM

"I personally don't agree with miliatry force as an agent of posistive social change,"

What about self defense?
Defense of Kuwait ? Bosnia?
Civil War?
American war of independence?
What about beheading kings in England or France adn creating armies to bolster the new government that overthrew the monarchy?
Defense of Israel from attack?
From threat of IRan attacking with nukes once they've got them, if they continue to say they want to destroy Israel?
Does Israel have to wait until missiles are launched to defend itself?

Relation to Dan-was-wrong thread
It's easy to condemn Dan or anyone advocating force if your own position is no, one must never, ever use force.

Posted by unPC | December 24, 2007 2:28 PM

I was referring to military invasion.

Although there have been some nice byproducts of military invasions justified by humanitarian rhetoric, such as the defeat of the Nazis, these invasions have almost without exception ultimately failed to secure true liberation for those victimized by the invaded country, and only suceeded in securing economic or political power for the invaders.

The invasion of Iran will absolutely not benefit the Iranian people. Even if a new regime was imposed by US or allied forces, neo-colonial military and economic imperialism only fuels the backlash of anti-colonial fundamentalism. Iran is the way it is today because of direct and indirect British and American military intervention. To attempt it again would only add fuel to the flames.

Posted by Laura | December 24, 2007 2:48 PM

(M@15:) "...if that's really accurate..." Nice ad hominem. *I* actually posted a *reference*.

(M@16:) "pussified name... lumberjack... tiny lil' peepee..." Here's a rule for ya, M. Any time somebody resorts to ad hominems, they've lost control of the argument. It's like comparing your opponent to Hitler.

I'm sorry you're so high on your horse about Iraq, M, that you won't let people like Dan and myself apologize for our original, mistaken support for the war. Congratulations on being right when all the rest of us were wrong. And an extra 20 pts for adding the hipster nihilism of "it doesn't matter". I hope they give you 25% off at Happy Hour at the Tractor.

By the way, I go by "Big Sven" because that's the name of a character I once played in a theater production.

Posted by Big Sven | December 24, 2007 3:39 PM

Sven, what we have here is known as Benford's Law of Controversy: "Passion in any argument is inversely proportional to the amount of real information advanced," and also perhaps its corrolary, Godwin's Law, "the longer an argument drags on, the more likely it is that someone will call you Hitler or a Nazi."
BTW, thanks, unPC, for a bit of support from a very unexpected sector.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | December 24, 2007 4:26 PM


Please don't stop writing about any political thought that comes into your head, national security or otherwise.

The courage evident in writing a piece that you were sure would appall 95% of your readership is the kind of moral courage I like to see in a columnist, and makes that columnist worth reading.

Any hack can toe the party line all the time.

At any rate, we all knew Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al were evil, what was surprising was how incompetent they turned out to be. Iraq wouldn't have been Sweden in any case, but there might have been a real net gain in human rights if, say, John McCain or Bill Clinton had been in charge. Dan can be forgiven for not realizing the ones in charge were this clueless.

Posted by MHD | December 24, 2007 4:49 PM

Yes invading Iran would be dumb/unjustified. Yes, USA record in pretending to liberate when committing aggression has been b-a-d. (Guatemala, Iran, etc.) Yes, most aggressors tell similar lies. Yes, this means a head count of past examples means usually wars justified on humanitarian grounds result in conquest not liberation.

But no, this does not mean in general one must eschew use of force for humanitarian reasons in the future.

It just means look in each case to make triple sure there is no aggression; the humanitarian need is real, and great; and the use of force is proportional and will work in practice. Might need UN support, too, I'd say. Yes, the times all this will be true may be rare, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

The lies and aggression are wrong in and of themselves. Many uses of force have been necessary evils or preferable to submitting to injustice. Blanket rules against force in effect empower the aggressor party (GOP here), and are logically, historically and morally wrong. Or blind. What, we should have avoided fighting in the Revolution, the Civil War and WW2?!?

Posted by unPC | December 24, 2007 5:46 PM

@ 68,

Lucky for you, most AmeriKKKans are gullible, ignorant, mindless, war-mongering morons who’ll forget the so-called “lessons learned” from Iraq the instant the conflict is over.

We’ll be fighting lots more wars (aka sending poor people overseas to kill poor people) in the future—it’s inevitable. You must be thrilled.

Posted by Original Andrew | December 24, 2007 6:09 PM

can we work on america a bit before we keep fucking up the rest of the world?

Posted by joey | December 24, 2007 6:11 PM

Right, Un. It's the ckassic "if you had a time machine and could go back to 1938 and assassinate Hitler, would you?" argument. (Well, given today's news, I guess Will Smith wouldn't, and it's gotten him in a shitpile of trouble - but I probably would.) Or perhaps more apropos, if there was a guy walking down the street who you knew had a gun and was going to shoot you, would you be justified in shooting him first? In my book, you would not only be justified, but obligated to, because, if he's that far gone, he probably won't stop with you. That's the situation Israel finds itself in right now.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | December 24, 2007 6:17 PM

Fifty-Two-Eighty: I know this is a dead thread but what the hell, I'm bored:
All those arguments for justifiable violence seem to hinge on bizarre hypotheticals that would never actually occur, like the existence of time machines or the magic ability to know someone's intentions before they act. In the real world, if one were to arm oneself in order to prepare for such an eventuality (the man walking down the street who wants to shoot you) this simply means one more gun in circulation and thus a greater net chance of it being used to a violent end. One more person walking around armed and waiting for someone to look at him funny so he can shoot them in self defense.

It is impossible to separate the existence of violence from the endless preparation for violence. To take the analogy of personal violence to international violence (i.e. war) a step further, even though most countries refer to the act of arming themselves as "defense" that has little bearing on how those weapons are ultimately used. Countries like ours that devote the bulk of their resources to military preparedness never lack for wars. In the current conflict (the one Dan regrettably endorsed at the onset) the justification for invasion was, you guessed it, self defense. We had to attack Iraq before they developed the means to attack us.

The fact that we were being offered a case for war that basically said we had to attack while our opponent was still defenseless because otherwise they might develop the means to defend themselves was one of many tip-offs for me that the war was being sold on false pretenses. But I'm cynical like that.

Posted by flamingbanjo | December 24, 2007 7:42 PM


Please don't stop writing about politics. You are entitled to your opinion, and entitled to change it.

You get called out in Savage Love for being "wrong" about things and you readily retract and add to your opinions there.

That's one of the things that makes you so great. You are flexible, willing to treat your writing as a community activity, and you actively engage your readers.

You are also a talented writer and you pick up on things that are important, interesting or just plain funny.

I think political debate suffers if you bow out. You're internationally recognized, think of the role model you are.

Do you want everybody who has ever been wrong to silence themselves forever? Only people with perfect foresight are allowed into political debate?

Actually, that might be nice. There wouldn't be any political debate at all and no one would ever have to think ever again. No more nauseating pundits intentionally distorting the facts, playing on fears and stereotypes.

But since the people who lack your ethical backbone aren't going to shut up, I hope that you also refuse to remain silent when you have something to say.

You did not intentionally distort facts and you did not set about to deceive anyone. You looked at the information you had and you developed an opinion. Your work wasn't run as the "official Stranger position" and you didn't silence Josh. The paper produced a balance of opinions and it reflected what was going on at the time.

So you were wrong, you've been wrong, and it is more than likely that you'll be wrong again.

I'll keep reading your work, and I'll post a comment if I want to participate in the debate that you inspire. If people don't want to read your work because you are not perfect, let them make that decision.

Incite us, Dan. Please and thank you and happy holidays and all that.

Posted by r | December 24, 2007 7:51 PM

Oh hell no. Going into a country, fucking everything up, and leaving it a festering swamp for terrorism and fascism?

I'm usually with you 100% Dan, but you're not even close on this one.

Posted by Dan | December 24, 2007 11:46 PM

Napoleon @52 is right:

There's only one way for Dan to properly atone--he must personally hunt down and take out Osama Bin Laden--hisself!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 24, 2007 10:23 AM

Posted by mirror | December 24, 2007 11:52 PM

Well Dan, you've amassed quite a following of loyal fans and defenders. Good for you. Have a nice day.

Posted by Tank | December 25, 2007 12:13 AM

Being right is not the same thing as being prescient, and no war is the same as the previous war. Of the last five major wars the US has fought (Gulf II, Gulf I, Vietnam, Korea, WWII) three can be reasonably called successes.

Furthermore, those who opposed the war from the start have no claim to moral superiority--at best, a weak claim to greater insight.

Posted by NJ Matt | December 25, 2007 1:07 AM

Big Sven: Sorry I insulted your pee pee. It was late, I was a little drunk and you know how that goes don't you? I'm not a hipster by the way, just an old librarian with a bad attitude.

Posted by M | December 25, 2007 11:25 AM

Mr. Savage,

Thank you for acknowledging the error of your call for war. I totally respect you for putting it out there. I guess I'm a sort of wam-bam political junkie, sitting here alone in my Capitol Hill apartment just looking at this and that between jacking off. And for all that, I knew the war was bogus. Why couldn't Maria Cantwell figure it out? I wrote her and told her to read history, the start of just about any US war will do, the Spanish American War, the Mexican War. I told her to ask around to old Senators re: The Gulf of Tonkin. Easy call, I thought. I guess I think the general rule is that wars are mostly about resources or land, or both, and they make a certain part of the moneyed class tons and tons of cash. If you can think through those obstacles and still gotta go kill, well, I guess you ought to go. Iraq didn't even come close. I stopped listening to NPR, I saw Joe Biden on Charlie Rose before the war, what an ass! I saw Bill Clinton on David Letterman, not a peep against the war. I really stopped watching TV news. I take the New Yorker a lot less seriously these days. The Stranger? Never stopped. It's a rag, what's not to like?

Posted by Intro_Verse | December 25, 2007 1:28 PM

M@78: I do indeed know how that goes. No harm, no foul. Let's hope the war's over soon. Merry Christmas!

Posted by Big Sven | December 25, 2007 9:20 PM

#56, while I concur with the reasonable conclusion that Afghanistan will likely remain a shithole despite all of our efforts (and lack thereof) there, perhaps I mispoke.

What I should have said that everyone could agree that going after Bin Laden (the original reason for the invasion) made sense. He was on T.V. in Afghanistan, gloating over the attacks on the Twin Towers. The U.S. asked nicely for the Taliban to hand Mr. Fuckhead over, they said no.

Terrorist training camps actually were in Afghanistan (unlike say... Iraq) and there was a reasonably clear and present danger to the U.S. (arguably the rest of the world too if you remember attacks in London and Spain and a certain attempted shoe bomber).

War rightly ensued and in the spirit of "You break it, you buy it" the shitty messy fuck of a fight carries on to this day.

The original justification stands unblemished regardly of how poorly the fight goes now (Yes Virginia, Bin Laden and Al Quaida really were there, unlike say, in Baghdad).

If you find something disagreeable about this (except perhaps the tenacity of the Taliban in continuing to fight), or disagreeable as a sound reason to go to war, please let me know. I would really like to see how I'm actually wrong about just underpinnings of the ongoing war in Afghanistan (unlike say... Iraq where I was bamboozled but now see somewhat more clearly the truth of the matter).

If you're gonna whine and bitch about an imperfect world, with imperfect people, with imperfect allies (say warlords and opium growers), well, that's not saying anything worth listening to.

I still believe that the Right Honourable Mr. Chretien and his successors (both Liberal and Tory) have made the right calls on both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Get the fuck in, as Bin Laden and his allies cannot stand, and stay the fuck out 'cause Shrub has gone looney tunes on us and we don't want to get caught in that disaster.

Sometimes, politicians really are smarter than me. Amazing, but true.

Posted by The Wet One | December 26, 2007 11:51 AM

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