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Friday, September 18, 2009



Yes.  Last night, in class we talked about the short story "Editha."

The consensus was that the protagonist, Miss Editha Balcom, was an unthinking patriot of the worst sort, who sent her fiancee off to fight a war he didn't believe in and which was, in the long run, unworthy of the United States.

One of the more insightful students drew parallels between the Spanish American War and our 2003 invasion of Iraq.  One didn't get the sense that there was anyone in the classroom prepared to defend President Bush's decision to go after Iraq.  (I could have made a case, but in 2002/2003 I thought the gain did not outweigh the risks.  The gain was two fold.  On the one hand, the international sanctions regime was going to go away.  Both Russia and France wanted it to go away.  Iraq would have been free to pursue its nuclear weapons program.  On the other hand the war promised possible socio-economic transformation of the Middle East and the solution to not only the terror threat posed by al Qaeda, but also the possible solution to our Israel problem.  On the risk side is the always present chance of failure in war.  In the words of one wag, "War is like childbirth.  The outcome is always uncertain.")

In today's collection of EMails was this item:
92 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson said that "...right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts-for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."
So, there you have it.  On the one hand war is a terrible thing and to be avoided like the plague.  On the other hand, "right is more precious than peace," and we have the always esteemed President Woodrow Wilson telling us that.

This is a continuing issue in this nation and why free and open debate is important and why a "band wagon" approach to important political decisions is detrimental.  Think about Europe in July and August of 1914.

As Democrats told us during the Bush II Administration, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.  What is good for war is good for health care.

Regards  —  Cliff

  College Writing II
  I am thinking she is named for Saint Editha, and that would likely make her a "high church" Episcopalian.
  Spanish American war, in 1898.
  For those who learned the "new math" that would be 1917.
  Not that President Wilson deserves the esteem he gets, but it is the conventional wisdom.
  Well, not exactly, but it is an important point about the importance of dissent.

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