Fear

by

[Note: Since Duane is allowing me to post this Sunday, and since that post will be a little lengthy, I’ll offer a short “inspiration” day today.]

No Fear was a stupid slogan.

On Pudd’nhead Wilson’s calendar (Mark Twain), you’d find the following passage: Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward, it is not a compliment to say it is brave; it is merely a loose misapplication of the word. Consider the flea! – incomparably the bravest of all the creatures of God, if ignorance of fear were courage. Whether you are asleep or awake he will attack you, caring nothing for the fact that in bulk and strength you are to him as are the massed armies of the earth to a sucking child; he lives both day and night and all days and nights in the very lap of peril and the immediate presence of death, and yet is no more afraid than is the man who walks the streets of the city that was threatened by an earthquake ten centuries before. When we speak of Clive, Nelson, and Putnam as men who “didn’t know what fear was,” we ought always to add the flea – and put him at the head of the procession.

The lofty principle of courage is not life lived without fear, but involves the observation of choices made in the face of fear.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it this way: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

So the questions of the day become: What are you really afraid of? And in that light, how do you choose to live?

Advertisements

17 Responses to “Fear”

  1. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Okay, I’m causing trouble by bringing up politics on inspiration day, but since there were no political postings this week I’m having withdrawals…

    And since we’re talking about fears anyway, I guess nuclear war and terrorism aren’t subjects too far off-base…

    I just read that we (the United States) are asking the UN to deal with Iran. Considering our actions one country over, is this not the least bit hypocritical?

    That’s part-statement, part-question…

  2. Whitney Says:

    The administration can’t win for losing, can they Al?

    All you libs were the one’s screaming to let the UN deal with Iraq. When they didn’t (and you can argue until you’re blue in the face that we didn’t give them a chance to deal with it, but that’s just not true), we did. If we had let the UN deal with it, I wonder what would’ve happened. Seems we haven’t had any terrorist attacks in the last few years…not on our soil anyway.

    So, now, the U.S. is saying, we go the diplomatic route first (via the UN)so that people won’t scream and holler about what bullies we are.

    If we said, “We’re going to take control and deal with Iran like we have Iraq,” you’d complain that we weren’t giving diplomatic relations (i.e., sanctions) a chance.

    I’m sorry, but the double standard is extremely irritating. Please don’t take it personally.

    Exactly how would YOU deal with this situation? Any better ideas?

    Also, this is the last comment I’ll have here, because it really is a waste of my typing fingers to talk about this any more. It doesn’t do me any good to get spun up about it. 🙂

    If Joe has time, I’d like to hear his take.

  3. Joe Longhorn Says:

    We aren’t going to strike Iran. No matter how dangerous the regime becomes, the US isn’t going to do a thing about them. This country doesn’t have the stomach for it. But there is another country that is nuclear armed and does have the stomach for it. As a matter of fact, they’re itching for a reason to strike Iran. Why? Because the regime in Iran has made no secret of the fact that one of their main goals is the obliteration of the Israeli state.

    Iran cannot abide the existence of Israel, therefore, Israel cannot abide a nuclear-armed Iran.

    The reason the U.S. is addressing this in the U.N instead of acting unilaterally is simply this: a nuclear exchange in the middle east is a global security issue. The U.S. is trying to make an important point that the international community needs to put significant diplomatic pressure on Iran NOW. Diplomatic measures such as sanctions only work when all of the major players are absolutely committed. A couple of bad players acting in their own short-term interest (e.g. the oil-for-food scandal) can render a major diplomatic effort completely ineffective.

  4. Michael Lasley Says:

    Okay, I’m confused. What did we not give the U.N. a chance to deal with, Whitney? That Iraq had WMDs? Because, ummm…, well, the U.N. may have had that one right. So there’s no point in arguing ’til blue in the face. And since Iraq had no relationship with Al Queda, I think it’s disingenuous to say that invading Iraq is the reason there have been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. I’m glad there haven’t been, but according to a whole host of experts, we’ve done nothing but strengthen Al Queda by invading Iraq. And, a question for Joe, how was Iraq not a Global issue? If they were developing WMDs, if they were not in bed with Osama (which, the 9/11 commission report made clear, Saddam and Osama didn’t even like each other much less work with each other), then why was this solely a U.S. problem? I don’t mean those as attacking questions, I just don’t see the distinction that the two of you see between Iran and Iraq.

  5. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Wow. I’ve learned the equation. Write politics, get comments.

    I’ll let Mikey & Joe (with Whitney if she wants to respond) hash out the good stuff.

    I’ll just respond to the WWAD question by saying that I’m in favor of the “following the rules instead of circumventing them” approach to governing. On the local, state, federal, and international level. I’ve felt that way all along.

    My question/comment came because it appears hypocritical from my vantage point for our administration to make use of a governing body whose authority we’ve ignored. Kind of like if I counseled a couple NOT to get married, then later they come to me for marriage counseling w/o apology. That would just seem the least bit hypocritical.

  6. Joe Longhorn Says:

    I don’t see the distinction between how we handled Iraq and how we are handling Iran. I don’t see the “hypocrisy” that Al does. We tried to handle Iraq through the U.N. just like we are doing now with Iran.

    I personally don’t think that Iran is that much less of a threat to the U.S than Iraq was three years ago. It’s just that the Tehran government has not demonstrated the outright defiance and animosity toward the U.S. that Saddam did. The Iranians are much more shrewd than that.

    In truth, the U.S. needed a fulcrum for change in the middle east as part of the global war on terror. Bring freedom to the middle east and stamp out violent extremism. That was the optimistic vision. That’s how Iraq was more vital to U.S. interests than Iran, or Syria, or Egypt, or Yemen, or Sudan or Saudi Arabia….

    Iraq was the easiest sell to the American public and the rest of the world.

    Now… Iran is making some real noise that has to be dealt with. Nukes in Iran are a no go. We’ve already made our play for fostering change in the middle east. We can’t go in and stomp around yet another country. We have to protect the investment in Iraq and hope that democracy takes hold and spreads. The only way to do that is to create a broadly supported diplomatic effort against Iran.

  7. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Okay, I’m in.

    Here’s the key it seems. Joe writes, “We tried to handle Iraq through the UN.” It is my understanding that international problems are the responsibility of the UN, not an individual nation.

    I don’t see the UN as a tool for us to use and then discard if it doesn’t work the way we want it, but rather as the governing body that has been given the authority by its members to deal with international problems. Which is why we would turn to it in regard to Iran. Which makes it hypocritical that we ignored its decisions in regard to Iraq. In fact, “illegal” in the definition of that word.

    It would sound much more appropriate to my understanding for “the UN to try to handle Iraq through us” than vice-versa.

  8. Michael Lasley Says:

    Also, I’ve yet to understand why Iraq was an immediate threat to the U.S. 3 years ago. What supported this theory? That they were tied to Al Queda? (Everything we knew then and now, as I said before, says they most definitely were not.) That they were developing the Bomb? The UN didn’t seem to think they were a huge threat, and since we’ve invaded, I can’t remember hearing anything to support claim that Saddam was about to attack the US or was actively supporting terrorists. I’ll give Al a Harumph for his understanding of who needs to use whom in the US and UN situation. We seem to want everything to go our way all the time. And we never oh never want to say, well, maybe we did a few things wrong.

    I know I’m not saying anything new here, and I hope I’m not just spouting off a bunch of liberal nonsense. I just haven’t ever heard an explanation about Iraq’s supposed military superpowerness. And my confusion grows when the spreading democracy aspect is thrown into the argument. I honestly don’t remember that being part of the reason for invading Iraq initially. Maybe it was.

  9. Joe Longhorn Says:

    Mike –

    Could Iraq have lobbed a missile loaded with WMDs at U.S. soil three years ago? Probably not.

    That doesn’t mean Iraq posed zero threat. Despite Mike’s assertions to the contrary, there is plenty of evidence that Saddam supported terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda. Check out this article and this article for some points of evidence regarding Saddam’s ties to terrorism and Al Qaeda. I think one of the telling points in the article is that Saddam Hussein was the only state leader openly to praise bin Laden’s attacks on the U.S.

    The Iraqi regime was a threat, but it also provided the aforementioned fulcrum for political change in the region.

    And Al… every nation in the U.N. acts at one time or another without full U.N. approval in matters of international relations and crises. Make no mistake about it, the U.N. is a tool for every country that is a member. Member states seek political “legitimacy” for their international actions through the U.N. Most are committed to their actions whether this “legitimacy” is granted or not.

    Or could it be that, rather than being hypocritical, the administration learned a lesson from the Iraq experience and is working more closely with our international “partners” this time around?

    By the way, Germany, Britian, and France have jumped on the bandwagon led by the U.S. in calling for U.N. security council involvement in the Iran situation.

  10. Al Sturgeon Says:

    I was thinking that Joe was up awfully early on the West Coast, but he’s on CST (Cuban Standard Time) now!

    Joe writes: “Or could it be that, rather than being hypocritical, the administration learned a lesson from the Iraq experience and is working more closely with our international “partners” this time around?”

    Could be… But I don’t recall that being the spin. Which is why it appears hypocritical instead.

    And I don’t doubt that many, if not all, of the UN member nations use it as a tool for their personal agendas in regard to international affairs. The “everybody else does it” defense doesn’t seem very high on the moral scale, however.

    Remembering a little history here, it was Wilson who came up with the very idea of a League of Nations, but America valued its independence too much and didn’t want to play with the other boys and girls after WWI. Then came Hitler & WWII. So we suddenly thought an international body to deal with international problems was the way to go. That Democrat Wilson may not have been so nutty after all! So we signed on to this sucker and even have all sorts of trump cards given our cool play toys. We just forgot to include in the charter that we are allowed to get our way no matter what everyone else thinks. When other nations try to use the UN as a tool and it fails, they have to suck it up. When it happens to us, our response is Who cares? We’re big enough, so we do what we want anyway. (This has happened during this administration with Republican control of both executive & legislative branches, the party with the Christian voter base?)

    We’re setting a crappy moral standard when it comes to international relations is what I’m saying. Saddam Hussein’s international crime was to ignore the UN. This was so horrible that we taught him not to ignore the UN by ignoring it ourselves. That’ll teach everyone how to deal with problems with a high moral standard.

    By the way, I think Whitney/Joe took my original comment the wrong way. I have absolutely no problem with the Bush administration urging the UN to deal with Iran. I would be standing and applauding if we were doing this following an apology on our part, but without that important apology, I can’t see how this is allowed to rise above hypocrisy.

  11. Joe Longhorn Says:

    Al,

    I didn’t make my point very well.

    Let me give it another shot: A country is going to take certain measures that it believes are necessary for its own security. The U.N. may or may not agree that such measures are in the international community’s interest.

    Should a sovereign country acquiesce to the U.N. in matters that involve its own security?

    Any member state in the U.N. would answer this question with a resoundng “NO.”

    The U.N. charter does not allow for pre-emptive strikes, but no member nation would ever abandon the option to conduct pre-emptive strikes in its own defense.

    That doesn’t stop nations from presenting the case for pre-emptive action before the U.N., even though they know the action will not be approved.

  12. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Joe writes: “The U.N. charter does not allow for pre-emptive strikes, but no member nation would ever abandon the option to conduct pre-emptive strikes in its own defense.”

    Does this make it right to do it?

    Mississippi law doesn’t allow me to do this to someone either, and my option to do so is inherent. Does this make breaking the law right?

    And I don’t think “pre-emptive strikes” and “defense” ought to be used in the same sentence (whoops, I just did it). On sports blog day, “pre-emptive strikes” is “offense” – score on them first. When they come at me, that’s “defense.”

    Bottom line: We should be a nation of our word. We sign a charter, we should follow it. Works that way for the citizens, should work that way for the government. We are a nation that (in the past) said, “The biggest and baddest don’t get their way simply because they’re biggest and baddest.” Our action in regard to Iraq – from my vantage point – has junked this fundamental concept.

  13. Michael Lasley Says:

    Joe, I only read the National Review piece, I’ll get to the other one later. Praising a terrorist attack because your crazy is not the same thing as giving money to them or letting them use your country as a training ground. And my assertion came from the 9/11 commission report, which was supposedly unbiased (unlike the NR), and they went to great lengths to say that Osama tried several times to get Saddam to do join forces with Al Queda. Saddam wouldn’t even talk to him (it did say that his number two man talked to him, but Saddam repeatedly refused to have anything to do with Al Queda). As the NR piece points out, they didn’t like each other. And the NR makes a good point that that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t work together. But then, most of what they piece together is theoretical. And, in light of the 9/11 report, wrong. He’s piecing together some logical pieces that if put together in the right way, *could* add up to something. But this was a speculative article.

    And the justification for war was based on Iraq’s being an immediate threat to the U.S., was it not? Which means they could lob something onto US soil, or were capable of and planning to send agents or terrorists to US soil. Were they? I don’t remember hearing the first thing about those plans. And, again, I don’t recall the fulcrum of democracy back in 2002. I’m not saying they didn’t say it, but I don’t remember it. And even if they did say it, is that justification for war? I mean that seriously. Maybe it is.

    I’m not against everything this administration does. I really try to think the best of Bush. And I’m not against using our military to protect our country. And I don’t think we need to withdraw from Iraq right now. But it does seem that several of our reasons for invading Iraq have been wrong, or at the very least questionable, and I think it’s a shame that the administration won’t even consider that possibility.

    Hope things are going well in Cuba, Joe. Keep well. And get back to the West Coast where life is oh-so relaxing.

  14. Joe Longhorn Says:

    Al,

    I wouldn’t say that preemption is necessarily scoring on them before they score on us. It can simply be the elimination of an imminent threat. If there’s a big gun pointed at you and a sworn enemy with his finger on the trigger, blow up the gun and eliminate the threat.

    Mike,

    At this point in time, it is very easy to look back at some of the intelligence used to justify Iraq as a threat and say that it was wrong. WMDs haven’t been found in large quantities. The ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda have not been firmly established.

    My favorite Rummy quote on this is that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” You could apply this to any situation, but it is particularly poignant in the case of pre-war intelligence, because everyone, including the French and Germans, “knew” that Saddam had stockpiles of chemical weapons and supported terrorism. That wasn’t in question. The question was how best to deal with it.

  15. Michael Lasley Says:

    That’s a good point, Joe. I think it easy to look back and critique decisions that were made three or four years ago. And I think it’s more or less pointless to simply critique if the point of the critique is to bring down the Bush administration. That isn’t my point at all. I do think it’s important, however, because of what we can learn from it. What can we learn from those mistakes that can help us bring peace in Iraq? To make our country safer? And to eliminate terrorists from harming anyone, not just Americans?

    That’s why I think this conversation is important, and it’s why I am growing more and more frustrated with our leaders. Liberals are frustrating because they seem more interested in simply bringing Bush down than solving anything. Bush is frustrating because he seems so dismissive of critiques and more interested in looking right all the time.

    The question that I don’t hear too often is what is it that we can do now to a) correct our mistakes, b) learn from them, and c) try to establish some sort of friendly relations with the rest of the world.

    One step is what started this particular thread — Al’s bringing up Iran. It seems that we have learned that maybe we did some things incorrectly. Initial reports seem to indicate that Iran is much more dangerous than Iraq was (at least, that’s my take on it — and, admittedly, that’s with hindsight on Iraq). I actually do think it would be important for the Bush administration to stand up and say that, hey, we learned something. Maybe we moved too soon on Iraq, let’s not make the same mistake here. That seems weak to many Americans, I think, but I actually think it would be the best move for Bush to make. Admitting failures isn’t a sign of weakness, in my opinion, it’s a sign of maturity and growth. I also think that it would help restore some trust in Bush and the way he thinks. If Americans don’t trust him, then you know the rest of the world doesn’t.

    I feel like I’m rambling. So, Joe and Al, since we’re talking to ourselves, how can we make this a productive conversation?

    And for Joe, since you know more about intelligence gathering than the rest of us, I assume, how can we trust the intelligence we receive. And by that I mean how can Americans trust the intelligence that Bush says we are receiving? The mistakes 4 years ago weren’t minor mistakes.

  16. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Oh sure, Mikey, now we’re going to try to have “productive” conversations. I never agreed to that sort of tripe.
    🙂

    I don’t really know where to start.

    I’d like to add that I’m not a defender of the Democrats in all this. I was EXTREMELY disappointed that the Democratic Party went along hook, line, and sinker with ignoring the UN’s power and going our own way. They are as much to blame in my book as the Republicans. My disgust is with all of them – President Bush just happens to be the leader, so he gets the name recognition.

    That the Republican Party purports to be the representative of American Christendom is my main beef. At least the Democrats don’t advertise themselves this way. If this action speaks for Christianity, then I’d like to point out my belief to the contrary. “Follow the rules” from Romans 13 seems to pertain to all governing authorities – including the United Nations.

    And speaking “outside” a discussion from the Christian values perspective, I still believe in the democratic principle of “rule by law.” Either way, I can’t see justification for the Iraqi invasion.

    I protest from both perspectives.

    I thought I understood the reasoning from the start. I was on email lists debating this at the time & seeking clarification. This is what I was told: We were convinced that Iraq was going to hurt us, so we wanted to take them out before they hurt us. That simple. That this was a novel concept to American foreign policy (not Japanese policy around December 1941) was dismissed with the explanation of “we live in a different world after 9/11.” That didn’t explain to me how this was justified either (a) by law, or (b) by a Christian/moral value system.

    Has there been some new value system outside of (a) democratic law, or (b) Christianity that has been developed that people are working from now? I’d like an explanation of it.

    Okay Mikey, I’m probably not helping a productive conversation develop. I’m sorry.

  17. Michael Lasley Says:

    I’m in agreement with you, Al, about the leadership from Reps and Dems. As well as with your understanding of why we went to war with Iraq. I think it is very productive to ask what value system we are making our decisions from. An explanation of that would help me, at least, understand more of the policy decisions the administration is making. It potentially shifts the conversation away from the name calling and one-upping and what have you. And it’s something that needs to be addressed very soon, as the Iran situation seems to be taking more really bad turns today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: