Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

As the US starts to spin up towards the war, the bloggers are starting to take positions. One of the things that Larry Lessig and I talked about a lot was the feeling that it was OK to talk about politics on blogs. Well, as thoughts turn to feelings and feelings turn to action, I think that we will start testing and stressing the little network of blogs we call a home. When I wrote about the Iranian round-up, I found some of my good friends disagreeing with me and even got email pointing out the irony of discussing US problems on a Japanese blog. Kuro5hin has an article bashing O'Keefe human shield. What's interesting is that just because we all agree on copyright, open standards and MetaWeblog API, it doesn't mean that we all have the same politics. I've generally been avoiding the topic of war and the peace movement and have been feeling VERY guilty that I haven't been writing more about Lisa Rein's activities in protesting the treatment of immigrants. I just sensed that it was a "hot" area and that I needed to prepare before going there…

Over the last few months I've heard arguments from some of the most persuasive pro-war advocates. My belief after hearing the arguments is that the war will probability be a long war with lots of stuff to do afterwards. (No clear opposition group in Iraq to rebuild Iraq after they oust Hussein.) If you consider the cost (human and financial) of what happens after the beginning of the war it's just not worth it. It looks to me like a re-election campaign for GW Bush causing America to make a very stupid decision which will cost the world money and grief. This is another Vietnam. I am against the war and anyone who is not should think carefully about the motives of the president of the United States and think step-by-step about what happens to freedom in the US after Total Information Awareness spins up and what happens in Iraq and the rest of the world after you have started the war. THINK ABOUT IT.


I had someone (and fairly well known blogger) leave me a nasty note - when I posted the statement: "it's time to talk sense into our country."

I was shocked. And then I realized that there was this type of blogging called "warblogging". So then I realized that I was a "peaceblogger".

Joi, you've probably already read it but James Fallows' piece "The Fifty-first State?" in the November Atlantic Monthly
is a great read on what we might be responsible for AFTER the war with Iraq is over.

Having a sign that says "No War" is like having a sign that says "No Crime." Nobody wants crime and nobody wants war. But when there's a criminal gang on the loose, you don't wave the sign at them. Please read Hitchens.

I just read an excellent New York Times article about criticism of the US and especially of the Bush administration that were conveyed to John Ashcroft at Davos.

It's a bit long but there's many good points made.. i hope you dont mind my re-posting it here as New York Times articles often go away after a week..

Bluntly, it articulates one thing that I and a lot of my friends are worrying about.. Why has the US suddenly become the policeman of the world, when we cant even police ourselves responsibly? With power comes the responsibility to act with restraint and understanding, and we are not, so far, really showing it.. (Time will tell..)

When survey after survey shows people as being more afraid of GW Bush than Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il, then I think we have a serious problem that we need to address before undertaking a war of dubious motives..

many people I know are convinced that this is a war for oil, plain and simple.. I disagree, but I must admit that some of the arguments and conspiracy theories are compelling..

That is not good..

Yes, it would be great if we could get rid of Saddam and Kim.. But I dont trust Bush II to be the one who can do it without bringing a lot of grief to this country....

Like you, Joi, I think it's all politics..a re-election campaign to draw our attention away from his slash-and-burn tactics here in the US and his terrible handling of the economy..

I saw a great bumper sticker recently..

IRAQ: Weapon of Mass Distraction

So here's the article..
___cut here__

The New York Times
January 25, 2003
Ashcroft Soaks Up a World of Complaints

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 24 — Attorney General John Ashcroft came here today to explain to the world's rich, powerful and just plain pushy the Bush administration's tactics in its campaign against terror. In the process, he faced a barrage of questions, not all of them from the usual suspects.

Paul Sagan, an American technology executive from Cambridge, Mass., for instance, told Mr. Ashcroft after lunch in an luxury hotel: "I'm concerned about the way Americans are perceived. Why do you think we are perceived as being not on the right side by a lot of the world? Often we are seen on the wrong side."

Earlier, at a meeting of the World Economic Forum — an annual gathering of some 2,000 business, political, religious and other leaders — Kumi Naidoo, head of an umbrella organization of civil rights groups, took Mr. Ashcroft to task over the way America has conducted its antiterror campaign since Sept. 11.

"We are seeing large levels of alienation across this planet from the war on terrorism," he said in one of several sharp exchanges with Mr. Ashcroft. "What we are saying is that certain fundamental tenets of democracy are being violated."

Kenneth Roth, who is the head of Human Rights Watch U.S.A, said America's "unwillingness to be bound by international standards has bred distrust and is harming the U.S.'s standing in the world and the war against terrorism."

At a separate session yesterday, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a professor at Princeton, said the central issue being debated in the world now was American power and the opposition to it.

Recalling that the World Economic Forum met last year in New York City in part out of sympathy following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Professor Slaughter added, "The agenda has shifted."

The response by American participants to the criticism today seemed to be that the Bush administration can live with dueling perceptions of the United States as both protector and persecutor.

"There may be many people who don't like the pre-eminence of America," said David Dreier, a Republican congressman from California, another participant. "But they do like Americans to be there" in times of crisis.

"The U.S. is essentially a provider of most of the building blocks of international peace and security," said Richard Haass, a State Department official. Or, as Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, added: "Nobody likes the big guy on the block. We are every country's problem and every country's solution."

As the United States prepares for possible war with Iraq, the challenge facing Mr. Ashcroft and other American officials is to counter the argument from critics in Europe and the Arab and Muslim world that the twin wars on terror and Iraq will create so much resentment that it will breed a new generation of anti-American terrorists.

While Mr. Ashcroft said that the American aim was to prevent acts of terror before they took place rather than prosecute the perpetrators afterward, Mahathir bin Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, turned to the attorney general across a stage and, in front of hundreds of participants, said, "To say you must do preventive actions irrespective of the causes is wrong."

The terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center "did it because they were incensed with something and we have to find out why they were incensed," Mr. Mahathir said. "We should try not to amplify the situation, anger them more and lead more people to join this group of people."

Mr. Ashcroft replied, "I am not prepared to say we have to give up values to appease the terrorist."

Critics from the United States, Europe and the Muslim world specifically challenged many of the Bush administration's antiterrorism measures, including its detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, its refusal to identify by name people detained in the United States and its decision to register foreigners from selected, mostly Muslim, nations.

It is, however, the looming possibility of war with Iraq that underpins a sense among some critics that Washington's overwhelming dominance as the world's only superpower has somehow lessened its standing in the world. "We expect more wise guy than big guy," said Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League.

This war is all about oil. It would be interesting to see what companies have already signed contracts with the United States government to "help rebuild" Iraq, to extract the oil, and who we plan on placing in government once the Bush Administrations war is over on the battlefield.

I'd also like to know exactly what buildings and businesses we bombed, and compare that to the ones we didn't bomb.

It's my understanding from in an interview with a BBC correspondent that the journalists have been told that they will be targeted.

I'm am well aware of United States government censorship, because I worked for the American Forces Radio and Television Service in Southeast Asia for two years.

yup, this thing about shooting at journalists comes from an interview on RTE radio in Ireland with Kate Aidie. I heard it myself. She didn't sound like she was joking either.

check the transcript.

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First of all, I am against war. And I do consider blogs to be communication tools, and by being so, Read More