Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently I've been getting email and comments in my blog pushing me to try to elaborate on my position on the war or to engage in the debate. I don't want to right now. I have several reasons.

1 - The War with Iraq is very important, but I have many things that are important to me and committing to taking a strong position and defending it would undermind my ability to cause a revolution in Japan, think about North Korea, run my business and try to understand democracy.

2 - Most of what can be said is being said. It reminds me of high school debate. We had hundreds of note cards supporting or debunking various positions. Debate was about choosing and presenting a variety of positions about certain points. Both teams had 99% of all of the arguments already worked out. It was just a matter of hashing things out. I read the war blogs and it seems like just recycling of the same information over and over again. I'm not interested in hearing about the war unless it is new information. Calling me names and pushing me harder will not change my position on the war. I also do not have much to add at this point. I don't have much first hand information and it would be reiterated arguments already made. I don't see the point.

3 - Most of the sources of information are not trustworthy and have a variety of complex agendas. The issue itself is VERY complex. I think that ANYONE who is completely convinced either way either has access to information that I do not have or is a fool. I do not take strong positions on issues where I don't know the facts for sure and where it is too complex to predict the outcome.

I have decided to be against the war after listening to a variety of people who I trust and who have thought about this a lot. I had the opportunity to meet Colin Powell at the World Economic Forum in a small group with the Global Leaders for Tomorrow two years ago. I developed a great deal of respect for him. His speech at Davos this year was the most convincing argument for the war that I've heard. All of the pro-war folks are not nearly as convincing and I've already heard the argument about the UN resolution from Powell so I don't need to hear it again and again. I've also spent time with a journalist who I respect very much who is also pro-war. He was also very convincing. I've talked to experts on foreign policy, university professors, bloggers and a variety of people who I trust. My feeling after hearing all of the arguments is that there is no obvious position. So, when in doubt, my position is, don't kill people. Also, I believe that the US one of the best democracies in the world and that we should all push the US to hold the link and maintain its integrity. Judges face cases where they KNOW the defendant is guilty, but throw it out due to technicalities. Rules are rules. First-strike, torture are bad no matter what the reason. Due process should be protected no matter what the reason. If you let these principles slip, you're losing what you're fighting for. I'm not going to go into any more specifics in this entry because for every argument, there is a counter-argument.

So my fear in taking the anti-war position is that we may be allowing another Hitler to happen. Having said that, Sadaam does not have nearly the support or the power the Hitler had so we still have time. We are allowing the bin Laden to unite the Arab/Islam world against the US with this war and strange bedfellows are united. This is dangerous. We are also pushing Sadaam to strike first. The cost of a long war on the global economy and the difficulty of "running Iraq" is immense and I dread the thought of a drawn out US occupation of Iraq. That's what's on my mind.

So my humble position is to let the inspectors continue, work through the UN, get the rest of the world on board with a "smoking gun" and talk to the rest of the Arab nations more for ideas about hot to unseat Sadaam.

PS If you are going to warblog spam my blog, please comment on this item if possible. I won't delete or censor war comments to other entries, but I think it's bad taste to turn EVERY discussion into a discussion about Iraq.

Frank Boosman's rather lucid arguments FOR the war.
Interesting cross-blog debate


I agree with you, Joi.

It is very complex, and people I respect feel both ways about the issue. It defies certitude.

Secondly, not everything has to be about the issue. I wrote a long, rambling peace in my own blog about something only tangentially related to the issue, but that fell within the war-with-Iraq gravity well and the comments on the piece have, unfortunately, become a mirror of the war debate, something I have been trying to avoid.

So, it's refreshing to have people like you say, it's both complex enough to be ambivalent about, and that they don't want to get sucked into it.

Joi, you need to stay focused on saving Japan for us.

Joi, thanks for the kind words about my arguments in favor of going to war. We have agreed to disagree about this, but as you well know, I have the utmost respect for your position (and for that of others opposed to the war). This an issue about which, as they say, persons of reason can disagree.

I have a question for you: presuming the US does invade and then occupy Iraq, what lessons -- if any -- should be drawn from the experience of occupying Japan after World War II? I am especially interested in your perspective on this given your interest and involvement in democratic reform in Japan. If you had five minutes to discuss post-invasion strategy in Iraq with Colin Powell, what would you say to him?

Thanks for the kind words everyone.

Frank. The Pentagon has asked a variety of Japan occupation experts to brief them on this issue actually. The Japanese consensus is that it is TOTALLY different. In Japan, you left the Emperor and he ordered, as the supreme leader for everyone to put down their arms. Everyone complied. Everyone was tired and happy to see the Americans with their dreams, a new constitution and everyone was ready to get to work rebuilding Japan. (I am over simplifying) But Japan liked American culture and were generally very open to being influenced.

I don't think this is the case in Iraq. There is no Emperor. 1/2 of the people are teenagers. They don't really like Americans or American culture as far as I can tell.

Anyway, I don't know the details, but it has been reported in the press and I have a friend of a friend who actually went to the Pentagon to tell them not to use Japan as an example. It appears that they might though.

This is one of the points that on my worry list.

Good points about there being no absolute certainty in the rightness of a position. Your criticism about plans for a post-Saddam Iraq are exactly the kind of dissent that is so helpful and makes democracy, with it's plurality of views and marketplace of opinions, the most effective form of government. Unfortunately, I didn't see much evidence of thought and reflection at this evening's demonstration. I wonder what those people will think if (when) Saddam's prisons are opened up and his weapons caches found and the people of Baghdad dance in the streets (Baghdad's reaction is uncertain, but other cities like Basara will certainly rejoice)? As for the possible fallacy of my own stance, I will feel horrible if (God forbid) the war drags on for months and thousands are killed, no weapons are launched or found, and the people of Iraq weep at the loss of their beloved leader.

Thanks for your constructive response John.

If they find the weapons cache. I will will rejoice. If/when the people of Baghdad, dance in the streets, I will weep. I look forward to being wrong about this. That's the real tragedy of this war. I don't KNOW what's going to happen. If everything happens as the say, I will be wrong and happy. If everything happens as I fear, I will be right and sad.

I just read that there may be another more serious reason why this administration is so desperate for war in Iraq - Petro Dollars. You can read the full anlaysis here. Sometime late in 2000, Iraq did something most of the arab nations thought was foolish by switching from petro-dollars to petro-Euros. At the time Euros were not that strong against dollars, since then the Euro has gained over 17% against the Dollar. The Dollar is being increasingly scrutinized for its potential instability. The idea goes, that we are going into Iraq to convert Iraqi oil back to Petro-dollars and to pre-empt the rest of Opec from following Iraq's lead.

Since the Dollar has been up to this point, used as the Worlds Reserve Currency, a conversion from petro-dollars to Euro's by OPEC, would mean a catastropic crash in the dollar of between 20-40%. If such a crash were to happen, the US economy would spiral into a massive deflationary depression.

I'm against war as much as anyone, but if this is the case, I can't help but feel at some gut level the unfortunate necessity to go to war just out of mere self-preservation. After reading this analysis, I'm left with a big hmmmmmm, I just don't how I feel about that war now.

Paul, I'm not an economist, so could you explain how a "catastrophic crash in the dollar of between 20-40%" would trigger a "massive deflationary depression"? If the dollar falls in value, that is a inflationary event. A deflationary event would be if the dollar were to rise in value.

I agree with you. It looks like its easier to be antiwar. Here in spain politicians from the oposition are using war against governmment, and they are poshing people to a single way of tinking. It looks like if you are not 100*100 antiwar ( and antigovern ) youre a fuk*** killer and an assasin. I only want to think about WHY is all this happening.

Greetings from Madrid:


Why is there so much opposition to ShrubCo on 'the war'? He himself, as well as his aging 'leadership' team, are the major issue for many, I suspect.

It's Bush's tactlessness and lack of honesty and morality in other areas. One thing after another. Which leads to a powerful skepticism of everthing he says or does, not just his war cries. Many people feel that he is often lying on the issues he raises to justify this war, even if occasionally he isn't. Even people who hate Saddam and all he stands for. I am one of those people.

After all, this is a man who lost the election as far as votes go, but who still managed to shoehorn himself into the whitehouse, contrary to the will of a majority of the American people.

Also, he is NOT a team player. His policies are inherently extremist and divisive. They do not reflect the values or desires of most Americans. And he is dishonest.

He tries to sell them by deceptive, increasingly transparent methods. People are getting smart to that.

So there are many who feel that these issues have created an ever-increasing justification to see much of what he does as illegitimate by default, hoping that he can overcome that with something good, just for the sake of our country, but always disappointed.

His track record on other important issues, to date, to be generous, is 'not so good'.

This is not 'Bush-bashing' it is fact.


Most major wars are about economics plain and simple.

Some are about ethnic or other conflicts but the biggest wars are generally about money and I believe this one was about the world's 3rd largest supply of oil which is in Iraq and which George W's friends wanted control of.

i'm opposing the war cause the yanks are the best terrorist in the world and they manipulate all the information on all aspects of life and control the media around the world to full us as idiots. what about cuba they imposed in the island an economic embargo for more 40 years to stop the growing of the example that cuba could be for the rest of sth. america,.they estopped in chile a legitimate government elected by the chilean people and masterminded a coup d' etait and imposed a plan called plan condor where thousand of people dissapeared, and also in argentina 30thousand people dissaperared and uruguay as well where another thousand people were killed.
so you have to be very naive to believe the policies of the yanks who goes on aventure based on lies like vietnam where they went to war based on lies, the same to invade irak the lied and will continuos on the same atrocities committed by them. Remembered panama invasion also based on lies they only wanted to retain the control of panama canal and the put a puppet in the government, remember the 1/2 million people killed in jakarta, also ajob of the yanks and so on. they are the most andemocratic force in the world, they are ruled by a military technocracy,which is the pentagon and there is where all the malaise and wars in this word are cooked

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Against war? from Jonathon Delacour
February 16, 2003 8:31 PM

Natsuko called this morning to ask if I'd reconsider my decision not to attend the anti-war march. "You should come," she said, "everybody should be against war. The more the merrier." "I'm not against war," I replied. "I'm against unilateral military ... Read More

Against war? from Jonathon Delacour
February 17, 2003 6:54 PM

Natsuko called this morning to ask if I'd reconsider my decision not to attend the anti-war march.

"You should come," she said, "everybody should b...

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Joi Ito has posted an entry on warblogging. He has decided not to get involved at this time, with good reasons: The War with Iraq is very important, but I have many things that are important to me and committing... Read More

Joi Ito has posted an entry on warblogging. He has decided not to get involved at this time, with good reasons: The War with Iraq is very important, but I have many things that are important to me and committing... Read More

Joi Ito has posted an entry on warblogging. He has decided not to get involved at this time, with good reasons: The War with Iraq is very important, but I have many things that are important to me and committing... Read More