"With Us or Against
Warmonger's Arguments Abound in Fallacies
When one encounters something such as Mike
Marcel's Feb. 3rd letter denouncing those opposed to a
preemptive attack on Iraq as "unpatriotic" and possibly
guilty of "treason," it is hard to know whether one
should respond--and possibly lend an air of legitimacy to
patently ridiculous arguments--or let it pass without comment and
take the risk that someone will take such fallacies to heart.
Perhaps it is best to heed the words of poet John Milton: "Let truth and
falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in a
free and open encounter?" Therefore, I would like to address
some of the problems with Mr. Marcel's letter.
Marcel writes, "What makes these anti-war supporters
think that they have more information than the president of the
United States on which to base a decision about Iraq?"
Bush has been claiming for over a year to have evidence showing
Saddam Hussein is _____ (fill in blank for whatever Saddam's
crime-of-the-week is–supporting terror, building nukes,
bayoneting babies, etc.). Bush hasn't produced a single shred
of this "evidence." Why should we believe it exists?
Even if it does, Bush has not shared that information with
Congress and obtained a declaration of war, which is required by
the Constitution. The Founders placed the power of war in the
hands of Congress, not the President. It was not intended that a
president, like an absolute monarch in Europe, would have the
power to commit the country to war. Without such a declaration of
war, a pre-emptive attack on Iraq is unconstitutional. It's
just not Bush's decision to make.
Marcel continues, "All of these people who don't
support Bush are supporters of Saddam Hussein and are defending
his ideas of building weapons of mass destruction. From where I
come from, that is treason!" Let's take this
statement one phrase at a time:
"All of these people who don't support Bush are
supporters of Saddam Hussein..."
This is an example of the "false dilemma" fallacy,
where you are given only two choices, though other choices
actually exist. Marcel equates being "against" Bush
with being "for" Hussein (or, presumably, Osama bin
Laden–remember that guy?). Bush's "with us or
against us" rhetoric is an example of this fallacy. It is a
widespread, albeit childish, way of arguing. There are other
choices, such as opposing Bush's "pre-emptive
strike" doctrine, whereby any country in the world may be
attacked for any reason (or no reason), while at the same time
deploring Saddam Hussein's repressive regime in Iraq (and
other repressive regimes around the world, such as China, Cuba,
Zimbabwe, etc.). Opposition to an out-of-control dictator at home
does not imply support for out-of-control dictators abroad.
"...and are defending his ideas of building weapons of
Since when is there anything wrong with defending ideas? At
the beginning of his letter, Mr. Marcel defended the idea of free
speech. No matter, since there is no evidence that Hussein has
any "weapons of mass destruction" (a widely
misunderstood term). Nevertheless, why should Saddam either
disarm or refrain from arming himself with such weapons? Where
does the U.S. get the authority to decide which countries can and
cannot have such weapons? Why is it alright for the U.S. to have
them, but not Iraq? Israel has them. So does China, Pakistan,
India, Russia, France, and North Korea--which developed such
weapons precisely because they realised that the only way to
avoid the threat of a preemptive U.S. attack is to practise
"deterrence" through the possession of nuclear weapons.
Now that their strategy has been shown successful, other nations
will have an incentive to acquire such weapons to protect
themselves against U.S. aggression. 50 years ago, we were worried
about the Commies taking over the world, and today, the world is
worried about the U.S. taking over. Isn't life
"From where I come from, that is
Where exactly is Marcel from? Not the U.S., I infer, since the
U.S. Constitution clearly defines treason in Art.3, Section 3:
"Treason against the United States shall consist only in
levying war against them, or adhering to their enemies, giving
them aid and comfort." Note the plural forms: "levying
war against THEM" and "adhering to THEIR enemies."
The Founders were not referring to the federal (central)
government, but to the states. It is not
constitutionally-possible to commit treason against the federal
government. One can only commit treason by committing an act of
war against a state, or in aiding their enemies during wartime
(real aid, not mere sympathy). The anti-war protesters that so
irk Mr. Marcel are merely exercising their right to free
speech–hardly an act of war. And since there is no declared
war, there can be no "enemies" to which they could give
aid or comfort, even if they were so inclined.
Marcel is also confident that "the intelligence
analysts, inspectors and staff of our president will advise him
to the fullest extent to what the correct course of action should
Don't forget the oil company executives, defence
contractors, and other interests who stand to benefit financially
from a war.
It would be an unproductive waste of my time to debunk the
rest of Marcel's contentions, which are equally as silly as
those examined above, but I think I've gotten my point
across. Don't be fooled by fallacious "with us or
against us" arguments, don't put up with self-righteous
warmongers telling you that killing innocent people overseas is
OK because their leader is a bad man, and watch out for
appeals-to-authority. "Because George Bush said so" is
not a valid argument.
For the reader's convenience, here is Mr. Marcel's
letter from the Feb. 3, 2003 edition of The Crimson White newspaper,
reproduced in full:
Anti-War Supporters Are Unpatriotic [headline by
paper staff, not Mr. Marcel]
By Mike Marcel
February 03, 2003
I want to start off by saying that I respect the
fact that everyone in this country is entitled to his own
opinion. In fact, freedom of speech is a cornerstone on which
this great country is founded. I want to express the opinion that
I am sick and tired of hearing and seeing all of this junk about
not invading Iraq.
For those of you who have been in the military, you realize
that even battlefield commanders have numerous sources of
information they can use to make a decision. What makes these
anti-war supporters think that they have more information than
the president of the United States on which to base a decision
I'm sure President Bush is not watching CNN or any of
these other biased TV networks and basing his decision on merely
the facts they present, like these liberal anti-war supporters
The bottom line is this: President Bush was elected by this
country to lead this (so-called unified) nation and protect it
from harm. Not voting for Bush should not be an excuse for not
supporting your country. If it is, maybe you should find a
country where you get to make all the decisions no matter what
the rest of the country thinks!
All of these people who don't support Bush are supporters
of Saddam Hussein and are defending his ideas of building weapons
of mass destruction. From where I come from, that is treason!
I am not telling you how to think or what to believe. I am
merely reminding you that your loyalty should be to this country
and not to an evil leader who has shown evidence of wrongdoing in
every sense of the word.
I am confident that the intelligence analysts, inspectors and
staff of our president will advise him to the fullest extent to
what the correct course of action should be.
If you are walking around posting anti-war posters and
supporting Iraq and its arms programs, I want you to think about
this: How are you going to feel if there is a program in Iraq to
develop nuclear weapons and one is dropped on our country,
killing millions? Let's find out all of the facts before we
make our decisions and show some loyalty to our president and our
Mike Marcel is a
graduate student in the College of Engineering.
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