Soapbox February, 2003




A letter from Charlie on domestic and world events, February, 2003

A lot of you have been writing in and asking when I was going to "climb on my soapbox" and express my feelings about the possibility of war and how that affects us here in America and overseas, so I have.

As always, I welcome your thoughts whether you agree with me or not.

I welcome you to write in response to what I have said and we will include some of them on the website. We won't use any personally identifiable information other than your first name and where you are from. So here we go. . .

In the Middle Ages people believed that the planets revolved around each other on disks. When God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world, these disks would gently rub against each other and produce a harmonious sound that was described as The Music of the Spheres. When the affairs of Man fell into disarray this music turned discordant and "Bad Things" happened here on earth. The worst kind of discord was caused by "unnatural" acts, deeds that flew in the face of The Natural Order Of Things...e.g. the killing or deposition of the King. Many felt that Henry Bolingbroke's usurpation of the throne of England from Richard II, signaled the start of the long and bloody War of the Roses that plunged England into anarchy and Civil War. Such treachery upsets the Music of the Spheres.

I don't know about you, but I have felt for a long time now that the Spheres are cacophonous with discord these days. From the minute a certain person took the throne here (or at least the mantle of Chief Executive) despite losing the popular vote by half a million, things have gone to Hell in a hand basket! Surely the most nonpartisan hermit would have to agree that this Administration has been nothing short of a disaster -- of epic proportions. Domestic policy is in tatters with Clinton's trillion dollar surplus drowning in red Ink: millions unemployed: health benefits cut: basic freedoms ignored: savaging of environmental protections and loosening of controls on Industry that have thrown our balanced ecosystem into a nose dive, from which it may never recover: Tax cuts that continue to divide the "haves" and "have nots" on either side of a chasm wider than has ever been seen in this society: cuts in education: criminal collusion with Energy company conspiracies to defraud states and customers: tax break handouts to the top 5% and harsher treatment to those on welfare ...the list is as long as it is embarrassing.

If Domestically we are looking somewhat shaky, our foreign policy is on the verge of downright collapse. In less than two years we have gone from being the object of the world's sympathy and support to being the number one pariah. As a result of a bull-headed obsession with a son's revenge for his father's nemesis and a renewed sense of Manifest Destiny, The United States has become the target for widespread International scorn and distrust. Never before has our relationship to Europe been so strained, never before has our arrogance and high-handedness brought the world so close to catastrophe. It is somewhat ironic that these same people, who distracted the last President and the country away from Al Quaeda and the threats emanating from Iraq with meaningless and irrelevant gadflies like Monica and Whitewater, are now using some of those same kind of issues to distract us from the truly awesome threat erupting out of North Korea. You think Sadam is trouble? Boy, are you in for a nasty surprise! This archaic notion that we can force the world to behave the way we wish it to is not only sadly immature, but dangerously misguided.

This country, like a singularity, exploded, fully formed, out of a noble idea and political experiment in autonomous self-determination. It proclaimed itself a beacon of freedom and compassion for the oppressed. It never shrunk from a responsibility to preserve and empower those rights enshrined in its Constitution. Yes, there were times when it hurt, times when it nearly rent the country apart. There were times when the struggle to do the right thing seemed to exact too high a price, but America, the idea, never lost sight of its promise to the world.

Now, we stand at a crossroad, probably as significant a crossroad as we have ever encountered. This Administration would have us continue headlong along the road they have mapped out for us. A road pitted with religious intolerance, financial inequity, isolated paranoia, Orwellian oversight and elitist cronyism. Despite the slimmest, if not nonexistent, mandate, it has always been "my way or the Highway" with this Government. When opposition to any of its avowed intents has surfaced, an Executive Order has been lobbed like a hand-grenade to blow away any debate. The "Fox in the Henhouse " policy has been used to maximum effect in both Cabinet posts, as well as the judiciary. I would say it is as if the inmates were running the asylum, but, unfortunately, these guys are not crazy. It is, nevertheless, a serious and dangerous situation.

War on Iraq would be a terrible mistake. The one person who stands to gain most from such a scenario is Osama Bin Laden. Our restrained reaction to 9/11 robbed him of the chance to ignite a pan-Arab Jihad against the Judaeo-Christian Crusader. By contrast, the sight of an American General sitting in the seat of Government in Bagdhad will be a red rag to the Islamic bull and all Hell will break loose. We will isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and feel the distinct chill of an international "outsider." It will be costly in terms of human suffering on both sides. Sadam's weapons are not as threatening as many other nations (especially North Korea). And finally, a conquering American presence in that part of the world will upset the delicate balance of power for ever and we will never be able to withdraw, save in the same embarrassing and shameful way we pulled out of Saigon.

The argument that 9/11 changed the world is true only in that it served notice to our general population that we live in a complicated and dangerous place. There are people and countries that would do us harm-but that has always been the case. We have never been slow to wreak horrible vengeance on those that harm us and that is our right of self-defense and should always be so. The question now is: at what point does the self-protector become the bully? Do we flex our muscles and promise a "whipping" to any who might challenge us or question our way of life? Or do we stay true to those blood-soaked ideals that gave us birth? Do we, once again, seize the moral high-ground and by example, show the world that compassion, justice, equality, patience and debate are the ONLY choices a civilized Nation can make?

I believe we must listen to others if we are to hear an accurate assessment of ourselves, I believe we must learn that humility is not the same as weakness. I believe that the Universe as well as the rest of the world is putting us on notice and we must tread, oh, so wisely right now if we are ever to hear the sweet Music of the Spheres again.

God Bless us one and all,
Charlie

An addendum from Charlie

Just a few more thoughts on the Eve of War.

Given that Saddam is a monster, feared and hated by the vast majority of his countrymen (otherwise, why a "war of Liberation") and given this country's past experience and success with fomenting revolution and regime-change in foreign countries (Chile, Guatemala etc.) could we not have done the same in Iraq for a lesser price-tag than all-out-war?

Can we please decide BEFORE we invade whether this is a "war of Liberation," an unendorsed enforcement of UN resolution 1441 or part of the ongoing "war on terror?" I think it important that the Commander in Chief at least makes it clear to his troops what he is putting them in harm's way for! (and while I'm at it, might I add a couple of alternative motives? An Imperialist land-grab ( or oil-grab,) unfinished business from '91 or an expensive " Wag the Dog" to distract from mounting problems with a flawed domestic agenda?

Going back to what I said about National Sovereignty: every country has a right to defend itself. We now know that Iran, Iraq's natural and mortal enemy, is well into a "fast-track" nuclear weapons program. Given that Saddam has NEVER attacked this country and would have nothing to gain by doing so! That's right, a world-wide Islamic Jihad is the last thing this decadent, secular despot wants!! Given all that , can we really expect him to leave himself vulnerable to a pre-emptive strike from just across his border? And is it fair to ask him? Look, the Pandora?s Box is wide open and the mischief is everywhere. It is far too late to try to stuff it back in. We live in a world where weapons of mass destruction already proliferate; Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea, South Africa, the UK, France etc. etc. already have them and Iran is close behind. I am nervous that any of these have nuclear capability, although ONLY the USA has both used nuclear weapons against it's enemies, and only USA continues to threaten such use. The only chance the world has of avoiding the use of such weapons is a return to the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction that kept the peace through the Cold War. Only this time it must apply to ALL the Nations in the world. As long as EVERYONE has them, there is a chance no one will want to use them. Only when the aggressor can feel immune to nuclear retaliation can he threaten a nuclear attack. But what about the terrorist? What about the individual who has no Nation to be concerned about, who is engaged in a war between ideas and not territory? Believe me, Al Quaeda does not have to wait for Saddam to open shop in the WMD marketplace, there are plenty of willing merchants already able and willing to do business with anyone with the cash. So it seems we have come to a point in our civilization when the horror of mass conflagration and destruction is at the fingertips of everyone with a grievance or gripe. Perhaps we have finally "uninvented" war! The only way forward is to take away the reasons for enmity and distrust. Our survival depends now on the balancing of wealth, opportunity and living conditions around the planet. Diplomacy, trade, respect, and education are the weapons of this new world order. Exploitation and imperialism of ANY color will protract resentment, anger and hostility: in this post nuclear age, with WMD's two-a-penny, the consequences of such short-sightedness are unimaginable. By invading Iraq, we might have kept the nuclear option out of the hands of one tyrant, but are we seriously going to consider invading North Korea or Iran next?

Whatever the case: in a short while over 250,000 US and British troops will be putting their lives on the line. I want to make this abundantly clear. My criticism of this war has nothing whatsoever to do with those men and women who are doing the fighting for us. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for their sacrifice, their courage and their professionalism. I know that they will take no relish from having to kill Iraqis, military or civilian, nor from being shot at themselves. I wish them all a safe return to their loved ones.

That does not preclude any of us from disagreeing wholeheartedly with the politicians who set this chain of events in motion. No one doubts that the Generals and politicians who unleashed the horrors of the First World War acted recklessly and shamefully, yet no one questions the valor and sacrifice of the millions who were butchered as a result of this folly. Many of those who prosecuted the War in Vietnam have since come to see how erroneous it was. Were it not for the Peace Protesters during the sixties and seventies, we might still be mired in that protracted bloodbath. So let's put an end to this ridiculous notion that, in some way, those who protest the War are undermining our troops.

Patriotism has nothing to do with War and everything to do with loving one's country.

Is this doctrine of Pax Americana any different from that of Pax Romana, a doctrine of manifest destiny that eventually unraveled the Roman Empire and left the once -great -promise to the world a smoldering pile of ruins picked over by barbarians and Goths!!

Finally a note to those who feel outraged that "celebrities" are voicing their opinions. A question: if the man who was arrested a few weeks ago in a shopping mall in Massachusetts for wearing a "Peace" T-Shirt had been a TV Star, would his arrest have been more or less justified?


6 march, 2003 An addendum from Charlie

WOW!!! I am so excited that this column has inspired such vigorous and opinionated debate! I am even more excited that those who disagree with me, (and some of you REALLY do!!! ) have felt comfortable enough to post their thoughts too. Thank You! This is what this country is about: and for too long there has been an apathy and disconnect between citizens, and what they feel about what is being done in their name. I have been reading a weighty tome on the years leading up to the Civil War, and I was amazed at the passions and debate that engulfed citizens from every walk of life and of every socio-economic group. The man in the street was just as fired up as the professional "Talking Heads." I know many of you hold reservations as to whether an Actor's Website is the correct place to hold these debates and express these opinions, but, you know what?.... if not here, where? and if not me, then who?

OK, that said, there are a couple of things that I want to clear up. Some of you seem to have misunderstood some pretty important positions I hold, and should express a little more clearly. First: be in no doubt that I consider Saddam Hussein a member of the same tyrannical, Dictator's Club that boasts Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and all those other embodiments of Evil as alumni. I think anyone who put an end to his barbaric, unconscionable ways would be doing the world a huge service. He has subjected his people to unspeakable deprivation and misery, and has no limit to his ego and ambition.

Second: as a lawyer I found International Law extremely interesting and no doctrine more controversial and challenging than that of national Sovereignty. This states that every country has the Sovereignty to carry out its affairs as it wishes. Clearly, as we have seen in pre-war Germany and in the Balkan states and in parts of Africa (to name but a few) this doctrine is often incompatible with the Doctrine of Basic Human Rights. The way round it is to say that only when a majority of impartial countries agree that a line has been crossed ,and that the Laws of the International Community are in jeopardy can the International Community act to contain the transgressor and disregard, or at least, over - rule the offending county's National Sovereignty.

Third: I would like to distinguish what we have in Iraq with what occurred in Nazi Germany. The Nazis were rounding up, and transporting Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, Homosexuals and Jews since around 1935. The International Community knew about this and chose to do nothing. At that time there was no United Nations, there was no machinery to impose sanctions and isolate a country for its crimes, there was no legitimate method of intervention in another country's business or limit to its National Sovereignty. War would have been the ONLY option then to stop Hitler's horrendous acts. No one was willing to take that step until he invaded Poland, another Sovereign Nation, to whom the British had bound themselves by treaty.

OK, just wanted to get those things straight. Now, please continue to let me have it!!!

Here is what you had to say. These are your opinions, that you have written in, as a reaction to what I have written above. I encourage you to use this forum to have your voices heard. . . .

From Dale in Tennessee - I give up . . .

The grandchild who told me about this web site has correctly told me that I am too old to get involved in this type of thing and that she is sorry she told me about it. I have been reminded that letting people that I don't even know make me cry because I think they don't understand me is ridiculous. She's right. I refuse to shed any more tears over what I consider to be your misunderstanding of what I said versus what someone else said. This is my first and last attempt to participate in an internet chat room or bulletin board or whatever this is. I apparently am not thick skinned enough. Good bye


From Jamie in Texas - To Dale from Tennessee . . .

I don't see what you are referring to about being misquoted. When I read your posting, it seemed perfectly obvious to me, that you had been forwarded an email with a file (which I went and listened to) and that the file you were referring to was from the forwarded email. I'm guessing that the part in parentheses that said: (NOTE: the file attachment that Dale refers to can be found at this URL address: http://www.wlsam.com/showdj.asp?DJID=1574) was written by the webmaster of Mr. Shaughnessy's site.

It was also perfectly obvious that the first 3 paragraphs, except for the part about where to find the file, were written by you and the second two were from the forwarded email. But if you disagreed with what the person who forwarded you the email said, you certainly didn't indicate that from anything that I could see.

The last part of your posting said "If anyone knows how to reach (short of a lobotomy) those ignorant entertainers, and others who oppose the action to weed out Suddam and his brutal regime, and to check there for the probability of chemical and biological stashes, please send them this! ?Please. ?No, better yet ... play it for them, as they may not be able to read."

It looks like you then sent it to Mr. Shaughnessy, who is an entertainer, asking him to listen to the file, along with telling him that you no longer wanted to see anything that he was in, but there was no disclaimer that you felt any differently than what the words in that paragraph above, that was forwarded to you, that you then sent on to him to go up on the soapbox, said.

So how is that misquoting you?


From Dale in Tennessee - Jamie in Texas and Charles in California . . .

I am appalled that I have been misquoted. As I am sure that Charles Shaughnessy is well aware, I forwarded him an email that I was sent along with a 2 paragraph comment of my own. I would never suggest that anyone get a lobotomy. The liberal press often misquotes people so I guess I should have expected this to happen. The first 2 paragraphs are mine, the last 2 are not. That was very obvious in the email that I forwarded. Let's see if this retraction gets printed.


From Dominique in Germany - Soapbox - About this war . . .

Dear Charlie and friends.

I wasn't going to speak up since I had already posted twice but with the recent developments regarding the war in Iraq and reading some of the comments posted on this site, I felt I had to.

First of all let me say a few words about Dale's comment. As Jamie, Charles and others on this forum pointed out so very well - we have the freedom of the speech and everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is one thing to disagree and explain how you feel, it is, however, another thing to attack people you don't even know personally just because you feel they don't do the 'right' thing (the way you want them to be). It truly shocked me to read Dale's words on the soapbox but I also am aware that no matter where I go, there will always be people who will go further than just to'disagree'. To see what people would do to cause other people 'pain' is truly troubling and sets me thinking. Sometimes, as hard as it may seem, you need to understand that thinking goes before writing. Trust me, I am speaking from personal experience. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you know that words just 'slip out somehow' and you feel awful but you can't take them back. Or can you? It's ok, we are all human and we forgive, not all but most of us certainly do. They know we all have our faults, good and bad days. There's a saying we use in Germany that goes by 'do as you would be done by' (don't do things that might hurt others cause you know you wouldn't want them to do the same to you?). It upsets us when we find out that the person we sort of identified ourselves with has an opinion different from ours, or let it be just a friend, a relative who confronts you with a situation you don't know how to handle. It's hard to accept it, very hard sometimes, but, in my humble opinion it just proves how much of a mature person you are if you are able to accept things the way they are. Keep in mind that we, unlike other countries we've just 'invaded', are in democratic state, not a dictatorship and we are allowed to speak our mind and will not get our heads cut off..so for doing so - that leaves us plenty of space to vent?to a certain extent that is.

I, too, was surprised to see Charlie put Dale's post on this forum but he's been doing this with other posts, too and I would have been surprised if he hadn't. It only shows that he has way more decency than some of us may think. He is, just like Jamie said, a fair man and seems to weigh up the pros and cons (at least that's what I got from reading his posts ? correct me if I'm wrong), likes to read what we think, worldwide. While I know that I am told be a very tolerant person I know I would have hesitated to put some of the comments that he received on the forum, for everyone's sake but then again the 'hot' stuff made a very good discussion among people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. So thank you, Charlie, for making them available.

As where anti-US German 'activities' re the war in Iraq is concerned, I can confirm what Liane, fellow German, keeps saying. No-one ever said it would be easy, we knew that the war would affect us all, more or less, thinking of the families with family members sent to war, unwanted casualties, anger among the countries. Some people it seems, though, must have believed that those of us being anti-war supported the Saddam regime which is not true (as said in various online resources, papers, on TV). I can't talk for others but let me tell you how I felt. I hated the idea of a war from the very beginning but I knew that the Saddam regime had to be stopped to put an end to all the 'pain' he had caused to his own people over the years as an Iraqi leader. Looking back, I know I felt it could have been done a more 'humane' way than to throw bombs on Iraq and kill thousands but innocent people in the process, in this 'war of liberation'. I hated the fact that neither one of us ever really found out the truth about certain matters, such as the real number of vicitims in this war. They speculate that the number is up to 1,174 but it may be higher. General major Stanley McCrystal said that 80,000 bombs were used in this war and they must have killed thousands if not ten thousands on both sides. But as General Tommy Franks said at the beginning of this war 'We don't do body counts'

Now that the Saddam regime is supposedly over, I am truly happy for the Iraqi people and wish them all the best for their future life, in a democracy. With the war, however, still going on and more anti-war demonstrations planned for Germany, I think that what most of us here want to bring across is that we don't want to see any more harm done, we'd like to solve this in a peaceful way ? whether this is possible, I don't know but that's what most people I talked to thought. I remember watching a documentary on German TV a couple of weeks ago, where they showed Israeli children on their way to school wearing gas masks and atropine. When I grabbed a copy of the 'Stern' at about that time and flipped through the pages, I came across a picture of a young girl with torn feet. With all that pain not being bad enough, I'm thinking of another negative 'side effect', the way Americans felt with their 'country' being hated. I have a good friend in Texas who sent me an Instant Message on AOL the other day while talking to my colleague at work which said 'I just wanted to say hello from the world's most hated country'. It saddened me and I hated to see my friend go through that but there was no way for me to explain and make her feel better cause she had already left and I haven't had a chance to talk to her since.

Another thing I would like to draw your attention to is the way the US were with their own people as were the freedom of the press is concerned. There is a line in the 'Westside Story' , it's 'Ev'rything free in America. For a small fee in America!'. With America labeled as the 'land of the free', the freedom seems to stop right there. As an example. . .young Americans sent letters, emails to German news magazines asking them to make the pictures, letters available to the public, quote 'cause they would never publish anything like this in the USA' leaving the population in the dark about certain things in this war. Some people on this forum said that our governments should protect the country WE live in and then, if at all, help the people in need. I agree, there's so much to be done for the people but I also think that we need to be there for others and risk getting kicked by others at each and every end and most of all be open for new things and don't hide behind 'books of old traditions' that seem to run very well for us but could be improved if we seriously considered changing them. Sometimes I believe we 'normal people' would be better politicians than any of the Bushs, Schroeders, Blairs. . . They seek a better life for their people but most of all they seek a healthy political environment, good political relations..they make decisions that are supposed to make our lives better but those decisions often turn out to cause more pain and trouble than intended, as brought up on this board. We can't go on pretending everything is well where we know it isn't no matter where you are but politicians spend millions on 'political matters' where education, end unemployment, feed the poor would be so much more important than fighting about the pros and cons of whether a minister should be allowed to get his own private plane for a private trip and even use political accounts for private matters which is even worse.

So, that said, I'm hoping that we can put an end to this war very soon. Now let me ask you. . .What do you personally feel could be done in order to build up a democratic Iraq and how do you think this could affect the Iraqi people, the other Arabic states, Europe, the US, Australia and other countries? Would love to hear what other people think. Thank you very much for listening.


From Dimphy in Holland - another soapbox respond...I guess . . .

So...the war is over...or is it? I must admit that for the last couple of days it hasn't been troubling my mind as much as it did before. Probably because I'm just too busy with all kinds of stuff, but today it crossed my mind again. I'm studying to become a teacher and today I was a guest-teacher in the 6th grade, just to find out how things work there etc. They had this special newsstand, build up with all kinds of articles about Iraq and the US and the war and everything. The teacher gave me the opportunity to run the class for like an hour (which was really cool, btw) and I thought it would be cool to start a discussion about the war: Is it justified or not?

It was just beautiful to see 11/12 year-olds talking and thinking about a subject like this and they came up with some really good arguments about why it's justified or why it's not justified. It makes me happy to see that the Iraqi-people are truly happy that Saddam is no longer in charge. I just feel sorry for the chaos they're in right now. I'm sure of the fact that this war has been a good thing, on the other hand it makes me wonder: what's next? I guess I'll talk about that with my students, the next time I'm there. As for now: God bless us all, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen!


From Liane in Germany - Comment . . .

Dear Mr .Shaughnessy

First of all I would like to make a comment on Dale from Tennnessee. I wonder in what state of paranoia this person must be in, to write something so nasty! Of course persons like Dale will now say ?told you so Bush was in the right? but be assured only Bagdad and Basra are fully occupied. I am more afraid than before ,because if Saddam is still alive he will retalliate in a terrible way, or he has supplied many of the anti American terror groups with his arsenal which could be weapons of mass destruction.Incidentally where are these weapons for which all this bloodsheddding was started? Another thing Dale lives in the snug South of the USA and doesn`t or didn?t hear the B-52 Bombers flying over like we do here in Germany and they aren?t always empty!!. Mr Shaughnessy I admire your ?fairplay? ( a very British virtue ! )that you even bothered to spare space for such comment which is nasty and goes under the decency line.

On Tuesday 8th April Sir Peter Ustinov was on a talk show here in Germany and here are some of the things he said which I think speaks for a great number of people. First he said he was ashamed of Blair ,then he said that he doesn?t know what to believe any more as there is so much propaganda from both the Alliance partners, in fact he said comparing to what is going on ,Goebbels (the Nazi propaganda minister)was a new born baby!! Finally, he said that Bush with his ?holy army ?is starting an epoche of colonialism again. We all now know what results that brought to those countries. (India,.Indonesia and African countries).

On this show also was an old Middle East expert named Peter Scholl-Latour who now is aged 80 years but is still active and was in Bagdad just before the overunning of Iraq began, and he says that one thing Bush has managed to do. is to get an unified Arab World which could mean there will be a super Intifada! No Arab country wants the US on their territory, because through past expierences the only interests Bush & Co. have, are business interests and don?t really care for the citizens. Other countries are left to do this. e.g. the UN will be good enough to repair the physical and most of all the psychological damage that has been done.

I do hope that those soldiers out there will get help and support from their fellow citizens when they return home . We here see them on TV how traumatised these boys are! I don?t think these pictures are broadcast in the US! Incidentally one French journalist said on TV after Bagdad was taken in ?up until now, we had Irqai minders, now we have US miliatary telling us what we can send?. So much for freedom of speech!! Peace for all of us.


From Ulrike in Germany - Don't believe everything . . .

I have read all the comments made in this forum, and it's particularly interesting for me to read the texts of those people who agree with Bush or at least think they can see "no other way but war". Not all but most of them have one particular argument in common: those people really seem to think this war has been started to liberate the Iraqi people, to help them get rid of a cruel tyrant who rules their country. They think the Bush administration does all this to HELP another people!

When I read this, I asked myself how naive a person can be. Believe me: welfare for other nations is the last thing on the minds of Bush and his allies! No war in the history of this world has ever been waged for welfare, and this one is no exception. The reasons behind this war are absolutely selfish. I think there is not THE one reason for it, but sure Iraq's oil is one, another one is that the Bush administration wants to distract the public eye from major domestic problems by turning the whole attention to a "foreign problem". And this war also helps them to improve the domestic situation to some extend: when you're at war, it is normally very good for your economy, because you can produce new weapons, tanks, munition, anything you need to wage a war. And don't forget that the media industry does also profit from this whole situation. The audience ratings must have increased dramatically, especially concerning the news and any documentary or discussion show that deals with the war. People want to be informed, of course. But think of this: the TV stations are dependent on as updated and detailed news as possible, because that's what the audience wants to see. And who decides which stations get access to the newest material and information? - The Bush administration. They are those who hold the information and distribute it the way they want. It is perfectly comprehensible that they favour those stations who make reports in favour of them, who give a picture of this war that is as positive as possible. Those are the simple laws of business.

So what I want to tell the people in the U.S., especially those who are not against this war: don't believe everything you see on the news! Don't take what you see there as the whole truth! You see people in Iraq who welcome the American troops, who are happy that they don't have to live under Saddam's regime any more, who feel liberated. This is what they show you. But have you also seen and heard interviews with all the worried and fearful Iraqi people, who feel confused and are not sure if this change in their country will be for their own good? Who think that living in a country ruled by the Americans (or a government appointed by the U.S.) won't be any more what they want than living under Saddam's regime? To be honest, I share their concern. This war was not for the poor Iraqi people, the peace that comes afterwards won't be either. Just as it has been in Afghanistan, where there is a government now that is accepted by the U.S. (because Karsai was chosen by them and brought to power by bribing many Afghan clan leaders at and before the election assembly), but not by the majority of the Afghan people. There has already been one attempt to kill Karsai, I'm sure it won't have been the last one. Afghanistan is still far from peace and stability. I see a similar future for Iraq.


From David in France - Precisions . . .

As I re-read my different posts, I realize they might sound a way I don't want them to.

First of all, I am absolutely against Saddam Hussein. I think he's a bloodthirsty dictator that did terrible things to his own people. He's a megalomaniac mad man, and should absolutely be "set aside". What I am concerned about now, is not the fact that the Anglo-American coalition is on the way to victory. Of course I wished they would be victorious once the war was started.

There are several concerns that popped up to my mind: - the Humanitarian condition of Iraq is dreadful: hospitals are full of injured people who, due to the lack of medicine, sometimes remain without a proper treatment for days, or are being operated without anaesthesia, (and I don't even want to talk about the essential needs such as food or water)The Red Cross and the other Humanitarian supplies cannot access the center of Iraq because the roads are not secure yet, and because of the general havoc the cities are in right now. - Iraq is a tribal country. When many people are relieved that Saddam has been defeated and acclaim the American troops in Baghdad, what's going to become of them once the American troops are gone? Yes, of course, they will remain there for a while, but setting a real democracy will be a really hard task in a country that has never, once in its existence, known a democratic government. Among the Iraqi opponents, who will take the leadership and be strong and faithful enough to his country not to turn into another Saddam? And that is to speak of a few, only.

Things were much different in Afghanistan, before the war against Russia and the obscurantism set by the Taliban, there used to be a king and the country had known a totally different way of living. So when the Taliban were defeated, Hamid Karzai rose and took the reins of the power in his own country. Yes, the American government helped, and is still helping, but back then, their attack on Afghanistan was entirely legitimate, and the entire world supported it. It is not the case in Iraq. Nobody can actually raise from the ashes of the country, and be the strong leader Hamid Karzai is to his country. I heard Dick Cheney say that the UN didn't have the power to get a central role in the reconstruction of Iraq. Once again I smiled bitterly. Who exactly is Dick Cheney? What kind of interest does he serve? Those of Iraq or his own?... No wonder he doesn't want the UN to stick their nose into the reconstruction of Iraq.

Oh yes, it's true, the Iraqi people have indeed been liberated from a truly evil dictator (and I'm not being ironic there), but what are they headed for now?... Some posts here attest that many American people are convinced that when they're right to protect their country by attacking Iraq, they should stop helping other countries. Have you ever wondered why so many countries in the world were against that war?... Do you think that almost the entire world has been infiltrated by evil and voluntarily wants to cross the American will of setting the Pax Americana over the world?... No. Like I said in one post, the world is not a desert street with the good guy and the bad guy fighting for the lady's honor. The world is not black or white, the world is grey, with its nice things and its bad things, and one has to accept that. Hans Blix was bitterly saying that he hoped the $ 65 billions the war is going to cost Mr. Bush, is at least going to bring results about massive destruction weapons, in balance to the $ 65 millions the UN inspections cost. In his opinion, and to many people, that war was decided very long ago, even way before 9/11. I would like to tell the American people to try and consider things under a different point of view, and to stop believing what they see on TV. The power of the image is strong and can sometimes have a devastating effect on one's judgment. Things that are presented to be the truth are sometimes only one side of the truth.

To give you an example - and that will be the end of this long speech. I once went to Washington D.C. and visited several museums there, among which the National museum of Air and Space. We were much surprised to learn that the poets Cyrano De Bergerac and Edmond Rostand once imagined reaching the Moon and that (at the time) the aircraft carriers France had were the "Fausch" and the "Clemancau" Once again, this was clearly announced in a National Museum. We were a little appalled to see that, First, Cyrano De Bergerac is a fictional hero by Edmond Rostand, and in a dialogue, he actually says his nose (which was famous for its length) might reach the moon. Second, France at the time had indeed two aircraft carriers, the FOCH and the CLEMENCEAU Only our little French ego was hurt by this?... Well we actually couldn't care less. What I wanted to stress in that example, is that even the most evident information can be distorted if seen only from one point of view. If a National Museum displays such information, you feel compelled to believe it. It's not always the truth... The same might happen with "the news." I'm not saying I hold the absolute truth, far from it. As a Philosopher once said, "all I know is that I know nothing." I try to stick to that thought, and to question the so-called truth all the time, it widens my view. Peace


from Jamie in Texas - I am once again shocked and disappointed . . .

In response to Dale from Tennessee: It is one thing to tell an entertainer that you are no longer going to watch anything that he is in because he has an opinion that is different from your own, and believe me, I support that right of yours, however, I am once again amazed and astonished that someone would still, after reading everything that Mr. Shaughnessy has writen here on his soapbox forum, interpret it as you have and would still, first of all, wish him a lobotomy, second of all, imply that he is ignorant and not able to read, but the most shocking thing you have written as far as I'm concerned, is that you equate Mr. Shaughnessy to be no different than this sick, horrible person that wrote the hateful email wishing these radio people's son be killed in the war!!! That sickens and disgusts me. Freedom of expression, including yours & mine, is our right, but I can't believe that after this viscious attack on his character, that he even put your response on his website, but to me, that just shows what an honorable and fair man that he is.


from Charles in California - Soapbox response to Dale in Tennessee . . .

While I appreciate more than you our Constitutional right to express political opinions about the actions of our elected representatives, be it sex with an aide or manipulating energy crises for profit or starting a war, I am disappointed that people such as yourself would abuse that First Amendment right by sending such vile poison over the internet. That you would wish a lobotomy on anyone is deeply troubling, especially as I have seen what it does to someone. That you should wish someone's child dead shows me the kind of bloodthirsty savage that is so gung - ho about this war. That you could be inured to the endless images of distraught fathers carrying lifeless children in the streets of Baghdad..... I feel pity and shame for you.

Now, go with the blessing of our Nation's Fathers and their sons to exercise your rights as you see fit.


from Shauna in the United States - Soapbox response . . .

Charlie,

???? I wish there was a way to end the problems without this war, but I really don't think there is. We are ending the horrible way people live in Iraq, and they appreciate it, as can be seen by them giving the thumbs up to soldiers on the news. I don't think we can go right after North Korea, even though that needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible. He? is a truly crazy man, and if he feels threatened he will not delay?an attack. Personally I think we should stick to protecting America and?leave other countries alone, but I know that will never happen. We will continue to?try to protect others, while putting ourselves at risk. I am only 15 and still have much to learn of the world, but I think the ideals are right. My father is in the army and could be shipped away at any time, but he too is ready to fight to help the Iraqi people.


from Julie in Illinois - More thoughts . . .

Dear Charlie:

I know a lot of people do not agree with this war, and I have the deepest respect for them. However, it really makes me sad that some people are really not hearing the whole story about different issues. I understand that some people in Iraq are not feeling liberated, and it is true, but I wish they could see that in some cities in Iraq are welcoming U.S. and British troops. I have seen it widely broadcasted on ABCNEWS. I know that a lot of people strongly disagree with Bush. I do not. I really feel that his intentions are good, and maybe something positive will come out of this. Please don't misunderstand me I don't want innocent people to die, but millions of innocent people were dying way before this war started. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I have to speak my mind. Quite honestly I wish this war would be over with, and our troops would come home, but I guess that would not be realistic. Thank you Charlie for having this forum, I have a lot of respect for you. Keep speaking out.


from David in France - Angriness and deep sorrow . . .

Everyday I try to see the logic in this war, everyday I try to convince myself that maybe the countries which didn't want the war were mistaken, and every evening I laugh bitterly at my own naivet?... Now I can't contain my anger anymore. What does George Walker Bush JUNIOR take us for?

They are so engrossed in their fight that they even bomb a hotel with journalists inside, killing 3 of them in the process... oh yes, some shootings were aimed at the American tanks from the hotel... Bull****! Do they really think we are THAT stupid?! Journalists for <**> sake!... One Ukrainian, and one Spaniard, the third one was killed after another tank aimed its bomb at another hotel with Al Jezirah and Abu-Dabi TV journalists were. ... And during that tragic episode, M. Bush and M. Blair were quietly discussing the share f Iraq after the war... Bush saying to Blair, "so OK, we'll take all the Oil ressources and the main contracts for electricity, water and so on,... and you take the crumbs..." And Blair to say: "Oh yes, George, yes of course... But let's not forget Jose Maria Aznar who has supported us too..." "Oh yes, of course... we'll give him the crumbs of the crumbs..." Pitiful.

Oh, need I mention that Condoleza Rice also went to Moscow and told President Putine that of course, the Russian interests in Iraq will be safe after the war... What do they want to do there? Seduce the Russians to isolate more the other Anti-war countries?... Set the discord between them?... This makes me want to vomit. What kind of game is that? What kind of place do they think the world is?... The is not a Monopoly game, neither a video game! I feel like all the people in the world have been trampled on by Bush Junior, like an obnoxious little brat would do a column of ants.

Oh, and I akmost forgot the terrible weapons of massive destruction the war was set because of! Tons of them, millions of gallons of chemical and bacteriological evil substances... Where are they?... What gives me the creeps now, is that "it's too easy"... Something indeed must have happened to Saddam, for they progress into Bagdad all too easily. What will prevent Bush from thinking: "see how easy it was?.. Let's do the same with Iran, or Lybia, or Syria, or ..." and that bloody feeling of helplessness: "what can we do to stop him?!" What can all the bloody world do to stop him?... I have no answer to that question...


From Dale from Tennessee - I am disappointed. . .

This is an email that was forwarded to me.? Please take the time to listen to the attachment.? (NOTE: the file attachment that Dale refers to can be found at this URL address: http://www.wlsam.com/showdj.asp?DJID=1574)

I don't see how you can possibly believe that we are not doing the right thing.? Have you been watching the news?? Did you see Saddam's torture chambers?? Did you hear what he has been doing to those people?? People ignored what was happening to the Jews and you?know?what happened then.? It's about time that someone stood up for these people.??Quite frankly, I think that the U.S. should quit giving aid to all of these countries that?have their hands out and then vote against us.? Maybe we should be isolationists and allow no immigrants (including those from England) and send no foreign aid.? Would you?like that better? ?

I really hate that I no longer want to see anything that you're in.? I loved you on Days of Our Lives and on The Nanny, but I just can't enjoy seeing you anymore.? While you certainly have freedom of expression in the U.S. (which you don't have in Iraq), I also have the freedom to turn off things I don't want to see and unfortunately that means, among others, you.

?If you are a Chicago area resident, you've probably heard about this incident on the Don and Roma call-in show on WLS. ?If not, you'll appreciate hearing it and perhaps you'll share it with others. ?It's quite moving. Here's what happened. ?Don and Roma's son is an F18 fighter pilot (and ex-Blue Angel and local Chicago celeb), who is stationed somewhere near Iraq now. ?An antiwar protester emailed Don and Roma stating that he hoped their son would die if the US goes to war against Iraq. It brought tears to Roma's eyes, but she still read this hateful email on the air. ?After hearing it read, an Iraqi-American girl named Angie called in and this is what she had to say.

Don and Roma are going to replay this file everyday until the war is over. If anyone knows how to reach (short of a lobotomy) those ignorant entertainers, and others who oppose the action to weed out Suddam and his brutal regime, and to check there for the probability of chemical and biological stashes, ?please send them this! ?Please. ?No, better yet ... play it for them, as they may not be able to read.

From one of your former biggest fans


from Liane in Germany - Bush's hypocrisy . . .

Mr.Shaughnessy!

I am angry how the US military inform the US citizens over the war in Iraq. As I have mentioned before that a lot of news isn't passed on in the US media correctly. I read in a Berlin paper that any press who publishes pictures of POW'S will be sued. The reason for this is not to stir up the anti war lobby in the US. Even "The Australian" a nationwide paper in Australia showed pictures of these unfortuneate young men and reported many more casualties than the US would admit. Also a local German paper showed a tank with bodies of dead Alliance soldiers hanging outside it. Of course it is not necessary to show such pictures, but war is terrible and consequently one is confronted with such horrific pictures. What I am trying to bring over is that US citizens should be aware that all is not well, and those of you who have the internet should inform themselves.

I have just seen a live report from Times Square where people were interviewed and all were against the war and most of all most of them realise they were not informed correctly. One chap said Bush should spend those billions of dollars on education so that the people become more educated which would result that people like Bush would never come into office let alone be able to send young men as cannon fodder to war!!

The war against Iraq is pouring oil into the fire. Now the the Arab World is starting to go against the West. If Mr Bush thinks he can "liberate" Iraq the way he thinks then he should think again. Even Tony Blair seems to slowly be coming to his "senses" and is now trying to negotiate with Bush.

Obviously the Alliance underestimated the Iraqi people (they are not feeling liberated )and the desert itself. So I am afraid this war will have many more casualities both civilians and military. This whole mess has become part of all our lives. Businesses are breaking down, the stockmarkets are at their lowest and the general mood of many people is of depression,especially those of my generation. I myself sleep very little these days.

Finally Mr.Shaughnessy I thank you once again for this forum. I have discovered that many emotions have come to light. Mine usually do this like now at 2.30 am!! Last but not least Bravo for Michael Moore!! Here was one man who showed civil courage!! His complete speech was printed in our daily paper. Also Adrian Brody was very courageous for such a newcomer, at least he managed to "shut up" the orchester. My admiration to this young man. I do not generally see films like "The Pianist" but I shall do so now. May there be peace soon


from Ada in Argentina - Condolences . . .

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy:

A nonchalant attitude in front of the cruel battles it's impossible. I think that the government of U.S.A. must act now and take action for peace quickly cause is very difficult win the war without the death of a lot of soldiers, and innocent lifes. The real victims acts out their experiences with this terrible war when several contingent have left out the battle zone. Is very hard, sad and painful.Worst of all has lost pilots and soldiers killed and I seize the opportunity to send condolences from this place to all U.S's people that has lost a father, a son or a friend in this war in this eight days. THANK YOU FOR THIS PLACE RESERVED FOR OUR OPINIONS.


From David in France - Text from Paulo Coelho that was published in the French newspaper "Le monde" on 03/18/03 Thanks a million, President Bush, by Paulo Coelho. . .

Thanks to you, mighty leader. Thank you, George W. Bush. Thank you for showing everyone the danger Saddam Hussein represents. Maybe many of us had forgotten his use of chemical weapons against his own people, against the Kurds, against the people of Iran. Hussein is a bloodthirsty dictator, one of the most evident expressions of Evil today. But I have other reasons to thank you. In the beginning of 2003, you knew how to show the world many important things, and for this, you deserve my thankfulness.

Thus, remembering a poem I learnt as a kid, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for showing everyone that the Turkish people and their parliament don't sell themselves, even for $ 26 millions.

Thank you for revealing to the world the gigantic abyss that exists between the decisions the governments make, and the people's desires. To make it clear that Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar have no respect whatsoever for the people who elected them. Aznar is capable of ignoring that 90% of Spaniards are opposed to war, and Blair doesn't care the least bit about the biggest demonstration in England in the latest 30 years.

Thank you, because your perseverance has forced Tony Blair to go the the British Parliament with a fake file, written 10 years ago by a student, and present it as "irrefutable proofs". Thank you for making Colin Powell look ridiculous at the UN security counsil, by showing pictures that were publicly disputed by Hand Blix himself, the Inspector responsible for the disarmament of Iraq, a week later. Thank you, for your position earned the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominique de Villepin, the honor of being applauded in plenary session, which, to the best of my knowledge, had only happened once in the history of the United Nations, after a speech by Nelson Mandela.

Thank you, because thanks to your efforts for the war, for the first time, the Arab nations, generally divided, have unanimously condemned an invasion, during the Cairo meeting during the last week of february.

Thank you, because thanks to your rhetoric, saying that the UNO had one chance to demonstrate its importance, even the most reluctant countries have finally taken position against an attack on Iraq.

Thank you for your foreign policy, that led the British minister of foreign affairs, Jack Straw, to declare that "a war may have moral justifications", at the beginning of the 21st century, and thus lose all his credibility. Thank you for trying to divide Europe which is struggling for its unification, this warning won't be ignored. Thank you for having accomplished what only few people have managed in one century: unite millions of people on every continent, who fight for the same idea, even though this idea is opposed to yours. Thank you for making us feel that our words, even though they're not listened to, are at least spoken. This will give us more strength in the future. Thank you for ignoring us, for putting aside all those who have taken position against your decision, for the future of the Earth belongs to the outcast.

Thank you because without you, we wouldn't have known our capacity of mobilization. Maybe it won't be of any help today, but we will surely have use of it later. Now that the drums of war seem to resound irreversibly, I want to make mine the words a European King once said to an invader: "May this morning be beautiful for you, may the sun shine on your soldiers' armors, for this afternoon, I will defeat you."

Thank you for allowing us all, anonymous armies who wander through the streets to try and stop a process that has already started, to discover what is the feeling of helpnessness, to learn to fight it and transform it. Enjoy the morning, and what glory it can still bring you. Thank you, for you haven't listened to us, and you haven't taken us seriously. Know that we are listening to you, and that we will not forget your words.

Thank you, mighty leader George W. Bush. Thank you very much

Paulo Coelho is a writer. Translated from Portugese (Brasil) into French by Fran?oise Marchand Sauvagnargues, then in English by David from France, ?Paulo Coelho


From J in California - What a Surprise. . .

Here in the United States, our stock market is pretty much in the toilet, so many of my friends and family are losing their homes, can't pay their rent, losing their businesses or just plain don't have jobs & i know it isn't just in my circle of friends. Our economy is dreadful, the problems that we have in the United States are unprecedented . . .BUT i just heard that one of the post war build Iraq back up and save those oil field contracts went to, what a surprise. . . Dick Cheney's (former CEO of and now vice-president of the USA) Halliburton !!

The President asked Congress for $489.3 million to cover the cost of repairing damage to Iraq's oil facilities, much or all of which could go to Halliburton or its subcontractors under the terms of its contract with the Army. Halliburton said it has subcontracted the firefighting portion of the Army contract to Houston-based companies.

Here's an idea. Let's NOT give everything to Halliburton. Let's spread the wealth and offer every out of work construction worker in ALL of the United States an opportunity to get work on those jobs! I wonder if any British companies have been allowed to bid on post war Iraq contracts. Surely they should be allowed to "share the wealth" and not just the fighting.

Last month, President Bush signed legislation intended to punish corporate wrongdoers and toughen oversight of the accounting industry after the Enron and WorldCom scandals. The SEC is also investigating the accounting practices at Halliburton and Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit accusing Halliburton of fraudulent accounting and is investigating its involvement with Iran. Cheney and several members of Halliburton's board of directors and executive management are named as defendants.

President Bush defended Cheney last month, saying he did nothing wrong, and that the Halliburton probe "will run its course." Wonder what that means? Let's hope it doesn't mean that no one will pay much attention to it anymore, because we are so focused on the war.


From Suzy in Missouri - Sanctions. . .

OK on the subject of Sanctions. 12 years of sanctions against Saddam Hussein have had no effect on him only an appalling effect on the people he rules. 12 years of waiting for him to disarm. 12 years of inspectors in and out (mostly out) of Iraq. How long is to long. You are a well read man and I am sure you have heard this before. If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out, but if you put it in cool water and slowly turn up the heat it will soon boil to death. How hot is the water now after 12 years?

12 years ago I had a little girl just days before the 1st Gulf War. I also had 2 nephews 6 and 3. My brother in law mentioned one time that he wanted to enlist to take Saddam out of the picture so his sons wouldn't have to go to war. I thought he was stupid the UN would make Saddam face the "music" and comply with the disarming and with the inspectors. Now I feel stupid as his sons are old enough to be in the amy fighting. And as for my daughter she has grown to be beautiful and let me tell you the water is getting really hot around our house. I am by nature a funny person (well I think so). Always finding the wrong thing to say at the right time to bring a smile at the funeral or birthday but I cant find anything funny about any of this. Just my own thought. Keep this going I think it is a great forum.


From Allison from Florida - Soapbox. . .

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your opinions and thoughts on the Iraq war. I really admire celebrities who are willing to voice their opinions on the different issues that this country faces. Especially right now with the war going on. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.


From Ryanne in Minnesota - History Books. . .

Dear Charlie,

If "the president" wants to get his name in the history books, why not do it by being a man who promotes peace rather than war? It may be a bit harder to do but in the long run the people of the world will respect him much more and will be much better off for it. Just a thought.


From Kayla from Alabama - Soapbox Response. . .

Good evening, Mr. Shaughnessy,

I am writing this in regards to your soapboxes on the war in Iraq. I fully support you in your opinions. I have some of the same opinions myself. In fact, I am currently deliberating whether or not to stage a walk-out for peace at my high school. This sentence is directed to Mary Ann from Cleveland: THE MARSHALL PLAN is, in fact, three words. I believe there is a song (besides, of course, all those annoying country songs) that asks many important questions about our time. The song is Mariah Carey's "Theres Got to be a Way" It is about peace. I really can't express in words how much I agree with you, Mr. Shaughnessy, so I guess I'll have to end this reply. Thank you for expressing the beliefs of all of us who don't have a soapbox. In the words of Fran Drescher, Think Peace.


From Stephane in France - The lesson of history. . .

455... This is the number of years France has been at war since the 14th century. During the latest centuries alone, France has been at war during 45 years, including 29 years of decolonization wars. The French casualties during all these wars are more than 4 230 000 people. This includes 1 550 000 during the Napoleonic wars, 1 600 000 during World War I, 550 000 during World War II (including 330 000 civilians), and 87 000 in Vietnam. At the same time, the Ameican casualties were 617 000 during the American Civil War, 117 000 during World War I, 291 000 during World War II, 38 000 in Korea and 58 000 in Vietnam, and very few civilians during these wars.

With its past history, France knows war very well. The French are not cowards who refuse to fight when they need. The French troops fought during both World Wars, then in Korea, Vietnam, Algeria, and more recently the first Gulf War, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo. But we don't see war only on CNN. We know how it is to suffer bombings, and so do the Germans. How many civilians were killed during 9/11? About 4000? During WWII, 67 078 French citizens were killed by Allied bombs. With ONE bombing on Dresde, Germany (13/14-2 1945), the Anglo-American bombers killed 135 000 people. I don't want to keep score and say the American people have not suffered from this terrorist attack. I just want to highlight theyr are not the only ones to know how it is to see innocent people die.

Perhaps the European history help us to grow, perhaps we have gain some wisdom. It's true Saddam Hussein is a dictator. A dangerous one for his own people. But who can decide to remove him? Does one man alone has the right to change an other head of state? Can the American go in Iraq and bring democracy there? Well, during about 4 centuries, from circa 1500 to 1900, other countries tried that. At the time, in was not to bring democracy, as it didn't really existed. No, back then it was called civilization. "Let's bring civilization (and God!) to these savages". France did the same with Algeria, and invade it in 1830, to put an end to the barbaresque piracy, which has been a nuisance for centuries. And France left Algeria 130 years after, with a bloody war. The same result happened almost every where. The colonization to bring civilization failed. Because people did not want to get foreign civilization, they want to forge their own. It's the same with democracy : people do not want a foreign democracy, they want to forge their own. The Revolutionnary France made this mistake 200 years ago, and thought it could export its democracy into Europe. They failed. It will probably be the same with America : the Iraqi fought the British colonization, they will fight the American colonization. The Bush administration may claim their goal is not to colonize, but I doubt it will be the point of view of the Iraqi people. If someone has any doubt, I suggest booking a plane ticket for Kabul, and going in the streets. Speaking to the people and asking them their feeling about their American "saviors".

I don't know what to think about this administration. Richard Pearl, advisor to Donald Rumsfeld spoke on the radio the other day. He said a few millions people demonstrating against the war is irrelevent, because it's only 0.5 % of the world population. Is he really stupid, or does he think we are that stupid? How many people demonstrate FOR the war? I don't kow if the Bush administration hide what they think, and think the American people is naive and will believe everything, of if they really believe what they think. Any way, I hope the American people will see the truth, and the danger of this administration decision, and will sanction it during the next election. The Bush administration claim the diplomatic discussion failed only because of France. How convenient. They knew they couldn't convince the Security Council, and that they will never have more votes than the 4 of USA, UK, Spain and Bulgaria. So they decide to avoid the fight of idea, so the American people could not see their defeat. If they were so sure of their right, they could have asked for the vote. Even if France had opposed a veto, at least Bush could have said "I have not an official UNO support because of France, but at least I have a majority of countries with me". But well, Bush is used to making decisions without a majority to support him, isn't he?

Already the Bush administration has opened the Pandora box . Turskish troops should enter Northern Iraq, against American request not to do so. But on what ground the Americans could ask Turkey not to invade a foreign country, to protect what the Turkish government sees as Turkish interest? Because Turkey is lacking UNO endorsment perhaps? By giving a clear example to the world that a country could invade another to settle a dispute if it thinks it has the power to do so, perhaps the Bush administration has thrown the seeds of a war about Kashmir between Pakistan and India (two countries with nuclear weapons), or of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

For weeks, Bush's team has kept pestering the UNO for a new resolution authorizing the use of force to disarm Iraq. But when it failed, what were the terms of the ultimatum? To disarm completly in 48 hours? No! Saddam Hussein must leave! And then some American offcials claim France has changed the rules of the game after the first resolution ?? So, now the US army is going to remove the terrible threat to the world that is the Iraqi arsenal. An arsenal that is so powerfull that the allies had 2 casualties in fighting so far. And 19 in crashes... I'm not afraid of Iraq. There are other countries and other dangerous men. And no, North Korea isn't that dangerous either, I personnally think they are more trying a blackmail to negotiate new help than something else. But there is someone else. Someone who lies to his own people and to the world. Someone whose police forces arrest "dissident" people who show a different opinion from the official one. Someone who doesn't respect international laws, ignore the UNO, negociate billateral treaties with countries to avoid trial before the new International Court of Justice. Someone who has far more nuclear warheads than North Korea, who has unopposed military might to enforce his narrowminded opinion. Someone who tries to fight muslim fundamentalism, when his speech shows clear sign of another kind of fundamentalism. Someone who doesn't want friends or allies, but minions and lackeys. Someone who lives in a big white house...

Someone who is currently the most dangerous man in the world, because he's definitely wrong and nothing can stop him. Nothing but a power than is supposed to be stronger than himself : the will of his own people. I'm afraid it is too late to stop his current course of action. But let's hope he will be stopped in 2004, and a wiser man will take over his duties, and manage to clean all the mess and repair the damages this someone will have done to the world.


From Liane in Germany -Horror of War. . .

Mr.Shaughnessy!

What I have feared has come true!It is Friday and the attacks on Bagdad have been going on for two days,and as a German TV commentator said the bombing always starts during Prime Time TV !! However since CNN reporters have been expelled from Bagdad we can now expect a more objective reports from Iraq. It was reported for instance that in certain areas reporters who don't belong to the pro war countries are rufused any information by the military as the US army apparently controls all press centers! As I live here in Germany we are getting very objective coverage of this horrific war. Even the BBC is trying to be objective which I can't say of CNN It appears there is an European coverage and an US, as at times the announcement comes "we are now switching to CNN America! So obviously the news is adapted to Bush propaganda! As I see the pictures on TV,very bad memories come back to me, and many my generation feel the same. The only difference to WWII is that the bombs have become bigger and more destructive but the sirens that announce them are the same, and that is one sound I have never forgotten to this day and shudder every time I hear one.

Today Sir Peter Ustinov and Harry Belafonte who are both UNICEF Ambassadors appealed to the US to stop this useless war as as usual it is the children who suffer most.

I wish I had a digital camera so I could send you pictures from the protests in Berlin in front of the US Embassy. At least here no one is being arrested voicing their opinion let alone for wearing a T-shirt with "peace" on it. Just to remind every one, after Sept.11th this same area was full of flowers and messages of condolence.

In the meantime there have been deaths on the front and maybe even wounded (propaganda wouldn't probalbly admit that at present)and I feel deeply for the families of these young men. They leave behind mothers, wives, brothers and sisters. I think what is going on in Iraq at present a crime against humanity. Where are Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? If he had any why hasn't he used them or is he just waiting for the right time? Then God help us all!

Finally, I want to repeat there is no anti americanism here, especially older Germans remember the help they received through the US after WWII. Today I spoke to some US exchange students and asked how they feel and if they have had any negative experiences. The answer was no, on the contrary they feel welcome and are impressed over the way way this whole issue of war is being discussed and most times very objective. Let us hope this inferno (which for me it now has become)ends soon. Thank you once again for this forum Mr. Shaughnessy. Liane (Aussie in Germany)


From Marina in Texas - Incredible Speech made by US Senator Robert C. Byrd. . .

Mr. Shaughnessy:

With my fiancee over in the Gulf, I have been a little distracted with all of this, somewhat fanatical. A very wise political man gave a great speech in the Senate on March 19, 2003. Very moving. Thought I would share it.

"As long as there is a forum in which questions can be asked by men and women who do not stand in awe of a chief executive and one can speak as long as one's feet will allow one to stand, the liberties of the American people will be secure." Senator Robert C. Byrd

March 19, 2003 Senate Remarks: The Arrogance of Power

I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their sacrifice and their strength. But, today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper.

The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned. Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place. We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. We treat UN Security Council members like ingrates who offend our princely dignity by lifting their heads from the carpet. Valuable alliances are split.

After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe.The case this Administration tries to make to justify its fixation with war is tainted by charges of falsified documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of choice.

There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. The twin towers fell because a world-wide terrorist group, Al Qaeda, with cells in over 60 nations, struck at our wealth and our influence by turning our own planes into missiles, one of which would likely have slammed into the dome of this beautiful Capitol except for the brave sacrifice of the passengers on board. The brutality seen on September 11th and in other terrorist attacks we have witnessed around the globe are the violent and desperate efforts by extremists to stop the daily encroachment of western values upon their cultures. That is what we fight. It is a force not confined to borders. It is a shadowy entity with many faces, many names, and many addresses.

But, this Administration has directed all of the anger, fear, and grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers and the twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible villain, one we can see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he is the wrong villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein, we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends to assist our global war on terrorism may have already taken flight. The general unease surrounding this war is not just due to "orange alert." There is a pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered. How long will we be in Iraq? What will be the cost? What is the ultimate mission? How great is the danger at home?

A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq. What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy? Why can this President not seem to see that America's true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?

War appears inevitable. But, I continue to hope that the cloud will lift. Perhaps Saddam will yet turn tail and run. Perhaps reason will somehow still prevail. I along with millions of Americans will pray for the safety of our troops, for the innocent civilians in Iraq, and for the security of our homeland. May God continue to bless the United States of America in the troubled days ahead, and may we somehow recapture the vision which for the present eludes us.


From Ada in Argentina - Continuation. . .

DISCULPAS...!!!Por error envie el mensaje sin firma ni conclusion. En resumen, quiero decir que el mundo entero se ha envuelto en esta guerra seamos o no protagonistas, estamos en ella y nos debe doler. Las bajas de ambos lados son dolorosas, el objetivo es poco claro y terrible, los tiempos en los que estamos no merecer?an una vida as?, como esta que proponen los grandes l?deres y los perturbados dictadores como HUSSEIN.Pido disculpas por escribir en mi idioma pero es que realmente ten?a prisa por expresarle que UD. NO DEBE DISCULPARSE ANTE NADIE POR PENSAR SENTIR Y OPINAR COMO L0 HACE, QUE TIENE MUCHA RAZON EN LO QUE EXPRESA Y QUE NUEVAMENTE DESEAR LA PAZ NO DEBERIA SER UNA UTOPIA A PESAR DE TODO.


From SD in Northern California - 19 march addendum. . . Charlie~

You and I have reached a meeting of the minds.? Pax Americana indeed!? I'm afraid we are now at that point in our historical time-line...where America has reached the cusp of its inevitable decline...but instead of barbarians and Goths, we must look to the invasion of elusive terrorists and our own internal self-destruction.? I too am terrified just where this final step into political insanity will take us.?The only thing I'm sure about is that we will never be the same nation again.? My heart is bleeding...not for Hussein or the Iraqis...but for us.? I will still hold to the view that the United States should pull completely out of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern affairs yet maintain a strong defensive position should there be a need.? Yes...I know it's a naive?pipedream.?

*A?little side note about the celebrity issue...I certainly can appreciate Abby's POV. Celebrities most assuredly have a financial agenda/incentive when it comes to increasing their popularity and public profile, no matter what the issue.?The main reason I?take your comments into consideration, is because you are a man of sense and education.?I respect your opinion, though in many points I'll agree to disagree. Take care,


From Sam in New York - Just My Opinion. . .

With almost 70% of Iraq in poverty, I can't understand invading that poor country and potentially causing the death of innocent people. Those people suffer because of Sadam...he's the threat, not the Iraqi people. Bush is not an effective leader, I do not respect or agree with any of his impatient decisions to go to war. Had President Bush been an effective leader, he would've gotten more support from the UN and world leaders alike. In the press conference Sunday with Tony Blair, Bush came across as cocky, short-tempered, and a man that is highly unsure of what he's saying. If his speech last night and his war, which will begin tomorrow, causes more violent attacks here at home...I will personally blame him.

And one more thing, if anyone saw Tom Ridge's press conference this morning about the threat level being raised to orange again...I was a little annoyed at the end of his speech when he seemed to smirk a bit and almost giggle at the idea of "don't listen to rumors". Obviously...but it's more assuring during these times to have people working for a president who hold themselves up as dignified and respectful.

I'm sorry if I offend anyone. As a person who is very much against violence of any kind, I'm just very emotional and frightened right now. I wholeheartedly support the brave men and women in our armed forces. They pretty much volunteered to serve for careers, education, and the ultimate importance of protecting those of us who live as free as we do here at home. That makes it more emotional for me to not have faith and confidence in this man that was appointed President by a court of conservative Republican justices.

I just hope the conflict, as it has been decided, will play out fast, minimal lives will be lost, and an oppressed nation of good people will be somewhat liberated. I have friends from Iraq that I always think of during all this.

The world is big, people are different, lives are different, cultures are different... The preferred way of life is not about being "white, American, privileged, and wealthy"! These are trying times for all of us. My comments about the war here on will be referring to thoughts and well wishes of our service men and women.

This morning I went to have coffee and read the paper at Starbucks. My good friend was getting ready to secure medflight units on the Iraqi border. I have much to be greatful for, I know. Peace and love to all


From Dimphy in Holland - :). . .

So let me get this straight: somebody was actually arrested for wearing a Peace? T-Shirt? So he was just wearing this T-Shirt and not doing anything else like protesting or something?? Because then it's kinda stupid.

Anyway, if this man would have been a celebrity then it wouldn't have been more or less justified then any other. Celebrity's are still humans and they have to listen to the laws like any other person. In NO way can be said celebritys are free from laws or rules or anything like that. No matter how succesfull they may be, they're no different from any other person!! But I keep saying that celebritys have great influence on people and I will continue saying that again and again and again. For instance, Charlie, you started this discussion and see how many people already have responded!! I'm sure if I would have done the exact same thing on my own website I wouldn't be able to get half as many responds as you have. When you're famous, people choose to be your fan. And for a fan nothing feels better then actually have some contact with their hero, just like you and I are doing right now. So when you as a celebrity write down your opinion over a subject like this and you ask your fans to respond, they surely will respond, and when they respond they think about the subject. So basicly, you made a young girl, almost 17 years old (ME), think about the war in Iraq, because you asked me too, because you took your time to write down your feelings about it and you wanted your fans to respond.

Well, as for me, I'm still glad to hear that the Netherlands have chosen only to be political involved instead of military involvement but I pray for all those soldiers in Iraq. They receive my deepest respect and I support each and every one of them. I just hope this'll all end soon and then we will be continue to live our lives as we always have.


From Marina in Texas - Civil Liberties Will Suffer. . .

The consequences of the war launched by the United States and Britain against Saddam Hussein's Iraq will be extremely wide-ranging. Far, far down on the US's list of worries will be the consequences of war to our constitutional liberties at home. (Welcome to Bush's "home of the free" where a man can get arrested in a mall for wearing a T-shirt that reads, "Give Peace a Chance") We should be worried about the fate of our civil rights and liberties.

Inter arma silent leges -- A Latin Maxim that describes the problem we will be facing = In time of war the laws are silent.

Constitutional scholars, however, can be forgiven (just for a few days) if they're somewhat more concerned about the massacre abroad. In the short term, the launch of war will turn Iraq into a kind of international media black hole - irresistibly sucking all media attention into itself, and leaving almost no room to report on local places, events, violations of civil liberties, and law enforcement abuse. It is, in other words, a priceless opportunity for any authoritarian-minded politician and law enforcement agencies (i.e., Homeland Security) with scores to settle to get nasty.

In the legal community, where the struggle for public opinion and change has been so hard fought, this is a particular cause for concern. Bush's administration clearly has a hefty backlog of autocratic measures it's chomping at the bit to implement. Until now, concern with preserving a fa?ade of democratic legality has served as a brake for those impulses. I think we should all be worried that the government will take advantage of the kind of free-pass from public opinion the war will afford it. The temptation, I'm afraid, could prove hard to resist. The supremacy of security over liberty that typically accompanies national emergencies will allow this government to restrict Americans' civil liberties. Be forever watchful that the government may try to sacrifice our liberty for security. Even temporarily, this should and must be an unacceptable trade.

Take the long-feared move to shut down and restrict our freedom of speech and association. Under normal circumstances, such a decision would cause a huge outcry in the public media. But in the warped media universe of war, politicians and law enforcement personnel may conclude that the outrage will be relegated to the inside pages of the metro sections of your local newspapers. Possibly, it will get a complete free pass on The New York Times, CNN and the BBC - at worst, it will cause only minor ripples. This could persuade them that the political cost of taking such decisions is low enough that it's in the government's interest to go forward.

It's not just that a 60 year old man was arrested at a mall for wearing a peace T-shirt that is cause for concern here: sure, the court has quashed the arrest warrant against him and has dropped all charges, but there was no reason for him to have been arrested to begin with. Who will object to such brutality while American troops shoot it with the Special Republican Guard in the streets of Baghdad? And if that's true for older men wearing peace shirts in malls, it's no less true for any number of other members of society, including your children that law enforcement would dearly like out of its hair.

BEWARE OF CONGRESS: They are deliberating a sweeping set of proposals from the Bush administration that would increase wiretapping of phones and the Internet, boost police authority to detain individuals, and rewrite immigration laws.

At this point, the US is betting on a quick and decisive victory in Iraq, with little post-war instability in the country or its neighbors. If this scenario does pan out, it's likely the media black hole caused by the war would be relatively short-lived, and the Americans might resume their role as critical observer of human civil liberties within a reasonably brief period of time. But if the war bogs down somehow, if the US and Britain suffer any serious reverses, if casualties start to mount either among US and British soldiers or Iraqi civilians, then the vortex could extend substantially in time, giving the Bush administration a protracted period of political cover to pursue its autocratic agenda. It will be a terrible scenario for civil rights here as well as in the world. I hope this email finds everyone well and safe.


From Stephanie in Texas - Once again, I agree. . .

I was surprised to see my last response on your website, honestly, I wasn't sure you'd actually had time to read all the responses, when I did I was glad to see that you took the time, I kept it short, and wish I hadn't, boy, others certainly weren't shy. Thank you Mr. Shaughnessy. Now that America has taken action, I can't help but feel that President Bush, in my opinion, will risk so much, including the economy, (since it has been the worst since the late 80's), because of something personal and political. So many of us here have been hurt very badly by the ecomony, my husband included, luckily after a year, he has been able to change careers. Of course this monster in Iraq and others should be stopped, no doubt about it and I don't think that anyone would disagree on that, but, I feel by doing this, America looks imperialistic, and like you said, what and who next? As my husband and I expect our first child in October, of course right now, it is even more disturbing to me. As I stay home on bedrest, I watch the news quite a bit, and basically get fiery when the President does a news conference.

As far as actors using a website as a debate, really, what is the big deal? I don't get it. What does that have to do with anything, and I can't believe anyone should care how or where we as American Citizens discuss ANY issue. Well Mr. Shaughnessy, I know you'd rather read the emails that debate or disagree with you, sorry, I really do agree. Thank you very much for your time.


From Sally in Georgia - It's Time To Unite. . .

I happened upon this website the day after President Bush announced that Hussein has 48 hours to get out of Bagdhad. I felt compelled to say just one thing. Regardless of your view of whether this war is right, it's time for the United States to unite. Saddam Hussein is a tyrannical dictator who deserves to be ousted. I appreciate the differences of opinion, and the fact we live in a country we can freely express those opinions. I truly believe President Bush and his administration has more and better information about what is going on in Iraq than we do. Those in the public eye through the entertainment industry have no better information the ordinary person who is not known outside his or her own community.

Though the circumstances in Iraq are not exactly like those of Hitler's Germany, it still involves a depression of human rights. It involves an evil dictator using his own people to protect himself and his position. And it involves a supporter of terrorism who despises the United States and other free countries because of their own religious intolerance and a greed for power.

I do not look forward to this war, but I understand the need for it. I want my children to live in a safe society when they grow up. I hate that they have to worry about terrorist attacks. I hate that they must experience war in their lifetime. But I would hate it more if they must deal with these issues with their children. Saddam Hussein will not go away without pressure. I an grateful for a president who is focused enough and courageous enough to deal with this now instead of passing the problem to the next generation.

God bless our troups. God bless our diverse society. God bless us all.


From Dimphy in Holland - Ok, so now I'm scared. . .

(first of all, I want to apoligize for my bad english) So it begins... Just last night I watched this speech that was given by president Bush about the current situation that is going on. As you all probably will know, he gave Saddam a simple choice: leave in 48 hours or face war!! And I'm sure Saddam wil NOT leave Iraq...

I feel sorry for all those American and British soldiers who probably will face death and everything...what drove this man...this..Bush...so far??

The question still remains: will Europe be attacked? Personally, I'm scared it will...since England is in this war too!! They're just as much a target for Saddam and Al Quida as the US are... It scared me to death when I found out the best way for Saddam to enter England, is to go through Holland to get there, since we got the great harbours and everything... (okay, so maybe I'm overreacting but still) We talked about it a lot today...even if Saddam will leave Europe alone, there will be little fights here and there...people who hold their faith in the Islam might want to stand up for their comrads in war back in Iraq... I fear the couple of weeks that have to come...

When I recall the past few weeks, something just hit me... For the last couple of days there have been some terrifying reports on the news: a new kind of pneumonia has become a threat to the world population...ceveral people in Asia and Africa have already died from this illness and nobody can tell exactly what this virus is or how it came here... It made me think: did this virus just appeared like that...or was it set loose...Everybody has been talking about dangerous chemical weapons...what's with this virus...? I may be crazy or something...I just found it weird and everything...is it an accident or not?

I realize that standing together as one is more then important right now!! That's why I treasure these forums so much and that's why I make sure to keep in touch every once in a while and give my opinion about it...I mean, if we wouldn't do it, then who would? I want to have a chance to get to know the man I'm gonna marry, I want to have a chance to raise the children I might have...I wanna have a chance to pursue my dream of becoming an actress... I want to fulfill my dreams and right now the world has reached a point where the chance of fulfilling my dreams is slowly but surely fading away...

We cannot let this happen but yet it is happening...and what power do we have, you may think!! Well, little...that's the harsh truth...The only thing we can do is have faith in ourselves and in everybody else on this planet...Only if we stand togheter, we can live through this...because friends are so important right now...no matter what he/she believes in... I just heard Saddam has thrown away the dead-line that Bush has given him. And Bush actually gained little respect from me...the people on the news said that Bush wanted this dead-line, to make sure that foreign people in Iraq would get enough time to leave...okay, so the man's not a monster after all...

Well, I wrote about enough for now... let us pray and God/Allah/Boeddha (whatever) bless the world...


From David in France- Just This song. . .

From an old French poet/singer, Boris Vian wrote it in 1954... It is called the Deserter, but it's definitely not an apology of cowardice...

Mister President I'm writing this letter to you That maybe you will read If you have time
I have just received My military papers To go to war Before wednesday evening.
Mister President, I don't want to do it I was not put on Earth To kill poor people
I don't want to make you angry I must tell you I have made my decision I am going to desert
Since I was born, I have seen my father die, I have seen my brothers go, And my children cry
My mother has suffered so much She is now in the tomb And doesn't care about the bombs And doesn't care about the verses
When I was a prisoner Someone stole my wife Someone stole my soul And all my dear past
Tomorrow morning, I will shut my door To the dead years' nose I will go on the roads
I will beg for my life On the roads of France From Britanny to Provence And I will tell the people:
Refuse to obey Refuse to do it Don't go to war Refuse to leave
If one has to shed one's blood Then go shed yours You are a good Apostle Mister President
If you go after me, Warn your troops That I will hold no weapons And that they can shoot...

President Bush is convinced that this war is necessary. History will remember that more than 5 millions of people around the world demonstrated against that war... "Democracy"?... Tell me, Mr. President, what does it mean?

The American and British troops do have my full support, as well as the people of Iraq. Now the world will have to face the consequences of Mister Bush's obsession...


From Fran in California - Global Candlelight Vigil . . .

"On Sunday evening people in every corner of the globe will shine beacons of light throughout the world. May our candles rekindle the light of reason and hope so that war will be averted in Iraq and peace will prevail in the world." - - - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If you want to show your support for peace, I encourage you to go to the website http://www.globalvigil.org to learn about the Global Candlelight Vigil for Peace: Sunday, March 16 at 7:00 PM.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Robert Edgar, and other religious leaders call for candlelight vigils around the world on march 16th to say yes to peace -- and no to war with Iraq.

So far, over 4,000 vigils have been scheduled in 110 countries. It appears that the Bush administration will fail to win Security Council support for war, and world public opinion has been a key part of this. Help by attending, or scheduling, a candlelight vigil on Sunday in your area. MoveOn.org and the Win Without War coalition , together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many faith-based organizations, are calling for this global vigil.

Beginning in New Zealand, this will be a rolling wave of candlelight gatherings that will quickly cross the globe. It is the hope that thousands of small groups around the world will be inspired to come together and stand for peace. It's time for the world to come together in this moment of darkness and rekindle the light of reason and of hope to renew our commitment to building a positive world for our children.

This is a key moment in history. I urge you to be a part of it, the first candlelight vigil to sweep around the globe on the evening of March 16th, to lead the nations of the world away from an unnecessary war and toward a peaceful future. think peace. . .


From Mary Ann in Cleveland - no subject

Well, I guess all Brits don't hate president Bush. Did anyone catch SIMON COWELL'S comments on American Idol last night? He wanted to replace that Dixie Chick who opened who traitorous mouth with one of the contestants on last night's show. Classic!


From Susan in Texas - Keep Speaking Up Charles, You are right on target. . .

Your Soapbox comments (Feb 03) about the possibility of the US going to war were so right on target. Your perception is sharp, and your commentary benefits from?the vision of someone who has lived here for years, yet with the objectivity of someone who is not native-born.

? Everything you said, from the fact that this war has echoed what (most of) my friends, my family, and my colleagues have said.? From the inanity of the war, to the fact that we are playing right into Osama's hands, to the fact that we are marching off to war without full global support - is so true.? The fact that someone who lost the popular vote by nearly a half million votes thinks he has some sort of mandate - is sad and true. The fact that we are going to war to avenge a father's embarrassment is very much true. As an American, the sickening march to war is saddening to me, and as a Texan I find the Cowboy style of government to be both an embarrassment and an anathema.

? Charles, don't be silenced by the response you've gotten to your commentary. Actors have EVERY right (maybe responsibility, if they feel it) to speak up. Throughout history, from the times of the Greek tragedies through modern times, actors have been speaking the thoughts of those enlightened enough to write them, and to those enlightened enough to hear them. Anyone who thinks actors are wrong to speak on political matters?have not read Shakespeare! If they can't see the obvious references to imperialism, colonialism, class warfare, and more in the works of the Bard just doesn't have enough vision to see that actors have been speaking out since the profession began. ?

Don't be silenced by those who claim your words against war, therefore seem to?support a murderous tyrant like Saddam. They do not. The fact that some of my rather misguided native brethren think that Saddam's actions are equal to that of Nazi Germany is both sad, and sickening. There is?little valid?comparison. Rightfully, none of us here?is supporting Saddam - the man is a tyrant and a despot. Saddam is clearly a tumor on the world's body indeed - ?but that does not give us cause to 'crusade' into a battle with him because we don't agree with what he's said. ?

The irony is that our country was founded by individuals who put their lives on the line to ensure that Americans could live in peace from tyrants of every stripe. This country was conceived as a?place where?people could choose their own destiny - yet we feel this gives us a warrant to inflict our brand of freedom on those who do not want it themselves. Furthermore, I feel?that Americans' Founding Fathers?would cringe at seeing us now at the doorsteps of a war waged only because we can do it.? Sad indeed? that the murderers who planned the 9/11 attacks because they felt American imperialism needed to be stopped - are now handed previously nonexistent proof that we were guilty of it.

? PLEASE keep speaking your mind - I am lucky that I agree fully with your view. But even if I did not, I'd still support you having the right to continue to speak your mind, and I'd be grateful that you have a platform on which to do it. And since anyone who has come to your website to read your words has come VOLUNTARILY, then that reinforces the fact that there is a public who is interested in what you have to say. Continued success to you, Charles. Bravo!


From Kathy in Austria - Fear . . .

I'm 18 years old and quite naturally haven't earned any academical degree yet. And I have always loved acting, watching it as well as doing it myself. I don't know anybody involved in politics and therefore can't get any "insider information". The only insights, I have in political events, result from reading newspapers and watching TV.

As all of that shouldn't have any effect on my right to express my opinion on this whole situation in any way, I have the feeling I'm less qualified to do so than others, at least in the eyes of one person. Yes, Abby, I informed you of all this just to save you from reading another unimportant mail that comes from a person, whose opinion is most probably even more despicable than that of Mr. Shaughnessy.

In case you should be reading on nevertheless, I have another shocking announcement to make: I'm one of those fans, who find Charles Shaughnessy "oh so cute". And not only this - after reading his website I even consider him a rather sensible and open-minded man. And yet- just imagine!!- I don't believe his statements to hold the ultimate truth.

I only think, it's great, that he shares his thoughts this way, and I think, it's even greater that he also lets other people express their opinions here, whether they agree with him or not. That's not cowardly at all, but rather courageous of him. I mean- seven letters behind your name or not-, I just doubt, you think logically on this matter. Accusing a person of imposing his own opinion on others, when this very same person is just doing the opposite by encouraging people to write their disagreeing beliefs, is not, what I understand as well and rationally thought. Sorry,just my point of view.

I don't feel to be the one to judge, whether you or Mr. Shaughnessy or anybody else is right with his statements. I know, I can't. In fact nobody can, because there are too many tough and complex factors to be considered. But when thinking of Bush waging war on Iraq there is one one emotion overshadowing everything else: Fear. I don't really know, what Bush is aiming at by this war, even though I've really tried hard to understand. Yes, it could be that he wants to revenge for his father's nemesis, as Mr.Shaughnessy has suggested. But I don't think so. I can't believe that the President of the United States of America, whatever else opinion one might have about him, would let personal matters influence his political decisions, at least not mainly and not with the support of the rest of the government.

It could be, because he wants to demonstrate the power of the US, to show that he and the US is better than the rest of the world; it could be because of the oil; it could be because he wants to distract people's minds from domestic grievances in the US. I'm quite sure that several or all af these thoughts have crossed his mind and contributed to his seemingly apodictic decision in favour of war. But if his actions result only from any of these causes, why then I wonder, is it, that he is supported that vigorously by Tony Blair? So I have come to the conclusion that the two of them really have a goal in mind that just isn't understood by the rest of the world yet- or at least so they may think. Probably they really want to free the world of Saddam and his potential danger and democratize that region, which would -without any doubt- be a great benefit to the world.

But aren't the risks of war far too high? This is, where my fear sets in. I'm worried that Saddam and Iraq destroyed by the US - and also European military power will just give Islamic extremists the perfect reason to strike back - in the form of new terroristic attacks! It will ignite the fire of hatred in some people, who haven't been that opposed to the "civilized western world" up to now, and it will make it even blaze up higher in those, who have just waited for something like that. Arabic states that have cooperated with the USA so far, maybe will no longer do so, but also try to fight - and only God knows, what kind of scenario this might bring upon us. As far as I know, Pakistan for instance is in possession of nuclear weapons. What if some madman suddenly gets it into his hands? The situation is quite similar with Iran, even thouth they don't have nuclear weapons at their disposal (yet).

Maybe I'm seeing things a bit too dramatic, but I don't really see the reason, why to take a chance on all this. We all can do without finding out the truth about this, I think. It's just not right to wage war on a nation situated in a region that kind of instabile, above all as Saddam hasn't even threatened the US or any other country recently and no convincing proof has been given so far, that he is in any way connected to Osama Bin Laden - who will be very delighted by the turn of events after March,17th, by the way. On the other hand North Korea, that has been constantly provoking the US lately, is practically left unnoticed, while all focus is set on Iraq.

I personally don't see a sense behind these things, and really do hope that Bush and Co do and know, what they are doing. That's because I would be really thankful, if all of my fears would never become reality.

PS: Thank you very much for this soapbox, Mr. Shaughnessy. It's great to hear your opinions and to get a look at all those different views from people all over the world. Thanks for reading. And keep up the good work!!


From David in France - In response to some posts. . .

Yesterday, President Jacques Chirac spoke on the French National Television. Among many other things, he reminded us of the current resolution 1441, which leads to so many heated debates at the UN Security Council, and which basically is: disarm Iraq. So far, Mr. Blix? reports show that the inspectors are making slow but regular progress and that even if they do it reluctantly, the Iraqi officials cooperate.

Who are we to doubt the UN inspectors reports?. . . I mean they're the ones that are the most informed of the actual situation (oh sorry, I forgot the American satellites (I'll speak of them later), why won't we let them do their jobs and IF they meet SERIOUS problems, THEN decide what to do, and possibly use weapons to achieve this goal.

If we take the resolution textually, then I don't see why the US stomp their foot irritably to get the approval of the International Community and attack Iraq, for weapons have been destroyed in Iraq - so far - and in that state of mind, I think Mr. Bush has ALREADY won: Iraq IS - once again - destroying its missiles, Iraq shows a degree of collaboration, that even though not entirely satisfactory yet, would never have been achieved if there weren't about 300,000 soldiers at its borders.

Yes, it's taking time. But if we can achieve that goal without a war and all the horrors that come with it, then time is a low price to pay. Don't misunderstand, France is definitely not a pacifist country, but war is always an ultimate solution, and already a great failure.

Now let's consider the problem differently. In an alternate universe, the UN say: we want to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. WOW! That's a totally different problem! Yes, it's completely different, but I don't think Mr. Bush and Co. wouldhave to face such an opposition from so many countries, because then, evenmost of the Muslim countries would agree.

Semantics? Indeed, but it has the merit of being honest. People stressed out that the reason why France and Russia were so reluctant to support a war against Iraq was because they held the Iraqi Petroleum. True. But,

1 - who do you think will get a hold of the Iraqi petroleum if there's an unilateral attack from The US and Great Britain?

2 - I speak for France - the main reason is not Petroleum. It is one of the reasons, no doubt, we do have economical interests there, but did anyone from Mr. Bush's administration, or Mr. Blair's administration think of the inevitable consequences of such a war? I'm not sure they thought of everything. No expert in the world can accurately predict what the consequences will be, they only know that they will have long term effects, and that some might be terrible. And I'm not speaking of the Humanitarian condition of Iraq, which compared to those consequences, would be "secondary" - so to speak.

The Iraqi people have lived for about 30 years under a repressive dictatorship, what kind of freedom of thinking do you think they have? Let alone freedom of speech. Their only concern right now is how they're going to fill their plate for the day, and how they're going to get medicine for the old man who is dying of dysentery. Of course they need our help, but they certainly don't need another war.

Satellites now, Do you know how easy it is to insert a missile battery on a digital photo? There was an interesting report about that the other day. The French also have satellites taking pictures of every Iraqi square inch, and amazingly enough the pictures are not exactly the same (although they should be) as the American ones. Who's lying/spewing misinformation? The French or the American government? I honestly have no idea, but some of us are - somehow - manipulated. Could it be the side of "those who are too weak to think for themselves, too lazy to find out the truth, or too cowardly to stick up for what is right" ? Then the number of mistaken people is enormous, and we sure need the American people to show us the truth.

I'm asking the same questions again: who is manipulated? Has anyone thought of the consequences?

Some on this board have gone calling names people who did not share their opinion, brandishing their warrior sword. I notice that the same people have been quite vindictive, although the accused ones have been quite diplomatic. There's something the cops use to impress gangsters: they shout, they make a lot of noise, they try to impress, to lead the gangsters minds to submission. I don't think calling people names is needed here. This is an open board where everybody is entitled to confront his/her opinion without being scorned for that.

Some said that no one should be entitled to hold any political soapbox. Is that "freedom of speech"? I heard that some pacifist American Women were arrested because they dared demonstrating in front of the white house! I didn't know the US had become a repressive country, I thought they were the country of freedom, I thought they claimed it enough in the declaration of Human Rights.

Mr. Bush says that he's on a mission from God, or that his Faith in God leads him to do what he thinks is right. Might I remind him and whoever believes him, of the 6th commandment: "You shall not murder." Peace - David, France.


From Roman Carlos Aguilera in Argentina - guerra y otros temas (war and other subjects). . .

Estimado Mr. Charles Shaughnessy:

Mi esposa me coment? sobre este apartado donde la mayor?a de la gente se expresa acerca de la guerra y yo tambi?n lo le? porque estos asuntos me interesan bastante. Provenimos de Argentina, un pa?s donde no es f?cil la vida, ni ser feliz, con los sobresaltos a que nos tienen acostumbrados los muy malos pol?ticos que nos gobiernan, escribo pues desde un pa?s donde hablar y opinar estuvo por a?os prohibido, expresarse art?sticamente en contra de los militares fue por d?cadas causa de desapariciones y de muchos exilios. No entiendo que bregar por la paz en el mundo sea cosa de cobardes. Gracias a Dios en mi familia no hay ning?n desaparecido y entre mis amistades tampoco pero me duele la actitud tomada entonces de indiferencia ante el miedo que en realidad era cierto dejo de cobard?a, aqu? se ac??? una frase el famoso NO TE METAS y se silenciaron muchas injusticias. La Iglesia, las organizaciones de derechos humanos, muchas instituciones de laicos, callaron, ignoraron, en fin, no se metieron. Pero claro, reclamaron despu?s, con la llegada de la democracia, cosas que les dol?an a unos pocos, rasg?ndose las vestiduras como si realmente sintieran algo por muchos de los que murieron defendiendo un ideal. Los politicos de turno dictaron leyes de PUNTO FINAL y de OBEDIENCIA DEBIDA, para tender un manto de olvido sobre la ya fr?gil memoria de mi pueblo.

Ser actor y opinar estaba prohibido. Grandes actores de mi pa?s tuvieron que irse, como NORMA ALEANDRO que luego gan? un OSCAR por THE OFFICIAL STORY, un film que fue apenas un esbozo de nuestro drama, acompa?ada por otro grande de la pantalla: HECTOR ALTERIO.

Pas? mucha agua debajo del puente ahora arremete contra el pais una crisis econ?mica devastadora, con un eneorme desempleo, descontento genealizado y la huida por los techos de la CASA ROSADA sede del gobierno de uno de los mas ineptos presidentes que tuvimos en toda nuestra historia.

Esto viene a cuento porque por lo menos ustedes los actores que son seres pensantes, padres de familia, con sue?os y proyectos, se han detenido a pensar y se han convertido en voceros de gente que no puede decir NO A LA GUERRA sin ser aplastados por un sistema desigual.

Si tener la libertad de opinar es cobard?a, entonces d?nde est? la libertad.El presidente Bush no debe atreverse por estas horas y con millones en el mundo en contra, a tomar esa suicida decision que esperamos con tanta tensi?n y dolor en este mundo en el que parece mentira que en pleno siglo XXI y con tanta tecnologia a nuestro alrededor todav?a peleemos y nos matemos y algunos prefieran eso a disfrutar de todo ello en PAZ.


From Stephane in France - Iraq and the French Position. . .

Dear Charles, and everybody who is contributing here,

First, I would like to say I don't consider myself as a fan, and being a man the "cute" aspect leave me completly unimpressed (no offense!). I do watch the Nanny with my wife during our evening meals, but I didn't came here because of your acting performances. In fact, my wife simply transfered to me a copy of the soapbox, and I found the contents interesting. So I decided to post some of my thougths, as it seems a place were people could share their feelings, and try to see things from different points of view.

Cowardice. . . The French haven't sent any troops on Iraqi border. Is it out of cowardice? No. The French do send troops when the French government think it's necessary. The US are not the only peacekeepers in the world. In fact, France is the country that contributes the most troops for UNO peace keeping mission. But in the present case, what is the situation? The scope of the current resolution, voted unanimously by the UNO security council (yes, that means even the US), is quite clear. This resolution ask Iraq to get rid of any mass destruction weapons it could have. To achieve this, it has been agreed that inspectors will go in Iraq to monitor this progress. If they say they cannot do their job as required, and if they say disarming Iraq this way is an impossible task, then Iraq would be disarmed by force. The French position is very clear on that: if Mr Blix states inspection won't succeed, then French troops will help. Because it will then be the only solution. But Mr Blix said it seems to be working, and he's confident Iraq could be totally disarmed in a matter of months. I am not a weapon expert. The French president is not either, and he recognized it without any shame. He has adviser who are experts, but they are not currently in Iraq, doing the inspections. Only the UNO inspectors have this double "asset" : being experts, and being on the field. So I think they are in the best position to give an opinion on the efficiency of the process.

Now the Americans want a new resolution, which will automatically allow the use of force if Iraq doesn't completly disarm within a few days. First, if they indeed had such weapons, I strongly doubt they could destroy them in such a short time. This would require at least weeks. Or do the people who buy gas mask for their home things chemical/bacteriological weapons could simply be destroyed by a guy with a big hammer? Second, if they don't have weapons, they can't destroy them, and so can't comply with US requirement to do so. In effect, this new resolution means "We want to invade Iraq and don't really have a good reason to do so, but we need UN endorsment because our people do not support us as well as we hoped". The danger of Iraq is not so great as some would like to make the US people believe. Ah, I forget. Their infamous missile with an excessive range. 30 km more than allowed. How many are still missing to reach the USA? More than 8000 I think.

Perhaps Bush is simply thinking if he withdraw his troops he will lose face. But he has already won, and winning a war without fighting is honorable. He has won because the US pressure is forcing Iraq to cooperate. But kicking a guy when he lies on the ground is not very honorable. Even if he's a bad guy.

When I think of the situation, a simple comparisson comes to my mind. Saddam his the guy who is driving to fast on the highways. The US army is the cop, clearly visible on the side of the street. When the driver see the cop, he respects the speed limitation. But of course, we all know he may try to accelerate as soon as the cop is out of sight. But what would you think of the cop if he simply shot the driver when he pass near him, at a reasonnable speed, because he may not respect the limitation in the future? To me, the solution is a constant resolve of the cop to watch and be ready, not to act preventively.

I don't remimber any hint for Mister Powell of anyone else that the US will ask a resolution stating the democracies will invade Iraq to install a new government there and remove Saddam Hussein on the ground he is a dictator. Why don't they do so if it is their main concern as they claim? Do they fear something? Who is speaking of cowardice then? People who oppose a war that has no clear reason to occur? Or people who don't want to share the reasons they want to fight with an International representation? Or perhaps it's because saying to UNO "Well, we simply want to take their oil" may seems a bit unfriendly to some. I'm sure the vice president former company, which has been contacted to participate in the rebuild phase during after wars doesn't find this so unfriendly.

Democracy cannot be imposed. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." We the people... Democracy is governing by the people. Only the people of the country can do so. Iraq will be a democracy when the Iraqi people will be able to write a constitution that complies with their history, their religion, their culture, their customs and feelings.

Bush often said his faith in God he's helping him to reach his decision.

2nd commandment: THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN.
"Men use blasphemy to stress their point of action, thoughts and desires. ... Men very often swear against God to impress another man with their false strength. Men abuse the Name of God to eliminate having to face in a dignified way, truth. Also, when a man is suspicious of his own lack of integrity, stability, masculinity, he abuses God, for the cowardice within himself tells him he will not be struck down immediately."

5th commandment: THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
What about Iraqi civilians? How do they call them... colateral casualties?

8th commandment: THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR.
We are still waiting for clear proof of Iraq mass weapon destruction (now, not 10 years ago, every knows they had weapons. The question is do they have some now)

10th commandment: THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR'S GOODS.
Does that include Iraq's oil?

I know I do not follow these commandment myself in my posts, but I did not claim it, and the sentence "In God we trust" is not written near the picture of some of my predecessor on millions on small green sheets of paper.


From Rose in Maryland -Keep Soapboxing!. . .

Dear Charlie,

Congratulations on the website and for speaking your mind. You're right--that's what this country is all about!

Last night, Jessica Lange appeared on "The Late Show with David Letterman" (guest-hosted by Whoopi Goldberg). Although she appeared very nervous (she said it was her first time on the show), she was very articulate and stated her beliefs convincingly. I appreciated what she did at the U.N. that morning but you sure could have cut the silence from last night's audience with a knife. I wish more people would come out and say that to be anti-war is *not* being anti-American.

Those are a few of my thoughts on a busy Tuesday afternoon. Keep up the good work, Charlie!


From Theresa in Colorado- War in Iraq. . .

Charlie,

I wanted to let you know that I agree with your opinions regarding Iraq and the world problems. I can't help but feel that although Sadam is a great problem, he is not the only one. I feel that North Korea, who already has the nuclear capability, is a greater threat right now. I can't help but feel that Mr. Bush is trying to finish now what his father didn't 12 years ago. I think Mr. Bush needs to remember that he DID NOT win the popular vote, and without his brother in Florida, we might have had a different outcome in the election.

I think that our problems at "home" should be a greater concern for our President. The economy is worse now that at any time I've ever seen. I can't help but think that we might be looking at the next "Great Depression".

Thanks for your time, Theresa


From SD in Northern California- No, it's not about oil. . .

*I found this in my news inbox this morning. I thought that this voice should also be heard. I know that Charlie is a fair man, and has previously supported our troops on his site. Here is one man who's perspective has considerable weight...Bests, SD*

The soldiers who would bear the brunt of a war against Saddam Hussein are willing to shed their blood, but they are not doing it for petroleum. The full article will be available on the Web for a limited time: http://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/news/editorial/5357279.htm


From Stephane in France - US and Iraq. . .

Dear Mr Shaughnessy,

When surfing the net, I've read a lot of messages in different discussion boards, and when I read your message, I've decided to select some of the messages and give my point of view on the topic, using them as illustrations.

For instance: "The U.S. has to intervene... Who is going to stop Saddam from killing his own people." This is perhaps the last reason in Bush's list. . . I'm sure the American people is a generous people, and that they really think Saddam harshness to is people should be a sufficient reason to intervene. And they are not the only one. Even the French people think it.

But there's a big difference between people and their government. I don't think the US government (not people) has ever really done something out of generosity or to protect freedom as a concept. As any other government in the world, they only do things because they have an interest, and they think the cost is lower than what they will gain (or lose if they do nothing). Otherwise, why don't the US declare war to every country where the government is killing his own people? But then, where is the limit? After Iraq, will USA invade China because of Tibet, or because of the thousands of death penalties sentenced in China? Will USA invade Russia because of Chechenia? And after that? Will countries with different customs also become a target? If the final goal is to make the world a place where every country has a US-like constitution and democracy, then I don't want this world. Every country has its own history and own government. I agree other nations may help them to evolve and find a ever better system. But they should not impose it. And if there should be some interference, only the UN, with a clear majority, should be in a position to do it. Not a single country. Even American allies are against it. Tony Blair has less than 10% of positive opinion in his country. 2 Millions of Spanish people went in the streets of Madrid to say no to war. "We intervene because we have too. We are for freedom everywhere, freedom of speech, religion. . . "

It's true, the US intervene because they have to. For their own good, not to protect freedom. The US intervened to settle the Taliban, to fight the communist ennemy, and prevent USSR to move toward India and the Indian Ocean. I don't think the Taliban are a good exemple of freedom of religion. The CIA financed the strikes which enable the General Pinochet to seize power in Chile, when legal ELECTION had given the government to Allende, an evil socialist... I don't think this is a good exemple of freedom of political thinking. When a country, France or Germany here, express a different opinion, and propose a different way to do things (with the same goal as Bush: disarm Saddam), it get harsh criticism and childish reaction. I don't think this is a good exemple of freedom of speech. Voltaire once said "I do not agree with what you say. But I will fight to death to let you say it". This is freedom of speech and democracy.

Where were the US troops in Bosnia? French and their European allies were there, because it's too close from their countries, and the US refused to come, even after we have asked their help several times. The same in Rwanda : French and Belgian troops tried to save what they can. It's true France is no longer a superpower, and cannot do what the US can. But France takes its share of the burden when it can. This is not an indicment of the USA, nor to say France is the best country in the world, but to emphasis that every government make choices out of profit and necessity, not generosity and altruism.

"We've liberated countries when they were all but defeated (France, Kuwait). How France can now oppose us after what we have done for them?" The US went at war against Germany after 7th december 1941, after they have been themselves attacked. And IIRC, Germany was the one to declare war, not the US. France was defeated in June 1940, one year and a half before. France was defeated because of German military superiority at that time. So were all European countries : Great Britain survived only because of the Channel and the Home Fleet protected it long enough to prepare a counter attack. But even defeated, some French didn't give up, and fought in Africa, as partisan in French moutains, and then with the Free French Forces. The French people is very thankfull to the Americans who died to free our country, but if someone save your life, will you let him do everything without question afterward? Or will you give him your opinion, and try to convince him if you think he's mistaken?

In Kuwait, the US intervened immediately to protect oil supplies, not the Kuwait people. Bush senior didn't finished the job because he thought removing Saddam will probably give more unstabilty to the region than keeping him. In the current "crisis", everybody claim to have the same goal: disarm Saddam. The US want to disarm him by force, when there's still no blatant proof of such weapons. The French want to let the inspectors do their job first, and if that fail, I don't remember any statement by a French official that we will not help our allies. Iraq has finally accepted to destroy their missiles that were not in compliance with UNO rules. So it seems the work of the inspectors can succeed. Saying France will never help is false. In fact, France only nuclear carrier is somewhere in Eastern Mediterranean Sea, practising with an American Carrier... During the Cuba crisis, the American ambassador came to present proofs to the French president of the time (De Gaulle). De Gaulle stopped him and said "No need for proofs. We trust the American word. It it's war, we are with you". I'm afraid with the bullying of Bush's Falcons, this trust doesn't exist anymore, and we are waiting for something more consistent than the few pictures displayed by Powell.

But why do French and US governement really disagree? I think to understand it needs to go above the feeling of righteousness of a simple citizen, and try to decipher what is the real meaning of all that. Saddam is probably not the real goal of the Bush administration. Do you think a country, after 12 years embargo, a war that destroyed most of its military, several years of inspection, and regular bombing, is a real threat? Saddam is a tiger of paper. No. Who finances most of the fundamentalist groups in the World? Saudi Arabia. But it's the largest oil supplier. So Bush needs to secure another source of oil, just in case. How convenient : Iraq is the second largest, and Bush has a good pretext to go there. And why do the French refuse to endorse this war? Because they don't think it's necessary. . . and because France is the country that is the most involved in Iraq oil right now, and doesn't want the US to take the place! That's as simple as that. Iraq is not only an ideological dispute between the old Europe and the young America, it's also a battle of the ever lasting economical war the US and Europe are fighting, while giving the impression we are good friends.

I want to be very clear: this message is not to tell French or American are best. My goal here is to give some highlight on some forgotten aspect of the situation. Once again, a government, any government, does what it think is the best for his own good (and then it's a dictature), or what it think is the best for the country it represent. It very seldom does things which are good for the people of other countries. That's in this case that the people must fulfill their duty. The people are the conscience of the government. When the government does something wrong, the people must say no. In 1936, Hitler got the power in Germany after regular election. 3 Years later, he started World War II. Let's hope the American people can have enough inluence to moderate Bush, and prevent the start of a war that may have unforeseeable consequences if conducted the way Bush seems to want it. The war itself will probably be short, but will give a lot of suffering. And the after war will be far worse. The Marshall plan worked for Germany and Japan, because these countries had a strong national feeling, they were well organized and structured. And there was a new ennemy to federate them with the Allies : the USSR. None of this exists in Iraq : the country is a mosaic of different religions, ethnical groups, tribes. . . There's no one to federate them, except an American invader. This interference will give new pretext for terrorism, and will greatly increase anti americanism in the world. There is no anti americanism in Europe, except for a few "fanatics". But there's a strong "anti Bushism" feeling. Let's hope Bush will listen to the words of wisdom and accept to do things in a smoother way. But the only words of wisdom he will really listen must be said by the Americans themselves. Don't forget he has an election in 2 years. His domestic policy is not very brilliant, nor his foreign policy. So he needs to make his people look away, and try to seize Saddam (let's hope for him it will work better than the capture of Mollah Omar or Osama Bin Laden) to have some succeses to speak of. Perhaps if the American people tell him they will not be impressed by this, he will start to take care of more important things.


From Marina in Texas - The writing is on the wall this time. . .

Goodness... where to begin this time...

Much of what's happened in this country's politics in the last several years has not been unprecedented, but the spectacle Bush and his Cabinet members are "dishing" out to the international community has finally made the leap into the truly surreal. Although urged on by a never-ending stream of protestors the Bush administration seems to be treating this whole affair with Iraq like a street party, this dissident President of ours has launched a sort of "anticoup" to a majority of the world's demand - a military rebuke to the nations that specifically reject violent confrontation.

The pressure is reaching untenable levels on both the Iraqi government's and the US government's sides. It's now a matter of financial arithmetic, of their ability to pay and what they are willing to sacrifice for the level of confrontation they choose to embark on. Neither side can really afford a war for long. The Old World certainly can't. The time has come to negotiate in earnest for peace.

At this moment of gravest national crisis, I would hope the two sides would be edging toward some sort of compromise. Of course, the absence of confidence between them is so deep it will require careful international attention to make any compromise viable.

However, the whole world is facing enormous consequences if both sides don't come to some sort of consensus soon. J in California said it best: "All of our lives are impacted by these world events."

There are many in this country that don't necessarily oppose the war, but are reeling from the lack of options given to us by President Bush. People Please Listen & Observe! Why does he really want us to go to War? As Jenn in Canada stated, "Everyone from the guy behind the counter at McDonalds, university professors, researchers, lawyers, doctors...... can be guilty of misinforming us." Our President and his followers are misinforming you.

Think about it! As J in California so eloquently said, "Everyone that I know that is against this war will do everything that they can to support the men and women fighting in our names for our freedoms, if we do go to war." This is very true. Nobody - I would hope - would want to see people suffer just for the hell of it.

As Liane in Germany stated and I agree with her whole heartedly, all Bush wants to do is, "First destroy and then leave the 'cleanup' to Others."

In Response to Elizabeth in Indiana who stated that she is offended by "People who oppose the war based simply upon their extreme dislike of President Bush." You also stated,"I believe that exposure to the views of others helps to inform, shape and strengthen one's own views." And as Jenn in Canada stated, "What others think or have experienced can sometimes help me to form my opinion."

Well, let me tell you about my personal experience with our President when he was the Governor of Texas. I had the misfortune to professionally deal with Governor Bush and beg for clemency for one of my clients. Governor Bush "sincerely" and "compassionately", denied an eleventh hour stay of execution and clemency petition for my client, which every party, including the Attorney General and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, agreed was innocent of capital murder. I don't like George W. Bush, and that personal experience has formulated my views about whether he is genuinely concerned about our countries well being. Now, aside from my personal dislike for President Bush, I do tend to agree with his policy that Saddam Hussein should be separated from his weapons and separated from his government. On the other hand, I do not agree with the way he chooses to implement such policy-- with war.

Our President should be more concerned with what is happening in North Korea than with Iraq. Ask yourself, why is he so strung out on Iraq? Iraq and North Korea are two totally different political situations. Should there ever be a change of government in Iraq (which is what we all hope for) I think it will be in the likes of what happened in Iran. Iran went from the Ayatollah, to Rule by the Religious Mullahs, to a government with a Holy Rule as well as a reasonable civil semi-democratic rule.

The difference with North Korea is that it has had 50 years of indoctrination by Kim Dae- Jong's father. He has been risen to the level of a God in the eyes of the North Koreans. The Animosity toward the US in North Korea is tremendous. Iraq has a paranoid government, North Korea has a paranoid society that are armed to the teeth. As a very closed introverted nation, North Korea, could create a more sever conflict in the whole world than Iraq could ever dream of.

So you are welcome to be "impressed by his sincerity and his compassion," as for me, I see right through it. Now for your statement, that you couldn't and wouldn't "believe that he would use war as a means of furthering his own personal agenda," he sure followed his personal political agenda when he allowed an innocent person to be executed.

How War will affect the rest of the world's political chess game is uncertain, but that is the overwhelming starting point for every foreign country's conversation, calculation and negotiation of each of their nation's future.

I just flew back from my beloved Venezuela, a Third World Country, that should teach us all a lesson in Peace. We should learn from these so-called "Third World" Countries. It's the Gandhi solution: an uprising without arms.

This past weekend, while sleeping in my uncle's apartment in Caracas, his landlady, Morelia, called me. She wanted me to go to a rally with her, her husband and visiting mother, so I thought why not, she's a veteran to these things. After all, she survived the famous April 11 march last year and I figured she knows how to dodge tear gas and danger. So at around 4:00 a.m. she picked me up and we drove to a parking garage at another friend's apartment building and walked along the autopista to the concentration.

Morelia warned me that it wouldn't be a big concentration as ones before it - people are depressed and demoralized by what's happening here. But she explained that it was important to go, especially now when the mood has been made so sour after political arrests, embassy bombings and Chavez' continued threats and bullshit lies. She was right - the rally seemed subdued, but there still was a lot of people there, blowing whistles, waving flags and all. I guess the most noticeable thing to me - after watching so much of this on TV - was that all the usual leaders were not there. Carlos Fernandez, Carlos Ortega, Juan Fernandez, Horacio Medina -- they are either under house arrest or warrants are out for their arrest - so the rally was headed by various other leaders in the opposition. People cheered and chanted and sang, and each time some one spoke, they broke out into respective chants, the most memorable one being "Chavez - golpista, corrupta y terrorista."

So around the time Morelia thought it was time to take her mother (who has an ailing knee) home, we started to leave, and then suddenly, Juan Fernandez showed up on the stage. The crowd went wild. It gave me goose bumps. He spoke briefly (a warrant is out for his arrest for traitorship, among other crimes) and then left. Then everyone sang the national anthem and started to leave.

It was at this time I took (the attached photo) of the drummers. I heard the drumming and was so impressed by this young gal and her talent. She never missed a beat as we and many others casually followed behind her. We got under the autopista (freeway) bridge near Las Mercedes and noticed a crowd gathering and people yelling. A group had surrounded a SUV owned by the DISIP, the military police that are now completely under Chavez' control. The crowd was yelling "Asesinos, cobardes!" and they wouldn't let the SUV move. The talk was that they had showed up to arrest Juan Fernandez and cause trouble, but now the crowd wouldn't let them move. On a nearby section of the autopista, a crowd blocked another DISIP vehicle. The drummer girl, showing no fear, walked right up to the front of the car and beat on. The DISIP were completely immobile.

We wanted to get out of there, because of Morelia's mother and who knew what would happen next, so after a few photos, we kept walking towards the garage. About that time, the DISIP vehicle got away, came screaming by and turned down a road. But they were blocked, so they had to come back down the one way street and screeched pass us again. This time I got a good look - the car had been kicked in and all its windows were broken. The occupants didn't look too happy, either. Everyone yelled at them as they passed by.

I must confess that I didn't feel too sorry for them. You couldn't help but think that the SOB's deserved it. I apologize for sounding like I'm advocating violence, but it's the way I - - and everyone around me - - felt. "Why did they come here to cause trouble? They should have known better that the people are angry. This was a peaceful demonstration," Morelia said to me. I heard later on the news that some were of better mind than people such as us. Evidently, an opposition leader intervened and the crowd dispersed so the vehicle could move. The DISIP never found Fernandez. That's the way it is, folks. The Venezuelans have been so peaceful up until now. What else can they do?

Chavez was on TV that night warning that the Colombian guerrillas not dare enter Venezuela (yeah, right, after he's all but invited them in). Personally, I believe the latest bombings and statements by him amount to a turf war. The FARC and ELN need a new home. Colombia is kicking them out. And what now, these Colombian veterans of terror with some 30+ years experience are going to come here and take orders from our two-bit leader who now wears silk suits and flies around in a luxurious Airbus?? The real battle might be happening beyond our comprehension. Maybe I'm wrong, but the whole thing stinks. But WOW, what a thrill to actually live through a lesson on non-violent protest. A lesson, I think, that most Americans could learn. A friend from Venezuela told me last night that he was fed up and disillusioned and that he was just going to live his life as normal as he could and the hell with it all. He said a friend of his had tried to tell him not to worry because NOW (NOW!) the international community is linking Chavez with Al Quaeda and that would be his ultimate demise. Yeah. . ., right. . ., we both agreed, and pondered where to find the next bottle of rum.

The time has come. . . Dominique from Germany summed it up best ". . .there will always be people like Saddam Hussein, Stalin, Bin Laden, Hitler who'll think the world is theirs to take, no matter what the consequences."

It was a pleasure reading all of your responses, I really trully enjoyed reading all the debates and issues from all you highly educated people. This is the last you will hear from me until May. I will be swamped in my own personal war against the State of Texas as they are trying give two of my clients the needle. So I will end by remarking that things are heating up -- weather, politically, and otherwise. Love, Peace, and Safety to us all.


From Ada in San Juan Argentina - Reply. . .

To you, Charles: Im very happy because you are a brilliant man and you can think which is the most important thing. I wrote a letter for you in my own language (I'm from Argentina and I speak Spanish), and I hope that you receive its.

Well, Abby, I would want if you are so happy to go to the war, YOU, in person. With yours words, I can see that you never have live in war, A WAR is very easy talking about a thing that oneself have never seen. Is Mr. Shaughnessy a coward? Perhaps. But I'm in disappoint with you in the true meaning of cowardice. A coward person is that is sitting in her armchair with all the tecnology, and a phone giving orders, and commanding her forces to war, as Bush is doing. Who go to the death are the others...

An actor is a person, a man who can think in the same condition that anybody. I answer you: an actor can't not think???? an actor is only a clown for you??????? An actor has a family, has his dreams, an troubles, he is not a clown who can give us his best smile, a good face and nothing more...if the world would be driving with persons as you are, excuse me...darling...would be a BIG MISTAKE.

Estimado Mr. Shaughnessy:

Nuevamente escribo a su website, porque creo que Ud. est? muy bien ubicado en el terreno en el que pisa. Digo esto, porque es cierto que en este espacio que nos ha concedido tan gentilmente para opinar, ha encontrado Ud. personas que dicen que no les agrada que tome este sitio como un foro para hacer politica. Me pregunto si los actores y la gente comun en general no tienen el mismo derecho o mas que los que se dicen politicos a expresarse como deseen ya que son las personas comunes las que deben cargar sobre sus espaldas con las malas decisiones y negocios que los que ostentan el poder realizan siempre escudandose en los bastardeados principios de la democracia que rezan de por y para el pueblo. Muchas veces los politicos hacen oidos sordos a la voluntad del pueblo, en este caso, a GEORGE W. BUSH se le viene diciendo de todas las formas posibles un categ?rico NO a la GUERRA y sin embargo el sigue insistiendo. Me pregunto tal cual UD. en el agregado que hizo en fecha MARCH 6, en su carta, por qu? un actor no tiene derecho a pensar y opinar. Provengo de un pa?s en el que por muchos a?os emitir una opini?n o saber pensar era un delito y si no lo mataban a uno para silenciarlo, el ?nico camino era el exilio. Para poder opinar con libertad, hab?a que irse dejar casa, amigos, familia, ra?ces, todo. Los actores no pod?an actuar, los cantantes no pod?an cantar.

Sin tener nada que ver con el mundo del espect?culo, reniego de los que piensan que un actor debe limitarse a lo suyo, sin expresar opinion como cualquier ser humano. Son personas, quiz?s m?s capaces de ver r ealidades que los politicos no ven. En una mesa de debate ser?an mas honestos y sinceros que cualquier politico y mandarlos a callar es como si no admitieramos la voz de los obreros o trabajadores en general. Cuando hay injusticias claramente notorias a nuestro alrededor debemos decirlo y si Ud. o yo pensamos que la guerra del Golfo fue una locura, que un nuevo conflicto con Irak es un horror y un grave error, TENEMOS QUE BUSCAR LA MANERA Y EL LUGAR PARA DECIRLO. Yo agradezco profundamente su espacio y lo felicito por el grado de conciencia ciudadana que demuestra en sus mensajes. Si est?n en un contexto pol?tico NO IMPORTA, lo que interesa es que PUEDE EXPRESARLO CON ABSOLUTA LIBERTAD y con una COHERENCIA ADMIRABLE. Ojal? muchos hombres en el mundo se hubieran podido cultivar y educar como usted consigui? hacerlo para ir mas all? de ser un hombre apuesto y gal?n de TV, a ser un pilar verdadero de una comunidad tan enormemente diferenciada como U.S , con tantos hombres y mujeres que pensando distinto tienen el don de unirse cuando se trata de luchar por su pa?s. Ud. es extranjero por haber nacido en U.K. sin embargo con los a?os que lleva en U.S. tiene todo el derecho de querer lo mejor para sus hijas, que son las que tienen que asegurarse un futuro, un mundo en el que valga la pena vivir y son el motivo de su desvelo y el de su esposa. Su pensamiento puede diferir del de cualquiera, pero vale porque lo puede decir y nadie lo puede acallar. ADELANTE, CHARLES, FUERZA Y PASION CON ESTO COMO CON TODO LO QUE HACES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


From Jenn in Canada - Response. . .

Well Abby, we are destined to keep locking horns it seems and once again I feel I must respond to you. Would you prefer to label me a "yes person", a fan blinded by an actor's looks, a naive sycophant or a coward? I'm afraid you may be disappointed since I'm none of the above. Neither left wing or right, I prefer to examine many viewpoints before shaping my own opinion. I've served honourably in my country's armed forces, been a member of a national police force that protected people and hunted down terrorists and I was even a pretty good shot with a weapon in spite of the fact that I detest guns. A caring, moderate, responsible, sane, humanitarian Liberal is what I believe I've evolved into. Horrors!

Why would I consider an actor's point of view when forming an opinion about a serious issue? Why not, he looks good right ? That one's your most amusing stretch yet. I can be well entertained by an actor but looks and celebrity are not everything my friend and I'm astute enough to see past both. In my world, a person, actor or not, has to show that they are a decent responsible, caring member of society before I'm impressed or influenced. Looks do help some people succeed but looks are still a veneer that eventually people will see through if your character doesn't measure up. Guess that eliminates me being swayed by Mr. Shaughnessy's appearance doesn't it.

On to the next point. I believe you're concerned by those who might spew misinformation. Oddly I've never found that trait to be restricted to those with celebrity. Everyone from the guy behind the counter at McDonalds, university professors, researchers, lawyers, doctors, politicians or corporate CEOs can be guilty of misinforming us. Why would you have us believe that a person's profession would make them any more or less truthful or biased? Forgive me but aren't you the one who, in this instance, is just a bit guilty of telling us what you think we should think instead of allowing us to think for ourselves. But I digress....

You wondered if anyone had first hand knowledge of what the Iraqi people feel. Many newspapers print articles with many different points of view. I suspect there'd be as many diverse views held within the Iraqi populace as there are on this continent. I do not know any Iraqi citizens personally but I can draw knowledge from my immediate family of what it's like for a family to be subjected to war and it's after effects.

My father was a toddler when he and his mother fled their native Ukraine during World War II. Fearing the Russians even more than the Germans, even though she disliked Hitler, my grandmother entered Germany with my father, seeking refuge. They were instead sent to a labour camp. They were not Jewish but as displaced Ukrainians, they were without a country and were imprisoned for simply not being Germans.

Have you ever seen what several years of bombs falling around you or what hearing the weapons of soldiers firing so near to you that you can smell the smoke from the barrels of their guns does to a person? It doesn't matter if they are enemy shells or allied bombs. The result is the same. Have you ever seen what it does to a child ? I have a photo of my father as boy, just released from the German camp. It is haunting and horrifying. The look of misery and pain on his face is indescribable. Decades after the war was over, I still glimpsed traces of it in my father's face. I saw how his eyes went cold when he read about a war about to break out somewhere in the world. We lived with the emotional damage that remained deep inside him and saw how sometimes he simply could not cope with everyday situations as a direct result of that damage.

By the time he was five years old, he knew what an American or British bomb sounded like as it hurtled towards a nearby house or school or farm. He knew how to recognize the silhouette of an Allied heavy bomber or a German fighter plane in the darkness. He knew what it was like to sit terrified, remaining so still that not a muscle moved for hours on end as the gunfire echoed around him. He knew what it was like to see dead and dying people all around him and knew what it was like to have to check to see if his mother was still alive after the last explosion. He knew what it was like to not eat for days on end or to scrounge a part of a bread crust from the dirt for a meal. He knew what it was like to mourn for his father who was killed by the Allies because he was not wearing an American, Canadian or British uniform. The soldier who killed my grandfather didn't bother to ask him what his political opinions were. I'm told that my grandfather disliked Hitler just as much as anyone else.

What my father did not know at the age of 5 was what an orange tasted like or what it was like to play happily in a field without glancing into the sky to see what horrible machine of death might be just beyond the next cloud. He did not know what it was to have a home or a toy to play with. Most of all, he did not know why men would do such unspeakable things to each other.

He did not hate the Germans, the Americans, the Canadians, the French or the British. He and his mother eventually were able to live a comfortable life in Canada and at times they even found great joy and happiness but inside a certain darkness remained. Dad spoke seven languages fluently, received a good education and found a good job. As an adult he went out of his way to try to be respectful of all cultures and nationalities but the toll that war took on his life was immeasurable. In spite of their best efforts to erase what had happened to them, neither my grandmother or father could ever escape it. My father spent his life trying to recover from that terrible war and trying to make changes in society to prevent any future wars.

Many years later, at the age of 39, my father was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. His doctors speculated that it might have been caused by the chemicals and toxins spread during years of exposure to war but no one could ever really know for certain why he'd been stricken. At first dad was the most optimistic of patients. Cheerfully enduring surgeries and chemotherapy and trying to bolster the spirits of other patients, he fought to remain positive and remain alive. Until near the end of his illness, the terrors re-emerged. He started to believe that there were soldiers in the next room waiting to capture him. One night he thought my little sister, who was only 13, was trying to kill him. I was only a few years older but that night I had to fight back my own fear. As I pried dad's hands off my sister's throat I realized that the nightmare that had once been part of his childhood had come back to torment him one last time before he died at the age of 41.

That's why I've formed my own opinions about war Abby. If I choose to read the opinions of Charles or any other person no matter what their profession or station in life, it is because what others think or have experienced can sometimes help me to form my own opinion. I don't know if my opinion on this topic will help others. I hope so but no matter what anyone else believes, I don't want any kid or adult to have to live through the horror of war even if it is portrayed as something waged by kindly allies coming to the rescue. The name on the bomb or the flag on the uniform of the soldier doesn't make any difference when it shatters your world forever.


From J in California - Response to the soapbox. . .

Mr. Shaughnessy,

One of the things that I find interesting about all of this, is that someone really believes that in this country of free speech and on this forum of the internet where there is free speech without censorship, that just because you are an actor, or you are a fan of an actor, that your feelings and words are not valid and that you don't have the right to speak out, even though they were speaking out by making that comment believing that their words were valid. I don't know anyone that is not going to be affected by this war. We all have families and friends that are serving in the military or know someone who is, and children and grandchildren and families. All of our lives are impacted by these world events. I am always amused that people say that actors should stick to acting and nothing more. Does that mean they should not use their celebrity to further charity work as well? I don't think so. I personally would rather have people come to this website and say how they feel than go to one of the websites that spews Al Queda terrorist propaganda and shows you how to make bombs and kill people that you hate.

I am a fan of Mr. Shaughnessy, but I can guarantee you that I am not a naive sycophant, cowardly, weak, lazy, unable to think for myself person just because I choose to write in to this forum. Are we to believe that all of his fans who think he is "oh so cute" or even NOT oh so cute, naive sycophants, etc. etc, or just the ones that have the same political views as him?

I don't think Mr. Shaughnessy's intent with his soapbox is to draw in and sway young naive fan/sycophants who think he is "cute" to believe the way he believes. I think he is much more genuine than some are giving him credit for. I think he has an opinion, a world wide fan base and enjoys using this opportunity to have discussions that result from the events that are affecting all of us in this world. I applaud that! It gives us the opportunity to hear first hand from people all over the world that choose to participate and I relish that. I don't think having this forum for discussion is a terrible thing. I think it is a wonderful thing, a brave gesture in a business that does not always react well to this kind of thing. I think he was brave enough to speak up with the risk of many repercussions because of it. I have read this entire website and I respectfully disagree that Mr. Shaughnessy's intent with his website is to "spew misinformation and biased politics to try and sway those around him who are too weak to think for themselves, too lazy to find out the truth, or too cowardly to stick up for what is right."

Because the word coward has been used here to describe Mr. Shaughnessy, I looked it up in the dictionary. Not that I don't know what the word coward means, but I thought, well, maybe it has a definition that I'm not aware of. I certainly don't know everything! Coward: One who shows disgraceful fear or timidity, somebody who is too easily or too greatly frightened, One who shows ignoble fear in the face of danger or pain, a coward is one who "turns tail." I don't see it. I don't think Mr. Shaughnessy or anyone that has written in here is a coward. I don't see anywhere that he even vaguely implies that he is trying to get people to believe the way that he believes. What I think he is trying to do is to get people to speak up and show that we do care about what is going on in the world. No matter what you think, no matter whether you agree with him or not, but have an opinion and express it. Perhaps with this one beginning step, it will get more people to be involved, to vote, to have discussions with their children and friends, to take part instead of just watching. I think it takes a lot of courage for anyone to speak their mind about topics as volatile and delicate as world politics and do it publicly. I would never call anyone that has written their opinions into this website weak, lazy, cowardly, unable to think for themselves and I believe that they are sticking up for what they believe is right. And the great thing about our free countries is that we get to agree to disagree. We all get to think we are right. The people that agree with Mr. Shaughnessy are no more right or wrong than those that disagree with him.

I think it is everyone's duty to speak up and believe and act on their convictions and to gather information. Everyone that I know that is against this war will do everything that they can to support the men and women fighting in our names for our freedoms, if we do go to war. But, what we want, is a peaceful solution. I think it is criminal if we allow this crucial time in our history or any time in our history to occur without being involved in it. The great thing about this country is that we are allowed to have healthy debate and free speech.

If someone of Charlie's "ilk" an American, a man, a father, an actor, a lawyer, or let's say Charlie for example, were to run for president and be elected then we would have, what, Ronald Reagan? Well, he wasn't a lawyer, but he is all of those other attributes and it would be someone of Charlie's ilk, now wouldn't it. So, according to what has been said here by someone else, I guess Ronald Reagan then, should have just stuck to acting and let those who knew what they were talking about deal with world issues.

Am I against war? You bet. Do I support & pray for the men and women of the armed services that are fighting so that I may live free? Without question. Unequivocally. One has nothing to do with the other. And I'm sure that if you asked Mr. Shaughnessy if he supports the women and men of the armed services he would say yes. Without question. My father fought in WW2. I don't know what it was like to live in that time. However, I vehemently protested the Vietnam war. I know that without the war that my father fought in, I probably would not have been able to openly protest anything or speak out here. My father, though he disagreed with me, supported me and defended my right to protest, which I did while at the same time writing to & praying for and supporting my friends & the families of every other person that was fighting there and at the same time mourning for those very young people that were fighting that war that didn't return. I am a pacifist. I wish to never see another person's blood spilled because of war. I have lived a long time. I am also not naive enough to believe that the rest of my days on this earth will be peaceful ones without wars. And that makes me very sad and scares me to my very core when I think about all of the people that die at the hands of evil and at the hands of those protecting us against evil. And it makes me very sad and scares me to my very core when I think of all of the innocents that will die in this war. Kids that today are listening to music, mothers who are cooking for their families, fathers that are reading to their children and watching movies. People just like us.

My goodness we are a blessed people. We have the right to speak freely, to express any opinion publicly without threat of censorship or government repercussions. Even actors, their fans and millions and millions of other people using this free concept that we call the world wide web have this right. For every person who has a website that is against the war, or who encourages people to express how they feel, there are a ton of others that spew terrorist propaganda and pure evil.

I oppose a unilateral preemptive strike on Iraq by the United States especially & I support the continued work of UN weapons inspectors. I support taking out Saddam Hussein and his "ilk." And I support not broadcasting our every move onto CNN so everyone knows what we are doing. I personally do not think that Saddam Hussein, will start WW3 by using his weapons of biological, chemical and mass destruction against the United States on our soil if we try to find a peaceful solution without bombing the crap out of the entire nation, but I could be wrong. Do I care if Saddam & all of his look alikes and soldiers and followers were to disappear off the face of the planet? Nope. Wouldn't mind a bit. I would love to see that happen. Do I know HOW to make that happen without waging war against the entire country. No. Does it make me have a double standard because I have just said that I am a pacifist? Maybe so. Am I conflicted? You bet. And afraid. I'm afraid of Iran and North Korea and their weapons of mass destruction and hatred of us. Are we going to go to war against them as well? Do I believe that the people that support this war, really want to wage war against the country and innocent people of Iraq? No. I believe that they want to wage war against terrorism and Saddam Hussein and his "ilk.". Against the weapons and knowledge that the United States provided to Saddam Hussein during 1980-1989 when we supplied him with the weapons and the knowledge to fight our then "common enemies."

I don't have the answers, but I am not ill informed, I am able to and do read and follow information from both sides, I have letters after my name, I have access to pertinent and accurate information, I appreciate the opportunity to read the opinions especially from people that are not Americans in a safe and informal forum, and I like Mr. Shaughnessy as an actor and enjoy his website. I am an American and a woman and I have an opinion and the right to express it and am grateful for the opportunity to do so and read the opinions of others who have chosen to participate in this forum even if we have differing views.

And I continue to pray for peace.


From Abby in Texas - My last words. . .

True to form, I have been labeled rude. Thank you. I wear that label proudly because it implies blunt honesty. And you know what? That's what's called for at times like these. Times when the few people brave enough to speak up will do so at the risk of being demonized by those who are threatened by their knowledge. If it takes bluntness and rudeness to break through the fantasy force field created by yes-men, fans, and naive sycophants, then so be it. Who am I to call someone a coward? Someone who has no political axe to grind, someone at the center of the political spectrum,a centrist Independent (who happened to have voted for Clinton in favor of Bush Sr., by the way), someone who listens and reads articles from both sides,someone with connections to those with pertinent,accurate information. You see, Mr. Shaughnessy, you're not the only one with an education; I have seven letters after my name and teach at the college level. Many of my colleagues are leftist militant liberals, bent on bullying those around them into thinking the way they want them to, so I know from whence they slither. I have to put up with their attempts to brainwash the leaders of tomorrow every day. A few of us on campus believe a professor's function is to teach students HOW to think, not WHAT to think. But I digress. . .

Bottom line: you (and those of your ilk) are no more entitled to a political soapbox than any of us. Yet, because of your celebrity, because some find you oh-so-cute, you have an unfair advantage to spew misinformation and biased politics to try and sway those around you who are too weak to think for themselves, too lazy to find out the truth, or too cowardly to stick up for what is right. Yes, it's safer to do nothing and hope this madman doesn't attack others the way he has been systematically attacking and murdering and torturing his own people and those in countries surrounding his own. Safer to blame ourselves so that we can preserve the illusion that somehow we have control of terrorist actions. Safer to let other do our thinking for us. Safer, safer, safer. And you wonder why I use the term coward.

For all the speculation going on around here, we have yet to hear from a definitive expert on the situation - - someone with first-hand knowledge of what the *Iraqi* people think and feel and want. Well, here ya go: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,6086803%255E75 83,00.html

Abby in TX (and lest I be labeled and profiled,I am a transplanted NYer)


From Dominique in Germany - Soapbox. . .

Dear Charlie,

I've been following the discussion on domestic and world events on your soapbox for quite a while now but with the recent developments,I felt I had to speak up again and thank everyone for their contributions. I know I can only speak for myself but I don't mind seeing these kind of discussions on your website at all you were right when you said if we can't do it on your page,where else?! This is something that affects us all so why shouldn't we be allowed to have our voices heard, no matter what nationality, profession or background.

Thanks for the strength, guts and decency you showed,Charlie, by posting the messages you received on your page. When I read the first messages on the RUNHP discussion board I have to admit ,I was shocked and sad at the same time to see people act that way but it only goes to show that you are a very tolerant person and give everyone the right to say how they feel.

I just recently talked to my long-time e-mail friend from Texas and decided to ask her how she felt about the current situation to which she replied: 'I find the current situation very overwhelming and honestly don't know what to think. I think Bush is a good man despite how he's portrayed he's just trying to do what's right'.

A chat friend from Holland said to me when I brought up 'war': 'Sometimes I think. . .I mean I'm only 19,what do I know about the world? What have I seen?'

On the idea of a possible war, Harry Belafonte just recently said. 'Bush is no rational thinker this irrationalism pervades his entire administration. We feel like some hanger-on of politics with no respect for others. It is the same kind of arrogance when dealing with diplomats and other countries,that isolates us. We attack governments we don't like,we destabilize entire regions if we think it's right. We use the CIA to cause harm. We send troops and we won't stop.' When the interview asked him how he felt about Germany he said 'I admire Germany..you are the tallest tree in a forest of resistance'.

The story about Germany,France and other European and foreign countries being anti US has been on and off the news a lot lately..I still consider my chat and e-mail friends in the US and Europe my friends. The media plays off of very specific and small groups and makes it look like it's the entire nation. I think it's just a personal matter for lots and lots of people and it's natural instinct to make the ones against you seem wrong. However, there are alot of people all over the world who don't look at it that way.

As for the US,their enthusiasm seems to be limited from what I've heard and readonly about 50 per cent of the American population is convinced that a war against the Iraq is necessary - sometimes 20 per cent more,sometimes 20 per cent less. People buy batteries,water to be prepared. Families are torn apart for the 'good of their country',to protect the nation to quote a little girl whose mom serves in the US army: 'Mom needs to fight against the bad guys who flew right into the skyscrapers'.

When questioning people in Bush's home state,Texas,two of his friends,who know him well, said about him. 'Bush believes in his country and that god will help him.'. Bush officially sets for the power of argument. Not long ago the American state department indicated that each country that wouldn't support their policy would have to pay a high price...so happened with the Yemen in 1991 when they said no re gulf war. The United States of America withdrew their annual financial support of $24 million 'In good times you see your friends,in bad times you see your enemies' the US-embassador of Mexico City said when Mexico decided not to side with the US.

Saddam Hussein and Iraq? I guess most of us know that he is a threat to the world not only because of what he has done to his own people in the past. Iraqi people in Germany,interviewed by a German magazine said that Saddam had millions of mines put down to drive the Kurds out of their homes and villages and kill them. They explained how back in 1988 in Halabaja more than 5,000 people died of poison gas..some parents even had to pay for the bullets that would kill their children to bury their bodies. When the interviewer asked the Iraqi about the future of the Iraq,they said 'We want a humanitarian intervention under UN mandate resolved with the use of troops leading to a democratic Iraq'.

As for comparing what happened about sixty years ago in Nazi Germany with what is happening today... During World War II the Germans committed horrible crimes,without doubt. Sven Lindquist,Swedish author of the book 'A History of Bombing" explained that the bombing against Germans wasn't meant to be an invention of a single nation but that of a whole industrialized confederation of states. What happened in Nazi Germany was a crime within a legitimate war of the Allies. On the German side the whole war,at least in the Eastern part,was considered a crime. The genocide of the Jews was much more than a criminal war. This was a persecution terror by the state,an effort to blot out human life...the British never had the intention to destroy the Germans as a nation but to destroy the 'moral' of the population. The war back then was not a sign of the World War II, it is just until this very day a part of the industrialized society.

To sum it up,there will always be people like Saddam Hussein,Stalin,Bin Laden, Hitler who'll think the world is theirs to take,no matter what the consequences. This has been proven in the past many many times and continues to live among us. . . It's up to us to 'think further'...


From Liane in Germany - Comment. . .

Mr.Shaughnessy!

My PC has broken down so I was not able to to read the "Soapbax, for several days and as I`m using a public facility I decided to have a look what has been entered since my last visit. Although I have already voiced my opinion on your page,I feel the need to comment again as some of the views of the past week anger me.

How rude and ignorant can one be to call someone a coward! I would have deemed it cowardice on your part and that you are not "with it", if you had NOT voiced you opinion as I am sure you were requested to do so by your followers. These days actors are well educated and many like you have University Degrees. Furthermore I can assume you have other channels for protest. It is not unusual that celebrities use their popularity to voice their opinion in the media. Dustin Hoffman , Susan Sarandon, Elton John and the great Vanessa Redgrave to mention just a few. You Charles are doing it "your way" with the Soapbox and with this you are giving "ordinary folks" a platform to let off steam and that is in my view OK,and I thank you for that.

I know in rural areas the Media are manipulated and adjusted for local purposes. I've been to the US several times and have always complained over the lack of World information and usually by the time I leave (3-4 weeks!) I am "suffering" from news deprivation. Maybe I'm just spoilt because where I live at present (Berlin Germany) we are well informed. Furthermore if there is a war,"Old Europe" would have to cope with the influx of refugees from the war zones as it did in the 80's and 90's from lebanon,Turkey and Iraq (Kurds) and then of course Bosnia and Afghanistan. The US took only a small portion of these people and then only after intensive screening. I worked with refugees for 8 yrs. and know what I'm talking about, as I often saw the sadness and frustration in their eyes when they were refused entry. These were mostly families I may add. Some of them still live here and see no future for themselves. The sad part is that the children are with little future as they belong nowhere.

It is all very well to clean up a country of it's dictactorial regime and destroy it's infrastructure, but what happens afterwards is more important and the real work begins. Afghanistan is the best example. There are no known US contingents there anymore. It's the Europeans who are doind the "dirty work" trying to keep the peace. I read in the local press this week that Bush has requested help from Old Europe when he is finished with Iraq! What audacity! First he destroys and then leaves the "cleanup " to Others. Bush has disregarded all measures of decency. He ignores the advice of old friends e.g. France and Germany, ignores descisions of the UN Security Council, blackmails weaker members and has them observed (the CIA observes all members excluding US and British members). Incidentally the day this was annouced, I found no mention of this in any US Press or Online or TV reports! Should Bush go to war and it doesn`t go well for him he will of course then blame the no war lobby. However if needed he will have no scruples to demand assistance from these and if he doesn`t get it he will apply sanctions to just these countries.

Finally I am afraid and angry. I survived WWII and the Holocaust. I was only a child but those memories will always be with me and had I not found security and peace in my adopted country Australia, life would have turned different for me, and now just this country is cohorting with the US Government. Thank goodness there is still diplomacy and the Security council and I hope that these measures will be used until they are exhausted.

Finally,I think the Lysystrata Project was indeed suited on the 3rd March to protest against war. If there were more Oestrogens (excepting C.Rice!) ruling this world, we may have less or no wars. Women as proven in the play,solve their problems in much more subtle ways! I do hope that maybe in a few months ,we can use this forum to rejoice because a solution has been found and not comlain because things have become worse. With this,I shall close and hope you keep up the good work Charles.


From Elizabeth in Indiana - In Defense Of Our President. . .

Mr. Shaughnessy,

I fully expected to disagree with your soapbox comments on the potential war with Iraq, as I'm aware that your political views are quite the polar opposite of my own. However, I'm not one to shut out opinions with which I disagree, and I believe that exposure to the views of others helps to inform, shape and strengthen one's own views.

What I did not expect, however, was to be offended by the views you expressed, particularly your opinions regarding President Bush. My first source of disagreement is with your characterization of the President as a bull-headed son out to avenge his father based on a sense of manifest destiny and entitlement. Think for a moment, if you will, of what a preposterous and ridiculous accusation this is. No President wants to send his troops into harm's way if there is not an extremely compelling reason to do so. Do you honestly believe that Mr. Bush's desire to avenge his father is a motivating factor in his current decisionmaking process?

I realize that people of sound and thoughtful minds disagree on the issue of what should be done about Saddam Hussein. I am more than willing to listen to thoughtful policy debates on the issue. However, characterization of our President as a war-monger motivated by personal retaliatory interests has no place in this debate. I have noticed over the last several months that there seems to be a number of people who oppose the war based simply upon their extreme dislike of President Bush. There are other much better reasons to oppose the war than this --reasons based on genuine policy disagreements and not simply on personal dislike. Since President Bush took office, I have been impressed by his sincerity and his compassion. Whether or not you agree with his policies, he seems to be, above all, a well-intentioned and decent man. I cannot and will not believe that he would use war as a means of furthering his own personal agenda in the way you have suggested.

Secondly, I take great offense to your suggestion that Republicans diverted the attentions of the Clinton administration away from dealing with Al Qaeda and Iraq by focusing instead on Monica Lewinsky, Whitewater, etc. These are distractions, Mr. Shaughnessy, that President Clinton created himself and the blame lies solely at his feet. Were we simply supposed to turn a blind eye to his misconduct and criminal activity under the theory that "the King can do no wrong"? Furthermore, your statements suggest that Republicans maliciously conspired to prevent anything from being done about these grave and gathering threats. Again, this begs the question, how can you honestly believe this to be true? It saddens and upsets me to know that there are people so jaded and cynical where our government is concerned that they could genuinely believe such a thing.

Finally, I would ask the visitors to your site to consider the following question -- Why would Tony Blair be committing political suicide (as he surely is right now) if there were not an extremely compelling reason to do so. Mr. Blair's actions speak volumes to me and should suggest to all of us that the threat posed by Iraq is grave, indeed.


From Marina in Texas - War is not the answer. . .

C.S., et al:

Kudos on voicing your opinions and exercising your right to Freedom of Speech! As for my fellow Texans, your opinion were, lets say, misdirected. As for Abby from Texas, your John Stuart Mill quote says it all: "The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight,...." It seems to me that Charles Shaughnessy, as well as you, are fighting for your beliefs, as differrent as they may be. You are both being very outspoken and our enjoying one of our most precious liberties, freedom of speech. Maybe -- although I don't really think so---- you would prefer George W. Bush have a judge issue a gag order on all those so-called "ACTORS". Who do you think is going to get gagged if we get another McCarthy era? Possibly the only hope you have will be to take your chances of being an "opinionated Texan" and shooting your mouth off to the press, or writing things in soapboxes for "ACTORS" like I used to do for conscientious objectors in motions and briefs.

Out of sight, out of mind, is the rule of the establishment. For example, when those men and women at our capitol (Austin, Texas capitol) were getting rooked and raised so much hell they had to be tied to their chairs --- I liked that. Not as a lawyer, but as a citizen. You have to keep the press, the media, "ACTORS", on the asses of judges, and on the Executive.

As for me and living in Texas, that's all, I just live in Texas.? I follow politics and our idiotic President with some degree of interest.? I? DID NOT contribute and WILL NOT contribute to any of his desires and/or? policies; although, I am inundated with? surveys and solicitations, from his administration? which I deposit directly into the trash.? I had filled out one of the surveys, but I thought my responses might land me on some subversives list, so I didn't mail it. After reading your Soapbox and the responses (especially from the Texans) I have choosen to be more vocal in this dear State of mine and mail out those surveys.

Definitely WAR is not the answer! We should be thankful for what we have in the US.

A few months back, I read a chilling article written by Mark Bowden in the Atlantic Monthly http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2002/05/bowden.htm.?? Bowden had interviewed? former associates, enemies, friends and some family of Saddam Hussein and had pieced together the man's rise to power.? He wrote of one early incident, where Hussein had invited?all his key?military men and various government officials to a reunion. On a stage,?Hussein made a surprise announcement that there?were traitors among them.?One by one, his military police plucked people out of the audience and took them away.? Those?who?were left could only look at each other and wonder if they?were next.?They either later escaped the country or never dared speak out again against?Hussein's regime.??

? What am I leading to? Well, read the following and if you are still with me towards the end you will understand were I am going with this.

These last weeks, I've begun?to?wonder if a similar scenario as the one in Iraq is unfolding in Venezuela (the country I was born and raised in),?right underneath the noses of?well-intentioned -- but otherwise useless -- OAS,?Group of Friends and Jimmy Carter.??Several weeks ago,?three dissident soldiers and a woman were found dead, shot execution style, near Caracas (the capital of Venezuela). Pro-government thugs also showed up at the hospital to try to do away with a 14-year old girl, who witnessed and survived the killings. Another woman is missing. The victims?had all been rounded up at the same time over the weekend.??The? government?says the killings were probably some "personal vendetta" and that the hospital incident isn't linked. And more remarkably, police released the thugs that had raided the hospital!

? Also, several weeks ago,? the Brits captured a Venezuelan with a hand grenade at Heathrow. It was all over the international news.?The British police have even showed up in Venezuela to investigate.?How dare this transient threaten?the Western world??? But, back home in Venezuela, the Venezuelan government openly threatens individual rights everyday and we can't do a damn thing about it.? Where are the Marines when you need them?? Gosh, I used to think that?kidnappings were bad enough, as the rest of South America sits housebound?to conserve gasoline and watch society?unravel.??

Of course, Chavez, the current Venezuelan President, should resign, but he won't. A harsh reality. He doesn't love his country enough to do what's best for it and his megalomania is spiraling out of control. Every time some window of hope, like Carter,?is presented, Chavez throws gasoline on the fire as soon as he can.?

Yesterday, he proudly strutted his stuff during?the?transfer?of power?to his?once again new?Minister of Defense. I said?to a friend, "Chavez has been watching too much TV footage from North Korea."? There on the tarmac, he had his military out for display and?his generals lined up on either side of him while he bellowed on about his democracy, his armed forces, his revolution, bla bla bla.? (He?held up his little blue?constitution,?which was once?called?the "bicho" but has now been renamed the "puta"?since it has?been violated so much.)

? The show of force was?paltry, reminding me of?a Grade B movie that I'm sure someone has produced about?some?dictator somewhere in South America. Nonetheless,?it did send me into another round of despair?as it sank in once again that Chavez will not only never resign, he will never allow elections.??Nice try, Carter, for trying to?deal with a sociopath.

Now, let me get to the point. Does anybody really care what happens in Venezuela? Probably Not. Many of you, unless you have family and friends there, or are interested in the world's oil economy, could care less. The point I am trying to make is, just like Jimmy Carter with Chavez, BUSH shouldn't cater to a SOCIOPATH'S desires and needs for attention (Hussien). Personally, I?think Bush is?looking for a distraction because?he can't control?an impending economic downfall and he wants to make his daddy proud.?

? On that note, I am leaving you with this thought: What will War really bring? Will it be the beginning of the end, the beginning of the beginning, or the end of the beginning?


From Susanne in Austria - A Response to a letter from Charlie on Domestic and World events. . .

Dear Mr Shaughnessy,

Since some people apparently demand that you are a politician nowadays to be allowed to talk on war, I should warn you in advance that I do not fulfil this requirement. Worse, I am only a 21-year-old student of the arts (don't panic Abby, I'm not studying to become an actress) from Europe, who is certainly not the brightest person in the world and cannot put her thoughts into such eloquent English like you, Mr Shaughnessy. But may I kindly remind everyone, especially you, dear Abby, of Article 19 of the UN Declarations of Human Rights?

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Actually I didn't plan to express my opinion on this very touchy subject but a few comments made here and on other forums and boards made me run my MS Word and write these lines to you.

With great shock I realized that people outside the U.S who do not agree on war are considered to be anti-American and, even worse, people who live in the U.S. and oppose war are stigmatised as traitors to their own country. Regarding the anti-Americanism I want to stress that it is mainly an anti-Bush position, which I think results partly from the wish of the people of the respective nations to avoid being drawn into another world war by a single man. Alas, we already had this dark chapter in history, and we have learned from it!!! Nevertheless I am realistic enough to know that the French and Russian governments are toying with the idea of a veto due to uncertainty whether it's best to stick with the old oil contracts with Iraq or to team up with the U.S. and get a decent amount of oil reserves as a war reward. Anyway I was talking about the people not the politicians.

We are not ungrateful as some American people like to describe us, and the "Old Europe" has not yet forgotten the help it received from its American friends in the past, however ? like many have mentioned already before ? friends tend to differ on topics from time to time. It is very shameful for the American people to harp upon their rescue and support. Friends don't do that, friends help each other because it is out of the question to do otherwise. They help because they want to and not because they expect some kind of reciprocal benefit or eternal gratitude. Helping should be a natural and human thing not a check balance of each other's support and thankfulness. Most Europeans are not against the American people, they are against the vision of George Bush, please keep that in mind. After all we are not the ones that boycott goods from the U.S and renamed our "French Fries" into "Freedom Fries". We still frequent Mc Donald's and Starbucks and munch our popcorn and drink Coca Cola while watching Hollywood movies. But maybe you want to rename the Hamburger into something that sounds more patriotic and American like "Gettysburger".

America boasts of its exemplary Constitution, which includes already the basic human rights; one of which is the right to freedom of speech, which was later received in the United Nations' Human Rights. Everybody means just what it says, namely everybody; regardless of race, gender, profession, social status and background. If actors and actresses want to express their opinion on a topic you can't deny them their basic rights, even if you don't agree with what they say. You may politely disagree but a lot of people go that far to call those people traitors and cowards. Who says that actors cannot be politically educated people who happen to take an interest in world's politics? People like Abby will probably question their motives but there are some actors and actresses who really do and have done for a long time. You bet I won't list them here, because a) there are too much of them and b) you'd only run them down anyway.

Abby, you said people should stick to their profession and Hollywood should grow up, but it is you who behaves like a child by not accepting other people's points of views and attack them personally. I could lower myself onto your niveau now by hinting that people in glass-houses shall not throw stones. After all you did not exactly give the impression of being a politician yourself so go figure. . .

Nevertheless I may warn you that other people could do so and respond with a German proverb ("The way you shout into the wood, the way it will response") which equals your English one "You get how much as you give"? It's certainly pure coincidence that you come from Texas, right? *gasp* *shock* Now, how does it feel to be attacked on a personal level without any sound argument or reasoning. It's not the purpose of this letter to defend Mr Shaughnessy as I am sure he can speak for himself, but the harsh personal attack in your message just provoked me.

Let's not insinuate that George W. Bush is only after the oil reserves and on a personal avenging campaign but assume that he really, really believes in what he says, namely that by overthrowing the Iraqi regime he'll be able to successfully found democracy in the Middle East. Sure, Mr President, the Middle East has just been waiting for you to come and solve all their problems they cannot do alone. I don't know whether I should cry or laugh at this naivety. Democracy cannot be established over night, it's a long and painful process. It needs to come out of the people itself and must not be imposed by a second, foreign power. Even democratic movements whose roots lay within the own nation did not succeed at once. Think of the Russian or the French Revolution; both failed miserably. Russia had two revolutions and they resulted in a dictator named Josef Stalin, who killed millions of people. The aim of the French Revolution was to free the country of the oppression of aristocracy, but its result was that a stocky Corsican picked up the crown from the gutter and crowned himself Emperor of France. The same man led war with whole Europe and his megalomania reminds me inevitably of a certain U.S politician, which is a very friendly comparison, as some people who are very angry with Mr Bush like to compare him with another megalomaniac, psychotic dictator of the twentieth century ? and I don't think of Stalin now.

Remember how instable the Afghanistan government remained despite U.S. support? It will take more than years to establish a somewhat stable democratic government in Iraq. Who says that the Iraqi people will accept an American intervened government? Who says the Iraqi people welcomes U.S troops marching into their country? You really think it will be a fast and easy war? The cynic in me rubs her hands and retorts smugly, "Lyndon B Johnson thought that too when he signed the Tonkin Resolution."

History proves two points: 1. You can kill people but you cannot kill an idea.

2. People who fight for dear life are a mightier enemy than any paid soldier.

The Iraqi people will certainly not put their hands into their laps and let American troops and bombers destroy their country. They are a very poor people and they have not much too lose since the social, medical and economic situation caused by the embargo is disastrous.

George W Bush has not presented one sound reason or evidence that would justify a war with Iraq. The simple suspicion Saddam Hussein could have mass destruction weapons is nothing more than a simple pretext.

Bush accuses him of being a liar because he doesn't show the U.S. his weapons and resumes it's enough to start a war. Has Bush ever shown his proofs that Saddam Hussein has these weapons at all? Mr Bush's sword cuts both ways I think. His attitude resembles more the one of a little boy, hiding his most precious toy behind his back when asked what does he have there, than the one of the President of the United States. I know that the government cannot and must not provide all their secret sources and evidence material but one sound argument would not be asked too much, would it? Could it be he has none after all? The longer I think about this hypothesis the more it reminds me of the film "Wag The Dog" where "America" declared war to a very astonished Albania.

No country in the world has the right to kill innocent people in a war. On the first U.S. strike it will be Iraqi casualties, women and children like so often, that will be killed but definitely not Saddam Hussein.

Neither has any country the right to march into another one to overthrow it's government just because it happens to be dissatisfied with the foreign government. If George Bush really decides to launch a war on Iraq despite France's and Russia's vetoes ? this is the impression Bush gives people in Europe ? he will not be a jot better than Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait. Apart from violating a few articles of the U.N. Charter such a solo run by the U.S. and its ally, the U.K., will equal a breach of contract since they agreed on and signed the U.N. Charter in 1945 in San Francisco.

The U.S. have already broken the second article of the U.N. Charter but one could kindly overlook and consider this a peccadillo. In case of a war without a U.N. mandate they would not only be violating articles 25 and 33 of the U.N. Charter but also International Law (which is included in articles 39-41 of the U.N Charter). Thus they would risk to be expelled from the United Nations as suggested in article 6. However, I guess that won't bother too many people in America, for I have often heard and read from U.S. people that the U.N is the joke of the month. I hope those people and the Bush administration will be proud of themselves to have managed that. I only doubt the American people who support Bush have fully comprehended what a solo run of the U.S. could or would mean.

In fact Bush could bring the world on the brink of another world war if he aggravates the political climate much longer. The hidden insults on "Old Europe" and the "bribing" of countries does not cast a good light on Bush, Rumsfeld & Co. Their pressure on the United Nations' members splits not only Europe but the whole world, now that China indicated a possible veto as well. Bilateral relationships crumble in the face of different political point of views, the U.N. and the E.U are conspicuous by disharmony among its member states.

The thing that upsets me most is the double moral standards of the Bush Cabinet when it comes to a conflict with North Korea. Saddam Hussein has recently never threatened the U.S. in contrast to North Korea. Ironically it's the Iraq that is under fire. You have to let that melt on your tongue:

America threatens another country that has given no sign of intention to harm the U.S with war, BUT they try to solve controversies diplomatically with yet another country that has made publicly that they could indeed build nuclear mass destruction weapons and use them against the U.S!!!! I wonder who is the greater threat to America? I no longer wonder, though, who the greatest threat to world peace is: George W Bush.

As terrible as the following words will sound as true they are: I am afraid and fairly certain that George Bush will start a war with Iraq, for in his eyes doing otherwise would be tantamount to losing his face not only in front of his nation but the whole world. He has threatened Saddam Hussein so many times that it will undermine Bush's authority worldwide if he gave in. It would look like as if all George Bush can produce is thin air and nothing will happen anyway. If America does not strike Saddam will be laughing up his sleeves about Bush and this idea Bush won't bear. Bush would be exposed as an "arrogant juvenile boaster" and would be compared to a mother who threatens her child with punishment but never takes any consequences. Bush would lose the last remainder of his political credibility, if he withdrew from war, and would become the joke of the month himself. This is something a megalomaniac, complacent, arrogant man like George W Bush will never put up with, sooner he is going to wipe out a country from the landmarks, even if it is under false pretences. America the Beautiful look what your president has got you into.

Do not misunderstand me, I do not support nor like nor trust a man like Saddam Hussein. What he does with his own country, his own people is reprehensible, wrong, illegal and shameful. He violates basic human rights and exploits his own country. We have to stop him but not by carpet bombing Iraq. We have to stick to Internationaland Law and diplomacy and seek a peaceful solution. We must not let things slip out of our hands to a point where we set off a war scenario we might not be able to control anymore. War can never be the answer to a conflict. War must always remain the absolutely last solution, because violence causes counter-violence. And through violence we gain nothing but dreadful bloodbaths.


From SD in Northern California - My Apologies to Charlie, the Germans, and the French.. . .

Charlie~

After careful reflection, and from responses to my post to your site that I also posted on the RUNHP, I think that I should firstly, thank you for actually posting my comments, and secondly post an addendum, which I also posted on the RUNHP:

"My deepest and most humble apologies. I was unforgivably rude...especially to the two Europeans who I hold dear to my heart...Sabine and David. How can I best express how conflicted I am? I spent a great deal of time in Europe over the past summer, and if I wasn't so damned busy I'd go back in a heartbeat. I love Europe...especially France and Germany, but I must admit that even when I was there, there was Anti-American sentiment all over the place. The funny thing was, they had no qualms about accepting my money. Still, it was wrong for me to generalize and lump those countries into one Anti-American mold, but perhaps now you can see things a little from our perspective. The average American isn't the gun toting, barbaric red-neck the global media makes us out to be. We are as sophisticated and complicated as any other group of people, and most of us, if not all, are damn scared too!! I don't want war anymore than the next person, and everyone here is on edge. I don't have any answers, but I'm also not naive enough to trust my government blindly either. The truth is...aside from voicing our opinions, we really have no say in what the President decides to do. He is Commander-in-chief of our armed forces, and in times of war, he is where the buck stops. I am glad that Bush is my president instead of Hussein.

War is a solution, but I'm not saying it's the best. If the EU honestly believes and can assure the world that Saddam Hussein will concede and disarm in a timely manner, then I'm all for withdrawal of American troops. But...should American forces withdraw, can and will the EU step in militarily (without US support) should Iraq suddenly become aggressive? Or, will the US look like cowards and fools, and be accused of not supporting the global effort for world peace? Either way, the US will be critcized. I will continue to support my President and government, and hopefully with prayer, the right decisions will be made.

About my criticizing the use of "Lysistrata" ...for those who have not read that play...it was written by a Greek playwright named Aristophanes, around 450 BC. The play is the first official anti-war/protest literature ever written, and though absolutely excellent, it is much more a play that should prick people's conscience during times of peace. This play is a comedy, with heavy political undertones, but a comedy none-the-less. Not only that, but it's full of over-the-top sexual situations that will have you rolling on the floor trying to catch your breath from all the laughter. My objection was simply that I really don't think that the current global situation is anything to laugh at...we should all be praying, or at least stay sober minded. Charlie's group would have done better to do that reading six months ago...I suppose my main objection is the timing. Please understand that my comments come from my frustration at the Anti-American backlash. Again, my apologies for my behavior. I will do my best to relegate my comments to the voting booth."

P.S.? Thank you for allowing this "soapbox" forum to be balanced and fair, and though I meant to put it at the end of my previous post (just seemed at the time to be in bad taste), my youngest just adores Dennis.?

"To live is to war with trolls in heart and soul.? To write is to sit in judgment on oneself"? Ibsen


From Stephane in France - Freedom of Speech . .

Dear Charles,

I was quite schocked when watching the news recently with some comments made by some US economists. I don't know these people and don't remember their names, and so I don't know how representative they could be, but sill... It was about the Turkish parliament decision not to let american troops deploy in Turkey, to open a North front in case of invasion. For the first time since many years, the Turks have not support the American. After this decision, the American government issued threat to withdraw economical help to Turkey. Istanbul stock exchange dropped. And then some American specialist said : "If the Turks want to become our friend again, they need to learn how to vote the right way". Vote the right way?? This means that a government, which is ready to wedge war to a country because its people are not free, would at the same time deny the result of an election in an allied country when the result is not in compliance with this government needs? Where is the freedom in all that? I think that someone who has been elected with such a narrow advantage should have learn the meaning of democracy, but apparently he has not.

A american president was at the origin of the Society of Nations. The siege of UNO is in New York. But the Bush adminastration is willing to ignore completly the UNO, to ignore what the rest of the world is thinking. The American people represente about 4% of the world population... Bush hawks are ready to invade a country, because they claim the Iraq army is not disarming fast enough, and is willingly igoring a UNO resolution. And at the same time they do not want to follow the United Nations ??? And I think the country that holds the record of no compliance of UNO resolutions (or of veto to avoid UNO resolutions against it) is an American ally. This is almost a ridiculous pretext. When the USA were asking Iraq to give a complete listing of all their weapons and secret research, I was wondering one thing: what would the American government do if any other country, or group of countries ask them to formally described all the American arsenal, including "secret weapons" ? Will they do it? Some say it's a morale duty to invade Iraq, to help Saddam's own people because he is killing them. But how many of this very same people will die during an invasion? If the goal is simply to remove Saddam, why doesn't the American adminastration send some elite troops to physically remove him, without harming the poor oppressed citizen? Does Saddam deserve to die? "Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so eager to deal out death in judgement". Ok, this is not from me, but I think this little sentence has a lot of wisdom.


From Mary Ann in Cleveland - How do you explain this? . .

Charlie,

If we would have stopped Hitler at Munich, millions of people would not have died horrible deaths in prison camps. How do you propose we stop this madman in Iraq before he can develop nuclear weapons? All the knee-jerk liberals offer opposition, but never offer solutions.

I am a moderate democrat who voted for Al Gore, but can see both sides of the situation, unlike many people who just hate Bush and anything he does.

Also, where were all you anit-war people when the Clinton Administration was in Bosnia and Somalia? Never heard any protest from the limousine liberals then!

Also, how do you explain this? http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2003101096,00.html


From Alexandra in Israel - War in Iraq! . .

Dear Charles, ?

I read what you said about war in Iraq and I had to respond... I have a question to ask you: do you know why Iraq hasn't done any violent acts? well I guess that you don't know, so I will remind? it to you. Iraq is not that dangerous now because israel has bombed their deleopment of a nuclear bomb in 1981 and also because of Americas attack in Iraq in 1991.

Saddam is dangerous, whether you?believe it or not! he used biological and chemical weapon in Iran and he has no problems using it again! countries like Kuwait and Israel (where I live) are in a risk.? America may be in a risk too, this is why Bush decided to go to this war! You are saying that a war in Iraq would a mistake, well maybe you are right, we can't really know what can happen but we have to take the risk. A war in Iraq can change the world, this country is a country of terror. Saddam uses violence in order to control the Iraqi people so I can't really see what are you suggesting? Peace? I THINK NOT!!!

Saddam is evil and crazy, you can't know what will he do in the future, ring a bell? well it is to me. Adolf Hitler, France and Britain could stop him but they didn't!!! world war 2 and the?killing of 6 million jewish people?could have been prevented if Britain and France weren't that peaceful! I am not ready to pay the price again, I am happy that Blair is a little bit more reallistic that Chamberline!

? Don't get me wrong I respect you as an actor, you are really awesome, but I disagree with you totaly! well I guess I can't really blame you for that! I suppose that when you are in LA living your peaceful life, all you want is peace. However when you live in a place like Israel you are not that naif


From Jenn in Canada - Soapbox Opinion . .

Dear Charles.

After reading Abby's response, I felt compelled to respond to her comments and at the same time, voice my opinions as a Canadian and citizen of the world on the topic of a possible war with Iraq.

Respectfully I disagree with you Abby. Just so you know my 'qualifications', you may be assured that I'm not an actor. As you may recall from our past encounters, I'm well educated and I'm over 40 if that counts for anything. I've spent many years working and living under both the Conservative (similar to the Republican party) and Liberal (similar to the Democratic party) governments of Canada. I was a member of an elite division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (it's like your FBI) which specialized in protecting high level Canadian and foreign (including USA) diplomats and politicians and combating international terrorism so I'm hardly uninformed internationally, politically or intellectually.

Although he likely doesn't need it, allow me to put forth a few points in Charles Shaughnessy's defense. First, let me make clear that I do not like or trust Saddam Hussein or his government and I believe that he has caused untold harm to the people in his own country. This appears to be something all of us can agree on. Now onto the topic of who has the right to speak out and express an opinion on what to do about Iraq and Saddam. Surely not an "actor" you say ? May I point out that Charles has a law degree from Cambridge University so he hardly qualifies as an uninformed or ill informed "actor". He appears to be highly literate and well informed globally. His opinions are remarkably close to those expressed by quite a number of spokespeople for and citizens of numerous developed democratic countries.

So who does have the right to speak out on world issues? Perhaps the citizens of the world outside of the USA deserve to be heard as much as those in the USA. Are you aware that 85 % of Canadians, 74 % of British citizens, 89 % of the French and 87 % of Germans do not support the USA proposition to declare war on Iraq. I believe the math would show that this means millions of people share this viewpoint.

Now of course some Americans may view this as being anti American, but again I disagree. I can't speak for citizens of other countries but most of my fellow Canadians, including myself, are pro American. We can't help but be influenced both positively and negatively by your culture. You're our friends and neighbours and our largest trading partners. In addition, although very few of you seem to recognize it, Canada is the USA's largest trading partner too (and if you thought Mexico, Britain, Japan, or even China, you were mistaken).

Lately I've been hearing allot of unflattering press on how some Americans feel about Canada, Germany and France. Why is it that the USA can declare itself patriotic when bashing other countries but gets it's nose out of joint when other countries ( or worse, fellow Americans) disagree with the USA government ? Surely Americans can't overlook how enormously important these countries are to the USA economy. We supply natural resources, high tech services, medical technology and many other consumer goods and services to the USA.

Most of the world does value the USA's opinions, economic might and cultural impact but we also value our own ability to make decisions and do not like to be told how to think by the USA. Are you aware that the Bush government is resorting to economic threats against those countries who dare to hold a different opinion on Iraq ? Would you feel kindly towards a neighbour who said, "do what we say or we'll levy heavy taxes or sanctions against your oil, hardwood products and fish ?".

Of course being Canadians, we're often too polite to point out that you get much of your hydro electric power and wood products to build your homes from us and we would never think of withholding these things from you. Vindictiveness is not our style. We also hate being called weak, ineffective or fearful, yet we're hesitant to remind you that we've participated in almost every peacekeeping mission since the inception of the UN and that when World War II broke out, we went to the aid of Britain and Europe years before the USA joined in in 1941.

I have always been a fairly moderate and reasonable Liberal party supporter and if I were an American I would likely be a Democrat. Like Charles, I believe most Americans try to elect a good government and quite rightly trust them to make the best choices on their behalf. Unfortunately even good governments and good people sometimes make bad choices. Although I disagree with many of his views and policies, I suspect George W. Bush is essentially a good man who hopes to make the world a better place but he seems to be going about it in a way that alarms much of the world.

Here's another point. I'm sure you are aware that usually only the very wealthy in North American society can afford to run for political office. These people gain office through highly publicized and heavily funded ( often by unscrupulous private interest groups) campaigns. The reality is that Joe Smith, local retail store clerk or office worker rarely gets the financial backing to become a senator or congressman. Is a wealthy politician who is "owned" by some giant corporation who got him or her elected, really representative of the average voter's interests ? I think not. Federal politics is a haven for the economically privileged. In fact one such wealthy citizen and yes, a former actor, became one of your Republican Presidents ( anyone remember a Mr. Reagan?).

Now granted, allot of actors jump on the political bandwagon for PR purposes, and heaven knows that many are ill informed or misdirected. This doesn't seem to be the case where Charles is concerned. He isn't known as a party circuit, glamour boy who appears at every Hollywood film opening, flogging his latest role or book. He supports local and national charities and community programs (often sans publicity or fanfare), is a responsable man and father and has proven he's willing to put his money and time where his mouth is in order to give back to society. Don't you wish more politicians did that?

In summation, I may not agree entirely with all the words Charles Shaughnessy uses to express himself, but I certainly agree that in this particular situation, it's time for citizens of all countries to be informed and to speak out against unilateral action by the USA government against Iraq.


From Abby in Texas - Cowardice and nothing more . .

Mr. Shaughnessy, you are a coward. Stick to acting and let those who know what they're talking about deal with world issues. Hollywood needs to grow up and realize this is much bigger than politics--much bigger than the fact a Republican (gasp!) is in the White House. If you choose to believe the pablum served up by militant political activists in defense of a tyrannical, muderous barbarian, rather than your own government (US or UK, take your pick), than you, sir, are living in a fantasy world; a world that ignores fact in favor of political power agendas.

Shame on you and your ilk for using your celebrity to push this ridiculously naive agenda. In case you haven't noticed, you are an ACTOR. Now go act.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself"

-John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)


From Alicia in Argentina - U.S. Iraq. . .

dear Mr. Shaughnessy:

If all men in the world would thinking as you, the world would be very different. If I were you, would say the same words that you wrote, in the same line of thinking. We have arrived at the same conclusion: WAR IS A TERRIBLE MISTAKE AND PEOPLE IN BOTH OF THE COUNTRIES U.S AND IRAQ DONT DESERVES WAR. But your president... he's dead set on fighting and nothing we can say can change his mind -for the horror of all the humanity, of course- . When I analyze the conduct of the powerful men in the government in the world, I think... what's expecting us? In what kind of hands are we? On the one hand, Saddam...he handles chemicals, he plays with the lifes of all the world if he wants. By the other side, G. Bush, who thinks that WAR is the only one solution. Both of them are so powerful in a form that we don't understand. TWO MEN IN STRUGGLE. TWO MEN PLAYING WITH OURS LIVES AS IN A RUSSIAN ROULETTE..!!!!!!!

I think that to be in war, declare the war in the XXI CENTURY is a great MADNESS. Bush is in the brink of madness. If he would put the machinery into motion in a way of peace and security for a best world, he would be a good man and a good president, but not... he talks and we don't understand him, we can t figure out what he meant by this or that . He is in a wrong way. All the world can see that but he can not.

IN SHORT: All I know is that: We want PEACE . THE PEOPLE OF ALL KINDS HATES WAR. I also think that you are in GOOD CONDITIONS for a role very important in the political life of U.S. BECAUSE YOU CAN THINK SERIOUSLY. THANKS YOU FOR YOUR GREAT MESSAGE. YOU ARE BRILLIANT...!!!!!!


From Laura in Texas - War Talk. . .

It is with great sadness that I write this letter. I have been a fan for so long, but, I will have to take my name off your newsletter mailing list if you continue to use it as a forum for your political beliefs. I am not questioning your opinions - as a proud American I will fight to the death for your right to have an opinion even if it is different from mine. However, that is not why I keep up with you. I want to know what shows you will be appearing on etc. I just don't think politics are appropriate and if you continue to use your newsletter for this purpose, I will take my name off the list.


From Rebecca in California - Soapbox response. . .

Dear Charlie,

I am one of the many who agrees with your sentiments. I know much of the Western world is not against Americans but against Bush. However, most of the Middle East do not view the people and the government separately. I did not vote for Bush, and in many ways I don't consider him my President. He doesn't represent any of the views or actions that I believe in, and furthermore he doesn't care to even listen to the American people. The marches that took place throughout the world were amazing and a huge symbol for the lack of support of this war.

Of course a war is revenge for his father. There is no other reason that has been demonstrated. Sadly, half of the country believes in Bush and the other half doesn't. The presidency is a winner take all situation, and he sure has used it to his fullest ability. I am nervous about America's future while it's in the hands of Bush because I like the freedom that I have enjoyed during my life. I feel that there is a huge risk to the safety of that freedom because of his actions in the Middle East.

I hope that everything works out for peace for all people in the world.


From Mary Ann from Northern Virginia - Response to soapbox. . .

Charlie,

I just stopped by your website to see what you're up to. After reading your soapbox I had to write. You stated everything so well! I feel the same way about the state of affairs in the country and the world. Ever since the current administration took power things have gone down hill so quickly! Frankly, our current state of affairs is very scary! What does make me feel a little better is that people who don't agree with what is going on are speaking out (unfortunately,the current administration doesn't care). Through the web I am doing my best to "lobby" electronically and keep up with any other ways I can try to get involved. I just hope we can make a difference!

By the way, there are 2 books out there that I have found very interesting. One book titled "Shrub," is about Bush's time as the governor of Texas (there is an added segment about the beginning of his term as "king"). The other book (which I'm currently reading) is titled "It's Still the Economy Stupid." Both books have angered me, but have made me even more convinced that something has to change.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! My best to you and your family!


From SD, in Northern California - Domestic and World Events. . .

Hello Charlie~

Interesting comments. I understand you are not an admirer of our President, though that isn't surprising. Personally I disagree with war, but for much different reasons than you have raised. I do not believe that an ounce of American blood should be wasted in support of foreign governments and citizens who have very short memories. I disagree politically with my dear friend David, and I suppose that our friendship could be another casualty of this current global situation, though it will break my heart. Yes, it seems Americans are on the outs, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and since we are so distasteful to the global community perhaps it would be best to adopt our former Isolationist position. Perhaps it would be more beneficial to our citizens to pull back our monetary support (both politically and commercially), which I believe could be put to much better use within our own borders, and let the Europeans deal with Saddam Hussein. Well...Germany...France? How about taking up the slack for a change? It's only been fifty years, but then again there would be no Germany (democraticor free) or France for that matter, if it wasn't for US intervention, now would it? I think we should completely pull out of the Middle East and invest our resources in providing smart energy solutions for our Nation, and not bother anymore with European, or Asian, or Middle Eastern affairs. But then again...we are a global community are we not? I hardly think any country can opt out and remain Isolationist anymore. Too bad. All this whole situation boils down to is resources...who controls them...and those that don't like it. Right now it's the US, but I'm confident that that won't last for long. I suppose it's only a matter of time. However, I am all for continuing our self-defense program, and more than willing to support the use of such a program should terrorist threats such as bombing our Pearl Harbor Memorial ever come to fruition. Right now, closing our borders doesn't seem like such a bad idea after all.

By the way...I think the use of Aristophanes' Lysistrata is in poor taste, and makes light of the current global situation. But then again, I'm surprised your group isn't doing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar instead.


From Ada in San Juan Argentine -War. . .

Dear Charles,

I absolutely agree with you. War would be a big terrible mistake. I'm just angry . I think it would be so unbelievably stupid to go to war with Iraq or somewhere country in the world. A lot of countries suffer for bad decisions of person as G. Bush that don't know the horror of a war, cause is very easy to be sitting in an armchair while the soldiers death. If bush would be a good president and a good man he must to start thinking about all the good things that all u.s. citizens have said about a war in Iraq or another place in the world. All the people want peace, and peace for ever. Thanks for your opinions. Very beautifully said. I'm with you.


From Vreni in Switzerland. . .

Dear Charlie

this last week I had a lot of time for thinking and was encouraged by my friends and fans so I changed my mind and am going to send you this letter now.I believe that every kind of friendship should be as sincere as possible. Even if I am only a Fan to you I consider myself as a Friend. And fortunately I can say and write what I am thinking. Other People like in Iraq etc.. can't even say what they want because it is a question of Death to tell your opinion.And one thing I am sure about, they do not want their country destroyed by the USA.

your Holiday Letter was very interesting and made me think about a lot. It is great that you are so optimistic about the American People doing the right Thing. Unfortunately the Rest of the World does not agree. You are writing about wandering in the Wilderness but I see the Wilderness will be a lot of blood of innocent children, women and old people. The American People are walking in blood since they exist, first the Indians, then the black people and today every Country who does not live and accept the American way. And the American People don't understand their Religions and are afraid of it. The USA is also a State who terrorists other. Do you really think that WAR against any Country will be the right WAY??? By the Way did you change the side after your citizenship, gave away your far-sightedness and support now Bush??? I do hope not, because War and Suppression never solved any problems such as Gadhafi or Bin Laden. And obviously the USA does not want to solve this problems because this dangerous men are still alive and free even the US-Presidents promised the World every time to destroy them..!!! (And Bush wants now to destroy Sadam because Sadam wanted to kill his Father.) But he won't succeed because Sadam will be in a secure Place, only the poor nation will be destroyed like in Afghanistan. There is everything destroyed but neither Bin Laden nor Al Kaida are hunt down. But I saw today a Report of so many injured children, which only can be helped in Germany because the USA does not care!!!!!

The USA thinks they are the Heroes of the World, the only people who counts, anyone else can vanish and leave the USA their Oil( that is the only interest of Bush in Iraq) and Independence. You write about Nation under GOD but God would not want this. One sentence in the Bible says you shall not do any harm to others if you do not want them to harm you. And like I wrote before(Soap Box) the 11.th of September was only an answer to many years of suppression and War from the USA against so many other poorer Countries(and 70% of the Swiss citizens are the same opinion). I am a Patriot too for my Country but at the same time I hope to stay realistic because otherwise patriotism is fanatism and this is what terrorists are. And by the way who supports the villain-States(Schurkenstaaten) anyway? The American People with their big Cars and Vans who need a lot of Gasoline and Oil.

I want to be honest, I like you and a lot of American People very much and I hate Saddam as much as everybody, but as a Nation the USA is at the moment one of the most hated Nation in the World. And most of this because of Bush, who was shortly called the Hitler of the 21th.Century. Most of the European population applaudet, not with words but in thought. He wants to fight against all the Countries who shelter potential Terrorists, that means against the whole World, because in every Country, even in little Switzerland, we have People from States as Albanien, Turkey, Iran etc. Only in my little Town we have more than 52% People from other States.

Why should every Country in the World destroy their Weapons and the USA does not???? Why threaten the USA Iraq and not North Korea???? Because they are Cowards who only threaten unlike minor Countries. This is also proven by the USA because they attack during the nights, never during daylight. The Iraq shall tell the Truth about their Weapons, but the USA does not tell the Truth about their !!!!!!!!!! It would be a first time in the USA-History if they would be for once honest with the World.And what does USA even care about which regulation the Iraq does not accept of the UNO. As much as I know the USA ignores what the UNO does and says anyway even it was the USA who was a part of the Beginning of the UNO. And what are you meaning by reaching the promised Land???The USA is a huge country with a most beautiful Nature but how is it treaten???? The promised land was taken away from the Indians and today the new owners are looking for the promised land again. Does the USA know the word modesty???

I hope and pray for Freedom and Peace for the World, not only the USA.


From Katherine in Ohio - Iraq. . .

Dear Charlie,

I couldn't agree with you more. President Bush has decided that he should be allowed to carry out this vendetta with Iraq because his father started it 11 years ago. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with what happened on 9/11 and everything to do with that.

It pains me to see our country being told that if we are against this course of action, we are not Americans anymore. The men who founded this country gave us the Freedom of Speech. The powers that be seem to want to take that away. Debate is frowned upon.

The domestic situation is horrible. The economy has gone into the toliet. Education is headed in the same direction. He does not seem to care.

All this administration cares about is fighting a war we shouldn't fight. Wasn't it enough that we bombed the crap out of Afghanistan? There are men, women and children who are homeless, jobless and starving because of what we did there. And it's sad to say this is the same situation here.

I'm on my soapbox now. I have a brother who is currently in basic training with the Navy. My best friend has a son who is in the Air Force. One of the guys who works next door to me is going into the Marines. I do not want to recieve a telegram about my brother or hear that my friend's son has been killed.

But, I have to say this because of the way my father and his fellow servicemen were treated after Vietnam. If this war happens, as much as I object to it, I will support the men and women who are fighting it. They did not ask for this. I do not want to see this war happen.

I'll get off my soapbox now. It's just frustrating to me to be told by people who are for this course of action tell me that I am un-American. What happened to discussion and debate in this country?

Thank you for listening,


From Mary Ann in Cleveland - YOU ARE WRONG CHARLIE. . .

Charlie:

Sixty years ago we lost hundreds of thousands of young Americans by doing what was right and going over there and saving Europe. Had we not done that, you would be a German citizen today. You would have never had a successful career here, because he wouldn't be allowed to leave the country.

Tony Blair seems to understand that. He's got you know what's as big as a basketball. But there's too many Chamberlins in England and not enough Blairs or Churchills. So, back then it was about the future of Europe. And we did the right thing. Now it's about us - about our future. If Europe wants to turn its back on us the hell with them. Two more words for you...THE MARSHALL PLAN.(still admire your work, though)


From Kerenza in England - War Response. . .

Dear Charlie,

I agree with you very much. War would be a mistake and I really hope that history students in 50 years time don't have to learn about World War 3. I am scared at the moment so I can't imagine how scared the people in Iraq, especially the children must be.

I am from nr Cornwall in the UK and I don't want to insult your President but he is power crazy. I mean say American did get bombed, what has he got to lose? He and his family will be taken to safety somewhere being the top priority in the country leaving the civilians to die. Bush is using 9/11 as an excuse. An excuse to seem like a saviour. He might be President but it is NOT HIS country - maybe he should listen to the American people instead of his own fantasy like opinion.

Perhaps we all would have been better off if he HAD choked on that pretzel. (If you don't know what I'm refering to, there was this thing on the news a while ago which involved him almost choking to death on a pretzel). I'm sorry, I don't want to offend anyone, I'm just angry. And scared. There's enough unnecessary death in this world and Bush (and Blair) are just going to make it a whole lot worse.

Thanks for taking the time to put across your point on the situation - you're a great person.


From Grace in Louisiana - Response to the letter on Domestic and World Events. . .

I just wanted to say that I completely agree with everything you said. Many people think that teenagers don't care about what's going on in the world, but the truth is, we do. Or at least I do. I think it would be so unbelievably stupid to go to war with Iraq. And I think a big part of this is Bush trying to finish his father's work, which doesn't really need to be done anyway. I mean, the Gulf War has been over for a really long time and it's in the past. There are much worse threats out there other than Sadam. North Korea has all those nuclear weapons, and nobody in the government seems to care at all. I think that Bush is not really thinking about what he should do for the good of our country, but he is just bringing back old stuff that was over twelve years ago. And really, when is war ever good at all? How does it help, to have millions of people killed for something that could be solved in a much simpler way? I honestly belive that Bush needs to start thinking about stuff like this and actually listening to the US citizens, because he obviously isn't... Well I think that basically wraps up what I'm trying to say, and I want to thank you for reading this.


From Stephanie in Massachusetts - Very well put . . .

I want to say that my husband Patrick and I completely agree with what you wrote. Very beautifully said.

Thanks for your opinions and input on the situation, I can only hope that this war doesn't take place and we somehow find peace in this world. I certainly agree that it would be a terrible mistake.


From David in France - A complement. . .

I want to reflect now specifically on what the US want to do once Saddam would be down, and on what already happened in the past. As I said, they want to put a "US-friendly democracy" in Baghdad... With whom?... Saddam's opponents? Where are they now? Us friendly?... Well, the Middle East countries are NOT the US, those people have existed for millennia, and were the fathers/mothers of great civilizations, far more educated and refined than those crusaders we - in Europe - are so proud of! These people have a totally different culture than those of the Western countries. Their ways of living, understanding things, and doing things are completely different than ours, and the US's! Is that a reason to uniformize all this and set a "like-the-US" government? It's never going to work! Besides, this is really close to what is called "colonization"! Might I remind Mr. Bush that all the colonized countries in the world once revolted and declared themselves independent, which led - once again - to many wars... "Old Europe" is too much familiar with that!

There was never ONCE an invasion that set a war on the US soil, how many were there in "Old Europe"? We - "Old Europeans" - know too much about war and its atrocities to ever want that to happen in any part of the world again. That's why the UN were created for after the Yalta Conference: to guarantee PEACE as best as they can! Let's NOT forget that... Now about the "right" the US have to protect themselves.... Please, this is ridiculous. Once again, might I remind them a few names in recent history?... Pinochet, The Taliban, Osama Bin Laden,... All these were either helped (directly or not) or SET by the United States of America, to *protect* them!... When one plays with matches, one may get BURNED by matches...

Just like I said before, if this announced war occurs, then all the countries in the world should fear the US for if they have governments/ways of living different than what the US think is right, they will soon see the US troops on their very soil...

In former Yugoslavia, where were the US?... France and Germany (and Great Britain) almost had to BEG the US to take part in the UN action to solve the problem after many months of slaughter and civil war. It is true that there is no petroleum in those countries... I have never seen in History, a government that acted on a philanthropist fit. Whatever the government is, I make no distinction there: there is ALWAYS an interest behind that is almost always linked to an economical profit, directly or indirectly... The PEOPLE don't want that war, they have elected only a fistful of people and these few people want to go against that general will? Is THAT democracy? That beloved democracy Mr. Bush and his administration want to set in Iraq and the world? Then Democracy definitely is not what I thought it should be, and I don't think I'm the only one who has been abused...

The world is a wide place, with many different countries/cultures. Once again - I speak for my country - France does not want to cut all bridges between the US and us, far from it. We have common interests, and our main interest - I think - is peace and a safer world. The Romans said "Si vis pacem, para bellum" - If you want peace, then prepare to war - but their mighty empire all crashed from inside in the end, because they had wanted to uniformize the ways of living of the conquered people. That proved wrong, very wrong. The solution to a peaceful world is not uniformization and war to achieve that, the solution is COMPROMISE. Do with the other one's difference and make it an asset instead of a fault. They say History repeats itself, why won't men learn from History?...

I so hope this war is not going to occur, but it really looks like dark clouds gathering above the world...


From Stephane in France - U.S. and Iraq. . .

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy, When surfing the net, I've read a lot of messages in different discussion boards, and when I read your message, I've decided to select some of the messages and give my point of view on the topic, using them as illustrations. For instance: "The U.S. has to intervene... Who is going to stop Saddam from killing his own people."

This is perhaps the last reason in Bush's list... I'm sure the American people is a generous people, and that they really think Saddam harshness to is people should be a sufficient reason to intervene. And they are not the only one. Even the French people think it.

But there's a big difference between people and their government. I don't think the US government (not people) has ever really done something out of generosity or to protect freedom as a concept. As any other government in the world, they only do things because they have an interest, and they think the cost is lower than what they will gain (or lose if they do nothing). Otherwise, why don't the US declare war to every country where the government is killing his own people? But then, where is the limit? After Iraq, will USA invade China because of Tibet, or because of the thousands of death penalties sentenced in China? Will USA invade Russia because of Chechenia? And after that? Will countries with different customs also become a target? If the final goal is to make the world a place where every country has a US-like constitution and democracy, then I don't want this world. Every country has its own history and own government. I agree other nations may help them to evolve and find a ever better system. But they should not impose it. And if there should be some interference, only the UN, with a clear majority, should be in a position to do it. Not a single country. Even American allies are against it. Tony Blair has less than 10% of positive opinion in his country. 2 Millions of Spanish people went in the streets of Madrid to say no to war. "We intervene because we have too. We are for freedom everywhere, freedom of speech, religion... " It's true, the US intervene because they have to. For their own good, not to protect freedom.

The US intervened to settle the Taliban, to fight the communist enemy, and prevent USSR to move toward India and the Indian Ocean. I don't think the Taliban are a good example of freedom of religion. The CIA financed the strikes which enable the General Pinochet to seize power in Chile, when legal ELECTION had given the government to Allende, an evil socialist... I don't think this is a good example of freedom of political thinking. When a country, France or Germany here, express a different opinion, and propose a different way to do things (with the same goal as Bush: disarm Saddam), it get harsh criticism and childish reaction. I don't think this is a good example of freedom of speech. Voltaire once said "I do not agree with what you say. But I will fight to death to let you say it". This is freedom of speech and democracy.

Where were the US troops in Bosnia? French and their European allies were there, because it's too close from their countries, and the US refused to come, even after we have asked their help several times. The same in Rwanda : French and Belgian troops tried to save what they can. It's true France is no longer a superpower, and cannot do what the US can. But France takes its share of the burden when it can. This is not an indictment of the USA, nor to say France is the best country in the world, but to emphasis that every government make choices out of profit and necessity, not generosity and altruism.

"We've liberated countries when they were all but defeated (France, Kuwait). How France can now oppose us after what we have done for them?" The US went at war against Germany after 7th December 1941, after they have been themselves attacked. And IIRC, Germany was the one to declare war, not the US. France was defeated in June 1940, one year and a half before. France was defeated because of German military superiority at that time. So were all European countries : Great Britain survived only because of the Channel and the Home Fleet protected it long enough to prepare a counter attack. But even defeated, some French didn't give up, and fought in Africa, as partisan in French mountains, and then with the Free French Forces. The French people is very thankful to the Americans who died to free our country, but if someone save your life, will you let him do everything without question afterward? Or will you give him your opinion, and try to convince him if you think he's mistaken?

In Kuwait, the US intervened immediately to protect oil supplies, not the Kuwait people. Bush senior didn't finished the job because he thought removing Saddam will probably give more instability to the region than keeping him. In the current "crisis", everybody claim to have the same goal: disarm Saddam. The US want to disarm him by force, when there's still no blatant proof of such weapons. The French want to let the inspectors do their job first, and if that fail, I don't remember any statement by a French official that we will not help our allies. Iraq has finally accepted to destroy their missiles that were not in compliance with UNO rules. So it seems the work of the inspectors can succeed. Saying France will never help is false. In fact, France only nuclear carrier is somewhere in Eastern Mediterranean Sea, practicing with an American Carrier... During the Cuba crisis, the American ambassador came to present proofs to the French president of the time (De Gaulle). De Gaulle stopped him and said "No need for proofs. We trust the American word. It it's war, we are with you". I'm afraid with the bullying of Bush's Falcons, this trust doesn't exist anymore, and we are waiting for something more consistent than the few pictures displayed by Powell.

But why do French and US government really disagree? I think to understand it needs to go above the feeling of righteousness of a simple citizen, and try to decipher what is the real meaning of all that. Saddam is probably not the real goal of the Bush administration. Do you think a country, after 12 years embargo, a war that destroyed most of its military, several years of inspection, and regular bombing, is a real threat? Saddam is a tiger of paper. No. Who finances most of the fundamentalist groups in the World? Saudi Arabia. But it's the largest oil supplier. So Bush needs to secure another source of oil, just in case. How convenient : Iraq is the second largest, and Bush has a good pretext to go there.

And why do the French refuse to endorse this war? Because they don't think it's necessary... and because France is the country that is the most involved in Iraq oil right now, and doesn't want the US to take the place! That's as simple as that. Iraq is not only an ideological dispute between the old Europe and the young America, it's also a battle of the ever lasting economical war the US and Europe are fighting, while giving the impression we are good friends.

I want to be very clear: this message is not to tell French or American are best. My goal here is to give some highlight on some forgotten aspect of the situation. Once again, a government, any government, does what it think is the best for his own good (and then it's a dictature), or what it think is the best for the country it represent. It very seldom does things which are good for the people of other countries. That's in this case that the people must fulfill their duty. The people are the conscience of the government. When the government does something wrong, the people must say no. In 1936, Hitler got the power in Germany after regular election. 3 Years later, he started World War II. Let's hope the American people can have enough influence to moderate Bush, and prevent the start of a war that may have unforeseeable consequences if conducted the way Bush seems to want it. The war itself will probably be short, but will give a lot of suffering. And the after war will be far worse. The Marshall plan worked for Germany and Japan, because these countries had a strong national feeling, they were well organized and structured. And there was a new enemy to federate them with the Allies : the USSR. None of this exists in Iraq : the country is a mosaic of different religions, ethnical groups, tribes... There's no one to federate them, except an American invader. This interference will give new pretext for terrorism, and will greatly increase anti Americanism in the world.

There is no anti Americanism in Europe, except for a few "fanatics". But there's a strong "anti Bushism" feeling. Let's hope Bush will listen to the words of wisdom and accept to do things in a smoother way. But the only words of wisdom he will really listen must be said by the Americans themselves. Don't forget he has an election in 2 years. His domestic policy is not very brilliant, nor his foreign policy. So he needs to make his people look away, and try to seize Saddam (let's hope for him it will work better than the capture of Mollah Omar or Osama Bin Laden) to have some successes to speak of. Perhaps if the American people tell him they will not be impressed by this, he will start to take care of more important things.


From Dominique in Germany - On Domestic and world events from a German point of view . . .

Dear Charlie,

I received your newsletter this morning in which AJ told us about your new article in the soapbox section of your website. I immediately went to check it out and I found it to be a very informative source.

You said you would like to hear from us and I thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to speak our mind. I hope to find more of these soapbox articles in the future since I have always found it very interesting to see what other people think about touchy subjects like these. Very few people these days still seem to like to sit down and reflect upon everyday, mostly rather negative happenings. So, let me tell you what I've heard and read lately and share it with you, from a German point of view.

I recently read two articles in a German magazine called 'Stern' re the possibility of war, Bush-Schroeder, foreign matters and how current politics affect our lives and our attitudes towards other foreign nations. On the cover of one of the magazines, it has Schroeder as 'David' and Bush as 'Goliath' on the battle field with Schroeder desperately trying to fight Bush, to hold him back. Bush, however, is too tall, twice his height, his strength, too powerful for Schroeder to face all by himself. In the background you can see soldiers holding US flags ready to march in.

In a way it both scares and saddens me to see how decisions made by some politicians can turn our lives upside down from one minute to the next. The media provides us with 'straight facts' they say but in the end it all boils down to mostly hear say or personal opinion. Countries are being made the scapegoats just because their opinions differ from anybody else's without trying to understand why...terms used like 'Hitler's children', 'Axis of Weasel' are being used in online resources. People don't look behind that 'curtain' to understand that after all other countries are not anti the country itself but maybe anti other countries politics. Magazines talk about a 'deep wound' that probably isn't going to heal for the next six years (Bush-Schroeder).

I honestly believe that at a time like this where many countries suffer from a high unemployment rate, tax and gas, increasing crime rates, to name but a few, the last thing we need is to argue about whether what other countries say does harm, it's about making compromises, be open towards other things, see those as an approach to make things better. It is, however, good to know that even though the government seems like a both protecting and warning shield above us, some of us still see the facts, the chances, a way out.

I remember reading about the festival 'Cinema for Peace' held in Berlin not only ago. I believe it was Dustin Hoffman who made quite an impression on the audience with his speech on why a war against Iraq would be wrong, why North Korea is the bigger threat, why so many historical events dating back a long time in US history have always been put in benefit of the US.

In fact North Korea IS the greater threat since it was their president who threatened to break the US into pieces if they ever decided to get anywhere near their nuclear weapons. The question we may raise now is why then see Iraq as enemy #1 whereas North Korea to most people I, for one, talked to seems the bigger threat in our lives? Isn't it ironic that now Bush is trying to fight Iraq, it was the US who supported them financially not long ago when they killed thousands of Kurds?

Politics is the art to gain, preserve and increase power. That's all. And the Bush government doesn't even try to deny this. Over 20 million people worldwide demonstrating against war are a good reason to believe in mankind. People don't want war and this alone is encouraging. In my humble opinion, it's now up to the politicians to make the best out of this situation. Let's not forget the 9/11 incident when we all were supportive of each other. Don't let some politicians take this away from you! I know that if we 'all' find some sort of a compromise, come to realize that it's all about politics, it'll hopefully be all fine in the end.

Last but not least, let me finish by saying that inspite of all the happenings we had to face lately, I'm confident that whatever path it is we may take in the future, it hopefully will take us to what we've always been looking for - love, peace and happiness. That said, I hope I did not step on your toes because that would be the last thing I would want to do. Thanks for taking the time to read all I had to say.


From Liane in Germany - Comment. . .

Hello Mr. Shaughnessy,

I just read your long awaited comment on the present world situation.You speak out of my soul.I dare to go further to say that the Bush Government is virtually "creating" situations to start a war, and I agree that N.Korea is the greater danger as they have Atomic war material, and Bush seems to have respect for that!It is an irony that the country that threatens the US, is being treated like a "princess on the pea"and another country(Iraq) is being threatened with war because of unfinished business left through Bush senior!

I am an Australian living in Germany, and if sometimes reports in some US media stipulate there is anti Americanism in Germany,is not true.Germans are anti Bush.They still enjoy their "Macs",book flights to the US and see American movies,which is in contrast to the Bush Government which has called on the US industry to boycott German products.The irony of it all , the Glue which was recommended to seal off windows against chemicals, comes from Germany!!

Also I am especially angry that Australia is going with Bush.The Aussie Government has unfortuneately not learned from the Vietnam disaster.Also we have become vulneralble to terrorist attacks since Sept 11th.I don?t think Sept 11th was an US "thing" only.THere were people from many nations including Australia. The troops that have been sent to support the US in the Gulf region were sent off with massive protests by the local people.

I have just seen on the Germann news that Malaysia (good on them!)is starting discussions with oil producing countries to b ycott oil deliveries to the US and anyone who cohorts with them! That would be wonderful.I must cynically comment that if the US citizens who depend on luxuries depending on oil were deprived of such, there would be more protests from the "normal" citizens.

As always it is the women and children that suffer most in times of war and I would like to end this comment with concillitary words. Iwas only 6yrs.old at the end of WWII.This memory despite of all the trauma which I experienced through the war years remains.The first piece of choclate I ever ate ,was given to me by a GI and when he saw the tears in my eyes he took me in his arms and comforted me.I shall never forget this and often think what became of him and his comrades.

May we hope for peace ,Liane

PS. I so much enjoy reading anything you write. All is in such perfect English which is very rare these days!


From Julie in Chicago, Illinois . . .

Dear Charlie:

I respect your thoughts, I agree with some points you made, however I disagree with what you said about Iraq. How can anyone think that you can debate with someone like Saddam. He is trying to manipulate us. Why is it that people want to look the other way about him, He is a man who kills his own people, and would not think twice about selling WMD to terrorists. I very strongly feel that Saddam is a threat to the American people and the rest of the world. I really don't want war, it should be a last resort. I think people should stop wasting time bashing the President every chance they get, I'm really getting tired of it. It gets worse and worse everyday. If you don't like the President fine, but don't be so quick to judge when you don't have all the facts. I'm not saying that I agree with everything the President has done because I don't!!. This country is so divided right now, it kind of reminds me of how it was right before 9/11. That's very frightening to me. Whatever happened to United We Stand. What my point is about Saddam is that something needs to be done about him. He should not be in power. But to do nothing about it is even more wrong in my opinion. Like I said before I don't want a war, but we need to get rid of Saddam. He is a threat and he is not being honest with the world.


From Mary in Michigan - War Situation . . .

Mr. Shaughnessy:

I agree with your viewpoints on the upcoming war with Iraq. I am American born and raised, yet I do not believe that the country for which I am citizen is the only one that matters. As a Clinton supporter, I feel like Bush has reduced the Clinton legacy to nil. I am only 23 years old and am faced with student loans to pay off and with my own insurance payments, so whether or not Iraq has weapons of mass destruction isn't important. To me there is a greater form of terrorism going on, and that is from the White House. It is against the people of America and those who have sought refuge in this nation. It's too bad the people in this country don't realize that the American government has created its own mess by giving Iraq the weapons for which Bush wants to take back, and by training Osama Bin Laden on the many skills that led to the attacks of 9/11. This is truly scary. Bush is just after oil and that is the only reason why he wants to go to war. I really hope that the higher power creates an opportunity for Bush to be awakened to his own wrongdoing.


From David in France - Thoughts. . .

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

I guess I need to vent again, and your position as a former European leads me to write to you...

Once again, as a preambule, I'm sorry if along the lines, I seem disrespectful or rather blunt, but I speak my mind.

Yesterday there was a nice talk show on French TV, with a former French Prime Minister and several other speakers, about Iraq and the imminent war. There was also a close councellor to Mr. Bush. Apparently, the people in Mr. Bush's team are rather convinced that they are in their good right to attack Iraq, and that Saddam is indeed hiding weapons from the UNO's inpectors... To our point of view, it is becoming to look like paranoia... That Saddam Hussein is dangerous and cruel, I guess we all agree... but I think the reasons are far more complicated than simply *possibly* hiding weapons...

For one thing, Iraq is the richest country in Petroleum after Saudi Arabia, but I don't think that's the main reason... Another reason is that making Iraq a country which leaders would be devoted to America would set an American pawn right in the middle of a very sensitive region: between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lybia,... among other things...

Once again, Saddam is a dangerous and cruel man, and I think he should be *dismissed* - so to speak - but not to the price of a war.

What Mr. Bush doesn't realize, is that he might set fire to a very politically unstable region: the Middle East, lauching therefore an unprecedented wave of terrorism in many western countries which - in Europe mainly - have a vast concentration of Muslims who wouldn't understand an unjustified war agaisnt a Muslim country (even though Iraq is not a fundamentalist country), and Bin Laden would probably jump into that and throw his own bombs - so to speak.

Mr. Bush says he wants a short war... Might I remind him that the last time an American government said that it was in Vietnam...

There was one tensed exchange between the US representative and the French one, about the present crisis between America and France, and what Mr. Rumsfeld said about France being an old nation and having forgotten about the American sacrifice for our freedom in 1945... Well... Might I remind Mr. Rumsfeld that from 1775 to 1783, Mr. De La Fayette fought with G. Washington for the Independence... From all the United States' present allies, France is the only country never to have been in armed conflict with them.

But that's not the point. We didn't forget anything, and we are still very thankfull towards the many Americans who lost their lives on our soil. But the best friends in the world might sometimes have a difference of opinions, or on the way to do things, and that's exactly what is happening now... Being a friend or an ally does not necessarily mean you have to follow every direction the other one decides to go... And boycotting the French restaurants (for instance) in the US is not - IMHO - the best way to show one's intelligence...

To me right now, the way the American officials react to France, Germany, Russia, China, and many other's reluctantness to set a war in Iraq really looks like a petty dispute between kindergatten kids...

Indeed the US are probably the most powerful nation in the world today, but it doesn't give it the right to govern the world and tell people what to do. There are so many countries in the world, if that war eventually bursts, then the question we may ask is: are the US going to do the same with every country they think is dangerous or has voiced rebukes towards the US?... Well then, they're going to have an increasing number of ennemies... This is a crazy situation.

Disarm Saddam and make him leave in one way or another, yes... Set a war in Iraq, no. For Saddam is probably not going to be the one suffering the most, civilians, yes. The humanitarian condition of these people is a real catastrophe, after 12 years of embargo, they're starving, and the infantile mortality rate is terrible, why putting some more pressure on these people? Doesn't Mr. Bush see that this is wrong, that the circle of his foreign supporters is slowly shrinking? Mr. Berlusconi said he wouldn't go if there wasn't a UN resolution against Iraq, Mr. Blair is currently jeopardizing his seat, as an increasing percentage of British people disapprove of his decision to follow the US unconditionnaly, and the millions of people who demonstrated on feb. 15th throughout the world shouted against that war...

I really hope Mr. Bush sees some sense soon, but maybe "Bush" and "sense" are two words that can't be paired...

Here are some of the photos that have started coming in to globalvigil.org, documenting the global vigil for peace on 16 march, 2003. ~ a.j.

Click on the small image to see the larger version


Leh, Ladakh, India

Paris

Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Japan

Toba Tek Singh Pakistan

Duesseldorf, Germany

Caracas, Venuezuela

Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. America

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Studio City, CA America

Studio City, CA America

Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. America

Studio City, CA America

Denver, Colorado, America

Studio City, California, America

Studio City, California, America

Studio City, California, America

Doha, Qatar

Zurich, Switzerland

Stephansplatz, Austria

Studio City, California, America

Charlie participated in the reading of the Lysistrata project in Venice, California on March 03, 2003. To read about it click on this link. The Lysistrata Project

To read the other soapbox comments from Charlie, please go to our soapbox page

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