In Search of Lacey Smith

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to return to my search, but I hope to sometime in the near future. I’m trying to find a Lacey Smith, though he’s long been dead and the only event of any note in his life that I can see is he shot and killed Polk Grimes the first of February 1, 1870 in a town called Jollification.

I discovered Lacey Smith by accident when I was looking for Missouri mills and discovered the Jolly Mill. Jolly, short for Jollification; so named, as the good rumor goes, but not fact as the stuffier insist, because of the whiskey mill that formed the heart of this small but thriving community nestled against a limestone hill and surrounded by good corn growing land.

The town died, oh long ago, when the train came through…elsewhere. At its time though, it was something, but that was before the Union soldiers burned the town down during the Civil war, it is said though I can’t find any real record of the Union army actually setting fire to the town. The Union soldiers came through several times, killed people, but no one ever mentioned about Sargent Whatsit lighting a match and saying to the troops, “Watch this town light up like the 4th of July, boys!” That’s what I would have said.

The mill still stands, bought by people in the county and turned into a park with picnic tables and such. They also recreated the town from descriptions, and moved a one room school house to the site. I went out there in early fall to take photos and check out the place where Lacey Smith shot Polk Grimes, but was a bit disappointed. Oh the mill is nice and the school is quaint, but across the pond are homes of people wealthy enough so that no matter how hard you looked, you couldn’t see a thing other than “No trespassing”. The sun was too hot for good photos, but I did enjoy the turtles on the logs and a white heron that seemed as curious about me as I was about him.

He walked in the water on the opposite side of the pond from me, until I got to the mill and went out as far as I could on the rocks near the building and he went out on the rocks across from me and we just stared at each other until he finally decided I wasn’t all that interesting and took off: long skinny black legs pulled straight back, body like a bullet in flight.

The caretaker and her two young children were at the faux village; she was mowing and the kids were playing. I think I asked something, not sure what, and she was polite but not over friendly. I was going to ask where the Grimes family cemetery was, to see where Polk was buried, but felt uncomfortable.

There was old Baptist church with a cemetery on the road to the Mill, so I made do with it. I stopped on the way back and walked among the stones, trying to see if Lacey was among them (“…strung up for killing that poor boy, Polk…”). No such luck. I did find one Grimes, by marriage only though. I wondered that she was buried with her family rather than her husband.

I liked the old church. It reminded of the story–I think it was in “Let us Now Praise Famous Men”, by James Agee and Walker Evans–about them stopping by a plain white back country church alongside a dusty road in the south, when a young black couple came walking by. I can remember the words, about the couple walking side by side only their hips touching; the clean white of their clothes; not saying a word–I wish I could write like this, where you still see the picture the words formed long after you forgot where you read them.

No young black couple that day, but a couple of farm dogs came towards me out of one of the fields of uncut hay. They were silent, just a determined march through the field: one mottled black, white, and brown, the other, one of those dogs with light blue eyes. I measured my distance to the car in heart beats; I’ve always been afraid of the loose dogs along the Missouri back roads. I walked, did not run, to the car but only breathed when I was inside. Turning around, I saw the dogs cross the road behind me, not once looking my way, just continuing the same determined, silent march into the next field.

Of the Grimes, James P. “Polk” Grimes’ father was William Grimes who himself was murdered in 1878. The man who murdered him, by the name of Connor or O’Connor was tried once, convicted, and then tried again and convicted again. I figured this had something to do with his lawyers because Goodspeed’s historian wrote about how they “…worked the law through all its many crevices.”

William’s father was Gainsford Grimes from England who came over to America just in time to fight with George Washington. After having done so, Mr. Grimes returned to England after the war to take a bride, a Nancy Poe. A “…member of the celebrated Poe family, who about this time immigrated to America. This also according to Goodspeed’s 1888 History of Newton County.

Anyway, among Nancy Poe’s famous relatives was Aaron Poe, the ‘celebrated indian fighter’. It took the longest time before I decided to try a variation on the name to realize that the historian got the name wrong; he meant AndrewPoe. Andrew was a celebrated indian fighter in the Ohio valley area, and ended up having another son who also became a famous indian fighter. Whether Andrew and Nancy were related to that other famous Poe, Edgar Allen, is difficult to say; their ancestors all came from England about the same time. Cousins, let’s make them cousins. Heck, yeah that works. History doesn’t have to be factual, only interesting. You wait, and I’ll work Jesse James into this, too.

There’s an interesting story behind the Goodspeed histories. Goodspeed was a small publishing house in the 1800’s that published complete histories of several midwestern and southern counties. I find the one from Newton county to be enormously entertaining. For instance, from the “crime” section:

Horace Tongue, who shot and killed Samuel Rice, at Neosho, in the Spring of 1856, was tried, but acquitted, as the murdered man interfered in his family.

Reece Crabtree was wounded near Pilot Grove by Confederates, but while en route to Neosho, died. Immediately after, bushwhackers arrived to kill him outright, but, finding him dead, departed.

John C. Moss, who resided five miles south of Joplin, believed himself to be Christ in the summer of 1881, and was placed in jail by Sherriff McElhaney. At the time Hall, another insane man confined there, hearing the yells of Moss, said to the latter: “Get up from there and stop your howlin’; I believe you are crazy anyhow.” It was this Hall, on being led to a spring, would play in the water like a duck.

A dead body, supposed to be that of Jesse James, was found by miners eight miles south of Joplin, in November, 1879.

The same time Lacey Smith killed Polk Grimes, the James gang were riding the lands of Missouri robbing banks and avenging the Confederacy; joining with other so-called Bushwhackers–former confederate soldiers unhappy at the outcome of the war. Missouri probably has more caves than almost any where else, and every one of them harbored a bushwhacker at some point. But that leads us back to the day when Lacey Smith shot and killed Polk Grimes.

Polk was only 25 and Smith not much older, but why the one shot another I don’t know. When I go to Columbus and look through the old newspaper archives, maybe I’ll find out the whys and wherefores. “Lacey Smith killed Polk Grimes for messin’ with his family”, or some such thing. The Grimes served in the Confederacy, and some say that Newton county had its own civil war; that brother killing brother wasn’t so far off. Maybe Smith was a Union sympathizer but if so, he should have been the dead one because there was no sympathy for the Union in Jollification–after all, they did burn down the town. Not the Mill, though.

On February 10, ten days after Lacey Smith shot and killed James P. “Polk” Grimes, the Neosho Times reported that Smith was tried and committed for action by the grand jury by one Wolcott and Smith Esquire, (we’re assuming no relation to the accused). Two guards were assigned to take him to Neosho, but between Jolly and Neosho, all three disappeared. Several days later, the papers the guards were carrying showed up, folded neat as a pin and laid on the porch of Grave’s & Co, a store co-operative in Neosho.

You see now? It was interesting to read about the three going missing, but people go missing all the time and back in those days and in that area, a lot of people went missing and died, or just plain died. But it was the papers, folded up and left on the store’s porch–now that just catches at you.

Architeuthis Dux


Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep,
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
Above his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;

And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green,
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by men and angels to be seen,

In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

The Kraken — Albert, Lord Tennyson

The Giant Squid

The next time you sink your teeth into some calimari think of this: The giant squid has been measured to a length of 60 feet, and weighs in the neighborhood of between 1 and 2 tons. It has eight arms, each lined with two rows of suckers. The giant squid also has the largest eyes of any known creature, over a foot in diameter.

If the giant squid is like its smaller cousins, it is a predator. To make the giant squid an ideal predator, its suckers are ringed with a hard, jagged edge, resembling teeth, in order to better enable the squid to hold onto its prey. Additionally, two longer tentacles are also used to help move the prey to the large, sharp parrot-like beak.

Needless to say, you will not sink your teeth into this creature without a fight.

The Stuff of Legends

I looked in my turn, and could not repress a gesture of disgust. Before my eyes was a horrible monster worthy to figure in the legends of the marvelous. It was an immense cuttlefish, being eight yards long. It swam crossways in the direction of the Nautilus with great speed, watching us with its enormous staring green eyes.

So says the Naturalist, in the Jules Vern classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 18. Though this book is a work of fiction, the squid encounter that Vern wrote about was based on fact, or at least a story that Vern heard about at the time. The story states that a French naval ship was attacked by a giant squid in 18611.

Since earliest times, there have been legends of sea serpents and large, many-armed creatures attacking boats. One of the fiercest creatures was the legendary beast known as the Kraken.

Now, modern belief is that the kraken was a giant squid and that the size of the creature has grown through numerous re-tellings of ancient stories; from creatures of 50 feet to creatures the size of islands.

A Norwegian Bishop, one Erik Ludvigsen Pontoppidan, wrote in his journals about the Kraken and mentions the size of the creature as being one and one-half miles long 3! More recently, another eyewitness account of the size of the giant squid is given by an A.G. Starkey, who was stationed on a British trawler in World War. Starkey tells of being on deck in the evening when he noticed a light in the water next to the boat. As he tells it, “As I gazed, fascinated, a circle of green light glowed in my area of illumination. This green unwinking orb I suddenly realized was an eye. The surface of the water undulated with some strange disturbance. Gradually I realized that I was gazing at almost point-black range at a huge squid.”

According to the Starkey account, he walked along the boat, measuring the giant quid and realized that it was as long as the boat he was on. It is at this point that accounts may differ. According to a Discovery Channel special on the Giant Squid (telecast July 31, at 8:00 pm in a show titled “X Creatures”), the boat Starkey was on measured 60 feet. According to the account given in the Museum of Unnatural Mystery4, where I pulled the quote, the boat measured 175 feet!

Eyewitness accounts of the size of the giant squid are matched by tales of squid behavior, specifically stories of squids attacking ships.

As said earlier, Jules Verne based his squid fight in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on an eyewitness account of a giant squid attacking a French naval ship1. Another account of a giant squid attacking a ship is given in the logs of the Brunswick, a Norwegian Trawler. In the logs an account is given of a giant squid attacking this large ship three different times, before the squid finally slid into the ship’s propellers and was killed.

A third account tells of nuclear submarine losing the use of its sonar equipment on the ship’s maiden voyage. When the submarine returned to port, the Navy found that the covering on the Sonar had been torn lose and that hooks remained in the material, hooks from a giant squid.

Other accounts tell of giant squid grabbing men from the waters as ships were sunk in World War I and II, and also of the giant squid attacking small fishing boats. Two South African lighthouse workers reported in 1966 about seeing a giant squid wrapped around a baby whale, in a ferocious fight, with the baby whale surfacing and being pulled back under before it finally stopped rising to the surface4

So, are there giant squid lurking off our coasts that reach a size of 150 feet and that pull folks off boats? Well, behind every tale, there is a seed of truth, and now it’s time to take a look at what we do know about the giant squid.

What We Think We Know

Amid rumor and scant eyewitness accounts, we have little knowledge of the giant squid and its behavior. Giant squid have washed up on shore sporadically so we have had a chance to examine dead specimens. We also know that the giant squid forms part of the diet for toothed whales such as the sperm whale. Outside of that, though, we have little knowledge of these of the largest known invertebrate. We have never successfully viewed the giant squid in its natural environment, and we have never had a chance to examine a living specimen. But what we do know makes this an incredibly interesting creature.

First of all, when discussing giant squid, most folks are discussing the squid known as Architeuthis Dux. There are other large species of squid, some of which have been seen in the wild. For instance, the Navy provides an audio account of an encounter between a robotic research submersible and a variety of squid known as Moroteuthis. In the account, the squid was six feet in length5. Compared to its larger cousin, though, Moroteuthis is pretty small: Architeuthis Dux, or the Giant Squid by its popular name, has been measured at close to 60 feet in length.

The first recorded physical record of the giant squid was made by a Reverend Moses Harvey in Newfoundland, based on a dead giant squid that had been caught by local fishermen. Dead giant squid had been washed up on shore before, but this was the first time a person had taken samples of the squid, and made scientific observations of the creature — due to the foresight demonstrated by Rev. Harvey as he sent the creature to Yale University for study6.

Since that time, more creatures have been washed on shore or been pulled up, dead, in fishing nets. However, no live giant squid has been captured, nor has one been seen in its native element. Most of what is known about giant squid has been derived from these specimens and from the remains of giant squid specimens found in the stomachs of whales, primarily sperm whales.

Consider the giant squid: the largest size of the giant squid is between 60-70 feet as determined from pieces of the creatures that have been found7. It should weigh in at close to 1 to 2 tons. In addition to its large size, the giant squid also has the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, with each larger than your typical dinner plate!

The giant squid’s territory is in the depths of the ocean, up to 3000 feet below the surface of the ocean, in a world that is as foreign and deadly to us as is the vacuum of space8. It, just like other squid, does not live on the ocean floor, as an octopus does, but lives, instead, between the surface and the bottom, a state easily maintained by its natural buoyancy.

In addition to its size and habitat, the giant squid’s physical makeup also differs from the squid normally consumed by people: instead of sodium chloride in its system, biologists have found ammonium chloride. Snacking on Architeuthis would be similar to sucking on a bottle of your favorite ammonia floor cleaner, without the lemon scent. Nummy.

Other than these small differences, the giant squid is similar to other species of squid. It has a mantle, which is where its internal organs are found. Along the length of the mantle is a funnel, used for expelling waste, water, and for locomotion10 — the squid ejects water through the funnel to push it along the water.

The giant squid has eight arms, each containing several suckers; to make the suckers even more interesting, the edges of the suckers have a jagged set of “teeth”11 to help the squid grasp prey.

The giant squid also has two longer feeding tentacles used to push food into the squid’s mouth, which resembles a parrot’s beak. A large parrot. A large beak. It also can squirt ink to confuse predators, matching its smaller cousins capability 12.

Other than these facts about the squid’s physical makeup, little is known about how the squid acts in its environment, a void that scientists have been trying to fill for the last several years.

In Search of…

There have been numerous attempts to study giant squid in its natural environment. Two expeditions have been sent to Kaikoura Canyon, off of New Zealand, the first in 199713, and the second of which occurred in February and March of 199914. Both of these expeditions were under the leadership of Dr. Clyde Roper from the Smithsonian Museum, probably the world’s leading expert on the giant squid. He is also one of the few people to actually taste a sample of giant squid, and it is from his reaction that I pull my “ammonia without the lemon scent” taste description.

The Kairkoura Canyon is considered a favorable spot for finding the giant squid because several specimens have been found by fishermen in the area, and sperm whales also like to hunt in the area — a good indication as sperm whales feed on giant squid.

While neither expedition was able to capture images of the giant squid, neither trip was considered a failure due to the other information the scientists were able to find, and the observations they were able to make. In addition, during the trip in 1999, Dr. Roper was able to examine a captured, dead giant squid that was in very good shape, something that doesn’t always happen when squid are caught up in fishing nets as the creatures are very fragile.

Using manned submersibles isn’t the only approach to filming giant squids. Another approach used whales, with scientists attaching video cameras to whales before they begin their hunting dives. I have seen these films, and though they haven’t, yet, been successful (the cameras tend to get knocked off by other whales), this approach is an innovative effort17.

Robotic submersibles have also been used to try and capture images of the giant squid, including the MIT Sea Grant Autonomous underwater robot16. Unfortunately, all of these efforts have not succeeded in filming an adult giant squid in its natural habitat.

However, folks like Dr. Roper aren’t giving up in their efforts. Dr. Roper is already talking about an expedition back to Kairkoura in the Spring of 2000.

Unfortunately, the 2000 expedition wasn’t successful.

So What About the Attacks?

One major question that remains about the giant squid is its behavior; specifically, would the giant squid attack boats and people. The more I learn about this creature, the more I wonder whether the giant squid was attacking boats and people as food sources — or perhaps just trying to find a ride home.

The giant squid inhabits that nether region of the ocean that is hundreds to thousands of feet below the surface but not at the bottom of the ocean. Its entire physical makeup is suited specifically to this environment. The main reason that the giant squid has been found dead and washed up on shore is most likely because of clashing ocean streams, cold water meeting warm water.

The giant squid lives in cold water that can get trapped above a layer of warm water. This pushes the poor creature to the surface. The squid’s natural buoyancy makes it difficult for it to sink beneath this warm water, and I imagine the hostile surface area weakens the giant squid to a point of desperation. So, what’s a good way to return to the depths? Why, hitch a ride on one creature it knows dives to the depths: whales. And since boats can look like whales…

Now, attacking a submarine as a food source makes a bit more sense, as these craft are much closer to the giant squid’s preferred environment than a boat on the surface of the water. However, a submarine would strongly resemble a whale, a creature the squid knows it can’t beat, so it’s hard for me to believe that the squid would attack a naval submarine because it considers it “food”.

As for giant squids attacking a whale, a creature the same size as it but weighing many, many times more than the squid — again, this doesn’t make sense unless the squid is desperately hungry. We know, though, that a giant squid defends itself from the feeding whale, which is why there are squid sucker scars found on whales, but the giant squid wouldn’t have a chance against an adult whale. However, it might have a fighting chance against a smaller, juvenile whale, which would explain the sighting of a young whale fighting with the squid, and the squid shown at the surface mentioned by the lighthouse men earlier — the giant squid was still wrapped around the young whale in combat, and the whale dragged the creature to the surface. Going back to my original hypothesis about why a giant squid would grab a boat, the giant squid attached to the young whale is not going to let go when it’s on the surface. Hence, the look of a battle.

Okay, so my guess is just that, a guess, and most likely not an accurate guess at that. But I can’t help thinking its a better interpretation of the boat attacks then the giant squid leaving its perfect little world to venture to the surface, an almost guaranteed act of death for the squid, just to nosh on a tasty new takeout.

The truth of giant squid behavior is out there, waiting for folks like Dr. Roper to find.

Updated for 2004

The majority of giant squid research is moving, more and more, to Australia and New Zealand. In particular, one of the leading researchers now is Dr. Stephen O’Shea at Auckland University of Technology.

In 2002, he managed to grab photos of baby Architeuthis dux, and even keep a few alive for a short period of time for study. (Read a lovely New Yorker magazine article on Dr. O’Shea.)

O’Shea was also the one to tentatively identify the new species of giant squid discovered recently (“giant squid” is really a category of squid, rather than any one species), calling it Colossal Squid, or by its scientific name, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni.

The Colossal is an amazing find, and may actually be the squid at the root of so many stories we hear. However, we’ll never know for sure until we can see it, as well as its cousin, Architeuthis, alive, adult, and in their native habitat.

So even now, the search continues…

The Giant Squid is found

Cephalopod enthusiasts were ecstatic when an excellent video of a giant squid was made after great effort.

Photo of Squid, (c) National Resource Center for Cephalopods2

References:

Don’t just read about the Kraken — hear Chris Hall recite the famous Tennyson poem at the BBC Nature web site.

1 The Smithsonian has an article of Dr. Clyde Roper that discusses, among other things, the french battle with a giant squid in 1861.

2 Image from National Resource Center for Cephalopods.

3 The tale of the Norwegian Bishop and the mile wide kracken comes from the Museum of Unnatural Mystery’s Kraken page.

Image of Kraken from Museum of Unnatural Mystery3

4 Read accounts of the giant squid at the Museum of Unnatural Mystery’s Giant Squid page.

5 Sorry, dead link

6 Read about Rev. Harvey’s squid and other interesting information at the excellent Ocean Planet: In Search of Giant Squid from NASA and the Smithsonian.

7 Read the Squid Educational Page at Chalk Hills Educational Resources.

8 Check out the How Deep can they go page at Ocean Planet — very well done!

Early illustration of giant squid, by Professor A.E. Verrill of Yale, from Ocean Planet6.

9 Diagram of Giant Squid at Ocean Planet. For fun, also check out a robotic version of the giant squid at The Tech’s RobotZoo.

10> Again from the RobotZoo, the mechanics of funnel locomotion.

11 Photo of sucker teeth from the Ocean Planet.

12 See a video of a squid using its ink defense at the Ocean Planet.

13 Read about the 1997 Expedition to Kaikoura, at the National Geographic Web site.

14 Read about the 1999 Expedition to Kaikoura at Ocean Planet/Smithsonian.

15 A day in the logs of the second Kaikoura expedition, Setting up for a dive.

16 Discussion of the use of the MIT Sea Grant underwater robot at MIT.

17 Read an article on the use of Whales to film giant squid.

18 Complete text of the translated Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne — from the Jules Vern Collection.

Photo of submersible used to search for giant squid in 1999 expedition, NIWA/NASA15.

Also check out the The Octopus News Magazine Online.

Slay the Dreamer

On the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and the National Civil Rights Museum:

Visitors pass through displays depicting African-American life in the Jim Crow South, honoring early civil rights pioneers like Ida B. Wells and describing seminal events like the 1955-56 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala.

Finally they come to the room in which King spent his final minutes and look onto the balcony where he was standing when Ray’s bullet hit him. Some find this place as evocative an American shrine as Independence Hall or the battlefields at Gettysburg and Antietam.

Thanks to wood s lot.

As I stated earlier, I would never join a protest based on a ‘celebration’ of an assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, I am aware that, in some ways, marching against war on the anniversay of King’s death is a vindication of the last few years of his life, spent fighting the Vietnam war. In an excellent perspective article on King’s death, On anniversary of assassination, some want King remembered as more than ‘dreamer’, the author, Gregory Lewis, writes:

As far as Julian Bond is concerned, the day King was shot to death is “the beginning of the reshaping of King’s legacy by erasing the last five years of his life, freezing him in August 1963.” Since his death at the age of 39, King’s image as a dreamer has supplanted King the radical opponent of the Vietnam War and economic exploitation of the poor.

Yet it’s King’s fight for economic equality for blacks, and his fight against the Vietnam war in addition to his eloquent and powerful influence for civil rights that made him, truly, the great man for all times. In one of his speeches, he said:

“Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”

“Beyond Vietnam,” April 4, 1967

How uncanny that King would use the same words then, in a different war, that are so appropriate today: about securing liberties several thousand miles away when we’re being denied liberty here in this country, now. If anything marching against war would seem the perfect memorial for King.

But I think that Martin Luther King, Jr would disagree. He wasn’t a man who be comfortable with shrines, and wreaths, and glass cases containing memorabilia. I think he would say that the perfect memorial for him would be a living one, reflected in people fighting for freedom and against injustice and inequality every day of the year.

Not saying stop is not the same as saying go

In some ways I regret my Peaceblog no more writing, not because I don’t believe what I wrote — I do. And not because I feel like I’m selling out — I’m not. It seems to me this issue is on the minds of other people who marched and worked for peace. And it’s not an easy issue to discuss either.

I am aware that there are some people who are unhappy that I’m not continuing to protest the armed conflict in Iraq. That doesn’t bother me, as I knew that there will be people protesting the war until the end and that some will understand where I’m coming from, others won’t. I can accept this.

No, what does bother me is that others see this as a form of support for the war, as some sort of right-thinking move. (I hate that term with a passion, almost as much as I dislike neo-con.)

Let me be blunter: I am still against this war in Iraq. I believe, strongly, that the United States has no right to make what amounts to a unilateral invasion of Iraq. People are suffering and dying because of super inflated egos who have worked out a ‘strategy’ on paper and who refuse to acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers; in most cases, they don’t even know what the questions are. No, I believe the US screwed up.

However, I am also most interested in focusing my energy on what we can do to help the people of Iraq as soon as possible, as well as minimize the anger in the rest of the Arab world. In my opinion, this means establishing an interim government that will be acceptable to the Iraqi people and the majority of countries in the Middle East. At least until the Iraqi feel comfortable enough, as a whole, for everyone to “please just leave now”.

To me, this interim government should be overseen by more neutral parties, in my opinion, something joint between the Arab League and the UN.

I think the worst possible thing will be for the United States to continue in any form of controlling position in this country. Not only will this increase the stress and the anger in the Middle East, quite bluntly, I don’t trust the current leadership of this country not to screw up.

I also want to ensure that the US does not invade any other countries without cause. Not on my watch at least.

Now, taking all that, and borrowing from Jonathon’s upcoming “‘How to Respond to Idiots’ for Dummies” book, I don’t know how one gets from being sadly resigned to the belief that pulling troops out at this time would do more harm than good to the Iraqi people to I am now behind this war to give freedom and human rights to the Iraqi people.

However, there may be some confusion because of a mixed message I’m sending. After all, I am behind a war for freedom and human rights; it’s just that this war is being fought within the United States, not Iraq.

Archived with comments at the Wayback Machine

Peaceblog no more

I have removed the Peaceblog logo from the sidebar. I’m not sure at this point exactly what a peaceblog is. After three difficult days of thinking, I’m not sure what ‘peace’ is.

Before the invasion, ‘peace’ meant to me working to prevent my country from invading Iraq without good and decent cause and world support. By world, I mean UN support.

I never at any time considered Iraq an imminent threat. We are not justified attacking the country for this reason. We’re not justified attacking the country for 9/11. The only justification we could have for an armed conflict is to remove Saddam Hussein because of his oppression of the people of the country, but talk about Weapons of Mass Destruction is not concern about the Iraqi people. Too late the people of Iraq entered our regard.

Once we entered the country, once we dropped the bombs, we started something and to leave now will just result in a stalemate that will result in yet more death in a country that’s seen too much of it. The same type of death that resulted when we encouraged the Iraqi people to revolt 12 years ago and then didn’t stay around to help them. I bitterly regret that we started this war, but we can’t just leave now.

However, acknowledgment of finishing what we’ve started is not support. I do not support Bush and his administration. I do not support their short-sighted arrogance or their frightening long-term view for the Middle East.

The Sydney Morning Herald had a story today about disagreement within the Bush Administration about post-war strategy. It notes that the State Department (Colin Powell), as well as Britain’s Blair, believe in turning over the administration of Iraq to the UN after the war, though Powell has shown he won’t publicly refute the President’s and the Pentagon’s interest in maintaining US control.

I agree with turning the temporary administration of Iraq to UN control, as the country goes through what will be an extraordinarily difficult time. Replacing US control of Iraq with UN control is my push and my focus now, and that’s what I’m working for. The US presence will still be there, including our money and aid — we did start this after all — but under UN supervision as part of the UN forces.

And I do not agree with American corporate profiting from this war. Period.

The US staying in control of Iraq makes this a war of imperialism, regardless of how we want to wrap it. Not only will this inspire more terrorism, it will further destabilize the Middle Eastern region with fear of what the US will do next. I won’t soon forget the discussion about Syria and Iran last week. I won’t forget the implications of those words, and neither will Syria or Iran. Or, most likely, North Korea.

I also support direct Arab League involvement in the administration of Iraq. We have to start getting over our distrust of each other — Western world and the Arab world. Being the enemy without is not going to stop the spread of Muslim fanaticism or any form of fanaticism for that matter.

A most vivid image in my mind is that Iraqi driver the morning of the first bombing of Baghdad. The country was under war and the city had just been bombed, but the driver still signaled to turn, still stopped at a red light. Of all the images of destruction and violence and death from Iraq, this is the image that haunts me the most.

What the people of Iraq, and the Middle East, want is what we want — normalcy. Nobody wants war but the fanatical and the ambitious.

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