Teachers in our Public Schools with a Political Agenda

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If public school teachers are permitted to spew their warped out rhetoric completely unchecked, we're in trouble. I am greatly concerned with the Op Eds being published regularly in the "Conway Daily Sun" [of New Hampshire], written by a teacher in the public school system. His name is Tom McLaughlin and he has a website at tommclaughlin.blogspot.com.

His editorials / rants are usually a summary of a recent classroom discussion based on politics, with the most recent one (today) being about the death of Osama Bin Laden, how we owe it all to water boarding, torture (but it's okay if its a terrorist), a Fox News interview (rah rah)... and how Obama and his Generals are putting our soldiers at risk. The title of his article is: "Gutsy Decision?"

We live in America; we have a right to our political beliefs [freedom], however, this man is drilling his students and filling their heads with blatant propaganda. His articles contain quoted conversations clearly indicating the pressure that he is applying to his students. I cannot believe how dangerous this practice is. I am dismayed that parents, teachers and others in general are reading this and not questioning this man's intentions, integrity and abuse of power. Are they lazy? Apathetic? Ignorant? Can't read? What is going on?

He has crossed the line!
There is no question that our youth are at risk if this is what goes on in our 'tax funded' public classrooms. Is it up to the teacher to present a one sided political viewpoint? What happens to the student who disagrees with this man? Will his grades suffer? Will she be an outsider? I believe that it is vital to be aware of current events, but in an educational, informative manner. Healthy, balanced debates are also important. Ditch the politics and brain washing.

This teacher and the content of his agenda are okay?...Wow... This is unacceptable.

Please, please, please read this.... I have added two links to read this article. He has written many off the charts pieces - which is his right- but not in the classroom. Actually, there are a few contributors that show how ignorant this news organization is. I usually skim over these articles during lunch, but today I was stunned because it involves students. Let's 'not' overlook this.

http://issuu.com/DailySun/docs/cds5-12-11/5 His article is on Page 6.

http://tommclaughlin.blogspot.com/2011/05/gutsy-decision.html This is the article on his blog. (This might be a friendlier site and you can read all of his wonderful offerings).

Best Regards,
Marigold
(Eternally grateful for home education)...

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Comments

Do you have a political agenda? Have you ever believed or professed propaganda?

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 3:57 pm

Marigold, in the last post that I made I was speaking purely rhetorically. I do acknowledge that there is a very serious side to your message.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 3:57 pm

Actually he started out in what seemed to be a critical thinking exercise, but blew it with his editorial conclusions. The newspaper conway would seem to have a particular bent from it's name.

It wouldn't hurt to request he ask his students some other questions, like how likely is it to say what your interrogator wants you to say if he stops torturing you? and as far as shooting into a crowd, who is it do you think should be shot? those with turbans? how about those with burkas? if they are holding up a cross? do you know the difference between a Sikh turban and a Sunni or Shiite turban? do you think some crimes should go unpunished? which crimes?

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

People are biased and teachers are people.

It's up to the parents to help their children understand bias.

Home schooling does not protect children from bias forever. It only postpones it.

That said, my kids have been subjected to some ridiculous bias in their schooling, but it has helped them understand the world much better once they have filtered it through their parents.

I can't say for sure, but I believe my kids are finally catching on to their parent's bias'.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Whether I have a political agenda or not is irrelevant. Whether or not I believe in this teacher's / columnist's POV is not important...

His approach, conduct and material are out of line. It is not his place to preach to his students in the public classroom and to transfer his political point of view via his curriculum. Especially if he is not providing a full, broad spectrum. His presentation does not offer freedom of thought.

Did you read his article before asking me about my agenda?

Yes, I am sure that I have fallen for propaganda before...it is almost impossible to escape that...however, I try to be aware, open minded and sift carefully through the information that comes my way.

I don't preach to others. I stand up for what I believe in.
I would be upset if my any of my children were in his class; I would pull them out immediately and demand a review of this teacher's actions. I am not even sure where this man is employed and it really doesn't matter... I am not comfortable with the content of his class material. Are you?

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

I regret bringing home education into this, because it isn't the point of my discussion and I really don't want to approach the subject. (It depends upon the home education approach and a wide spectrum of variables)...sigh.

So... did you read his column? His curriculum is based soley on his opinion. (I do not agree with his POV)... Most importantIy, the classroom is an inappropriate setting for soapboxing.

Oh...how many kids go home and discuss what they learn in school? The lucky ones...
This man is teaching garbage. Pure and simple.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Douglasslee,
I agree. At first I thought that he was prompting critical thinking, but the article digressed quickly and dramatically to a level of narrow mindedness that indicates wrecklessness and very little consideration for the fallout from his comments.
I think that he missed a great opportunity to explore endless possibilities in open dialogue.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Michajr34
I re- illuminated your post and understand entirely.
Thanks.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Teaching is a political act. It will always contain political bias, even in home schooling.

The biggest problem here is that he was disseminating inaccurate information - stuff that has been WIDELY discredited.

Additionally, he was leading the kids rather than presenting balanced perspectives and allowing them to come out with conclusions. My guess is that this teacher wasn't intentionally lying but is low information himself and THAT is the sadest part of it all.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 9:00 pm

To counteract his 'lessons' , if he is in your school district, I would write to the newspaper, cc:principal, cc:pta, and the teacher himself. First thank him for opening a critical thinking exercise in regards to current affairs topics. Request time to offer the questions to the students I posted above, and any other questions you might mine from other teachers, clergy, law enforcement, public defenders office, defense Lawyers in an open forum, with other classes, see where the issue leads. He may take the challenge, the principle may force his hand, but it would be lively, and should be taped and recorded for the newspaper's next edition. [they might send a stringer them selves to cover it}

,

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Marigold, I very humbly and sincerely apologize for any anger I caused to you. I should have put that the questions were rhetorical in nature in with that first post. I meant no harm. The questions were designed to provoke thought to any who read it. The way I wrote it was very clumsy. I have a habit of writing or reading posts in a way that makes them easy to misunderstand. I will do my best to be more careful as to how my posts are to be interpreted or as to how I interpret other people's posts.

Humbly and with sincere apology,

micahjr34

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 3:57 pm

Ah2. I agree with you entirely.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Douglaslee,
I am not certain which school district he is in. It would be easy enough to find out. I like your approach very much and think that you would be a terrific diplomat. The world would be a better place if leaders handled adversity and detrimental situations using your approach, in doing so, all parties have an opportunity to learn and benefit from the experience. (It always boils down to intention and integrity).

When we do nothing, complain, or fight 'fire with fire' we miss opportunities. Many people tend to do nothing to resolve, correct or shine light on various situations to provide insight. This particular situation needs addressing.

Also, I realize that our world is facing many challenges and people may not think that something like this is a priority compared to nuclear meltdowns, wars, famine, earthquakes and tornadoes. However, we should always care about the foundation of our society. Of course our children are the future...we reap what we sew. It matters what is happening to shape them and we are all responsible on some level.

Thank you for the great suggestion.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Micahjr34...
I have done that very thing before...and after our exchange, I was able to take it in context and appreciate it.

Emails and texts can be that way sometimes...

No worries.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Teachers are people, like the rest of us, and so will have different political leanings, and different religious beliefs.. I believe politics, like religion, should be kept as neutral as possible in the classroom, so kids can learn to think for themselves (make up their own minds).. Rather than for the "impressionable" students to be trained to follow the teacher (as most will)..

I will use the example of religion, because this is the issue I am most familiar with.. There are organized fundy Christian groups trying to push their religion on other peoples children (in the public schools).. It does indeed gain converts for their church.. But it should be illegal to brainwash other peoples children.. It also makes outcasts and social pressure for the children not willing to conform.. Many things are inappropriate for teachers, swearing, sexual lewd discussions, threatening, likewise for favoring one particular religion or political system..

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bobbler
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Another 'question' for the teacher should a follow up exchange occur, should include C-span footage of John McCain debunking torture effectiveness, and the fact it was already disproved from internal CIA documents. Of course a question could also include "Would the Senator know about torture?" "Why do you think he might know more about torture than the guys that like to torture?"

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Bobbler,
I agree, "It should be illegal to "brainwash" other people's children". At least there should be guidelines... and the parents should be informed of content.

I also agree with the outcast part should a student disagree. Whether it is Right wing or Left wing propaganda...it does not belong in the classroom. It's really simple.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Very good example and situation to take into account. As a former POW, I'm sure he has a unique perspective.

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Marigold
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Mar. 21, 2011 5:24 pm

Hi,

I'm a conservative. It's impossible to hide that since I write a weekly column published in two local newspapers. Information I imparted to students to stimulate discussion came from many different sources, not just the liberal ones most public school students get exclusively.

Many people have sat in on my lessons, including liberal administrators. They believe I'm a great teacher and have said so in writing. I've been investigated by the school board in response to complaints like the ones you outlined above. They discovered, after sending the superintendent to interview former students, administrators, teacher aides, and others who have been present as I taught, that I was cited by most of the students as the best teacher they ever had. The adults reported that I was not a propagandist.

My perspective is rare in public schools these days, I admit. I've annoyed many liberals who consider public schools their exclusive domain and they've attempted many times to get me fired or have my license to teach revoked. For about fifteen years, they were unsuccessful and I retired last June after 36 years in the classroom.

Now I'm writing a book about that experience - about being a conservative columnist in the local community and how many left-wing individuals and groups tried to get rid of me. The toughest part is keeping it short.

Any questions?

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am

Tom:

A good teacher is obligated to explain all sides of an issue regardless of their personal opinions. That would apply to you as well as all those radical leftist coworkers you seem to despise. Injecting your opinions within the broader context is perfectly fine and helps provide persepective, but can you honestly say that you try to explain all sides to your students or do you just express your opinions as some badge of honor intended to right the wrongs of all those liberal teachers?

The public school classroom is not an op-ed column and shouldn't be treated as such. Do you believe the teachers union you belong to should protect your right to express your opinions in the classroom setting? If so, why not the rights of the liberals as well? Or should one-sided opinions presented as factual information within the classroom setting be frowned upon?

You certainly seem to be very happy with yourself and all you have accomplished. However, I'm not sure if it is because you feel you have helped children better understand the world we live in or because you have successfully expressed your opinions in the public school setting without getting fired. You ought to thank that union you belong to for providing that opportunity as well as the fair retirement compensation you enjoy.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

This McLaughlin is promoting torture as good for America.

Torture by any logical, reasonable standard is evil.

Therefore, we must conclude this teacher McLaughlin is an evil man.

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Phaedrus76
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Sep. 14, 2010 7:21 pm
Quote Tom McLaughlin:

Hi,

I'm a conservative. It's impossible to hide that since I write a weekly column published in two local newspapers. Information I imparted to students to stimulate discussion came from many different sources, not just the liberal ones most public school students get exclusively.

Many people have sat in on my lessons, including liberal administrators. They believe I'm a great teacher and have said so in writing. I've been investigated by the school board in response to complaints like the ones you outlined above. They discovered, after sending the superintendent to interview former students, administrators, teacher aides, and others who have been present as I taught, that I was cited by most of the students as the best teacher they ever had. The adults reported that I was not a propagandist.

My perspective is rare in public schools these days, I admit. I've annoyed many liberals who consider public schools their exclusive domain and they've attempted many times to get me fired or have my license to teach revoked. For about fifteen years, they were unsuccessful and I retired last June after 36 years in the classroom.

Now I'm writing a book about that experience - about being a conservative columnist in the local community and how many left-wing individuals and groups tried to get rid of me. The toughest part is keeping it short.

Any questions?

The issue here in this particular instance Tom was that the teacher was using information that was already proven to be false to leverage a particular political perspective in his class. Did you intentionally attempt to impart your political views on your students? That is different than sharing your political views. When you present information in a way so that students would be positioned as "wrong" unless they believed as you do, then you are indoctrinating. If you present information along with your opinions and allow your students to either agree with you are disagree with you, that is teaching.

Did you ever intentionally provide our students that you knew to be incorrect so that they would agree with your political bias? This teacher did. Would you go into your classroom tomorrow and say to a room full of students that there were weapons of mass destrucion in Iraq? No. That would be a lie. This teacher was lying to his kids. Period.

From what I gather, you seemed to not be doing this in your classrooms but for some reason you seem to have the need to try and draw a parallel between your practice and his.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 9:00 pm

I am the teacher who is the subject of this thread.

Yes, I have told my students there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I've told hundreds of them for years. Saddam Hussein used nerve gas against Iran and against Kurds in his own country.

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am

I quit the union years ago when they refused to stop sending my dues exclusively to liberal Democrat candidates and causes. I paid my own legal defense costs - over $4000.00 after homosexual activists made false charges against me twice. I won both times and kept my job.

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am

Tom:

You seem downright giddy about your ability to lie to your students, express bigotted remarks and get away with it. It seems like your op-ed column has gone to your head and in the process you have lost the ability to be a fair-minded educator.

The irony is that in your years of getting away with this crap, you probably have not furthered your conservative cause one bit. I'll bet you've help sway a whole generation of kids in your old school to be proud liberals. Thanks for your help!

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Wrong Laborisgood. I helped them learn to think critically. Those who do will reject liberalism just as I did when I grew up.

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am
Quote Tom McLaughlin:

Wrong Laborisgood. I helped them learn to think critically. Those who do will reject liberalism just as I did when I grew up.

I bet you were a hoot with the neighborhood kids back then and I'm sure you did help your students think critically (of you).

I blindly voted Republican for many years until I finally woke up and thought critically. I then rejected modern conservatism as any decent person with a conscience would.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Tom McLaughlin:

I am the teacher who is the subject of this thread.

Yes, I have told my students there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I've told hundreds of them for years. Saddam Hussein used nerve gas against Iran and against Kurds in his own country.

Those were dismantled after the first Iraq War. Way to keep up with the times. My first comment in this thread is now confirmed. The problem is that you are an extremely misinformed individual and you impart that on to your students. Not only that, but you take pride in this fact. That is indeed the sadest part of this entire story. Have a happy retirement. It seems we will all benefit from it.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 9:00 pm

Amen

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Sprinklerfitter
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Sep. 1, 2011 5:49 am

I no not disagree that this teacher is ill informed and is teaching as fact information that has been debunked. That said, I cannot support his removal from the classroom.

If we start removing teachers for their views, a witch hunt would ensue. Over the years I was taught information that turned out to be false. No problem I eventually found other sources and made up my mind., students today have much easier access to information than I did.

I had teachers that I knew wanted a particular slant so I gave it to them, where necessary. That's life and you have to do that to keep your job out in the real world.

Intellectual freedom in the classroom is required to prevent the government from determining what is taught. Care to guess which political persuasion would win in that case. The moneyed elite is starting to stuff the pockets of republicans in School Board elections. Care to guess why.

We have tenure, not to protect the jobs of bad teachers as the neoCon(men) would have you believe but to protect teachers against school boards and principals who would dictate what is taught in the classroom. I was a biology teacher, I wonder how often I would have had to fight for the right to teach evolution.

dulcimerbird
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Aug. 16, 2010 11:06 am

Media Matters purporting that something is wrong does not carry much weight with me and I do not consider something "debunked" because they disagree with it.

I would routinely read letters to the editor attacking my views and published in local newspapers to my students. We would analyze which displayed logical fallacies (such as ad hominem attacks) and which were reasoned arguments. At such times, I would remind them that they were free to question my views as well. The only thing I insisted on was that their expressions of contrary opinions be reasoned and civil. Lively discussions with many contrary views expressed were routine in my classes.

It might interest you to know that I taught a "Beginnings" unit comparing and contrasting evolution and creation stories from various cultures and religions. It evolved into a recurring theme during my 20th century US History course. For example, we examined how there was a correlation between the positions on the left/right political spectrum among people who believed the Big Bang Theory and evolution best explained our beginnings and those who believed divine creation did. Students often debated these issues.

Two principals tried to persuade me to drop that unit, but I continued with it for years.

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am

I reported to students that they were present during the 1980s. Where is the evidence that they were dismantled? Saddam wouldn't allow UN weapons inspectors to examine his weapons even after 17 "ultimatums."

I also told them of US intelligence satellite photos of truck convoys going from Iraq into Syria weeks and months before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

My students are better informed than you are.

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am

I agree that labor is good. Organized labor? It had its place once. One of my ancestors was involved with the Molly McQuires. My father was a founder of NAGE, which became the SEIU. I belonged to the NEA for years before resigning for the reasons I mentioned above.

Now I believe public employee unions are a threat to our republic. They're Democrat minions and many are made up of left-wing thugs. Where to you fit in?

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am

Look up Valarie Plame, Scott Ritter, Hans Blix, etc.

These were people who were closest to the inspections and all of them triangulated evidence that IRaq had no WMDs and did not even have the capacity to build them. The only people saying that it was a possibility were politicians with a political agenda.

You sir, are anything but a critical thinker and have become victim to political propaganda.

Let me ask you a question. If we knew the WMDs were in Syria, then why were we looking in Iraq? Why didn't we invade Syria instead? Did you ever ask your students that?

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 9:00 pm

Yes, we disussed that. The wisdom of invading Iraq is questionable in my opinion, and I don't know WMDs went to Syria. There's evidence, but not proof that I'm aware of. Syria was getting WMD help from North Korea however, which Israel destroyed, just as they did in Iraq back in the 1980s.

Saddam was harboring terrorists. He was sending $25,000 to families of suicide bombers in Israel. He was supporting terrorism just as Syria and especially Iran did and do still.

I have a question for you: Why would Obama intervene in Libya, but not in Syria or Iran?

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Tom McLaughlin
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Nov. 3, 2011 3:32 am
Quote Tom McLaughlin:

I have a question for you: Why would Obama intervene in Libya, but not in Syria or Iran?

If he did, would you vote for him in 2012?

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Tom McLaughlin:

Yes, we disussed that. The wisdom of invading Iraq is questionable in my opinion, and I don't know WMDs went to Syria. There's evidence, but not proof that I'm aware of. Syria was getting WMD help from North Korea however, which Israel destroyed, just as they did in Iraq back in the 1980s.

Saddam was harboring terrorists. He was sending $25,000 to families of suicide bombers in Israel. He was supporting terrorism just as Syria and especially Iran did and do still.

I have a question for you: Why would Obama intervene in Libya, but not in Syria or Iran?

Okay you brought up Syria not me. Now you are just backpedaling.

I would wager there are a few factors that played into the decisions regarding Lybia, Syria, and Iran.

1. NATO allies didn't ask us to help them intervene in Syria or Iran.

2. There was a clear and achieveable objective in Lybia and not in Syria or Iran.

That is one of the reasons Iraq 2 was a huge mistake and that the war in Afgahnistan now is not productive. They had no clear objective that could be achieved by military means.

In other words, most people who pose this question/problem look at only one or two contextual factors. Usually it is 1) oil and 2) They are all in some ways committing human rights/civil rights violations. That is a pretty simplistic way to look at foreign policy. While I agree these were important contextual factors involved in all three of these places, these are not the only two factors that need to be taken into account when engaging in military action.

What does any of that have to do with you using outdated information in your courses?

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 9:00 pm

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