minutia press.
One presidency, two really bad ideas

Although I am glad that Saddam Hussein is gone, I think it is clear by now that no weapons of mass destruction were found, nor was a link to Al Quaida found there. So while the end result is a good one perhaps, does it justify the means by which we reached it?

Am I the only one who thinks this was a really, really big mistake in foreign policy?

And now it appears that Mr. Bush is on the verge of making yet another really big mistake.

Please realize, readers, I love this country, I respect the office of President, and I know that humans make errors. When I make a mistake, the consequences are usually not so large. When our President errs, the effects are certainly far greater. When I make a mistake, I can say "I'm sorry". When is the last time we heard Mr. Bush apologize for anything? He strikes me as an honorable man. He's made a mistake. But I think he's about to make another.

I am a person of science and I believe and am invested in its study.

But now let me say that the undertaking of putting a human on Mars is a really, really big mistake. It will cost an unbelievable amount of money, and I do not believe the results will be any better -- and they may indeed be worse -- than if we put a robot or several hundred of them on Mars. I am all for exploring outer space, for exploring Mars (robotically). But I do not see the point in spending lots of money -- especially given our money-driven problems here at home -- in putting a human on Mars.

I strongly urge all involved to invest research dollars into putting robots on Mars. Those same robots could explore places here on Earth too, where it is too dangerous for homo sapiens.

There, I've said it.

Now if I made one mistake as big as bringing down a country's leader for the wrong reasons, I would be out of the job that empowered me to do such a thing. Isn't this situation worse than Monica Lewinsky? Monica may be an eyesore, but as far as I know, nobody died because of that debacle.

I have no Republican or Democrat bias -- I've voted for both. I don't see a better candidate on the horizon to tell the truth. But why isn't our President being held accountable for the bad foreign policy that removed a leader from office by force, destroyed property in that leader's country, put our sons and daughters in harm's way, and gave reconstruction licenses to friends.


Excellent post, I've also been wondering about people's general opinions about the Mars issue.

When I was a kid, I was enthralled with space. I built spaceships with Legos, I drew pictures of space shuttles, and I did a school project on the feasibility of time travel by propelling a spaceship to light speed (not too feasible, even by a 4th grader's standards). I always wanted to be an astronaut, until I realized that I don't even like flying an airplanes or going up glass elevators.

As an engineering student, there are a lot of interesting problems that would have to be solved in order to get a man to Mars, and trying to solve these problems seems like a worthwhile endeavor whether or not people end up going or not.

Exploring space is unique because it's the kind of thing that (for now) won't be funded by private individuals or corporations. The expenditures are enormous, and there is no readily-identifiable return to justify the expense (besides "tourism"). The only way it's ever going to happen is if it's funded by the government.

However, because of the structure of our government, it's hard to make long term plans. Even if Bush allocates Eleventy Billion Dollars to putting a man on Mars, he's only going to be around for 4 more years even if he gets reelected. Who's to say that the next president won't cut the funding to the point where it was all just a big waste of money that went nowhere?

It seems like there are a lot more short-term uses for the money that would have a more relevant impact right now. As much as I would love to see the extra engineering jobs and cool gadgets that would come from space exploration, I just don't know whether we'd be better served cleaning up some messes down here first.

Posted by: Chris Hill Festival at January 15, 2004 5:34 PM

The really interesting thing is that I see Bush's "mission to Mars" announcement as a way of getting liberals (whom I suppose are characterized in political terms as caring more about science than conservatives?) to like him more and possibly vote for him in November. Yet most of the opinions I've read from scientists in the past couple of days suggest this move has failed miserably.

Also, nothing really makes sense in politics. Voters listen to their hearts more than their brains, as the cliche goes, and honestly, we need more cerebral leaders than we do emotional ones. I never thought "Monicagate" was a big deal. However, in that same year, Clinton authorized air strikes on Afghanistan, which should have received much more press--and, at the very least, comparable hostility to what Bush has faced for the Iraq war (which I agree was waged for the wrong reasons).

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