The raging battle amongst the converted is whether to include the Moon on the way to Mars. The Mars-First crowd deems the Moon to be, at best, a diversion from the real goal of colonizing Mars. The Moon-First-on-the-way-to-Mars group also supports the eventuality and dominance of a Martian civilization. However, there are clear benefits to colonizing a planetary body three days from Earth versus one that is about a year away. From any perspective except public relations, the clear and rational way for Man into Space is via the Moon. Mars Direct ignores critical technical, physiological and financial issues that are unresolved, pretending that existing technology need not be tested extensively before being sent on a yearlong mission to Mars with humans. The risk of a Mars-first program is that, even in the best circumstances of no catastrophic failures, it will become another Apollo, that is, we go to Mars, plant the flag a few times, and then go back home for another thirty to fifty years of hibernation from manned space. This discussion will summarize essential issues, technical and otherwise, that makes clear that the Moon (and ISS) must be our steppingstone to Mars, the Solar System, and beyond. Mars Direct project cannot be defended on any rational engineering grounds. It cannot be justified purely on economic grounds. It cannot be defended from a scientific perspective. It can only be viewed as a ploy to circumvent the difficult work that lies in the path to the Moon. The only rational way to Mars is by way of the Moon.