Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Responding To The War Drums

Glenn Greenwald, you're the muthafunkin' Drizzle.

As Bush followers gear up for another election year campaign to start a war, they are using exactly the same rhetorical tactics and are revealing precisely the same mindset to which we were subjected during the 2002 campaign for the Iraq War. What is starkly apparent from this repetition is that their awareness of history and knowledge of the world is sadly confined to one singular event, which is all they know and which, rather bizarrely, they have a need to live over and over and over again.

To pro-Bush war supporters, the world is forever stuck in the 1930s. Every leader we don't like is Adolf Hitler, a crazed and irrational lunatic who wants to dominate the world. Every country opposed to our interests is Nazi Germany.

From this it follows that every warmonger is the glorious reincarnation of the brave and resolute Winston Churchill. And one who opposes or even questions any proposed war becomes the lowly and cowardly appeaser, Neville Chamberlain. For any and every conflict that arises, the U.S. is in the identical position of France and England in 1937 – faced with an aggressive and militaristic Nazi Germany, will we shrink from our grand fighting duties in appeasement and fear, or will we stand tall and strong and wage glorious war?

With that cartoonish framework in place, war is always the best option. It is the only option for those who are noble, strong, and fearless. Conversely, the sole reason for opposing a war is that one is a weak-minded and weak-willed appeaser who harbors dangerous fantasies of negotiating with madmen. Diplomacy and containment are simply elevated, PC terms for “appeasement.” War is the only option that works....

....But this sort of mindset is as simplistic as it is manipulative and, as intended, is a rock-solid recipe for eternal war. Not every dictator is irrational and suicidal. Most are not, including the most brutal. Throughout the 20th Century, the U.S. was able quite successfully to contain, negotiate with, and even form discrete common alliances with a whole array of dictators, thugs, murderous cretins and even militaristic madmen....

....To be sure, Saddam Hussein was a brutal thug who murdered and oppressed his citizens with virtually no limits, etc. etc., but the notion that he was ever in a league with Adolph Hitler in terms of the threats he posed, the capabilities he possessed, or even the ambitions he harbored, was always transparent myth. This equivalence is even more fictitious with regard to Iran, which -- although saddled with a highly unpopular president who is clearly malignant and who uses nationalistic rhetoric to boost the morale of his base – is a country that is, in fact, ruled by a council of mullahs which has exhibited nothing but rationality and appears to be guided by nothing other than self-interest.

Mr. Greenwald consistently puts thoughts into words in a way that makes me jealous. I encourage you to follow the above link and read the article in it's entirety. I'd also strongly caution against dismissing Greenwald's opinions simply because he short-hands a limited-but-loud group of near-fanatical Bush supporters (the Authoritarian Cultists, if you will) as "Bush followers." Having read many of the arguments for military intervention in Iran, I find myself agreeing most with Mr. Greenwald.

Perpetual war/expansion is not something that any empire wishing to maintain its power can engage in succesfully. History has borne this assertion out. Whether its Rome, Britain, or the empire of Alexander, it results in the progressively accelerated break-down of the core of the empire itself, and a weakening of strength/defenses.

The world is a dangerous place. There is always someone waiting in the wings with weapons. There has always been someone waiting in the wings, with weapons. Did the United States invade Russia at the height of communism? Of course not. The Russians possessed massive stockpiles of nuclear weapondry - far more than Saddam could have dreamed of acquiring. Did we storm the Kremlin? No - we discovered a new word, Detente.

The politicians of the Cold War era understood something that today's war-hungry A.C.'s do not - namely, just because you can start a war does not mean that you should start one.

Diplomacy and containment work. Do they always work? Of course not. But then, neither does war.

Greenwald's article also provides a link to the Belgravia Dispatch, which gives a thoughtful and reasoned analysis of the approach to Iraq vs. the approach to Iran (hint: they're pretty-much identical). I recommend reading it as well.


At 9:48 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Seems to me we have a spectrum with two different paradigms.

On the one hand, there are the "war supporters," whose "world is forever stuck in the 1930s."

And on the other hand, we have the, let's call them the "war opposers," whose world is forever stuck in the 1960s and 70s.

Well, which one is it?

Are we dealing with an expansionist violent threat or merely a couple of local bad boys?

And here's the rub. In the 1930s, there were plenty of people arguing that Hitler could be contained. And in the 1960s and 70s, there were plenty of people arguing that the Soviet Union could not. So, the arguments we identify as wrong fit nicely into those frameworks.

I've said this numerous times before, but once again, I truly hope that Greenwald is right. I hope he's right when he says that Iran "is a country that is, in fact, ruled by a council of mullahs which has exhibited nothing but rationality and appears to be guided by nothing other than self-interest."

There is nothing on this Earth that would please me more.

But if he's wrong, are we ready to deal with those consequences?

Truth is, I don't know if he's right. And I don't know if he's wrong. That is the variable we are supposed to weigh. I would neither be cavalier about beating the "war drums," nor would I be cavalier about denigrating those purportedly beating those "drums."


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