January 26, 2006

 

Opposition - For your health!

Please welcome fellow Deadhead (and passionate blogger) Mark from over at Knockin On The Golden Door He has been discussing several things with me via email lately. Check out his blog and his "about" column for more background. Here is a recent exchange that we've had on Iraq (Mark in italics):

Mark, I have disdain for the neo-con dogma of pre-emptive war, which I see as a heinous hijacking of our initial purpose after 9-11: justice and OK, while we've got the world on our side, revenge.

I, and a hell of a lot of people do not see/regard what we're are doing in the Middle East as revenge. A common misconception is that Israelis, as well, are always out for revenge on the Arabs. Spielbergs lates piece of crap, Munich, isn't helping. Jews are prohibited from partaking in Schadenfreude, or taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. Their war on terrorism is necessary for the very survival of Israel. It is not something they have chosen to do.

You obviously hold a strong feeling that the Islamofascists must be dealt with post-haste. I don't know enough to disagree, but Iraq has provided me with no confidence in the Bush administration to further a workable Middle East policy. I am among what I think are millions (and possibly a majority) of Americans who are scared shitless by the way they have handled Iraq and deflated our global social currency.

Islam is central to the vast majority of armed conflicts happening around the world today. By contrast, Judaism and Christianity are not. That pretty much tells me where the problem lies. Yes, it must be dealt with, Not dealing with it is something that does not compute. As far as our ‘global social currency’ being ‘deflated,’ our global social currency was strongest right after 9/11. If the rest of he world only wants to be our friend when we're dying and on the defensive, fuck 'em. It's only a matter of time before we will be called upon to bail Europe out of another mess of their own making, i.e. Islamic civil unrest. Will we help?? We always have, I expect we will continue to do so.

That seems pretty cynical to me, and strikes me as a dangerous attitude for the U.S. to have in its foreign policy (yes I realize YOU said it and that YOU don't work at the State Dept.). I think if we keep allowing the neocons to take us cowboying around the globe pissing away millons of taxpayer dollars per minute, we're going to end up in a sorry state. Will we be in a position to help Europe if it does indeed come to what you say? Couldn't China just continue to sit quiet and let most of the chess board get all mixed up before introducing the queen from the back row on cleanup duty? The USSR is dead = communism is dead? What a joke!

I voted for Nader in 2000 (Bill Bradley in the primary) simply because I agreed with his belief that the two major parties are really the same. They talk different talk but they walk the same walk. My voting, for the record: '92 - Bush Sr. '96 & '00 - libertarian, whoever the hell was running cuz I sure wasn't voting for Dole or Clinton or Gore. Anyway, with a “these are tough times and he IS the commander-in-chief” I trusted Bush Jr. to lead the country where we needed to go after 9/11 (still I was cautious as evidenced in this Letter to TIME magazine - try not to pick it apart too much, it was written in passion and definitely flys high my liberal freak flag), and as you already know I am wholly disappointed in his effort.

I have not much respect for those who say they supported our war in Afghanistan, but not Iraq.

That would be me. To me the war on terror has been about as effective as the war on drugs, and I'm starting feel like the principles of the former are regressing into ones similar to the latter. In his latest Vanity Fair article Michael Wolff compares the impending film version of Alan Moore's cult graphic novel V for Vendetta (damn I can't wait!) with other subversive works of cultural sabotage such as A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove. Wolff says the film (by the Matrix-making, outside-the-Hollywood-glamosphere Wachowski brothers) is an upending opposition narrative to the Bush administration's justification for Iraq. Fear of the apocalypse has, writes Wolff, made our country's political mantra "when, not if" since 9/11, which he says is "the greatest of all rhetorical devices...well suited to religion, politics, and comic books."

He continues, “Mass destruction is the super-narrative that belittles all the other, more equivocal ones. ‘The world is going to end unless we take control’ versus ‘The world is, all things considered,with a bit of luck and finesse, most likely going to be O.K.’” To reiterate what camp I’m in (and trust me, I’ve seen both places), I say the Bushies are lacking finesse and running out of luck. So the end-of –the-world story diminishes everyone else’s, the Iraq war gets a feeble nod from Congress, and the bulk of our deployed forces make a U-turn from Afghanistan.

We’ve been there before, Wolff points out. The Cold War had near-absolute U.S. nuclear supremacy audaciously reversed into the absurd notion of a “missile gap” and our need to be able to double-nuke the Russians. But that story line was countered by those who considered the decidedly less compelling alternative that we should wait and see before going off half cocked, and was upended in the literal apocalypse of Vietnam, “occuring because of the fear of a hypothetical apocalypse,” as Wolff puts it. He says that similarly 9/11 has made the “our very existence is at issue” camp completely intolerant of any contrary view that the attack represents “a complicated new kind of vandalism, best guarded against by better law enforcement management.”

To me these reactions are simplistic extremes, but I definitely hold the ultimate suspicion of the former and lean toward the latter based on what the leaders of the 9/11 commission said in December: “Billions have have been distributed with virtually no risk assessment and little planning (they’re talking about domestically, by the way). Nor has the federal government set preparedness standards to help state and local governments use the money wisely.”

Do Americans care that, as The Wall Street Journal estimates, 100,000 Iraqi lives are saved for each year that we are willing to exchange more of our soldiers lives? At what point, Wolff asks, does Iraq become the main theme of popular culture like Vietnam did? For the record, the death rate in Iraq is currently just shy of 2 percent of total troop deployment, which was the rate in Vietnam in 1967; the kill count in Iraq last year averaged two soldiers per day, but is now on its way to four.

Wolff maintains that the Wachowskis, although penning the screenplay in the mid-90s, use V for Vendetta (Moore’s original work was a treatise on Thatcherism) to push back the envelope that Bush advances – “How much more war can we get away with?”

I don’t agree with those who say we must pull out from Iraq ASAP, but I assure you that I am just as pissed as they are that we are there. It’s likely we would have ended up there eventually, but the current strategy is, well, what IS the current strategy? Of course 20/20 hindsight shows Bush Sr. should have had the balls his son has and cashed that global social currency check in Gulf War I. Hell, Saddam invaded another country, how much more justification did we need? Or was the U.S. still a bit too red-aced from its support of Hussein against Iran? I love Bill Hicks’ bit about “How do you know Saddam has these powerful weapons? – Uh, says right here on the receipt.” So you say the Left has its head up its ass? Well, I fall back back on my pro-Nader vote on that one, my friend. Now, let’s talk about a three-party system...

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