Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cowboys and Arabs

Not every conflict is World War II
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, April 19, 2006

In the age of mass media, political propaganda imitates TV melodrama.

Particularly in the U. S., the discussion of foreign affairs—crucial questions involving the lives of millions—follows the conventions of the action/adventure film: an idealistic American hero, a villain with his wicked henchmen, a dramatic “crisis,” redemptive violence and an imagined resolution, order and tranquility restored. Americans have been sold the identical scenario many times, most recently in Iraq. A “madman” materializes somewhere in the Third World. Even when, like Saddam Hussein, the villain may have been a U.S. client, he’s depicted as motiveless and malign, an “evildoer” who “hates freedom.” His deluded followers are robot-like, insectile. There’s no time for critical thinking. We must destroy the brute before he attacks.

This is not to say that the evildoer may not, in reality, be a thoroughly nasty piece of work, like Saddam. Nor that, everything else being equal, the world wouldn’t be better off without him. The propagandists who concoct these melodramatic scenarios are invariably sincere.

Indeed, it’s their dreadful solemnity that’s the problem. To the typical pro-war pundit, Glenn Greenwald points out on his Web log “Unclaimed Territory,” “the world is forever stuck in the 1930s. Every leader we don’t like is Adolph Hitler, a crazed and irrational lunatic who wants to dominate the world. Every country opposed to our interests is Nazi Germany.”

Hence, every warmonger pictures himself, if not President Bush, as Winston Churchill, and everybody who opposes war as the vacillating leaders of England and France who appeased Hitler at Munich in 1938. “You have chosen dishonor over war,” Churchill thundered. “You shall have both.”

It’s a dangerously seductive emotion. Some of the same propagandists who drove the U.S. to war over Iraq’s mythical weapons of mass destruction, wrongly predicted that Iraqis would welcome American troops as liberators and foolishly denied that sectarian strife would impede democracy’s march now clamor for an attack on neighboring Iran (Persia).

So what if the main strategic effect of the Iraq war has been to weaken Persia’s traditional Sunni Arab enemies? The same word-processor warriors at The Weekly Standard are once again dragging the Nazis into it.

“It is not ‘moral progress,’” William Kristol warns, “to put off serious planning for military action to a later date, probably in less favorable circumstances, when the Iranian regime has been further emboldened....”

Have they no shame? None whatsoever.

“Political or military commentators, like astrologers,” George Orwell noted acidly, “can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.”

Thus stimulated, some readers urge a skeptic like me to ponder apocalyptic Bible verses. It’s all foretold in scripture, you see. Another warns that “the day will soon come when for the safety of America we will have to cleanse this country of traitors like yourself and allow you to see a bullet coming straight for your face.” (It’s my policy to warn such persons that “terroristic threatening” is a felony.)

Once again Bush has denied hostile intent, just as he did for many months after secretly ordering the Pentagon to draft detailed war plans against Iraq. Writing in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh suggests that all systems are go at the White House, including possible use of tactical nuclear weapons. He hints that the neo-conservative ideologues around Dick Cheney have deluded themselves that bombing Iran would lead to internal rebellion and the overthrow of the nation’s Islamic regime.

Yeah, sure it would. Ever noticed how much the neo-cons’ ignorance of basic human psychology rivals only Osama bin Laden’s?

So how is Iran like Nazi Germany? Well, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes screwy anti-Semitic pronouncements. But he’s no dictator. Iran’s elected president serves at the pleasure of the ayatollahs, who also command the nation’s armed forces.

Otherwise, the comparison is ludicrous. Iran has expressed no territorial ambitions; history records that the Persians haven’t launched an aggressive war since the 16th century. While both sides hype Iran’s modest nuclear experiments, what may be the best intelligence suggests that the capacity to make a nuclear weapon is five to 10 years off. Military strategists doubt a bombing campaign could do anything but delay the Iranians a bit. Meanwhile, we’ve got them surrounded. There are U.S. bases in every country bordering Iran: Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia. More than twice the size of Texas (and five times larger than Iraq ), Persia would be difficult to invade, impossible to occupy. Meanwhile, here’s what a “pre-emptive” tactical nuclear attack against a purely hypothetical threat would do:
According to the National Academy of Sciences, it would incinerate over a million Iranian men, women and children, and spread cancer-causing fallout across the region. And on the day it happened, America, as we have known it, would cease to exist.

Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."


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