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.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Reality not violent enough for neo-cons
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007

To some people, the themes of international politics are
indistinguishable from those of professional wrestling. They see in the
relations of nation states a ritualized melodrama of dominance vs.
submission, triumph vs. humiliation. To them, every game’s a zero sum
game; millions of individual human beings are labeled “good” or “evil.”
All conflicts that don’t end violently, end shamefully; compromise
equates with cowardice. So it was with the standoff between Great
Britain and Iran over 15 Royal Navy sailors taken captive in the Persian
Gulf. Ordinary people welcomed their release with happiness and relief.
Actually, it’s tempting to say most normal people did. A perilous
situation had been resolved without tragedy and without provoking a
potentially disastrous war. Sure, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
used the occasion to score propaganda points. But what points? That Iran
is a sovereign nation capable of defending its territory. That its
leaders can act magnanimously, freeing the prisoners before Easter as a
“gift to the British people.” With a characteristic lack of subtlety,
Ahmadinejad all but spelled out the message: We respect your faith.
Maybe you should respect ours.

Although there were indications the crisis came as a surprise to Iran’s
government—London’s Guardian newspaper reported that Revolutionary Guard
hotheads had acted on their own—it managed to present the thing as a
Persian morality play on Farsi- and Arab-language TV. For their part,
the Brits reportedly waved off a series of aggressive military options
suggested by the Pentagon. In the aftermath, Prime Minister Tony Blair
praised his country’s handling of the crisis as “firm but calm—not
negotiating but not confronting, either.”

Without addressing Ahmadinejad directly, Blair told the Iranian people,
“We bear you no ill will. On the contrary, we respect Iran as an ancient
civilization, as a nation with a proud and dignified history. And the
disagreements we have with your government we wish to resolve peacefully
through dialogue.”

In the end, neither side budged from its original story about whether
the sailors were captured in Iraqi or Iranian waters. Time was, Glenn
Greenwald pointed out on salon. com, when one could simply have assumed
the Brits were telling the truth and the Iranians lying. But that was
before Blair assumed his role as what British detractors call George. W.
Bush’s “poodle.” Anyway, none of that mattered as much as the bloodless

Needless to say, the peaceful resolution threw American
neo-conservatives into a fury. Washington Post columnist Charles
Krauthammer lamented the “pointed humiliation of Britain” and the
“fatuousness of the ‘international community.’” Where others saw
compromise, he discerned “impotence,” “ capitulation” and “farce.”

If the outcome of the standoff was a success, “one hesitates to ask what
would constitute failure,” wrote former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton in
the Financial Times. “The only thing risen from this crisis is Iranian
determination and resolve to confront us elsewhere, at their discretion,
whether on Iraq, nuclear weapons and terrorism.”

Disappointment was profound among those clamoring for war with Iran. FOX
News pundit William Kristol complained of U.S. passivity. He favored
bombing Tehran. So did GOP presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich. He
appeared on right-wing talk radio calling for the destruction of Iranian
oil refineries and a blockade of the Persian Gulf—potentially doubling
the price of oil and throwing the world’s economy into a tailspin.

And for what? Try to believe even Gingrich said it: To “show the planet
that you’re tiny and we’re not.”

See, it’s not enough to invade Iran’s neighbors, Afghanistan and Iraq,
and to fill the Persian Gulf with U.S. and British warships. Mere
reality never suffices. To really make these jokers feel all virile and
manly, it’s necessary to kill a lot of people, and strut around the ring
with the championship belt raised over their heads.

George Orwell analyzed the phenomenon in a 1945 essay called “Notes on
Nationalism,” which he defined as “the habit of identifying oneself with
a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and
recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.” Writing
immediately after World War II, Orwell emphasized that “[n]ationalism is
not to be confused with patriotism.” It was to him a species of moral
insanity. A patriot loves his country and its institutions, while “a
nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive
prestige.... [H]is thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs
and humiliations.... Nationalism is powerhunger tempered by
self-deception.” Did Ahmadinejad, an annoying jerk, use the British
seamen badly? He did. But here’s what Iran didn’t do: No torture, no
waterboarding, no being stripped naked, no 24-hour stress positions, no
sensory deprivation, no sexual humiliation, no naked pyramids, no dog
attacks or dog leashes. The sailors were released in two weeks,
basically unharmed. If Iran won a propaganda victory, it’s important to
recognize it wasn’t British capitulation that made it easy, it was
American tough guys.


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