Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Washing Our Hands Like Pilate

As any of you who hang around here probably know by now, my employer forces their employees to suffer through Fox "News" in all the breakrooms. Changing the channel is verboten, so I cope with this indignity in the only ways I am able. Today, that way is blogging about something on Fox so stupid, so egregious that even cursing at the TV (and startling one of the cafeteria workers) was not enough.

The onus for my outrage today comes from that obsequious toad with the poofy hair and wire rim specks: John Gibson. Now, normally I wouldn't waste my beautiful mind on the rantings of this bargain-basement, Rush Limbaugh wannabe. Today, though, John crossed a line, more in a matter of tone than in substance.

While conducting an interview with a former Under Secretary of Defense for George W. Bush (his name escapes me and Fox doesn't have the transcript) concerning the announcement by the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, that Iran no longer feels the need to debate its nuclear ambitions with the United States. Probably a largely posturing move designed to test the U.S. leadership (such as it is) but nonetheless concerning. So concerning, in fact, that John Gibson asked no less than three times whether or not this meant a military solution for Iran was the only remaining viable solution. His tone gave away that he was practically begging for a positive answer, a confirmation that war with Iran was inevitable. And it disgusted me far beyond the normal level of nausea I experience when watching Fox.

These pro-war conservatives do not just support war, be it in Iraq or Iran. They love it. They long for it. I don't know any other way to describe this sort of thinking but sociopathic. Of course, these gung-ho supporters of war have no intention of going anywhere near the actual fighting. But the enthusiasm with which chickenhawks like John Gibson pray for more U.S.-instigated violence in the world is appalling. And I think it's much more widespread than just the halls of Wingnut News Central.

I can feel conservatives like Gibson salivating over the prospect of war with Iran and, hopefully, for them, North Korea. These kinds of folks represent the basest in human interaction, the codification of the schoolyard bully into a political philosophy. To them, diplomacy is weak, messy and ultimately unfulfilling in a visceral sort of way. But the glory of war, the noble cause, the charging cavalry coming to the rescue of an endangered America...this has the real emotive appeal that these conservatives crave. It's an immature understanding of the true nature of warfare, propagated by a Hollywood war film understanding of the topic.

Iraq is the reality of war. It's a long, slow, bloody occupation, that slowly grinds down each side. Conservatives idealize World War II without understanding any of the historical context of that conflict. The war that we joined in 1942 was really the second act of the first World War, and folks understood this much better then, than conservatives do today. The U.S. entered the war late and never experienced anything like the casualties that Britain, France or the Soviet Union endured. Of course, that war had the ideological advantage of a clear cut enemy. The Nazis and the Japanese were clear nationalist entities fighting imperial wars of expansion. Not so, the Iraqi insurgency. That's a war grown by us, in a land we had no business invading. The sheer arrogance and moral vacuousness needed to justify the deaths of thousands of Iraqis on the ideological grounds of "spreading democracy" (since that seems to be the only reason remaining for the war's continuation) is truly breathtaking. It's as though these conservatives cannot imagine Iraq as anything more than one dictator, his military and his political machine, instead of the reality of tens of millions of everyday folks who are truly paying the price for American imperialism.

So will it be with Iran. It's all too easy to see a war with Iran as an expedient answer to a difficult foreign policy question. But war is never simple, as every single war ever fought would indicate to conservatives if only they got their knowledge of war from somewhere other than Hollywood or the History Channel. It's never the ruling regime that pays the price for war; they're insulated against those costs. Does anyone truly believe that Saddam Hussein is suffering more in prison than his people are under American occupation? Again, the same will hold true for Iran. Perhaps we could invade, topple the government and begin the same process in Iran as in Iraq. But it's not the Supreme Leader or President Ahmedinejad who will bear the cost of such action by the United States. It's the thousands of everyday Iranians who will be killed in the process.

In a democracy, we are responsible, directly, for the actions of our government. It's another of those costs of freedom conservatives think only applies to dead soldiers and lost rights. The blood of Iraq is on all of our hands, as will be the blood of Iran. It's on mine and it's on yours, even if we didn't support the war and never will. That's why I despise John Gibson and his ilk; they seek to bloody my hands further and I already can't wash them clean...

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