A Perfect Storm
Tuesday. In a speech before the American Legion today President Bush warned: “The Iranian regime must halt these actions (supporting attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq). I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities.”
I've not seen or heard much in the way comment on this statement. The buzz for some time has been Bush intends to attack Iran - in what form is anybody's guess - the speculation ranging from air attacks that would include nuclear devices designed to drill down into fortified positions housing their nuclear program to artillery shelling and raids across their border.
If this were a normal administration I'd say, well they're negotiating, upping the pressure, this being one of many elements they're using, both carrot and stick, to get Iran on track. But, of course, this is Bush and I fear he may be contemplating something really stupid in Iran along the lines of “they'll greet us with open arms”. He's authorized our military commanders in Iraq to take appropriate action? What's appropriate action and what does he mean he's leaving it in the hands of our military commanders? You don't leave a move like that in the hands of military commanders unless you've given them very specific instructions of exactly what you want and when you want it done. The buck does not stop with a general in Baghdad.
Have we gotten all of that out of our system?
Well, walking back from breakfast this morning (I wrote the above last night), I got to thinking about civilian casualties in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, how little they seem to impinge on our conscience. You say, well a hundred thousand Iraqi's have been killed or five hundred thousand have been killed or fifty thousand, the number doesn't seem to make any difference, and everyone looks at you blankly waiting for the punch line. So?
I bring this up not because I'm so much more sensitive to people's suffering than everyone else. I'd like to say I was, but I wonder. Still, I have it very clear in my head that an Iraqi life is every bit as precious in this universe as mine, as the lives of my family and friends, as the soldiers we've been sending to their death. Yet “one hundred thousand dead” doesn't impinge on us the way a lost miner in Utah might cause us to follow his story or get ourselves off our collective ass to do something about it if that's what's we thought was required.
A thought experiment: Say the proposition was that fifty million people in the Middle East had to die in order to guarantee a reliable supply of oil over the next ten years? Can you imagine, if the proposition were packaged effectively (war between “good and evil”, retaliating for actions directed against us in the Middle East, they are not only worshiping a false god, but they're not treating their women right) that we could, all of us, let that happen without many more than a few crying out?
What if a million of the fifty million were French? (I would have an iron in that particular fire as my brother in law and his very attractive sister are French; his mother and brother and many of his friends are French; and the French, my buckos, make very nice wine.) Remember the President is up there saying we're in big trouble: no mention of “stable oil” as the objective, but the “protection of Israel” is the objective; “the protection of American honor” is the objective; “the protection of Right, Justice and the American Way” is the objective; could you imagine the American people swallowing it in blank eyed slumber? I wonder, dear friends, I wonder. We passed through the Looking Glass some time ago, many things once unimaginable are now not too salty side dish additions to the Great American Breakfast.
I wish it were simple, I wish the issues were black and white - good versus evil and the rest of these fantasies - and we didn't have serious interests in how this works itself out. It's nasty stuff and, even when it's played by the book with great skill by people of insight, things can and will go wrong. Could there be a situation where we might actually need to bomb an Iran, for example? I suspect there could, but I don't think what I've been seeing out of Washington comes even close to circumstances that might require it. Stand up against them toe to toe, mano e mano, arms at the ready? Sure, but the idea isn't to fight unless there's no other option and if it gets down to battle then we've more than likely failed somewhere in the process. That's, as I understand it, the way the game is played.
I hope I'm very wrong in my concern: that the President and the State Department really are handling these matters in an intelligent manner; that they're not going down the same rat hole they went down in Iraq; that our position in the world, as compromised as it is, won't deteriorate even further under the tutelage of idiots.
Are we done? Calling them idiots doesn't lend itself to rational discourse.
Rational discourse went out the door when he started calling anyone who opposed his policies a “traitor”. As someone who had to tip toe his way through the Vietnam era, who had to spend two years in the army when he otherwise wouldn't have considered the proposition, who saw what came out of that period, the arguments for and against, what seemed to work and what didn't, I never believed we'd make these kinds of mistakes while my generation was still living.
Everybody's playing for keeps and everybody seems to be displaying delusional behavior because what? We're stuck in old ideologies? We know nothing of their culture, their attitudes, their ideas, their lives? I'm worried we've forgotten our own principles laid down by the founding fathers, our own ideals, our own culture. I don't know, I'm the old retired guy here, but there's something very wrong in Washington. Given they (the world) and we (here) seem to gyrate through these phases of insanity, what might come should we find ourselves caught in a perfect storm?