Friday, May 25, 2007

Headline Arguments

I'll Provide Context, Since the Media Refuses To

In my local paper on a Sunday not long ago, on page 2, there appeared the two following AP articles, one just above and to the left of the other:
  • Anti-war rally draws actors, thousands
  • Iran official: centrifuge installation under way
Two articles, arguging with each other. Gotta love that. It's almost like an argument in your own head, between your emotional side and your rational side.

Emotional side: "Speak Truth to Power, Man!" "No Blood for Oil!" "Bush Lied! People Died!"

Rational side: "Um, excuse me, when you're done ranting, we have this little problem over here that might need some attention. Unless you're cool with insane power-mad delusional Armageddon-preaching halfwits acquiring nuclear ballistic missiles that can reach thousands of miles. Totally up to you."

Ah, the sweet smell of pacifism. And hippies. But then, what is the difference?

And while we all have a soft spot in our hearts, and therefore our heads, for the supposed nobility of pacifism, it is also undeniably a moral choice. And, as with all moral choices, there are inevitable consequences. One consequence of pacifism is to implicitly allow other nations to do whatever the hell they want tomorrow, by avoiding confrontation today. AKA, kicking the can down the road. And when war comes, as it inevitably does, it is on the enemy's timetable. And then you either fight them on their terms, or you surrender.

This is what pacifism is, whether one is for or against it.

And make no mistake: "anti-war" is just another name for pacifism. It is a charade, an end-around the somewhat distasteful social label, the implied cowardice, of the word "pacifist".

Nearly everybody in the free world is anti-war, in the sense that they aren't "pro-war". Nobody is -- practically speaking -- "pro-war". It is never the first option on the table in any sensible foreign policy discussion among free peoples, because it is expensive in both dollars and lives. Everybody understands this, even those who don't label themselves "anti-war" while preening for cameras.

So all those who use the "anti-war" label approvingly are playing games with us. And they must think we are unbelievably stupid. The philosophy they present is that of someone who supports a theoretical war that is quick, decisive, casualty-free, atrocity-free, morally unambiguous, and victorious. Violation of any of these conditions, of course, renders the entire war unjust.

And God forbid, don't show them any pictures of civilians dying - especially children - or that will be the end of their support. Implicit in their simplistic world view is the idea that no good can come from anything where innocent people sometimes die.

Meanwhile, back here in the real world, wars are rarely so clearly and easily judged. In other words, it takes no subtlety whatsoever to navigate these ethical waters, no bravery to declare support for such wars. Partly because there really aren't any such wars.

Which, BINGO!, that is the whole point. They only support wars that are impossible in the real world.

And the unspoken subtext, if we could get these people to psychotherapy for three years or so, is: "It doesn't affect me personally, because I have a cushy life protected by the sacrifices of others, and other poor unfortunate dumbshits will be doing the fighting anyway. So to the extent that I am comfortable, war is not something I wish to pursue at this time, not a burden I am willing to bear."

Which, I guess, there is nothing explicitly wrong with that, if you're OK with announcing yourself as a self-centered twit who doesn't value your own freedom enough to fight for it, and can't be bothered to disrupt your pursuit of wealth for a while in order to help provide some measure of wealth for future generations, including possibly your own offspring. Hey, whatever. Walk like a duck, talk like a duck, guess what? Duck!

But this is the problem, right here. Those who wear the "anti-war" mantle with pride are too pampered, wealthy, and self-obsessed to admit even to themselves that this is who they are, and what they stand for. They refuse to acknowledge that there are causes that might be bigger than themselves, such as a threat to the survival of their society.

Just admit it! Man up, you pampered cowards! Yes, you too, Sheryl Crowe! Quit the pretending that there is any type of real-world, tough-it-out, long slog, fight for freedom type of war that you would endorse. Call yourselves what you are: pacifists.

There ... that wasn't so horrible, was it? And now, that will allow the rest of us to easily differentiate ourselves from you, as non-pacifists who see tough times ahead because we don't care to give in to terrorists as some societies have apparently chosen to do.

And remember what Orwell said about pacifists of the 1940s: objectively pro-fascist. In other words, by not fighting for your side, you are weakening your side, which is admitting you either don't want your side to win, or you actively want the other side to win. There is no third outcome, unlike in Hippy-Dippy Pacifist Land, where war doesn't exist, and if it did, everybody would quit, drop their arms, run home and pour a Big Tall Glass of I'm Too Stupid To Fight For My Own Survival.

As such, it doesn't seem that the actions and motives of pacifists can be distinguished from the enemy's actions and motives, in the psychological warfare that always accompanies true warfare.

The fact that the Soviets funded the nuclear freeze movement of the 70s and 80s is illustration of this point.

This lack of context provided by our "anti-war" pacifist friends introduces some complications into the moral calculus.

So nations like Iran exploit this uniquely Western delusion of pacifism, just like Hitler did in Munich 1938. As Churchill said (something like), "Given a choice between dishonor and war, you chose dishonor. You shall have both."

Not much has really changed since then. The European post-WWI model, where diplomacy is seen as always superior to war, even if diplomacy allows bad actors to rape, murder, and plunder as they choose, has completely taken over the Western world. The fact that WWI was a European war, caused by European pathologies (especially imperialism), and that their fix for their problems not only didn't work back then, for them, but is entirely inappropriate for U.S. problems, or for the world as it exists today, does not seem to register.

If ever there was a case where diplomacy alone, when not backed by the threat of force, directly caused a bad actor like Hitler, Mugabe, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, Ahmedinejad, or anybody else to reconsider their evil ways and become a reasonable person, and renounce aggression, I'd love to hear about it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if the brave "actors and thousands" could be honest with us and with themselves, they will admit that they have no freaking idea what to do about any of this Iran nuclear stuff. Besides, of course, the usual diplomatic solutions they always advocate, which are a three-stage exercise: (1) preening and patting oneself on the back by pretending that discussions have a realistic chance to contain bad actors, and then (2) washing your hands of the whole mess, which ensures (3) more killing, enslavement, and exploitation by someone, somewhere (maybe even of you, by them).

AKA, kicking the can down the road.

In case facts count for anything, Iran's leader Ahmedinejad talks like Hitler, and is on record calling for the destruction of Israel. Bonus points to those who make the obvious leap to concluding that the West in general would be next, once Iran has nukes. Iran itself has been running proxy wars and terror campaigns for decades, and is one of the two prime sources of arming and organizing today's Iraq conflict (with Saudi Arabia), and is the home of Islamic fundamentalists and anti-American (and anti-West) hatred. Iran has seen the way Iraq and other nations have gamed the UN and the IAEA for decades, buying time with ridiculous diplomatic chicanery that the West naively hopes will lead somewhere useful.

These are people we should negotiate with? To what end? So we can pretend the Iranians are not running time off the clock via endless rounds of diplomacy, until they can activate some plot to set off dirty bombs in 5 or 10 cities simultaneously, via proxies who are probably already here?

Earth to fans of diplomacy: usually diplomacy is nothing more than a cynical tactic to buy time in order to gain advantage. Without a credible threat of force to back it up, it is just exactly like whistling past graveyards.

And while all this goes on largely ignored in the West -- we're too busy blaming presidents and taking freedoms for granted and staging idiotic rallies -- we can't say we weren't warned.

It may come as a shock to the "actors and thousands", but most people are in fact anti-war. But this is not the same as being a pacifist who will always sacrifice long-term security for short term peace. There is a big difference.

And as for these "anti-war" rallies, I'd love to hear about their plans for what to do, rather than what not to do. I'm already down with the anti-war thing, but I'm not nearly so enthused about sitting idly by while certain proven evil, terrorist, murdering scumbags work on their nuclear armaments, in possible preparation for our destruction.