Soundtrack in my head: Captain Sensible, “Glad It’s All Over”
Okay, so I have a B.A. in Political Science but I think that puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to talking people about the world situation and people’s armageddon fantasies because I can get really intellectual about it, and then only other political science wonks will be interested.
One of the reasons I haven’t had too many posts in the last two weeks or so is that I’ve started and restarted efforts to express my thoughts what I see going on in the Middle East. I look at what I write and I think, no people aren’t going to connect with what I say and I really didn’t want this to be a political blog anyway. But I have strong feelings about it. It’s an outrage, all of the violence and misery going on in Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel, and I really worry that our country is making some very serious mistakes in the region that will cost us dearly in our day-to-day lives.
It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war, and we need only look back three or four years in U.S. history to see how that has played out. How much of the original rationale for the war in Iraq has actually held up since the invasion? The war was to be about preventing Iraq from develop weapons of mass destruction which, um, weren’t there. Oh, and that Al Qaeda and Saddam were in cahoots–except that Al Qaeda didn’t have a presence in Iraq until, um, after we overthrew Saddam.
So when pundits describe Hezbollah as the shock troops for a new worldwide Islamic fascism threat, I say be afraid, be very afraid–of the pundits. For the pundits just might be the shock troops of a media campaign to butter up the public for a wider Middle Eastern war—one that would make the debacle in Iraq look like a little misadventure on a Humvee. Newt Gingrich, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, and others have declared that the third world war has begun.
The first oil shocks in the 1970’s should have told us to start disengaging from that region pronto, by engaging in massive efforts to reduce energy consumption and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Thirty years later, it seems that nothing has changed.
The plaintive wail coming from these pundits seems to be “They HAAAATE us! Why do they HAAAAATE us?” except that they aren’t interested in any answer other than “They hate freedom and democracy.” So people conveniently forget that Iran’s dislike of us might at least have somewhat to do with our support for a cruel Iranian dictator prior to their 1979 revolution. Or that Hezbollah came into existence in the 1980’s as a resistance movement against Israel’s first occupation of Lebanon.
September 11th, 2001 would have been another good opportunity to reflect on our foreign policy. Instead, our president declared a few months later that Iraq, Iran and North Korea were part of an “axis of evil.” A rather funny axis, since historically there had been little love lost between Iraq and Iran—especially since Iraq invaded the country in 1980 and plunged both countries into a ruinous eight-year war killing hundreds of thousands of people. Nor had there been any evidence of collaboration between those Middle Eastern countries and North Korea. So then, put yourself in Iran’s shoes when the world’s most powerful superpower declares you part of the “axis of evil” and invades and overthrows the governments of your eastern and western neighbors within an 18-month period. Are you going to say, “Geez, I think we should shelve the notion of developing a nuclear weapon—look what they did to Iraq.” No, you would say “Geez, not having The Bomb certainly didn’t help Iraq—we’d better arm ourselves to the teeth before we’re next.” And North Korea would—and likely is—saying the same thing.
So now we’re siding with Israel. Our government keeps on saying “no cease-fire,” and hoping that Israel achieves some of its military objectives. I think we should be more neutral–more like the “honest broker” image cultivated by previous U.S. presidents–including our current President’s father. As the bodies pile up in Lebanon, I wonder how many more people have developed grudges today against the American people as a result? How many of these people will have the desire to carry out revenge in some way, shape, or form? How many will actually have the gumption to do it, and how many will aid and abet such vengeful actions? It seems to me that with the way the “War on Terrorism” is being carried out, it should be called the “War For Terrorism.”
So CNN brings the armageddon fantasies into the breakroom TV monitors at work, and nowadays at every break I feel like I’m witness to a horrible car accident—except one narrated by Wolf Blitzer. I can’t bear to look, but cannot stop myself from doing so. A few more Israeli civilians dead and ten times as many Lebanese civilians dead.
Since the weather is cooler now, I think I will spend less time in my break room (which CNN has transformed into “The Situation Room”) and spend more time outside doing some reading on my own. You, gentle reader, should too. Don’t buy the ready-made program that tells you who the players are—find out for yourself who they are. Do your own research, reach your own conclusions.
Meanwhile, I am more interested in the environmental Armageddon that awaits us if we don’t do something about it soon. Clearly, we do live in a time in which humankind is very capable of bringing about its own scary “end times” scenario. But I’ve always believed that it is something that people can do something about, that people can do things to minimize or eliminate suffering.
In any case, let’s make sure not to get fooled again.