The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More ranting: our current political scene

Can anyone out there say honestly that if they were Iran, they wouldn’t want nuclear weapons?  After all, it’s not too much to suspect that if Saddam had had them, he’d still be in power.  And the question of intent doesn’t keep us from invading, does it?  We recently have an example of a preemptive war fought with bad intelligence…and that is absolutely giving the benefit of the doubt to those who made those decision. 

But if Iran is developing Weapons of Mass Destruction, and our government wants to make a case for invading to the world, isn’t it obvious to both sides, Right and Left, that this administration has handled itself with…um…less than optimal efficiency, clarity, forthrightness and intelligence?  Just a few thoughts on the current political state:
There is reasonable doubt that the evidence America presents to the world is accurate.  The recent catastrophic failure in Iraq makes that clear.
There is reasonable question about the readiness of our military resources to handle everything we are asking it to do.
There is reasonable doubt about the current allotment of our national treasure.  Honest and informed debate about our future debt load seems pretty non-partisan.  And mightn’t our domestic issues be better addressed if we weren’t stretched so thin?  If the military-industrial complex were not getting so large a chunk of our tax dollar?  Remember: ANY ORGANIZATION EXISTS TO PROMOTE ITS OWN SURVIVAL.  Never make the mistake of forgetting this.  Eisenhower certainly didn’t.  A state of perpetual war may or may not be necessary…but it would certainly fit the needs of an organization that eats tax dollars and children. Note that I’m not blaming the men and women within it—they are no more responsible for what is happening than your individual cells are responsible for your drunk driving.
There is reasonable question about the honesty of our leaders.  Just a year ago, weren’t Bush and Chaney and the others protesting the depictions at Abu Gharib, saying “America doesn’t torture”?  And haven’t they, or their representatives, recently been protesting just that need?  What?  And didn’t Bush claim that surveillance requires court order?  And then turn around and say that there wasn’t time to get them?  One might say that such deception is necessary in time of war…but you can’t then say that the speaker’s words can be trusted.  And if the world cannot trust the words of our leaders, how shall we build a coalition if Iran is a genuine threat?  We have a real, real problem here.
With the degree of evangelical Christianity that seems to be influencing our government, how can anyone think that we are genuinely dealing with the Moslem world with respect?  Give me a break: the core tenant of any major religion is a superiority complex.  Deep down, they all feel that they are the only Way.  Any other Way is, at the least, misguided and wrong-headed.  America as a non-sectarian state can deal with the Moslem world just fine.  As a Christian nation, there are certain…problems that are obvious, and dangerous.
Was there a better way than invading Iraq?  Yes.  Stay in Afghanistan and build it up, and create democracy there.  All right—now that we’ve made a horrible mistake, how do we deal with Iraq?  First…GET THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THE MISTAKE THE HELL OUT.  That would show the world that we are serious about understanding that we erred. 
Unless it wasn’t a mistake. The original reason we went to Iraq was WMDs, remember?  When it turned out there weren’t any, the motivation was magically retrofitted to bringing democracy.  Sort of like after the civil war the term “States Rights” was bandied about 10 times more than it was prior to hostilities…BEFORE the Civil War, southern spokesmen knew damned well they were fighting to preserve their society, and that that society rested on the “Peculiar Institution” of slavery.  Our memories are so damned convenient.  On the other hand, there are those who believe that WMDs were an excuse to go in, install a government we want, and grab oil.  Ur…my understanding of human nature suggests that motivations are never simple—that in all likelihood there was a real mash-up of reasons, some of them honest, some not.  But what’s clear is that either there was gross incompetence, or dishonesty.  I don’t see how anyone could say there was both competence and honesty at work here. 
We need to apologize.  To Hans Blix, at least.  Remember the U.N. arms inspections?  Remember all the right-wing pundits saying this guy was an idiot?  Turned out he was right.  THERE WERE NO WEAPONS.  I haven’t heard one apology, one “ur…sorry we slandered you to the whole world, Hans, old buddy.”  And while we’re at it, how about France and Germany, who said there wasn’t sufficient reason to believe Iraq was a threat.  Weren’t they correct as well?  Wouldn’t honest, decent, caring people who really have the intent to be “uniters not dividers” apologize for all of the “Freedom Fries” nonsense?
And while we’re at the “uniters not dividers” bit, remember when Bush said that, coming in?  The political situation in America is worse now than at any time in my 53 years of life.  The President HAS to accept some responsibility for the political tone in Washington.  ANY president.
Stop demonizing the media.  My friends on the Left hate the media for being Corporate, Right-wing toadies.  My friends on the Right  claim the “mainstream” media is controlled by the Left.  Yeah, right.  Guess what?  There’s a way they’re both correct. Reporters seem to skew a bit to the left, but all the news organs are owned by gigantic conglomerates that skew to the right.  So they end up pretty close the middle.  But if YOU lean one way or the other, anything in the middle looks like it skews to the other side.  Is it heads?  Is it tails?  Only if you’re an ant crawling across the surface.  For God’s sake step back and see it’s a quarter, people.

Anyway, I really, really don’t like talking about this stuff, but the Iran situation could actually be dangerous, and the folks currently in control of America have squandered so much of our cultural, financial and moral capital that it may be difficult to do a damned thing about it.  I put the problem squarely on the current imbalance: both Houses, the executive branch, and the judicial seem to lean to the right, and that’s dangerous as Hell, AND WOULD BE JUST AS DANGEROUS IF THEY LEANED TO THE LEFT.  If you love the direction America is going, credit it to the Right.  If you’re worried, make a course correction. 
End of rant.

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