Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Poisonous Fiction: Left, Right And Center

We live in a world full of poisonous fiction, and sometimes it's tough to tell which variety is the most despicable.

* Is it the sort of thing you see from Ralph Peters in the fervently wingnut New York Post:
Winning is everything. Fighting ruthlessly may not please the safe-at-home moralists, but it's losing that's immoral.

There are countless [...] ways in which we elevate the little immoralities required in war above the supreme immorality of losing. Leftists loved My Lai - they just adored it - but they were never called to account for the communist atrocities after Saigon fell. Pol Pot's butchery was never laid at the feet of the self-righteous bastards who shrieked, "Give peace a chance."
Look how far we've come: losing a war is now the supreme immorality! Back in the old days, when we had reason to consider ourselves a civilized country, we used to think waging an unprovoked war of aggression was the supreme immorality!

Peters cannot name a single person -- leftist or otherwise -- who "adored" the My Lai massacre, and that's because nobody adores war crimes. If there was anything good about My Lai, it was this: The wanton slaughter of an entire village showed how immoral and despicable that war was, in a way that only the most vicious and bloodthirsty warmongers -- like Peters -- could deny.

Furthermore, "leftists", by which Peters apparently means anti-war Americans of the 1960s and 70s, were in no way responsible for the communist atrocities which occurred after Saigon fell, none of which would have happened if Harry Truman hadn't fallen for the mad idea of supporting French colonialism in Indochina, or if JFK had lived long enough to get the Americans out of there while the situation was still more or less stable, or if Richard Nixon had actually wanted "peace with honor" (his campaign slogan) instead of "war with dishonor" (his actual policy).

While we're at it, let us not forget that Cambodia was a relatively peaceful, stable country before Nixon and Kissinger started bombing it, leading directly to the fall of the government of Prince Sihanouk. Pol Pot stepped into the power vacuum and committed unspeakable acts of genocide, but he never would have had the opportunity if the USA had left Cambodia alone.

* Or maybe it's the more laid-back prose of Dana Millbank in the Washington Post, who allegedly covered Senator Gravel's press conference yesterday, but who couldn't bring himself to write anything about the substance of Gravel's plan to end the war in Iraq. Instead Millbank wrote:
If clutter is what we need, Gravel, who represented Alaska in the Senate three decades ago and now struggles to rise above asterisk status in the polls, is willing to provide it. Last month, his antics dominated the first Democratic debate, to the horror of party officials.

"This plan that I'm suggesting is guaranteed to end the war by Labor Day," he announced. Declaring that Democrats should "put aside comity," he advised lawmakers: "All they've got to do is talk to the leaders and say, 'Let's take the Gravel plan and get it passed.'"

The notion of Clinton or Barack Obama demanding passage of the Gravel plan was amusing, but no more than Gravel's other foreign policy views. He asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "much smarter than our president" and said Iran is "not a threat to us."
It has been clear for many years that Vladimir Putin is much smarter than our president, and Iran is not now and has never been a threat to us. Millbank can't refute these assertions -- so instead he casts them as "amusing", and spends the rest of the article writing about meaningless details, such as where Senator Gravel gets his hair cut.

And if an outspoken anti-war candidate strikes Democratic party officials with horror, what does that say about the party officials? Millbank won't go there; he's too busy smearing the candidates who dare to speak the truth about the war, and about our foreign policy in general.

* On the other hand, the most poisonous fiction of our time may be coming from "Commander" Jeff Huber, whose articles appear at Larisa Alexandrovna's otherwise excellent blog, At-Largely.

In his most recent column, Huber calls the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq "cat stampedes", and describes the United States as "acting like one of the Three Stooges". Never mind that none of the Three Stooges ever killed anybody.

Huber also writes: "We're seen as occupiers in both [Iraq and Afghanistan]," but he doesn't seem to realize (or else he won't admit) that we are occupiers in both countries.

He promotes arguable and extremely dangerous talking points as facts:
Potential state adversaries who do have formal military forces (Iran, for instance) wouldn't stand a chance against us in a no-holds-barred conventional war.
He speaks of the destruction of foreign countries as "nation building":
After years of nation building (four in Iraq, five in Afghanistan), nobody seriously considers either country to have a "sovereign" government.
He buys into all the official 9/11 lies, plus the notion that invading foreign countries serves our national interest, as well as the Orwellian fiction that attacking any country we care to attack is a legitimate form of "defense".
The U.S. now spends as much or more on defense as rest of the world combined, yet our military might does not effectively defend our shores (9/11) or achieve our national aims overseas (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.).
I've only scratched the surface here, but a scratch is all that's needed. Scratch and sniff: the odor is unmistakable.

* I've selected these three examples because of their differences as well as their similarities. All three pieces skip over the important questions, like: Are these wars necessary? Are they justified? Who benefits from them? and Why are they being fought?

The bloodthirsty bile of Ralph Peters is easily spotted as such, and the publication in which it appears has no credibility, so -- despicable though it may be -- his genocidal rant can be readily dismissed as propaganda by virtually all thinking people.

It's also relatively easy to dismiss Dana Millbank's haughty sneer, especially since it appears in a paper which regularly publishes op/eds from such "neutral observers" as Richard Perle, Robert Kagan and Liz Cheney.

But the thrust of Jeff Huber's piece is more difficult to pin down; at first glance it seems to be saying all the "right" things. But that's just a facade; in fact, none of it is right, and most of it is not even close!

Huber never mentions that we are at war with virtually defenseless countries that never attacked us, and although he alludes to the changing "justifications" for the war in Iraq, he never seems to reach the logical conclusion: that the war is entirely unjustified.

It's the conduct of the war bothers him, and that's the very same thing that bothers Ralph Peters. So they have a lot more in common than either might care to admit.

Like Peters' columns, Huber's essays never challenge the unspoken and genocidal assumptions that underlie our foreign policy: that the Americans are always the good guys and their presence is always good for the "host" nation; that American military intervention abroad is justified by our so-called "national interests"; that America's proper role is to be eternally at war.

And yet, for some reason, one of our best dissident journalists sees fit to publish them on her blog, lending them a "respectability" which they clearly do not deserve. And other supposedly anti-war bloggers re-post them, as if they gave some insight into why we are at war, or what we can do to stop it. In fact, they do nothing of the kind; they simply reinforce the lies that keep us warring.

We've always expected this sort of madness from the "right", and we're getting more and more accustomed to seeing it from the "center". Seeing it coming from the "left" is much more disturbing, at least to these frozen eyes.

But maybe I'm dreaming. After all, what can anyone realistically expect from somebody who calls himself "Commander"?