Monday, October 15, 2007

Parting Shot #2

In the post immediately below, I said:
What would be the reaction - seriously, ask yourself - what would be the reaction if Syria had bombed an Israeli nuclear facility? You know damn well what it would be: Outrage. Fury. Retaliation not only by Israel but perhaps by the US....

[W]hy is it okay for Israel to bomb Syria but not the other way around?
That post, obviously, had to do with Israel. This one has to do with the other implication of that question: Just why does the one seem okay in a way the other doesn't?

I was going to get all psycho-social philosophical here but the truth is I just don't feel like it so I'm going to cut to the bottom line: It's because no matter what, no matter the circumstances, despite all our claims to being "progressive" and "open-minded," regardless of our self-assured declarations of greater connection to "reality" than others, too many of us, most of us, still go into every situation with the unspoken assumption - with, if you will, the "frame" - that "we" are the good guys and "they" are the bad guys. So when we do it, it's okay but when they do it, it's evil.

One obvious example is torture: We only need imagine what the response would be to American prisoners subjected to head-slapping, waterboarding, extreme temperatures, and stress positions to see the difference.

But while that's an obvious example, it's a bad one, because we'll say, oh no, not us, we're against torture. It's the Pinochet-wannabes, the warnuts, the blood-drinking flakes that populate much of what passes for the right wing of American politics today that think that way. But not us, oh no. We're too, too ... too thoughtful for that.

But it is us, even if not that obvious, even if not that extreme. It's still there. Every day.

Every time you hear someone on the left side of the political divide go after the WHS* for their "lack of planning" about Iraq, it's there. Why? Because I don't give a single goddam fuck about the "planning!" It could have been the best freaking planned invasion in the history of warfare and it still would have been an immoral, murderous crime based on a putrid concoction of lies, paranoia, greed, and power-lust. Planning or the lack thereof was not the issue, never the issue, and any hint that better "planning for the post-war environment" would have made the war more acceptable or even just less egregious is a declaration that might makes right - provided it is our might. Our "good" might.

Every time you hear complaints and accusations about Iran supplying arms to insurgents or militias in Iraq and you worry about that without wondering exactly why it's acceptable for us to arm our friends but not acceptable for others to do the same, you are echoing the "we are the good guys" cry.

Every time you hear someone on the "left" praise without caveat "our brave men and women in uniform," every time you hear them offer up the unspoken notion that somehow, some way, our soldiers are better, more noble, more worthy of respect than the "rebels," the "insurgents," that in some unrealized sense an IED is cowardly in a way that firing missiles from a helicopter gunship is not, every time you hear them ignore or forget the lies about what our troops are capable of, you are hearing an assertion that good is by its very nature nature on our side.

Of course it's not just Iraq and even more of course it's not just us. But that very realization emphasizes the point rather than undermining it. War and its symbiotic partner militarism do not recognize "good" and "bad" but only life and death and, ultimately, only winner and loser and they will feed off one person's blood as readily as another. Or, as I put it some years ago, "Every war is just when modified by the adjective 'my.'" Militarism destroys souls right along with flesh, war blows away conscience as readily as concrete. The sooner we can admit to ourselves that we are not the good guys in Iraq, we are at best just another of the bad guys; the sooner we can face up to the fact that our troops are not engaged in a noble cause but a spirit-destroying crime that leaves them as capable of venality as any terrorist; the sooner we can learn to embrace those troops in their humanity while rejecting their work; the sooner we can break the spell of our unspoken assumptions - the better off we, the troops, the Iraqis, and the world will be.

*WHS = White House Sociopaths

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