Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Comparisons are Odorous

I think I'm a little exhausted by analogies, comparisons, and co-opting of momentous events. It's usually boring and inapt. I guess co-opting is the grossest--the commercial co-opting of the commemoration of the 9/11 attack as a commercial affair  is bluntly tacky and thoughtless, but when the runner-up is tying the memorial to the Benghazi incident, oh, and the fact that two long-running wars were essentially based on co-opting our fears of terrorism based on that event? There is a whole lot of disdain to go around.

Last night, I watched my president try to sell the country on the limited authority to force on a regime that may have committed an atrocity against its own people. It was suggested that we might gain insight from viewing the footage from that atrocity to have a better idea of what's at stake. And I don't know. Maybe there is a limit to the insight that is derived from looking tragedy in the face. I can look and I might feel moved to do anything at all. But is it the right thing?

In my head, I'm rooting for a diplomatic solution because I just don't think force is the answer. There has to be something better than fear and more lasting than an uneasy truce between our better angels and the devil we know. But while I don't even think I'm sold that President Obama wants to bomb fuck all in a country of more strategic hassle than utility to us in the hope that we don't see more non-combatants brutalized in a conflict of more complexity than we actually can solve--I also intellectually know that the threat of force is "the stick" that enforces any diplomatic solution.

I can be amused and bemused by conservatives whose knee-jerk response in opposition to anything Obama blunder into comparisons to Chamberlain (the fuck, you lazy Breitbart snot? Pro-tip on discussing foreign policy: the thing where you threaten to bomb shit and people give you at least some of what you want would not be appeasement. It would be the opposite. If you want to scoff at Assad being Hitler or even Saddam Hussein, be my guest, but let's not forget that the US isn't giving Assad shit that he doesn't already have. Failing to squash him like a bug isn't appeasement. It's just not wanting to elevate some other bug in his place. Otherwise, the US would still be the people threatening to bomb him to get things we want, not the other way about.  Fuck. That isn't so hard to understand, is it?) But the basic problem is that such comparisons have to fall short. "All things being equal" is a myth. They never are. Santayana was maybe 75% right about history repeating itself. But it's like echoes--it loses coherence and clarity.

At the same time, rationally, all we have to teach us is historical examples. And I don't know that any good or bad deed alike ever goes unpunished, as far as that goes.

Politically, Obama has sided not with the rebels, or the Assad regime, but the basic idea that people deserve better than death for being squeezed by history. And I find myself on that side. Intellectually, morally, without question--they should be able to protest. They should be able to rid themselves of a government they find repugnant through some democratic means. And except for Madiba and Mahatma, I don't know of anyone who pulled that trick off bloodlessly.  It is the ultimate exception to history.

All I know is, violence, terror, brutalizing humanity to win the hearts and minds of them? It raises demons of history. It has echoes of bloodshed and terror. And I hate like I can't tell you the idea that we would shed blood again in a war that isn't ours, really. But its point is one I consider right--the idea that a government doesn't own people. It isn't that Assad gassed his own people. It's that they aren't his to gas, more so if he's the kind of unelected fuck who thinks gas is a way to go.

We are the US of A, and the only tool we seem to have is hammers. and with them, we think we'll chisel our way to more democracy?

And then the chips off the old block of history we mean to break? The blowback, if you will?

Fuck if I know.

No comments: