A New Republican Peace Plan
I've a small handful of pro-Bush Republicans I occasionally argue with through email. Why I continue to do it I'm not sure. Perhaps it's the sheer fascination of it. The moral duplicity of this group is truly amazing to me sometimes, and I think it's this that keeps me writing in reply. Their slippery justifications and their almost total indifference to facts are by turns humorous, by turns depressing, ultimately scary.
The following is the most recent of my scary encounters. It starts, as usual, with a distasteful political forward.
September 17, 2003
I'm sending you the following forward because it presents exactly how I feel. All people do is groan about us and this forward is the perfect answer. I loved it!
We have tried so hard in this world to help others and maintain a balance of peace for people so deserving of it. We open our country to far too many unappreciative people. It's also too easy for undesirables to get into the U.S. Yes, it's the perfect solution and I'm all for it; just pull out of everywhere and cement our borders.... Then sit back and watch the cards tumble.
It wouldn't take long for the moaning to begin.
Fwd: Subject: PEACE PLAN
I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan for peace.
So, here's one plan:
1) The United States will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their affairs, past and present. We will promise never to "interfere" again.
2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No more sneaking through holes in the fence.
3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. France would welcome them.
4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90-day visits unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself. Don't hide here. Asylum would not be available to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers.
5) No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get an "F", and it's back home, baby.
6) The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy wise. This will include developing non-polluting sources of energy, but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.
7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $1.00 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, TOUGH SHIT!!
8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not "interfere". They can pray to Allah, Jehovah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides, most of what we give them gets "lost" or is taken by their army. The people who need it most get very little, anyway.
9) Ship the United Nations headquarters to an island somewhere on the other side of the planet. We don't need the spies and fair-weather friends here. Besides, it would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
10) Use the vacated UN buildings as replacement for the twin towers.
11) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer.
Now, isn't that a winner of a plan? The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses." She has a baseball bat and she's yelling, "You want a piece of me?"
IF YOU AGREE, PASS THIS ON!
This all sounds right on to me. So why don't we do it? Why don't we just start doing it tomorrow?
Precisely because an economy like ours needs ever-expanding markets to function. If we did what was laid out in this nice little blueprint, our economy would dwindle fast. Within six months another power would have taken our place in the world power vacuum and soon we would have to be doing our international trade according to someone else's tune. We don't want that. We want the opposite. We want the world to dance to our tune. But this requires far reach, constant intervention, a global military presence.
We are involved militarily all over the world not simply to help people develop their own countries (although we often do that too) but to ensure that we retain our economic advantages. The blueprint you forwarded and your comments are both based on the third-grade assumption that we are giving the world massive handouts and getting nothing in return. As if we were the world's police force but not getting salaries. Are we so stupid? No. We get more than compensated for our expenses.
Before thinking about bringing all our troops back home, why not think a little about why they were sent out there to begin with? The idea of cementing our borders is primitive and ridiculous and has nothing to do with modern political realities. Do we still live in the Middle Ages? It doesn't seem so. As economic entities, modern states like the U.S. don't have any borders. That seems obvious.
I'll tell you what I think, T-----. If people in an advanced and democratic country like America decide to write something about political issues, they should at least approach the issues like adults and stop with all this fairy tale nonsense.
I knew that forward would stir you up. When I first read it as a forward in my email it clicked in my mind as a rather humorous/temperamental/vengeful answer to all the disgusting criticism we are getting for each and everything we do as a country. Yet the other countries of the world constantly have their hands out to us, or they need our help to preserve their freedoms, or they come here to be educated and use us only to take what they've gained and go home once again. It's that same old saying: "It's lonely at the top." Are there perfect solutions? I don't think so. I just get totally disgusted with everyone's criticism of us and so, almost in jest, I reacted the way I did and forwarded that over-simplified solution to my email readers. I knew it would stir you up, Eric. Furthermore, all this is why the world news becomes so wearing on one emotionally. It's the matter of. . . How do you keep everyone on a huge planet happy? It is truly an impossible task.
"How do you keep everyone on a huge planet happy?" Give me a break.
I'm not certain you really understand why the "Peace Plan" you sent was so annoying to me. It was because I could see where it was coming from--why it appeared at precisely this time. Besides the sheer silliness of the ideas presented in it, there was something else that made it annoying. Annoying as hell in fact. I'll try to summarize how I understand it--this little Peace Plan.
Facetious or not, your forward relates to the war in Iraq, of course, for this is the issue that is currently fueling all this sort of discourse in America. So let's consider just where we are as regards the Iraq situation, and then let's consider just why this forward might sound appealing to people, why they might, say, be forwarding it around from sea to shining sea.
Long before the war in Iraq many critics of the war plans were saying the following:
1. There isn't strong enough evidence for vigorous Iraqi weapons programs and thus a war cannot be justified as self-defense (i.e.: the WMD argument for war isn't valid because, finally, no good evidence of active programs is being given). This was said months, many months, before the start of the war. It was said by critics on both the right and the left.
2. There's no evidence of Iraqi government connections with Al Qaeda (Al Qaeda in fact has long criticized Saddam's government), and so the argument that attacking Iraq is part of a "war on terror" doesn't make sense.
3. Stabilizing Iraq will be much harder than people like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz think. The Iraqis may hate Saddam, but they hate the Americans as much or more. Because of the likely mess that taking-over Iraq will become, attacking Iraq is a bad idea. Our economy cannot afford a long-drawn-out occupation and the reconstruction that will be necessary.
These are the things that educated critics of the war were saying already last year (i.e. six months before the war began). But against these more moderate positions the crowd solidly behind Bush were saying things like: "No, we should trust Bush. He doesn't show us the evidence he has, but he has it." And also things like: "Saddam is a vicious tyrant. Once liberated from him, the Iraqis will embrace our help to build a free and democratic society. It will not be so difficult."
Against these more moderate views of the critics on both left and right, the pro-Bush crowd was chanting: "Go! Go! Go! Attack the bastards! We can do it, no problem."
Now look what's happened since the so-called end of the war.
1. The weapons programs aren't there. They were in fact in serious disarray: defunct. Under sanctions Saddam couldn't keep up development and production. What's more, the Bush and Blair people never did have the evidence. They themselves knew Saddam's capabilities weren't what they were claiming.
2. All the Iraqi security bureaus have been rifled, sifted and searched, and in fact there was no dealing between Saddam and Bin Laden.
3. The cost of stabilizing Iraq is proving much much more expensive than projected and the number of troops needed to do the job is proving much larger.
Compare these three facts of the post-war situation with what was said by the critics of Bush long before the war. You will find that the critics were. . . Well, let's just say they were rather prescient.
Given what is happening, an intelligent person should say: "Well, maybe the critics understood the situation better than the people who supported Bush's plan." And the people who were chanting: "Go! Go! Go! Attack!" ought now to be saying: "Hmm. It really does look like it's going to drag on and on. And we'll have to pay for it. Hmmm."
But no. Is this the kind of thoughtful reaction I get from the Republican email grapevine? Not at all.
One of these formerly "Go! Go! Go!" types sees that things aren't working out and doesn't take the necessary step of questioning the wisdom of the war in the first place but decides instead to write a self-righteous little song of sour grapes. Something like this--in a wistful tone--:
"Oh, I just don't understand the world! How good and noble we Americans are! We try to bring freedom to the world and still when we go to war and take over foreign countries there are people who don't go along with us! It isn't fair really. So let's just retreat from everywhere all at once. That's what I think. See how the world gets along then! Let's retreat! That'll show 'em!"
In other words, the person who wrote that little blueprint--obviously someone who initially supported the war effort--now wants to wash his or her hands of the whole thing: wants to shirk responsibility for all of the confident and overblown talk they engaged in previously.
What is annoying is that these people can never admit shades of grey. Everything is always in black and white, and they always must be on the white side. They will never say: "Hmm. Maybe I supported the wrong position before. Maybe it was better to think this through a bit more before taking out the war drums."
No, they can't admit to this. You'll never hear it from their rosy little lips. Instead they try to shirk responsibility for the whole thing by saying: "In fact we're too good for the world. Let's just give up. Leave everywhere all at once. Seal our borders."
One minute they're aggressive interventionists with scant regard for international norms, the next they're radical isolationists crying foul against a world that won't play the way they want.
Sounds pretty shabby, don't you think?
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