Monday, July 31, 2006

The coward's war

Mark Steyn is backing up the ridiculous claim that the 101st Fighting Keyboarders are in some way "fighting" the War on Terror.
In fact, the notion "fighting" a war is the monopoly of those "in uniform" gets to the heart of why America and its allies are having so much difficulty in the present struggle. Nations, not armies, go to war. Or, to be more precise, nations, not armies, win wars. America has a military that cannot be defeated on the battlefield, but so what? The first President Bush assembled the biggest coalition in history for Gulf War One, and the bigger and more notionally powerful it got, the better Saddam Hussein's chances of surviving it became. Because the bigger it got, the less likely it was to be driven by a coherent set of war aims.

War is not like firefighting: It's not about going to the burning house, identifying what needs to be done, and doing it; it's not a technical solution to an obvious problem. And, if you think it is, you find yourself like George Bush the elder in 1991, standing in front of the gates of Baghdad and saying, "Er, OK. Now what?"
So, let me get this straight. Not only was Bush Senior wrong not to have occupied Baghdad--even though he was clearly right that such an action has brought about "incalculable human and political costs"--but somehow, if he'd only had the Kathryn Lopez and Mark Steyn blogging their little hearts out, the WWII hero pilot would have grown the cojones his disgrace of a de-winged National Guard postal officer son has. (And that's giving him the benefit of the doubt concerning his service.)

And how, exactly, would they have done it? Well, apparently the National Review folks think they're so important that they influence the President directly. "You can have the best, fastest state-of-the-art car on the road," Steyn writes, "but, if you don't know where you're going, the fellow in the rusting '73 Oldsmobile will get there and you won't. It's the ideas that drive a war and the support they command in the broader society that determine whether you'll see it through to real victory."

Does this means that Bush--he of steely-eye and ramrod spine--is simply a puppet of the pundits and the rightwing blogosphere or does it mean that the Right Wing Noise Machine has his back in the war for public opinion. If the former, they need to pay for the fuck-up this war has become and, if the latter, then they're just simply failures. One would hope that, if blogging and writing bullshit editorials were actually fighting, our country could draft better "warriors."

There was a time when our country did fight as a whole nation. In WWII, for example, those whom the draft overlooked were required to limit their travel and their consumption to better provide for our troops. As Roosevelt put it, it was a "high purpose" to "give up conveniences and modify the routine of our lives if our country asks us to do so." In other words, those who were part of the fight were those who sacrificed. And that sacrifice included, at a minimum, the willingness to pay taxes, which Roosevelt called "an obligation of American citizenship."

Yet, throughout this war, the rightwingers have both refused to sacrifice anything. They have called Americans (as does Steyn) weaklings who don't have the stomach to lose soldiers or accept mounting civilian casualties--as they cried out from their parents' basements and think tanks that we must stay the course. And, even as every twirl of their victory dances became a stumble in a danse macabre, still they called out for more "tougness," more "sacrifice," more blood. More war, war, war.

And more tax cuts.

They're willing to repeatedly demand that more and more Americans give all so that they can continue to give nothing.

Yes. There are ways to fight the battle of the homefront, but being a fatassed consumption machine who equates argument unworthy of a high school bonfire party with the sacrifice of soldiers doesn't even come close.

I'm willing to accept that nations fight wars, but that's the exact problem with Iraq. Americans realize now that we have put ourselves in a war where we are not fighting a nation, but we are fighting fanaticism in the midst of those we claim to be defending. If we simply bomb the country, then we kill civilians and, well, then why are we there? If we can't bomb the country, then our service members have to simply roll back and forth up its roads like shooting gallery ducks. All this in support of a government which would pardon their would-be killers.

Lucky for us, Americans aren't weak. Unfortunately for rightwing blogger they're not stupid either. They know this war is a debacle. There were no WMDs. Democracy hasn't made anything better. This war has, in fact, made everything worse.

So, you say, "We got Saddam." But, as Dick Cheney famously asked, "(H)ow many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" His answer? "(N)ot that damned many."

Anyone who suggests that blogging is in any way comparable to fighting is either stupid or just scrambling to cover his own cowardice. Or both.

(Anonymous Liberal has more.)


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