by William Skink
What to say? Tomorrow is September 11th, 2015, which means we are 14 years down stream from the collective trauma of that terrible day. I can barely recall the 22 year old I was before that Tuesday morning. 9/11 was the event that greatly accelerated my growing suspicion about a lot of things. 14 years later, my patience is thin and tolerance for politics pretty much zilch. I give up. The capacity for nationalistic delusion is bottomless.
Right now the nationalist lens is eyeballing the Iran deal. There is a lot of noise around this issue and most of it is crap. I was most impressed by today’s analysis from The Polish Wolf, who skillfully frames this congressional insurrection against the President into an overly simplistic binary in order to promote electing Democrats as the solution.
PW suggests that, despite the high likelihood this deal will go through, it’s not enough to secure peace. Putting aside for the moment I don’t accept the premise that this deal is about securing peace, let’s take a look at the opening fear-mongering:
The title of this post may seem odd, considering that I’ve been consistently supporting the nuclear deal with Iran (and indeed, have been supporting some sort of deal like it since 9th grade). But the fact is that the deal that is likely to pass, while necessary, isn’t sufficient to secure peace. A deal involving inspections of facilities that could be used for WMD is exactly what we had before the Iraq war, after all, and it’s almost certain that those favoring war with Iran are going to keep trying, and indeed have already made progress.
The first step of course is to connect Iran to our enemy de jour, ISIS. Top Republicans like Ted Cruz have already been doing just that, referring to “Global Jihadism” in an effort to find a Venn diagram circle big enough to fit such disparate entities as ISIS and Iran. Right wing media like Breitbart and Fox are rolling with it, arguing that there’s no real difference between the two.
The insanity of right wing media is the best friend of reasonable Democrats. Point to that, and anything that comes after will seem tame by comparison. Like this:
All of this will likely have little effect until January of 2017 – Obama, after all, is unlikely to sabotage his own legacy, or admit he signed a bad deal. But a pro-war president, which seems to mean most of the Republican field, could not only sabotage the deal but also instigate direct hostilities against Iran.
How can this be prevented? First, elect Democrats, and elect them carefully. It’s impossible to calculate how much more likely a Democratic Senator is than a Republican one to support peace with Iran, because that involves dividing by zero, but it’s clear that at the moment the Republican party is dedicated to increasing tensions with Iran. Don’t be fooled by ‘mavericks’ like Rand Paul: war with Iran, or even increasing sanctions, certainly flies in the face of his ‘libertarian’ philosophy, but he won’t let that stop him from supporting it. However, the few Democrats (Ben Cardin, Robert Menendez, Joe Manchin, and Chuck Schumer) who oppose the deal also represent a danger beyond their small numbers (and, in at least one case, likely imminent criminal convictions): they put a bipartisan gloss on what is in fact a radical attempt to drag America into continuous conflict with Iran – a conflict that has gained us nothing, cost us a great deal, and continues to make peace in the region less and less likely. For Montanans, things are more clear cut: we have a Republican opposing the deal and a Democrat supporting it. However, on the East Coast, it’s clear the party needs to make a decision that conflict with Iran is unacceptable, and supporting further conflict is conduct unbecoming of a Democratic elected official.
Maybe readers can help me out here. When PW says in the second sentence But a pro-war president… is that implying President Obama is NOT a pro-war president? Because if that’s the case, why go on with this post?
We go on because seemingly reasonable people get even more disconnected from reality, like how all we need to do is just inform America about looming war:
Besides politics, however, informed citizens who can see the pressure for war coming from far away can work to prevent further hostilities in other ways. Declaring war generally requires convincing Americans it’s a good idea – which is much easier if they are already pre-disposed to see Iranians as villains. Inhibiting this tendency means educating family and friends about the real situation in Iran, it means respectfully correcting erroneous, bellicose thinking on social media, and it means standing up to blowhards and warmongers. But educators (who are a major readership of this here blog) have a special duty. I know that students of my generation were woefully undereducated about Afghan and Iraqi culture until it was too late. I see a better chance for Iran, partially because people like Stephen Kinzer identified America’s bellicose intentions far in advance, and the process of educating Americans started far earlier. Far more Americans know the history of Muhammed Mossadegh than knew about the backgrounds of Afghanistan or Iraq, and even a generally jingoistic Hollywood has taken notice, including that critical background in films like Argo that could have otherwise presented unmitigated demonization.
Remember, this soft-power educating of our family and friends is just about Iran. I’m not sure accurate information about what’s happening in places like Ukraine and Libya qualify for indoctrinating loved ones.
And let us especially not talk honestly about Syria. Earlier this month, b at MoA pondered what interests could be pushing the Migrant Media Campaign. For discerning peeps who know how to read between the lines, the use of public outrage over being confronted by pictures of a dead toddler washed up, face down, on the beach, became clear: something must be done, and that something is being channeled toward regime change in Syria.
Will the R2P crowd call for another no-fly zone in Syria? And if they do, why not a similar response to the humanitarian crisis developing in Yemen, where America’s pals, the Saudis, are waging a pointless war they can’t win unless genocidal policies are deployed?
These are tough issues. Thankfully, American football kicked off tonight, and last I checked the Patriots are whooping the Steelers.