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The Democratic Ideal
January 26, 2005 5:11 PM   Subscribe

While Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declares a "bitter war" against democracy, Josh Muravchik suggests that Realists—"those who are skeptical of injecting issues of freedom, democracy and human rights into the conduct of foreign policy"—have historically been less in-step than pro-democracy Idealists. Responding to Bush's Inauguration Day comments about confronting tyranny in the coming years, many Iranians cheered.
posted by jenleigh (56 comments total)

 
Framing it as realists vs. idealists is a bit simplistic. We're all for freedom and democracy. But some of us are skeptical of the Bush administration's claims of idealism, for two reasons:

1. They seem hypocritical. The administration may wear idealism on its sleeve, but there's plenty of unspoken realpolitik. When it suits U.S. interests, we collaborate with brutal tyrants; when it doesn't, we don't.

2. Regardless of how "less in-step" realists have historically been (and I found the paper's backing for this assertion very, very thin), these particular idealists have already been proven wrong. The invasion of Iraq has not lived up to the goals set for it. How bad (or good) things will get depends on what happens this sunday, but at the moment the death rate for Iraqi civilians is much higher than it was under Saddam.
posted by Tlogmer at 5:31 PM on January 26, 2005


From the Iranian link: Many Iranians, who were looking for the World's super power firm moral support and financial aid to credible secularist opposition groups

That's the way to do it -- it's the way it was done in Eastern Europe, and it's the way it should have been done in Iraq. Invasion is not the only way to weaken a regime.
posted by Tlogmer at 5:33 PM on January 26, 2005


Invasion is not the only way to weaken a regime.

And, in the case of Iran, invasion may be the only way not to weaken a regime.
posted by thirdparty at 5:37 PM on January 26, 2005


So, you think you deserve a FPP based on information from:

1> An opinion piece by The American Enterprise Institute that shows its tilt by referring to the "cognoscenti" in the first sentence?

AND

2> A link to an article on the Western-based, CIA-backed Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran, written by the selfsame group?

"Certain Western-based students' organizations, such as the Students' Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran . . . have already been in receipt of financial assistance and guidance in agitprop methods from the CIA in the past."
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:39 PM on January 26, 2005


I don't think there's a policy against linking to ideologically charged groups. Thanks to jenleigh for posting something that the left-leaning MF readership might not otherwise have seen, and thanks, insomnia, for letting us know the background on these groups.

Tlogmer is right in point 1, that we are perfectly ready to tolerate and support dictatorships when it seems expedient. I disagree with point 2, though-- the verdict is not yet settled in Iraq. While we certainly haven't gotten the war we were promised in Iraq, if Iraq in 10 years is a democracy along the level of those of Eastern Europe, then the country is better off.

Muravchik acknowledges the US's unpopularity in the Middle East only in passing. Underestimation of that fact is part of why we're in such trouble in Iraq today.
I'd argue that the problems in Iraq now reflect not the inability to ever impose democracy by force-- it's been done before-- but rather the incompetence and ignorance of the region shown by the US in this particular attempt.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:53 PM on January 26, 2005


thanks, insomnia. i was going to mention kermit roosevelt, but you handled it nicely. sadly, i actually know iranians (none who live in iran) who want america to go rolling through there, wiping out the mullahs. i don't know if they just bought into the propoganda, or came to this conclusion on their own - either way, i don't think they know what they're asking for.
posted by blendor at 5:54 PM on January 26, 2005


Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. . .hhhmmmm, oh yeah, he is the guy the Bush White House had a chance to kill during the spring and fall of 2002 but refused to allow the Pentagon to carry out the plan.
posted by mlis at 5:58 PM on January 26, 2005


I don't know for sure what a realist or an idealist is. What I do know is that if you are going to bring democracy all over the place, then who is doing it, when, where, and how? Give me some hint of that kind of stuff and then I can figure out what you are talking about.
posted by Postroad at 5:59 PM on January 26, 2005


Cool links insomnia_lj.

The push to invade Iran is gathering steam. It's scary really. You'd think Iraq would be a lesson that this kind of thing doesn't work.

The articles are all just from PR outfits.

For information about the American Enterprise Institute check the disonfopedia link here
posted by sien at 6:00 PM on January 26, 2005


Oh, and if you have any questions about the SMCCDI, you can reach them at their base in Addison, Texas.

(Texas is where all the best Iranian student groups are based, I'm sure...)
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:15 PM on January 26, 2005


Yeah, the whole "realists v. idealists" thing was a real popular talking point among liberal supporters of the Iraq war. I grew so tired of hearing that, especially from people who knew better, and who knew that were and are different types of realism, and that the name takes in people of varying ideological and partisan stripes. Most of the people identified as realists and who objected to the Iraq war, in any case, were pretty much on target in their warnings.
posted by raysmj at 6:16 PM on January 26, 2005


You "realists" are stupid. We're going to invade Iran and install a puppet dictator so the Iranians can have "Freedom" and "Liberty". The people of Iran will totally love the guy we install there, and he won't be repressive or torture or anything like that. They certainly won't overthrow him. This will work, just like it did last time we did it.


Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Doublespeak is alive and well, my friends. We have to have perpetual, open-ended war to have peace? What?
posted by mullingitover at 6:27 PM on January 26, 2005


Texas is where all the best Iranian student groups are based, I'm sure...

What with the political repression and all, it's not surprising that some Iranians are criticizing the regime while in exile.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:28 PM on January 26, 2005


I love their articles page, with articles in Front Page (by whathisface the former commie), the Heritage Foundation and Conservative Punk, an LA Times article telling us what the head of the Swift Boat Vets is up to re Iran, etc.
posted by raysmj at 6:29 PM on January 26, 2005


Good find, raysmj-- the reason this group is untrustworthy isn't that they're in Texas, it's that they're a front group.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:33 PM on January 26, 2005




This propaganda piece deals with an Iran, that doesn't exist. Just read it, this is not life in Iran. This is life in the mouth, of a very green spin apprentice.

If we were unpopular in Iran three years ago, then multiply that by a factor of one thousand. Oh my God, just how dumb does this organization think the American public is, or the Irani public?
posted by Oyéah at 6:52 PM on January 26, 2005


This Iran piece smells like pre-war propaganda to me. 'You see, they want us to liberate them!'
posted by mosch at 7:14 PM on January 26, 2005


Uhoh.... not good. It looks like there are ties between Bush's "Swift Boat" political cronies and the SMCCDI.

During the most recent election, Aryo B. Pirouznia, president of the SMCCDI, made accusations against John Kerry and Hassan Nemazee, a prominent Iranian who supported the Kerry campaign. Pirouznia made unsubstantiated statements alledging that Nemazee was on the Iranian government payroll -- despite his organization's stand on Iran -- and that he was channeling money from the Iranian government into the Kerry campaign.

Nemazee strongly denied this, and, after a series of formal complaints were rebuffed, he sued Pirouznia and the SMCCDI for $10 million, Pirouznia countersued, and called in Jerome R. Corsi, author of "Unfit for Command - Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry" as a special advisor and consultant in the litigation against Hassan Nemazee.

Corsi has not only been repeatedly caught in lies over the swift boat accusations, he was also caught posting hate speech on freerepublic,, saying charming things such as:
'Islam is a peaceful religion, just as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered, and the infidels are killed.'

He had similar flattering words for the Pope, too.

Basically, these people are making
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:20 PM on January 26, 2005


In interest of full disclosure, shouldn't jenleigh (I note a first time poster) mention whether she is receiving money from the Bush administration as a paid blogger? (Or money from other sources?)

I hate to say it, in light of recent scandals, now I'm suspecting everyone. No one would repeat this crap without being paid for it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:24 PM on January 26, 2005


Sorry. Cut myself off in mid-thought there...

It should concern everyone, however, that the CIA could be funding an organization that slanders the political opponents of a standing president, however.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:25 PM on January 26, 2005


Am I the only one somewhat concerned by the language shift this seems to represent? Suddenly those who are in favor of Bush's policies are the "idealists" and those against them - 'liberals' as we are usually called - are now "realists".

Um... WHAT? Nani? Qua? I thought conservatives (silly me, remembering the classical definition of the term) were supposed to be the "realists."

So they call themselves "conservatives" but more and more turn into radical liberals, just in all the wrong ways. And in the meantime, they can suddenly fight the PR war on two fronts simultaneously. If you're in favor of overthrowing soverign regimes, you're now an IDEALIST! Wheeeee! But you can still call yourself a Conservative, a word which has a lot of meaning to a lot of people who have no idea what it really signifies.

(this is, of course, to in no way denegrade actual conservatives, of whom we need a lot more)
posted by InnocentBystander at 7:26 PM on January 26, 2005


"In interest of full disclosure, shouldn't jenleigh . . . mention whether she is receiving money from the Bush administration as a paid blogger?"

I'm not sure I'd go to that extreme... but do we really want anonymous MeFi users with apparent political agendas, or is that asking for a lot of trouble down the road?
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:30 PM on January 26, 2005


"Am I the only one somewhat concerned by the language shift this seems to represent? Suddenly those who are in favor of Bush's policies are the "idealists" and those against them - 'liberals' as we are usually called - are now "realists"."

It's yet another obvious attempt at framing, straight outta the think tank. Those opposed to rushing into further military conflicts are "cognoscenti" (read intellectuals) who are supposedly unwilling to make issues of "freedom, democracy and human rights" a matter of foriegn policy.

That's just so much bullshit, of course, unless you equate "foriegn policy" with "foriegn wars".

Anyone advocating another foriegn war right now is being completely unrealistic. I know a lot of soldiers, and none of them are advocating more foriegn wars as a solution to our existing problems. Even those who want to deal with Iran would rather wait a good, long time first.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:41 PM on January 26, 2005


innocent: Realism within the study of foreign policy has a connotation that most people reading this article are not going to understand. There is foreign policy liberalism. But there are plenty of domestic policy liberals or moderate-to-liberal types who've been foreign policy realists (e.g., Gary Hart, George Kennan).
posted by raysmj at 7:43 PM on January 26, 2005


If we're talking only about elected officials and professional media folks, then both liberals and conservatives want the US to control Iraq; they just disagree about the best methods for achieving this goal.

None of them are advocating democracy in Iraq. Democracy is a form of government in which, either through direct participation in decision making or through representation, the will of the majority is done. In Iraq, the vast majority of voters want the US occupation to end very soon; it's the single biggest issue for these folks and arguably one of the most important issues in the history of the region. So unless and until there is a government in place which will at least ask the US to begin planning for a withdrawal, Iraq doesn't even have the pretense of democracy. And virtually no one - either liberal or conservative - who appears on TV is suggesting that Iraq be allowed to have such a government.

To call any of these people (Bush, Kerry, Kennedy; whoever) "idealist" because the words "democracy" and "freedom" pass their lips as they try to come up with the most effective method for pounding a nation into submission is to buy into some of the most shameless and incompetently manufactured propaganda in the history of the world.
posted by Clay201 at 8:52 PM on January 26, 2005


Why don't we call it realpolitik anymore?
posted by Chuckles at 8:58 PM on January 26, 2005


I also hate the fact that we are coaching spin masters. They write the stuff, we tear it all apart, they learn how it has to be better crafted, and go on their merry way, to do it.

I have been watching the buildup of information officers on the web. They all sing the same song, it is like crickets on a summer evening, you can still talk over them, as of yet.

This thread is a blatant example. When I hear stuff that reminds me of North Korean propaganda, which this does, because of the surreal quality of the scene they paint; I shudder, knowing this emanates from my political system.
posted by Oyéah at 9:07 PM on January 26, 2005


This post pisses me off.

First of all, Zarqawi is probably a fake. He only releases audio, and only when it's convenient for Bush's media agenda.

Secondly, WTF is Josh Muravchik? Do I care what some shit-for-brains right-wing blogger says? Fuck him.

Bush hurts children.

Bush did what he could to strengthen the fundamentalists in Iran. Bush's naming of Iran on the "Axis of Evil" was counter-productive.

If the majority of American people didn't have their heads up their asses, Bush would be executed for his war crimes along with some other cabinet members. His political operatives would rot in jail for their part.
posted by VP_Admin at 9:33 PM on January 26, 2005


jenleigh, your war-whoring hurts children.

I am not amused.
posted by VP_Admin at 9:40 PM on January 26, 2005


Clay201: None of them are advocating democracy in Iraq. Democracy is a form of government in which, either through direct participation in decision making or through representation, the will of the majority is done.

Sounds like you just finished reading this Noam Chomsky article. :)

Oyéah: I also hate the fact that we are coaching spin masters. They write the stuff, we tear it all apart, they learn how it has to be better crafted, and go on their merry way, to do it.

I completely see where you are coming from, but I think the best way to counter marketing is with facts and intelligence.

VP_Admin, it occurs to me that diplomacy is very important in a thread like this. (sorry for going off topic)
posted by Chuckles at 9:53 PM on January 26, 2005


Chuckles, if you think the war-zombies will respond to diplomacy, then I'm glad to see you being diplomatic.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:09 PM on January 26, 2005


VP_Admin, I don't think we will ever hear from jenleigh again, but why degrade yourself? I admit, it makes a certain splash, but... Sorry if I sound self righteous, I guess I need to spend less time reading Meta :)
posted by Chuckles at 10:22 PM on January 26, 2005


Chuckles,
If you think I've degraded myself by using coarse language, then I guess you haven't seen my blog yet. There's a link in my profile. Warning: Offensive satirical imagery.
posted by VP_Admin at 10:29 PM on January 26, 2005


The "hurts children" thing hurts the antiwar argument. Of course war hurts children. War is a terrible thing, and I agree that some element of turning your head away allows war advocates to be as gung-ho as they are. But sometimes was is justified (World War II, for example).

The point is not that war does harm; it's that this war has done more harm than good.
posted by Tlogmer at 11:20 PM on January 26, 2005


And I hope we do hear from jenleigh again, frankly. Echo chambers suck.
posted by Tlogmer at 11:21 PM on January 26, 2005


...SUCK...Suck..suck...suck...
posted by Balisong at 11:33 PM on January 26, 2005


Just gotta say, very impressed by insomnia_lj.
posted by gsb at 12:06 AM on January 27, 2005


He's got a great echo.
posted by shoos at 12:14 AM on January 27, 2005


The "hurts children" thing hurts the antiwar argument. Of course war hurts children. War is a terrible thing, and I agree that some element of turning your head away allows war advocates to be as gung-ho as they are. But sometimes was is justified (World War II, for example).

The point is not that war does harm; it's that this war has done more harm than good.
posted by Tlogmer


What's the good of a war if you're killing people's children? WWII was justified, but not every battle or bombing-run of WWII was justified. Do you think Nuking cities is a fair strategy, just because it happened during WWII?
posted by VP_Admin at 12:37 AM on January 27, 2005


No. And I don't know enough about World War II to evaluate specific battles (not going to talk about the bombing of dresden, for example).

But germany and japan were industrial civilizations in total-war mode. To ignore the factories and railway lines would have been suicide.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:11 AM on January 27, 2005


Good find, raysmj-- the reason this group is untrustworthy isn't that they're in Texas, it's that they're a front group.

I'd argue that it's both - how can you possibly claim to know that "millions" of Iranians were cheering Bush's speech, if you yourself are in Texas, and without citing any source for your claim?

The second link was just bizarre: starts with "there are no democracies in the Middle East" and then mentions all the elections going on (all of which it attributes to the US invasion of Iraq).
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:14 AM on January 27, 2005


I'm really curious about how many people advocating polite responses have actually witnessed or participated in war? If you haven't seen it in person, you really have no idea. VP_Admin's words are entirely appropriate. We have no business killing people because we don't like their governments.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:40 AM on January 27, 2005


ibmcginty - posting something that the left-leaning MF readership might not otherwise have seen

Usually those who post to metafilter are aware that this kind of blatant willfully ignorant spin-zone blabber is quickly dismissed, regardless of the political outlook. These kinds of misinformation clearing houses are a blight on democracy themselves.

We are open to all well argued and sourced posters here, in my experience. Care to respond jenleigh?

Oyeah, I love your use of language! Maybe a you could write poems to go with your photos?
posted by asok at 4:03 AM on January 27, 2005


Don't worry too much, jenleigh-- they'll calm down after a while. You just have to remember that there's a double standard about the sources of political posts here. I thought this post was pretty interesting, at least.
posted by koeselitz at 5:25 AM on January 27, 2005


Instead of using the terms "realist" and "idealist" perhaps we should borrow from a top Bush aide and say "reality-based" and, of course, its opposite phrase "reality-detached." Most especially when dealing with the above linked right wing corporate spin machines.

Would that not be a more accurate characterization?
posted by nofundy at 5:33 AM on January 27, 2005


Meanwhile, isn't it possible that some Iranians cheer at the possibility of help from the U.S. against the current dictatorship? The U.S. must be the lesser of two evils for some people in Iran, and perhaps a lot of people.

And, by the way, those who say that "the push to invade Iran is gathering steam" are talking crazy. Nobody sane wants to invade Iran; that's about like saying "the republicans want to draft us all!"

And, I didn't want to say this, but I have to: asok, quit being an absolute jerk. No one deserves petty schoolyard mockery of their phrasing, especially not first-time posters.
posted by koeselitz at 5:40 AM on January 27, 2005


Nobody wants to invade Iran? You know this? (Note the quote in this second link, from an organization that pushed the Iran war, and which is closely associated with many Bush officials: "There is a big hurdle coming up for those who want to believe (or to pretend to believe) that diplomacy offers a solution to Iran’s WMD aspirations." Where have we heard this sort of talk before?)
posted by raysmj at 7:22 AM on January 27, 2005


My opinion is that we should stop having a go at new posters and start feeling a bit of shame when we're talking of the possibility of the U.S fucking up another country the way it fucked up Iraq.

Otherwise (from juancole.com):
..."In the 1980s wasn't it the Khomeini regime that sold Israel petroleum in exchange for spare parts for its American weaponry? Wasn't it the Israelis who put Reagan up to the Iran-Contra scandal by suggesting that the US ship TOWs to Iran in return for an end to the Lebanese hostage crisis? Even when it was more radical, and despite all the rhetoric, Iran was willing to deal with Israel in ways that helped the latter enormously.

It is true that some Iranian leaders, like Rafsanjani, say frightening things about Israel. But Rafsanjani has no executive power, and when he was president he didn't actually act on such sentiments. The point of engaging the Iranian regime would be to gradually ween it away from such extremism. Iran hasn't launched any aggressive wars in the region, or threatened to use weapons of mass destruction, unlke some other countries (the US had full diplomatic relations with Iraq in the 1980s at a time when it had done both of these things.) I am very uncomfortable in having US national security policy and diplomacy dictated by how politicians in a country talk about our non-Nato allies (with whom, by the way, we do not even have a mutual defense pact). And I am very suspicious that now that Iraq is a basket case, all of a sudden Ariel Sharon is calling on the US to attack Iran."...
posted by acrobat at 7:34 AM on January 27, 2005


... those who say the push to invade Iran is gathering steam" are talking crazy. Nobody sane wants to invade Iran; that's about like saying "the republicans want to draft us all!"

I agree that among the general population in the US, you'd have a tough time finding a lot of people who think an invasion of Iran ought to be top priority for the US. But in the halls of power, not so much. Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al., have been lusting after the big I for some time. Not that they're the only ones. I'm just saying that they're the most visible ones and probably the most willing to spill blood in pursuit of their goal.

You're correct that such an invasion is extremely unlikely. But, as with the draft, the reason we won't see it doesn't have a lot to do with the clear-headed strategies of those in power. It has everything to do with the fact that if they tried it, the general public would lynch them.
posted by Clay201 at 7:43 AM on January 27, 2005


You all hurt children, make baby jesus cry, and hate America. Get over it. :)
posted by anthill at 7:48 AM on January 27, 2005


circa summer 2002: >And, by the way, those who say that "the push to invade Iraq is gathering steam" are talking crazy. Nobody sane wants to invade Iraq; that's about like saying "the republicans want to kill us all!"

It's not that infantile, really.
posted by gsb at 8:09 AM on January 27, 2005


koeselitz - not sure what you are talking about here:
asok, quit being an absolute jerk. No one deserves petty schoolyard mockery of their phrasing, especially not first-time posters.

However, if you are refering to my praise for oyeah, then adjust your sarcasm meter old boy. Sometimes praise is just what it says on the tin.
I really do like the expression: They all sing the same song, it is like crickets on a summer evening, you can still talk over them, as of yet.

First time posters can fight their own battles, just like the rest of us. If indeed there is any cause to fight, which is not usually the case in this relatively mature forum.
Whilst we are on the subject of my posts, I think you'll find that if you care to peruse my posting history, I tend to address the content of a post, rather than the style of phrasing, if I am ever negative. Which is not often, as I really don't think that this place needs posters who make a mission of being negative toward other members of the community.

Also, please can you explain what relevance the link to samlam's post on the subject of Bush Jr's dubious military record has here. Are you suggesting that the information his linked article is CIA propaganda?

I am sure that there are some Iranians who believe that the CIA could be a help in gaining greater freedom for their country, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Cheney, Wolfhowitz and Rumsfeld are always looking for another war to scare us with. This is one of the many reasons why they should never be allowed near any positions of power. Ooops, too late!
posted by asok at 9:45 AM on January 27, 2005


raysmj: Thanks for linking that second article. It's very informative about what the current administration wants to do.

Specifically, the goal is to threaten Iran in case of a breach of the NP treaty. There is currently nearly no procedure for enforcement of the NP treaty; the article here mentions "American or Israeli airstrikes," not invasion. The difference is great. For example, George W. Bush invaded Iraq; Bill Clinton, remember, only sent out airstrikes against them.

It's this last fact that I want to call gsb's attention to. It's not true that everyone in politics thought that we'd never invade Iraq in 2002; the administration didn't even pretend it, and people had been discussing it since Reagan. In fact, again, every president since Reagan has acted militarily against Iraq, and every president since Reagan has struggled mightily to figure out what to do with the problem of Iraq.

Think about it in these terms: everybody in Iraq hated Saddam. Even his generals seem to have disliked him. Removing him was, on paper, easy, even if security seems to be an issue. But Iran is a wholly different matter: as thirdparty pointed out above, invasion could hardly do good. If the government must be reformed, it must be reformed by other means.

None of the NAC people pretend that "bringing democracy to the middle east" means invading each country one by one. They advocate strong military reactions to threats to peace; that's different. "Military reactions" and "airstrikes" are different from "invasion."

And finally, Clay201: "lusting after the big I?" Iran would mean entanglement a lot worse than Iraq. Everybody who's done politics at all knows this. Why would they want that? What is this goal that you say they're willing to spill blood in order to attain? They claim it's world peace. I think they really believe that, even if I don't always agree with the way they want to do it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:03 AM on January 27, 2005


those who say that "the push to invade Iran is gathering steam" are talking crazy.

Perhaps you should read this article from a "crazy" reporter and tell me exactly why we're "mapping" out Iran's radar systems. Wake up, its real.
posted by nofundy at 10:16 AM on January 27, 2005


Hey asok: a million apologies, as I made a stupid, stupid mistake. That is: I read "Oyeah" as "Oh yeah," and thought you were continuing your response to jenleigh ("Oh yeah, and your writing stinks, too!")... which is at least a little funny, I think... anyhow, very sorry.

And I mentioned the other post because it seemed to me to be just as partisan and flimsy-- based on a blog entry and a news-commentary site which, to my eye, is pretty biased. What's more, it wasn't as well written or thought-out, I don't think. Now, I don't mind that, and I didn't say anything in that other thread because I don't think it's useful, but the fact remains that, in two posts that seem to me about as valid as each other, one got trashed and the other only got a few "uh huhs," not one dissenter. Which is interesting to me, and I think fairly indicative of a trend. Again, I don't expect to change much, and don't even really mind it. But the double standard exists none the less.

posted by koeselitz at 11:00 AM on January 27, 2005


Iran would mean entanglement a lot worse than Iraq... Why would they want that?

For the same reasons they were perfectly willing to "entangle" our forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and half a dozen countries in South America. (Remember, we're discussing the same crew who brought us Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc.) They want the oil/power/cheap labor. And remember, with regards to Iran, specifically: we backed one brutal dictator there already. Then we waged a proxy war against them. And we tried giving the military arms so that they would overthrow the government. Clearly, there was some sort of objective there that was worth a whole lot of effort to someone.

War, like crack cocaine, costs a lot: it costs money, lives, and lots of other things as well. But the price isn't paid by Cheney or Rumsfeld; it's paid by us non-ruling folks. So they really don't have much incentive to put down the pipe. And this isn't a unique phenomenon; throughout history, in any country you care to name, there's always been someone in the government who's more than willing to go to war, even when the cost was clearly prohibitive. During the Cuban missile crisis, there were generals and politicos on both sides who just wanted to go ahead and get it on, nuclear style. I caught a lecturer the other day on CSPAN Book-TV; he was talking about how in Grant's administration there were people who wanted the US to invade Canada and Mexico. And this was immediately after the Civil War. In both cases, the war mongers had a lot more to fear than "entanglement," but it didn't deter them. Now, the reaction of the general public to the entanglement... yes, Viet Nam taught the US political establishment to fear that. Indeed, it's absolutely fascinating (well, to me, anyway) to see Bush's people retreat in terror every time they think they're venturing into territory that might trigger massive protest: the draft, for example.

But apart from that, there's really nothing preventing them - either logically or logistically - from invading any country they damn well please.
posted by Clay201 at 9:54 PM on January 27, 2005


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