It's tempting to think that if you scare the shit out of people -- really convince them, down to their bones, that hurricanes, diseases, and starving refugees are hiding just around the corner -- that mass mobilization against global warming will at long last ensue.
There's good reason to doubt it. Fear causes fairly predictable reactions, which do not include international cooperation, equitable distribution of resources, cost-benefit analysis on a multidecadal scale, and short-term sacrifice in the service of long-term problem-solving. They do include increased xenophobia, reactionary moralism, and susceptibility to demagogues.
IMAGINE HOW YOU WILL FEEL AS YOU EXHALE YOUR LAST BREATH
...The "stab in the back" holds that America was only defeated in Vietnam because we lost the will to fight. And those who sapped our will, those who betrayed our fighting men, were cowardly protesters and craven politicians. As Bush told "Meet the Press'" Tim Russert in 2004, "The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me as I look back was it was a political war. We had politicians making military decisions, and it is lessons that any president must learn, and that is to set the goal and the objective and allow the military to come up with the plans to achieve that objective. And those are essential lessons to be learned from the Vietnam War."
As Kevin Baker noted in an in-depth analysis in Harper's, the "stab in the back" thesis is the ur-right-wing credo. It brings together two keystone beliefs: the idea that America is omnipotent and incapable of defeat, and that any war the U.S. engages in must be noble and heroic. Therefore, if America is defeated, traitorous elites -- craven politicians, un-American punks, degenerates, longhairs, pinkos and agitators, and the cowardly elite media -- must be to blame. Nixon and Agnew's demonizing of "nattering nabobs of negativism" and Reagan's claims that war protesters were giving "comfort and aid" to the enemy sprang from this belief.
In fact, the Vietnam War was a terrible mistake, and America pulled out because politicians and the American people alike realized it was unwinnable. But the "stab in the back" myth never died: It stayed alive in the resentment-filled caverns of the American right, for whom it is an article of faith that America's wars are always justified and our military omnipotent. It is not an intellectually respectable idea, but it has currency with Bush's core supporters. Bush usually prefers not to make his ties to the far right so obvious, but his situation is so dire he felt compelled to reach gingerly into this muck of Ramboesque resentment...
Needless to say, this is not a winning argument. Its sole virtue is that it invokes the War Myth -- but in a form so debased that it defeats itself. That Bush felt he had to make it reveals the desperate straits he is in.
...Eventually, harsh reality trumps even the totemic power of patriotism. The National Intelligence Estimate released last week confirmed what objective observers already knew: There has been no political progress in Iraq, and none can be foreseen...
This is not surprising when you look at the numbers. The war has resulted in an estimated 650,000 Iraqis dead, 1.1 million internally displaced and close to 2.5 million who have fled the country. These figures mean one in six Iraqis has been killed or is a refugee. Translated into American terms, this would work out to 50 million Americans killed or turned refugee -- a figure roughly equal to the population of the northeastern United States, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and all of New England.
The inescapable truth is that Bush's war of choice has destroyed an entire nation -- and there is no way for the United States or anyone else to control what happens next.
Bush Wants $50 Billion More for Iraq War
Bush Ramps Up Iran Rhetoric, Warns of 'Nuclear Holocaust'
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