Friday, May 18, 2007

On Neoconservatives and their passion for war

It is a common refrain of those on the left that all the troubles in the world are the fault of the dreaded neo-cons. They lurk in corners and are at fault for everything from the Iraq War to the designated hitter. But one thing that I have observed is that they do share a common trait. They are in love with the idea of glorious victory in war just as the World War II generation had. The best comparison is the character of Lt. Dan, played by Gary Sinese in the 1994 film Forest Gump. Lt. Dan escapes death in the Vietnam war and is despondent about it for quite a while. He lays on the floor of the hospital with Tom Hanks' Gump and opines in despair that his destiny was to die in battle, just as every one of his ancestors had back to the War of Independence. Gump had robbed him of that by saving him. The neo-cons have a similar view. As their Grandfathers had won World War II, and their father's had won the Cold War, it was their turn to defeat the vast "islamofascist" conspiracy that had suddenly been discovered through the horror of the September 11th attacks.

This all is on my mind after reading a piece by Norman Podhoretz on Commentary Online. He attempts to make the case for bombing Iran. The underlying base of his concern for Iran, as it is for the majority of neo-cons, is a protective instinct for the State of Israel. In his building of a case against the Islamic Republic he begins by attempting to convince his audience that our present condition is really World War IV. The Cold War is his World War III. Calling The Cold War World War III is not much of a historical stretch, and first was done in a Star Trek episode I watched once. He states that Nazism was defeated in II, Communism was defeated in III, and what he calls islamofascism will be defeated in VI. World War V is tentatively being titled World War V: Electric Boogaloo. To prove this point Norman, who owes his entire career to his father's standing in the old Goldwater conservative movement, spends most of the article fighting an army of straw men.

To Norman, the Afganistan and Iraq wars are not monumental screw-ups, but simply the first steps in what had always been a path to Iran. They are the real source of evil in the world. He states correctly that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorist groups. But sponsoring Hezbollah hardly makes one the main source of terror in the world. I was told by George W. Bush that that was Al Qaeda. He states also that Iran is the center of Islamofascism in the world today. This is a common conservative crutch to throw around the fascism label uncontrollably. Considering Iran by all accounts has one of the most vibrant democracies aside from Israel in the middle east (that's not saying much considering the company. As Jon Stewart would say they are the the thinest kid a fat camp), and Saudi Arabia is just a chip shot away, they are hardly the center of totalitarianism even on their own damn block. This is not to say that the mullahs are a bunch of huggy bears by any means. I just think I've heard this story before, and I did not like the way it ended up.

Norman also talks of Iran's growing power. It's power that all comes from our actions. We took out her two biggest rivals in Hussain and the Taleban, and our meddling in the past election brought on the rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad is the man that makes TV's Monk look like Elton John. He also says that the cannot be allowed to aquire a nuclear weapon because they will then basically conquer Western Europe all on blackmail and intimidation. Does he imagine that Ahmadinejad is going to fire off a nuclear weapon and hit Israel? He'd have to barely nick Haifa or else he is going to kill thousands of Palestinians, and that will go over super in the greater Muslim world. Is he going to blow up the place where the prophet Muhammad was taken into heaven according to the Koran? Even if he did do this, what happens after Israel launches it's roughly 60 warheads and turns the Islamic republic into radioactive badlands for 500 years. I guess in Norman's mind this is when Western Europe bows down in fealty to Ahmadinejad's charred radioactive corpse. And if this is not enough lets not forget the fact that Shiites do not believe in a caliphate, that being a Sunni phenomenon.

The fact remains, and I know very intelligent people will disagree, if we leave Iran alone they will eventually overcome the influence of the mullahs. They are certainly not going to hitch their train to George W. Bush, even Americans think he's an idiot.
This Iran talk is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from the greatest foreign policy blunder in the 231 year history of our great republic.