Thursday, May 15, 2008

When Talking Became a Bad Thing

I must have missed the meeting. Can someone please tell me when we decided that discussing issues and problems became a bad thing? Watching John (McBush) McCain the other day I was struck by the way he thought he was putting down his potential Democratic rival in the November election by saying that if Obama were elected president, he would have an open dialogue with Iran. In case you missed it, at some point talking with people, and nations, about issues and disagreements was displaced by a new method of conflict resolution, namely bombs.

This change has been written about before, yet it still makes no difference. I've been having some fun looking back at articles written before the US invasion of Iraq and the sad thing is that we knew what was happening even then. America had decided to abandon the whole idea of diplomacy in order to make it look like they were doing something to fight the "war on terror". In the post 9/11 world where America needed help most, to build alliances and trust, they decided to throw it all to the wind and wage war. Why? Who knows, but for some reason it's no longer just OK to not care what the rest of the world thinks about their actions, it's a campaign strategy that is likely to attract voters!

Let's take the case of Iran. First, we have to try to imagine how they feel. America has invaded Iraq to the west and Afghanistan to the east. Imagine the case of a hostile power taking over Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, how would America react to being caught in this type of vice. Well, they would attack, but Iran knows that militarily they wouldn't stand a chance in a head to head confrontation, so you have to show strength in some other way. Iran chose the nuclear card. Maybe we have them, maybe we want them, in either case, don't attack us because we'll use them. Yes, Ahmadinejad has said a few wild a crazy things, but does that mean you can't talk with him? The White House has already in effect had the green light to invade Iran for 8 months since the passing of the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment (Clinton voted for it by the way), and with only about the same amount of time left in office don't be surprised if Bush/Cheney try it before saying adios. Don't talk, invade, and if not now, McBush will. Maybe we all forget his fondness for old Beach Boys songs.

More proof of the neocon aversion to diplomacy is the reaction to former president Jimmy Carter's recent meeting with representatives of Hamas, a party that, you know, only won the last Palestinian elections. But the we don't like them, so we don't talk to them rule seems to hold as in Iran. Secretary of State Rice said," We had certainly told President Carter that we did not think meeting with Hamas was going to help... the United States is not going to deal with Hamas." And of course McBush had to get a dig in on Obama, who refused to condemn such a wild move as Carter's, talking. As well as using the word terrorist 3 times in 6 sentences, McBush said, "If Senator Obama is not decisive enough to condemn former President Carter, how can he be strong enough to deal with the threat they pose to America and to our allies?" Read: if you think talking is a good idea, your weak. Well, at least he pleased the Israeli lobby. No, we'll just continue to support Israel so they can continue to antagonize Hamas by bombing them, thus creating more terrorists and more attacks, so Israel will bomb them... I think you get it.

In an environment where the level of rhetoric has reached a point where you can criticize someone for being a proponent of negotiation, where else will the world's most powerful nation turn to besides more bombs. Today we heard from both Bush in the Knesset in Israel and McBush speaking in Ohio as they were doing some kind of two step manoeuvre that left me, and I hope others, flabbergasted. Bush's speech, if not libelous, was at least offensive to anyone listening who believes in diplomacy. In a speech marking the 60th anniversary of Israel in the Jewish state's parliament Bush said: “The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. .. Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
In a clear reference to Obama's plan to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians, Bush clearly linked the idea of the rise of Nazism in the 30's to the Palestinian dream of a homeland today. Why doesn't anyone mention that his administration's policies have created more terrorists in the past seven years than existed before his election? Meanwhile, in America, McBush was making equally farcical statements about the Middle East. The most disturbing part of his speech in fact wasn't that it included no details on how the predictions he was making were going to become reality, but the language that he used. Read carefully:"By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced. Civil war has been prevented; militias disbanded; the Iraqi Security Force is professional and competent; al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated; and the Government of Iraq is capable of imposing its authority in every province of Iraq and defending the integrity of its borders. The United States maintains a military presence there, but a much smaller one, and it does not play a direct combat role."
Notice the transition in verb tense from the passive to the active thus attempting to convince the listener in the reality of his words (sorry, I'm an English teacher). No details, just false hope for the gullible. Plus, I thought the war was won on June 5, 2003, almost 5 years ago, not 5 years in the future. Peace will have been restored without talking to the most important players in the region (Iran and Syria) and of course Al Qaeda, who did not exist in Iraq before American intervention, will have been wiped out. Anyone who buys this pipe dream and votes for four more years of empty promises deserves what they get.


Troy said...

To magnify how Iran must be feeling you have to remember that not only do the Americans have bases and combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they now also have bases in neighbouring Azerbaijan and Turkey not to mention free reign of the Persian Gulf with a base in Qatar. Then we have to add bases in Uzbekistan (a paragon of democracy) and "advisers" all over the region. How does a zit feel before being squished? Talk about aggressive?