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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Conservative In My Midst

Empire Burlesque - High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium
Empire Burlesque - High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, by Chris Floyd
My prior post brought in a thoughtful comment from "the other side," as it were, and Chris deserves another book plug.

My wan apologies to Conservative In Your Midst for front paging him/her, but it is this sort of jujitsu that we bloggers are infamous for.

Seriously, though, Conservative In Your Midst posted a pretty thoughtful comment, and I welcome him as an engaged reader, as well as a fellow traveler towards the truth.

You can read his comment in its entirety here. Following is a point-by-point response.
IF you agree that there are dangerous and violent people hell bent on killing us (Americans) because they believe something very differently about the way life should be lived than we do…and IF you agree that we have essentially two choices 1) get the hell outta there as quickly as possible or 2) a “you broke it you bought it” philosophy and we have to stay until we can make it right…and IF you agree that conventional methods of fighting a war (read: the way we always have fought wars, since WWI) will NEVER work in this kind of a struggle.

IF you agree with these things (and I understand that you probably don’t)...
You're right, I don't.
...and IF you understand that the government and military as they are currently constructed are never going to get the hell out as quickly as possible (my guess is you do, even if you don’t want to admit it), then I’ve got news for you.
Now, that's a well hedged turn of phrase. "As they are currently constructed" and "as quickly as possible" can be ignored for clarity's sake:
...and IF you understand that the government and military are never going to get the hell out...
There, that's better - I can agree with that... almost. We'll get out, all right - it's just a question as to how small a bloody stump we'll be left with.

And how many human beings we will have killed.
Fighting like a terrorist is the only way we can possibly fight effectively against terrorists.
How does one "fight like a terrorist" without actually becoming one? Insofar as one may believe that "terrorists" are a distinct class of people to be "fought" (I don't, it seems you do), how does play into the idea of "defeating" "terrorism?" Sounds like proliferation, the old cycle of violence feeding on itself. Ask Isreal (not that they'd be frank about it.)
We hear people bemoaning the fact that this is an “army without a country” or an “army without a flag” and that is why the offensives in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t worked. Don’t fight them like an army with a flag then dipshit.

Fight them they way they fight you, only utilize your superior technology.

They don’t attempt an assassination of our President. They fly planes into skyscrapers. We can’t be satisfied with hitting exactly who we were aiming for, we’ve got to be prepared to take out that target, his family, and anybody in his general area.
Whoa, you're really into this "become like the terrorists" thing, aren't you? It is a crime to kill innocents (anyone, really, but I'm sliding our personal Overton window to the right a bit for conversational purposes), "terrorists" are criminals. I do not believe fighting crime by becoming criminal is really accepted art. And they are criminals, committing horrible crimes, as humans are wont to do. The military is terrible at crime-fighting. If they attack here, it is a job for the Department of Justice. Fighting them "over there" is simply a way to make us criminals in foreign lands. Can you look at it from the viewpoint of an Iraq or Afghan citizen? Like when you come home from work and your home is pile of smoking rubble, family and pets nowhere to be seen?
They don’t target our military (exclusively). They attack civilians. No reason we shouldn’t be prepared to do the same.

There are those out there that would tell you we’re making it worse, that we’re inspiring those who might be on our side (or at least neutral) to go to “their” side because of the damage we’re doing.

Those same people will tell you that we’re not dealing with stupid people, that we’re not dealing with ignorance.

Then those “innocent” people should recognize that we’re (eventually) going to win, even if that means turning the Middle East into a parking lot. They should abandon any allegiance to these terrorists, turn them in, and we’ll happily be on our merry way.
I'm not stupid, either, and I can tell you that my reaction, if I were in their shoes, would not be to turn neighbors in to an aggressor who is known, known, to be torturing and abusing them. Also, because I am not stupid, I know that as long as the base reasons for the rise of "terrorism" are still in place, then new "terrorists" will always pop up to take their place. So I am to feed them, one by one, to the aggressor?

What if tanks under a foreign flag were bedeviling your neighborhood? Now, I eschew violence myself, but since you clearly don't, I'm willing to be you'd be up to speed on Molotov cocktails and IEDs in no time. You terrorist, you. (BTW - I find the phrasing "happily be on our merry way" a bit macabre in this context, don't you?)

And finally:
If this war was ill advised, so be it, but we’re in it now, and we shouldn’t simply lay down and take our beating. We should be fighting back, and we should be doing it the most effective way possible.
First of all, if I realize that something is "ill advised," which you are apparently conceding this aggression is, then I stop doing it.

"lay down and take our beating...?" Beating? What fucking beating? We're the ones doing the beating! Oh, you must mean those gnat-stings that are occasionally inflicted here at home by these malcontents, which pose no existential threat whatsoever to this country. In which case I fail to see how our brutality overseas addresses that issue in any positive way, a fact which has been tiresomely pointed out since before this shit all started, to no effect.

As a matter of fact, everything I've said in this post has been tiresomely pointed out since before this shit all started, to no effect.

Sometimes I think that people just want blood. I don't really believe it, but sometimes I think it.

Fuck.

15 comments:

  1. Conservative In Your MidstMay 12, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    I appreciate you acknowledging my post as “thoughtful” though the tone in your response seems to indicate there are other verbs you might be more comfortable using about me when you and your friends sit around the coffee shop waxing poetic about “peace” and “liberty” that you clearly have no understanding of.

    I will also acknowledge that your post is interesting and thought provoking. Three points in particular have provoked me.

    “How does one “fight like a terrorist” without actually becoming one?”

    By at least targeting those who deserve targeting. On 9/11 the planes that flew into the WTC did not target those “responsible” for the “evil” the attackers objected to. One could attempt to make the argument that the plane that flew into the Pentagon, and the one that fell far short of the White House, were targeting those “responsible” but the planes that killed the highest number of people (and would have killed the largest number of people regardless of the success of the other two flights) targeted innocent civilians.

    We can adopt terrorist tactics without becoming terrorists because we are at least aiming at those we determined are planning, or have executed, attacks against us.

    What if tanks under a foreign flag were bedeviling your neighborhood?

    If they were, then I would certainly fight back, but that’s the point, I’d be fighting back not instigating, which is what Al Queda did when they attacked the US on US soil. I hate to sound like I’m on the playground, but they started it.

    And then there is the inevitably offensive comment that devalues American lives and shows utter and complete sympathy with those attacking the US.

    Oh, you must mean those gnat-stings that are occasionally inflicted here at home by these malcontents, which pose no existential threat whatsoever to this country.

    I hate to bring up the “un-American” argument here, but the shoe not only fits, it was custom made for you I’m sure. “Gnat-stings?” Really? More than 4300 dead, I’m sure their families would be pleased to know that you consider that a “gnat-sting.” Is that what you consider annoying? Do they have to take out an entire city before you notice? A state? Would it have meant more if it were Berkley or Tribeca or Austin, TX or some other bastion of liberal “thought?” Would it have meant more if those who died shared your view that the nasty capitalists in the WTC (I’ve also been reading, for my own amusement, your hilarious anti-capitalist, pro-socialist rants) got what they deserved?

    I will continue to read, as much as the ideas themselves disgust me, your work because you are a fairly talented writer who clearly thinks about what he says before splashing it up on the Internet. Many of your ilk seem to just have a knee-jerk reaction that falls in line with whatever your leadership recommends.

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  2. @CIYM (Part 1):

    "I appreciate you acknowledging my post as “thoughtful” though the tone in your response seems to indicate there are other verbs you might be more comfortable using about me..."

    LOL. Points for that observation - but I really try not to be like that.

    "...the planes that flew into the WTC did not target those “responsible” for the “evil” the attackers objected to. One could attempt to make the argument that the plane that flew into the Pentagon, and the one that fell far short of the White House, were targeting those “responsible” but the planes that killed the highest number of people (and would have killed the largest number of people regardless of the success of the other two flights) targeted innocent civilians."

    I am going to make a careful and nuanced argument here. Please indulge me by not saying this is my argument, only that it is an argument that we can acknowledge that is out there, whether we agree with it or not. And not only is it "out there," I submit that this is part of the "logic" of these violent idiots.

    OK, here goes.

    In the minds of those who see the U.S. monolithically - as a single and malevolent entity - the largest center of our financial empire in the largest city appears indeed to be a legitimate target. The fact that innocents were slaughtered makes it a crime of the highest order.

    I do not want to adopt their tactics precisely for that reason. Oh, and also for the not incidental fact that it simply doesn't work. As Gandhi (in Attenborough's biopic, and I paraphrase) said to an anti-colonialist who was bragging about his violent opposition: "I admire your courage, but I do not think you will get the result you desire from such tactics."

    What if tanks under a foreign flag were bedeviling your neighborhood?

    "If they were, then I would certainly fight back, but that’s the point, I’d be fighting back not instigating, which is what Al Queda did when they attacked the US on US soil. I hate to sound like I’m on the playground, but they started it."


    You said it, I didn't.

    And, how many times do we have to go over the fact that our misadventures have almost nothing to do with that "instigating" attack?

    continued...

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  3. @CIYM (Part 2):

    "And then there is the inevitably offensive comment that devalues American lives and shows utter and complete sympathy with those attacking the US."

    Oh, you must mean those gnat-stings that are occasionally inflicted here at home by these malcontents, which pose no existential threat whatsoever to this country.

    "I hate to bring up the “un-American” argument here, but the shoe not only fits, it was custom made for you I’m sure. “Gnat-stings?” Really? More than 4300 dead, I’m sure their families would be pleased to know that you consider that a “gnat-sting.” Is that what you consider annoying? Do they have to take out an entire city before you notice? A state? Would it have meant more if it were Berkley or Tribeca or Austin, TX or some other bastion of liberal “thought?” Would it have meant more if those who died shared your view that the nasty capitalists in the WTC (I’ve also been reading, for my own amusement, your hilarious anti-capitalist, pro-socialist rants) got what they deserved?"


    Sigh. That's a bit uncivil, but I'll let it pass. I am an advocate for non-violent solutions to the problems we face - something that you mock me for - and yet you still think you can successfully paint me as someone who is happy about the deaths of people? Talk about cake-and-eat-it-too.

    The "gnat-sting" comment is meant to articulate the affect that any of these attacks has on the United States as a whole. As in, negligible. Christ, of course it is of great and horrific moment for the direct victims. That's why we need to treat the perps the way we treat any other murderers. But to respond to this with the might of Empire as if it is under existential threat from these morons is itself moronic, and self defeating. We are draining blood and treasure much to these malefactors' delight.

    Of course the elites don't mind. They want us to think it's an existential threat, so they can continue to loot our treasury by blowing up and rebuilding shit, all done by their contractor buddies and payed for by you and me. And we don't mind because Al Queda is sooo scary and dangerous.

    "I will continue to read, as much as the ideas themselves disgust me, your work because you are a fairly talented writer who clearly thinks about what he says before splashing it up on the Internet. Many of your ilk seem to just have a knee-jerk reaction that falls in line with whatever your leadership recommends."

    Thanks, I guess. It seems we shall continue with a theme of restrained contempt. I can live with that - it is only our perceptions that are in misalignment, and we can thrash that out. I still am very grateful for your input, and this is a very important debate.

    I have to giggle a bit over that "your ilk" and "your leadership" comment. If I (and my "ilk") were the sort of people who would be in thrall over "leadership," we certainly wouldn't be wading these dangerous, iconoclastic waters!

    Peace, brother.

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  4. Conservative In Your MidstMay 12, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    the largest center of our financial empire in the largest city appears indeed to be a legitimate target.

    I understand that logic (though I don't agree). I saw that you distanced yourself from it. I wonder if you really should. The more I've read of your site, it seems you hold captialism with much the same disdain as the Muslims hold our freedom. I wonder if perhaps you also look at the WTC as "legitimate" a target as they do?

    That is beside the point.

    If they feel that target is legitimate, why shouldn't we look at a school where radical Islamic teaching occurs as a target? It is the radicals we have a problem with (I will be the first to admit that there are "good" Muslims out there) why would a grade school that actively looks to radicalize children not be an appropriate target? You seem to imply in your post that we started this with some mysterious bad decision years ago, but wouldn't you consider training our children to hate Muslims and attempt to kill them (which is what many of these so-called schools do) an offense worthy of punishment?

    It seems we shall continue with a theme of restrained contempt. I can live with that - it is only our perceptions that are in misalignment, and we can thrash that out.

    I suppose you're right, though (tongue in cheek) I have a feeling more than just our "perceptions" are misaligned. Thrashing that out (online) seems like about as civil a thing as we could do, I hope that (maybe) your readers learn a thing or two, and likewise I hope to gain a bit of that wisdom you (and Ghandi) speak of.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. @CIYM:

    "The more I've read of your site, it seems you hold captialism with much the same disdain as the Muslims hold our freedom."

    Come on, you don't fall for that "they hate us for our freedom" crap, do you? I mean, we do plenty in our procurement of resources and strategic bases to piss them off. Even if they did "hate freedom," they have plenty of other grievances that anyone, if it happened to them, would.

    And, yes, I hold capitalism in contempt. Taking a man's blood and distilling it into gold for your coffers is one of the darker evils to base a civilization on. Oops, I mean taking a man's labor and turning it into profit is one of the darker evils to base a civilization on.

    "I wonder if perhaps you also look at the WTC as "legitimate" a target as they do?"

    Do you really? I'll try to be clearer. It is a sick mind that solves its problems by attacking "targets." There are no legitimate targets. More to the point: Especially if there are innocent civilians involved.

    "That is beside the point."

    So you just "wondered" just so you could slide in a smear?

    "If they feel that target is legitimate, why shouldn't we look at a school where radical Islamic teaching occurs as a target? It is the radicals we have a problem with (I will be the first to admit that there are "good" Muslims out there) why would a grade school that actively looks to radicalize children not be an appropriate target?"

    Because we shouldn't adopt the logic of sick minds, and contemplate targeting schools to solve our problems. Or financial centers, for that matter.

    "...I hope that (maybe) your readers learn a thing or two, and likewise I hope to gain a bit of that wisdom you (and Ghandi) speak of.."

    And that, my friend, is the point of this repartee! I am familiar with the point of view from which you speak, and I know that it is not one to respond to direct argument, ever (and I mean that with no snark intended) - only personal revelation can change that, and that's above my pay grade :). However, the readers can, and will, judge who better holds up his end.



    (P.S. I don't mean this personally, but Gandhi is one of my favorite men-of-history. I am trying to wipe out that common mispelling that you used - mostly because I suffered from it for a long time myself.)

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  7. Note: The deleted comment above was just a cut and paste snafu of the directly following comment. I'm having a hell of a bad WiFi connection today...

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  8. Conservative In Your MidstMay 12, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    Come on, you don't fall for that "they hate us for our freedom" crap, do you?
    I’ll be more specific. To the radicalized Muslims some of the very freedoms that Americans do have, things like the ability to worship any deity (or no deity), the ability for women to vote, speak before being spoken to, decide which man (or men) they want to be with. These freedoms (and many many more that one could generally use Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton as examples of) are things that radicalized Muslims (who are, after all, the ones attacking us) hate. No, they don’t hate the Statue of Liberty and country music, they have specific things that go very much against their particular interpretation of the Qur’an.
    "I wonder if perhaps you also look at the WTC as "legitimate" a target as they do?"

    Do you really? I'll try to be clearer. It is a sick mind that solves its problems by attacking "targets." There are no legitimate targets. More to the point: Especially if there are innocent civilians involved.

    "That is beside the point."

    First, I was not attempting to “smear” you, but I can see how it would have been taken that way and I apologize. I was actually asking a legitimate question, but was unclear in doing so. What I was asking was, if you were in the shoes of one of these radicals, with your own views of capitalism, would the WTC be a legitimate target? I am not asking if you would look to kill 4000+ persons, I mean the “symbol” that you spoke of in the previous post. You were 100% correct in the theory that the WTC would be (perhaps) the #1 symbol of capitalism, which is (by the by) one of the things that the radicalized hate about America. Like you they disdain capitalism, and no I am not attempting to equate you to a radicalized Muslim, I am simply stating that their religious interpretations of their Holiest book looks at capitalism as evil, and for many of the same reasons you do. The Qur’an prohibits certain things like charging interest on a loan that are tenants of capitalism. So, again, the question should have been something to the effect of, “Do you believe that the WTC was a legitimate symbol for the hatred of capitalism?” Again, I apologize for the murky nature of the question.
    In regards to the comparison between bombing the WTC and school radicalizing children, I will revert to a line from one of my favorite films…The Untouchables. “Just like a Guiney to bring a knife to a gun fight.” I simply feel that in this war, in any war, we have to be willing to test the will of our opponent. Show them that we are willing to go farther than they are willing to go. If you aren’t willing to do that, then you won’t win (see: War, Vietnam).
    I apologize for misspelling Gandhi, both because it makes me look exceedingly stupid and xenophobic, and because that is a man for whom I have the utmost respect and spelling his name correctly would be an awfully good way to start showing that respect.

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  9. Sir,

    I can only say that I am humbly appreciative of what you have written. Well done, and I apologize for any underestimation that I projected and, yes, presumed.

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  10. Your Favorite BartenderMay 13, 2010 at 6:31 AM

    Wait a second! I refuse to fold like a cheap tent here. Conservative you said:

    In regards to the comparison between bombing the WTC and school radicalizing children, I will revert to a line from one of my favorite films…The Untouchables. “Just like a Guiney to bring a knife to a gun fight.” I simply feel that in this war, in any war, we have to be willing to test the will of our opponent. Show them that we are willing to go farther than they are willing to go. If you aren’t willing to do that, then you won’t win (see: War, Vietnam).

    If we're quoting movies to discuss our feelings on topics such as this, how about this one:

    "Don't let your mouth write checks your body can't cash."

    The common thread from Vietnam to Afghanistan to the Iraq War to the current Afghanistan conflict is that WE NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    We're fighting like terrorists because that's how they fight? Should we also subjugate our women and force the men to grow beards? Should we be so intolerant of homosexuality that it is a capital crime punishable by death? What ELSE should we "act like the terrorists" about?

    How about an entire division of the army that recruits really down on their luck kids, brainwashes them with jingoistic propaganda and then trains them in how to best pull off a suicide bombing? That would be effective, right?

    When we capture an "enemy combatant" should we behead them on a live internet feed?

    You may have incredible respect for Gandhi Conservative, but you certainly haven't learned a damn thing from him.

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  11. Civility here at my place, FaveB. :)

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  12. Your Favorite BartenderMay 13, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    I'm being as civil as I can be Petro, but I'm a little confused how you can be missing the inherant racism. From one of the earlier posts:

    "(I will be the first to admit that there are "good" Muslims out there)"

    Well GOOD FOR YOU!

    So great to see that you "admit" there are "good" Muslims out there! How nice!

    The subtext there is clear. The "radicalized" are the majority. That is exactly the politics of fear that gets us into multiple unwinnable and unnecessary wars, and breeds hate of a group of people who are, by and large, far more peaceful than us "patriotic" Americans.

    Look, I have enjoyed the vast majority of this discussion, but I'm not just going to tuck tail and hide while this person disparages an entire region's worth of people.

    Radicalized Muslims=the KKK

    Both are crazy, both are loud, and both ARE AN INCREDIBLY SMALL MINORITY within AN INCREDIBLY LARGE GROUP OF PEOPLE.

    Ironically, those who preach this hatred are usually far closer in ideology to those radicalized groups than they'd like to admit.

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  13. Well, FaveB - I reviewed your comment and it doesn't say much about racism - and frankly, neither did CIYM. I understand the detection of soft racism from many people - especially those who believe in a "War on Terror" - but it is such a touchy area that if you go for the scold, you lose any traction in moving forward with the discussion.

    If someone says something openly racist that is another matter entirely. I get as mad as you are here.

    Anyway, I want to have discussions. With all respect - no spoiling for fights or ad hominem attacks here.

    Once again, thanks for playing...

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  14. Conservative In Your MidstMay 13, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    Your Favorite Bartender seems to have me confused with somebody who cares what exactly bartenders think. If your greatest skill set is contributing to the decline of human society through drinking, I'm not sure how seriously I'm going to weigh your opinions on global issues, wars that likely happened before you were born, or even movies for that matter.

    ANY culture that subjugates its women is, by definition, inferior. ANY culture that preaches murder as a political and/or religious option, AND ANYONE WHO FEELS THE NEED TO SPEAK IN ALL CAPITALS IS NO LONGER HAVING A DISCUSSION. They are yelling to ensure they are heard, regardless of whether or not they have something to say.

    Petro, I appreciate your attempts at moderating, but it seems unlikely that this particular individual is going to have anything of substance to say, so he will instead simply say nothing loudly. I don't mind, I find it's easy to "tune out" those who can't contribute to the discussion.

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  15. Your Favorite BartenderMay 15, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    **Attempting to restore a bit of order to what has been a pretty productive series of conversations until I flew off the handle.**

    CIYM (I hope we're at least familiar enough now to use acronyms, Petro calls be FaveB, feel free to use that or YFB), I'm going to try and dial down the rhetoric a bit, specifically because I recognize I was the one who dialed UP the rhetoric in the first place, but also because I think we're scaring Petro (judging by his lack of response).

    Please don't judge a poster by his handle, yes, I spent a good solid 10 years as a bartender, but now I'm a stable member of the capitalist machine that Petro hates and you (I would assume) champion. I've got a college degree and am half way through my MBA. I'm not an idiot, and I follow politics consistently. I would never claim to be an "expert" politically, but if you have read any of my other posts (and you claim to have been reading other posts on the site) then you would also know that I am more than willing to admit when I am A) wrong or B) unequipped to handle a conversation.

    On to your specific points about "inferior" societies. Let's not forget that subjugation is in the eye of the beholder. Women have not had the right to vote in this country for significantly longer than they HAVE had the right to vote. We are a country founded on slavery, and while we might call it "war" we have been more than willing to kill in the name of God and country (in our defense, there really aren't that many societies in history who have NOT been willing to kill in the name of God and/or country for at least a little while, see Crusades: Christian).

    I will admit that the all caps thing was both annoying and distracting...and I apologize.

    I am in no way attempting to "defend" radical Muslim extremists (any more than I would try to defend keeping slaves or putting "non-believers" on the rack), I am simply reminding you that we're not so different from them when it suits our purposes. The easiest way to say it is, THEY are not wrong, WE are not wrong, EVERYONE is or has been wrong in this particular situation.

    Finally, I would like to ask specifically about the (perceived) racism I wrote about a couple of posts ago. I apologize for not having a more delicate way to ask about this, but is that sub-text I spoke of true?

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I welcome all reactions and points of view, so comments here are not moderated. Cheerfully "colorful" language is great. I'll even tolerate some ad hominem directed against me... each other, not so much. Racist or excessively abusive comments (or spam) will be deleted at my discretion.