June 20, 2005

In a Handbasket

The Slactkivist explains the Not As Bad As (NABA) defense:

... [I]s this what America is now reduced to? Do we really have to go all the way over to Stalin or Saddam to find an example of someone whose behavior is reassuringly worse than our own? How are we supposed to maintain a shred of pride in our nation or in ourselves as a people when the best we can say for ourselves is that we're Not As Bad As the worst people we can think of? Do we really need Stalin in the class to blow the curve so we can pass this course? ...

Slactivist continued with some scary stories of lack of perspective in the media, which reminded me briefly of my German final. One of the topics we were supposed to address in our essay question was what we thought of the mass media, and my teacher is just lucky that I didn't know how to say "criminally irresponsible" in German. (It turns out to be something like 'verbrecherische unzustšndig.') If they weren't, maybe they'd have a collective D'oh moment, and come to a realization like this:

... The only relevant and meaningful comparison is between those regimes that countenance torture and those that do not. Once a nation crosses that line any difference between it and other torture regimes is inconsequential in comparison to the difference between it and those nations which have refused to cross that threshhold.

The NABA defense correctly insists that Guantanamo is different in degree from Stalinís gulag. It is different in degree, but not in kind. And that difference of kind is the only difference that matters. America has entered the wrong category. We have crossed a threshhold. ...

As further evidence of irresponsibility, we have only to look at the British coverage of the Downing Street Memos in The Guardian (links included to all the memos so far), which chronicles part of this country's deception-paved road to perdition. We're at war now, don't you know, and all's fair ..., yada, yada, yada.

First our press decided not to care, and now I hear the faint rumbles of hoax accusations and morons like Jay Ambrose wondering why bloggers don't get the unimportance of the memos. As long as they fail to see how we got here, I'm sure we'll go again sometime.

Maybe sometime soon.

When the first reports came in on the coordinated bombings in Iran last Sunday, the Iranian government's first response was to blame Hussein loyalists acting out of Iraq. But they haven't ruled out the MEK, aka the People's Mujahideen, an Iranian opposition group that's been operating out of Iraq ever since they aided Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war. Following another bombing on Wednesday, Iranian government "Officials have accused the Iraq-based People's Mujahidin, which is Iran's main armed opposition group, and Baathist supporters of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein as well as "foreign agents"."

And has the Bush administration ed these terrorist bombings, which all killed and injured civilians? Last I heard, they had not.

As Scott Ritter, the Cassandra of the Iraq war, points out, this is all falling into a familiar pattern, emphasis mine:

On 16 October 2002, President Bush told the American people that "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary."

We know now that this statement was itself a lie, that the president, by late August 2002, had, in fact, signed off on the 'execute' orders authorising the US military to begin active military operations inside Iraq, and that these orders were being implemented as early as September 2002, when the US Air Force, assisted by the British Royal Air Force, began expanding its bombardment of targets inside and outside the so-called no-fly zone in Iraq.

These operations were designed to degrade Iraqi air defence and command and control capabilities. They also paved the way for the insertion of US Special Operations units, who were conducting strategic reconnaissance, and later direct action, operations against specific targets inside Iraq, prior to the 19 March 2003 commencement of hostilities.

... The fact is that the Iraq war had begun by the beginning of summer 2002, if not earlier.

... The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.

The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.

President Bush has taken advantage of the sweeping powers granted to him in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, to wage a global war against terror and to initiate several covert offensive operations inside Iran.

The most visible of these is the CIA-backed actions recently undertaken by the Mujahadeen el-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian opposition group, once run by Saddam Hussein's dreaded intelligence services, but now working exclusively for the CIA's Directorate of Operations.

It is bitter irony that the CIA is using a group still labelled as a terrorist organisation, a group trained in the art of explosive assassination by the same intelligence units of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, who are slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq today, to carry out remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration s on a daily basis inside Iraq.

...To the north, in neighbouring Azerbaijan, the US military is preparing a base of operations for a massive military presence that will foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran. ...

Is Ritter right again? I sure the hell hope not. But if he is, the same crowd of nitwits will be sitting around a couple years after the invasion of Iran, and about six months after it comes out that we put the regime's prisons under new management, saying that Stalin and Hirohito clearly invaded far more countries on false pretexts than we have, and that our torture procedures have become more humane than during the early years of the Iraq war.

The Slacktivist will have lots of opportunity to practice explaining to people that lying about the reasons for going to war, torturing people, and causing people to die unecessarily is bad even if you only do it once.

Posted by natasha at June 20, 2005 03:38 AM | Recommended Reading | Technorati links |

Hey lady. Just saying hi.

Posted by: paradox at June 20, 2005 07:52 AM

..geez, I hope Ritter's wrong on this one. Iran has it's own internal difficulties, but it just isn't possible to discern some downtrodden majority looking to be freed from a brutal dictatorship, if the Bush Monkeys are hoping to duplicate the Iraq meme. Invading Iran would be an overtly hostile act against a much larger and substantially more populated nation in which just about every man, women, and child would have to be considered the enemy. Pickett's charge, anyone?

Posted by: Jack K. at June 20, 2005 08:36 AM

Oh, this Iran stuff is probably one of those "covert operations--secret, even in success" things that Dubya talked about in September, 2001.

...we can't believe anything anymore.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce at June 20, 2005 03:19 PM

A long time ago, on dKos, I had said that if we ever intended any action against Iran, W's thugs would try to treat it like Cambodia. Find ethnic and anti-government factions that were receptive, give them all the arms and explosives they could carry, and hope things would get out of control real fast.

The only thing is, unlike Cambodia, most of the most dangerous political dissidents were killed off in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War, and the various ethnic factions there don't hold much animosity toward one another.

Blowing up buildings, I suspect, will continue Iran along the path towards electing hardliners, which will perhaps be seen as a boon to the Bush administration - their enemy will appear all the more evil.

But expecting Iran to crumble under such a situation as Bush's thugs desire to create is far more likely to result in an attempt to take Basra by the Revolutionary Guards. If the Brits are scared enough to withdraw, then it's over. If the Brits are overwhelmed, it's VERY over.

Posted by: palamedes at June 20, 2005 11:12 PM

Fox is demonizing Iran all the time now. They seem to be the barometer for the repub agenda so I think Ritter's right

Posted by: jr at June 21, 2005 12:57 AM

GOING TO HELL "In a Handbasket" follows wherever greed amerika goes to rob, plunder, and kill.
See the tapestry, from whence the saying originates, in the cathedral in Issoire, in central France, 30km south of Clermont-Ferrand.
Surely, you will recognize the Devil, GWB, Condi, et.al. in the basket lifting off.

Posted by: van at June 21, 2005 10:21 PM

The "NABA" defense? Good phrase! I call it "Lesser-Evilism"; the belief that the lesser of two evils is _therefore_ good. Lesser-Evilism does not require that you be good; merely that you be other than somebody else who is worse.

The trouble with Lesser-Evilism is that one can never be sure that the lesser of two evils is lesser, but you can always be sure that it is evil. Thus Lesser-Evilism tends to devolve to Evilism, and NABA becomes JABA.

Posted by: Nathaniel Hellerstein at June 21, 2005 11:28 PM