January 24, 2007

Style of the Chickenhawk

Our ongoing coverage of the game of international chicken with Iran would be remiss without a look at Bush's 2007 state of the union. His address made it clear that he thinks Iran will flinch first, and they probably will. Because the United States is the most powerful country on earth, and no one that hasn't been stuck in a closet all their lives doesn't know it. Even when the US is trapped in a brutal and bloody war that's sapping its resources and political capital, it could still obliterate anything on the planet, several times even. US demolition skills are not at issue, rubble piles the world over attest to this. Some of our best moments have come when something bad really needed to be smashed, some of our worst when we just felt like we needed to smash things.

It's a style thing, our most damnable temptation.

Some empires lean towards scattering great monuments hither and yon, standing in silent tribute throughout the generations to their receded tide. Some can barely be distinguished from natural disasters. The archeologists later look and say, 'Ah, yes, here's where the (Mongols/Saxons/etc.) came through and burned everything to the ground. Shame really, you can sort of see the tile work here and there, but anything that was intact or valuable was probably carted off before the place was sacked.' And so on. It's a style thing, an inclination.

It's about how you perceive power; either the power to create and generate complexity, or the power to destroy and limit expression. One of them is much harder than the other. One of them works like nothing doing to scare the bejeesus out of people. It's a style thing, the bent of the sapling.

... In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah — a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans … kill democracy in the Middle East … and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale. ...

Yeah, and it's inherently bad to want to dominate the Middle East, because everyone knows that's the prerogative of the world's foremost demolition experts. That region fuels our great machines, whose combustive fires warm our beloved cars, planes and ambitions. And if you don't like it, we will disperse you with our heat ray gun. It's a style thing; burn, baby, burn.

Never mind that Iran offered to stop funding Hezbollah and Hamas in 2003, even after Bush said they were part of an axis of evil. They still wanted to talk. Bush and his people see the bellicose Ahmadinejad and the rhetoric of the ayatollahs, which practically no Iranians are interested in anymore, and they say, 'See, they're smashers.' And Bush could add a ", too." to that, but he wouldn't. Smasher types lack self-reflection; they break all the mirrors. But we can see. We can see the letter Ahmadinejad wrote to Bush in 2006, suggesting that maybe Bush should act more like a Christian and imitate the "the Messenger of peace and forgiveness". It didn't seem particularly hateful, sounded kind of like he wanted to talk. Bush, of course, didn't consider the letter to be a serious proposal. He won't act like a Christian unless everybody else does it first. Including Ahmadinejad. It's a style thing, he won't adopt something until it's safely old-fashioned.

It must be admitted, you can hardly get more old-fashioned than half-dressed aggression. Unless you want to go for naked aggression, but that's too retro. And retro is dangerously close to being cutting edge. Not Bush's style.

... And Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. ...

It's sure a shame people were trying to undermine Lebanon's elected government. The Lebanese government might still be complaining about it, except that then Israel flattened Beirut under the ambivalent eye of the Bush administration in order to get at the same people trying to undermine the Lebanese government, and then they probably had bigger things to worry about. It's a shame the Taliban and all their friends tried to take over again in Afghanistan, almost as big a shame as remembering that other Republican presidents thought that it was a good idea to let them have power in the first place. It's also a shame that people were forming death squads in Iraq. Bush is probably mad that they weren't doing it properly, which is why he blamed Iran for it without having any evidence. See, he sent John Negroponte, a guy who knows how to form a proper death squad, to show them what to do. Those Shia didn't know what they were doing at all before Negroponte explained it to the Shia police forces, but they still didn't get it right, so he doesn't want to take the credit. See, Bush only likes to do things he's got down pat, like deciding.

It's a style thing, you shouldn't make errors in public. Leads to shame. And no one thinks that's stylish. Unless they'd like an apology after you've been a jerk. Which won't be forthcoming; it requires self-reflection to realize when you've been a jerk. I explained about the mirrors, right?

... If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. ...

And by "in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict," he means that the Saudis will step in to save the Sunnis of Anbar and that it will be very hard to keep Turkey from invading if it looks like Iraqi Kurds will declare independence. But he wasn't trying to make the American people mad at the Turks and the Saudis because he doesn't want to start a devastating bombing campaign against them. It's important to keep your statements simple. Otherwise people get confused, which might still make them angry, but maybe not about the thing you want them to be angry about. It's a style thing, first principles of marketing.

... The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. ...

Though there isn't really good evidence that Iran has been trying to develop nuclear weapons. And "the world," the majority of it anyway, is mainly demanding a return of the inspections protocols. Somehow, I don't think that's what Bush has in mind. If you don't smash a country back to the stone age and kill all their engineers, they might rise again to pose a threat. That's why Afghanistan was left in ruins. Twice. And it worked great the first time, which is why we did it again. It's a style thing; if you want a job done how you want, you have to do it yourself.

And now Bush is talking about Iran in what we all can remember to be the same style in which he talked about Iraq: relentless hostility. So it might happen that another country full of people will have more to worry about than whether or not their children will live to build a stylish democracy. They'll be worried about dodging bombs and surviving the roving death squads. Which is too bad, because you can't have style when you're dead, unless you have a monument. And Bush doesn't like people to build things.

Last night, Mr. Bush said that "Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies." So what's his excuse? Must be a style thing. Unfortunately for him and his sycophants, the rest of the country thinks it looks horrible on us, and wish there weren't the incriminating pictures to prove we wore it.

Posted by natasha at January 24, 2007 11:14 PM | Iran | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

I love this post, natasha. What a delicious rant.

Posted by: Mary at January 26, 2007 08:34 AM

I like your style.

Posted by: Richard W. Crews at January 26, 2007 10:10 AM