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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

 
Dreaming of Drones and Iwo Jima

by digby

Kevin Drum directs me today to this post from 2005 from Kung Fu Monkey that I missed the first time out. Aside from the fact that it's hilarious, it also contains at least one insight that I think remains important: that Bush (Cheney actually) based US strategy on the trash talk and recruiting fatwas of fundamentalist freaks rather than a real assessment of their capabilities and goals.

Either Bush is making strategy based on a delusional goal of his opponent, which is idiotic; or he's saying he believes his opponent has the capability of achieving this delusional goal, which is idiotic. Neither bodes well for the republic.


Well, Bush and Cheney are delusional themselves, in different ways, so we have been dealing with a triple whammy. And to make matters even worse, their strategy is based on a delusional goal of their opponents (which isn't even as delusional as they say it is) and they believe they are capable of it. Mushroom Clouds! Drone Planes! No wonder the whole world has a headache.

But it's more than that.I've written a lot about why these Greatest Generation wannabes are so anxious for an existential struggle they can pretend to be fighting, and it's a fascinating topic to explore. But at some point, this country is going to have to look at Islamic fundamentalism and try to actually figure out how to deal with it. The wingnuts' puerile desire to live out "Saving Private Ryan" on a video game just isn't going to cut it.(For a primer on where this crazy mode of thinking comes from, look no further than the Godfather of the Neocon family himself, Norman Podhoretz.)

A lot of the young smarties in the wonkopshere are beginning to talk about the sad state of foreign policy discussions in the campaign so far and they are right. But it's because we're stuck in this delusional "War on Terror" framework that makes it very difficult to talk about the state of the world with any precision. Hence we get silly spats between the candidates about who they would meet with that aren't very illuminating. That is not to say they don't have advisors who are addressing the problem, but more that the candidates have not yet come up with a rational way of discussing it with the public. Edwards' dismissal of "the war on terror" slogan was met with a thud and I'm afraid nobody else is going to tackle it.

It's important that they find a way, or we're going to be stuck with this ridiculous nonsense about the arab hordes coming over in drone planes to kill us all in our beds because the oceans can't protect us. That's the only thing people have really heard and while they don't necessarily buy it 100%, it's the kind of thing that has the ability to penetrate the national consciousness and cramp the decisionmaking for years to come. (And that means that the terrorists will have won!)

I'm not really joking: like the "Commie Menace" it replaces, the threat of Islamic fundamentalism is more than just a foreign policy challenge. It's a domestic cultural and political challenge as well and not because we are being infiltrated by sleeper cells. It's a challenge because it tends to empower the authoritarian right which is more than happy to do the fundamentalists dirty work for them. Which is, of course, why they are so desperately flogging the GWOT. It's the thing that will keep them going during their time in the wilderness --- especially if they get lucky and the terrorists stage another splashy attack.

(I hate to ascribe base motives to people and posit that they might dream of such a thing, but when they constantly say we are rooting for "failure" in Iraq for political reasons, it's perfectly fair to point out they are obviously rooting for another terrorist attack for political reasons. It may just be their only hope at this point.)

We need to set the nation straight on what the fundamentalist terrorists' goals really are, what we can do to meet the threat and inspire confidence that no matter what happens, we are not going to be forced to wear burkas and pray to mecca five times a day any time soon. This seems to me to be an ignored area in the campaign rhetoric --- the antidote to fear. I think it might ring some bells with people.



Update: And who else but Joe "Scoop" Lieberman could put it in words so perfectly:

“I think either [Democrats] are, in my opinion, respectfully, naïve in thinking we can somehow defeat this enemy with talk, or they’re simply hesitant to use American power, including military power,” Lieberman said in a wide-ranging interview with The Hill.

“There is a very strong group within the party that I think doesn’t take the threat of Islamist terrorism seriously enough.”



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