Thursday, March 17, 2005

Lapdogs Of War

Demonstrating Christopher Hitchens' axiom that "some people never learn, but then some people never intend to", a crispy new poll illustrates the cognitive divide as pertains to war and foreign policy.

A new Gallup Poll released today shows that while Americans have very negative opinions of Syria, North Korea, and Iran, by very wide margins they do not want to go to war with them. Still, about 4 in 10 Republicans favor military action against each of the countries.

Of course they do. What more need be said about these fools? They've had nearly three years (if you count the nine-month build-up to war) to figure it out. They see the ongoing bloodshed and chaos; they know by empirical observation the consequences of a total lack of post-bellum planning; they've seen the proliferation of lies and the concomitant modifications per exposure -- and worst, they know from the neo-con sales pitch that Iraq was the "low-hanging fruit". By definition, the other three countries mentioned would be even more of a problem than this popsicle stand with nukes we were supposedly just going to go in and knock over (forget that logical contradiction for the moment). Tell ya what, folks -- so long as you don't mind your kids getting drafted too, let's go. See how much you're itching for it then.

Or is this just another one of those things that someone else is supposed to go fight, while the tough-guy armchair generals stay home and get their deferments and call a favor with their connections and stay in school to get that underwater-basketweaving degree? Can't just join the National Guard anymore, guys -- they actually get sent over these days. This is not your W's war.

Of course, this sort of general cognitive dissonance amongst Republican supporters is certainly nothing new. You might recall the PIPA poll from last October, where it was pretty well demonstrated that Bush supporters were utterly clueless as to policy specifics:

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.


Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.

Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."

There ya go. That's life in the Kool-Aid factory. But it also points to a dominating factor of American popular culture. Look at the proliferation of cookie-cutter "reality" shows by night, and idiotic ¿Donde Està Justice? court shows by day. Anyone who's ever been in an actual courtroom knows that this is not how people speak to each other in there. So it's as bogus in its way as the contrived and carefully-edited conflict Survivor. And many movies function on the "revenge fantasy" dynamic, and may or may not involve the employment of torture, depending on how "bad" the bad guy and his minions are portrayed.

The king of that genre is, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots before us, and see how this allegiance to a post-Jerry Springer format of manufactured conflict and easy (and violent) resolution has penetrated the political decision-making process. Schwarzenegger is widely seen as a "man of action", but it's because he speaks the lingo of bluster and arrogance, not because he's actually accomplished so much politically.

The conclusion that we can safely infer from all this is that if you can whip up Americans into a frenzied panic, not only will they thank you for it, they won't even bother to check the facts, much less analyze them. The common meme is that it's because of 9/11, and while that obviously galvanized this sort of popular cognition, it was already in place to a certain extent. It gets enabled by mindless clips of contrived reality, movies that hardly bother with plot or characterization any more, and most of all, the corporate media conglomerate that pushes stupid non-stories to the forefront -- over and over and fucking over again. If I hear the name "Scott Peterson" one more fucking time, I swear....

When people get angry about this obvious dynamic, they tend to blame "the media". Well, they do suck, but somebody watches this shit; somebody made that rat-faced cunt Nancy Grace the new nighttime darling of CNN Headline News (which, believe it or not, used to actually show news, rather than reactive commentary on issues which affect only the immediate families of celebrity killers and their victims). Inexplicably, people watch this hyper-judgemental crap for something besides a quick anthropological observation.

It's a very dangerous dynamic, because it overtly encourages average Joes who have no practical knowledge of the case facts at hand to make a judgement call -- or even worse, to show up outside the courthouse with signs and knick-knacks so as to get on camera. A responsible media would instantly and consistently point out what hopeless losers these people are, and maybe encourage them to get a life. Instead, they're just part of the scenery; random landmarks of the intellectual landscape that looks more and more like a parched wasteland everywhere you turn, no matter how often you flip the remote.

Worst of all, as the PIPA poll and that new Gallup poll show, these ginned-up morons go out and vote, with only the foggiest idea of what they're voting for (or more likely, against).


Anonymous said...

>Still, about 4 in 10 Republicans favor military action against each of the countries.

Why do they never do a crosstabulation of favoring/disfavoring military by served or serving in the military/chickenhawk?

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