Sunday, March 22, 2015

World On Fire

The Republicans are basically the proverbial car-chasing dog who, once he's caught his quarry, has no idea what to do with it. If they really want to stick with their formula of Johnny Walnuts having a permanent seat at the Sunday morning follies, the usual think-tank monkeys agitating for war with whoever looks good, and Ted Cruz making an ass of himself at every turn, hey, go with what you know, guys.

It's become a well-worn truism that football (yes, American football, dammit) has become more dangerous in recent years not in spite of better technology, training, and protective gear, but because of those things. Instead of average-sized men holding off-season jobs to make ends meet so they can play football for a couple months in the fall, you now have superbly conditioned, freakishly proportioned men colliding with one another in suits of technologically sophisticated armor, at much higher rates of force and impact than in the era of Chuck Bednarik.

Similarly, the rapid advancement of drone technology has emboldened the hawks to instantly assume that airstrikes and drone-bombings are the "safe" option. And they are safe -- for us. Drones give policy-makers, armchair generals, and average joes alike the ability to just not think about there being any consequences to military actions. Not that they think about those things unless they or one of theirs is in the line of fire.

It's bad enough that we have been bombing -- maybe not indiscriminately, but not all that carefully either -- civilians in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But airstriking Iranian nuclear facilities means hitting cities. Tehran and its suburbs have somewhere around 20 million people. The nuclear labs have been quite deliberately placed in populated areas, albeit mostly underground. They make it sound so simple, we'll just "take out" their facilities, knock out their program, end their attempt at regional hegemony. Done and done.

Did we not just finally extricate ourselves from a decade-long clusterfuck that was sold as a slam-dunk, one that we'll be paying the financial, ethical, and medical costs for the next generation? Is the region not worse off in every way since we barged in and gave them their sweet, sweet freedom? Is there really a preponderance of 'murkins that thinks it's a simple and good plan to "surgically strike" the Iranians pre-emptively, that moral considerations aside, it would even just accomplish what its advocates say it will accomplish, nothing more, nothing less?

I don't think anyone has any illusions about what Iran is up to here. They really are moving, quickly and with purpose, to expand their influence in the Middle East. They are Bashar Assad's lifeline; they do flex nuts in Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad -- and now in Sana'a, Yemen. They are surrounding the Saudis, waiting for the off chance that they flinch and provoke the Iranians, or more likely, waiting for ISIS to continue streaming into Saudi from the north, radicalizing an already radical citizenry, overthrowing the petrocrats, sending that country and probably the world economy into (to put it lightly) a turbulent situation.

So no one's saying that they're the good guys, the mullahs. But when the very same people who got us into Iraq are insisting that we simply must start it up with Iran, that it'll be quick and precise and work better than any other option, well, that's the time when you look at the people and politicians in this country, the United States, and see if they're ready to fall for that one again, so soon after the last one.

Some of them will; some of them are always ready to fall for whatever affirms their assumptions about how the world works. Some of them have trouble remembering that while we are friends to Israel (and they have the checks to prove it), our foreign policy is supposed to protect our interests first. But if it's a majority that's in favor of that mess, then you have a real problem.

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