Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Bush and his team did a bang-up job with this speech. Without presenting any new evidence, they ensured public support for whatever will happen. They did this by denying the opposition any logical flaws to sink their teeth into.
If you look at the typical opposition Bush encounters (and Plastic is a good example of this phenomenon,) the argument is based on the assumption that Bush is an evil blood thirsty Zionist puppet (etc.) and as such, various behaviors are ascribed to him without there being a need to justify. For example the thread some weeks ago when the Administration announced that, technically, Bush does not need any further Congressional approval to make war since it was given in 1991. Most folks here were screaming that Tyrannical Bush will go to war w/o approval, because that’s the kind of behavior that’s expected from an evil blood thirsty Zionist puppet (etc.) The opposition doesn’t feel the need to justify their case anymore, because they feel that Bush’s nature is as obvious to everyone as it is to them. And that’s simply not true. (And by the way, time proved my down-modded comment in that thread correct – Bush did NOT exercise the option and sought Congressional permission anyway.)
What Bush staked his success on with this speech is that he does not need to persuade the ultra-Left to support him, since it would never happen. Instead, he needed to make an argument that appealed to the American people and was not easily shot down by the opposition. And here’s how he did it:
“A conflict could still be averted … if Hussein agreed to disarm, cease supporting terrorists, halt internal prosecutions, and comply with other United Nations resolutions.”
That really doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it? The American people know that these are just things to demand, and the opposition won’t have much luck saying “That’s meaningless because Bush knows Hussein can’t do these things. He wants to go to war no matter what” because they aren’t as cynical as we here on Plastic are, and they have some faith in the Presidency. The American people will say “we’ll call Bush on this bullshit if Saddam complies and Bush still wants to go to war, and not until then.” And since Saddam will not comply, Bush will get the war he wants, and the people will support him because he presented it to them as a conditional response for Iraq’s failure to meet (seemingly reasonable) demands.
And the war he will get, because while this checklist seems reasonable, Saddam will never be able to comply with any of the aspects.
1 – He will never be able to prove disarmament because he will not let inspectors into his palaces. And if the inspectors aren’t let into these palaces, the White House will say “that’s because he’s got weapons on these sites – he has not disarmed” and therefore, war.
2 – He will never cease supporting terrorists. First of all, I have a feeling Bush has some evidence linking Al-Quada to Saddam, and he will use that card at the most valuable moment, when the nation has reached a climax of indecision – suddenly some evidence will come out and sway everyone. But even if no such evidence exists, Bush can say “Saddam pays such and such amount of money to Palestinian suicide bombers, and continues to do so to this day – so clearly he supports terrorism.” Therefore, war.
3 – He will never “halt internal prosecutions.” The nature of his undemocratic regime is that the opposition must be stifled. There’s no other way for Iraq to function. So at any given time, Bush can point to political prisoners in Iraq, or some prosecution that took place, and use that to justify war as well.
So it looks to me that by giving Saddam seemingly simple, but impossible requirements to avoid war, Bush has ensured that the war will take place, and that he will come off as justified in prosecuting it, rather than appearing as an evil blood thirsty Zionist puppet (etc.) Bush has also scored points toward that end by arguing for, and apparently gaining, Congressional approval, as well as by stressing his case to the United Nations rather than ignoring that world government body altogether. These two things make him seem like a more responsible world leader, rather than a lone cowboy gunslinger image that people try to ascribe to him.
The real success of this speech – and by the way let’s not underestimate its importance, since this is the first time Bush actually made his case to the American public – is that it, more than anything else, made Bush seem reasonable, rational, concerned, and patient. Even if he is an evil blood thirsty Zionist puppet (etc.), he put himself in great position to proceed with Iraq and not be seen as such. He smartened up, acted and spoke thoughtfully, and thus denied much of the criticism before it really started.
The problem with these guys is that they don't understand the western mind. They thought NYC would be so ashamed of having its towers destroyed that it would secede from the US. Of course no such thing happened because Americans reacted in a totally different way. I am not even talking about "coming together" that we did for a few weeks after 9/11. What did happen is that the American people raised a barier of abstraction about the events. Think about it, the average American doesn't know or care what Osama was after. They don't even dignify him with giving a shit. Instead, they raise issue with our own government. Rather than asking "why do these cunts hate us," we say "there will always be stupid cunts to hate us" and ask "how can we keep them out of the country/bomb them first." If anything, it made the country less sensitive to Arab/Muslim issues - in that rather than looking at those issues as right vs. wrong, we look at them as us vs. them, so the American people are more likely now than even before to let our government get away with sloppy bombing of Afghanistan/Iraq/other.
So I really think Osama failed to predict our reaction. Sure, we were shocked and scared, for a little while. But it was the kind of shocked-scared you get when you watch a horror film. As you leave the theatre and get a good night's sleep, the horror dissipates. And in our case, we went back to living our lives and not giving a shit.
What would you have Bush do?
The economy goes in cycles. We had a very long 'good' market, and now we should be prepared for a slump. You can't do much about it.
The economy is in a 'slump' relative to the Clinton years because the market of the day was ballooned. Think of the dot-com bullshit (the thought may be too painful for some of you) where your NASDAQ image was more important than productivity, feasibility, etc. The dot-coms went away, but we see other reprecussions of this. Think of Enron, Woldcom, etc. These guys got in trouble because they cooked their books to make their stock look better. Well guess what, this fraudulent stock manipulation added to the 'boom' of Clinton years. It's certainly the crazy stock market of the Clinton years that encouraged stock inflation. It all has to come down - it's coming down now.
I've heard Bush being blamed for spending Clinton's surplus. He's doing the right thing. When the economy is doing well, you save up a surplus. When it's down, you return your surplus back into the system and hopefully it will be one of the contributing factors to the recovery.
So - what should Bush do about the economy?
Sharon isn't rounding up Arab citizens, denying civil rights to gays and women, etc., so it's not obvious what kind of tolerance you are expecting. If by "tolerant" you mean "not fight back against terrorism," then you should try to make a case why that would be a good thing.
Vague reference to the Holocaust fall short. For one, if there's such a thing as the Palestinian Holocaust, then the Israelis are terribly bad at it, because the Palestinian population rises consistently.
As for human decency, how do you account for all the urban combat of the last few months? If the Israelis were out to murder innocent Palestinians, they'd do it from the air like the King of Jordan once did (from that we have the cliche of September-to-Remember.) Instead, they risk their own troops to minimize civilian casulaties on the other side. What better standard of human decency can you come up with?
The ugly fact of war is that wars aren't fought with puppies and cake - so you can't look at raw numbers and say "well there're more dead Arabs than dead Jews, so it's obvious who's in the wrong."
That's ugly. It's also the reality. If your next door neighbor is a terrorist mastermind, you can't be too surprised if a missile is shot at the building. There is a problem when a society welcomes terrorists in its ranks!
When 9/11 happened, many a left voice encouraged us to consider what made the US such a hated target for the Muslim world. Instead of blaming the perpetrators, we were told to blame our leaders, and ourselves for electing them. I say we extend the same to the Palestinians. If you're living in a country where terrorists are allowed to have offices with plaques, and ride around hidden in ambulances - you must blame your own leadership for letting things go on this way. Israel has no choice but to look out for its safety - it's your leaders that fail you by giving Israel no choice but to shoot at an apartment building to get a wanted terrorist.
Tolerance? Tolerance is something you have the luxury to exercise when there aren't suicide bombers streaming accross the border.
Monday, October 07, 2002
But what we know is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody talks about that. Why should there be one standard for one country, especially because it is black [meaning Iraq], and another one for another country, Israel, that is white.
That's a quote from Nelson Mandela. If you go into the mode of thinking that Israel is white and the Arabs are black, then it's obvious who plays the perceived aggressor. Of course such modes of thinking do nothing to promote understanding of the situation - but it goes a long way to explaining how some people (on the left, I guess) perceive the problem.
The Israelis are the white man, and therefore can do no right...
The Arabs are the black man, and therefore can do no wrong...
How did the Israelis (who are the same skin tone as their Arab neighbours) come to be seen as "the white man?" By overcoming their difficulties and becoming strong and wealthy! If the Israelis fucked up, lost their wars, and made nothing of themselves since 1949, the world's opinion would be with them. They would also be dead. By not losing, by shedding their underdog status, Israel put itself in the position of being hated by the left, whose criteria for picking sides is to, at all times, root for the underdog. I don't suppose the idea of being liked but dead appealed to them much. Can't blame them, really.
Sunday, October 06, 2002
I don't understand why the French are so quick to label the tanker explosion in Yemen as terrorism. As far as I understand, France kind of gets off on the idea that its sensitive foreign policy, unlike that of the US, makes it safe from 9/11-type attacks, so don't they have as much interest as the Yemeni officials do, in having this turn out to be an accident?
If this turns out to be terrorism of the Islamic variety (rather than Greenpeace-type, which is unlikely given then oil-slick this resulted in,) then those who justify (or at least explain) 9/11-type attacks would have this as a new argument against them. If the attack on the USS Cole is a voicing of popular displeasure with America's foreign policy, then what is this the result of?
My second paragraph is just mussings. We simply don't know enough about what happened (may be it was just an accident. If it was terrorism - then who did it. And why?) However, I'd like someone to answer the question I pose in the first paragraph. Just why is France so eager to call this terrorism, when they know as little about it as the rest of the world?
Or may be this explains it. ... the French official who declined to be identified said his country had "very serious sign, solid information" that the blast was a terror attack
Perhaps French intelligence knew something like this was going to happen, and the events in Yemen made everything fall into place.