Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Worst. Column. Ever.

It is amazing to me that, in this day and age, we still have columnists on widely-read sites like Townhall who continue to insist that the War in Iraq is justified as an attack against the terrorists of 9/11 or against closely aligned terrorists. I always love when columnists make the argument that the "Constitution is not a suicide pact", as if pre-emptive attacks (without a declaration of war) on nations that aren't an imminent (or even near-imminent) threat to the US are somehow necessary to prevent the destruction of the US.

Listen- if you don't like the way the Constitution is written, then it gives you a pretty good idea of what you should do: AMEND IT! This used to be the conservative position; now, though, conservatives have decided that the Constitution can just be ignored on the grounds that "it's not a suicide pact," so the plain meaning of the words can be altered to create enough ambiguity to allow the President to do whatever he wants to fight a couple of stateless terrorists.

I also love the common claim that "they" despise us (to the point of wanting to kill us) just because we exist and do not practice sharia law. Of course, this ignores the fact that there isn't just one "they", and that most of the "theys" have various different reasons for hating us. Some of "them" hate us because of the mess we made in Iraq; some because we're killing a lot of people in "their" region; some hate us because we have a military presence in their holy land; some hate us because of our pervasive culture; some hate us for our support for Israel; and finally, yes, some hate us because we're not them. Of course, the idea that a different response is required for each group of "them" requires an appreciation of nuance and a desire to ask the question: "Why?" And the idea that maybe we should try to take approaches that eliminate existing "theys" without creating new "theys" is, apparently, the equivalent of a "clearly written prescription for disaster." Or maybe Harris just believes that every single Arab is a terrorist just dying to attack the US, so no new "theys" can be created, and we only need to destroy the existing "theys"- if that is the case, though, then why isn't he advocating just blowing the whole region up with a couple of nukes?

The most staggeringly bad line of this staggeringly idiotic column is: "the fact remains that we were indeed attacked by a people, on our shores.(emphasis mine)" So, because we were attacked by "a people, on our shores," we can now attack just any people we wish?

In any event, not even Ron Paul wants to just stand idly by and allow us to be attacked by "them." While I am not 100% supportive of Paul's foreign policy (it is more isolationist than I am willing to go), the fact is that he did support fighting back in Afghanistan (if not the subsequent nation-building, which Republicans used to find abhorrent), and he continues to support a variety of non-military or quasi-military measures to get people who actually represent a threat to our national security- whether they be massive bounties, letters of marque (I always have to throw that one in- who doesn't love pirates?), or more appropriate law enforcement efforts. But it's not about curling up in the fetal position and letting "them" come after us- it's about asking why "they" want to come after us in the first place. Going over there and destroying a country in the heart of the Arab world might kill some of "them", but if it creates more of "them" than it kills, is it really a good idea?

To quote a once-widely respected (until he fought against the neo-con party line) Republican ex-General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State:
"What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?"

Of course, Phil Harris' career as a software engineer in frickin' Nebraska (yeah, that center of terrorist targets Nebraska) makes him far more knowledgeable about military matters than a guy who waged perhaps the most successful war in American history.