Some of us listened to Barack Obama pull back from his dovish stance during the general election, and we are not surprised that his administration has taken on more martial tones than expected. Many, however, are surely taken aback by some of the hawkish declarations coming out of the new administration, and certainly many more still haven’t caught on. These developments were all but a guarantee, given the appointments of people like Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emmanuel.
The latest installment in America’s long nightmare of death and destruction comes from Hillary Clinton, who indicated a strong possibility that Iran could be attacked if it fails to dismantle what it says is a peaceful nuclear energy program. Anti-war has the story.
There is a grave error in the thinking of the Americanist war machine rhetoric, and that is that since “we” are “good,” we can have nuclear weapons, and that since “they” are “bad,” they cannot. (This assumes, of course, that this is what they’re really doing with their nuclear energy.) There is in this, of course, mountainous dungheaps of hubris. More relevant, however, is the complete blindness to human nature in general, the idea that somehow “we,” the “good guys,” know how to handle our deadly weapons and will never make a tactical or ethical blunder (cough, cough), but “they”, the “bad guys,” would be so much worse than we are. Human error applies to the enemy, but it does not apply to us. Evil is in our enemy, but it is not in us. This kind of Americanist fundamentalism keeps the world sufficiently stirred up so that politicians and weapons makers never have to worry about genuine peace and happiness putting them out of business.
Near the end of this blog, Jason Ditz rightly asks how the Obama Administration thinks it could possibly handle yet another war with two already going on. I must wonder: Will the American government count on Israel to take care of Iran? Won’t that spark a regional war, and won’t that make our situation even far more precarious than it is now? Or will the collectivists on the Left and the Fascists on the Right get together and reinstitute the draft, stealing baby-faced young men from their mothers in order to go die in a desert while doing the bidding of a couple of greedy oligarchs?
Why can’t the government just admit that for a century it has been screwing up the world, making the world safe for tyranny (Hitler, Stalin, the Ayatollah, Hussein) with its wars of foreign aggression? The world would be much safer if the American Empire admitted its mistakes and vowed to work toward employing a new grand discourse. The position of governments, however, would be much more precarious, since the State thrives on making people fearful, which convinces them that they need a paternal protector. As Randolph Bourne said, “War is the health of the State.” We could turn that around and say that peace is the health of humanity.