Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Apocalyptic Fantasy World of the Angry Neocon

Jennifer Rubin, in launching a broadside against the President's speech on terrorism, says some astonishing things. I find it hard to believe that the Post actually printed this column, it is so morally bankrupt. But let me try a measured rebuttal anyway. In response to a line about the eventual "end" of the war, Rubin wrote,
Wars don't end. They are won or lost.
This is factually false; I would be willing to bet my house that most wars in history have ended without a clear-cut victory for either side. Worse, it is morally outrageous, because it ignores the possibility of a negotiated end to any conflict. No, in Rubin's black and white world, all wars must continue until one side surrenders. Or, her preferred outcome, until one side is all dead, a point I'll come back to.

After Obama notes that hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in Vietnam, Rubin says,
Plainly the man has been traumatized by Vietnam. He defines conventional war as bad because we tragically lose men. The problem with Vietnam is that we didn’t win and wasted lives; with Iraq, Obama threw victory away.
Rubin seems not to notice that Obama was talking about Vietnamese deaths, not American; she immediately concludes that Obama must have been worried about American soldiers, since nobody else is worth mentioning. Even so, she would be willing to write off all those American deaths as no "problem" if we had won the war. How can she say this? We may sometimes end up thinking that defeating a terrible enemy like Hitler is worth massive loss of life, but to shrug off hundreds of thousands of deaths as "no problem" is the very definition of evil. Besides, the only way we could have "won" the Vietnam War was by achieving a military stalemate and then persuading the North Vietnamese to accept a negotiated settlement, an approach Rubin rules out. There was no way for us to force a North Vietnamese surrender.

And then to Iraq. We fought a war there to install a democratic government. Then that democratically elected government asked us to remove all our troops from its sovereign territory. We did so. That is "throwing victory away"? What does Rubin think Obama ought to have done, overthrown Maliki's government? Or declared war on him? The neocons are constantly complaining that Obama "pulled out" of Iraq, but he did not. The Iraqi government that we installed with so much loss of blood and treasure ordered us out. Does that give her no pause?

Rubin moves on to grotesquely exaggerate the threat posed to us by Islamic terrorists. Obama said that there had not been a "large scale" terrorist attack on American soil since 9-11. Rubin:
Is Boston not large-scale enough for him? Does Fort Hood not count?
Let me ask this: if the Boston bombing was a "large scale" attack, what would a small scale attack be? To Rubin America is "in danger" and has been "repeatedly attacked." In fact we are, collectively, in next to no danger at all from terrorists. The number of Americans killed by terrorists since 9-11 is tiny, and their threat to our nation or our "way of life" is exactly zero. But Rubin makes it sound as if we were all afraid to leave our houses for fear of al Qaeda.

When the President says we should dismantle "networks that pose a direct threat to us, " Rubin rejoins, "Has he given up on networks that pose an indirect danger to us?"

Rubin holds out no hope that we can ever reach a settlement with Islamic extremists, or persuade them that we are not their enemies. They are not, she insists, motivated by any rational impulse we might engage with:
In fact, the ideology is one that instructs them to murder all non-believers, whether we are at war or not. The jihadists don’t act out of misguided defensiveness, but out of evil impulse.
Which means, I suppose, that we must stay on a war footing until every Islamic extremist in the world is dead. Since there have been violent Islamic extremists for about 1400 years now, this is unlikely to happen soon.

Rubin and the rest of the angry neocons live in a mad world full of deadly enemies that can never be deterred or placated, only killed. The only way to survive in this world, they think, is to make our nation a fortress and wage constant war against any potential enemy that might pose even an "indirect threat" to us. Their fear has made them insane, and we must never again let them get control of our government.

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