Monday, September 24, 2007

Republicans Get Shrill As Their Party Implodes

As some readers know, I grew up in and around Orange County, California. The hysteria over the visit by the president of Iran is similar to the hysteria at the time over Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's visit to the US just a year or two before the Cuban Missile Crisis. In Orange County, the John Birchers led the way in protesting the visit by Khrushchev to the United States and claimed victory when Khrushchev was unable to visit Disneyland. Khrushchev, of course, was his own public relations nightmare just as Ahmadinejad is. The Iranian president is clueless about history and the effect of his words on the public. In foreign policy, however, letting idiots speak in public can have the effect of defanging them. Suppressing them is more likely to make heroes of them and to make hypocrites of America's long-standing support of diplomacy and dialogue.

I mention Khrushchev because there are some weird historical parallels. In the early 1960s, the John Birchers and other right wingers liked to spout the nonsense: better dead than red. There seemed to be a fear of the Soviet Union far out of proportion to the reality; that fear ignored the considerable strength of the United States. The Soviet Union was a dangerous foe, far more dangerous in fact than Iran, but it is fortunate at the time than right wing conservatives did not dominate our government.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, there was a real danger of nuclear war and there were calls from the far right, if you'll pardon the expression, to bring it on. President Kennedy, in fact, had a couple of advisers advocate action that would likely have led quickly to such a war. Cooler heads prevailed, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved, and Kennedy later eased out the hot heads. In the end, despite a number of mistakes, including Vietnam, the United States won the Cold War, largely because there existed for most of that period a bipartisan policy on dealing with the Soviet Union.

Iran would not do well if there was a war with the United States. But given how overextended our own military is, given the high price of oil, given our own credit crunch caused by Bush's dismal economic policies and given the growing impatience of the world with Bush's wars, the damage to the United States would be considerable. In the war with Iraq, we are doing nothing more at this point than cleaning up Bush's two trillion dollar folly. Potentially, in a war with Iran, we risk losing a great deal. Potentially, we could knock Iran back into the stone age but it will not be a three-day war or a seven-day war or, like the Israel's war with Hezbollah, a summer campaign, or anything of the sort despite nonsense coming out of neoconservative think tanks. There will be more killing and casualties on all sides. People will be killed who today are not at war with us. The price of oil will soar out of sight. Inflation, always the bane of war, will begin to bite. The value of the dollar will continue to fall and we'll begin to find it difficult to acquire essential goods and resources that are no longer made or found in our country. And the Middle East will erupt, not because we have left, but because we will be insisting on staying. And the same incompetent gang will be in charge at the White House.

Bush's unending fiasco in Iraq has created a strange and dangerous situation. Right wingers sometimes refuse to pack it in when their more boneheaded ideas explode in their faces. I believe a risk of war with Iran still exists but only under one condition: if Bush and his right wing colleagues think they can get away with it. Hence, the environment is getting very shrill. It is up to Congress and the American people to head off any war with Iran that may be instigated by the right wingers. Americans should also keep in mind that this would be another war that Bush would start and not finish.

It is unfortunate but there is a real possibility that the future of our country is now in the hands of a few Republicans in the Senate and House who must decide whether to join the Democrats in a return to sanity or join wholeheartedly the right wingers who would lead our country to the abyss. In times of crisis, it's those with cooler heads that lead the way back to sanity, not the shrill voices of either the right or left. Even America's business community better think long and hard about the consequences of a war with Iran: such a war would not be good for business. India stopped short of a potential war with Pakistan when its business community spoke up. That's an important lesson to remember.

It's time for a lot of people to speak up. But firmly. And without fear.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Maybe the first step ought to be resolutions in both houses of Congress asserting the constitutional requirement for the president to formally request a declaration of war before undertaking any military action. Those resolutions should also state plainly Congress' intention to uphold the Constitution and that the price of breaching the Constitution would be impeachment.

If Democrats and the handful of Republicans who supported Sen. James Webbs' amendment to the defense appropriation bill last week would take that to the country, hammering Republicans, asking, "Do you or don't you support the Constitution and what it says?" some might be persuaded to join in backing these resolutions.

A line drawn in the sand, so to speak.

BTW, good to see you posting again. I hope someday to benefit from your comments at Oh!pinion.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second S. W. Anderson. Nice bit of clarity. Wow: thank you!

11:18 AM  

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