Monday, March 5, 2012

Nationalism, Nativism, and the Willful Fog of War

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  • Article Analysis Assignment

    First, read a news story from the newspaper or the Internet.  Answer the following questions regarding your news story: 1) What is the main issue, who are the main actors being discussed;  Then, choose one of the assigned articles you read for this week.  Answer the following questions regarding the assigned article: 1) What are the basics of this article (who, what, when, how, why, etc.);  2) What is the overall main point the author is trying to convince you of?  3) Do you agree with the author’s argument?  Why?  Why not?   Finally, tie together your news story with what you learned from the assigned article, textbook readings, podcasts, videos, etc. for this week.  Type your answers in the box below using your own words, no outline or bullets, complete sentences and paragraphs, single-spaced, full-page. 

    I chose the article “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs…” because of the back and forth during a Senate Budget Committee Hearing I observed between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Casey and Republican Congressmen Price of Georgia. This exchange showcased what I once saw as a stunning lack of knowledge (given elected and presumably, smirk, educated) position, but now can more cynically and accurately describe as a willful misconception about the meaning of “rational.” So let me clear it up here: Rational is the ability of the mind to think logically regarding which decision to make. Rationale is the basis of that logic. You can think I am rational but not agree with my rationale. Someone alert the media.
    This choice to not understand  is exponential in consequence; there are misconceptions among constituents  about the US position on Iran (we stand by Israel, we do not think they have nuclear capability, force is not off the table) about  the dangers and costs of war (we have a volunteer army, and no republican has raised taxes at the federal level since 1991), about the nature of war (horrifying, not edifying) and the basic intent of nations who seek it (fear, honor, interests-Thucydides). We discussed briefly in chapter five the rational choice theory; someone please email a copy of that to these Congressmen, equally willful and disrespectful: New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
    I once had an error in thought I can see now, and I do not mind admitting I have learned from it. Like Mitt Romney (jokes), some of my positions on fundamental issues have (more jokes) evolved over time. With President Bush (at the outset of the war on terror) I disagreed wholeheartedly on just about every decision, but through the passing of time,  and with some education, I can see the necessity of disagreeing with my some of my own principles, when they are met with equally valuable and/or more experienced principles, if America is to remain safe. I agree that this (empathy, mutual cooperation) may be asking for a bit much  from elected officials. Before I began my studies in earnest, I did not care what FISA was or why; knowing it sounded wrong was good enough for me to criticize harshly the process. I was ignorant, not of the need but of the legality,  given the Presidential power to make war. The President IS commander in chief, after all, and makes no decision absent political and policy realities of all stripes, or (militarily) without consulting generals. Under the Obama Administration, the threat from domestic terror groups has been nearly as large as foreign ones, and consistently both Al-Qaeda and Sovereign Citizen types alike are arrested for planning or attempting terror acts on American soil. There is no need for a judicial process when someone has renounced their allegiance to America or announces their allegiance to a terror organization; they are no longer citizens entitled to anything but “all necessary force.” Illegal immigrants have more protections than enemies of the state. That's simple Constitutional law (Fourteenth Amendment).
    Five retired generals, for example, are publicly siding with our President, asserting their belief that to rush into a "war of choice" with Iran will only serve to benefit Iran. Instead, they say to hang steady to his current pragmatic approach (liberalism, allowing for cooperation of strategy and allowing for the others actions to be considered "rational."), through a full-page ad published in the Washington Post. I like what the President said to AIPAC: “Loose talk” will benefit Iran and set back our shared long term goals. It seems more often than not, when there is a willingness by experience to talk, Realists express an unwillingness to learn. No known spark for replication of wars beginning is known, there is just  always more to be careful to know.
    This week, the President did speak at AIPAC. My reaction? How many times can someone say "Orange." and the question is still, “Yes, but what RHYMES with Orange”? Sooner or later, one must realize the answer you give cannot ever be the answer they want to hear. SMH. No-one is taking force off of the table or telling Israel to do or not do anything. Israel is sovereign; we are her ally. If you have been paying attention, this may sound familiar. Inspections are diplomacy, not containment, because we rationally do not believe that they have a nuclear bomb or are able to reach such capability in time to present a credible threat to the international community, in particular, our close ally Israel.
     Also this week, political strategist Karl Rove and former Bush counsel Ed Gillespie coauthored an op-ed for Foreign, in which they urged Republican candidates to run against (and beat) the President under the banner of "nationalism.” Nationalism? Nationalism is, in the definition from the text, “the doctrine that recognizes the nation as the primary unit of political allegiance.” I get it. They think that America is suffering under his administration. I just find this high-la-roius, is all, given the overwhelming number of facts that, first, contradict the thought that it is Obama policies hurting America, and second, that these are not debts that the prior administration ran up while refusing to pay is f-u-n-n-y. Funny. Ha ha. Meanwhile, the nation I have allegiance to clearly holds allegiance to its civilian and elected commander-in-Chief. The willfully incorrect perception and outright misleading characterization of the Administrations' position on Iran appears to be strictly for political or private gain--not some patriotic duty-- and under the nativist, "other-making" banner ----wow, sirs. You don’t have to like President Obama, sirs, but you very simply must pledge allegiance to our Union under his leadership (Texas v. White, none can secede without being an enemy of the state). Anyone who cannot do this is encouraging sedition, and while this is not in itself illegal, it is incredibly embarrassing for your neighbors and fellow citizens, Mr. Rove, Mr. Gillespie. Advise your candidates to run on their strengths for once. How about that? 
    Last thought on this: anyone urging nationalism to marshal forces that will vote for "America" and against the current President instead of for a Candidate and against someone because they honestly disagree with his positions on Civil Society issues ought to feel at least some shame. Here we are, on the edge of a cloud of war that is largely the creation of Mr. Rove and his posse (See: PNAC), and he is calling for "nationalism" to defeat a sitting President presiding over an out of control, obstructive Confederate Congress, a wispy economy, and an Eastern world ablaze? Anyone is welcome to their beliefs, I am just in awe of the arrogant bigotry on display here. This is an alarming call to“exclusivity”---the Realist nature to undermine the peace process (diplomacy) appears to be the nature that seeks to profit from the darkness in us all, a darkness that would choose to murder their own humanity and feel justified in the killing---at a time when diplomacy is still an option, though--did I mention--force is not off the table.
    There is clear need among Realist-styled thinkers to be more willing to learn from those who have the experience and the willingness to address the impossibilities of war. Otherwise, the rush to war will be barely over before the time to pay for it has come again. The decision to go to war is not a decision to be made out of emotional drive, but to be assessed by those trusted with the power to make and "declare" war as a set of sometimes (often) contradictory policies for the ultimate goal of "safety." Who knows what that means.
    While war may or may not be inevitable (Is it over? Did it start?) I still think that when you get to the position of Joint Chief of Staff, elected officials might do well to remember their first course in Foreign Policy. The cost and true price of war is too great to so blindly miss obvious and honest statements without leading rational people to believe you stand somehow to benefit if there IS a war with Iran. Miss Ayotte? Mr Price? Mr. Graham?

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