Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Consequences of Tough Talk

As a follow-up to my last post, one thing I'd like to mention is that there are consequences to every decision. And if you're going to back one side over another, you need to understand the consequences of what happens if the guy you opposed wins. And if what you did to oppose that guy burned bridges, are you willing to accept the consequences of what's going to happen because of that?

And so I find it mindboggling that Obama is being pushed to state what he'll do if the Iranian government continues to crack down on their people. I mean, what can we do? We don't officially recognize their government. We already engage in sanctions on them, due to their nuke program and whatever. They hate us and we have no carrots to take from them. What exactly can Obama do?

And why this is stupid is that Obama is expected to make threats, in order to pressure a specific outcome. But what realistic threat can he make? We already knew that Iran was an oppressive regime. All that's happened is that this implicit understanding has become much more explicit. But all the same, they were an oppressive regime in the 70's, 80's, 90's, and throughout the Bush years. And while that might change soon, it might not change. And are we willing to accept the consequences if we go all out to oppose the Iranian government and lose? Or will our bluff be called and we yet again show our impotence for dealing with this sort of thing?

But we're not supposed to think of any of this. It's all about making threats and throwing our weight around, while ignoring the consequences of those decisions. As if the act of threatening Iran will make it unnecessary to ever follow through on those threats. And again, what can we possibly threaten them with? War? More sanctions? I don't get it.

Talking the Talk

And of course the truth is that the tough talk isn't meant to make our enemies back down. It's meant to do the opposite: We ratchet up our rhetoric, so they ratchet up theirs, and soon enough, we get to have a good old fashioned war with them and take over their country. That's the whole point.

That's why neo-cons forced Clinton into being tough with Iraq, not because we thought Saddam would back down; but because they knew we'd eventually force them into pushing back, and then we'd get to invade. And sure, Clinton didn't declare war, but all the same, neo-cons were quick enough to use Clinton's actions and rhetoric to rationalize war. And had Clinton attempted to tamper down the situation with Iraq, it would have made it far less likely that we'd be in the stupid mess we're still in. But instead, Clinton took the short-term perspective by adopting a neo-con-lite approach to Iraq, and while it helped him politically, it just pushed the ball deeper into war territory.

That's what tough talk is for. And if any enemy actually backed off from the tough talk, we'd just keep talking tougher until they couldn't back away anymore. But of course, they never back off. The whole reason they're enemies of America is because they're using us as arch-villains for their own political needs; which is exactly what we're using them for. Using America as a foil is a time honored tradition for America's enemies. Even Fidel Castro, leader of a tiny island country so close to our border that his people can cruise here on homemade boats, knows that he can thumb his nose at us with impunity to score points. No one fears us. They need us. And conservatives are more than happy to give them their villain.

And on the other hand, who can show me the enemy of America that obeyed tough talk and backed down, and was welcomed back into the fold? I suppose we can point to Gaddafi, but I suspect that's the opposite. He didn't back down because we talked tough. He just changed his mind after we largely forgot about him. And that just proves my point. The tough talk is only meant to increase tensions.

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