As a long-time denizen of DC- not Virginia, not Maryland or “The Beltway”- I consider myself somewhat jaded and cynical regarding political attitudes. But even I could not see the mainstreaming of fairly radical reactions to the new Clint Eastwood film “American Sniper.” It is now the norm amongst our media and intellectual class, and not the exception, to be at least ambivalent about the story of a Navy SEAL who was really, really, really good at his job which involved picking off mass murdering fascist theocrats attempting to stop the US’s attempt to foster a consensual society in Iraq, build water purification plants and electrical substations while, at the same time, provide breathing space for a dysfunctional indigenous political class to try and eventually hang the former dictator who killed millions of people.
Indeed. Most journalists in the DC and New York corridor could not read that last sentence and avoid indignation and laughter. Stranger still is their inability to refute…..well, any of it. Dear readers please turn off your critical thinking skills and lower your IQ 20 points and step into the mind of a progressive. The United States is, to their way of thinking, a militantly fascistic entity that invaded Iraq and Afghanistan to steal their resources and kill brown people because….well, that’s just what we do while evilly twirling our mustaches and counting our ill-begotten profits. We are essentially Nazi Germany but they, of course, are sufficiently “brave” and “circumspect” to know it. Naturally, we right wingers are blinkered, simpleton rubes who are unable to step outside ourselves and enjoy the “perspective” which they are wise enough to have.
The fact this this is what passes for informed thinking on global politics is indicative of the low-rent, off the rack culture we currently suffer from. It’s decadence posing as urbane sophistication. Let’s just run through some counterfactuals: IF the United States simply mass murders people due to our racism THEN…what would be happening? I am certainly not broaching any state secrets when I say that the US can push a button in Kansas and incinerate 10 million people in Baghdad in less than 30 minutes at the cost of…well, one ICBM…and we have 5,000 of those. “But,” they’ll say, “we would not irradiate the oil supply. We still need to steal it.” Ok, ok- I think we could engineer our way out of that snag- we could give Halliburton the contract. But let me concede your point. How about a squadron of stealth bombers over every city in Iraq for a month with conventional weapons in an “area bombing” campaign [polite euphemism for “carpet bombing”] Never touch the ground. Insurgency, dead. Message, sent.
Inevitably, the response would be: “So you want a MEDAL for refraining from killing millions of people using your technology?!?!” Nope. I’m just using dispassionate logic to calmly demonstrate how absurd your positions are. If you are going to make outrageous claims about my country mass murdering people [which justifies the next terrorist attack on the US, by the way] then I’m afraid I have to use salty and shocking imagery to put the lie to such notions. A slightly more nuanced of this argument is: “150,000 dead as a result of the war!” Firstly- “as a result”….abject weasel language. Second- I thought, per The Lancet in 2006, it was 655,000 dead? Who resurrected these people? Third…who, you know, actually, killed these people? How did they die? The answer is the insurgents who bombed markets and mosques filled with their co-religionists- cribbing the Bolshevik notion of “the worse, the better.”
And still the inanity would continue: “Well, there wouldn’t have BEEN an insurgency if the US hadn’t invaded!” To this one I have to say, make up your minds, friends. You cannot decry the loss of life but give a pass to the people causing it. Simply put, you’re not justified in bombing a market simply because a US soldier is 5 miles away standing a post. Are you interested in representative government, secularism, human rights and the abolition of tyranny? Or are you primarily concerned with manifesting your latent self-loathing under the guise of “speaking truth to power”?
Many of you reading this might feel its themes are self-evident and far too obvious to merit commentary. I wish that were so. In a psychologically healthy society we would all feel a beaming pride in our armed forces given that they accomplished what the smart set assured as was impossible- changing the political culture of 2 societies all but given up on by the developed world [cue “White Man’s Burden” references!]. Given the elections in 2008 and 2012 we are in the midst of an own goal regarding the GWOT, but due to the Bush administration’s constancy and vision there is at least a possibility to put an end to the reign of juntas and clerical oligarchies in the Middle East and West Asia.
And progressives should very much wish that their version of reality was not so. If it is….then I hate to break this to you but you are a party to mass murder. You’re a German citizen in good standing in 1946 who has to answer when you are asked: “So, what did you do during the war?” Will you “confess all” as it were or will you quickly refer to this opinion piece for your defense?
Michael Dansen is the nom de plume for a political media professional based in Washington, DC.