Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson Plays Pundit Again

Every time I see one of these, I let out a very angry sound and I throw my face onto the surface of my desk. The resulting thump shakes everything hanging on the walls. Occasionally, a picture falls and hits the floor.

Let me just say--as we work through this entire column, you will encounter more wingnut dishonesty than normal. Prepare yourself by sitting comfortably and try not to roll your eyes too much--the resulting damage to your cornea might impair your vision.

We know the critique of present American foreign policy under George W. Bush - unilateralist and preemptive - and to some extent we know Sen. Barack Obama’s promised corrective - multilateral and reflective. So let’s take a serious look at what exactly is wrong with the former, and how things would substantially improve under the latter.

Let’s start with India. Indians poll pro-American by wide margins - due no doubt to America’s unnecessary coddling of the world’s largest democracy. If Sen. Obama acts on his complaints about the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to India and institutes his anti-NAFTA preferences in U.S. trade relations, India may finally receive the tough love it has been needing. After all, didn’t President Bush give away the nuclear game with India? Perhaps a President Obama will back out of existing agreements in order to ensure that India does not receive advanced nuclear technology. (In recompense, they’ll have little reason to complain, relatively speaking: Sen. Obama has suggested the U.S. should preemptively invade our ally Pakistan in order to hunt down Osama bin Laden.)

A President Obama is going to see a lot of these columns. They are inherently dishonest attempts by conservatives to present a no-win situation based on something concocted out of thin air. Hanson wants to use a basic issue, apply it to one country, and then create a false scenario that would "trap" a supposedly hemmed-in President Obama because he took a position. Well, in the real world, positions shift with necessity--it's called pragmatism. And what you can't get at pragmatically, you get at through compromise. Conservatives forget that the real reason we're in trouble diplomatically throughout the world is because there is no compromising with ideologues who don't know the first thing about diplomacy. Here's another scenario--Obama sends real diplomats and trade representatives to India. They hammer out a great deal for both sides. The US and India hold to this agreement, mostly, and everything works out pretty much the way it was intended. Wow. Was that so hard?

News flash--we've ALREADY invaded Pakistan. We've ALREADY sent missiles and artillery into Pakistan. Heard the complaints from them? If that's where al Qaeda is, I expect my President to have someone there on the ground cutting throats. The right throats, of course.
And China - what are we doing wrong there? Its increasing appetite for world resources means it cares not a whit what happens in the Sudan, as long as it gets its oil. Some Chinese products, as Sen. Obama rightly reminds us, are shoddy and sometimes dangerous - no doubt a result of our indiscriminate free-trade policy. The way China treats Tibetans and Uyghur Muslims violates canons of human decency. Will a President Obama protect American jobs, champion human rights, and ensure fair and safe trade by redefining our relationship with China - which holds a trillion dollars in U.S. government bonds?

Those are Bush bonds and they were sold to pay for the tax cuts that allowed us to spend ourselves into oblivion in Iraq. So, right away, Obama would be handed an issue that constrains his ability to negotiate. As for human rights, you do realize that we're no longer in a position to lecture anyone, right? What with the waterboarding and the indefinite detentions and the lack of Habeus Corpus and all that, don't you? A President who restores those rights, throws the offenders in prison, and manages our debt will be a welcome change.
Anti-Americanism runs rampant in Europe. Under an Obama administration, should we expect friendlier governments than Sarkozy’s France or Merkel’s Germany? Perhaps Obama might cancel that provocative missile-defense system in Eastern Europe designed to stop an Iranian nuclear guided missile - a welcome end to the saber-rattling of George W. Bush’s cowboy diplomacy.

Or will Sen. Obama try to save American jobs by nullifying contracts with the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. to provide refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force? We can be sure that he will embrace the emissions-reduction targets set in the Kyoto accords - in that way, he will encourage Europeans to do the same, since their repeated failures in meeting their promised reductions must surely be laid at Mr. Bush’s feet: the EU has been waiting for America to show the way. Perhaps Sen. Obama could regain EU goodwill by pressuring Europeans to drop agricultural subsidies - and eliminate our own - and so give former third-world farmers a break. That would be liberal change I could believe in.

Europe hasn't been pro-American, ever, really. Even when we liberated them, there was resentment and bitterness from some quarters. No amount of missile defense is ever going to be enough--the whole thing should be scrapped immediately. It provokes Russia, it doesn't work, and by the way--have you heard? It doesn't work. It won't work if there actually was a missile that could reach Europe from Iran. This is a wingnut fantasy. And drop the whole ag subsidies thing--you're a California farmer who has an inherent bias against midwestern farmers, what few there still are.
Then there is Russia. Surely Obama will do something about Putin, who seemed too cozy with Bush while he hijacked Russian democracy and used his oil to bully Europe. Perhaps Obama can craft an ingenious speech that will persuade the Kremlin’s ex-KGB kleptocrats to act more civilly in the world, especially concerning their trafficking with the likes of Iran and Syria?

As soon as Professor Rice is separated from the one thing she can't do--and that's understand and analyze Russia--then all will be well and improved.
Speaking of the Middle East, how will Obama restore American prestige there and ameliorate the damage done in the Bush years? Perhaps he could send Nancy Pelosi back to Syria to engage Mr. Assad? Or ask the Democratic Congress to condemn Turkey for the Armenian genocide?

Hell yes send members of Congress who know diplomacy--it would be a hell of a lot better than the McCain/Lieberman/Graham show on ice, which seems to favor cheap rugs, sunglasses, scripted moments and foot-in-mouth gaffes. Snarking about Pelosi's visit only forces me to remind the wingnuts--Republicans from the same Congress have been to see the boy tyrant Assad as well. And they fawned all over him.
Will Obama’s fast-track pullout of Iraq - and his willingness to sit down, without preconditions, with the mullahs of Iran - assure stability in the region, and win the confidence of our Arab allies? Sens. Obama and Hillary Clinton have both written epitaphs for the surge: Why, then, continue a failed policy? Once Americans are out of Iraq by mid-2009, Iraqis themselves - as Afghans, Cambodians, Somalis, Rwandans, and Yugoslavs have done before them - can work out their differences on their own. And since we were always the gratuitous targets that created terrorists ex nihilo, no doubt Dr. Zawahiri and President Ahmadinejad will move on to other Great Satans, once they see that those provocative American GIs have turned tail and fled their neighborhoods.

You can see Hanson going 'tee hee hee!' after he snickers about genocide, can't you? Well, let's see--Reagan abandoned Afghanistan, Nixon abandoned Cambodia, Bush I started our involvement in Somalia, Clinton admitted he failed in Rwanda in a rare moment of candor, and Bush I was basking in the glow of Desert Storm when Milosevic kicked off the festivities in the Balkans. But what do we have right now? The genocide in Iraq has been in full swing for over four years. The ethnic cleaning is happening right now. The absence of a strongman dictator means the Sunni and Shia get to fight it out. And conflating Zawahiri and Ahmadinejad is hilarious--blood enemies, a Sunni and a Shia, neither of which commands a single soldier. Wingnuts who can't tell the truth don't get to pontificate about these issues. It can't get any worse in Iraq, unless we put more US troops there and have higher casualties.
Since it is self-evident that the absence of another 9/11-like attack here at home was a fluke - and had nothing to do either with Guantanmo, the Patriot Act, wiretaps, the destruction of al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, or the annihilation of Wahhabi terrorists in Iraq - President Obama will be free to shut down all such legally dubious homeland-security measures. All that will reassure Americans and Europeans that those efforts were both unnecessary and antithetical to our values. There never was, and won’t be, any danger of another 9/11.

How many IRAQI Wahhabi terrorists that became radicalized since March of 2003 have attacked US soil? None. How many Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian terrorists? Quite a few. And there is no correlation between spying on the Quakers and every single American who uses a telephone or a computer and keeping this country safe from terrorists. Eliminating basic constitutional rights is only something you can do if you're a Republican. Flash forward exactly 12 months from now and Hanson will be braying about how much "police power" the Obama administration has to spy on busybody California farmers. Oh, you'll practically see him and his wingnut buddies in tears at the thought that President Obama might have the entire Freeper IP address database under FBI surveillance in order to help identify criminal conspiracies to manipulate public events.
Since NAFTA was a sell-out of American workers, President Obama can, as he seems to promise, withdraw from the association and restore tariffs on Canadian and Mexican goods, while ending our xenophobic paranoia about “secure borders” - especially silly ideas like fences and walls. There would be no need to extend NAFTA-like accords to Colombia, and we should also reexamine sweetheart deals with Middle-Eastern countries like Jordan.

"Xenophobi paranoia" is a wingnut phenomenon. Obama probably isn't going to be xenophobic about a whole lot. Have you seen the guy?
The world between 1992-2000 is the model we are to emulate, it seems. The world was much safer then - before George W. Bush’s indiscriminate wars - and it can be so again. In those golden days, the U.S. rightly contextualized “random” terrorist acts - making the proper distinctions between war and “police matters.” Yes, it’s true that thousands of American soldiers died in those peaceful days - about 7,500 between 1993-2000 - but they did so in noncombatant-related operations. Back then, our experts appreciated the hard lines and firewalls that separated Hezbollah from Iran, Sunni terrorists from Shiite killers, and were always careful not to overreact and turn mere responses into needless wars. In extremis, we can employ tried-and-true tools like no-fly zones, oil-for-food embargoes, U.N. sanctions, and the occasional cruise missile - avoiding the mess of President Karzai’s Afghanistan or President Maliki’s Iraq, and the peripheral blowback involving a jittery Libya, Syria, and Pakistan’s Dr. A. Q. Khan.

YES! You read that right. 7,500 troops died under President Clinton. Wow. You have to dig down into the wingnut ouerve to get to that kind of logic. I know a bit about some of those that died. One guy in a car accident, leaving school. Another dropped dead in his home and was called "present and accounted for" for several days before they found his body. Another was killed by her husband. In the mind of the wingnut, all of those people died BECAUSE Clinton was the Commander in Chief.

Guess what? Roughly that same number have died under Bush in non-combat related matters like accidents and illness-related deaths. When you put ON TOP OF THAT nearly 30,000 wounded--many of them catastrophically wounded--AND over 4,000 killed in Iraq alone--you get an unacceptable toll. With those no-fly zones, cruise missiles and sanctions, we made a lot of mistakes, mistakes a President Obama will hopefully not repeat.

Carefully approaching terrorism as a law enforcement issue has been a rousing success whenever it is practiced. Ask the Brits and their IRA problem. Virtually everyone who fights terrorism does it through careful police work. Unless I'm missing where Spain invaded Saudi Arabia, I'm not seeing the logic in running that down.

This is the most egregiously dishonest punditry you're ever going to see. Watch it in the rear view mirror--it's a sad, pathetic thing by the side of the road, isn't it? Any man who can operate with that kind of logic is a man is batshit fucking crazy.
Presently the United States does the world’s heavy lifting under a Texan who says “nucular.” But soon it may well be charmed and mesmerized by a smooth-talking icon who raises trade barriers, leaves the Middle East to the Middle East, gets tough on China and India, relaxes relations with Iran, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela, while redefining existing ones with Pakistan - and says to Europe, “We’re right behind you!” Let’s hope it will be as pleasant to see the results as it has been to listen to the utopian rhetoric.

Here's what blows their minds when they think of Obama--they can't understand why it all failed under Bush. They had the perfect President, the perfect situation in a fully controlled Republican Congress, and they had the perfect enemy to replace the Soviets. They had EVERYTHING. And they pissed it away. And now someone named Barack Hussein Obama is going to fix things and run things a thousand times better than they ever could simply by being competent.

That just blows their minds--that someone could be more competent and more knowledgeable. Intellectually insecure people must be extremely threatened right now. You can hear it in what Hanson writes.

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