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Monday, April 17, 2006

An Unpopular Opinion

An Unpopular Opinion

No-one who knows me would ever accuse me of being conservative, or right wing. On my list of favorite things, I rank George Bush just below genital herpes; I rank George Bush with genital herpes just above winning the lottery.

Am I a liberal? Sort-of. I believe in freedom of speech and the right to privacy. I believe in freedom of religion for the religious, and freedom from religion for the non-religious. I believe a woman has the right to an abortion up to but not beyond the time the little bugger in her womb has a recognizably human face (I know, terribly non-scientific. Sue me.) If she can't be arsed to get one before then, let her suffer through labor and give the little tyke up for adoption. I believe that a person's sexual orientation is their own damned business. Why the hell should governments get involved in what two consenting adults do to/with each other in the privacy of their own bedroom/shower/custom dungeon with fur-lined handcuffs? You can also insert the 'freedom from religion' opinion here.

I also believe that, sometimes, war is better than the alternative.

"Hey," I hear you shout to your significant other, "MercerMachine thinks war is better than peace!" No, smartass, that's not what I mean.

I'm talking about Iran. I'm talking about the fact that Iran is blithely pushing the world toward the brink of World War III. President Ahmadinejad is, quite frankly, a rabid dog bent on making an armed confrontation happen. Why? Because he wants the Muslim world to rise up and destroy Israel and, if possible, as much of the west as possible. He wants an Islamic fundamentalist state to spread across the globe. And he doesn't give a rat's ass how many millions die in the process.

I prefer that didn't happen.

And because Bush is a dumbfuck, he's tied down American forces in a pointless war in Iraq when they would be far more useful in dismantling Iran, which has or sooner or later will have REAL weapons of mass destruction. Good job, George.

But really, there are a couple of things to be learned from Iraq and applied to Iran: America sucks at democracy building, and it is the master of an outdated mode of combat. Sure we can beat any army in the field if they're stupid enough to go toe to toe with us. But guess what? Modern warfare isn't about brigades and artillery barrages anymore; it's not about tank divisions. You want to see the face of modern warfare? You can't, my friend, because it's covered with a cloth. Modern warfare, sad to say, is about bombs hidden in the sand by the side of the road, bombs strapped to the scrawny chests of fanatics willing to blow up women and children (I was going to say non-combatants, but there's no such thing anymore) and guys bicycling their way to work at the petrol station. If you think Iraq is bad, Iran would be a hundred times worse.

The good news is, we don't have to change Iran's political or social structure. We just have to make sure they don't build nuclear weapons. And that will take force to do. There is no way to reason with the likes of Ahmadinejad. Sanctions won't work. Political discourse won't work. Conventional warfare will work, but the cure will be at least as bad as the disease.

The question remains: What will work? Quite frankly, I think the best solution (and by no means is it good) are targeted airstrikes. Take away Iraq's ability to create nuclear weapons. Clinton set the precedent in Kosovo.

Yes, people will die, including innocent women and children and the guy on the bike on his way to his crap job at the petrol station. But far fewer than would die if there was an invasion.  Far fewer civilians, and far fewer soldiers.

"But wait!" I hear some of you cry. "That will just make the terrorists even more prone to commit terrorist acts!"

Really? Do you really think so? Do you really think they need an excuse? As E@L said the other night at dinner (I think he was quoting somebody else), it's like a door opened up somewhere to the 14th Century, and all these fanatics are pouring out—but with modern weaponry. I'd rather their arsenal didn't include nuclear weapons. To be fair, I'd rather Bush's arsenal didn't either.

And I'll give you another unpopular opinion: I hate these fanatics with every fiber of my being. Why? Because I believe in freedom of speech and the right to privacy. I believe in freedom of religion for the religious, and freedom from religion for the non-religious. I believe a woman has the right to an abortion. I believe that a person's sexual orientation is their own damned business.

And they really, really don't.


AmourArmor said...

I still disagree with your opinion, but after reading the paper and watching "Hard Ball," I feel I'm becoming the minority, and your opinion is actually becoming much more favorable.

What the hell?

If nukes don't get us, the global warming will.

We will all die because of our own cleverness.


expat@large said...

I was paraphrasing The End of Faith by Sam Harris.

He is not so politically correct about "freedom of religion for the religious" when that religion happens to espouse over and over again in unrelenting emphasis, the killing of non-believers, apostates and other assorted infidels and in which MOST of its followers, even the moderates, say that suicide bombing could be, in some situation or other, justified. (All from his book.)

In my book as well, religion would be OK if it was just a matter of going to church to pray for good things to happen, offering community support for the underpriveleged, etc..., in fact providing a sense of beneficent community overall and (for most people it's real purpose) providing a greater moral framework that simultaneously codifies and justifies (by emanating from an ultimate authority) good deeds while outlining certain universal bad things (sins) all the while allowing people to make their own ethical choices (free will) and get on with their real life of shallow consumerism, insecure underachievement and enjoying the expat benefits of globalist exploitation...

What spoils the potential of religion for me is the more basic requirement of admitting there is a god, a patently ridiculous, anti-reasonable belief IMHO, as I am I not prepared to deny (what remains of) my rational mind.

OK I've offended enough people with my religious opinions, now on to politics...

At another dinner conversation
I had this week someone said, "Iran has just drawn a giant red target around itself."

However, I disagree with bombing anyone, although I am struggling to come up with alternatives which would not result in the continuation let alone the exacerbation of this slowly simmering WWIII as much as tactical thermonuclear world annihilation...
At least it would be all over with quickly. However, I would prefer it if the world continued to exist a bit longer, and in a bit better condition, for the sake of my grandkids and their grandkids.

Maybe we should follow the example of that wonderful nice guy, Thai PM Thaskin, and drop a whole lot of origami doves over Iran.

The Legal Janitor said...

The only and surest guarantee of freedom is to have the power, and the willingness to use that power, to defend it.

expat@large said...

The only and surest guarantee of totalitarianism is to have the power, and the willingness to use that power, to defend it.

(Typically glib comment, E@L - you explain nothing...)

Anthony said...

If you solve the problem of being able to use power to defend democracy but not have the power to turn democracy to totalitarianism, you deserve a Nobel Prize for solving one of mankind's oldest problems.

7-8 said...

Hi, nothing against you yankees in general but a few facts need to be mentioned here.

1. In 1953, Iran had a parliamentary democracy. (That's right, you're not misreading this.) Then the CIA came in and overthrew their prime minister. In his place was the shah, who was a dictator. This shows that while the US is not very good at building democracy in the Middle East, it's very good at destroying it. (btw this is why Iran hates America.)

2. Take a cursory look at the world map around Iran. What do you see?

a. Israel has nukes.
b. Pakistan has nukes.
c. India has nukes.
d. Iraq does not have nukes, but if it wants to it can have nukes pretty quickly because it had nukes 10 yrs ago.
e. Russia has nukes.
f. Many of the -stan countries have nukes. I don't know if their programs have been dismantled. Probably Kazahkstan have nukes.
g. Saudi Arabia doesn't have nukes but they are friends of the US and the US have nukes.

In short, they're the only guys in the region not wearing trousers. I'd be really scared if I were Iran. Did the US wage war on India and Pakistan about the nukes? Or Israel?

In this world either everybody has nukes, or nobody has nukes. You couldn't stop India, Pakistan or Israel, and you certainly can't stop Iran now.

3. The religious theocracy is a real pain in the ass, but there are better ways to deal with them than war. Trade or friendship, you know, or support underground resistance groups. Or when they have horrendeous earthquakes, go help them (which the US did. Sorda.)

4. My blog has a few Iranian fans. (Don't ask me how they found me.) I'm a fan of Iranian cinema. They have a few world class masters. Jafar Panahi. Abbas Kiarostami. Majid Majidi. (Jack Neo did a remake of his film.) If you take away their livelihoods I'm going to be quite annoyed about it.

5. Many of the guys who did 9/11 (I means those on the planes) were Egyptians and Saudis. You should be waging war on those countries instead.

MercerMachine said...

Well, I did call it an unpopular opinion.

7-8, I will grant you most ofwhat you said, and while it is informative, the truth is, it's irrelevant. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, they *will* use them on Israel. Iran is bent on getting nuclear weapons. Therefore Iran must be prevented from getting nuclear weapons.

And I utterly disagree with the idea that just because all the cool kids have nukes, all the other kids should be allowed toget them too. That's dangerous and foolish thinking.

And by the way, I'm quite aware of who was responsible for 9/11, thank you, as well as America's sordid history in the Middle East and elsewhere. Mulling over past American idiocies does nothing to change the perilous situation the world finds itself in today. Remember the old saying 'fix the problem,not the blame'?

7-8 said...

I really wouldn't want to see Iran with nuclear weapons, but uh I'm talking about what's going to happen rather than what should happen. They now have this excuse that everybody has nukes, which was not true 10 years ago.

AmourArmor said...

I don't understand what 9/11 has to do with any of this.

We've beat that dead horse enough, don't you think?

How much longer are we going to use that to justify killing people?

I realize that this comment doesn't directly relate, but I had to get that off of my chest.