Monday, July 24, 2006

newt's folly

for a week now -- beginning this past monday with back-to-back appearances on fox news (neil cavuto's your world at 4:30pm and hannity and colmes at 9pm; then with a usa today editorial (quoted below); and finally on this cspan's washington journal this morning -- first deputy chickenhawk newt gingrich has been spouting his latest piece of folly as a part of the conservative drumbeat for a U.S. military strike on iran for its involvement in what bill kristol presumptuously calls "our war" (that's right, he means the one between israel and lebanon).

Imagine that this morning 50 missiles were launched from Cuba and exploded in Miami. In addition to buildings and homes being destroyed, scores of Americans were being killed. Now imagine our allies responded by saying publicly that we must not be too aggressive in protecting our citizens and that America must use the utmost restraint.
now, before considering whether the word "restraint" could in any way apply to israel's current pummelling of lebanon or our shocking and awing of iraq a little over three years ago, you have to suspend your disbelief and dwell fully at the level of gross absurdity for ol' newt's analogy to be successful.

this is, after all, a guy who apparently used to be a history professor. unfortunately, his sense of history is about as accurate as the sense of reality that he and the rest of the bushies have. are there ANY respects in which a missle attack upon miami from cuba is historically analogous to what's going on in the middle east right now? let's see if we can construct a north american example that might bear any resemblance to the israel-lebanon situation. granted, this is going to take a little imagination, so bear with me.

let's pretend north america is the middle east and that the powers that be, i.e. europeans, have for centuries been carving up and exploiting north america according to their whim and with little regard for the well-being of actual americans. let's pretend that americans of all stripes -- canadians, mexicans and yankee americans -- have historical, cultural and religious claims on the land of this continent and have all in spite of our differences essentially coexisted in the same land for a thousand and a half years or so. (what about native americans? i know, we're gonna have to ignore them if this is gonna work, sorry.)

oh, and by the way, the europeans have a 1000-year old holy war running against the americans. some call it a "clash of civilizations" in which the americans "hate our freedom" and are out to destroy our way of life. in fact, the europeans call the flowering of american culture "the dark ages." and the way the americans see it, they've been exploited and carved up by europeans for 1000 or so years and are sick and tired of it.

now suppose that increasingly yankees abroad have felt a need to return to the land of their heritage, and especially in light of an extermination campaign that succeeded in killing 6 million of them while europe and the rest of the world essentially looked on with distinterest. and in the wake of that horrible tragedy, the powers that be, i.e. the europeans, once again carved up the american continent as they saw fit and created a yankee state smack in, say, what is actually texas, and armed it to the teeth in order to defend itself from hostile americans (i.e. canadians and mexicans).

needless to say, the americans are not too pleased about this. they try to kick the yankee state's ass but get beaten back pretty swiftly and soundly. and it gets ugly: extremists on both sides vowing to obliterate each other. but the yankee state is not helping matters: it has gone past its border in texas and is occupying mexico, building settlements for its own people there and whatnot while not letting mexicans have a life let alone a state of its own. meanwhile, the canadians managed to beat the yankee state back across that border ten years or so but continue to pick fights. well the canadians picked another fight a few weeks ago and the yankee state has been pummelling the canadians in self-defense, essentially bombing canada back to the stone age in what amounts to little more than retribution.

now, in a more "realistic" context, let's pose newt's question again:
Now imagine our allies responded by saying publicly that we must not be too aggressive in protecting our citizens and that America must use the utmost restraint.
i dunno, newt, cuz if by "not being too aggressive" and "using utmost restraint" you mean "not bombing lebanon back to the stone age," then i kinda have to say yes, i can imagine this quite easily.

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