Monday, June 23, 2014

Patriotism run riot

         Patriotism is the United States has run amok and it will ruin us. I mean more than we are ruined now; right now we’re just on the track; it’s still a long ways to hell. I can think of no stronger argument that could be used right now by Democrats in the upcoming elections from 2014 through 2016 than that George Bush and Dick Cheney’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wrong – wrong for all countries involved, a shameful waste of taxpayer dollars, a tragic loss of life and limb of American troops, a tragedy for the innocent people of Iraq and Afghanistan. But Democrats can’t make the argument because they played the role of lapdogs to Bush and Cheney. The blood is on the hands of the Democratic Party, too. They play war games, too.
         Republicans have gained tremendous political ground by merely being the party of NO. From Bill Clinton onward they simply oppose Democrats – and by God they win in the Supreme Court and Congress even when they lose the Presidency. And they still win elections at all levels from counties upward. Of course, all Republican initiatives are cloaked in “reason” as cooked up by their think tanks. Republican initiatives are always cloaked in both the flag and Christianity, the dual harbingers of American fascism as Sinclair Lewis warned. And Democrats can’t wait to wrap themselves in that same cloak.
Democrats could not have done worse throughout the Obama years if they had taken that page from the Republican operatives. They should have taken the advise of that West Point officer who prepared a report back around ’08. He said, “Declare victory and leave.” But we stayed and now the efforts are blowing up in Democrat’s faces. Hell, I think Democratic policies of backing up Republican wars will actually help Hillary into the White House. I await Ms. Clinton’s review of “Obama’s” foreign war policy. I predict that, at some point, she will state that the biggest mistake in US policy since ’08 will be that we didn’t send ground troops into Syria where they would have been handy at repelling the Sunni/ISIS war machine. She will tar President Obama with the brush prepared by John McCain.
I know it’s too much to think that Democrats would have had the nerve to declare the truth: that Bush/Cheney/ were war criminals. Too many Americans don’t give a s*** about the rest of the world. Torture smorture. They would be fine with the utter destruction, I mean the complete ruination of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and every Muslim country. But, by God, Democrats should at least have come out and said that our troops are too precious to waste. They should have wrapped themselves and the American military machine in the flag.
Instead, they reinforced the idea that to “support our troops” means to continue fighting until some semblance of victory, a la World War II, is achieved. I like this analogy: If you have a big picnic going on in the park and some of the silly boys throw rocks at a hornets nest you don’t stay put as everyone is stung. You don’t keep sending your children into the cloud of hornets. You leave. Didn’t a huge number of Americans know that Iraq would fall apart as soon as our troops left? Really? I think of quotes from two Viet Nam vets I know. In both conversations I was expressing opposition to the war in Iraq. One said, “We keep sending troops here and there, but WE CAN’T WIN A WAR.”  I asked the other one, “Well, what do you think we should do?” He yelled, “Kill ‘em all. They’re not over here. Kill ‘em all.” It’s simply a continuation of the idea that we could have “won” in Viet Nam if we had simply been more violent. You know the quotes: “Let’s bomb them back to the Stone Age.” “But sir, they’re already there.” So, then let’s kill them all.
All these people who talk about the “lesson of Viet Nam” – I never hear them say the lesson was to allow people in other countries to run their own business unless they attack us. That’s the lesson. Who makes the argument in today’s political climate? Rand Paul. I believe his argument will resonate with voters in 2016, especially if a seasoned, well-connected political veteran like Jeb Bush joins forces with him (and so far he has, just not yet on that particular issue). U.S. troops donated more money to Ron Paul than any other candidate in recent years. They voted for him. And they, with their boots on the ground, are the Americans who see first hand the insanity of our policy. They are the ones for whom Democrats should stand up and say, ‘you wasted their lives.’ That would be patriotic.
However, where are the Democrats who say it? They are few and far between and local Republicans are working hard to gerrymander their districts. Who in the United States has the influence to turn things around? I believe we need a massive influx of Iraq/Afghanistan vets in politics.
American patriotism is akin to high school spirit. To hear the talk during sports season one would come to the conclusion that every city and hamlet in the country is divided into camps and that they hate each other. I grew up in Amarillo, Texas. I went to Tascosa High School. We were the Rebels (we flew the Confederate flag back then and our mascot was clearly a “Johnny Reb.”) True Rebels hated the Amarillo High School Golden Sandstorm, the Sandies. But, in the end, we were all from Amarillo. We were all Texans. Hell, some of those Rebels married Sandies! Before a game the Sandies might have stolen our school cannon, but after we won they didn’t fire it at us! They gave it back. And we didn’t “kill ‘em all.” In the long run we knew we were all in it together. But now my country is infused with hatred and distrust. We are divided in our tribal camps and we are endangered by our own ‘school spirit.’
The lesson of Viet Nam was learned by some folks. Viet Nam learned it, that’s why they won. Jihadists learned it. The lesson is this: If you have enough people who are willing to die you can defeat the United States in the sense that they will leave eventually. And you do not have to spend anywhere near as much money as the US will spend. The US will spend itself into oblivion in the process of losing.
Terrorists now know that a successful strike within the United States will repay the costs a trillion times over. Hell, why should a country attack the US? Just fund a terrorist group. Ask our “friends” Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Now, any country that actually attacked the US in the US would lose. Period. Duh. But the threat is not from countries anymore. It is from organized fanatics. We were not attacked by Iraq or Afghanistan and we are clearly leaving those countries in positions of chaos and revenge that will cause them to be more of a headache in the future than we could have even conceived of before 9/11/’01. And we Americans, too, are in a position of chaos and revenge and we are turning on each other. That’s the legacy of a strong Republican Party and a weak, unfocused Democratic Party.

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