June 23, 2007

Iran and Dissent

On one level you have to laugh that Kucinich and Paul were the only two dissenting votes in a 411-2 Congressional resolution urging the UN Security Council to charge Iran's president Ahmadinejad under genocide conventions. But it is interesting these particular men stood alone in supposedly principled opposition to the obvious. And I'm sure their supporters would cite these "principles" as being great and idealistic. I'll leave aside all the usual Neville Chamberlain clichés, because, well, we all know them, and cut to the chase - my view of their true motivations.

I think both of these men became highly-rigid narcissists decades ago. Their entire public personae ... and the attention they crave... are totally dependent on maintaining an inviolable public image. You can invariably predict everything they are going to say, every attitude they take. There is never a surprise, because they are playing roles they have chosen for themselves and for which they were rewarded with public and media attention from years in the past. If they changed their positions and became more reasonable, even in a few areas, they would simply disappear because they no longer fulfilled their roles.

This disappearance, of course, is intolerable to the narcissist. The point - for both Kucinich and Paul- is not to win, but to bask in that reflected glow that justifies their existence.

-- Roger L. Simon
This screed is a classic argumentum ad hominem, of course. If the messenger is a kook, or a crook, chimpish or or "French-looking," we need not consider the message on its merits.

In this instance, how many who voted for this ritual resolution to make a meaningless appeal to the feckless UN did so because it was an easy bit of political opportunism with no real-world consequences? How many of the Democratic Presidential candidates have rediscovered their inner McGovern in response to the hard-core anti-war views of the most active Democrats? Has Romney discovered his inner anti-Roe sentiments through unaided reason alone? To ask these questions is to answer them.

Are Kucinich and Paul giving vent to their inner crank, or glorying in the rôle of the almost-lone dissenter? Who knows, other than God and their psychiatrists? More significant is, are they right?

Each, in fact, has stumbled into a piece of the truth. The connotation of the resolution is to build up sentiment for, or weaken resistance to, an air attack on Iran. Unlike a resolution addressed to the Cartel of Tyrants on the East River, such an attack would be serious business, and in my opinion, a grave mistake if not a crime.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who is constrained by a rather complex political system, which he does not control, does make bizarre and offensive pronouncements. He's no friend of this country. Nevertheless, Iranian marines are not about to wade ashore at Atlantic City.

The notion of bombing Iran is kept on the agenda by a relatively small but influential group of people, some of whom seem to be influenced by a right-wing strain of Zionism. Norman Podhoretz is Exhibit A. This group is wrong about what is in the interests of the U.S., and many Israelis would say, wrong about what is in Israel's interests.

Air raids on Iran would unite the rather restive population against the mullahs, might provoke attacks on Persian Gulf shipping and U.S. troops in the region, and thus begin a cycle of battles. In the end, the U.S. could conquer and occupy Iran, if we went on a war footing and mobilized a million-strong army through a draft. Few politicians would endorse this course of action if it were openly proposed.

One we launch ourselves into the fog of war, all bets are off. Jimmy Carter's Presidency collapsed in an unforeseen sandstorm in the Iranian desert, as W's began to founder when our commanders tolerated looting in liberated but never occupied Baghdad. We can't know where cruise missiles over the Natanz, Iran nuclear facility would lead us.

Even if one is not a consistent noninterventionist, but a realist in foreign policy, or even a hegemonist who does not live for ideological abstraction alone, the thought of a confrontation with Iran and its aftermath should be sobering..

1 comment:

TK said...

Grumpy for President.