Just don't look into the mirror, you may not like what you see.
Many times in the past I have attempted to get one of my brothers, whom I call the Pastor, to engage in my blog by getting him leave comments so we could more readily discuss the issues that separate us. As his code name implies he is an evangelical Christian and takes his faith very seriously and this post is in no way an attack on his beliefs. While I have my own frayed and tattered faith, uncertain in many aspects of life the Pastor rides along with great certainty and assurance in God's plan and his part in it. Our disagreements are many but we are generally able to discuss them without digressing to grade school level but since we live in separate parts of the state and our lives fling us in different directions we very rarely get into the deep discussions we once were able to engage in.
In the past my positions on issues have, and will continue, to take a crazy zig zag path as I try to figure things out as I go. I have a very short half-life when it concerns ideologues and the enforced party line. But if I'm forced to classify myself beyond the generic safe term of Independent I would have to say that I'm a Libertarian with progressive valves or a Progressive with libertarian principles. If this sounds like I'm making things up as I go along, you should award yourself a nice warm gooey chocolate chip cookie. Hell, once I figure out all the crap associated with life in these United States I plan on writing a book with all the answers and getting filthy rich then retiring to an old fashion estate on some island in the Caribbean. On the other hand, once I believe I think I've figured anything out to a great detail it will more than likely be time to call out the guys with the butterfly nets and have my ass thrown into some padded room. So when you throw the Pastor, with his rock hard faith, and me together with my eclectic and disjointed beliefs the discussions are bound to be lively but never boring. But like I wrote earlier such events are rare and the Pastor, while freely surfing the internet at home, is just not one to engage in debates in an internet environment. But that does not stop him from reading my blog then calling my house and waking me up say around 1:00am in the God forsaken morning like he did recently. The Pastor is a long haul trucker and at times his route can bring him home late at night and since he's now almost wired to such times he usually can't sleep until he unwinds and I receive a late night verbal assault over the phones which are tiring but he is my brother after all.
A couple of times recently I have used the phrase "government approved bogeyman" to describe the people and organizations we are suppose to be fighting in what is more generally called the "War on Terror". My term is used in a derogatory manner to mock the fear mongers in the media and government who have used the attacks on 9/11 for their own political purposes while branding those that oppose them as cowards at best or traitors at worst. My dear brother called me up in the middle of the night to ask me what the heck did I mean by using such as phrase and didn't I know that the nasty Osama had just released a tape wanting either kill us all or have us convert to Islam and follow his way of life. The Pastor had really worked himself into a huff over my cynical remark and as he ranted over the phone (he was paying for the call) I calmly and coolly collected my meager wits by pouring myself a glass of milk and looking for the damn Chips Ahoy cookies hoping my son, Darth Spoilboy, had not bogarted them again while waiting for my brother to chill out.
I’ve got to admit that I didn’t really listen to his rant because I had heard many times before and I was far more concerned about the missing Chips Ahoy cookies. But my dear brother typifies the worst in the armchair commandos that have mysteriously dominated the debate of the Iraq war and the general War on Terror as defined by the Mad Master Ferret. (That’s George W. Bush for those not paying attention.) First off my brother has never served in the military but after what may literally be hundreds of hours of watching the Military and History Channel he will offer his “expert” opinion on just about any subject related to soldiers or military operations. Now I’ll go ahead and state that being opinionated about military subjects while never having served does not disqualify you from being knowledgeable on the military or being able to offer relevant facts in a discussion but you should at least realize that others more experienced might know more than you do. Hell, I served twenty-one years and I’ve been proved wrong many times on a wide array of points, but I have stones to admit it. But far too many times I have been drawn into discussions by those armchair commandos expressing military tactical opinions wanting me to endorse their positions only to have a sour look come across their face as I contradict them. One of the more senior electronic technicians at my last job wanted me to endorse his “kill’em all and let God sort them out” expert opinion when the Iraq war started to go sour. I tried to inform him that there was a great deal of history, the Crusades, involved here as well as the Ferret’s new stated mission of creating a shiny beacon of democracy in Iraq for the rest of the Arab world to copy. As gently as I could to not hurt the inspiring Napoleon’s ego I told him that mounds of decaying bodies do little to endear the population to new and alien political processes imported by infidels . I know my brother and more than likely my former co-worker still hold to the idea that if the Iraqis just behaved as good little boys and girls and listened to the mighty and wise Americans, who have their best interests at heart, they would soon be up to their eyeballs in Wal-Marts and Best Buys living off the credit cards just like real Americans. And those Iraqis that don’t want to behave? Well, the Ferret has said many times that you are either for us or against us.
But the main thrust of my brother’s call had to do with my lackluster opinion of the “War on Terror.” John Edwards not too long ago said something about it being just a bumper sticker slogan and in its current form I happen to fully agree with him. The day after the 9/11 attacks the world stood with us mourning our losses and offering their support in seeking justice. But our glorious leader instead of calling the nation to war told us to go shopping and travel. Honestly, that should have alerted us right there to something very smelly and I’m sure some future historians will earn their PhD’s trying to explain that one. But as much as I love my brother his kind refuse to look beyond the creeping fascism and wolf pack patriotism of the War on Terror. They are strong on killing but very weak on the conditions breeding the extremism we face in the Middle East. Yes, we were victorious in overthrowing the Taliban and Saddam but our “reconstruction” efforts have been, and I’ll be unduly kind in my adjectives, uncoordinated and piecemeal subject to outright cronyism. As my brother wound down from his rant I tried to explain that even the conquered nations of Germany and Japan after WW2 were rebuilt and administered with intelligence, that able bureaucrats were more important than a person’s political affiliation or stance on abortion. And that our ignorance in Iraq was just the tip of the iceberg of how we have bumble around the entire region for decades throwing unqualified support, along with blank checks worth billions to Israel conveniently turning a blind eye to the suffering of millions of others. Of course that did not sit well with him; I dared to question the righteousness of our only true friend and God’s people in the Middle East.
I must admit that by this time not only was my patience wearing thin. I found only crumbs in the Chips Ahoy bag after finding it hidden among the pots and pans and the jelly sandwich I made in its place was not satisfactory. I offered my brother this parting explanation on the situation. Yes, we were attacked by cowardly bastards that wished to spread terror and kill as many people as possible but our leaders have taken Al Qaeda objectives for their own. Not a month after Saddam’s government fell in 2003 the morning propaganda team on Fox News was spreading rumors that the WMD’s we were told we went into Iraq to capture had somehow magically been moved into Syria. This despite the fact somehow the very satellite pictures that seemed to confirm some sort of WMD program in Iraq somehow missed the massive logistical effort it would have taken to move very dangerous chemical or biological weapons over bad roads and rough terrain. As the Iraq war turned into a nasty quagmire the Bush team sold us a bill of goods that we were fighting Al Qaeda over there so they wouldn’t fight us over here. They massaged and stroked the fear that the bogeyman would see a defeat in Iraq as weakness with them rushing over here to conquer the weak and timid Americans. This is ignoring the fact that with the majority of American ground forces, both active and National Guard, either serving in Iraq or recovering from Iraq duty with readiness a major issue an Al Qaeda attack on American soil would be a major victory on their part almost assuring that a huge movement would appear demanding American forces return home. But Bush would not stop there, in announcing his new fangled Surge to assure victory in Iraq a new bogeyman was needed. Iran is now being played as the reason why the Iraq war has floated down the poop creek and to stoke the fires of fear even more the same people that assured us about phantom Iraqi WMD’s now tell us with a straight face that Iran is rushing to develop nuclear weapons and demanding that we attack now to prevent the appearance of a mushroom cloud over some American city. So, I told my brother, you will have to excuse my tiny grain of cynicism concerning the latest bogeyman we are suppose to huddle in fear of hoping for our savior Bush to defeat. I tried to explain to Pastor that one time American might did not rest alone of how many laser guided bombs we could deliver on target. One time the sheer weight of our ideas brought down the Soviet dominated governments in Eastern Europe along with the Soviet Union itself. One time America was viewed as the “city on the hill” where liberty and justice, while far from perfect, was the going concern with people working to make it better. I did admit to him that now it’s hard not to think that all we are doing is just treading water with everyone just trying to protect their lifestyle and to hell with everyone else. That thirty or even twenty years ago the hair splitting question about what is or is not torture would have meet with howls of outrage by both Democrats and Republicans. Now, many of the armchair commandos actually chuckle about waterboarding and dismiss imprisonment of people without due process. The scarcest thing for me is the reaction, or lack of one, from Mr. and Mrs. John Middleclass. The Middleclass live in a splendid isolation with the Iraq war a distant echo only heard briefly on the nightly news between segments on the latest antics of washed up pop stars or spoiled politicians. Since more than likely they have no family member serving in harm’s way they only connection they have with death and destruction is on the X-box playing some war game. They are told to expect the bogeyman to attack at any moment but not to sacrifice or share the burden being carried by those fighting or their families. So I told my brother from my point of view I'm not going to be scared by the latest bogeyman we are warned might be hiding close by waiting to attack because damnit it the scarcest looking bogeyman I see many times are the banal, lazy Americans demanding that the world bow to their spoiled desires. After I finished my rant I waited for a response from my brother but found that at some point he had hung up, Oh well, this should really piss him off.