I’m so worried about this country and the world in general. I know many of you are as well, and I’m sure than many have felt like I do now in the past. I’ve always been fascinated by the authors of the “lost generation” like Thomas Wolfe. Many of them skipped town and moved to Europe because they found themselves so at odds with what was going on. But I won’t.
But to give some relief, something positive has begun to happen to slow the hyperventilation about America bombing Iran. Katrina van den Heuvel, Jim Lobe, Juan Cole, Blake Hounshell, Christy Hardin Smith, Joe Klein, Matthew Yglesias, Joshua Micah Marshall, Taylor Marsh, Tom Engelhardt, Thomas Barnett, Ezra Klein, Moira Whalen, Brian Beutler, Andrew Sullivan, William Hartung, SusanUNpc, and editorialists at Haaretz, and writers at Newsweek, the Guardian, the New York Times, Raw Story, and Time Magazine, and a couple hundred other media commentators and bloggers have either generally agreed with my piece that Bush was not yet predisposed to bomb Iran or at least chewed on the notion. Nearly all of them agree with me that we need to be vigilant against those who would connive to trigger a seemingly accidental, fast escalation war.
There are many who want to use the question of whether we would or would not bomb Iran as a way to criticize “the Decider” and to assert that his anti-intllectualism and perceived disdain for rationality would lead him to Cheney’s dark side. I do have a disagreement with those who see Bush this way — on this specific issue.
But what worries me about the country is how divorced so many seem to be from the various routes critical thinking might take them. This is true across the political spectrum.
I see it today with Ahmadinejad. This guy is the Dick Cheney of Iran. He wants greater power in Iran’s political system — but he doesn’t have it. In fact, unless we bomb Iran, he’s on the way to being a former President with little power. He has not achieved any serious consolidation of his position in the Iranian political arena.
But today with all of the hullabaloo about his speech at Columbia University, we have allowed Iran’s president, who is nothing at all of the powers of a near monarchial American president, to define what Iran’s intentions and character are.
How many progressives want to allow Cheney the privilege of defining who and what America is?? None — I would guess.
But to hope that Ahmadinejad would somehow be pro-gay or honest about womens’ rights, or even be honest about his intentions with Iran’s nuclear program — is to give him that opportunity to sculpt Iran’s defining features for the world.
I don’t buy Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric. I don’t buy Cheney’s either.
An interesting lesson we all should be drawing from is the very short lived crash and burn tenure of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s history-denying, right wing prime minister.
In my view, Abe was a god-send for those who hope for a better Japan, a Japan that is finally comfortable with its national identity and past — and that can get beyond the history battles. Abe was one of the worst — though not the worst — that one could imagine leading Japan in this fragile period in culture and history wars in Northeast Asia.
But he was pro-Bush, and the White House supported him. But the Japanese people rejected him at the polls and punished severely his party. He hoped that jingoistic calls for nationalist pomp and circumstance would trump the dinner table/economic issues that most perturbed Japanese voters.
This is what we should be letting Ahmadinejad do — crash and burn in the eyes of his own public that just doesn’t buy his Cheney-like pugnaciousness.
Juan Cole says all of this eloquently here.
Ahmadinejad is failing in Iran. But we spend a lot of time fretting over his words and posture. We need to stop letting him define Iran’s character and ultimate direction. But Cheney and Ahmadinejad need each other — they push each other’s buttons.
We need to move beyond both.
— Steve Clemons