But when I read stuff like this, I worry that I might have been right after all (here too) back in the fall of 2004. (I still hope to be profoundly wrong!) An excerpt from a particularly pernicious opinion piece in the "liberal" New York Times:
THE American public needs to be prepared for what is shaping up to be a clash of colossal proportions between the West and Iran.
Certainly the American population "needs to be prepared for what is" being invented as "a clash of colossal proportions" between the U.S. and Iran. Somehow we managed for years with Pakistan as a hostile Islamic nuclear power, until we bought them off as an "ally," but Iran is different...because? Don't ask.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt masterfully prepared Americans before the United States entered World War II by initiating a peacetime draft under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940.
Now, President Bush and Congress should reinstitute selective service under a lottery without any deferments.
This single action will send a strong message to three constituencies in the crisis over Iran's nuclear intentions — Iran, outside powers like China and Russia and Americans at home — and perhaps lead to a peaceful resolution.
Let me see if I have this straight: in 1940, after the openly fascistic and imperialistic leader of one of the world's most powerful nations had already defied numerous international aggreements and had also already invaded neighboring sovereign nations, President Roosevelt reinstated a military draft. Now in 2006, after the religious fanatics who lead Iran, an irrelevant military power (except for its proximity to the most recent target of U.S. aggression), have complied extensively with international agreements and have invaded no sovereign nations, we need a military draft because...?
Iran's leaders and public will see that the United States is serious about ensuring that they never possess a nuclear weapon. The Chinese and Russian governments will see that their diplomatic influence should be exercised sooner rather than later and stop hanging back. But most important, America's elites and ordinary citizens alike will know that they may be called upon for wartime service and sacrifice.
America's elites have been called on for no sacrifice in fifty years; only an infant (or a journalist) could think anything will be different this time around.
President Bush has the perfect credentials overseas to execute this move, and little political capital at home to lose at this stage. Polls confirm that a wide majority of people in many countries view him and the United States as the major threat to global peace. Why let them down on this count? Go with the flow.
President Ronald Reagan was the past master of using this strategy during the cold war. Reagan capitalized on his image as the madman at the helm to keep the Russians off balance, using the signs of war to dissuade our foes and avert actual war. President Bush should take a page from Reagan's playbook.
That the author of this sophomoric piece of strategizing does not see the irony in these last two paragraphs speaks volumes about the topsy-turvy world of American public discourse. Consider: most people in the world (having apparently learned the Golden Rule as children) consider the U.S., quite correctly, to be "the major threat to global peace" based on its currently unparalleled record of actual aggression and murder in the last couple of years. Reagan may have cultivated an image of "the madman at the helm," but Bush actually is that madman. Reagan's major wars of aggression, after all, were against Grenada and Nicaragua, countries whose misery and suffering were the traditional province of U.S. imperialism, and whose continued vicitmization did not threaten global conflict. Bush, by contrast, is not interested in utilizing "the signs of war": he has shown quite clearly that he is intent on waging actual war. How clever to suggest giving him hundreds of thousands fresh young men for the cause.
Speaking of moral depravity and craven villainy, the other morning on National Public Radio (a "liberal" media outlet, as the ideologically deluded in America say) a reporter explained calmly that President Bush was "keeping all options on the table" with respect to Iran, including "a tactical nuclear strike." This latter "option" was mentioned without further comment, without pause, without any hint that the President of the United States had just been accused of contemplating a war crime of such extraordinary proportions that, if the world were not annihilated in the ensuing international conflagration, Bush would go down in history not simply as the worst President in American history, but as one of the great moral monsters in the history of humanity. One imagines being in Germany circa 1938, listening to some stately radio newscaster reporting that "Hitler is keeping all options on the table" with respect to the Lebensraum problem, "including invading all neighboring nations" and "genocide of the Jews."
"And now we turn to the sports news..."
Erich Fromm's idea of the "pathology of normalcy" seems the only apt characterization for this state of affairs.