Friday, April 27, 2007

The existential conflict

Bill Moyers interviewed Jon Stewart on PBS tonight. You can watch the interview here, or read the transcript here. Although Stewart denies being a journalist, the interview comes on the heels of a recent finding that Daily Show viewers are materially better informed than Fox News viewers. Spot says catch the whole interview, but here's part of the discussion about the administration's strategy and posturing about the war in Iraq:

JON STEWART: You know, one of the things that I do think government counts on is that people are busy. And it's very difficult to mobilize a busy and relatively affluent country, unless it's over really crucial-- you know, foundational issues. That [be]come[s] sort of sort of a tipping point.


JON STEWART: But war that hasn't affected us here, in the way that you would imagine a five-year war would affect a country. I think that's why they're so really — here's the disconnect. It's sort of this odd and I've always had this problem with the rationality of it. That the President says, "We are in the fight for a way of life. This is the greatest battle of our generation, and of the generations to come. "And, so what I'm going to do is you know, Iraq has to be won, or our way of life ends, and our children and our children's children all suffer. So, what I'm gonna do is send 10,000 more troops to Baghdad."

So, there's a disconnect there between — you're telling me this is fight of our generation, and you're going to increase troops by 10 percent. And that's gonna do it. I'm sure what he would like to do is send 400,000 more troops there, but he can't, because he doesn't have them. And the way to get that would be to institute a draft. And the minute you do that, suddenly the country's not so damn busy anymore. And then they really fight back, and then the whole thing falls apart. So, they have a really delicate balance to walk between keeping us relatively fearful, but not so fearful that we stop what we're doing and really examine how it is that they've been waging this.

That's really it, isn't it? Dick Cheney says this is an existential conflict, and George Bush tells us to go shopping. If those two confidence men really thought that the "global war on terror" was an existential conflict, they'd be behaving differently, wouldn't they? These fools thought that the U.S. would have a "cakewalk" in Iraq, that we wouldn't even get our hair mussed. And now that their lark has come a cropper, they don't know what to do.

We can't really treat it like an existential conflict, because too many people would start to say, "What the hell is going on here?" They're starting to do that anyway. And we can't withdraw without a massive loss of face—not for the U.S.; we don't have any face left anyway—but for Bush, Cheney & Co. Instead, we'll just muddle along, adding to the carnage of lives lost, until GWB can return to his ranch or his new digs in Paraguay to bear the obloquy of perhaps the worst foreign policy disaster in American history.

Update: Added link to Pew Research Center site on study mentioned in the post.

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