The Foggy Morality of War

I have been traveling a lot lately and have been ridiculously busy, as well as dealing with some personal things.  Because of this I don’t feel that I have been able to come to any strong opinion if we are taking the right course of action against ISIS.  I feel like the only way you can get a bead with what is going on in the world anymore is to read a host of different opinions and try as best you can to parse the truth out of them piece by piece.  (And don’t watch the TV news ever!)

However, I have had some random thoughts and questions that do speak ill of our times.  I thought I would share them:

1.  What does it mean when we have been at war so long that the fact we are bombing another country doesn’t seem all that odd?  Like I should either be morally outraged or cautiously supportive, but I can’t seem to feel any strong emotion one way or the other.  Is this how peace in our time truly dies?  Little by little, year after year, until we just except the horrible state of things?

2.  What does it say that when we go to war I no longer trust the reasons that we are being given?  I like Obama overall, at least a million times more than his opposition, but I can’t help but feel that any president from either side is at least going to be partly influenced by our ever growing military industrial complex.  The Bush Administration’s bogus Iraq War did a great deal to damage the credibility of our leaders.  However, if you read American history from the end of World War II on, we don’t exactly have a great track record.

3.  Would a group like ISIS even be an issue had we stayed out of the Middle East?  Is our involvement now going to bring a group even worse than ISIS in the future?

Look I am under no illusions that the world would be better off without ISIS.  However, knowing that, how that fact is dealt with is where things start to become murky.  Obama may very well be taking the best approach that he can given the circumstances that he is facing.  I don’t feel that I have read enough to know what to think about our current military approach.  But it does trouble me that we have reached a place, where due to the events of recent years, that the morality of our country at war appears more foggy than ever.

Sullivan on Torture

bushobama1-2

 

We Tortured. It Was Wrong. Never Mind.

 

A pretty powerful post by Andrew Sullivan about the torture.  Although he views Bush and his gang as war criminals, he also finds Obama’s unwillingness to address the issue in any kind of meaningful way deeply unsettling.  

Bergdahl: The End

This is my last post about the Bergdahl scandal, unless something crazy comes out, because I believe that this scandal is merely a ridiculous distraction.  In reading some internet comments, good lord I am stupid for doing so, I read somebody say that if President Bush did this we on the left would have wanted him impeached.  That is completely idiotic.  Why am I taking the time to respond to one random idiotic internet comment?  It’s because I believe that is what some of the hoopleheads on the right actually believe in theory.  That we simply hated Bush, and everything he did, because he was President Bush. 

When Bush came to power I was hoping for the best.  I remember thinking he had a reputation as a moderate.  It wasn’t until he sent thousands unnecessarily to their deaths in Iraq that I hated him.  He took a country that had the entire world’s sympathy after 911 and threw that all away.  I traveled a great deal during his presidency and even in allied countries like Britain they were appalled by U.S. actions.  Then came even further deregulations which eventually led up to our financial crisis.  (And yes I am well aware that President Clinton played a large part in setting the stage for them as well.)  Then there was his disgraceful handling of Hurricane Katrina.  And all of these things went down while there was sort of a shallow patriotism being thrown around where the only thing you had to do to be a patriot was to keep shopping.  Those were just some of the many things that Bush did that I didn’t like.  But that is my point; that Bush did actual things that I didn’t like and that I didn’t just dislike him because he had an R in front of his name. 

But when Bush did something good, and honestly I can’t remember much that he did that was good other than giving aid to Africa, I was honest enough with myself to admit that it was good.  It’s kind of like the pope.  I am not a religious person and most of my life I felt The Pope to have been a hindrance to progress around the world.  Pope Ratzinger was never well liked in these parts.  However, and I admit to not knowing enough to make a final decision, Pope Francis has said a lot of things that I believe might lead the world to possibly being a better more progressive place.  I understand the traditionally conservative nature of his position and that he can’t do everything at once, and that he may even be more conservative than I realize.  However, I don’t like or dislike a pope because they are the pope, but because of what they do.  I don’t like or dislike someone because they are a Republican politician, but because of what they are actually doing or not doing. 

Also The President, any President, makes decisions that can affect millions of lives.  No one in that position can do a perfect job.  This decision is not one of the bigger ones he has made.  If you want to get angry with Obama, as I said last night, get angry at him for our drone policy or the fact that his Justice Department has not done a good job of policing our markets.  But in this case one human is alive that may not have been if he hadn’t made the decision that he did, and that is a good thing, no matter who that human is. 

The Kind People Have a Wonderful Dream

I have started breaking out the Morrissey records as it has just been announced that his new album, World Peace is None of Your Business, will be released early this summer.  A fun Morrissey fact:  He is the only pop star to have been visited by both the FBI and the MI5 in his home.  The FBI visited him during the Bush years, because when President Reagan died, he said that, “Bush should have died, not Reagan.”  The MI5 visited him after he released the following song:

Margaret on the Guillotine

The kind people
Have a wonderful dream
Margaret on the guillotine

‘Cause people like you
Make me feel so tired
When will you die?
When will you die?
When will you die?
When will you die?
When will you die?

And people like you
Make me feel so old inside
Please die

And kind people
Do not shelter this dream
Make it real
Make the dream real
Make the dream real
Make it real
Make the dream real
Make it real

The song ends with the sound of a guillotine falling.  It’s campy and like Lou Reed he’s just having fun.  In an age of plastic pop stars and guarded statements, Morrissey remains true.  If you are wondering what his prime beef with Thather was, it was that she destroyed the working class in England, and Morrissey’s family is of working class background.  Rock N Roll is an art form that shook things up when it started.  Over the years it has become increasingly homogenized and safe.  I once read an interview with Steve Lillywhite where he says that Morrissey’s prime goal with his music is to get you to feel some strong emotion, even if that emotion is being uncomfortable.  The goal is not to be shocking for just the sake of it, but to stir up the mud and getting people thinking outside the accepted norms.