Thursday, June 22, 2006

Crying Wolf

America's like my Dad. No matter what it does, someone complains, and complains bitterly. Every once in a while, the criticism would get to him, and he'd be unpleasant company for a time; but though he'd bitch and yell, he'd still try and be the best Dad he could.

Let's hope the US has the same level of patience with the rest of the world.

It was this post from the New Sisyphus that got me thinking along these lines:

Another day, another dead American. We are expected to die. The world has long since past expected that Americans be treated with honor and respect or according to the basic rules of war.

In Korea, we were expected to take the lead in the fight. Our captured soldiers were horrifically tortured. In Vietnam, we were on our own. Our captured soldiers were horrifically tortured. In the Iraq War, we were expected to take the lead in the fight. Our captured soldiers were horrifically tortured and, since our captured then included, for the first time, women, raped.

None of which was or is thought by the world community as a weakening of the laws of war, of the Geneva Conventions. Those are what Americans fight by. You can't expect those oppressed people who America is unjustly fighting to respect those, can you?

Sisyphus holds out the possibility that the US will, in essence, walk out on the rest of the world: serve it divorce papers, get a restraining order, and let the wife keep the kids. Oh, and you can forget about child support.

I don't give this a very high probability, if only because America is so heavily invested - in every sense - in the global economy. The time is long since passed when the great Republic could slam the door and lock out the world.

I find it marginally more plausible that the U.S. - or at least the elements within it that happen to have guns - might finally stop caring about the opinions of other people. "Fine", they might say, "If we're scum, beasts, and war-criminals, no matter what we do, then that's what we'll be." There's no reason beyond their own sensibilities why they should go the extra mile to avoid civilian casualties: in terms of American blood and treasure, a far more cost-effective way of dealing with rogue regimes would be summary nuking. "Annoy us, and your capital city is a parking lot." The U.S. possesses an arsenal capable of annihilating the planet several times over. They could sow horror the likes of which the world has never dreamed, and barely scratch the surface of what they have at their fingertips.

Head-hacking? Suicide bombing? Nuclear terrorism? That's nothing to what America could do, if it stopped caring. And that's just with the capabilities they have now. The US just happens to possess the world's most dynamic, most creative economy. If they really put their minds to developing doomsday weapons, they could invent some nasty shit. Imagine, for instance, viruses which only activate in the presence of specific ethnic markers. Or smart-dust equipped with tiny packets of poison, enabling the U.S. military to establish blanket surveillance over an area and then execute anyone who stepped out of line. Pharamcological weapons which disable the psychological ability to fight, permanently. None of these ideas are original with me, but none of them exactly stretch credulity, now do they?

The same logic can be applied internally, as well. The US Army, and conservatives in general, are constantly under attack for being mouth-breathing monsters, regardless of either motivation or deportment. If, one day, they snapped, well ... it's the conservatives who have guns. Largely, conservatives who man the armed forces. And in this day and age, many people leave a long and detailed trail of their political opinions, all of it electronically archived.

Just sayin'.

Now before you think I'm sitting here panting in anticipation of all this, you should note a few things. 1) I'm a Canadian, and thus unlikely to benefit if America goes rabid. 2) A few paragraphs up, where I say, 'marginally more plausible'. I don't rate this dark future as being overly likely, not because I have any great deal of evidence, but simply because I have faith in the basic decency of the American soul. I think that, like my Dad, they might bitch and moan and occasionally threaten but in the end, their skin is thick, their shoulders wide, and their back strong. They can take the criticism, and keep on doing what's right, whenever they can, do the best of their ability, because that's just the kind of people they are.

I don't see the scenario I've sketched all that likely. Nor do I find it at all desirable.

But some times, I do wish the critics would just shut the fuck up.


Blogger Heroic Dreamer said...

Just read your comment to me over at Gates of Vienna - thanks for the detailed history - by the way, great blog title - and I think science fiction writing has a real future (I'm serious) there's a real market for it (me, for instance) and someones got to write it, why not you?

3:36 PM  
Blogger Gormless Norman said...

Hey Matt,

I've been enjoying all your posts over at my blog, so I thought I would take a peek through the cracks in the sanitarium, and see what color the sky is in here. Please don't mistake me for an inmate as I try to leave, this is just how I dress!

Your background at Gates of Vienna is very helpful, too.

Great blog!

7:30 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Hey guys, thanks for the support and encouragement! And welcome to CinS: you have the honor of being the first commenters! Glad y'all like the blog.

heroic dreamer: most of the history of the Israel-Palestinian struggle I got from a very well-read piece of historical fiction, 'The Haj' by Leon Uris, which tells the story from the Palestinian view in a not-all-that-flattering light (ie, truthfully.) From what I've read since, though, Uris did his homework pretty thoroughly.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Gormless Norman said...

Hey Matt,

I'm always happy to hear someone express the view that the US still has the pluck for a real fight. Our political leaders seem to think of us as fat, selfish, lazy, lumps of crap who are motivated only by an endless desire for comfort. Hence, Bush called on Americans to go about their shopping and SUV driving as usual after 9/11, whereas in a real war the public should be called upon to sacrifice: for the war effort, and also because the public has to be engaged.

Victor Davis Hansen had an interesting article a few months ago, which I think of as his Suburban Jason article, where he muses on the possibility that the US might one day get fed up for real, and take the gloves off. I was pleased by his optimism, but I didn't really buy it, for the reasons I explain here. Definitely read the VDH article though, he's brilliant as always.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Gormless Norman said...

Hey Matt,

I was reading this post from Aussiegirl at Ultima Thule, and it seemed to fit with your extinctionism theory. I commented at her post and said I would try to get you over there to read it.

She writes about environmentalism as a religion. It has some of the trappings: prophets, apocalypse, Eden, the Fall, etc. But it is missing one thing: redemption. It occurred to me that redemption is extinction. Eden is Eden because there are no people in it.

See what you think.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Just read your take on VDH's Suburban Jason article. Response in the comments section, but the short answer: Robots!

6:42 PM  

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