Friday, February 23, 2007
Framing and Iraq
That means it can be frustrating when dealing with talking points, because sometimes you can't tell if a person is repeating talking points (as in, intentionally repeating talking points, because they are talking points) and when someone is saying something that they sincerely believe.
Well, how about I mention some talking points that everyone should recognize are talking points... things just made up to sound good.
"Iraq is the main front in the war on terror". Yeah, I know, top al Qaeda folks are saying this. But what it means isn't what folks are trying to imply. The top al Qaeda folks are saying that we've moved a lot of valuable equipment and over a hundred thousand of our soldiers into Iraq, and painted a big target on them.
They're not attacking us in Iraq because they think we can cause a crushing defeat if we win in Iraq. They're attacking us Iraq because it's easy! That's what makes it the main front in their war! If we weren't in Iraq, al Qaeda wouldn't be there either. They're a Sunni organization, but the Sunnis in Iraq hate them. When they were in Iraq before, they were in the Kurdish areas, and the Kurds are only about 20% of the population.
"If we leave Iraq, they'll follow us back to America". Look... it seems rational, I suppose, to think we've got our enemy pinned down in a battle, but we don't. We don't have the borders to Iraq sealed, we don't know who all of the bad guys are, and we don't have the boots on the ground to round them up if we did. They can come to America just as easily with our troops in Iraq as they could if our troops were safe once again.
Both of these are pure talking points; they're not believed by anyone who understands the situation on the ground in Iraq. Oh, sure, there are folks who will say these things; the military commanders are under orders to support their commander in chief; of course they'll say what their boss wants them to say. But they are fully aware that they are targets for attackers, and that they do not have the terrorists in Iraq pinned down so they can't leave.
There was one talking point that frustrated the blazes out of me. Bush claimed that you don't increase terrorism by fighting terrorism. Now, that's just ridiculous, isn't it? I hope you don't have to be weird to see how meaningless this is.
I mean, okay, you don't increase illegal drug trade by fighting illegal drug trafficking, right? But terrorism isn't like illegal drug trafficking. People don't get angry about a false arrest for drug trafficking and decide to start selling drugs!
But terrorism is caused by people who are angry and hateful enough to want to hurt and kill us. Of course you can make terrorism worse if you do something stupid in the name of "fighting terrorism!"
The final talking point that gets tossed around is the one that's the most bothersome. Several times, I've had people tell me, when I'm angry about the war, that I'm angry over "political differences".
Going to war is not a political decision; it is a moral one.
War is terrible; people get hurt, maimed, and killed, families get broken up, lives get disrupted, property gets destroyed.
It's true, George W. Bush ignored the moral questions of this war, and the Republican Party was willing to let him. But the decision wasn't political; it was moral.
Given the threat that faced us, was it right to cause the deaths of thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people?
And given that the threat was almost nonexistent, we know that the answer is "no". Morally speaking, war could not be justified.
Like I said, I don't know how to tell when someone's just parroting a talking point to me that they don't believe themselves, or when they've heard it so many times that they've come to believe it. I can tell this: the Republican Party is not the party of warfare, of needless deaths, and of human suffering. The difference of opinion I have about the war has nothing to do with party affiliation or with "politics". It has to do with morality. And when the Republicans wake up and realize how the moral issues have been clouded for them, I think they're going be awfully angry, just like I am.