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Conservative Cowardice

April 17th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m sick and tired of conservatives acting like their position on foreign policy is one of strength while Obama’s is one of weakness, when in fact it’s the exact opposite. They need to be called out for the despicable cowards that they are.

In my last piece, I wrote about the fundamental differences between liberalism and conservatism as attitudes towards the government’s role in society, and my analysis was very broad and not focused exclusively on the United States. I wanted to give conservatism fair treatment as my goal was to get both sides to recognize what common ground we might have. This week I’m going to focus on conservatives only in the United States and their attitudes on foreign policy, and I’m not going to be nearly as kind. My goal here is not to spark a dialog but merely to rant about something that’s been sticking in my craw since all those republicans started throwing a hissy-fit over Obama’s new nuclear policy last week.

For those of you who don’t know, Obama announced that Russia and the United States had both agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals by a third. Purely a diplomatic move, but enough for the republicans to jump all over it and claim that somehow only being able to destroy the world 66 times over instead of 100 makes us all less safe. But much more importantly, Obama declared that we would not use nuclear weapons to retaliate against a nation that attacks us if that nation does not itself have nuclear weapons and is in compliance with international treaties. So if Zimbabwe attacks us, we promise not to nuke them. As for the real threats—Iran and North Korea—we can still nuke them because they’re not in compliance with the treaties.

Of course the republicans are going to ignore those caveats and completely distort Obama’s position to the point of absurdity. Everyone from Newt Gingrich to Sarah Palin was saying that Obama was somehow stripping this nation completely bare of its defenses. “He said he won’t retaliate if another country attacks us! He’s basically inviting other countries to attack the United States and telling them we won’t do anything in response!”

Actually—no, that’s not what he said, you unbelievable dipshits. He said we won’t use nuclear weapons to attack a country that complies with international nuclear treaties. In other words, you give countries an incentive to comply with those treaties, thus reducing the threat of nuclear war. He didn’t say we wouldn’t retaliate at all. But just ignore that. Sean Hannity insists that’s what he said—and Hannity would never misrepresent the president’s position.

All of this is stuff you already know if you follow the news. Plenty of ink has been spilled over the disingenuousness of republicans on this issue. They’ve chosen to go with their old narrative of “democrats are weak on defense” so they’ll pounce on anything that smells the least bit like weakness, including not reserving the right to drop H-bombs all over Zimbabwe if we feel like it.

But I feel like something very obvious has been largely ignored in all the analysis of this issue, and it goes far beyond the nuclear news of last week. I really wish republicans would get called out on this more often, because it strikes right at the heart of the image they like to present and completely undermines their posture of strength in the face of the president’s weakness: these people are cowards.

Last week I wrote about the underlying principles between conservatism and liberalism, but I left out the underlying emotions behind those attitudes. In terms of economic policy, liberals are motivated by compassion and conservatives by selfishness. In terms of foreign policy, liberals are also motivated by compassion (let’s not drop bombs on innocent civilians unless we absolutely have to) but conservatives are motivated by fear.

Obviously, Gingrich and Palin are just playing political games and I doubt they’re seriously afraid that Zimbabwe is going to invade, but the people who take them seriously do have such fears. There are a lot of brown people walking around in turbans on the other side of the world and they all spend their entire day plotting and planning the best way to slaughter Americans. You never know when a loose nuke or some kind of biological weapon is going to find its way to the Palookaville Wal-Mart and kill all your neighbors. The only reason the Wal-Mart is still standing is because George W. Bush kept us safe for so long—fighting them over there so we wouldn’t have to fight them here—but now Obama is doing everything he can to undo what Bush did. He is a secret Muslim, you know.

But even the conservatives who aren’t batshit crazy like that are still motivated by fear. Reasonable commentators like Bill O’Reilly have consistently supported things like water-boarding and other forms of torture, and there couldn’t possibly be a more cowardly position than that. Since the birth of our nation we’ve abided by certain principles and not torturing prisoners has been one of them. Liberals have remained true to this principle, saying first that torture doesn’t work but more importantly, even if it did work we’d rather maintain our honor and be slightly less safe than sinking to their level—going “to the dark side” as Dick Cheney so famously put it. Conservatives, on the other hand, have acted like frightened children. Please, torture them! Torture them all! He had a bomb in his underpants! He might know where more bombs are! How could you just read him his rights and give him a lawyer when there could be more underpants bombers on the way to the Wal-Mart as we speak?!!

It’s really pathetic, and they should be called out on it far more often than they are. Instead, we let them get away with acting as though they’re the strong ones, the ones who are willing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to protect America. Newsflash: that’s not strength. That’s the definition of cowardice—to be willing to do whatever it takes to stay safe.

It’s like a soldier who grabs a civilian to use as a human shield against the bullets flying at him, and when the civilian dies he says, “See? I had the strength to do whatever I had to do to save myself. If an innocent person had to die, so be it. I’m still here. See how strong I am? Where’s my medal?”

So now they’re twisting it around and saying that Obama’s new nuclear policy is a sign of weakness, as though dropping nuclear bombs on a country with a fraction of our military power is the bravest thing in the world. No, you fucking assholes, that’s the most cowardly thing you could possibly do.

The strongest, bravest thing to do would be to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether and have a level playing field. Now, if you attack us, we have to fight you through conventional means. And it’s not like our conventional army isn’t the strongest in the world by far anyway. Do we really need nuclear weapons to fight Iran or North Korea? It took us about a week to march into Baghdad—it wouldn’t take too long to get to Tehran or Pyongyang either—no nukes necessary.

But Obama didn’t even say we wouldn’t use nukes against Iran or North Korea—his declaration was specifically designed to exclude those very countries from the exemption from nuclear retaliation. So what are you still screaming about? Calm the fuck down already. If Kim Jong Il really scares the piss out of you so much, you can still drop a nuclear bomb on his head.

You’d think we could all just agree that we shouldn’t use nukes on a country with no nuclear weapons, but apparently not. The conservatives are too scared to even concede to that. They want to reserve the right to nuke anybody and everybody, as anything less would be weakness.

For the last time—your position is the weak one. You are the cowards. You are the ones who want to bring a bazooka to a fist-fight. And if that’s not cowardice, I don’t know what is.

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