Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Lockstep, or else

I don't know about you, but I can only take so much abuse of the word "appeasement" from the pro-war right following the Spanish elections. We haven't seen this much of a concerted propaganda push from actors in the media and blogs since Saddam Hussein's December capture and the announcement of Libya's abandonment of its WMD program.

Micah Holmquist pretty much nails it when he says that this is convenient politics with no grounding in reality. The claims that the Spanish have capitulated to Bin Laden are repugnant, entirely selective, and wholly unserious. They are meant to metaphorically beat people into a corner so any resistance to Bush policy is deemed to be "supporting the terrorists."

This, writes Holmquist, "is the only conclusion one can reach after looking at the lack of outrage from the usual suspects over the planned pull-out of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia."

The presence of these troops in Saudi Arabia is one of Osama bin Laden's grievances against the United States — perhaps the one that provides real motivation — so how could pulling troops out be anything other than "appeasement"? The answer is that "appeasement" is, in the hawkish parlance of this day, nothing more than an epithet to be used against actions or policies that are disliked. Hence, in a column, Barbara J. Stock can say Spain is responsible for future terrorist attacks because of that country's "appeasement" (the disliked set of policies and positions) without mentioning or even considering that the United States was to blame for last week's bombing in Spain due to its "appeasement." Similarly, U.S. military aid to the government of Egypt, which treats gay men in a manner that al Qaeda would surely approve of, is not "appeasement" because most of these jingos, to use another epithet, don't care about this one way or another because it has not been raised as an issue.

Along the same lines, nobody accuses the United States of appeasing Iran in 1980 by electing Ronald Reagan. Nonetheless it is obvious that the Iranian Revolution was really an attempt on the part of Ayatollah Khomeini to register disapproval of the Jimmy Carter Administration. When that didn't work, Khomeini attempted to make Carter look weak via the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the public took the bait, electing Reagan and appeasing our enemies in Iran. Just think of the evil that could have been prevented if Carter had been reelected. Iraq may have been able to defeat Iran more decisively, the Contras might not have had to sell drugs and it is even possible that the Soviet Union wouldn't have hung around for more than an additional decade.

The above paragraph is obviously absurd, but no more so than many of the statements that are being made about "appeasement." I suspect the only reason the idea that Reagan's election equaled appeasement isn't touted countlessly by every person who knows that Franco was once in charge of Spain is that, for obvious reasons, it doesn't serve to support any goal of the Bush Administration. Team Bush's friends in the media have therefore not repeated it without end.
Sound familiar?

"You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists!"