Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Militarist View of "National Security" (and an object lesson)

This post starts with the amazing victory in the Senate Democratic primary in Connecticut (the Nutmeg State) by Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman. This has truly been an amazing event, not only because it was driven by people leveraging teh intarweb, but because it has been the first popular revolt against the rampant militarism the Neocons have now woven into the fabric of our culture.

Before I continue, I need to define that term: militarism. Let's go to the dictionary, err, wikipedia.
Militarism or militarist ideology is the doctrinal view of a society as being best served (or more efficient) when it is governed or guided by concepts embodied in the culture, doctrine, system, or people of the military. Militarists hold the view that security is the highest social priority, and claim that the development and maintenance of the military ensures that security. Militarism connotes the drive to expand military culture and ideals to areas outside of the military structure —most notably in areas of private business, government policy, education, and entertainment.
Now that we have a common understanding of the word, we can move on to relating the word to the latest political developments.

To tie this term to the election, we need only look to the comments about the Lamont victory by the RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.
Republican leaders quickly portrayed the Lieberman loss as an example of the Democrats' "cut and run" approach to Iraq and a desire to purge those who believe in a "strong national defense."

The Lieberman defeat "reflects an unfortunate embrace of isolationism, defeatism, and a 'blame America first' attitude by national Democratic leaders at a time when retreating from the world is particularly dangerous," Republican national chair Ken Mehlman told the City Club of Cleveland Wednesday morning.
That's my emphasis. The reason Lieberman lost is simple, he has supported the Neocon invasion of Iraq. He thinks it is an example of "strong national defense." Please, can someone explain to me how invading a country that wasn't a threat, killing 40,000 of its civilians, losing nearly 3,000 soldiers, and spending half a FREAKIN' TRILLION DOLLARS ALL TO START A CIVIL WAR is somehow a "strong national defense".

And what is this "retreating from the world" crap you people keep hawking like it's the world's greatest snake oil. You (and I'm talking to the NIM here) have been IGNORING THE WORLD your whole freaking lives. The only thing you see outside our borders are targets of opportunity. You don't see people, you don't see culture, you see conquests and glory.

It makes absolutely no sense...unless..of is a militarist.

If one is a militarist, then blowing shit up is the ONE AND ONLY way to secure a country. Anything else is somehow "extreme left", "weak", "stupid", and "traitorous".

The people of Connecticut have rejected this claim. They have been smart enough to realize that it, like invading Iraq, was and is wrong.

If you, personally, still don't think so, read this post from Riverbend.
For me, June marked the first month I don’t dare leave the house without a hijab, or headscarf. I don’t wear a hijab usually, but it’s no longer possible to drive around Baghdad without one. It’s just not a good idea. (Take note that when I say ‘drive’ I actually mean ‘sit in the back seat of the car’- I haven’t driven for the longest time.) Going around bare-headed in a car or in the street also puts the family members with you in danger. You risk hearing something you don’t want to hear and then the father or the brother or cousin or uncle can’t just sit by and let it happen. I haven’t driven for the longest time. If you’re a female, you risk being attacked.

I look at my older clothes- the jeans and t-shirts and colorful skirts- and it’s like I’m studying a wardrobe from another country, another lifetime. There was a time, a couple of years ago, when you could more or less wear what you wanted if you weren’t going to a public place. If you were going to a friends or relatives house, you could wear trousers and a shirt, or jeans, something you wouldn’t ordinarily wear. We don’t do that anymore because there’s always that risk of getting stopped in the car and checked by one militia or another.

There are no laws that say we have to wear a hijab (yet), but there are the men in head-to-toe black and the turbans, the extremists and fanatics who were liberated by the occupation, and at some point, you tire of the defiance. You no longer want to be seen. I feel like the black or white scarf I fling haphazardly on my head as I walk out the door makes me invisible to a certain degree- it’s easier to blend in with the masses shrouded in black. If you’re a female, you don’t want the attention- you don’t want it from Iraqi police, you don’t want it from the black-clad militia man, you don’t want it from the American soldier. You don’t want to be noticed or seen.

I have nothing against the hijab, of course, as long as it is being worn by choice. Many of my relatives and friends wear a headscarf. Most of them began wearing it after the war. It started out as a way to avoid trouble and undue attention, and now they just keep it on because it makes no sense to take it off. What is happening to the country?

I realized how common it had become only in mid-July when M., a childhood friend, came to say goodbye before leaving the country. She walked into the house, complaining of the heat and the roads, her brother following closely behind. It took me to the end of the visit for the peculiarity of the situation to hit me. She was getting ready to leave before the sun set, and she picked up the beige headscarf folded neatly by her side. As she told me about one of her neighbors being shot, she opened up the scarf with a flourish, set it on her head like a pro, and pinned it snuggly under her chin with the precision of a seasoned hijab-wearer. All this without a mirror- like she had done it a hundred times over… Which would be fine, except that M. is Christian.

If M. can wear one quietly- so can I.
That's how bad it has gotten in Iraq. That is why militarism is wrong. That is why the "War on Terror" is a sick joke. That is why Lieberman lost.

And it gets worse. Much like a cornered wolverine, our Vice-President, Darth Cheney, has lashed out as well.
“It’s an unfortunate development, I think, from the standpoint of the Democratic Party, to see a man like Lieberman pushed aside because of his willingness to support an aggressive posture in terms of our national security strategy,’’ Mr. Cheney said in a telephone interview with news agency reporters.
Sorry, what?! "Aggressive posture"?! It's called "aggression". There's no posturing, Mr. Cheney, your war has killed more people than you've every shook hands with in your life. More people than you've ever met, asked where they worked, had a beer with, or shot in the face.

Now people are losing elections because of it. And more will follow.


On a different, happier note, I have a simple request: please help me. I need some help. I need lots of help. But I've got a pretty good idea banging around in my head, and it has to do with applying power WITHOUT using all them guns and bombs. The idea is to give an object lesson to those that have never learned first hand about the power of the will of the people.

More on that later. I probably won't shut up about it, but I've just given you the first hint on my "big project". Spread the word. It'll work. Trust me. I've seen it happen before.

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