Monday, September 02, 2013


Politico's Mike Allen on the Syria vote:
... White House officials are embarking on a massive, member-by-member lobbying surge. "The strategy will be to flood the zone," a White House official told Playbook....

The White House official said: "In all calls and briefings, we will be making the same fundamental case: The failure to take action against Assad unravels the deterrent impact of the international norm against chemical weapons use, and it risks emboldening Assad and his key allies -- Hezbollah and Iran -- who will see that there are no consequences for such a flagrant violation of an international norm. Anyone who is concerned about Iran and its efforts in the region should support this action."
Is that going to persuade Republicans, particularly the crazier Republicans? I have serious doubts.

For all their moralism, I'm not sure American right-wingers actually believe in enforcing behavioral "norms." American right-wingers don't really seem to believe in bad deeds -- deeds that are bad no matter who does them. American right-wingers believe in bad people -- people who deserve severe punishment. Other people don't deserve severe punishment no matter what they do.

Remember torture? I'm sure right-wingers thought it was a bad thing at the beginning of the last decade. Then the Bush administration engaged in torture -- and it turned out that that was OK, because George W. Bush was a good man. We were torturing evildoers. They were bad.

GOP senator David Vitter got into a prostitution scandal, but that was fine, because he's a good, God-fearing Christian. By contrast, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer should be banned from public office for life, and Bill Clinton deserved impeachment.

And, of course, in the 1980s Iraq under Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran, and against Iraqi Kurds. That was fine, because Iraq's mortal enemy was our mortal enemy, Iran. (Iran, of course, had previously been deemed less evil when the U.S. decided that dealing with Iran was useful, in order to do harm to another of our mortal enemies, Nicaragua's Sandinista government.) Subsequently, of course, when Iraq became the U.S.'s mortal enemy, its use of chemical weapons was a pretext for an American invasion ("He gassed his own people!")

So, to the right, behavioral "norms" are, well, relative.

Yes, non-Paulite right-wingers will agree that we should deter Iran -- but the point isn't whether Iran is considering the use of nuclear weapons, the point is that Iran is evil. Iran should be deterred (or attacked, or bombed back to the Stone Age) because Iran is an evil country. It's not about behavior -- it's about whether one is saved or damned. Iran is damned.

And Bashir Assad isn't, at least not now, presumably because, according to the right, the anti-government rebels aren't on the side of everything that's good and holy.

That's how the right decides these things. And the White House talking points don't take that into account.


Victor said...

Yes, of course things are all relative in Conservative's minds.

When lying, cheating, stealing, and even, sometimes, killing, are acceptable if they're done for the right cause(s), then there really are no boundaries, and no norms, to speak of.

Everything done by W was for the greater good, because he was a good Christian man, whose goals were pure.

Anything done by Obama is evil, because he's a filthy black EEEEEEEEEEBIL MOOOOOOZLUM, whose goal is the complete destruction of Murka!

Having said all of that, Conservatives find themselves in a tough spot:
One the one hand, they LOOOOOOOOVEZ to blow-up some brown people!
But on the other hand, they also LOOOOOOOOOOVEZ to piss on any and every thing Obama wants to do.

Decision, decisions, decisions...

Buford said...

Can you imagine Pat Robertson with his finger on a nuke button? ...The Xtian wingers want Armageddon...the Armies from the North sort of thing...What they haven't read was the fine print in the Book of Revelations...ya know, God's opt out of total destruction of the human race...the "one pious person" clause...

The Ghost Blizzard said...

Steve, I think a reassessment of the Axis of Evil speech might be worth an reexploration in light of this thesis. The process of bringing new groups into the realm of just being evil was never so clear and direct, and is pretty instructive considering how confusing the designation has become since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I think the massive change in society due to the internet in 1994-1998 muddied our ability to properly remember that the end of the Soviet Era in 1991 created a parallel but equally confusing advancement in the way fear has to be drummed up by demagogues.

Ten Bears said...

If it need be enforced, it isn't "norm".

No fear.

M. Bouffant said...

The elect or the non-elect: As good a summation of right-wing ideology as any.

Philo Vaihinger said...

So-called "international norms" are not per se our problem. Let the Swiss play globocop for a while, if they want. I join the American people in being totally sick of all the war lovers' endless bullshit about why we always need another war. Fuck it.