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Why the 'Captain America crowd' is on the defensive

by Rob Asghar Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 6:44 AM

It helps prove what some have speculated in the past — that the administration benefits from what psychologists call “projection”. In a stressful time such as this, the public subconsciously projects boldness onto rashness and competence onto foolish behaviour, because to see the leaders' mistakes in the harsh light of reality would spark a mass panic.

Jordan Times, Wednesday, July 2, 2003

ALL THINGS considered, the Bush administration is weathering the WMD heat better than it could have hoped. They and their supporters led off with arrogance in Iraq, scoffing at the sturdy cold war concept of deterrence and equating it with appeasement. But when the war turned out looking like Muhammad Ali taking on a grandmother in a wheelchair, and when granny turned out not to be packing dangerous weapons as alleged, the backlash began against a sanctimonious crowd that believed the rest of us were dangerous fools bent on bringing America to ruin.

Still, President George Bush is surviving the controversy better than British Prime Minister Tony Blair is because, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported recently, a third of the American public mistakenly believes the US has already found Iraqi WMDs. And they frankly don't seem to want to spend another minute thinking about it.

It helps prove what some have speculated in the past — that the administration benefits from what psychologists call “projection”. In a stressful time such as this, the public subconsciously projects boldness onto rashness and competence onto foolish behaviour, because to see the leaders' mistakes in the harsh light of reality would spark a mass panic.

Still, the experts and neo-con think-tankers must know, somewhere deep inside, that they've lost permanent credibility among those people who've been paying enough attention to be outraged.

They told us that hard, reliable intelligence showed that it was suicidal to do nothing. If there was any WMD material in Iraq, Baath loyalists and bandits may have beaten us to it, despite our hard, reliable intelligence. It's peace time there, but American troops are still being killed. Baghdad citizens who should have looked forward to a more prosperous time have resorted to acts like raiding the Baghdad zoo for animals to sell or eat. And the United States is less respected than before, even among currently “friendly nations”: over 70 per cent of citizens in Turkey, Russia and Pakistan view the US as a military threat, according the Pew Research Centre.

Yes, we've been warring better than many other nations and most past empires, but we've been failing where our own ideals are concerned, with practical consequences.

The American prowar bunch fancies itself to be the lone realist about what needs to be done to keep the country safe. But look closer and you'll see a flat-out comic-book sentimentalism that drives their assumptions about what works and what doesn't. They aspire to be Captain America, going in, knocking some heads together, making things right and walking away while drawing the awe and respect of the conquered. But even in the make-believe world of comic books, Captain America usually ends up getting more headaches than he bargained for in the next issue.

What many of us said before the war remains true: In coming years, we'll have to fight smarter, not faster or louder. Many current friends will some day be threats, as the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations know from their Frankensteinian creation of Saddam. But we can't assassinate every Frankenstein monster or preempt every nutcase or hammer every hapless citizenry into a liberal Western democracy. We're not rich enough or strong enough to pull that off, nor can we live with the unintended consequences such actions prompt.

Most of us who opposed the war in Iraq weren't championing pacifism. Many of us were actually willing to deter Saddam and others with sincere threats of massive retaliation — which, while horrifying in its own right, is an approach more respected by the international community than preemption.

The shock troops of the far right used terms like “wimp” and “traitor” to describe anyone who disagreed with the invade-now-think-later approach. The less rabid members of the Captain America crowd simply shook their heads at us and shuddered. As they now fix their gaze eastwards of Iraq, towards Iran, the rest of us are shuddering.

The writer is a Pakistani-American book editor based in Los Angeles, California. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
There is... Diogenes Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 6:46 AM
small circle Meyer London Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:12 AM
(wheeze!) cough cough (gasp!) debate coach Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:14 AM
The New X The New X Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:25 AM
Good Morning Meyer Diogenes Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:33 AM
(wheeze!) cough cough (gasp!) debate coach Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:35 AM
Remeber the Spirit of 76' Diogenes Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:40 AM
Of Hope and Peace and Love my heart sings Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:42 AM
DofI Diogenes Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:45 AM
not the only one Meyer London Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:56 AM
Meyer London anti-moron Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 8:00 AM
No, actually my favorite part is: Diogenes (the actual) Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 8:20 AM
Bush dares Iraqis to kill americans Meyer London Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 8:31 AM
I noticed... Diogenes Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 8:37 AM
Bush the coward activist community Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 10:52 AM
This is Diogenes reporting from the den of my master Hussein! This is Diogenes reporting from the den of my Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 3:55 PM
Let us instead recall... Diogenes Friday, Jul. 04, 2003 at 7:01 PM
Pro-war crowd Meyer London Saturday, Jul. 05, 2003 at 12:12 PM
ml figureitout Saturday, Jul. 05, 2003 at 12:42 PM
figureitout Garbage Man Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 6:33 AM
well, actually fresca Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 6:36 AM
Garbage Man figureitout Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 6:38 AM
figureitout Garbage Man Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 7:50 AM
I just love these born again... Diogenes Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 7:55 AM
So true activist community Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 9:51 AM
The "most electoral votes"... Diogenes Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 11:10 AM
Yes activist community Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 11:14 AM
more human garbage Sheepdog Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 11:28 AM
dingo fucks up again Constitution Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 11:34 AM
Electorial College article Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 11:39 AM
Sheepdog shill Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 11:48 AM
please answer a question newbe Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 11:58 AM
newby answer Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 12:05 PM
that's what I thought newbe Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 12:19 PM
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newby votes Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 12:24 PM
Perhaps this will help, newbe Sheepdog Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 1:08 PM
Water Under The Bridge miami Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 1:24 PM
They voted Bush Sheepdog Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 1:34 PM
Substantiated Allegation court Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 1:34 PM
What? Sheepdog Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 1:40 PM
Votes DNC Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 1:41 PM
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Florida 2000 miami Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 1:55 PM
Miami - you are 100% correct with that post Bush Admirer Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 2:27 PM
so... Sheepdog Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 2:43 PM
To the Idiot signing their post "Constitution". Diogenes Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 3:06 PM
Excellent fresca Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 3:45 PM
Poverty sucks Robin Leach Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 6:10 PM
Hi, im diogaynes, ive never heard about the electoral college Hi, im diogaynes, ive never heard about the e Sunday, Jul. 06, 2003 at 10:54 PM
Good Constitution Monday, Jul. 07, 2003 at 2:45 AM
plurality of votes? Sheepdog Monday, Jul. 07, 2003 at 5:36 AM
Gore Bush Admirer Monday, Jul. 07, 2003 at 5:46 AM
Duhbya doesn't need Gore to... Diogenes Monday, Jul. 07, 2003 at 5:50 AM
logical fallacy debate coach Monday, Jul. 07, 2003 at 6:27 AM
debate coach loses. doublespeak Tuesday, Jul. 08, 2003 at 1:10 AM
??? what a moron jkl; Tuesday, Jul. 08, 2003 at 1:47 AM
wow wow Tuesday, Jul. 08, 2003 at 3:38 AM

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