Deep-Seated Weakness and Fear – Greenwald

Emulating the enemy

Reuters, today, concerning remarks from Iranian President Ahmadinejad:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday Iran should not show weakness over its nuclear program, a day after Tehran ignored a United Nations deadline to stop nuclear work which the West says could to used for making bombs.

“If we show weakness in front of the enemy the expectations will increase but if we stand against them, because of this resistance, they will retreat,” he said in a speech in northern Iran, Iran’s ISNA news agency said.

In the past, he said, compromise over the program, which Tehran says is intended solely for peaceful power supplies, had led to increased demands from the West.

Donald Rumsfeld in his farewell comments, December 2006:

“Today, it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, standing at a lectern with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at his side, “but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well. . . .”

“A conclusion by our enemies that the United States lacks the will or the resolve to carry out missions that demand sacrifice and demand patience is every bit as dangerous as an imbalance of conventional military power,” Mr. Rumsfeld said in a buoyant but sometimes emotional speech.

Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard, July 24, 2006 (“It’s Our War”):

For while Syria and Iran are enemies of Israel, they are also enemies of the United States. We have done a poor job of standing up to them and weakening them. They are now testing us more boldly than one would have thought possible a few years ago. Weakness is provocative. We have been too weak, and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak.

The right response is renewed strength–in supporting the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, in standing with Israel, and in pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. For that matter, we might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions–and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement.

Dick Cheney, yesterday, interview with ABC News (transcript via-mail):

If you’re going to advocate a course of action that basically is withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, then you don’t get to just do the fun part of that, that says, we’ll we’re going to get out and appeal to your constituents on that basis.

You also have to be accountable for the results. What are the consequences of that? What happens if we withdraw from Iraq? And the point I made and I’ll make it again is that al Qaeda functions on the basis that they think they can break our will. That’s their fundamental underlying strategy, that if they can kill enough Americans or cause enough havoc, create enough chaos in Iraq, then we’ll quit and go home. And my statement was that if we adopt the Pelosi policy, that then we will validate the strategy of al Qaeda. I said it and I meant it.

One of the hallmarks of the Bush presidency — arguably the central one — is that we have adopted the mentality and mimicked the behavior of “our enemies,” including those whom we have long considered, rightfully so, to be savage and uncivilized. As a result, our foreign policy consists of little more than flamboyant demonstrations of our own “toughness” because that, so the thinking goes, is the only language which “our enemies” understand, and we must speak “their language” (hence, we stay in Iraq not because it makes geopolitical sense, but because we have to prove to Al Qaeda that they cannot “break our will”).

Thus, any measure designed to avert war — negotiations, diplomacy, compromise, an acceptance of the fact that we need not force every country to submit to our national Will — are scornfully dismissed as “weakness,” which, in turn, is “provocative.” Conversely, war-seeking policies are always desirable because they show how tough and strong we are.

President Ahmadinejad’s comments yesterday summed up the mentality which drives the Bush administration perfectly, precisely because he shares the same mentality: “If we show weakness in front of the enemy, the expectations will increase, but if we stand against them, because of this resistance, they will retreat.” This is, in essence, the Neoconservative Anthem. It mistakes mindless chest-beating belligerence, panic and hysteria for strength and resolve, even though such behavior is really the ultimate hallmark of deep-seated weakness and fear.

When it comes to equating the United States with the likes of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nobody has done more to attempt to bring about that outcome than George Bush and his neoconservative mentors. And they have accomplished that by simultaneously elevating the legitimacy and significance of those petty tyrants and barbarians, while continuously lowering our own behavior to the depths of their savagery and by adopting their insatiable need for violent conflict.

Read the rest here.

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