January 29, 2007

A Pansy Responds

As the bloody nightmare that is Iraq continues to worsen with every second that passes, and as it becomes even clearer that we have no idea what we're doing, that all our military strategies are futile, and that "victory" in any meaningful sense was always impossible and shall forever remain so (all of which was entirely clear before this criminal war began), I fear for Rush Limbaugh's health.

No, that's wrong. We should strive for honesty in all our dealings, and certainly in what we write. I acknowledge that "fear" is not the correct word.

If Limbaugh had not repeatedly branded himself an inhuman monster ("Club G'itmo Gear," anyone?) and if he did not seek to inject his unreasoning hatred directly into America's primary artery every day of the week, I would almost feel vague twinges of sympathy for him. In light of his record, any and all such feelings are unknown to me.

Much of Limbaugh's program today concerned his reflections on the significance of an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times. I will have a few things to say about this article by David Bell in the next day or two. While Bell is indisputably correct on several major points, I have certain objections to his observations, but mine proceed from a perspective which is the polar opposite of Limbaugh's.

The title of Bell's article is, "Was 9/11 really that bad?" Limbaugh's reaction runs along these lines: "See? I told you this was what the lefties think! 3,000 Americans dead, no big deal to them. It's nothing to fight back about, and there's no reason to go to war against our enemies. We should just go about our business, and wait until they can really hurt us." Etc.

Limbaugh is a peculiar beast. (I tend to understatement, a defect I shall work on.) In situations like this, which occur almost daily on his program, it's difficult to tell whether he's immensely pleased, or deeply horrified. You might think that if you believed a large number of Americans held views you considered especially dangerous, views that might lead ultimately to our destruction, you would be gravely worried. But Limbaugh seems, as the phrase goes, to get off on it. A disturbing pathology is at work here. For our purposes at the moment, it might be best not to delve into it too deeply. As a matter of general spiritual health, it is most likely required that we analyze it further only when we absolutely must.

I only listened to a few segments of Limbaugh's program this morning; I was busy with other tasks. But more than an hour after his initial salvos directed at what Limbaugh views as Bell's traitorous, lefty thoughts, he was still at it. While making some additional comments about the LA Times article and the threat this kind of thinking represents to our nation's very survival, Limbaugh said, addressing the lefties who think as Bell does (this is almost word-for-word, I quickly made a note of it):
You have this stupid pansy little idea in your head that war is bad.
As a gay man who opposes both the war and occupation of Iraq and who generally rejects the foreign policy of the United States in its totality, I am ideally situated to respond.

War is sometimes required in a nation's self-defense, although very rarely. The vast majority of wars fought in human history have been entirely unnecessary. That is certainly true of most of the wars the United States has engaged in: from our imperialistic land grab in the Spanish-American War and the following occupation of the Philippines, through our avoidable and profoundly destructive entrance into World War I, on to Korea, through Vietnam, and in Iraq today, almost all of our overseas military attacks and invasions were prompted by goals that had nothing whatsoever to do with the legitimate, factually demonstrable requirements of our own defense. Without exception, they have led to disastrous results, which were almost exclusively the direct opposite of the original goals of the wars' proponents. (See my ongoing series, Dominion Over the World, for a detailed examination of the motives, purposes and effects of our foreign policy over the last century. With regard to the Iraq war and occupation, and given the moral principles involved, this is one war that we unquestionably deserve to lose. See that last linked essay for the full argument.)

Beyond this, there is a further point of the greatest importance. I announce this very loudly, and I say it with very limp wrists and with my lisp at its worst:
Here are the numbers of deaths in major wars in the twentieth century:

World War I: 15,000,000

Russian Civil War: 9,000,000

World War II: 55,000,000

Chinese Civil War: 2,500,000

These figures, together with comprehensive supporting detail and citations to numerous sources (along with commentary on the major sources' reliability and biases), will be found here.

Here is a list of Secondary Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century. A few highlights:

Philippines Insurgency (against the U.S. occupation): 220,000

Russo-Japanese War: 130,000

Balkan Wars (1912-13): 140,000

Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922): 250,000

The list goes on and on, and is far too long to reproduce here. Consult it and the supporting data as your interest dictates.

Here is a list entitled, Statistics of Wars, Oppressions and Atrocities of the Nineteenth Century, which is similarly horrifying. Here's still another list: Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the Twentieth Century. (Here's the main page for that site, which is an altogether stupendous source of historical data.)

So, Mr. Limbaugh, I repeat, still with flopping wrists and lisping very badly:
War is the worst evil known to man. Perhaps one out of fifty or a hundred of mankind's wars has been genuinely unavoidable. Even that estimate may be overly generous, and might credit humanity with a greater degree of civilization than it merits, given its penchant for gratuitous, pointless and utterly futile violence, cruelty and barbarism. And even in those very rare instances when war truly cannot be avoided, a great many innocent people are slaughtered and maimed.

One last time, just for emphasis, from this queer directly to you, Limbaugh:
Here ends perhaps the single most important lesson for today, and for every day.