The Closet Moderate: Must Love Bombs

Monday, March 30, 2009

Must Love Bombs

An exciting new romantic comedy from the Council on Foreign Relations. You can get the plot synopsis at the Cato Institute.


  • Elliot Abrams, Senior Fellow at CFR

  • Karim Sadjadpour

  • Martin Indyk


I don't know how we decided that people are okay with us bombing their country. I think my instinct is that the people pushing this view read too much USAF propaganda or stay up late masturbating to the History Channel's grainy footage of DUBYA DUBYA EYE EYE. I'm sure as shit that none of them have ever been bombed. Long story short: Elliott Abrams just unseated Max Boot in the category of "Stupid Shit Said In Public By A CFR Fellow" with these dingers:

So they wake up in the morning and find out that the United States if attacking those facilities and, presumably with some good messaging about why weʹre doing it and why we are not against the people of Iran.

Itʹs not clear to me that the reaction letʹs go to war with the Americans, but rather, perhaps, how did we get into this mess? Why did those guys, the very unpopular ayatollahs in a country 70 percent of whose population is under the age of 30, why did those old guys get us into this mess.

The full transcript is here.

The attraction of a bombing campaign is the damage to corpse ratio for your side. If you've got air superiority, you just send a some folks in a plane over the target and let fly with the bombs. If everything goes well, you hit your target and fly home. In contrast, wreaking that kind of devastation with land forces is a real hassle both logistically and tactically. While relatively poor countries may not have an air force, they almost certainly have a few fellows who can hold a rifle and walk overland to where you're setting up and shoot at you.

But there is a visceral component to a bomb detonation that no amount of "good messaging" is going to obscure. In an instant of light and noise, people lose family members, friends and limbs. If they happen to be at the target and survive the detonation, their next moment is filled with the mutilated corpses of people who, in many cases, are no longer recognizable as anything that might once have been human. Those distant from the explosion lose fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers without any ability to say goodbye--all because someone thousands of feet in the air pressed a button.

In light of that, Abrams' assertion that he's "not persuaded" that the people of Gaza are angry at the Israelis for bombing them (transcript, p. 19) is both loathsome and ridiculous. Many of the people killed in that invasion were civilians with no recourse. They couldn't leave Gaza to get away from the Israeli bombing campaign. Intuitively, we understand that it was an experience that was both humiliating and painful for people who weren't aligned with either combatant. If someone turned Elliott Abrams' father into flying pieces of bloody meat I seriously doubt he'd be inclined to sit back and rationally assess the situation. [Indeed, we might go a step further and identify that basic human impulse as one of the main reasons that the Israel/Palestine issue is so difficult to solve.]

But, returning to the Iranian situation, Abrams seems completely unaware of the basic concept of nationalism. Imagine, if you will, that the 9/11 hijackers had attacked using conventional means and targeted Fort Dietrich, claiming that the United States was on the verge of unleashing a bioweapon or some shit. Does Elliott Abrams really think that we'd take that lying down, or pause for a moment and ask George W. Bush uncomfortable questions about the research taking place at Fort Dietrich? No, we wouldn't. The aftermath of 9/11 was partially a sense of moral outrage about the methods and targets used by al-Qaeda, but it was primarily driven by the fact that someone had bombed our country.

I'm astonished and ashamed that CFR allows this clown to work for them.

In other news, Alex Massie is all over my dick.

Update 2: Eric Martin ties it all together.

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