The (Lost) Art of Democratic Argument – A Day Trip (2)

Yesterday at the Huffington Post, Shawn Amoei offered a post entitled “Neocon War Plans Undermine Iranians’ Quest for Democracy.” The post opened, after that already auspicious title,

The “Bomb Iran” crowd, fresh off their historic blunder in Iraq, is now at it again with Iran. As if the daily drumbeat of articles and op-eds advocating war with Iran was not enough, Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced a truly dangerous resolution — explicitly green-lighting the use of force by Israel against Iran.

Amoei then went on to cite Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen as stating that any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be, he quotes Mullen, “calamitous.”

Now, if I weren’t someone who reads this sort of stuff for reasons other than genuine interest in what the writer has to say, I would have been ready to bolt at the title, and I definitely would not have passed that introductory paragraph, and so would never have learned how Amoei deceptively used Mullen’s statement. Working backwards, then, we need to know that Mullen, on Meet the Press, described both options – an attack aimed at disabling Iran’s nuclear program and the alternative of permitting a nuclear armed Iran – as bad, potentially calamitous outcomes. So, you see – you see what he did there? Amoei cherry picked Mullen’s statement about as manipulatively as can be done.

But back to that title. I imagine Amoei is a graduate of the Glenn Greenwald school of categorical thinking and reflexive labeling. True, there may be some individuals who never met a bomb they didn’t want to drop, and I’ve noted before that Charles Krauthammer himself is rumored to fly around in Washington airspace with actual hawks; however, this automatic, unthinking, empty use of the term Neocon to designate anyone who would ever consider under any circumstances the use of military force should be one of those signs that the writer you are about to read may, should you already agree with him, pet your peeve, but he is not about to offer anything in the way of respectable argument. Just in case one does not think the level of argumentation sufficiently lowered to begin, Amoei offers us an alternative label: the “bomb Iran” crowd. Crowd. You know, that bunch that hangs out around the corner of 96th and first. (Or is it the Yale club?) They harmonize with John McCain sampling the Beach Boys. Strategic foreign policy and national security considerations are here reduced to juvenile conceptualizing generally applied to groups that like to beat up hippies, fags, and suits or knock back Manhattan’s amid oak wainscoting while they trade legacy admissions. Then we’re “fresh” off the Iraq War (what’s the start date for “fresh”?) amid a primitive “drum beat” for war. Throw into that first paragraph “Republicans” (as if none other considers the possibility that action against the Iranian nuclear facilities may be necessary) and for good measure “Israel” and one has so slanted the presentation that quibbling about the appropriateness of the phrase “war with Iran” seems almost beside the point.

Not beside the point is the full title. One can certainly reasonably argue that military action and its range of consequences might set back the potential of democratic change in Iran. One can also argue that said potential has been pretty effectively squelched already this past year by Iran’s tyrannical regime, or even that the upheaval of any attack on the nuclear facilities might destabilize the political situation enough to bring about a democratic resurgence. One can argue all of those possibilities and more – that’s what honest, democratic argument is for – but the title states that the “quest for democracy” is already being undermined, right now, and not be any actual attack, but by the planning (thinking?) about the possibility.

This is not thinking. It’s thuggery. You were mugged on the way to the second paragraph.



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