I'm dismayed that I'm still having these type of conversations:
[The following conversation is entirely fake but very similar to real-life conversations I've had many times. In fairness, I tried to make myself sound as silly and unreasonable as I probably do sometimes and I tried to have my fake-friend-foil be reasonable and logical sometimes. Because, in real life, these are generally conversations with bright, well-educated people and they *do* say intelligent things during them. It's just my personal feeling that often they haven't had time or motivation to investigate specifics of our wars overseas nor have they done much considering of the 'big picture' foreign-policy wise. Since I believe we have a civic responsibility to vote for politicians who will do the 'right' thing with our trust, our troops, and our taxes, I'd like to see more of us doing more considering of the 'big picture']
One-Of-My-Many-Friends-With-Whom-I-Wisely-Never-Discuss-Politics: Can you *believe* this coward Obama? First he stalls on expanding the war in Afghanistan and now he's re-opening our embassy in Yemen? We should have bombed the Yemeni camps Christmas day.
Me (not sure where to begin or if I even want to go there): [Laughing] Heh, well I'm such liberal I actually think Obama is *too much* of a warmonger.
Friend: Wait, really? You're a lib? I thought you were like one of our Republican Precint chairs or something.
Me (regretting the joke): Well, I don't know. I'm kidding. I'm not really into the "liberal/conservative" thing. I'm 'conservative' on things I wanna keep and I'm 'liberal' on things I think need changing. It's a pretty long list on both sides, heh. [Smile, Nervous Laugh]
Friend: OK. Whatever. Gotcha. But, you really think Obama's doing OK as Commander in Chief?
Me: Oh no. A thousand times no. I'd probably describe him as Bush/Cheney *plus* in his belligerence. He maintains all the same policies, procedures, and arguments that got us into Iraq and Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. He's continuing the saber rattling on Iran. But he's ramped up the drone terror strikes which kill 500 civilians for every alleged 'terrorist leader' they claim to successfully 'de-commission'. You should look up the numbers. I do occasionally like his speeches though. His rhetoric is a little more measured than Bush. If only he'd 'walk the walk' you know?
Friend: Oh Gee! I don't trust any of those 'propaganda' websites with fake numbers. And I do not like Slick Barry's speeches! But, that's what I'm talking about: his cowardly rhetoric, you know? The man won't even say the word terrorist. Too afraid it'll offend his Muslim constituencies. You simply should not endanger the American people by talking diplomatically with terrorists. Waiting for them to actually blow up our cities before taking action! You gotta fight terror with terror you know? Take it to them. Make them think twice before doing it to us.
Me: Heh, well, that's where I disagree I think. Like this Yemeni thing. How does it make sense to attack the civilian population of Yemen because of some terrorist kid from Nigeria? Or, really, even if he was from Yemen? I mean our government is asserting that he had terrorist support from Yemen – Yemeni officials have countered with proof that his primary terrorist support was in London ; he allegedly had help avoiding normal boarding procedures in Holland . . . the Wall Street Journal reports he was doing something mysterious in Ghana for the weeks immediately preceeding his flight. He's spent most of the last few years in Togo. Should we also attack Holland for policies that let him back on the plane inappropriately? If the terrorist sponsorship in London checks out, should we send cruise missiles there? . . . I mean the hawks would be screaming for it if it were Somalia or something, wouldn't they? What about this Togo school? Or the Ghana connection? Hey, if he claims help from Indonesians should we just add that nation to the list?
Friend: Wait, what? Oh the libs and their bad analogies! Look, Holland might be a nation of pot-heads but they're *not* terrorists. The Yemenis, clearly, *are*. The Brits are our staunchest allies in this war so of course the terrorists are going to try to implicate them. Or maybe they have planted agents there – just to try and divide us . . . I didn't know about the Ghana thing and hey! I've never even heard of 'Togo' but if they're harboring terrorists then it's the price we have to be willing to pay, ya know. We can't pick and choose and let some of these places fester.
Me (not sure where to start again): OK, let's take the five Americans charged this month in Pakistan with terrorism . . .
Friend: Oh man! It's like that Blackwater nonsense! So our "allies" over there [air quotes] are trying to say that the Americans are *the terrorists* huh?
Me: No, these are 5 middle-eastern American men with dual citizenship who allegedly attempted to join militant organizations in Pakistan to go to Afghanistan and fight against the Americans. The Pakistanis arrested them first.
Friend: Oh yeah. OK. I heard about these guys. Like Johnny Walker, only worse! Those guys shouldn't be called 'Americans'! That's the problem with the liberal media. They always twist the story . . .
Me: OK. But some of these guys grew up most of their lives in America . . .
Friend: I don't even get . . .
Me (trying to get to the point): So allegedly some of them were 'radicalized', if you will, in Virginia and other U.S. states. Do we send bombers and troops to Virginia?
Friend: Oh brother! Wait, I don't know, you mean like take out the Mosque where it happened?
Me: Oh man! No! Well, OK, sure. Let's say you target just the Mosque where some of them were allegedly radicalized and organized. The President issues an executive order to strike the Mosque when intelligence sources indicate nobody is in it except the Mullah who 'brainwashed' them into fighting Americans.
Friend: Wait, is this a real issue? What's the Virginia Mullah's name?
Me: No, I'm being hypothetical here. We strike the Mosque with Hellfire missiles. Despite the intelligence reports, there are innocent Americans inside. A bus of school children on a field trip with the mayor of Herndon, Virginia and his sweet, kind, charitable wife.
Friend: (laughing) Oh stop! We wouldn't fire missiles on domestic soil, for one. Look, I don't buy into fake, bleeding-heart, *what-if*, fairy tales.
Me: No, these aren't what-if. These are the kind of things that go on every day in the countries where we're carrying out operations.
Friend: Okay. We should just play cards. These are not the kind of things that go on *every day.*
Me: I'm just saying. Iraqi's and Afghanistani's and Yemeni's have schoolchildren and mayors and sweet, kind, charitable wives. The terrorists that come from their countries *do not* represent their nation as a whole. Anymore than those who advocate terrorism from within the States or Britain represent their nations. Full-scale warfare makes no sense here. These are not countries that we should be attacking with indiscriminate force.
Friend: Look, really, if they can't control the terrorists . . .
Me: Can we control our own? Like the 5 Americans in Pakistan?
Friend: Oh gee. For one, the US government doesn't officially fund terrorist operations. Apples and oranges.
Me: (biting my tongue . . . *not going to go off on U.S. funding for Osama bin Laden's organization creation and support through the Russian war years. . . not going to talk about U.S. trained 'freedom fighters' in Central America . . . not going there, not going there . . . saying something foolish to avoid deeper controversy) Are you sure? What if, for instance, the Mosque had applied for one of those faith-based-initiative grants and some journalist proved it was those funds that sent the dudes to Pakistan.
Friend: (laughing) Oh stop! First, if they lied to get the grant then it's not really government support, is it? Secondly, I'm pretty sure this is why [insert any hate-radio pontificator] was trying to talk about the actual beliefs of Islam and why it shouldn't be considered a religion last night. At first I thought it was kind of racist, but the more I think about it...he's got some really good points!
Me: Oh no, great, now my hypothetical fairy-tales are supporting racist hate-radio! I think you're right - that we should just deal the cards. I'm just saying that, you know, not every person in these countries are terrorists. 99%+ are regular people like you and me with wives and kids and hopes and dreams ya know?
Friend: I wouldn't say 99%! But, duh. That's why we go to liberate the rest.
Me (sighing, almost under my breath): If only that's what this was about. If only it worked like that . . .
Friend(biting his tongue now): [Rolls eyes, deals cards]