Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Matt Taibbi, in a great post about the torture/anti torture divide that seems to be part of the current political discourse, has hit on something that also bothered me during the last four or five years, particularly during last years White House race. "We fight them over there so we don't have to fight them at over here." What the heck does that mean? Matt says:

I never understood what the hell that was all about. The best I could figure is that the people who were saying this think of the world like a big game of Risk, and they think that if we commit a big force to some place like Iraq, the “other side” will have to leave all his forces over there or something to keep us from moving through Eurasia. This might make sense in a real war, in a war-between-nations war, but it’s completely absurd in a conflict where the “other side” is actually hundreds if not thousands of different/unrelated actors and can successfully attack a country like the U.S. using just a few people at a time. Sending 160,000 troops to Iraq does absolutely nothing to prevent a terrorist group like al-Qaeda from sending over a couple of “exchange students” to dump botulinum toxin into the Akron reservoir.

Okay check that — it does nothing positive. Because it might prevent such attacks in the sense of giving foreign terrorists an array of more enticing targets to shoot at who are closer to home. But in real terms the idea “we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” is just magical thinking, the kind of notion that feels like it makes sense because your brain is running amok in the unconscious making unsupervised connections between unrelated things, sort of like an OCD patient who believes that if he steps on every third sidewalk crack he won’t get into a car accident. What’s amazing about this sort of propaganda is that once it gets hammered into your head enough, the logic of it begins to feel self-evident, above the need for explanation. Over and over again on the campaign trail last year I had people explain this concept to me by simply repeating themselves.

Read the whole thing. He has a better handle on this than most. To me the real shame of this is that the Mainstream Media (MSM) never asked the question. When McCain would throw out the "over there/not here" sound bite he was never called on it. Couldn't someone in the press have just said, "Senator, what does that mean?" or "Senator, how exactly does that work?" But no, he and his backers just kept saying it.

By the way. The Matt Taibbi piece also points out one of the great frustrations of writing a blog. Someone somewhere has probably already written the same thing that a blogger has just thought of. Oh well. It's a big web world.

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