Why I’m anti-war but cannot march with these idiots

Is there a utopia somewhere where pratish idiots are in short supply? Is there a place, a movement, an organisation, a country, an idea, where the foul reek of buffoonery does not offend the smell of the sensible and the sane?

Not among the anti-war crowd in London it seems.

This is a shame. I would be delighted to join a march of solidarity with those who also think the Israel-Lebanon war to be a colossal act of stupidity. But I cannot, because just as Blair’s idiocy should not be taken as a reflection of my views, the goons who hold banners saying “we are all Hezbollah now” make me want to puke.

I cannot come within 100 miles of these people. So whilst they march in London, I am left to sit in Malvern, seething, reading, praying, wondering, helpless. My Dear Leader has ceded his authority to another country, the opposition is silent, and the protesters are sullied by unimaginative cretins who think George Galloway should be beatified and Hassan Nasrallah is the Messiah. Have mercy on our souls.



  1. Why do you and others refer to Tony Blair or George Bush as “Dear Leader”? This is, as you obviously know, the label that the North Korean ruthless dictator forces his people to use with reference to him. Whether you agree or disagree with U.S. or UK foreign policies, why is it that you and others who share your views use this term with reference to Bush and Blair? There is nothing remotely similar in their governance to the actions of North Korea’s dictator. America, even if it espouses some policies with which you disagree, is arguably one of the freest nations on earth in which the government is most constrained by the will of the people, not the other way around. Ditto for the UK.


  2. I’m a sucker for the underdog. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always been inspired by Israel. But you don’t have to agree with the Hezbollah’s methods to see that they are the underdog on this one…so I understand why many would want to express support. Nevertheless, Hezbollah is a fanatical organization…it’s a monster. And one made by Israel. So rooting for either one in this case makes about as much sense as rooting for Dr Frankenstein or for his monster.

    What we need to do is take both their sides and sue for peace against all those who are rooting for victory–one over the other.


  3. Matt,

    I don’t know you well enough to discern whether you are being sincere or deliberately provocative. I don’t think the assignment of underdog status is a very good basis for foreign policy. After all, the big bad US, USSR, and Great Britain ganged up on those poor little Nazis.

    Hezbollah has as its stated policy the killing of both Lebanese and Israeli civilians and the ultimate destruction of the state of Israel. There are published and credible reports of Hezbollah fighters forcing Lebanese at gunpoint to remain in areas they were trying to leave. We can assume they want to civilian body count to rise. Do you really see no difference?


  4. Matt, I think you destroy your own argument, or any vestige of persuasiveness, when you state that Hezbollah is a monster created by Israel. Hezbollah and Hamas exist to erase Israel from the map. They are not “freedom-fighter” organizations, as you seem to believe. As we have seen, when Israel pulls out of territory that these organizations are supposedly trying to liberate, they do not cease their aggression but rather use the territory thus gained to get within better range of Israeli cities and towns so that they can fire rockets on them.

    In truth, I would have preferred Israel not to have attacked Lebanon to stop this constant terror threat. But I can’t expect Israel to humbly bow their heads and let the rockets rain down indefinitely, even if that is what I personally would probably do in such a situation. Lebanon and the Arab world had and have no interest in stopping Hezbollah from these attacks.

    I also find your statement that you’ve always been inspired by Israel to be amusing. I haven’t seen any evidence of this from what I’ve seen of your previous writings. That does not mean that I am calling you an anti-Semite. Acknowledging that someone is not a friend of the state of Israel is not the same as calling someone an anti-Semite. I hope this is a nuance that you do not miss.


  5. Alright, I really didn’t expect such a strong response. I thought calling Hezbollah a “monster” would put things in perspective. But alas…

    Mark IV,
    I’m being sincere and provocative. It’s a provocative subject and cannot be honestly considered without the risk of provoking someone. I make no claims about the term ‘underdog’ baing a basis for foreign policy. I simply state that Hezbollah is the underdog which would explain some people’s support. That’s all I’m saying. No need to pull the Nazi card.

    John F,
    The first line of Wikipedia’s intro to the topic of “Hezbollah” goes like this:

    “Hezbollah was formed to combat the Israeli occupation following the 1982 invasion of Lebanon “

    It would help you took a more circumspect view of such things.

    As for your claim that I am “not a friend of the state of Israel” based upon what what little you may have read (let alone understood) of my writing is what’s amusing. THe nuance that you might consider is the difference between a true friend and an apologist. As you know, true friends don’t make excuses or look blindly upon the life-threatening actions of a friend…but are outspoken and critical and compelled to intervene.

    I hope this is a nuance that *you* do not miss.


  6. Matt, I’ll withdraw the reference to Nazi Germany – in this context it is probably more inflammatory than illuminating. I understood your underdog comment and the references to rooting for one side or another to be unserious, like this was the NY Yankees against a AA team.

    I’m still frustrated, though, because you seem to want to have it both ways. Am I misunderstanding you? I think we may legitimately object to Israel’s methods or the proportionality of the Israeli response (and let’s be clear – it was a response to a deliberate provocation). There is no way anyone can subscribe to Hezbollah’s stated aims and be taken seriously.


  7. Matt, you need to be indulgent and grant me one more reference to the Nazis. 🙂

    My understand of Germany between the wars tells me that the victors in WW I deliberately made Weimar Germany a weak state and thereby made a strong nationalistic response more likely, sowing the seeds for WW II. But I don’t think we can blame Britain, France, and the US for Nazi Germany. In the same way, regardless of what Wiki says, I do not think it is legitimate to blame Israel for Hezbollah.


  8. Mark IV wrote:

    “There is no way anyone can subscribe to Hezbollah’s stated aims and be taken seriously.”

    I agree. And it’s also important to note that Hezbollah’s stated aims are something of mouse calling for the destruction of an elephant…as long as Iran stays out of it that is.

    I’m not so ready to ignore the roles of Allies or Israelis in the creation of monsters. Frankenstein actually didn’t create the physical parts of the monster, he just gathered them, sewed them together, and applied voltage. Voila…monster. In this sense, yes…the Allies and Israel have created monsters. And in all three cases (Shelly, Allies, Israel) the monster parts were derived from criminal constituents.


  9. Ronan, I’m going to refrain from commenting on the current crisis because I feel too uninformed to do so, so I apologize if this is too far afield, but I must say that I love the title of your post. It articulates much of what I felt when the U.S. invaded Iraq.


  10. John,

    I missed your first comment (it looks like you got caught in the spam filter. Ha!)

    Why “Dear Leader”? Hyperbole, dear boy. Drama queenage. It’s my schtick.


  11. Should I begin with “Oh, dear Matt”….. or “oh dear, Matt”….or “what an inadvertently hilarious load of scheit, Matt”?

    Hezbollah was made by Israel? You might mean that it was made BECAUSE of Israel, which is an entirely different matter.

    Hezbollah as an “underdog”? Please. This isn’t the World Cup and football underdogs don’t blow up civilians at Seders and commit cross-border acts of war.

    “As long as Iran stays out of it, that is.” Hah. Yeah, I sure hope they stay out of it… wait… where did Hezbollah get those 15,000 Katyusha rockets again? Not to mention their more advanced weaponry?

    Israel an elephant to Hezbollah’s mouse? Right. A tiny, Democratic sovereign state surrounded by more populous neighbors (and near-neighbors) all of whom wish for its destruction? It would be just as accurate and probably moreso to describe Israel as a super-clever battle mouse surrounded by a bunch of bloated blundering elephants who have been trying for decades to step on it. Over those decades the mouse has acquired better technology but it’s still outweighed by a thousand pounds by its adversaries.

    As for Allies and Israelis and the “creation of monsters” your Frankenstein analogy is comically inept. Your play at equivalence between a sick, openly murderous religious pathology and a democratic state that has been forced to exist in a defensive posture because all of its neighbors wish for its violent destruction is miles off the map.


  12. stu,

    If you ever get over your self-congratulatory rant of superior reasoning (which actually comes across as excessively defensive) you might consider that populace is probably not how I was measuring might. In fact it should be obvious to most observers that Israel’s military might makes its enemies look like a pack of annoying rats (granted, with Iranian rockets). True Iranian intervention, and the kind to worry about, would come in the form of military aircraft and troops. Until that happens (god forbid) this is not much more than warring puppeteers.

    Perhaps you’re one of those folks who believe we’ve entered WWIII, (or is it WWIV?) as you ride through the village in your best “The Patriot” imitation, screaming “The Terrorists are coming! The Terrorists are coming!” as if a relatively sad-sack spattering of terrorist outfits combined with (oh god, no!) Iranian rockets and demagoguery might in any way rival Western economic, political, and military might?

    You, my friend, are quite the disagreeable chap. Careful boy, folks like you have been known to cause real wars to break out. Tone it down a little would you?


  13. Matt, I have never met you personally but I have spent a lot of time with Stuart over the years and can say with confidence, on this one issue if on nothing else, that Stuart is neither a disagreeable chap nor uninformed about his material. I do not see Stuart as the cause of any wars. Stuart’s analysis pales as a cause of war in comparison to tyrannical Islamicist ideology.


  14. John…I wouldn’t expect that such homeboys (as you apparently are) would be anyting but friends. I however have not met Stu personally and yet in this thread I find him to be most disagreeable in his approach to people and ideas he does not agree with. Forgive me for being so biased.


  15. Matt, my point is not the Stuart and I are homeboys but rather that Stuart is not disagreeable. But reading his response to you, in which he was somewhat sarcastic (not unlike Mr. Elephant on other blogs, which is somehow okay, I take it), I can see why you would find that disagreeable to you. My experience with Stuart, however, has been that he is ever ready and willing for a fiery substantive debate. His rhetoric and tone make such exchanges interesting, but it probably is not too fun to be on the other side of the argument, I guess.


  16. (We aren’t homeboys. In fact, neither of us have even the remotest gang connections. We just had numerous classes together at BYU and were graduate students at Oxford together, in different programs.)


  17. Matt, there are major pitfalls in the art of categorizing. My only political experience was in the office of a liberal Bay Area congressional Democrat and I did not vote for the current president.

    All that said–if I come off above as “disagreeable” (I’m actually known to be an exceptionally friendly guy) it’s because I don’t respond “agreeably” to sophmoric equivalence games about issues as serious as the one we’re addressing.

    Anyone who thinks that there is a level morality between Hezbollah and Israel is either (a) blinded by a prejudice or agenda or (b) analytically incompetent or (c) has not really taken the time to think it through. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you fall in category ‘c’. That aside, I’m sure we could have a drink some time (mine will be an alchohol free beer, probably Kaliber -)).


  18. Yes, you are friendly enough…though so is GWB and I recall that he also suggested that ones ease at having a drink with him somehow qualified him for something. You’re also a categorizer. I won’t hold that against you as categories a-c are obviously helpful to your way of thinking.

    Let me ask you this: what would be the moral non-equivalence between Israeli bombs that kill civilians and Hezbollah rockets that kill civilians? Add while we’re at the game of moral distinctions we might as well also address the substance of moral non-equivalence between the threat of nuclear weapons from the hand of one who has used them in the past and a box-cutter.

    I’m seriously open to learning here as I, like most, have insufficient information to successfully think things through to a level of moral certainty.


  19. One more point Matthew dear: I find it moderately humorous that your best defense is to try and slam me into some category you’ve invented where no one that knows me would ever dream of putting me.

    And if you’re interested in qualifications for the material at hand I can say that at least one of the two of us has both (a) lived and traveled in the Middle East, (b) taken a degree in regional studies from a top university studying under some of the best scholars in the field, (c) actually reads leading research across the spectrum in the field and (d) has two close friends in intelligence and governent in Arab countries, one in Jordan one in Egypt… oh and (e) has read the Koran twice with personal assistance from two Muslim friends.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not you. So you might think a bit harder you tumble back to your facile category defenses. The fact that I don’t agree with you has nothing to do with me fitting one of your stereotypes and quite a lot to do with me knowing more and thinking more clearly than you have or do.

    I say this w/o any animus.


  20. And what category would that be, Stu darling? Mormon Mafioso? That’s the only category I recall overtly putting you in…and that was something of a joke. I have no idea what stereotypes I am supposed to have put you in, let alone ones that belong to me.

    And darling, your last comment, though perhaps lacking animus, was way over the top. I am tickled to have personally warranted such an ostentatious display of swaggering pomposity.

    I don’t question your qualifications but rather the claim that such qualifications make your views superior. So rather than going off on a “my thoughts are exceedingly more clear and relevant” rant, perhaps you could just stick to the ideas at hand and apply some of that qualification in a direct manner? Share some of your wisdom with me rather than lecture me about the exceeding quality of your wisdom…then we shall see.


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