Episode II
When last we left our heroes...

What seems to be missing from the modern conception of politics is the notion that, despite the overwhelming stupidity of the masses, the human being, as an individual is exceptionally intelligent. Or at least, has a high opinion of its own intelligence. It has become fashionable in america to ignore that intelligence, to, in fact, act proud of a lack of knowledge or lack of motivation to exercise the intellect, but ultimately, the horde is not nearly as stupid as we would have ourselves believe.

It is the concept of 'good television' which has crippled us so thoroughly. We live in a large country, and within the limits of nearly 300 million people, it is possible to find the deranged, the psychotic, and the laughably dim. That goes without saying. It is possible to find people doing any number of strange practices, with any number of unique backgrounds. Simply by raw man power we are in a position to find outrageously idiotic examples of our species. Because we find this practice entertaining, and always have, the standard for entertainment becomes the emulation of these exceptional morons. In some cases, we cultivate the exceptionally stupid for the express purpose of entertainment. However, in this assfest of media exploitation, we often find ourselves asking the question 'my god, who could be that retarded', and then, in recent years, answering ourselves 'you know, there *really* are people out there like that... and they belong to the other party/religion/nation'.

However, in reality, the frustrating fact rankles; we are not divided because some of us are stupid, and cannot understand the proper explanation. we are divided because the world is complicated and those with other points of view have spent time and effort to reach their conclusions and beliefs--and fundamentally, they would no more abandon what they've spent the effort to determine than you yourself would abandon the point of view that you hold to be right; as flawed as it undoubtedly is. Filthy swine.

When Bush acts as though he were an idiot, despite our best information telling us that he is not (even if his educational background in the Ivy League and a silver spoon upbringing is bullshit, at the very least we *know* he is not an idiot all the time, he occasionally makes sense and speaks as if he knows what he's saying), we are comforted to think that he is speaking to 'those who don't get it'. He's never addressing *us*, or at least, the 'us' that are republicans, or the 'us' that are democrats wondering what he's opening his mouth for. He seems to be addressing a phantom group of the borderline cases where brain damage somehow has eliminated all higher functions, but left speech and the will to politically participate. The we who support him imagine that, if we were speaking to such an audience, we would say much the same thing, and the we who do not support him await the moment when he will address the concerns of citizens with functioning minds. Yet, our doubt still betrays us in this moment.

Are we even able to have the conversation we wish to have? Perhaps not. Perhaps we cannot get there, because of this invisible audience of the intellectually damned.

The secret here, and I really hope that it is not really a secret, is that there's nobody that stupid out there he's addressing. Nor is he, himself, convinced that this delivery is important. He comforts those threatened by superior meign with his harmless approach, and he empowers those who believe themselves to be some kind of sensible clear-sighted elite in a land of the misfit idiots. Nobody is ready to credit another human being with the intelligence that they, themselves have, so a president who avoids appearing too much like a competent official is poised to survive forever. Gore an Carey appeared stupid, because they spoke intelligently. They must not have realized, we suppose, that the intellectual elite is already aware of the problem, and is taking appropriate steps. Their job is to notify the unwashed masses. The choir, of this course. Since, clearly, the choir is so fucked in the head they'd never get it on their own.

So we sit paralyzed by this expectation, and move on to other forms of entertainment. None of us who enjoy the antics of Springer, or Survivor, are truly able to sit through it all day. Nearly everyone enamored of these kinds of programs treat them like junk food. Ideally, they would watch something that captured their interest, but failing that, they will watch idiocy in an unceasing stream. Luckily, in the steadily fracturing field of modern media, the only way to capture the public is with carefully tailored special interest shows, and we do, gradually, see an improvement in quality.

In the most generic possible terms, shows with any content need to keep viewers appraised of the situation over time, or else, even those who are interested will get distracted and lose interest. Typically, if you're watching some kind of serial, there is a clip at the beginning of the show reprising the events of the previous weeks and months, which gives you the salient points with which to enjoy the subsequent episode. The more intricate the plot, the more fractions of previous shows you'll need to show. Stargate SG-1 particularly can sometimes spend several minutes showing time slices of a half-dozen episodes in an effort to make the maneuvers of the plot understandable.

We lack this kind of integrated narrative in our politics. The News has mistakenly taken the view that the attention span is equal to memory, so, as we skip from murder to kidnapping, from homosexual issues, to celebrity antics, and back occasionally to politics, the assumption becomes that we do not recall what happened last year. Well, to an extent, this is true. But in general, people are not so innured to information that they *cannot* recall, it is only that the endless distractions of a hyperactive news cycle prevents them from remembering. To the over 40 crowd, the issues of Vietnam are real and relevant to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's just that, mysteriously, nobody brings up the relevant examples that might shed light on these subjects --favoring, instead, a kind of roller coaster of 'let's see what happens next'. The most recent additions to the voting booth are, of course, left in the dark, when the most recent events that a history teacher dare expound upon happened 50 years ago and contain sound judgements in content only by accident.

If we were to update the people on this upcoming episode of War: Islam and the Iranian empire, we'd get to start a long time ago in a galaxy far away. Islam was born in a region marked by conflict and instability--small tribal allegiances were the rule. It grew into a political entity of incredible power which encompassed the ancient persian, egyptian, and babylonian empires. This immeasurable weight of history has made itself felt in the religion since the days of its inception, and it has never ceased to have a political consciousness attached to its religious identity--in much the same way as Catholicism and Judaism. So we *know* that protestations by american muslims aside, we are, in fact, at war with Islam, and *not* some random upstart who's views are disparate from that entity. They have internal conflicts, some peopel agree with the methods, some do not, this is the same everywhere. We know this. You may not be able to pin down every last muslim as part of the same entity (in much the way you can't pin down every American as part of the same agenda), but you know that the belief system is integral to the regime. Which means that the actions of christians and jews in the conflict will automatically be seen as external and harmful, regardless of intent.

Then we fast forward. The region has been problematic for years. We know that, over time, various islamic empires attempt to form by conquering the 4 main footholds of power in the region. What used to be Ancient Persia, west and east, which are now Iraq and Iran repectively. Then there is the ancient Egyptian empire. Finally, there is the region around Damascus, often mistaken with Jerusalem, but encompassing that territory, certainly.


We *know* by historical evidence, with what we understand about the nation of islam and its goals--if there is a significant powerbase in any of these regions, it will attempt to unite with the other major locuses of power in the region. Either by conquest or political alignment of some kind. We also know that Israel, an ally, is now located in one of these major zones of control, and so, if a major power in one of the other 3 arises, it will no doubt attempt, at some point, to conquer Israel. Something which is politically unfortunate.

Then we look at recent history. When last we saw our Jews, they had fought of a force of superior numbers from the surrounding islamic nations, with the help of the United States, and had put to rest the notion that those states, at least, could remove their foothold by force of arms. However, Iran was poised with the necessary power and will to reignite the conflict and possibly provide enough force to make it work. So, the united states, in attempt to avoid having to get into another direct conflict in the region, helped to incite a Baathist takeover in Iraq; with the gambit that the Baathists would be amenable to US policy once they'd taken power, since they owed us. In point of fact, they were, largely, and we made some efforts to arm that regime so that it might fight off Iran.

However, we soon realized that we'd been unlucky, and the Baathist ruler, Saddam Hussein, was evil. So, rather than arm him outright, and give him the werewithal to make a more secular state, we armed him, *as well as* the Iranians, so that they would embroil themselves in a war with one another, and hopefully exhaust their resources. When Hussein found out what we'd done, he became understandably irritated with us, and contemplated 'going off the reservation' as they say.

And he went! He went dramatically off the reservation and straight into Kuwait, attempting to wrest the oil wealth and power from that pissant nation to fund a proper attempt to conquer Iran, or at least, I imagine, recoup his losses. The US, intolerant of interruptions in our fuel supply, and having no patience for dictators who make war on our dime against targets which we have not explicitly approved, intervened. Drove them out, and castrated their military as a lesson.

Hussein, understandably vexed by this essentially dropped out of the world stage. He did not have the power to defend himself against Iran, or to conquer it, and he knew that any further attempts to increase his power would essentially lead to gross US intervention. I say gross in the sense of thoroughly direct. He wasn't actively developing nuclear weapons, nor was he plotting with terrorists. He just wasn't doing what we wanted--which was provide a sufficient buffer for Israel. In fact, he shot at Israel with missiles.

The US, embarrassed that we'd put a total fuckup of an evil asshole in power, who didn't even have the decency to do what whitey said, put together the obvious and straightforward plan that we had to do *something*.

Now, what that something turned out to be was not a direct assault on Iran. While that would have been our ultimate goal, we felt that going directly into Iran would merely strengthen the international will of Islam to fight the United States. Which is true. We thought, perhaps, if we went into Iraq, the recent history, plus the fact that Hussein was a secular ruler, plus the fact that he was an evil fuck, would give us the good will in the region to rebuild that country as a buffer--as per the original plan, without inciting a severe Muslim reaction across the world. In some ways, this seems ambitious, and in some ways, it seems to have worked.

After all, the Muslims are killing each *other* at least as often as they are killing us. However, the unified significant buffer for Israel goal is a long way off, if it ever will be successful. Of course, in the mean time, Iran is showing us why they were a threat, by backing A hezbollahian attack on Israel, for no other reason then it was passing through some dipshit's mind. As long as there is no significant imminent threat to Iran, these kinds of actions will continue to escalate.

Which brings us to this episode of War: Islam and the Iranian empire--the empire strikes back. Fucktarts, the Iranian prime minister, or president, or First Dick, or whatever they call themselves, is sabre rattling... in a time when that seems to be precisely the sort of thing you wouldn't do. Since America is next door with tanks, a fly swatter, and some soap. What happens next is anyone's guess, but at least we can be certain that, no matter what happens, it's going to be alot worse before it gets better.

Remember, after we figure out Iran, we still have Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to deal with, and after that, there's Indonesia. Islam is gearing up to weild nuclear power, and if that happens, we'll be in real shit, since Israel will likely turn into a greasy spot at some point.

Now. In that environment, decide what to do. Go ahead. I'll wait.

But at least, god damnit, we've been brought up to speed on the episodes we've missed. I don't get what's so hard about that.

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