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Wednesday, March 14, 20071173908032

Comment Upgrade: Patriotism and the Iraq War

My good friend Aaron wrote this for a post on 5th Generation War. However, the question is broad enough, and well thought out enough, to demand a thread of its own (emphasis mine)"

"I'm afraid I don't find patriotism some quality to aspire to. It's racism minus the pigmentary convenience. If anything, I'd say the Democratic Party is currently beholden to their electorate, who inarguably saw this election as a referendum on the war. I guess I'm curious why Herb and his type think what the Democrats are trying to do (the will of the people) is counter-intuitive to our country's goals. If terrorism had stopped on the eve Iraq fell, I'd have to eat my words. Alas, it has not."



His definition of patriotism seems a bit more that of jingoism. The idea that the love of ones country comes at an exclusive cost or xenophobic adherence (my own understanding of his "minus pigmentary convenience" defnition) doesn't jive.

As for the Democrats "will" I'll withhold comment as it is decidedly as muddled as their Republican counterparts and consequently cannot be effectively qualified. A "non-binding" initiative doesn't seem to be "the will of the people" any more than "stay the course" was.

Posted by: Jay@Soob | Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Racism minus pigmentary convenience? So if I think the Constitution and the Bill of Rights make this a pretty special place I'm RACIST?

Um, no.

Posted by: Mike | Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Assuming it is a reflection of his actual beliefs (and not just lefty trolling), it does seem to be an expression of ideology from those classified as "Transnational Progressives".

See this URL:


Posted by: PurpleSlog | Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hi Purpleslog,

You're absolutely right, and that's why I said what I did. The TNP perspective of "everyone's beliefs are just as valid as everyone else's" is complete and utter narcissistic nonsense! That's why more violent crimes are committed under UN jurisdiction than any other in the world. The TNPs don't care about results; just funding for their white Land Rovers and lifestyle.


Posted by: Mike | Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm interested in how patriotism is just racism without the skin color. Is it because both are forms of in-group favoritism?

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Well, a few things.

Perhaps I was hasty in my boiling-down, but I definitely had the Never Forget crowd in mind when I equated patriotism to racism.

If we're talking about a more cerebral form of patriotism, however, I don't understand how the loss of credibility to the world stage can't be a blow to the chin of every intellectual patriot. I can't understand how true patriots would stand by while we engage in mental masturbation over Afghanistan (self-defense) while bobbling Iraq (imperialism).

To Jay@Soob, I say that I always espouse Democratic-ness because of my pragmatic nature. The Republican party's idealism doesn't appeal to me, although the far-left doesn't either... Maybe I'm just trying to follow the Google mantra of partisanship and "Don't Be Evil" simply won't allow me to swing righty :) A non-binding resolution was all we could muster, because a binding one wouldn't have gotten nearly the votes the non-binding one garnered. The point is to put chinks in the armor, or at least make Executive Branch pay attention. We could reach for the stars and fail spectacularly, or we could ask for an inch and maybe pull off a half-foot. An example of lefty pragmatism I might proffer is Pelosi offering to fly commercial so she could go home in a reasonable amount of time. I don't see a problem with it. The Right was apoplectic, although that could have been Fox News' doing. Perhaps the public didn't actually care.

To Mike I would say that having respect for the Holy Documents of America doesn't make you a racist at all. Rather, I would think a patriot would jeer their trampling by Executive Branch. However, I don't think I want to head down that road if you would be one of the types who thinks the 2nd Amendment is the most Holy. Many, TDAXP intermittently included, seem to think that the ends justify the means in some cases. I refer to the military tribunals, etc. I would think the patriot would be the type to say "Let them blow up our bridges and banks, we shall not torture nor detain."

As far as Mike's second comment, I do not doubt that there are a number of statistics one might throw out to discredit UN-style governance, although I would ask what his alternative would be. Perhaps I'm too progressive in thinking that if we don't eventually move to a world-governance system, we shall never escape the bounds of planet Earth, which I deem highly necessary for our species' survival.

Regardless of whether I think others are entitled to their viewpoint, I have yet to receive my Land Rover :) Last I checked, it was the What's In It For Me? crowd that was driving expensive SUVs at 3rd World Countries expenses.

I don't believe I score under most of the checklist on TNPs. I tend to label the reparations crowd as crazies. I'm not terribly worked up about racial (or other classification) fairness in representation. I think there's something in there though... Do you know of a similar group who's more concerned with mankind's progress than my own chosen-viewpoint group's?

Posted by: aaron | Thursday, March 15, 2007

Well...from a 5GW perspective, patriotism might as well be a form of racism, in the sense that Dan has given: "both are forms of in-group favoritism".

This of course ties in with:

Dan's recent post on Jesusism-Paulism, Part VI: Embrace and Extend [1];

Dan's highlight of a Gene Expression post by Razib, at Dreaming 5GW [2];

Some thoughts given in Emersonian Circles at D5GW [3];

And the Kinder, Gentler approach to 5GW [4, 5].

The point is, I think, that conducting 5GW will be impossible for anyone who calls himself a patriot -- whether jingoist or not -- because the complex global system, static, and the necessity for co-optation will require loving one's enemies as well as we love ourselves.

Now, of course you might say that we can love them while hating their nation, also while loving our own nation as patriots; but this in-depth loving that would seek to "embrace and extend" in order to co-opt so many hands in the field, working the system from multiple sides, might require that we embrace whatever national identity they have -- even while we try to extend it into becoming something else. I.e., one might be patriotic and build a deformed sphere (h.t. to Isaac), but that's not the whole Sphere and is likely to collapse or roll into a corner from which it can't extract itself.

Or in other words: united we stand, divided we fall. Division along national borders and along national identities (within our own psyches) represents stumblingblocks, or limitations, or occasions for falling.

So in a sense, "Transnational Progressives" would be a very good alternate name for 5GWers -- but, heh, I would think that the term needs to be coopted, embraced and extended beyond how it is now used, first!

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2007/03/13/jesusism-paulism-part-vi-embrace-and-extend.html

[2] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/03/indirection_as_a_component_of_1.php

[3] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/03/emersonian_circles.php

[4] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/02/a_kinder_gentler_war.php

[5] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/02/why_the_yin_disconnects_from_t.html

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Thursday, March 15, 2007

I left a comment and very much hope it posts -- was sent to the validation screen!

Heck, I'll probably turn it into a D5GW post, either way...

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Thursday, March 15, 2007


Excellent writing again.

"I don't understand how the loss of credibility to the world stage can't be a blow to the chin of every intellectual patriot. I"

Credability in what sense? Credability meaning reliably pleasing European sentimentalities? Credability in that the heads-of-state who we spent most of the 1990s going after (Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein) are dead and their imperial ambitions smashed? Or someway else?

"An example of lefty pragmatism I might proffer is Pelosi offering to fly commercial so she could go home in a reasonable amount of time. I"

Very similar to the righty pragmatism of the White House in defending Pelosi's right to use a military jet appropriate to her needs to get home. The Tancredo crowd of conservatives is both sickening and dangerous, and is rightly condemned.

"I would think the patriot would be the type to say "Let them blow up our bridges and banks, we shall not torture nor detain.""

Would a patriot also say, "Let them attack our bases and ports, we shall not bomb nor injure." Is your patriotism actually pacifism? Or is it the case that injuries our enemies, or making them feel bad, or hurting them especially badly, is wrong but killing them and their dreams is fine?


Props for cross-posting at Dreaming 5GW!

"The point is, I think, that conducting 5GW will be impossible for anyone who calls himself a patriot -- whether jingoist or not -- because the complex global system, static, and the necessity for co-optation will require loving one's enemies as well as we love ourselves."

I don't understand this. Can't one embrace and conquer?

[1] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/03/patriotism_and_stumblingblocks.php#more

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, March 15, 2007

Christianity always struck me as a transnational phenomenon--red and yellow, black and white. So I found it hard to get either excited or exercised about patriotism.

America has been successful at blending the two, but I was taught to put religion in the front seat and nationalism in the back.

Posted by: Mark Moore | Thursday, March 15, 2007

"I don't understand this. Can't one embrace and conquer?"

Can't one conquer without creating the vanquished?

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Thursday, March 15, 2007


Pleasing Europe isn't high on my list of priorities, but being taken seriously by other nations is. I know that the goal allies in the coming flat Earth are China and India. At this point, do they care what we do? Do we care if we care? Can our dollars do the talking? What do the Russians and Japanese think? Wouldn't it be nice to have some cheap South American oil? That doesn't seem likely any time soon.

I am by no means a pacifist. I don't know how many times I've wished to reach for the big red button when I hear about the ethnic cleansing in Iraq or the eternal struggle between Israel and Everyone Else. I am fine with boots on the ground in Afghanistan. I'm fine with boots on the ground at the DMZ. I'm fine with rockets in the air and bayonets fixed wherever they need be. It's just that I don't see Iraq as one of those places.

George Bush could restore all the credibility he's lost with me by saying "OK, we wanted to reform the region, and we thought Iraq was the place to do it." But co-opting the very serious war on international terrorism is in my opinion a good way to make everyone take it much less seriously. The wolves come soon, and George Bush's voice is losing efficacy.

In regard to the other post re: McCain, I did choose hasty words. I could have changed "Bush won by suggesting" to "Bush's camp won by suggesting". I do not equate a candidate to his supporters.

Posted by: aaron | Thursday, March 15, 2007

This is a somewhat confusing conversation. I think it would be beneficial if someone (Dan) defined the terms; patriot, jingoist, & transnational progressives.

I would argue that patriotism (especially the jingoistic variety) is increasingly anachronistic. I think Curtis did a decent job of spelling that out in his comment. Although, I would make a refinement in regards to this statement: "united we stand, divided we fall." "United the state stands, and divided the state falls." I think one thing overlooked in this discussion is the state. I draw a distinction between the state and the nation (one being artificial and imposed while the other is organic, spontaneous, and voluntary.)


Posted by: TDL | Thursday, March 15, 2007

Patriotism for me is love of my national (TDL def, "the other") community. By this I mean its peoples, places and things. I dig the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, the Olympic Rainforest and all of the Rockies. I like hangin' out with stoner intellectuals in Berkeley as much as I've enjoyed the company of corporate officers at $1000 lunches in LA. I love the Golden Gate, the Hoover Dam, and the concrete jungle of New York City. I guess I have a Guthrie-esque type of patriotism. Jingoism always added that 'my country, right or wrong' slant - something beyond distasteful. If it's wrong, then it's wrong. There is no teleological suspension of the ethical.
Further, the whole 'Dissent is Patriotic' crowd is equally distasteful. Dissent is merely contrariness for most of these guys. Informed dissent leading to engagement, constructive debate, and discussion which betters understanding - that would be patriotic as, hopefully, you'd be involved for the sole purpose of adding to your national community. Guess it's a bit much for a bumper sticker, however.

I'm not so sure that jingoism is "increasingly anachronistic". I wish that it were - it's just such an ugly blindness. I fear that 9/11 and the last two presidential elections were both a tipping point and a galvanizer for many people - creating many of both the neo-jingoists and auto-dissenters. To my experience, in bars from Texas to Arizona (generally speaking) knee-jerk 'fuck the hadji' sentimentalities reign, while in California (and with virtually everyone I know in higher academia) it's assumed that the war is wrong and Bush is an idiot. Not much grey area - I've sought it in conversation. I'm usually met with cries of 'Enemy-lovin Liberal', 'Commie'(love that one!) or even 'Traitor' from the first camp and 'War-monger' or 'Sell out to the Man' from the latter since I went to UC Berkeley and yet work for the US Army. Again, generalizations, but, truly, I've noticed that, especially when tied to the war, one's patriotism is more and more only understandable to others in binary terms. This is further evidenced by the hesitance (to put it mildly) exhibited by many in both academia and the Armed Forces for Kilcullen to include university anthropologists on his advisory team.

One last thing relating to community, patriotism and racism. The embrace of Diversity and of Mulitculturalism seem to have become two distinct things. As I said at the outset, patriotism is love of my national community - but it begins with my local community as patriotism is organic (agreed, TDL) and I've developed most causally from what I've experienced most immediately. Anything that truly adds diversity to my community adds breadth, depth and robustness to my patriotism - and is to be delighted in for adding character to an already multi-faceted love of community. A diverse culture is not the same thing as multiple cultures residing in one locale or nation. The latter is, and is of, division - the greatest harm to befall a community of any size. "A house divided against itself cannot stand.", Abraham Lincoln. "It is better to live on the housetop Than to live in a house full of confusion.", Bob Marley.

I live in Yuma, Arizona now - have for 5 years. Having grown up in San Diego and then Berkeley, California, I never really considered my patriotism. I took it for granted, being in a sort of hyper/ultra America. Yuma has caused me to actively consider my patriotism. When I go to a large store and nobody, not even a manager, speaks English, it gets me riled up. Not because I dislike Spanish (I speak Spanish ok), or Mexico, or Mexicans - or anything like that. I'm not racist or xenophobic, I'm married to a foreign national for chrissakes. No, I'm upset because a whole segment of my local community has caused division and removed themselves from the potential community. I see this as harm, as division. I see this as having actively removed much to embrace in the fabric of my community as well as having removed many others who could have embraced said community - to include myself.

Sorry for the long post. Really got me going on this one. I'm not even going to touch patriotism as it relates to 4 and 4 G P and W. Perhaps I'm "wretchedly spheroidal at best, too much educated or drawn out on one side, and depressed on the other."

Posted by: Isaac | Thursday, March 15, 2007

"I don't understand how the loss of credibility to the world stage can't be a blow to the chin of every intellectual patriot. I can't understand how true patriots would stand by while we engage in mental masturbation over Afghanistan (self-defense) while bobbling Iraq (imperialism)."
Damn it. 20 minutes of replying to this got eaten. So if I'm short here it's because I'm reconstructing and angry because that got wrecked.

This fails because it sticks to the false dichotomy of 'patriots agree with me and unpatriots disagree'.

There is a well reasoned and logical reason for lumping Iraq in the war on terrorism. You have to look beyond 9/11 to understand it though. If your definition of GWOT is simply revenge, a kick me and I'll kick you back, arrangement you're never going to see it.

Barnett(praise be his name, even though I annoy the hell out of the man) does a good job of explaining it. Let me try mine own. Clinton and Reagan both do the tit-for-tat thing. Terrorist groups shift locations for training and which hands the money passes thru. Terrorism continues. It still chews up lives and threatens our national interests. It remains a problem. Afghanistan would be the same thing. We kick the Taliban and aQ out of Afghanistan and they simply go someplace else when we end our interventions in the ME to there(that's the pattern dating back to 1983). So, we don't do that. Simply going after those who are responsible for 9/11 doesn't end the threats of more 9/11s or the other associated problems of transnational terrorism. That requires remaking the system in which these groups emerge from--Barnett's Big Bang, Bush's invasion of Iraq(and there's other tangential stuff to recomend doing Iraq as well, but this is simply staying on the terrorism angle). You have to be more into looking at the mosaic of history than vertical thinking on a solitary event(9/11).

My major point here is that a) there is a good and logical reason for going to Iraq that still serves national goals(i.e. patriotic) b) disagreement with either side doesn't strip one of patriotism. Both sides of the political aisle have been pretty lame in how they cloaked themselves in the flag. tdaxp is far more a place of scholarship(except for the hot chicks stuff) than it is a place for political brawls like LGF or DKos. Let's keep it there.

Aaron, I think what you're really upset with is 'my country, right or wrong'. Mostly because you believe the country is doing something you disagree with. Also because to quickly and cheaply win arguments people are dragging patriotism into the discussion when the real argument should be about rightness or wrongness.

Competing good scenarios. You've seemingly overlooked that there are pathways that both lead to some good outcome and that each have warts as well. A good example of this is the Suez Canal invasion that France and the UK had set up but Eisenhower shot straight to hell. Keeping NATO allies happy and ensuring a low energy cost for them was in our national interests---so there's an argument for going along with the invasion. But at the height of the Cold War it was also a PR nightmare---there's an argument for not going along. Both are very valid. Both have reams of accompanying logic to justify the decision. Ike chose the latter, and soured our relations with both UK and the Republic de France as a result. Un-alloyed good it was not. Nor is Iraq an un-alloyed good. Very few things ever are. Making the claim that something must be un-alloyed good, and this may be unfair to hit you with(but I'm falling prey to the same hitting out at political enemies in general I percieve you to do at times), before you can agree with it is dishonest. Leaving Iraq alone carried a body count, for various reasons, and presented its own list of pressing problems(gave Iran a right good reason to have a nuclear weaps program didn't it?).

The blowing up bridge thing. Dude, really, don't go there. You really don't. Talking about casualties should not be done cavalierly. How do you justify to someone that their loved one died for a principle they don't even recognize as valid? You're setting yourself up a monumental task. I once looked at the ramifications of using tacnuc against Three Rivers Gorge Dam for to end a Taiwanese invasion for a friend who worked with the Blue Team. Gave me nightmares. Not doing it gave me nightmares of Taiwanese kids asking why I let the PLA kill them. Doing it gave me nightmares of PRC children asking why I drowned them. Esoteric principles are nice on paper, but you better hope you never have to explain it to someone. Even harder when they're your own countrymen in my opinion. 'You let them be killed simply so you could feel good about rule of law?' That's a load of guilt I wouldn't suggesting shouldering.

But the larger point of military tribunals and executive power should be disentangled. They aren't the same thing.

I take the Geneva COnventions seriously. That should end the military tribunals question right there, but I imagine it doesn't. Why do we have teh GCs to begin with? To discern between legal actions. Typically violence is in and of itself criminal but there are situations where it isn't(war). So there's a seperation of legal between civilian and war situations. Short form: terrorism is an act of war. GCs lay out the rules for how to deal with prisoners of war. No habeus corpus. Internment for the duration. While parole is a possibility it is not required. It's a much longer argument for why terrorism belongs in the war branch of law, but that's the argument I'm telling I use. Terrorism belongs in the war branch and ergo the tribunals are the legally defined method forward. No pragmatism involved at all. Just legal stricture.

I'm already running long. But know this. I take your arguments seriously. I don't dismiss them as 'being unpatriotic' as that's a short cut and I don't take many short cuts. It's a matter of which set of unprovable assumptions one buys that puts you in favor of or against Bush and Iraq. Now to go get yelled at by The Wife(ai yah)

Posted by: ry | Thursday, March 15, 2007

"A non-binding resolution was all we could muster, because a binding one wouldn't have gotten nearly the votes the non-binding one garnered."

I've got a problem with this. If you buy the narrative that the last election cycle turned on the Iraq war issue then this is some real weak sister action by the democrats since they were put there to 'enforce the people's will to get out of Iraq'. What are they afraid of? I can think of two things. One, they're afraid of a fillbuster. To me, and this could just be me, something that required a filibuster to kill would get my attention a whole lot faster than this non-binding resolution thing. THe other is that their oppurtunists afraid of being on the hook for repurcussions. I hope it is simply the short sightedness of the former and not the latter.

Now don't get me wrong, Aaron. At the Crag de Argghhh! I'm the resident fool of pragmatism and 'whatever get's the job done' geo-politics. But even I have an idealistic streak. If the point was that the dems were put in to shut down the war they're doing a real bad job of it. I don't claim to know why dems are doing what they're doing, but what I suspect I find odius. And not simply because they're dems. THey promised to get us out of Iraq. They aren't delivering. If it's because when they got to the Table they found that they couldn't in good conscience do so, they should say so. Instead it looks like, to me, that they're playing politics of destruction against the reps, by trying to make the time when reps are responsible for Iraq stretch out, to campaign on in '08. Oppurtunism like this, while okay with other issues, is just wrong here. That's not pragmatism. That's allowing people to die so you remain 'electable'. I really hope it is that they're afraid of a measure being defeated and not simply playing politics. I want to believe that the opposition party really is loyal opposition and not a 'win at all costs' party. I have no room for that on the right and I sure don't have room for it for those of you on the left.

And yes, your admission of hasty words, which I suspected, means you're an honest trader--even if you're the lone left of center guy on the discussion boards. That takes cajones and deserves respect.

Posted by: ry | Thursday, March 15, 2007

A few quick comments probably deserving more space than I'm giving them:

Aaron's initial assertion, "why Herb and his type think what the Democrats are trying to do (the will of the people) is counter-intuitive to our country's goals"

may or may not tie into the way that a concept of "transnational progressives" needs to evolve if it's to be used for 5GW theory. I certainly don't want to attempt to characterize those who actually call themselves that, nor how their opponents use the term (methinks there are really two different terms which happen to sound alike when pronounced aloud) in this short comment; but I would say, with reference to the characterization of Democrats, that a 5GW organization will rarely become merely vehicles for "doing the will of the people." No, the will of the people will instead be shaped "to do the 5GW org's will." In the same way, any transnational progressive movement which merely attempts to make "the will of the [international] citizenry" manifest while eliminating statist realities globally will not be 5GW. This is an important distinction.

Another important distinction should be made: "The will of the people" is an artificial and rhetorical construct. I hardly believe that such a homogeneous will exists. No wonder that the Democrats end up making a rhetorical show of following it by passing a non-binding resolution: they really don't understand that will they claim to be following -- because it doesn't really exist, in any definitive way. They're afraid that The Willâ„¢ also includes things like: patriotism, unconditional support of the troops and their current activities, and so forth. They don't have a lock on it.

Posted by: Curtis Gale Weeks | Friday, March 16, 2007

Hey Dan,
I had written a comment that I was going to post here, but since I've been experimenting with my own blog I just posted it there. So if anyone is inclined, feel free to come on by:


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