Thursday, August 16, 2007

Civilly Yours

It's easy to deride a state apologist like Michael Cohen, and I'm sure he's heard it all. Well, not all -- I bet he hasn't heard "sock-chewing puppyfucker" after making yet another dishonest point. But I'm confident that Cohen has weathered his share of verbal abuse. That he doesn't understand why anyone would take emotional issue with his statements is another matter, perhaps one that he and his therapist might address.

I had never heard of Cohen until Jon Schwarz took apart his rather interesting interpretation about how the US ended up in Iraq. And after reading some of his posts at Democracy Arsenal (I prefer Ballistic Freedom, or Kick-Ass Liberty), I can see why someone who knows a few things about the history of US foreign policy, and who isn't tied to an elite group of "experts," might get a touch testy with him. Cohen's bio states that he is a "corporate communication professional in New York," i.e. a professional liar and PR pimp, and that he is "also a senior fellow at the New America Foundation where he helms the Privatization of Foreign Policy Initiative," which seems redundant, since US imperialism is largely in private hands already. But at least we know the type of person we're dealing with, a person who believes that the US has every right to wage war, either militarily or economic, the only question being, Is It The Right Move For Us At A Given Time? Cohen thinks that invading Iraq was not the Right Move, especially in the manner chosen by the Bush administration. Oh, there's a humanitarian scenario where busting up Iraq and killing untold thousands of people would be acceptable, most likely under the gaze of a DLC-approved president. But Bush's approach is what we're stuck with, and now we must figure a way out of his bloody mess.

Don't you love the technocratic detachment imperial wonks like Cohen display? When you read people like him, you truly begin to understand Hannah Arendt's phrase "banality of evil." Of course, Cohen doesn't help his supposed "war critic" stance when he says, "Like it or not, there was a defensible case for war in Iraq," or "There is a good argument to be made for going to war against Iran and North Korea" -- not that Cohen necessarily advocates such actions, but he can appreciate those who do, especially if they "advance the debate" and refrain from personal attacks.

In that same spirit, I can make a "good argument" for breaking Cohen's kneecaps with a crowbar. This doesn't mean I support breaking Cohen's kneecaps with a crowbar, but I can see a rational reason why someone might want to, and I would be more than happy to engage them in a lively debate about breaking Cohen's kneecaps with a crowbar, just so long as the discussion remains civil.

But I won't make that argument today. Besides, Jon will soon respond to Cohen's latest spin-job, and Jon is even more civil and polite than I could ever hope to be. Jon also grows Portobello mushrooms in his closet, makes his own seltzer water, and derives immense culinary pleasure from eating a ball of almond paste, so that might help to explain his easy-going ways. For me, it's nearly time for a pint of ale and a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo, followed by punching my heavy bag while listening to early Black Sabbath. Civility takes many forms. Who's to judge?