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Posts Tagged ‘WWIII’

A friend of mine was reviewing his work week, which he felt had gone very well. A high school history teacher and varsity coach, he was pleased because his cross country team had swept its division and his Comparative Government students, involved in a model UN exercise, had been named best large delegation. “And to top it all off,” he announced, “it looks as if we won’t be dealing with World War III.”

Ah yes, WWIII. That was what we were promised last fall as a consequence of Iran’s push to develop nuclear weapons, a push that is apparently not taking place, according the latest National Intelligence Estimate. The report indicates that Iran had actually halted a covert nuclear weapons program back in 2002, contradicting a 2005 intel report that Iran was developing said weapons. Got that, or do you need a scorecard?

The problem, as I see it, is not whether Iran would or would not like to have nuclear weapons.  It’s safe to assume they would. Anyone who aspires to be a player on the world stage wants the same “toys” the big boys (and girls) have. It’s also logical that more “mature” superpowers want to make certain less stable regimes don’t have access to items that, in the hands of a fanatic few, would reduce the globe to rubble. It’s fair to say Iran is almost as volitile and unpredictable as, say, Pakistan, a country that already has nuclear capabilities.  Oops, back to the scorecard.

The real problem, as I see it, is the stream of exaggerated, inflammatory and downright careless pronouncements that eminate from this country’s leadership. From WMDs to WWIII, such proclamations don’t inspire confidence in our ability to arrive at practical approaches or solutions to problems in the world. And if they’re designed to inspired fear, they’re less effective than they used to be.  Mostly they just make us look thuggish or foolish – not at all like a mature superpower.

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It’s the time of year when we get geared up to artificially scare each other in the annual and peculiarly American festival known as Halloween (although Parisians have taken the fete to heart, what with costumes and parties and pumpkins in and around its most venerable monuments. As Parisians have also taken to riding bicycles in and around their city en masse, I will overlook their odd choice of American pastimes to emulate). This year, there is an added contretemps attending the festival having to do with what the hanging corpses signify, or are meant to signify or have come to signify. It’s all about the noose, which, having been appropriated for the purpose of intimidation at both a high school and an esteemed university, is, for the moment off-limits. Honestly, I don’t think the vast majority of people who include hanging corpses in displays that also feature tombstones, haunted houses and headless horsemen straight out of a mid- nineteenth century novel have been thinking about the offense that particular image may cause. But they are now.

Not so with the politicians who are also seeking to scare us, courtesy of a growing proliferation of nuance-free catchphrases that were previously the province of rabble-rousing talk shows. In keeping with the spirit of the season, I’m going to list some of those vying for the title of most frightening. I’m not suggesting that these issues don’t need to be addressed, only that perhaps the phrases are getting thrown around for the purpose of frightening rather than educating the public. Feel free to scream or at least, depending on how long your memory is, to go out and buy lots of duct tape.

Illegal immigrants: undocumented would-be citizens or criminals and potential terrorists who are stealing our services, lowering our wages and affecting our quality of life?

War on terror: a battle of good and evil or a misapplied fight against fear?

Islamofacism: a movement whose adherents seek to take over the globe or a simplistic, not to mention insulting catchphrase that happens to roll off the tongue?

World War III: well sh-t, who wouldn’t be ready to bring on the bombs; never mind diplomacy?

Global warming: no question we’re screwing up the planet but can we move into solution mode instead of crisis mode?

Scared yet?

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