Why attack?

I got asked that question recently, in the midst of a group of us disparaging some current behavior. I realized that there’s a lot of misunderstanding on both sides. Since I actually listen to as many as possible – not necessarily agree, but listen – I thought I’d try to answer that question here. Or more fully,

Why is America going to attack Iran? Why does the President think this is needful?

Yes, I know the pat answers. Oil. Ego. All of that. And as with any human endeavor the complex answer includes those as well. (The left is no less pure, and carries its own negatives in the discussion. But this is to the ‘left’, so we’ll ignore that for a minute.) All those aside, there is a core that is, well, honorable and attempting to uphold some critical elements of the Constitution. No, I mean the preamble. Specifically: “… to ourselves and our Posterity,…”

Truman Theodore Roosevelt said we should, “Walk Speak softly but carry a big stick.” It’s a line that’s pretty obvious to everyone – don’t yell and scream, don’t bluster and threaten, but be ready to do major hurt if the need comes. Implied is to make sure everyone KNOWS you have the big stick – that you’re not using, that you probably don’t like to use it, but if you have to it is there. Let’s run with that analogy as it matches the ‘real deal’ really, really well.

The risks – burdens, costs, whatever – come in two forms: Lack of use, and other sticks.

You’ve seen parents who always THREATEN to discipline their children but never do. You’ve seen the behavior of those kids – eventually they figure out mommy and daddy won’t really ground/remove toys/spank/take them away/whatever. And so they, well, they don’t behave. In fact they get worse. A critical element of a disciplinary plan is that if you threaten a discipline for a bad behavior and the bad behavior is not met with the discipline, it weakens the discipline. Now religious constancy isn’t required here – intermittent reinforcement works really well. But intermittent doesn’t mean an eternal “And this time I MEAN it.” It means you start with a constant, and then you ease up — but sometimes you follow through.

We’ve been waving our stick – threatening discipline – toward a lot of people for a lot of years and not following through with the threats most of the time. It’s the position of those who support an attack on Iran that we’ve not been doing it enough. Now yes, we have attacked some nations for various reasons good and bad. But one reason we’ve NEVER used – but frequently threatened – is in support of nuclear non-proliferation. And before I continue, this brings us to the second form of the same reason – other sticks.

You’re fine carrying a big stick as long as it’s THE big stick. If EVERYONE is carrying a big stick it doesn’t do near as much good. Particularly if some of the others like to swing their sticks madly with no particular reason. Now the analogy breaks a bit – after all, getting a stick is easy – but we’ll stretch it just a touch here in regard to that previous non-proliferation element. The best way to ensure that YOU have the big stick is to ensure nobody else gets one. And certainly not someone who says (and appears to mean) that as soon as they have their stick they’re going to use it on you and a bunch of your friends.

So why are we attacking Iran? From the point of view of those supporting the move it’s to provide “Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty” for not only us but our children and grandchildren – by ensuring when they go out in the world they can go unmolested. By ensuring those who would deny and remove those Benefits from our posterity know we have a big stick, are willing to use it if we have to, and that they don’t have one to prevent us using it.

I don’t agree in full. In fact I think there are a lot of flaws, mostly due to a blindness to consequences. But it is not done “to be MASTERS OF THE WORLD” as some on the left have said. It’s an honest desire that our nation and our children continue to have the best world possible. Remember, if you disagree, that we don’t disagree about desire – having the best world possible for we and our posterity. Our disagreement is on means and consequences.


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