Cowboys, Balls, And What America Seems To Have Forgotten About Its Own History

I woke to a text message on my phone and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I did a little reading on some of the feeds I’ve set up on my Bloglines account, and I got stuck on one post and the comments that were posted in response to it.

Over at Gweilo Diaries, Conrad is of the opinion that “Gloria Arroyo has no Balls”. He writes:

In a craven display of spinelessness, demonstrating that it is not a serious nation and guaranteed to put the lives of its citizens in future danger, the Philippine government released the following statement yesterday…

The statement details what we all know about: that the Phillippine contingent is pulling out of Iraq.

I’ve written an extensive comment there, some of which relates to other comments in the thread, but I’ll restate the basis of my main argument about this “no balls” notion here.

I’m springboarding off a comment someone named Tony made, claiming that Bush Junior is a “cowboy” and that he thinks it’s actually a good thing:

Uh, Tony.

I think the point you’re missing is that the model of the “cowboy” you’re talking about is incompatible with the role a democratically elected leader needs to play.

You don’t need a cowboy for a President. That’s why the cowboy usually isn’t the sherriff. That’s why he is a wandering loner: he tends to make a mess of any situation he stays around in for too long.

And let me remind you, the cowboy is a fantasy. You know what most cowboys were? They were poorly-paid Black, Indian, and Hispanic cattle-wranglers who took the job that any White who could avoid, avoided. The Hollywood cowboy is a pure fantasy, a creation of the cinematic imagination — just like the scary Indians of the same movies, who in real life were rather easily decimated as far as colonized populations go.

Moreover, the cowboy is a figure that seems almost designed for adolescent males, or for the part of adult males that remains adolescent. The cowboy is not well understood by those around him. He had dark secrets. He uses a great deal of violence, skilfully deployed, because (he believes) it is necessary. And so he gets the chance to blast the shit out of people using his guns. He is unconnected to others (the adolescent would-be rebel’s wet dream), and he is, invariably, “the good guy”. Realistically, it sounds as if every cowboy story is the story as told by a self-romanticizing idealist thug.

So what does it mean when mass numbers of people back someone who fits this model, by their own admission? It means something is very deeply wrong.

And by the way, you know why America’s entrance into the war was so significant? Because America was the only place with any resources left to throw into the war. Before you start criticizing others for not backing your “wartime” efforts, remember that when a much more clear and certain (ie. non-fabricated) threat loomed over Europe, the rest of the Allies may have dallied for some time, but by 1939 they had begun fighting the battle that took you lot so bloody long to get off your asses to join.

And you dare criticize people for not immediately jumping to back you in a war that is, by anyone’s standards, so much more weakly justified. While Europe burned, Roosevelt said, “We shun political commitments which might entangle us In foreign wars…If we face the choice of profits or peace-this nation must answer, the nation will answer we choose peace?. While Europe bled, the polity obeyed the will of the American people, who by an overwhelming majority did not desire America’s entry into the war.

America claimed neutrality during the war, for a very long time. America’s military resources, in terms of soldiers and gear, was very poor at the time. They were criticized worldwide for it, but maintained the position, and claimed that their primary interests were “peace” and “the rule of law”.

And now America declares, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us,” and the nation’s barking dogs criticize anyone who does not wish to back them in this war that they have, very clearly, made on false pretenses and about which their Administration continues to lie on a daily basis.

If Gloria Arroyo has no balls, well, there’s a chance in the high 90th percentile that any modern American’s grandparents had no balls in the same situation. So, here we all are, ball-less. The insult looks pretty weak now…

But oh well, Saddam’s caught so everyone will forget about Bin Laden like they did that domestic anthrax threat, or the fact that the President is an ex-cokehead alcoholic, or the fact that he destroyed every business he ever ran, or… well, everything else that explains this damnable mess.

Congratulations, though. You’ve shown exactly how people can be made not to give a shit about their soldiers (caring more to cling to ideology instead of admitting having been deceived, even if it endangers their nation’s servicemen), and how a populace can be effectively deluded.

But I wonder, do you think that Roosevelt’s pre-Pearl Harbor response to World War 2 was right? Americans I meet seldom seem to feel embarrassed about America’s late entrance in both of the big European Wars. And when they criticize Canada’s non-participation in Iraq, they seem to forget Canada joined both of the previous wars long before most Americans even thought of the possibility (let alone any possibility of a moral duty) of joining the fray.

Is a nation’s declaration of neutrality spinelessness? I mean, clearly America was looking out for its own self-interests when it stayed “neutral” during the early stages of both of the World Wars. Yet now, when America starts a war in an economically crippled country, in the middle of a politically and socially highly volatile region, based on falsified intelligence and supported with outright lies (such as the idea Al Quaida and Hussein’s regime were linked by anything other than mutual hatred), the American leadership insists that all nations are either with America, or against America.

It’s childish, it’s a shocking lack of memory. And I’m surprised I cannot remember anyone else pointing this out, and I’m surprised it took me this long to clue into that little historical fact… Hmm.

Oh, and for the record, I usually enjoy Gweilo Diaries… despite our differences in political leanings, Conrad often does come up with interesting stuff to read. But I had to say something, this time.

3 thoughts on “Cowboys, Balls, And What America Seems To Have Forgotten About Its Own History

  1. Gordseller:

    I don’t know why so many are haveing so much trouble grasping what is a very simple argument. The Philippines, or any other country is not only free to, it has an obligation to act in what it percieves to be its own best interests.

    If a country perceives that its best interests involve staying out of Iraq, then stay out and more power to them. But that’s not what Arroyo did. She sent Philippine forces, then, when a civilian got grabbed by terrorists, she changed her entire countries foreign policy and deployment plans in response to a threat to kill him.

    Either commit to go in, or commit to stay out. One or the other. Arroyo, however, has demonstrated irresolution of the highest order. In doing so, she has placed the lives of Filipinos around the world at greater risk as well as making kidnapping of even more foreigners a certainty. Terrorists are not stupid. Finding one country that will cut and run in the face of an execution threat will embolden them to test them all, meaning more kidnappings and more deaths.

    In short, I don’t much care whether the PR sent any troops or not. I do care that they ran away in the face of threats. That is bad for the Philippines and bad for the world.

    Thanks.

  2. Conrad,

    Well, the thing is, I think that if America had not essentially coerced a number of countries into going, then the Phillippines would not have sent anyone.

    Hell, in Korea we have the internet censored to the point where nothing on blogspot is visible, seemingly just to prevent circulation of the video in which the recent Korean beheading victim, before dying, implores the Korean President to pull the Korean troops out of Iraq. Why is keeping this from Korean eyes such a big deal? Well, considering most people are against Korean involvement in any way to begin with, it’d be sure to provoke an outcry and all kinds of other political problems for the current Administration.

    Finally, I should think that. at least in the short term, Filipine (sp?) nationals should be somewhat safer from threats of kidnapping, since the Iraqi resistance would no longer have a use for them and would be wiser to just leave them alone. As for the long term, I doubt terrorists are sitting around making a list of which nations concede to the demands; most people in general don’t have a long memory for things, and anyway, the countries pulling out are not likely to matter to most groups of terrorists anyway.

    Sometimes running away in the face of threats makes sense when you have absolutely nothing at stake in someone else’s fight, when you were pushed into it after all.

  3. Conrad,

    Well, the thing is, I think that if America had not essentially coerced a number of countries into going, then the Phillippines would not have sent anyone.

    Hell, in Korea we have the internet censored to the point where nothing on blogspot is visible, seemingly just to prevent circulation of the video in which the recent Korean beheading victim, before dying, implores the Korean President to pull the Korean troops out of Iraq. Why is keeping this from Korean eyes such a big deal? Well, considering most people are against Korean involvement in any way to begin with, it’d be sure to provoke an outcry and all kinds of other political problems for the current Administration.

    Finally, I should think that. at least in the short term, Filipine (sp?) nationals should be somewhat safer from threats of kidnapping, since the Iraqi resistance would no longer have a use for them and would be wiser to just leave them alone. As for the long term, I doubt terrorists are sitting around making a list of which nations concede to the demands; most people in general don’t have a long memory for things, and anyway, the countries pulling out are not likely to matter to most groups of terrorists anyway.

    Sometimes running away in the face of threats makes sense when you have absolutely nothing at stake in someone else’s fight, when you were pushed into it after all.

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