Comedian, activist Bill Maher. (photo: HBO)
14 September 2013
ew rule: 12 years after 9/11, and amidst yet another debate on whether to bomb yet another Muslim country, America must stop asking the question, "Why do they hate us?" Forget the debate on Syria, we need a debate on why we're always debating whether to bomb someone. Because we're starting to look not so much like the world's policeman, but more like George Zimmerman: itching to use force and then pretending it's because we had no choice.
Now, I'm against chemical weapons, and I don't care who knows it. And there's no doubt a guy like Bashar al-Assad deserves to get blown up: using toxic chemicals on unsuspecting civilians is purely and profoundly evil.
But enough about Monsanto. When it comes to Syria, I do understand the appeal of putting the world on notice that if you use poison gas, the United States of America will personally fuck you up: we will seek out the counsel and support of the entire family of nations, and then, no matter what they say, we will go ahead and fuck you up.
But however valid that argument may be, it is, I believe, outweighed by the fact that we have to stop bombing Muslim countries if we ever want to feel safe from terrorism in our own. The Chemical Weapons Convention is important, but to the jihadi in the street, it just looks like we're always looking for a new reason to bomb them. We keep calling this part of the world a tinderbox - and we keep lighting fires there.
Even worse, bombing seems to be our answer for everything.
Since 1945, when Jesus granted America air superiority, we've bombed Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Serbia, Somalia, Bosnia, the Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. And Yemen only because the tenth one was free.
How did we inherit this moral obligation to bring justice to the world via death from above? Are we Zeus? It doesn't make any sense. Our schools are crumbling, and we want to teach everyone else a lesson?
And look, like I said, I'm no fan of Assad. And I say that openly: I don't care if it costs me jobs in Hollywood. I think he's the worst kind of sociopath - the kind who commits unspeakable acts, but who looks like a menswear salesman.
I'm just pointing out that in recent years, our foreign policy debates look like the Facebook page of a loner who shot up a McDonald's. We're the only country in the world that muses out loud about who we might bomb next:
Iran, yeah we might bomb you ... thinking about it ... maybe, depends on my mood.
We did this with Iraq after 9/11, even though they had nothing to do with 9/11. We do it with Iran every day. And now, it's Syria's turn. We're like a schoolyard bully who's got every kid in the class nervous they're going to be next - and I don't know if anyone should have that power. Can you imagine going to work and sitting at the lunch table in front of ten people and saying:
Hey, you think we should ... kill Bob? It would send a message to Steve.
Who acts like this?
People in other countries don't talk like this. Probably because, if they did, we'd bomb them. Is there no self-awareness about how arrogant it looks to sit around politely pondering who needs a good bombing?
And,we're the only nation - as we have seen in this Syrian fiasco - who threatens to drop bombs on you while telling you we don't want to get involved!
We're just bombing, please, don't get up - no boots on the ground, just a little light bombing, we'll be out of your hair in a week.
I remember being on the Howard Stern show 12 years ago this week, right after 9/11, and Howard said that, in retaliation for 9/11, America should bomb a Muslim country, any Muslim country, it didn't matter which one. And yet somehow, I was the one on trial for talking crazy.
And I thought to myself, really? Bomb any Muslim country - that's the policy? Get a map of the Middle East and just throw a dart at it?
Well, apparently George W Bush was listening that day because that's exactly what we did.