Pathological Narcissism and the American Way

“He should point out this is not just an Iranian issue. This is an American issue.” This is John McCain, from the Rachel Maddow clip below. To me, this encapsulates the entire problem with the Right’s approach to foreign policy.

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On the clip Chris Hayes of The Nation said,

“In the long mythology of neoconservatism there’s a notion that Reagan single-handedly brought down the entire Soviet Empire because he said ‘tear down this wall,’ and somehow if you are, like, really willful and chest thumping that the world will sort of bend to your will. … There’s a tremendous pathological narcissism on behalf of people like McCain and [Lindsey] Graham, that everything revolves around the U.S. and revolves around our own, kind of, preening moral self-satisfaction, and it’s actually, it’s really destructive. I mean, if the president were doing what they wanted him to do, we would see things get worse in Iran, worse for the dissidents and protesters. It’s very hard to excuse.”

Of course, in a sense what’s going on in Iran is not just an Iranian issue; it’s the world’s issue. On the other hand, this is very much an issue the Iranian people need to work out for themselves, without outside interference.

And all manner of people keep saying that bellicose rhetoric from America is exactly what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei want, just as an American invasion of a Muslim country was exactly what Osama bin Laden wanted. The chuckleheads on the American Right are so easily manipulated it isn’t funny.

Today there is much self-righteous chest-thumping on the Right about bloodshed in the streets of Tehran. The chest-thumpers are, for the most part, the same crew who has been calling for bombing of Iran for years. They wail about the martyred Neda Agha-Soltan, but if Ms. Agha-Soltan had been killed by an American bomb or drone she would have been, to them, collateral damage and not given a moment’s thought.

A rightie reading this might accuse me of “blaming” America. No, I’m saying America needs to not do things that are blameworthy. It’s my country, right or wrong, but as a patriot I feel it’s my duty to nudge it toward the right and away from the wrong.

23 thoughts on “Pathological Narcissism and the American Way

  1. Hell, in the 2004 presidential election the U.N. asked to send in observers stationed at a respectful distance from some polling places to ‘observe’ our elections. They were refused – that’s how much WE appreciate ‘others’ interferring in our (probably nefarious) business.

    Our assumed god-given moral authority to police the world might well reveal some less than moral, let alone democratic practices in the running of our own country.

  2. On the other hand, this is very much an issue the Iranian Sudanese people need to work out for themselves, without outside interference.

    See how that sounds now?

  3. See how that sounds now?

    Eric is a wonderful example of the childish, over-simplified kind of thinking that exemplifies Right ideas on foreign policy. The situation in Iran in no way resembles the situation in the Sudan. But to a rightie, all foreign places are alike. If intervention is the answer to one foreign situation, it is the answer to all foreign situations, no matter the details.

    Exactly why these people cannot be trusted with foreign policy.

  4. McSham was on Washington Journal this a.m. I hoped that a caller would ask him to reconcile his “we luvs us some Ay-ran-ians” with bomb, bomb, etc. The Neconners anxiety that gets managed with bellicosity is dangerous. It takes a cool-hand on the flight controls to keep the aircraft stable in the turbulence. Maybe that’s how this old man got shot down back in the cluster-dukkha some years ago.

  5. Thank DOG this man did not get elected. This is one of the reasons I vehemently opposed him.

  6. As near as I can ascertain, the two factions in the Iranian “conflict” are Revolutionaries and Iran-Iraq War Vets. Neither, if in power, has any love for the US, so I really don’t know what the jubilant pro-protesters are happy about, except that Iran embarrassed us a couple of decades ago, and they are no better than people in “that region” of the world in letting go of grudges…

    In the short term, the actions in Iran are immaterial to our well-being; in the long term, we’re all dead anyway (and no one can predict where this might go, regardless). It is just one more issue the Right can use to heckle the current President, and not a whole lot more.

  7. …I take even one more hop, skip, and a jump down Memory Lane beyond felicity’s ’04 reference. I imagine what the reaction would have been if other nations in the world (in particular those who we suspect of not having our best interests at heart) had egged on voters to take to the streets in protest – perhaps to bring down the government – after the SCOTUS Bush v. Gore decision back in 2000. Think of the outcry from the right if other governments had decided to call our government illegitimate based on all those Florida goings-on…

  8. I have never understood “my country right or wrong.” I feel that way about my family, but beyond that, I’ve always (well, at least since I was about 15) identified myself more strongly as a human being than as a United Statesian. When we committed the ultimate war crime and invaded and occupied a country that was of no threat to us, my default position was NOT that, despite the bogus reasons for entering the war, I hoped we’d win anyway. Patriotism seems to me to be a very minor virtue, subordinate to virtually any other virtue. I really don’t get it at all.

  9. Hayes’ “pathological narcissism” is an apt description. My solution would be to have them enlist…maybe back the boot camp-bound buses up to exits at Nascar, tractor pull and WWF events. OK, just kidding but what an image.

    Narcissistic Personality disorder has been desscribed, as have the other types, as a pervasive outlook that prevents both assimilation of new facts as they arise and consequently personal growth. These types become human “dead ends.”

    There’s also a deep problem with the way these types reason forth from “I” to “We” as if to overly vest their own individual self-worth in that of the larger group…all the while being unable to attend to their own personal issues. This is something more than simple patriotism, it is displacement that projects their own neuroses on the body politic and to the regard for other nations and ethnic groups regardless of whether they’ve actually come to know individuals of those groups.

    It is indeed pathological and a social disease well worth illuminating given that it has reached such epidemic proportions.

  10. Eric Blair: George Orwell called from Socialist heaven. He wants you to please use another moniker. He suggests Marion Morrison.

  11. The assumption is also that since there is not a declaration through the loud mouth media channels, there is nothing going on. Through covert channels, Obama may have communicated with the insurgents/freedom fighters/Musavi. The best thing Reagan was able to do was recognize that chest thumping was not what was needed with Gorby. He did not single handedly bring down the evil empire, but allowed for the reforms to take place and not allow for the United States to be used by hard liners in the Soviet Union to continue with their oppressive regime. Diplomacy and achieving our ends, which in Iran is the end of this regime, takes more than just willing it into existence.

  12. In wingnutopia it appears that there are only two possible outcomes:

    1. Barack Hussein Obama does nothing, at the behest of his Islamic overlords. We eventually get terror-nuked, with much subsequent gnashing of The Left teeth.

    2. The God Fearing Freedom Loving Right forces march into Tehran, escorted by God Fearing Freedom Loving Iranians, and Al queda surrenders, and Cheney/Wolfowitz/Natsios/etc.. are vindicated, and godless liberals repent, and Obama weeps… with church bells ringing and children singing.

  13. the God Fearing Freedom Loving Righties are raptured up into the heavenly kingdom never to be seen or heard of again. I like it. I like it.

  14. Can we get beyond their labeling and just start calling the “Wrongies” and/or “Wrongists?”

  15. the russians also tried to keep up with us in amilitary build-up . and it bank rupted them . so actuallyit was the american middle class who brought the wall down

  16. Don’t I remember an instance where HW Bush 41 provided verbal support for a group of Iraqis who were emboldened to overthrow Sadam on the basis of that verbal support, then were slaughtered because 41 provided only verbal support, not military? Somebody, maybe Tweety, was reporting that late last week, and I have vague memory of the incident though I can’t find a reference on the Internets. Seems another good reason to watch what we say.

    Joan: Brilliant. :o)

  17. I was watching that clown parade on FOX last night. One wonders why Henry the K and Paulie Wolfowitz are still on the loose, but then one realizes that when something is really evil and mind numbing , Kissinger and Associates is the underwriter.
    That Lindsey Graham is one frightening little game cock…………

  18. It was the Kurds who were going to fight Saddam. They were subsequently massacred by Saddam because we didn’t give them military help.

  19. Raenelle,

    Here is a quote from Carl Schurz, a German-American statesman, in reference to your objections to the phrase “My country, right or wrong.” This quote was from a speech delivered to the Anti-Imperialistic Conference in 1899 in response to US actions during and following the Spanish-American War. It’s a different spin on what patriotism truly entails.

    I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: “Our country, right or wrong!” They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: “Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.”

    – Carl Schurz, “The Policy of Imperialism,” in Speeches, Correspondence
    and Political Papers of Carl Schurz, vol. 6 (1913), pp. 119–20.

    If you are interested, see the Wikipedia article on Schurz. He was an interesting fellow.

  20. You have to think like a wingnut to see the genius of their plan. (it’s not to my credit that I can.) Suppose President Obama was to declare the Iranian election a fraud and decide that Ahmadinejad lost. There are 2 possible oucomes in Iran. 1) The regime falls and we claim credit. 2) The regime does not fall and refuses any invitation to negotiate – and builds the bomb resulting iin war, either us or Israil nuking Tehran including the disodents the neocons love so much… Either outcome is acceptable to them. It’s a perfect plan.

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