Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Empty Threats

When I was a kid, threats were often met with the counter of, “Oh yeah? You and what army is going to make me do that?” I would typically hold up my fist and say, “Me and this army right here,” but that’s beside the point.

“Occupy Wall Street” is a case in point. They have published a long list of demands but, as Ian Welsh points out, they don’t say what they are going to do if their demands are not met. Presumably they are just going to continue their occupation, but that doesn’t seem to be bothering the “powers that be” very much, so their demands are likely to be essentially ignored. OWS is not an empty threat, it is not a threat at all.

Similarly with our current foreign policy of saying that a certain leader “must step down.” We don’t say what we will do if he doesn’t step down, and in reality it is absolutely obvious that there is nothing we can do about such an eventuality, and that we are making a totally empty statement.

I know, Libya. Except that, until he was actually dead, we proclaimed loudly that we were not trying to depose him. We maintained that if his ouster happened at all it would merely be a byproduct of us protecting the people he was threatening to kill. Our statements about him “stepping down” were never accompanied with threats to actually take him down.

Similarly with our penchant for dictating instructions to other nations on any matter. I think we just look silly telling other nations, or national leaders, what they “must do” when we have neither the will or the means to back that up with an “or else.”

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