Pat Tillman murdered, new improved colonialism, and other depressing news from Afghanistan and Iraq
I’ve managed to go a week with only passing references to developments in Bush’s wars. And I apologize if anyone is offended by calling them Bush’s wars, I haven’t heard a better term. They were and are wars Bush started and chooses to continue, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, not vice versa. Some people have tried to tell me that we had no choice, that these wars were forced upon us. I’ve never really been able to follow the logic on that, we had to send armies to the other side of the world to fight these wars, sounds pretty voluntary on our part. In fact it’s clearer to me every day how these wars are just an extension of the colonial era, spreading the wonders of democracy by force is no different that spreading the wonders of Christianity by force, they are both based on the conceit that we somehow know what’s good for other people and have the right to tell them how to live their lives and run their countries.
In any event, I’m digressing again. I’ll try to make a single topic blog on the new colonialism someday, for now I want to rant about recent developments on the war front…
Pat Tillman. I’ve blogged about him before. Yeesh, if there’s a single story that encompasses what is so good and noble about America…and terrible and wrong…it’s the Pat Tillman story. True American gives up a multi-million dollar career, not to mention fame and babes, to join the army and fight the good fight against Al Qaeda. And then he dies at the hands of his comrades in a friendly fire incident, and to add insult to injury, the army does it’s best to cover up the circumstances of his death and make it out to be heroic. And frankly it may have been heroic, but it looks like he wasn’t fighting Al Qaeda. He was apparently exhorting a comrade to “stop snivelling” when he was shot. In the forehead. Three times. From a very close distance, not the other side of the valley from the second section of the unit he was in.
So there’s some suspicion now that his death may have been murder, not friendly fire. Great. Even the best case scenario now is that Pat Tillman’s death was a horrible senseless tragedy that the army shamefully tried to cover up. That’s the best case scenario. I can only hope and pray that some good comes out of this, at least the story is coming out and some of the guilty parties are being brought to task. Still, a festering ugly incident in a festering ugly war.
As for the actual current situation on the ground in either country, feh. Still not a whole lot of good news. US deaths are down a bit, but the violence continues pretty much unabated. Bush has tried to make a big deal about what a threat to the US Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq is, pretty disingenuous considering that there was no Al_Qaeda-in-Iraq until his invasion created the failed state for it to grow in. That’s sort of the bottom line, however much the governments of Saddam and the Taliban may have offended our sensibilities, neither was a failed state. I’m not sure if the west even has what it takes to turn a failed state into a functioning country, these things generally are best handled by the locals. 52 months in and we’re still being exhorted to be patient and hang in there by the administration. We can’t even stop the ethnic and gang violence in our own cities, but a year or two more will fix Iraq and Afghanistan? Hmm.
In the bad news department, attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad are getting larger and more accurate. No matter what else is going on, the fact that we can’t even stop our headquarters from being attacked daily is a pretty damning indication of how little we are in control of the situation in Iraq. Attempts are still being made to blame Iran for the violence in Iraq, especially anti-American violence. Not to mention blaming Pakistan for our problems in Afghanistan. I must admit, this is like moving your Queen in a game of chess to a vulnerable position, and then getting upset when your opponent threatens it with pawns. I’m not sure what the blame game is supposed to accomplish, at best military action against either country stands a good chance of creating another failed state. How, exactly, is that going to help?
And how about this proposed new arms deal to Saudi Arabia? I mean, if we are going to talk about a nation aiding and abetting attacks on America…how come we never point the finger at the country that supplied the 911 attackers? Not only did we never even take them to task for it, we helped many Saudis including Bin Laden’s relatives flee the US after 911? Now we are going to sell the Saudis 20 billion dollars worth of modern weapons? And most likely have to compensate Israel with an even sweeter deal? The administration says it’s all about Iran and the growing threat they propose, but that’s, excuse the term, bullshit. Iran doesn’t pose any ground threat to Saudi Arabia, and if they did fire missiles at Saudi Arabia, there is the full power of the US military backing the Saudis. A few more Saudi bombs and planes isn’t going to make a difference either practically or as a deterrent.
So as far as I can figure, this is just another excuse to further feed one of the most bloated destructive corrupt industry on the planet, the arms industry…and an excuse to give Israel even more goodies. Neither has any positive spin to it, the world being awash in arms is a bad thing, not a good thing. It will encourage our enemies to do the same. And as long as Israel can count on the US’s unqualified support, they have zero incentive to solve their own self created invasion and occupation problem. Which brings up another question for the “stay the course folks.” Four decades of Israel’s enlightened tutelage hasn’t transformed the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into a modern secular peaceful democracy, the opposite in fact. How the hell is the USA going to be able to do better in Iraq and Afghanistan, vastly larger and more fractured lands?
(The above painting on an unfortunate incident during the first Anglo Afghan war in 1842 is from the nineteenth century and is public domain under US copyright law. That attempt to “civilize” Afghanistan resulted in the retreat of the British garrison from Kabul, 16,500 people tried to march to India. One made it.)