Through Thick and Thin, 4 July 2008
What famous American Revolutionary is this a painting of?
Another day, and another year older for this great country of ours. Yes, it’s July 4th. As Apu says, time to celebrate the birth of our nation by blowing up a small part of it. We do this for the novelty value, the other 364 days a year Americans are blowing up other people’s nations. OK, that’s somewhat of an exaggeration, but the USA is one of the world’s most militarized countries who under our dear Leader, George Bush, has gotten itself involved in nearly every insurgency and brush fire war on the planet. Yes, guerrillas in remote parts of Asia and Africa who didn’t give a tinker’s damn about America, or even thought highly of America, now hate us for arming and aiding the repressive regimes in their country. Wunderbar. Moving right along, the best thing about this particular Fourth is that we made it to summer 2008 without a wider war or an attack on Iran. And there’s some pretty good movies coming out this summer, we should spend more money on those. See, the news is not all bad.
In local news I am on vacation for a few days, which is why no posts recently. And within minutes after I hit “publish” I will be lounging by a pool with a beer in my hand, staring at a field of llamas that is so pretty it’s like a Van Gogh painting. In other news. I see the Columbian military rescued some prisoners from FARC. Good for them. Though they don’t mention that this will make things much worse for the other 700 plus people held prisoner by FARC. (Details, details.) Of course the language the so called “liberal” media uses to describe this rescue is delicious. FARC are “terrorists” who were holding American “contractors” as “hostages.” FARC of course would describe themselves as revolutionaries holding American mercenaries as prisoners of war. The truth is somewhere in the middle, Columbia is one messed up place, but the mainstream media reports the news from there entirely with words that could have been chosen by Karl Rove himself. Yeah, being a hollaback girl for the White House is liberal media?
Then there’s more about Mugabe and Zimbabwe in the news. Everyone is very concerned about Mr Mugabe, he is a terrible despot, his country is under heaps of international sanctions, and there are even calls for foreign intervention and more sanctions. Oh my, he must be the worst leader in Africa. How can the world not do something about this monster? Now let’s back up a bit and look at another African leader, a Mr Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. He shot his way into power in 1979 and has ruled as an absolute dictator since then, not even bothering to hold farce elections. Most of the country’s great wealth goes into the pockets of him and his cronies, while the typical citizen subsists on less than a dollar a day. The political opposition is outlawed, his political opponents live in exile or are in jail. And Mr Mbasogo is so loved by his own people, that he has to use foreign troops for his personal bodyguard. Even Mr Mugabe isn’t that unpopular.
So why is one brutal dictatorship, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the target of world hostility and sanctions, while another equally undemocratic African dictatorship is simply not on the radar? I should be more explicit, not only does Mr Mbasogo enjoy the indifference of the world community, he enjoys the enthusiastic support of Mr Bush. The USA arms Equatorial Guiana, is allied with it, and Bush and Condoleeza Rice have waxed poetic about what a fine fellow Mr Mbasogo is. So what’s the difference between Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea? Easy, Mr Mbasogo allows western firms to exploit Equatorial Guinea’s wealth freely.
And that is basically the world in a nutshell. The countries like Iran, Cuba, Zimbabwe and the few others that are routinely demonized by the USA all have one thing in common. They won’t let the World Bank tell them how to run their economies. The whole “make the world safe for democracy” thing is a farce to disguise what is really going on, good old fashioned colonialism. If a nation lets the west loot their country, their government can do what it pleases as long as they stay out of the way. If a government insists that a country’s riches be reinvested locally rather than enrich a handful of already hyper-wealthy nations in the west, then said government will be hounded to the end of days.
So this is in some ways a very sad Holiday in America. We are celebrating the day we declared ourselves free agents from European imperial and colonial machinations, and here we are a few centuries later, the greatest empire the world has ever seen, with imperial machinations and colonial assets that make Queen Victoria’s British Empire look like pikers. Saddest of all, millions of Americans believe the cover story, and think that American foreign policy is about promoting democracy and freedom. In a very literal sense we have turned into the internally fractured and foreign entangled nation that George Washington warned about in his farewell address.
So I won’t be celebrating America as it is today, in fact I’m mostly with the bumper sticker that says “Dear World: Half of us are really sorry.” I will be celebrating our founding fathers and the principles of constitutional government and human rights they ushered in, and the great nation we will someday be again when we shed ourselves of our robber barons and their shallow selfish imperial ambitions.
Have a great weekend and God bless Everyone.
(The above image is the earliest known portrait of George Washington, in his colonel’s uniform as he wore in the Virginia Regiment in the French and Indian War. It was painted in 1772, twelve years after that war and several years before he reentered service in the American Revolution. Artist: Peale, Charles Willson. I chose it because it is an appropriate day to think about Washington, the American Revolution, and what this means to us today. And sheesh, that’s George Washington? Who knew? I would never have guessed. Things are not always as they seem.)