Wikileaks, Korea, the War on Terror, Afghanistan, and Kafka in the News
Sigh. I had the week’s blogs all written out, hoping that reality would be kind enough not to invalidate them before I hit the ol “publish” button, no such luck. No, world events have just kept on transpiring, so I better take a look at them. I’ll get back to Barney and Betty Hill and their encounter with the Mothman tomorrow, today some breaking news.
First out of the gate is the Wikileaks Afghanistan document releases, possibly the largest leak of classified material in US history. This is disturbing to me on a number of levels. Yeah, it’s nice to see the ugliness of the war in Afghanistan exposed, I can’t fault that. The mainstream media’s complicity in overlooking the horrors that occur in our wars is a huge part of the reason why there is no large scale opposition to them. It’s nice to see information that the government and the military has tried so hard to cover up has been released to the public domain. When people or governments keep secrets, it’s usually because they are trying to hide something or at the very least mislead. In this case, it’s just how ugly and gritty and ineffective our so called war of liberation in Afghanistan is, and how many of the people we are purportedly helping are inadvertently (or vertently in some cases) being killed. Sadly however, the people who knew this already knew this, and the people who are in denial about this are unlikely to be moved by this revelation.
Which brings us to the scary part. The powers that be are likely discussing whether this release of classified information constitutes a “casus belli” in the war on the Constitution. At this very moment there are some who might suggest that Wikileaks founder and CEO is a “terrorist sympathizer” and thus can be detained without trial or warrant. And of course the Internet being placed under government control so that some terrible act of treason like this could never happen again. And if there’s anyone who could give a speech announcing such things in a way that tens of millions of Americans would feel grateful for, it’s Mr Obama. And since I wrote this last night, the government has indeed claimed that this release is a “threat to national security.” Hopefully that’s as far as it will go.
On the other hand, if one really gets into the Washington Post’s recent “Top Secret America” series, the War on Terror isn’t about government control or world domination or anything ideological at all, it’s about shovelling money to the military/industrial/security complex. And the chances that either the Washington Post series or the Wikileaks leak will seriously compromise the looting is about zero. Our Byzantine government bureaucracy that has grown like a cancer in the USA since World War Two, and in some senses since the Civil War, it’s way to large and diffuse to be threatened by any one foe anymore. Contemporary America is like a scifi movie where the blob won, most people in most urban areas have been assimilated, and the few that are still fighting are just more food for the blob.
And food for the blob is the key. As long as this amazing system of government and military bases gets their zillions of truckloads of supplies every morning, all will be well. Well, all will be stable and under control. However, the infrastructure that supports this whole edifice has been decaying for decades, and eventually it’s all going to collapse from its own weight. The only thing really keeping the US empire afloat is cheap oil, and like the Spanish Empire that was run on cheap gold, those days cannot last. (I wonder if their were Spaniards worried about “peak gold” back in the day?) The Spanish Empire is my current best guess for the fate of the American Empire. Like them, our control of a resource of vast wealth has made us a superpower, gold in their case, oil in ours. And like them, instead of reinvesting this wealth in infrastructure and other long term wealth sources, we are spending it on the military and toys for the rich. That’s exactly why the Spanish Empire decayed so quickly and left Spain in the doldrums while France, England, and even Holland grew rich beyond imagining with colonial wealth. At least they have some lovely cathedrals to show for it, all we got are freeway interchanges and concrete stadiums.
So this is already shaping up to be an interesting week. A confrontation with Korea is in full swing, we are conducting huge military manoeuvres off their coast to teach them that making military threats is wrong. (It’s “do as I say not do as I do” in the bizarre world of American foreign policy.) The threat to go to war with Iran is still very much on the table. Another American has been taken captive by the Taliban. In Iraq violence continues and our corrupt quisling government is still paralysed and unable to form an actual government. And just in general the American Empire, like the Gulf of Mexico, is one messed up place.
Interesting times indeed. Hell, strange creepy times. I guess that’s what gets me most about the last decade, in so many ways the parameters that define America have literally drifted off the scale. Terrorists kill and maim Americans daily, yet that’s normal? The bankers, the military, the oil companies, the security industry … do whatever they please, dictate national policy, and get handouts in the trillions just for the asking. And almost daily American military power kills innocent people abroad. Heck, we live in an America now where the president can simply have Americans murdered by naming them as terrorists. And part and parcel of the whole shebang, the rich just keep getting richer at a dizzying pace while the rest of us schmoes are being converted into serfs. In the sixties and seventies people would have been rioting and fighting back against this level of injustice and atrocity. In the eighties and nineties they would have been demonstrating.
Today … they vent on Facebook. Yeah, that’s gonna change the world. I dunno where we are going from here, but it’s a hell of a ride.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is arguably a historically important image. Credit/copyright: Vitaly Zaporozhchenko/AP. It’s the last Soviet troops leaving Afghanistan in 1989. They look happy, don’t they?)