“What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!”
Well, I tried to watch Obama’s speech on Iraq, but couldn’t do it. I read the text though, and was appalled. Frightened even. According to Obama, the Iraq War was a glorious and successful undertaking. Right. The above quote says it all, Iraq was at best an expensive miscalculation. Redefining it as some sort of glorious victory doesn’t change the facts. And it’s especially scary that this nonsense is coming from Obama, whose election was in many ways made possible by his opposition to the Iraq war and promise to pull out. And now the Iraq War has magically transformed into a “Mission Accomplished” moment for Obama? Is every future president now going to have a chance to declare “victory” in Iraq?
And just a quick fact review just so I’m not going off half-cocked:
1. There were no WMDs, as plenty of people pointed out beforehand.
2. The war cost staggeringly more than it was supposed to, with trillions to go even if we pulled out tomorrow.
3. Thousands of Americans are dead, thousands more are maimed, ten of thousands have life changing injuries and long term psychological damage. And the families and friends of each and every one of these is paying a price too.
4. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead (arguably hundreds of thousands,) millions are displaced, and by almost every measure the situation in Iraq is worse than before we invaded. Even oil production is still lower than it was under Saddam.
5. Terrorism and terrorists have been emboldened and created by the war, there was no “Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq,” and no suicide bombers before we invaded. Now it’s a hotbed of terror.
6. Iran’s position and influence in the region has been strengthened, Saddam was their worst enemy. Now Iran is for all practical purposes allied with their Shia brothers who are running Iraq. Maybe Iran should be declaring victory?
And this is success? To paraphrase Pyrrhus, another victory like this and we’re done for.
Moving right along, the economy. I posted it on twitter, and I recommend that people read it: Are We a Kleptocracy. It points out stuff that a lot of people should be frightened by, but aren’t. The rich have not only been getting richer for decades, the process has accelerated during the past few years. In fact the article makes the case that this might be the inevitable path that capitalism takes. Once the people with the capital have consolidated control over government and industry, they are going to do what the system is designed to do, accumulate even more capital. And in America there’s no effective opposition to this process, we are all being simply diverted by side issues. I liked this quote:
“Yet, if this is socialism, why are private health insurers the government’s go-to guys for healthcare coverage? If this is fascism, why haven’t the secret police rounded up tea partiers and progressive critics as well and sent them to the lager or the gulag?
Consider this: America is not now, nor has it often been, a hotbed of political radicalism. We have no substantial socialist or workers’ party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the corporate-friendly “Democrat” party here.) We have no substantial fascist party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the cartoonish “tea partiers” here; these predominantly white, graying, and fairly affluent Americans seem most worried that the jackbooted thugs will be coming for them.)”
— William Astore, Tomdispatch.com
So anyhow, that’s why I don’t comment much on current events any more. It’s all farce and there is little or no public debate. A friend said it decades ago, like the quote in the title that was said a century ago: “We live in a world where right is wrong and wrong its right.” People who think our leaders, left or right, give a flaming f**k about the working class, are deluded. “Populist” Sarah Palin raked in a cool 12$ million last year. Yeah, she’s a woman of the people.
As for Israel, same principle. Despite decades of very successful propaganda to the contrary, when Israel wants peace, there will be peace. The Palestinians are powerless and have no say in the subject. Like the USA, Israel talks peace but wages endless war. (Obama even had the gall to talk about achieving peace even as he was committing us to endless war!) The mock talks with Israel’s designated Palestinian “leaders” are just a further charade. The talks will fail and the dutiful western media will blame it all on the Palestinians.
I wasn’t really trying to make a point with these insane burblings, but the point I wandered across is this: The rise of modern propaganda in the past century and a half has really multiplied the power of leaders to manipulate the masses. And simultaneously made it possible for leaders to get totally out of touch with reality, and maintain support for disastrously failed policies far longer than would have been possible in the pre-propaganda world. And as an ugly counterpart of this, has encouraged powers that be to use farcical methods simply to avoid bad publicity. The Roman’s, hell, nineteenth century Americans, would be appalled (or amused) at our deciding to fight two major wars, but refusing to use the draft and refusing to send in the number of troops needed to get the job done … no matter what it took.
I’ll expand on that rant a little more some day, I’m still studying a lot of history just for fun. It’s amazing what stuff goes down and how people deal with it. I’ll likely mention the Batavia mutiny again, there’s still thoughts I didn’t get down on, well, electrons? Next week, another story that would make a great movie except for the same flaw that keeps the Batavia mutiny off the silver screen … grown men did all sorts of terrible things to women and children. Hard to fit that into the “war is glorious” or the “men are heroic” narrative that is so essential to modern American culture.
Have a great weekend everyone.
The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US cpyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is essential to illustrating the post. Credit and copyright: MPR Photo/Tom Crann. The quote in the title was said by William Dean Howells a century ago. I used the boot photo because before we invaded Iraq I had a dream where I was walking by an endless row of pairs of boots alongside a dusty road, and I was told they were the boots of the “dead Marines.” Well, seven years later and we’re still adding to that row of boots, all for, well, less than nothing.)