The Awful Sound of Silence

A brutal tyrant ascends to power in America, crushing opposition political parties, murdering dissidents and destroying our civil liberties. The European Union and Canada decide to invade in order to “liberate” the American people. And in the ensuing war 6.5 million civilians die violently from military and sectarian conflicts. Civilians, mind you. And the war also produces 6.5 million widows, 25 million orphans, and another 20 milion people displaced from their homes, or become refugees. And the numbers might be double that. 12 Million dead. 40 million refugees. 50 million orphans. Think about it for a moment, if you can.

Tens and tens of millions of Americans would know someone who had been killed in the war. Tens and tens of millions more would know war widows and orphans, or of neighbors, friends or family who fled elsewhere to escape the violence, perhaps permanently displaced. And tens and tens of millions more would have seen violent death and injury first hand. And all of this death and suffering against the backdrop of a destroyed power grid, healthcare system and general infrastructure. A nation and it’s people reduced to rubble and despair.

We’d be absolutely awash in grief and shock if such a thing happened in this country. A lot of us wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. A lot of us would feel as though we had no future and no hope. We’d never be the same again.

So how is it that any politician or pundit in America can talk about what did or did not “work” in the Iraqi War? How can a calamity of this magnitude be considered, in any sense whatsoever, a success? How could anyone in America have complained, as they have in the past, that the media doesn’t report on the good things happening in Iraq. What good things?

Shouldn’t somebody in Washington want to know the truth of what’s happened in Iraq? Shouldn’t the rest of us want to know, too? Shouldn’t we be talking out loud about all of this? Maybe the crisis we’re facing here at home is more than just an economic one.

Steve Carlson | CommonDreams.org

Torture Nation

We are in big trouble when torture becomes just another political football. Its the kind of thing that turns powerful empires into pariah nations. Why anyone thinks its good for America for the world to perceive us as violent, pants wetting, panic artists who could start WWIII at the least sign of threat is beyond me. I certainly dont feel safer.

digby via Hullabaloo.

This Awful, Awful Man

Back from another hiatus caused by my inability to process Bush and all the damage wrought. For 7+ years we’ve pointed out the lies and mistakes, we’ve accurately predicted the inevitable disasters, and we’ve called in vain for somebody in power to take a stand against this awful, awful man.

The ’06 elections returned real power to the Dems and allowed us to believe again in American democracy. For about a month, until our new leaders made clear that they would continue to kiss the ring and bow to the idiot demands of this awful, awful man.

But an end is finally in sight — to him, at least, though his many crimes will plague us for years — so the muse is shaking off the rust and dusting off the keyboard.

While I rediscover my own voice,  here’s a little from Scott Ritter, one of few who has been right about Iraq from the very beginning:

The collective refusal of any constituent in this complicated mix of political players to confront Bush on Iraq virtually guarantees that it will be the Bush administration, and not its successor, that will dictate the first year (or more) of policy in Iraq for the next president. It also ensures that the debacle that is the Bush administration’s overarching Middle East policy of regional transformation and regime change in not only Iraq but Iran and Syria will continue to go unchallenged. If the president is free to pursue his policies, it could lead to direct military intervention in Iran by the United States prior to President Bush’s departure from office or, failing that, place his successor on the path toward military confrontation. At a time when every data point available certifies (and recertifies) the administration’s actions in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere (including Afghanistan) as an abject failure, America collectively has fallen into a hypnotic trance, distracted by domestic economic problems and incapable, due to our collective ignorance of the world we live in, of deciphering the reality on the ground in the Middle East.

Michael Sky

Lame Fuck President

Been on a mini-vacation, getting back just in time for the long-heralded Petraeus report, wisely scheduled for the 6th anniversary of 9/11.

Five minutes into the General’s “testimony” it was apparent that, like Colin Powell’s infamous U.N. testimony, we were getting another load of Bushit. Though I’m no longer surprised by anything this administration does, it’s still dismaying to watch the Democrats just take it.

Not to mention the media dutifully reporting it all, as if it bore any relation at all to the truth. Tom Engelhardt best sums up my feelings:

To grasp the Petraeus moment, you really have to re-imagine official Washington as a set of drunks behind the wheels of so many SUVs tearing down a well-populated city avenue — and all of them are on their cell phones. They hardly notice the bodies bouncing off the fenders. For them, the world is Washington-centered; all interests that matter are American ones. Nothing else exists, not really. Think of this as a form of imperial autism and the Petraeus moment as the way in which the White House and official Washington have, for a brief time, blotted out the world.

Consider it a stark view into the next 16 months of American politics while we wait for President Kick-Ass to lame-out. Nothing will change, certainly not improve, and all of it will be dumped into the laps of the lucky winners of the 2008 elections.

Michael Sky

Deja War

Incredibly, it’s happening again. As if Iraq never happened, as if the innumerable lessons from that national shame and continuing horror never happened. As if the ’06 election slapdown and clear annunciation of the people’s will never happened.

Incredibly, the same cast of chickenhawk fools and lazy legislators who brought us Iraq are now dragging the country into an even bigger pile of bushit. Incredibly, the media awaits their next sage utterances on the “progress” in Iraq and the need to bomb the hell out of Iran as if they had a shred of credibility remaining.

Incredibly, there’s nothing that we can do to stop it. Democrats either believe the war-think rhetoric about Iran’s evil intentions — why, someday they might be as aggressively violent as us! — or they see more Bush-Cheney-war as good election politics. In any case, Dems are desperate to avoid looking soft on terror, so how can they say no to the indiscriminate bombing of a bunch of Muslims, or Arabs, or whatever the hell they are over there?

As the actually sage Chris Hedges puts it, we will soon be bombing Iran because we’ve lost all capacity for the empathetic communication that international diplomacy requires:

But we live in an age where dialogue is dismissed and empathy is suspect. We prefer the illusion that we can dictate events through force. It hasn’t worked well in Iraq. It hasn’t worked well in Afghanistan. And it won’t work in Iran. But those who once tried to reach out and understand, who developed expertise to explain the world to us and ourselves to the world, no longer have a voice in the new imperial project. We are instead governed and informed by moral and intellectual trolls.

Michael Sky

What Part of “Our Oil” Can’t they Understand?

There’s new polling that shows that two-thirds of Iraqis, including majorities of every ethnic and religious group in Iraq, strongly oppose “plans to open the country’s oil fields to foreign companies.” The nerve!

Since getting control of Iraqi oil has been the real point of the whole invasion and aftermath, how annoying that the damn Iraqis are using their US-blessed democracy to frustrate the process. No wonder the Iraqi lawmakers would rather go on vacation than work on such legislation. Forget about getting re-elected: life expectancy for Iraqi politicians who go against the will of the people is not great.

Which throws America back into its original “how to get our oil out of their soil” dilemma. It would have been so nice if the Iraqi government just deeded it over to us.

Let’s drop a few thousand more bombs, flatten another city or two, and see if we can get those polling numbers moving in the right direction. Democracy, American-style…………

Michael Sky

When Your Only Tool is a Hammer

Why, an old joke goes, are you hitting yourself with the hammer? Because, ha ha, it feels so good when I stop.

This has become the only consolation to the continuing disaster of Mr. Bush, his idiot war, and his anti-democratic misleadership. He will eventually be gone, along with his war-mad band of rapture-nuts and chickenhawks, and no matter what the prevailing conditions, everything will feel so much better.

There will, however, be no cessation of the pain and suffering until they’re gone. The Democrats have proven pathetic, actually granting more powers to Bush and his dim-witted and pathologically dishonest Attorney General. “Hey master Bush, can we help you swing that hammer?”

The Republicans have all accepted their marching orders and are spreading the no-think mantra about how well the war is going now. Victory’s in sight, they say, just around corner number 3,649. Hammer, hammer, hammer….

Anyone who tries to point out the inanity of it all is accused of terrorist-love.

And we still refuse to listen to those who got it right from the very beginning:

Iraq has oil — lots of it. It also has water in a part of the world that is running out of water. And the dismemberment of Iraq will unleash a mad scramble for dwindling resources that will include the involvement of neighboring states.

The Kurds, like the Shiites and the Sunnis, know that if they do not get their hands on water resources and oil they cannot survive. But Turkey, Syria and Iran have no intention of allowing the Kurds to create a viable enclave. A functioning Kurdistan in northern Iraq means rebellion by the repressed Kurdish minorities in these countries. The Kurds, orphans of the 20th century who have been repeatedly sold out by every ally they ever had, including the United States, will be crushed.

The possibility that Iraq will become a Shiite state, run by clerics allied with Iran, terrifies the Arab world. Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel, would most likely keep the conflict going by arming Sunni militias. This anarchy could end with foreign forces, including Iran and Turkey, carving up the battered carcass of Iraq. No matter what happens, many, many Iraqis are going to die. And it is our fault.

Hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer……………

Michael Sky

Put Away the Flags

As the Fourth of July approaches I face the annual quandary: do I go to our small-town parade to watch my friends and neighbors stroll down Main Street and enjoy the floats and the after-parade fair? Or, do I just stay home in avoidance of all the jingo-patriotism that inevitably comes with the parade?

The year that the war in Iraq started, the parade was so acrimonious that they drew up new rules just to silence the peaceniks and war-critics. I got in a Letter-to-the-Editor duel that went on for weeks. Things have been tense since then, though my guess is that Bush War has so few supporters now the argument is pretty much over.

But the underlying nationalism that causes most wars in the first place will still be there. Howard Zinn offers some sobering thoughts on the subject:

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

Zinn points out that while patriotic pride can be a reall asset in smaller countries, in huge, armed-to-the-teeth nations like America “what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.”

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004 that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

That’s a pledge I’m happy to make.

Michael Sky

Oil Wars

As the situation in Iraq continues its tragic decline, the war’s advocates have reduced expectations for “progress” to one item: if the Iraqi government can just pass a new law that would privatize most of its oil production, then its American masters would proclaim a huge victory for the surge. But it’s hardly a sure thing that Iraqi lawmakers will enact the new law since it means signing over their country’s primary resource to foreign corporations:

The law would transform Iraq’s oil industry from a nationalized model closed to American oil companies except for limited (although highly lucrative) marketing contracts, into a commercial industry, all-but-privatized, that is fully open to all international oil companies.

The Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of just 17 of Iraq’s 80 known oil fields, leaving two-thirds of known — and all of its as yet undiscovered — fields open to foreign control.

The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy, partner with Iraqi companies, hire Iraqi workers or share new technologies. They could even ride out Iraq’s current “instability” by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country. The vast majority of Iraq’s oil would then be left underground for at least two years rather than being used for the country’s economic development.

This has been the main reason for the war from the very beginning. Way back before 9/11, Dick Cheney was convening secret meetings with energy bigwigs in which Middle Eastern oil was understood as not just a prize, but an imperative. Give Cheney some credit for recognizing that if the American Way were to continue mindlessly motoring on, it would need absolute control of the world’s major petroleum resources.

So it was that within hours of the attacks on 9/11, Bush and his supporters were already planning the invasion of Iraq. Too bad about the non-existent WMD, too bad that the “wave of liberating democracy” thing didn’t work out, but the point was always getting control of Iraq’s oil and that mission is almost accomplished.

Michael Sky

The American Way

Joe Lieberman says we should invade Iran because we have “incontrovertible evidence” that someone in Iran is supplying weapons to Iraq, and some Iraqis are using those weapons to kill Americans.

Given the “incontrovertible evidence” of Iraqi WMD that turned out to be false, we have good reason to just ignore all such nonsense from war hawks. But even if it’s true that Iran is sending weapons to Iraq, how does that justify invading a sovereign nation?

To absorb the full force of how criminally insane Lieberman’s statement was, suppose we adopted the following proposition:

“The United States should launch airstrikes against any country which is supplying weapons or other support to insurgents in Iraq.”

Who would we have to bomb?

Of course we would have to bomb Syria. There’s no question that Syria could be doing more to stop the flow of weapons and fighters across the Syrian-Iraqi border. They could, for example, construct a 20-foot high electrified fence along the entire border, with a shark-infested moat. Since they aren’t doing this, we’d have to bomb them. But we would also have to bomb Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who could also be doing more to stop the flow of fighters and money from their territory to Sunni insurgents.

But, to be fully consistent, we couldn’t stop there. We would also have to bomb the United States.

Because, as it turns out, we are now intentionally sending weapons to Iraqi factions that will inevitably end up aimed at Americans:

With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.

They do it: a crime so bad to warrant the destruction of a nation.

We do it: the American Way.

Michael Sky