Sunday, August 10, 2008
How Bush and the NeoCons Lied America Into the Iraq War
This video does a good job of summing up the blatant, outrageous lies that George W. Bush and the NeoCons told in leading America into the $3 trillion Iraq War fiasco, which has led to the deaths of over 1 million Iraqi men, women and children.
Monday, May 26, 2008
While Bush Drags U.S. Back To Dark Ages, Other Nations Forge Ahead
By MARC MCDONALD
The U.S. used to be the world leader in science and technology. A lot of Americans still think it is.
But the fact is, the U.S. is no longer the leader in much of anything (except in exporting death and destruction around the world).
Over the past disastrous seven years, George W. Bush and the NeoCons have dragged the U.S. backward into a new Dark Ages. It's an era in which superstition and ignorance have replaced science and reason.
Meanwhile, other nations are forging ahead. Japan, for example, has become the world leader in a wide array of crucial advanced technologies, including cutting-edge electronics, telecommunications, supercomputers, aerospace, nuclear power, alternative energies, microengineering, exotic new materials, advanced chemicals, and more.
This video, showing Honda's amazing ASIMO robot, displays Japan's prowess in technology these days. Anyone visiting East Asia or Europe knows that the U.S. is a laggard in many areas of science and technology that it used to dominate. It doesn't take long for any American overseas to come to this realization: whether you're riding a high-speed German train, or whether you're using a state-of-the-art Japanese mobile phone.
Under Bush, the U.S. has clearly gone backwards. Our already mediocre schools have gone even further downhill. The U.S. is a distant also-ran in manufacturing. We don't make much of anything these days. Indeed, our Ponzi-scheme economy seems to be incapable to doing much, (outside of enriching a tiny super-wealthy elite). These days, the once-mighty Great American Middle Class is dead---and so is the American Dream.
What's worse is that, in Bush's America, fear and superstition has replaced science and reason. The White House embraces extremist religious fanatics while it muzzles scientists who speak out about global warming. And GOP house organs like Fox News peddle fear, superstition and ignorance as "news."
Thanks to GOP lies and White House spin, Americans remains as misinformed and ignorant as ever. (Astonishingly, over one-third of Americans still believe Saddam was behind 9/11).
And as you'd expect in a nation that is increasingly backwards, ignorant, and in decline, a growing number of our population these days is behind bars. America has the world's biggest prison population.
Incredibly, the NeoCon idiots continue to boast and brag that the U.S. is "Number One." A lot of Americans believe them---but then, our media has done a poor job keeping the American people informed about the real state of the world these days.
Smug, ignorant, self-satisfied, and arrogant: these qualities all describe America in the early 21st Century. Few Americans seem to grasp the fact that our era of dominance is over. The only thing that sustains the illusion of "prosperity" in our economy is the hundreds of billions of dollars flowing in from the central banks of China and Japan.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Rush Limbaugh Puts His Foot In His Snout
Rush Limbaugh has caused another controversy with his latest comments. UPI reported Friday that Limbaugh said that riots at this summer's Democratic National Convention in Denver would be "like a dream come true."
The Fat One was reported as saying that "There won't be riots at our (the GOP) convention."
Well, maybe not. (Although I know of a lot of Republicans who are angry and upset that the "liberal" John McCain is on the GOP ticket).
But what I objected to most with Limbaugh's latest OxyMoron nonsense were the other statements he made Friday. For example, Limbaugh claimed that, unlike Democrats, Republicans "don't riot."
Hmmm, I guess the drugs have turned The Fat One's brain into mush (or made it even mushier than it was before).
As I recall, Republicans don't hesitate to riot, when it suits their purpose.
Does anyone remember the GOP rent-a-mob rioters in Florida in 2000 who disrupted the Gore-Bush vote counting process? Those Brownshirts played a role in the theft of the election and the installation of the Bush Crime Family.
As far as Limbaugh's comment Friday that Republicans "don't kill our children," I really have to wonder about his mental state these days. Granted, Limbaugh likely isn't up on what's going on in Iraq. In fact, he doesn't seem to be aware of what war is all about (no surprise there: Limbaugh was a chickensh*t coward who ran away from serving his country during the Vietnam War).
After all, Limbaugh's hero, Bush, is the one who ordered a war based on lies that has killed over 4,000 of America's soldiers (most of them young people).
So, yes: the Republicans do have the blood of a lot of children on their hands. Not to mention the thousands of Iraqi children who have been slaughtered in this nightmare of a war.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: these NeoCon extremists scare me a hell of a lot more than Al Qaeda ever could.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Why Are Free-Market Economists Still Taken Seriously?
They've been shown to be wrong time and time again. And their policies have led to widespread disaster and misery for millions of people.
Who am I talking about?
The NeoCons and their wrong-headed views on Iraq?
Nope, I'm talking about free-market economists.
No group of "experts" has a worse track record on accurate information about how our world really works. And yet, mysteriously, free-market economists are still held in reverence and awe by many. And their proclamations are hailed as the gospel truth by everyone from politicians to academia to the mainstream media.
Free-market economics seemingly got an enormous boost in credibility in the 1980s and has reigned supreme as the only conceivable policy for running America's economy ever since.
There's only one problem with free-market economists and their followers: they're full of shit and they have a dismal track record on the truth. And worse, the world simply doesn't operate the way they believe it does.
Free-market economists are rabid advocates of a unfettered, dog-eat-dog, ruthless form of capitalism. Leaving everything to the "free market" is the best way to run a society, they maintain. And at the end of the day, no other economic system can possibly compete with capitalism, they say.
As "Exhibit A," the free-market economists proudly point to capitalism's vanquishing of the Soviet Union's style of communism in the Cold War.
What more proof could one want that capitalism is the best way to create wealth and prosperity?
Actually, in the years since the Cold War ended, a few dissenting voices have started to speak up about the supposed superiority of unfettered capitalism.
First, there is the issue of whether the United States really prevailed in the Cold War, after all. A number of commentators have pointed out that, without enormous sums we borrowed from Japan in the 1980s, the U.S. wouldn't have "won" the Cold War.
Indeed, as the brilliant author Chalmers Johnson has pointed, out, it was really Japan, not the U.S. that won the Cold War. Indeed, the decade of the 1980s was nicely summed up by MIT economist Lester Thurow when he wrote: "We borrowed a trillion dollars from the Japanese and threw a party."
I should point out here the irony of celebrating an economic system that is totally dependent on vast amount of foreign capital in order to function. And make no mistake, no matter how one views the Japanese economy, it is definitely NOT anything that a Western economist would recognize as "capitalism."
Indeed, the Japanese model couldn't be further removed from U.S.-style economics. In Japan, the nation's economic destiny is shaped by powerful technocrats at the Ministry of Finance. Industrial policy is set by the government, rather than determined the whims of the private sector. It is a heavily regulated system that is a million light years removed from American-style "capitalism."
What's more, the Japanese economic model has been widely imitated throughout East Asia (which is now by far the most dynamic and fast-growing area on Earth). From Taiwan to South Korea to mainland China itself, Japanese economic policies are widely implemented these days. For example, China has copied elements of Japan's employment system, its mercantile policies, its emphasis on manufacturing, and even its Keiretsu system of organizing companies into powerful groups.
This important development, of course, is completely ignored by U.S. economists. Many of them maintain that "unfettered, free-market, U.S.-style capitalism" is the model that East Asia aspires to. Indeed, the "conventional wisdom" in U.S. economics is that Japan itself is "yesterday's news" and is a fading power. It's a bizarre viewpoint indeed, when one considers that the supposedly "more efficient, superior" U.S. economy would collapse were it not for the hundreds of billions of dollars in Japanese capital that props up the American economy and the dollar these days.
A big part of the problem with U.S. economists is that they are a remarkably ignorant about the rest of the world. The only country that they've studied at all, or paid any attention to (outside of the U.S.) is Britain.
Which brings me to another misconception spread by U.S. free-market economists. The latter are constantly praising the era of Margaret Thatcher.
What more proof does one need that unfettered capitalism reigns supreme than the example set by Thatcher's Britain, they ask? After all, Thatcher busted the unions, cut regulations and decimated the welfare state---and as a result, the former "Sick Man" of Europe prospered in the 1980s.
At least that's the fairy tale we've been led to believe.
As they did with Reagan's revolution, though, the economists aren't telling the whole story of the Thatcher era as they breathlessly sing the praises of the Iron Lady. Over the years, a growing number of writers, like James Howard Kunstler,
have pointed out that what really made Britain shine in the 1980s wasn't Thatcherism at all. Rather, it was the incredible bounty that Britain reaped with the North Sea oil bonanza in the 1980s.
It's this latter point that really irritates me and makes me question the honesty of the economics profession. The field's dishonesty can be summed up thusly:
1. Starting in the 1970s, free-market "Chicago School" economists urged various "reforms," from gutting the welfare state to crushing unions to abolishing any and all regulations on business.
2. In the 1980s, the above prescriptions were implemented in the U.S. and Britain, under Reagan and Thatcher.
3. The economies of both the U.S. and Britain prospered, thanks to hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars (in the case of the U.S.) and the North Sea Oil boom (in the case of Britain).
4. As the U.S. and Britain boomed, economists proclaim their free-market prescriptions "vindicated"---completely ignoring the fact that the prosperity in both nations had nothing to do with their remedies.
Free-market economists are so arrogant and sure of the wisdom of their teachings that they've become oblivious to the fact that the real world simply doesn't work the way they believe it does. (For example, the real economic success story of the past quarter century has been China---a nation which completely rejects every single tenet of how a nation's economy should be run, according to the gospel of the free-market economists).
And their ideas remain in vogue to this day among American policy-makers. Never mind the fact that the U.S. is in increasing peril, thanks to their policies. The gigantic deficits that Reagan racked up in the 1980s now seem trivial, compared to the even-more titanic deficits that America faces today.
Free-market economics has been directly responsible for America's out-of-control and spiraling fiscal and trade deficits. The latter crisis threatens to force a collapse in the value of the dollar. And when the dollar melts down, America's reign as a superpower will come to an end.
Free-market economists, of course, are blissfully unconcerned about this looming crisis. For them, the solution to anything and everything is more of the same. More tax cuts for the rich, more union busting, more elimination of any and all red tape and the complete rejection of anything remotely resembling a national industrial policy. As far as deficits go, they maintain a "Don't Worry, Be Happy" approach.
I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with anything that Pat Buchanan ever said---but actually, he of all people, once made a comment that neatly sums up the view of all those who wear free-market economics blinders: "To worship at the altar of free-market economics is no less a form of idolatry than worshipping at the altar of socialism."
Free-market economists have done at least as much damage to our nation as the NeoCons over the past quarter century. How much longer will we as a nation continue to follow their disastrous, wrong-headed advice?
Saturday, May 19, 2007
It's Scary When Ron Paul Comes Across As The Sanest GOP Candidate
Yes, the late Molly Ivins dubbed him "Congressman Clueless." Yes, he's a radical libertarian who would have the U.S. go back to that unregulated capitalist utopia of 1906, when a third of Americans lived in unmitigated poverty and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was published.
But he's actually making the most sense of all 10 hapless hopefuls for the Republican presidential nomination. Of course, he hasn't got a chance to win one delegate.
He's Texas' own Ron Paul, longtime congressman and one-time Libertarian Party candidate for president (1988).
Predictably, he's not being depicted well by the Mainstream Media. But, let's let the congressman's words stand on their own, with minimal spin. This is from one of the recent GOP debates, regarding 9/11 and the Mideast situation:
PAUL: Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.
We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)
PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- [bell rings] -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.
PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.
They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?
Congressman Paul, despite himself, was pretty articulate, and raised points that have been unheard of in Republican Party discourse for decades -- for example, the long-range stupidity of the 1953 CIA coup in Iran.
Predictably, the MSM are dog-piling on him. Joe Klein of Time writes of a "singular moment of weirdness." But Media Matters for America points out that Paul's points were supported by the official 9/11 report.
Paul for president? Nope. But I'm happy he's in the race and telling at least some of it like it is.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Bye, Wolfman: The Neo-Con House Of Cards Keeps Crashing
So, Paul Wolfowitz has finally faced the music and will resign as World Bank president. It was absurd for the likes of him to serve as its chief in the first place, regardless of the scandal that led to his demise.
This was the man who was No. 2 at the Pentagon when the most senseless war in modern times -- I would dare say even more senseless than Vietnam -- was planned. How in creation did anyone think that this was the man to put in charge of a philanthropic development bank, to help the poor?
Forget about the scandal -- this is just typical of the arrogance of people in high positions. Seldom do any of them, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal or any points in between, think much about ethical issues.
Wolfowitz was clearly and immediately a ridiculous choice for the post, and the rest of the world practically laughed at it from Day One.
I don't care that Wolfie had a girlfriend, and I'm not concerned that he got her lots of good pay and perks. It's naive to think that such things don't go on, in both the public and private sectors, all the time.
The point always was that appointing the likes of him to this post was like putting Leona Helmsley in charge of some hotel workers union. It was absurd on first principles.
But now, let's see whom Il Doofus will suggest for his successor!
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
A Guide To Deciphering Today's GOP Vocabulary
Many commentators have lamented the widening gulf between Democrats and Republicans in recent years. Personally, I think part of the problem may be misunderstandings in communication between the two parties. Even though Right Wingers technically speak English, a lot of us on the Left often have trouble understanding what they're talking about these days. So in the interests of harmony, I'd like to present a handy guide to understanding the modern-day GOP vocabulary:
1. "The War On Terror." A widely-used term among Republicans that in reality refers to the disastrous U.S. invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. To Democrats, the term has a totally different meaning: namely to work to prevent terror attacks on America and pursuing members of Al-Qaeda.
2. "Capitalism." As modern-day Republicans understand it, an economic system that steals from working-class and middle-class Americans and gives billions of our tax dollars in closed, no-bid contracts to wealthy, politically connected corporations like Halliburton. The way the Democrats understand the term, capitalism refers to private corporations earning an honest profit in the private sector and competing in the marketplace like the rest of us.
3. "Christianity." You know the values that Christ talked about? Helping the poor? Compassion and love? Turning the other cheek? Blessing the peacemakers? Well, none of that has anything to do with "Christianity" as the present-day Republicans understand the term. To them, somehow Christianity has something to do with repression, hatred of gays, bigotry, ignorance, and a general distrust of anyone who isn't a white Republican Protestant.
4. "Patriotism." A great deal of confusion exists over this term these days. Democrats take the term to mean support of one's nation. Republicans interpret "patriotism" to mean blind, fanatical, unswerving loyalty to George W. Bush. Indeed, they call anyone who criticizes Bush for any reason "unpatriotic." (They also throw a temper tantrum---much the same as Bush himself does when he doesn't get his way).
5. "John Kerry." To non-Republicans, this term refers to a U.S. senator and a decorated war hero, who was wounded in action while serving in combat in the Vietnam War. To NeoCons, this term seems to refer to something entirely different: they interpret it to mean a (fictional) person who was weak, traitorous, and who faked his war wounds and then somehow conspired with none other than the United States Navy to be awarded military decorations he didn't deserve, such as the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts.
6. "Fiscal responsibility." To Democrats, this term refers to setting taxes at a level in which the nation can afford to pay its bills. (During wartime, this also involves raising taxes in order to pay for the war effort). To Republicans, this term refers to giving away billions in tax cuts to the richest 1 percent of Americans and simply ignoring the resulting titanic wartime deficits.
7. "Family values." To Democrats, this means things like policies that actually help America's families, like decent wages, maternity leave, affordable health care, and good schools. To Republicans, the term refers to ramming their narrow, twisted interpretation of "Christianity" (See #3, above) down the throats of the rest of us.
8. "Exploitation." This term, as Democrats understand it, generally is in agreement with the Webster's dictionary interpretation: "To make unethical use of for one's profit." (Note this term is completely absent from the Republican vocabulary and they have no idea what it means).
9. "Bipartisanship." To Democrats, this means reaching across the aisle and working with the opposite party, in an effort to serve the American people (who, after all, pay the bills). To Republicans, this means that you need to agree with and rubberstamp EVERYTHING Bush wants, from legalizing torture to illegal wiretaps, or you will be branded as an anti-American traitor.
10. "Health care system." To Democrats, this refers to a system that helps keep the nation's population healthy and provides medical care to the sick. To Republicans, this refers to yet another way to make lots of money (and the fact that sick people are often desperate and have no other options just sweetens the deal).
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wild West Era Had Stricter Gun Control Than America Has Today
Despite the exaggerated violent stereotypes perpetuated by dime novels and Hollywood, the so-called Wild West wasn't quite as violent as we've been led to believe over the years.
Take, for example, the 1881 "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," the most famous shootout in the history of the Old West. A mere three people died in this gunfight---an event that would be barely noticed in today's blood-soaked America, where many thousands of people are gunned down annually.
And yet, the O.K. Corral shootout has come to symbolize a wild, lawless West. It's part of the mythology of America that NRA gun lovers claim captures the "rugged individualism" and essence of what our nation is all about (as they furiously work to oppose any and all gun legislation as downright "un-American").
There's only one problem: the image of the Old West that exists in the popular imagination is largely fictional. It's all part of a myth that was created in the late 19th century by the dime novel authors, who enthralled their breathless, eager readers back East. The "Wild West" fantasy created by the dime novel was later taken up by generations of Hollywood films.
Any serious historian will tell you that the truth about the Wild West is rather more mundane. The Wild West era, in fact, was considerably less bloody than the violent reputation it has garnered over the years.
In fact, the exploits of the famous Wild West outlaws were often exaggerated. Take the most famous and notorious outlaw of them all: Billy the Kid. He was reported to have killed 21 men, "one for each year of his life."
The reality was more mundane. Billy the Kid's real name was Henry McCarty and he was born in New York City, of all places. And in truth, he likely only killed only two to four people. In fact, his exploits wouldn't even rate a front page story in today's violent America.
The only reason Billy the Kid is known at all today is because his killer, Sheriff Patrick Garrett, published a fictionalized, wildly exaggerated account of The Kid, hoping to cash in on McCarty's story by hyping it to the dime novel audience of the time.
The dime novelists had to exaggerate the exploits of the Wild West's most notorious killer in order to sell their books. By contrast, no writer today would need to exaggerate the actions of a Charles Whitman or Cho Seung-hui to horrify their audience.
Still, today's gun nuts tend to often point to the Wild West era in making their arguments that guns are somehow an inevitable, integral aspect of American life and culture. The problem is, these people get their ideas about the Wild West from watching John Wayne movies, rather than reading actual history.
Occasionally, a Hollywood film will attempt to actually portray a realistic aspect of the Wild West. For example, Clint Eastwood's 1992 film, Unforgiven depicted a Wild West locale in which a city ordinance requires people entering the town to hand over their guns to the sheriff's office. The ordinance is harshly enforced. At various points in the film, newcomers to the town fail to observe the law. They are then visited by the sheriff, who forcibly disarms them at the barrel of a gun (and viciously beats them for good measure).
Gasp! Isn't this gun control?
The NRA gun nuts went ballistic when Eastwood's film was released. They claimed Eastwood was "inventing" history. When serious historians rose in Eastwood's defense to point out that many Old West towns did in fact have such policies, they failed to silence the NRA gun nuts who were upset that their John Wayne wet dream fantasies of the Old West were, in fact, bullshit.
Here we are, a century later, and there are less gun control laws on the books today in many areas of the U.S. than there were in many parts of the Old West. Despite what today's gun nuts would have us believe, in most of the U.S., it is still remarkably easy to buy a gun these days.
Of course, you'd never guess this was the case, if you listen to the NRA's hysterical propaganda. The NRA would have us believe that guns are already heavily regulated in America today and that the feds are on the verge of kicking in our doors and confiscating every last gun in the nation.
However, if you take a close look at the specific issues that drives the NRA ballistic these days, you realize just how weak gun control laws are in this country.
Take, for example, the NRA's furious, ongoing opposition to the Brady Bill. This modest legislation does nothing more than simply require a check on the backgrounds of gun buyers for criminal activity. And thanks to the NRA, the law is filled with enough loopholes to drive a truck through (such as the gun show loophole).
It's hard to imagine any sane person opposing the Brady Bill. But the NRA took up the case and raised such a hysterical fuss that one might have guessed that the law called for nothing less than the repeal of the Second Amendment.
Despite what the NRA would have us believe, controls on guns in America have actually weakened over the past quarter century. For example, when George W. Bush was Texas governor, he signed a "concealed-carry law" at the NRA's bidding. When he did so, Texas joined 22 other states that since 1986 had made it legal to carry concealed weapons. Today, some 48 states allow some form of concealed carry.
Bush also signed a bill denying Texas cities the ability to sue gun manufacturers (so much for his lip service to the idea that local entities ought to be able to conduct their affairs without meddling interference from state government).
And speaking of gun control ordinances, as Wikipedia points out, the O.K. Corral shootout itself was sparked by Virgil Earp's efforts to "enforce Tombstone's law prohibiting the carrying of deadly weapons."
The fact is, the Old West was downright safe, compared to today's blood-soaked streets in America. For one thing, no one in the Old West ever had to face down a lethal killing instrument like a modern-day Glock semi-automatic pistol. Firearms in the Old West were downright crude and tame, compared to a Glock.
If even a Wild West town like Tombstone could have strict gun control ordinances, why can't we do the same as a nation today?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
As Iraq War Enters Year 5, Bush Cabal Is Cooking Up A New, Bigger War
There's nothing like a good old-fashioned war to divert public attention away from scandal(s).
According to some sources, the Bush administration has one planned, and it may be just a question of when: days, weeks or months.
The Times of India published this report last month:
US preparations for invading Iran are complete: Report
By Rashmee Roshan Lal
LONDON: American preparations for invading Iran are complete and a major conventional war with Teheran could begin any day, according to a chilling new report that coincides with leading US Democrat Congressmen's warning to President Bush that he does not have the authority to go to war with Iran.
The report, by authoritative defence expert Dan Plesch, says American military operations for Iran "extend far beyond targeting suspect WMD facilities and will enable President Bush to destroy Iran's military, political and economic infrastructure overnight using conventional weapons."
Plesch, who is known to be well-connected and well-networked at the very highest reaches of the trans-Atlantic political and defence establishment, quoted unnamed British military sources to say that "the US military switched its whole focus to Iran" as soon as Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Baghdad.
He said his sources added that the US has continued this target-Iran strategy ever since, even though the American infantry continues to be bogged down fighting the insurgency in Iraq.
In an assertion that has astonished European capitals, the defence guru claimed that despite the gross failure to re-build post-Saddam Iraq, American hubris extends to plans for a "peaceful" post-invasion "settlement" for Iran. This plan will seek to create a federal nation, an "Iran of the regions", he said.
With the administration embattled with yet another scandal, involving the firing of U.S. attorneys, it's such a convenient time for Big Brother to get us a new, improved enemy, one that even many liberals can hate. After all, that country's leader is a hard-liner who has even denied that the Holocaust took place. He seems more than a bit of a kook -- even more of one than we have in the White House. (You know, the fella who has lots of meaningful dialogues with God, now that he's sober.)
I won't discuss whether such a war, to be fought over Iran's apparent nuclear ambitions, would be justified. I won't go back in time, to 1953, about how the U.S. set itself up for this dilemma by engineering a coup that overthrew a legitimate nationalist government and installed the Shah in power for 25 brutal years, largely because Big Oil coveted Iran's reserves. I won't even go into the usual tedious humanitarian objections to all the civilian carnage that would surely follow such an invasion. Let us assume here as the Right does, just for the sake of argument, that U.S. moral authority is beyond question and that we would have a perfect right to lay waste to large portions of Iran and its people, unless its government backs down on the nukes.
A new military adventure of this kind by the Bush neo-con cabal would have the potential to become a far worse disaster than the Iraq war has been. The problem is, and has been for four years now, that our all-volunteer military is severely overextended. We've already got two wars going, and even the one in Afghanistan now looks far from over. This administration, with its remarkable hubris, did not pick our battles wisely.
Afghanistan, historically, is a very bad place to make war. But toppling the Taliban seemed very much the thing to do at the time, since they were harboring bin Laden and al-Qaida. But then the neo-cons soon got us into an elective war in Iraq, one that at least initially had nothing at all to do with the particular terrorists we were supposed to be hunting. Message to the Right Wing: There was no verifiable link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida; even the administration conceded that, albeit long after the invasion.
To be sure, Saddam was an evil dude. But he was being effectively contained; and toppling him got U.S. troops caught up in a bloody civil war, and actually opened Iraq's borders so that al-Qaida terrorists could enter the country after that.
It's hard to understand how even the most indoctrinated super-patriot fails to see that this was, at the very least, a devastating blunder. And, there's not going to be any good way out of it.
And now we're looking at the possibility of war with Iran. Certainly they don't have the military technology to win, at least not outright. Their infrastructure would likely be demolished quickly.
But consider: This is a country of 70 million, over three times the size of Iraq, with the median age of the male population being 25.4 years, according to the CIA Factbook. And, as the Israelis discovered long ago, women can shoot, too. They can be very lethal rifle soldiers.
That's an awful lot of cannon fodder. Would there be an insurgency? Imagine Iraq, times 3 or 4. And Iran is overwhelmingly Shiite. The Iranians wouldn't likely be fighting each other very much, as the Iraqis are.
It's a bigger country than Iraq in land mass, too, and there's lots of mountains. It would require a huge occupation force. (Hey, young fellas -- ready to get that draft notice from Chickenhawk George?)
And, what will the neighbors think? Iraq has Shiite militias that aren't openly fighting us now. If we invade a Shiite neighbor, do you figure they might? And what about Syria, to name only one Arab country that might be chapped?
Let's think on an even broader scale. Is there a possibility that Israel would get involved on our side, and then attacked? (Not necessarily in that order.) They have nukes, by the way. And hey, I just remembered that Russia and China have nukes, too. Lots of them. And big armies. And they've already warned the U.S. against such military action. We can only hope that they would be loath to get involved in such a bloody mess and would limit themselves to strong condemnations of U.S. actions.
We've got the potential for World War III here, with the entire Mideast as Ground Zero. Surely, one would think, our leaders would be circumspect enough not to get us involved in such a needless Armageddon.
But think again. Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, has written about a group of men who served during the Reagan administration in the 1980s, and also Bush the First in early '90s, as high-level, but not top-level, officials. They were often referred to (reportedly, for one, by then-General Colin Powell) as "the crazies." Name any reckless military action you can imagine from that time, and they were for it.
Guess what? These are the men who have been in charge of Bush policy in the Mideast, for over six years.
And one thing we've seen over and over is that a nasty war, with lots of burning Humvees, bodybags and gutwagons, will be Page One, at least for a good while. In that news budget meeting, the fired U.S. attorneys wouldn't stand a chance. And flag lapel pins will become mandatory. ("Hey, hippie, America's at war. Git a f***ing haircut and join the f***ing Marines!")
I'm not much of a gambler. But if I were, I would bet a modest sum that the U.S., Israel and other allies would eventually win such a protracted, epic war -- but the costs would be almost unimaginable. Envision the United Kingdom in 1946 -- victorious, but in ruins. I would wager further that the U.S. would emerge in a similar condition, and our world "hegemony" would be ceded to up-and-comers like China, Japan and India. I don't think that's what the neo-cons, or any other "cons" for that matter, had in mind. Believe it or not, Righties, that ain't even what them godless liberals wants.
And by the way, this plan for postwar Iran -- sounds mighty familiar, doesn't it? Our officials seem to be stuck in a mode of: "We're going to make all the same mistakes again. But we're going to make them better this time."
Now back to that Times of India report:
Defence experts said the revelation that America's military planning is advanced and well-calibrated to wipe out chunks of Iran's installations and infrastructure and could lay bare swathes of the country was bound to scare policy makers and diplomats on both sides of the Atlantic. ...
Plesch's report claimed the US Army, Navy, Air Force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for "Operation Iranian Freedom". He added that Admiral Fallon, the new head of US Central Command, has inherited computerised plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).
He chillingly claimed, "US defence establishment's programme called "Global Strike" means that, without any obvious signal, what was done to Serbia and Lebanon can be done overnight to the whole of Iran." He added saying, "We, and probably the Iranians, would not know about it until after the bombs fell. Forces that hide will suffer the fate of Saddam's armies, once their positions are known."
Semper fi, y'all.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his new blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Monday, January 29, 2007
The Real Culprit For the Iraq War Fiasco: American Hubris
Who should we blame for the Iraq War fiasco?
George W. Bush? Dick Cheney? The NeoCons in general?
Personally, I think we ought to blame the arrogance of the American nation for this fiasco.
After all, many Americans, both rich and poor, Republicans and Democrats, are some of the most arrogant people on the face of the earth.
It's an arrogance that is the result of many factors. For one thing, it stems from the fact that U.S. is widely perceived to be the world's leading economic power. And the fact that Americans regard our nation to be nothing less than God's gift to the world: a nation with the world's best political system, the best justice system, the best economic system---in fact, the best overall system of any nation.
With this sort of arrogance rampant amongst Americans, it shouldn't really be any surprise that we as a nation believe that the rest of the world hungers to live the way we do. We believe that the rest of the world these days not only seeks to model their nations after America---but that they are actively working to do so.
Such hubris led most Americans to believe that Iraqis would greet us as liberators. Such arrogance led most of us to believe that the Iraqis would shower our troops with flowers---and then busy themselves with the task of re-making their society along the lines of an American-style Jeffersonian democracy.
We were astonished when this did not in fact happen. Psychologically, we as a people simply couldn't fathom why the Iraqi people wouldn't eagerly remake their nation in our image. We were stunned when the Iraqis began a ferocious insurgency against our occupation and began killing our troops with IEDs and suicide bombers. We were even more stunned when opinion polls consistently showed that an astonishing number of ordinary Iraqis supported these attacks on U.S. troops.
It's interesting to note that Iraq has a culture that was already ancient when Christ was born. And yet for all the turmoil, war, and strife that that nation has endured over the years, there was never a recorded instance of a suicide bomber until 2003, when America invaded Iraq. For all its faults, Saddam's regime never faced a single suicide bomb. Nor did Saddam's convoys ever face a roadside bomb.
America's arrogance has resulted in disasters for our nation (and for the world at large) before. After all, it was arrogance that led the U.S. into its previous disastrous war in Vietnam. We were convinced then that the Vietnamese were eager to embrace U.S.-style capitalism (when in fact, the Communists enjoyed widespread support among the peasants in the countryside).
It is our arrogance as a nation that will almost certainly lead us into future wars.
Many Americans have a tough time comprehending that the rest of the world simply doesn't wish to live the way we do. To be sure, there may be specific aspects of our society, here and there, that other nations admire. But the rest of the world simply doesn't want to emulate our nation as a whole.
A big part of the reason we can't comprehend why the world doesn't wish to live like us is rooted in Americans' complete and total ignorance about the rest of the world. It's a state of affairs that has arisen in large part because of America's abysmal education system and our lousy corporate media.
Few Americans speak a second language. And even fewer seem to fathom that the rest of the world simply doesn't think the way that we do. Instead of accepting this basic fact of life, Americans instead tend to criticize other nations for not doing things the way we do (because, after all, we reason, the American Way is, of course the best way to get things done).
Americans never stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, other nations don't worship the American Way and have no intention of copying us.
A good example of this is the American corporate media's constant slamming of Europe's economic system these days. As a result of the U.S. media's misinformation campaign about Europe, most Americans these days are under the impression that Europe is an economic basket case, struggling with "sky-high" taxes, an "over-regulated" economic system, "out-of-control" labor unions, and "excessive" workers' rights that threaten to destroy Europe's economic competitiveness.
What's worse is that the American media would have us believe that Europeans are busy these days "deregulating" their economies and working to re-make their nations along American lines, with less regulation, weaker unions, longer working hours, etc.
It might come as a surprise to most Americans that Europe, in fact, has no intention of copying America's concept of capitalism. In fact, Europe long ago took a good, hard look at America's brutal, dog-eat-dog economic system and rejected it.
In fact, many Europeans resent the U.S. lecturing them about economics. They wonder how Americans can proclaim their nation to be the "world's most competitive" economy, when in fact the U.S. economy doesn't make much these days that the rest of the world wants to buy. (Hence, America's titanic trade deficits, the largest in world history).
Do the Europeans really need any lessons in economics from America? Through European eyes, the U.S. economy seems to be a giant Ponzi scheme: an economic system that needs trillions of dollars in foreign capital just to stay afloat.
All of this raises the question: does any nation really want to emulate the American system these days? After all, the U.S. has the worst education system in the industrialized world. We have the world's largest prison population. We have a currency that is in danger of meltdown, because of our out-of-control deficits. We have a population that is the most economically polarized in the First World. We have a crumbling infrastructure. We have 45 million people who have no health-care coverage.
Last, but not least, we have a political system that has been thoroughly corrupted by money. People in other nations look at our political system these days not with admiration, but with bafflement. They wonder how Americans can tolerate a system that produces travesties like the 2000 election, when the "losing" candidate got 549,000 more votes than George W. Bush. They also wonder how Americans can tolerate a political system that is so obviously rigged to benefit the rich, at the expense of the poor and middle class.
In George W. Bush's simplistic, black-and-white view of the Middle East, the people were hungering for American-style democracy. I'd suspect most Americans believed the same, particularly in the heady days leading up to the U.S. 2003 invasion, when Americans went through one of their periodic outbursts of jingoistic flag-waving.
Four bloody years later, we've come to learn that maybe, we never really understood Iraq, after all. In the end, we invited the current disaster, with our nation's complete ignorance of other cultures and our arrogant delusion that the people of the Middle East were eager to remake their societies along American lines.
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