Bomb Throwing Pacifist

If you took that happy, smiling guy from the box of Quaker Oats, handed him a bottle of gin and a rifle, and pissed him off to a point where he decided he wasn't going to take it anymore, you'd get a little something like this.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Only Reporting the Bad in Iraq

Thanks to Marc for the intro and the welcome to post here. I was unsure what to start writing about, so I decided to just grab a topic off the news or radio today and run with it.

As I was listening to Air America during my lunch break, Ed Schulz interviewed a U.S. serviceman, Colonel Stephenson, who appeared in a commercial put out by an advocacy group called American Progress. (As a side note, the Colonel referred to being on Air America as "being behind enemy lines"-- progressives are the enemy now? Interesting. You can listen to the interview yourself at www.wegoted.com if you like, Ed Schulz certainly did not "grill" him; it was a relatively calm discussion the likes of which you never would have seen with a progressive Iraq War vet appearing on a right-wing talkshow.) The commercial features a series of veterans listing their service records in the Iraq conflict, and then leads into indictments of the U.S. media coverage of Iraq, claiming that it shows "only the bad news." It then gives out an exhortation to support the Iraq conflict by tying it to 9/11, claiming that this fight is against the same Al Qaida extremists who hit us at the Twin Towers.

This is not a new complaint, by any stretch of the imagination. Since the very beginning, the loyal partisans on the right who kneejerk to any criticism of the Bush Administration's policies and regurgitate talking points from Fox News have claimed that the only reason Iraq appears to be a failure and public support is falling away from it is because of a biased media which has disproportionately shown the "bad."

If you're still with me, take a step back to 2002. Saddam Hussein is reconstituting his nuclear programs and has arsenals of chemical and bacteriological weapons in weapons belts around Baghdad. In fact, it is possible that he could hit targets in the U.S. and United Kingdom in as little as 45 minutes. We have no choice, we can't let the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud. Right?

These are all bunk, as we know now. And you don't need to know anything else about Iraq, current events, or politics to say this war was a mistake. The "evidence" that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear program was based on already discarded decade-old CIA data indicating he might have attempted to purchase uranium from Africa. Nevertheless, this "proof" was inserted during the lead-up to the war by Judith Miller in the New York Times (a supposedly far-leftist publication). The intelligence community knew this was old and outdated information, and the first person to step up and say so was Joe Wilson. His wife, a CIA agent in active undercover status working in a program to find and stop nuclear proliferation and the trade of weapons of mass destruction, suddenly had her identity leaked to the press. This did more than simply ruin her career, it served as a salutory warning to the entire intelligence community: if you call us on the fact that we've used this false information to create support for an invasion of Iraq, there will be repercussions. If those repercussions destroy your career, blow your cover, endanger your life or get you killed, be forewarned that we are completely prepared to do it if you open your mouth against our public relations campaign to get into Iraq.

Nuclear weapons and chemical or other weapons of mass destruction were, of course, never found in Iraq. This was the sole justification upon which the entire war effort was sold to the fearful American public- selling it under any of the excuses used now, such as "the world is better off without Saddam", or "freedom is on the march", or "The Iraqis should have free elections" would have fallen, flat and flaccid, if they had been presented to an American public freshly aware in 2002 that the people who hit them had been Saudi Arabians, in a terrorist organization led by a Saudi named Bin Laden, using training camps in Afghanistan. The fact that these justifications have been offered up as lazy excuses for rabid supporters of the war to continue saying that it was correct and justified from the beginning, when they were never used prior to the invasion, underlines the weakness of our entire purpose in Iraq. Since there were no weapons of mass destruction, we are left only with justifications which never would have flown with public opinion if presented honestly in 2002. And why should they have? What would the full scale invasion of a third party country for the purpose of forcefully installing a democracy, at tremendous deficit cost to the American people, to the great weakening and thin-stretching of the American military (emphasized by the lack of National Guard numbers to respond to the Katrina disaster) have to do with stopping or fighting some terrorists in mountain camps in the rough terrain of Afghanistan? How did such a policy of attacking Iraq make us stronger vis-a-vis terrorism abroad, largely sourced from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan? The answer, unfortunately, is that it didn't.

Let me tell you a story. I go into a car dealership for the express purpose of getting a vehicle with four-wheel drive. The dealer provides me with a vehicle sporting four wheel drive, and I begin to fill out the appropriate forms and give my credit card over to process my purchase. Partway into this process, I am told that the vehicle I am buying does not, in fact, have four-wheel drive. Now bear in mind again, I came here for the express purpose of buying a vehicle with four-wheel drive; any other type of vehicle is of no use to me. So, naturally, I tell the clerk helping me with the paperwork that I have no interest in purchasing this car since it does not have four-wheel drive. He excuses himself to go get the dealer, who comes back in totally confused that I no longer want to go through with the deal. "You don't want the car anymore? I don't understand, you filled out the paperwork and gave it your signature," he says. I tell him that I thought it had four-wheel drive, that he told me it did, and that I only wanted to buy a car that had it. He leaves the room. A manager of the company comes into the room and says, "Sir, I think there's been a miscommunication. Clearly, since you no longer want to purchase this two-wheel drive car, there has been a failure for the dealer and clerk to adequately communicate to you the good features of this car."

"I don't CARE about the good features! I was told this was a car with four-wheel drive, it isn't, I have no use for it."

"But, sir, I really have to tell you, I saw your car when you came into the lot. The paint job on it is really bad, the paint job on this new car is much better. Honestly sir, you're much better off without that old car. Besides, we've already charged your credit card, and the sale is final. Really you should be happy, the streets are much safer and better off with you in this new shiny car instead of that old piece of crap you drove in here with."

"It doesn't have four-wheel drive. I don't want it," I say.

"My salesperson wasn't wrong, wow! We're having a big breakdown here in getting the facts about how great this car is over the line to you. Look, this model has a brand-new anti-skidding chemical coat so you are much less likely to hydroplane in snow or wet weather. That keeps the roads safer, don't you agree?" the manager asks.

"Look that sounds really great and all, but the car still doesn't have what I wanted. I'm not interested."

"But it keeps the roads safer. What kind of driver are you? You don't care about the safety of the roads! You don't support safe driving!"

Get it? This is EXACTLY what people are trying to sell you when they tell you that the public, or YOU, don't support the war just because they're not being "told the good news." The good news doesn't matter! The American people, by and large, didn't and would never have authorized this war for the ridiculously hypocritical reasons given to us by the industriocrats who currently run both our government and the war effort. They think you are incredibly stupid. They think you have amnesia. This war was about defending ourselves from a supposedly imminent attack with weapons of mass destruction, which the evidence mounting today heavily suggests the Bush Administration knew was NEVER a real threat. Oh, they've got plausible deniability (translation: the planned creation of a situation where they could wiggle and say they didn't technically lie to you, but it's still dishonesty), I don't deny them that. They took 1,000,000 bits of information and discarded the 999,950 pieces that didn't fit the policy they wanted to set. So, technically, they did "make the decision based on intelligence." But that's really making a fool out of you as an American and a person if you think they took those 50 unreliable pieces to set policy around and were being sincere and honest with you. Either they were dishonest, or they were incompetent.

When you take away all the legitimate self-defense reasons for invading Iraq, what do you have? You have us throwing up some schools, parks, and water pipes (which the insurgents blow up a few days later anyhow) at enormous taxpayer expense to a few cherrypicked no-bid contractors, who just happen to be business partners or close associates of the Bush Administration and the individuals running it. And, worse than the financial cost, you have American soldiers being blown up; coming home limbless or in body bags in what only an idiot would fail to compare to Vietnam. What "good news" can you possibly give us to balance this out? Look, I'd love it if the government came to my neighborhood and started building some parks. If every single day four guys fell off the scaffolding and died, and the construction seemed to go on and on for years, never being completed, and with four more guys falling off the scaffolding every single day of it, I wouldn't see very much good in it... no matter how you tried to spin it.

Another point: why should Americans be cheering in the streets about free elections in Iraq, the very slow and often zero-progress restoration of running water, electricity, and other basic services in Iraq which have been shut off since the invasion (and are still nowhere near pre-war levels of operation), the construction of schools and the institution of American taxpayer-paid healthcare and education programs in Iraq? Mind you... I'm not saying these aren't all good things. But should you be happy that these things are being provided at such astronomical cost that, in the near future, the inadequate education and healthcare budgets for those in need here in the U.S. will by necessity have to be cut? There is, of course, an intelligent design to this- the ultimate complete dismantling of the so-called "socialist" programs of the New Deal through bankruptcy and deficit, accelerated by tax cuts for those who can most afford to pay taxes, under the eyes of sympathetic Senators and Supreme Court Justices who believe, ideologically, that a kick-ass strong king who can cut through all the argumentative bureaucratic nonsense (known as Democratic process) is far more important and patriotic than upholding the principles of the Constitution and the rights and well-being of individual Americans. To then, after crippling these programs (such as social security and public education), to privatize all of them. But this is all a topic for another day. The point is: none of this has a thing to do with fighting terrorism. The terrorism present in Iraq as we speak is overwhelmingly either a) created in response to an unwanted occupation by the U.S. military, and b) imported from other countries such as SAUDI ARABIA and IRAN because we have given radical groups an enormous propaganda tool in the form of occupying a Muslim country for imperialistic purposes. It's a win-win for terrorists: no matter how long we "fight them over there", they die as martyrs to the cause of helping to free a fellow Muslim country from invaders who have no legitimate reason to be there besides some limp and hypocritical after-the-fact excuses.

Tell me something, would you be oozing with gratitude if China conquered the U.S. and put up some parks and connected some pipes, and constructed a school or two while handing out contracts to its biggest corporations to exclusively manage, sell and distribute our most valuable natural resources?

Hopefully the time for the American people to wake up is coming: the day when American people are going to say "We won't tolerate being lied to", "we won't tolerate getting our kids killed overseas for no legitimate self-defense purpose", and most of all, "we won't tolerate being told we're stupid."
Leftrants, 10:08 PM

3 Comments:

Then I guess you would have loved to be one of the many hundreds of thousands killed and/or tortured in Iraq. Yeah, we should really give Saddam a break on that too. I'm sure he only meant to kill 50,000 of them.

I think getting rid of him and letting the Iraqi people decide is reason enough for the entire world to cheer in the streets.
Blogger Ben, at 11:11 PM  
Apparently the dedication of good conservatives to democracy is conditional upon the democracy in question producing results that the far right agrees with and likes. Case in point being Hamas winning the elections in Palestine. If I believed any of this really were about democracy or human rights, I'd have a very different view of it than I do. From where I'm standing, though, this is nothing but an oil grab with a nice pretext side package to sell the really gullible like yourself.

Besides, let's be real. When we leave Iraq there's not going to be a real democracy- there is either going to be a Sunni theocracy or a fragile democracy with a Sunni civil war. "Thanks, America!"
Blogger Leftrants, at 10:42 AM  
Shi'ite Theocracy I think you mean. The best we can hope for in Iraq is that things kind of plod along and maybe in the physical incarnation of some right-winger's dream, things settle down somewhat in Iraq.

But in actual fact, what will most likely happen when we leave is this. The Kurds will go ahed and officially declare independance (which they partically are at this point anyway in all but name), and piss off Turkey. The Shi'ites will form an Islamic Revolutionary council and will most likely be drawn towards Shi'ite Iran, perhaps triggering a mini-civil war between pro- and anti-Iranian Shi'ite forces in the Eastern part of the country. And finally the Sunnis will find themselves either under attack from both factions, or will implode into another mini-civil war between the secularists and the fundamentalists. So much for bringing stability to the Middle East. The war will end and the big winner will have been Iran.
Blogger Marc with a C, at 11:28 AM  

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