Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Mission Accomplished

“What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!”

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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.)

Written by unitedcats

September 3, 2010 at 8:35 am

Where the hell is Scheizerland?

with 4 comments

That was my mystery for today. Someone sent me an email about shipping costs to Scheizerland. You’d think that it would be easy to google “Scheizerland” and figure it out. No such luck. My best guess so far is that it’s misspelled Dutch for Switzerland. Why would someone writing to me in English from Switzerland use a misspelled Dutch version of Switzerland though? If some linguist has any insight into this, I’d appreciate it, I’m clueless. And reminded of the European joke: “If a person who speaks three languages is trilingual, and a person who speaks two languages is bilingual, what do you call a person who speaks only one language?” Answer: American.

Moving right along, I didn’t have a pre-written blog for today so the mystery of the Towton Rose is going to have to wait. I’ll just go to the BBC news and see what the exciting headlines are for today … and the BBC didn’t let me down. There’s great news this morning! The last US combat brigade is leaving Iraq! Yes, Mission Accomplished, again! How many countries can win the same war, twice! Of course Iraq is still a ghastly bloody failed state where the violence is not only ongoing, it’s been getting worse. Details. I predict that before every major election in the US from now on we will be “winning” some war or another. I mean, once one bases a foreign policy on lies and fantasies, and the public buys it, there’s no limit!

The second headline is about a bomb blast in western China. It was apparently set off by a Uighur separatist. There were deadly riots in western China last year as a result of conflict between Uighurs and Han Chinese. What can I say. While I admire the pragmatism of the Chinese government, their policy towards minorities is, well, evil incarnate. They are doing what so many countries are doing, cultural genocide. Which is to say they aren’t actually killing or deporting their minorities, they are simply settling so many Chinese in minority regions that the minority culture is basically extinguished. A great example is Tibet, two thirds of the population of Tibet is ethnic Chinese now. That makes it a pretty good bet that Tibet’s chances of ever achieving independence again are pretty slim. Lot’s of countries practice this sort of silent ethnic cleansing, and the Chinese are particularly adept at it. Still, it doesn’t always work. The Russians settled huge numbers of Russians in the Baltic republics, yet they managed to achieve independence again. Still, a sad state of affairs for minorities living in China.

The third headline is that France is starting  mass deportation of Roma (gypsies.) Some claim it is a purely political move on the part of the French government to pander to racist voters. The French government claims it is a humanitarian gesture to close squalid refugee camps, and fully within EU law. The first is certainly true, pandering to racism and prejudice is the wave of the future in western politics … and if you’re gonna pick a popular target, the Roma are some of the most hideously demonised people on Earth. The second is at least partly true, in that at least it’s an acknowledgement that there is a problem. As long as some parts of the world are poor, and some parts are rich … there’s going to be “illegal” immigration. And since the disparity between the rich and poor parts of the world is growing, not shrinking, this “problem” is only going to get worse. And sadly, the ability of politicians to stigmatized people who are simply trying to seek a better life seems to be increasing. And what is covered up in this frenzy of calling people “illegal” is any discussion of the west’s policies that have put millions of people out of work in the third world. Oh well, I’ll post on NAFTA someday, but this whole anti-immigrant frenzy is so depressing because our leaders are basically blaming the victims of their own greedy actions. And worse, a huge section of the public is falling for it.

The next headline is about a Spanish bull that leaped into a crowd. That’s right, the number four story on the BBCs main news page is about a bull leaping into a crowd. And people wonder why some of us rail against the mainstream media? Forty people and one bull suffered minor injuries. Somehow I suspect that there are more important stories out there, but as the mainstream news today is more about entertainment and distraction than education, we get leaping bulls. Sigh.

(The above image is a free desktop wall paper I got from this site, so I’m pretty sure it’s in the public domain. And I’m not using it for profit in any event. No particular reason for choosing it, other than the usual, it goes nicely with the theme of Doug’s Darkworld. And I’m glad I still get to post fantasy war pics instead of Israel attacks Iran war pics. So far.)

Written by unitedcats

August 19, 2010 at 7:59 am