December 19th, 2011 14:38 EST
Feeding The War Machine: Do The Corporados Want Another War?
How politics 24/7 takes our eyes off the big picture
The eye is a protuberance of the brain. It`s made of the same stuff. Let`s keep this in mind as we consider the failure of the press to focus and capture the big picture. Take Iraq. What has America accomplished in nine years?
- -After calling Iran the axis of evil we invade Iraq and turn it over to Iranian influence, seemingly ignoring the obvious prediction that its oppressed Shi`ite majority would inevitably turn to neighboring Shi`ite Iran for support.
- -Either the war is a disastrous misadventure that has destabilized the Middle East, won us no friends, and cost us trillions we can`t even account for "or it was an unqualified success, fattening banksters and other Bush-Cheney cronies.
- -The war is a 101 percent success in distracting us from the abject failure of the Bush-Cheney administration to address domestic problems, such as failing schools, growing income inequality, deteriorating infrastructure, rogue banking, a tax code riddled with loopholes, and many other issues.
- -The war provides cover for turning America into a federal security state, abridging civil liberties such as the right to assemble and dissent (or the simple right to look like an Arab), militarizing police departments, and generally scaring the population silly "all stated goals of the late Osama bin Laden.
- -The war puts the lie to the right wing`s espousal of states` rights. No sincere believer in those rights would have created the monstrous Homeland Security Department, given it authoritarian powers undreamed of by the FBI, and federalized police departments.
- -The war creates the circumstances in which the Occupy Wall Street movement arises and sweeps away the outdated nomenclature of the Cold War to make us aware that the real problem in our society is the growing chasm "it grew dramatically in the past year " between one percent of our people and the other 99 percent.
- -The war heightens our awareness that the maintenance of such a huge military establishment and its industrial base demands new wars to fight, and it begins to make Americans aware that banksters, who have put the screws to the 99 percent in unprecedented ways, are the principal beneficiaries of war.
- -The war tarnishes forever our heroic image of ourselves as the good guys, the guys who would never torture, never massacre, never rape. It makes American exceptionalism a charade. We have to face the fact that we`re the good guys when we have righteous leaders and the bad guys when corrupters lead us.
- -The war corrupts the world`s best military, which had always been able to convince itself that it existed to defend us, not to enrich profiteers and outright crooks. If you have any doubt about this, ask yourselves what happened to the story about Halliburton, Dick Cheney`s old corporation, selling contaminated water to our troops.
There are many other accomplishments. But the major question, now that we`re withdrawing our troops, is this: Why did we really invade Iraq? We know the story of weapons of mass destruction was merely a story of weapons of mass distraction. What then? Simply to remove a bad guy? To show George H. W. Bush that Dubya was tougher than dad? To inspire the Arab Spring? Who believes that? Or to make an obscene amount of money for the people who have already bought and paid for the government? If the answer is the latter, then we are already looking for another war to fight.
Any amateur Arabist could have told the Bush-Cheney White House that Iraq was as precarious a country as the former Yugoslavia. A Sunni minority to which Saddam Hussein belonged was standing on the heads of a Shi`ite majority. Iran understandably didn`t like it. Nor did Syria`s Alawite, rulers who have more in common with orthodox Shi`ism than with the Sunnis whom they are killing today. But most of Iraq`s Arab neighbors in the Middle East liked it just fine, because they`re predominantly Sunni. The same is true for the entire Maghreb (North Africa), which is Sunni, except for Alawite Morocco. And then there`s Turkey. It is overwhelmingly Sunni, and it ruled the Middle East and North Africa for centuries.
Did any of this matter to Bush-Cheney? It doesn`t seem to have concerned them. In fact, George W. Bush seemed surprised when a British journalist explained this to him. So what did matter? Our security? Come on. Saddam Hussein was a bitter opponent of Al Qaeda and the Salafists.
The Saudis had good reason to want him gone, but they surely knew he might be replaced by a Shi`ite regime. Besides, they`re only nominally more friendly to us than Pakistan. It is in Saudi-financed madrasahs, after all, that fundamentalist hatred of America is nurtured.
We`re not even sure that Shi`ite Iraq will give us the oil and other business deals we want. It could turn on us in a New York instant and is undoubtedly already under pressure from Iran to do just that. But none of this concerns the non-patriots who engineered this monumental scam, because from their viewpoint it was a smashing success. They`ve gotten theirs. They`ve not only gotten theirs, but they`ve scared us into tolerating a police state in which it`s easy to sweep away dissenters, as we`ve just seen in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Oakland.
And that`s where the Occupy Wall Street movement comes in, trying heroically to show the rest of us this big picture, which the press so doggedly refuses to give us. And it`s where we come in, on Facebook and elsewhere on the web. We, the 99 percent, are trying by the minute and by the hour to paint that big picture that our elite doesn`t want us to see. We`re swapping articles, talking to each other, reminding each other that the farcical presidential campaign is a cover-up of all that has happened before, designed to take our eyes off the big heist.
Day by day we watch uncomprehendingly as Syrians rise up against the Alawite regime of Bashar Al Assad. Here we`ve had a Sunni majority oppressed by a relatively small minority with ties to Shi`ite Iran. More than 12,000 Syrians have fled north to Turkey, a Sunni nation with a long history of troubled relations with Iran. But all our press can make of this is to ask how it might impact Israel, a question stupefyingly condescending towards millions of Arabs, Turk and Iranians. If the Muslim world showed a similar indifference to historical Protestant-Catholic conflicts we would take it as a sign of a civilization mired in medieval ignorance.
Suppression of minorities matters as much in the Muslim world as it does in the West. But our obsession with sound-bite politics, with disinformation and ideology, leads us to believe that nothing that happens in the Muslim world matters except in the contexts of our blind support of Israeli expansionism or our irrational fear of Muslim fundamentalism, irrational because we ourselves are driven by a fundamentalist agenda from the evangelical right. We cannot and we will not make the distinctions necessary to show Muslims we give a damn about them. We have, for example, so demonized the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that we are now terrorizing ourselves about a democratically elected Egyptian government dominated by it. And yet the brotherhood bears striking similarities to our own fundamentalists.
From a more historical perspective, our foreign policy shows little appreciation of the fact that both Christendom and Islam have witnessed enlightened and tolerant regimes as well as genocidal and xenophobic regimes. Caliphates in Damascus, Baghdad and Cordoba have given us remarkably creative and just civilizations. But other Muslim societies have been narrow and destructive. The same is true of Christendom, and of our own country, where the First Inhabitants were murdered and hounded from their homes and where even today an Anglo-centric culture exhibits contempt for Native American culture.
As we withdraw from Iraq we might well consider all these matters and take a few steps towards admitting that we, like most other people in the world, rarely know what we`re talking about, no matter how certain and convincing we sound.
Djelloul Marbrook`s first book, Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. Artists` Hill, an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Crowds of One, won the 2008 Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction. Artemisia`s Wolf, a novella, was published by Prakash Books of India early in 2011. Alice Miller`s Room, a novella, was published in 1999 by OnlineOriginals.com (UK) as an e-book, and Bliss Plot Press of Woodstock, NY, recently published his novella, Saraceno, as an e-book. Orbis (UK), Smashwords.com, Potomac Review (Maryland) and Prima Materia (New York). His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (Deerbrook Editions, 2010). Recent poems were published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Meadowland Review, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Poets Against War, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue, Atticus, Long Island Quarterly, ReDactions, Istanbul Literary Review, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, Damazine, Perpetuum Mobile, Attic, and Chronogram. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn, and has lifelong ties to Woodstock.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com