Blood of Victory

23 August 2005 6147 Hits

 Meanwhile, the "victory" in Afghanistan just keeps on giving. From the NYT's remarkable Carlotta Gall (a former colleague of mine at The Moscow Times):

GI Death Toll in Afghanistan Worst Since 2001

"This year is already the deadliest for American soldiers in Afghanistan since the war of 2001, and the violence is likely to intensify before the nation's legislative elections on Sept. 18. Four soldiers were killed Sunday, meaning that 13 have been killed in August alone. Sixty-five Americans have been killed this year...

Add a comment
Read more: Blood of Victory

Serious Business

23 August 2005 5351 Hits
 Below is an excerpt from the newly revised Empire Burlesque, the book-length collection of columns and new material that comprises an alternative history of history of Bush Regime. The e-book version is being updated right now (the current edition ends in June 2004), and should be available shortly.

The piece deals with a point that I think is very important to remember, although it doesn't seem to get much attention in the dissident media -- the fact that whatever happens in Iraq, Bush and his faction have already won. In a very real sense, it's been a win-win situation for them all along -- and that's probably one big reason why they've been so slapdash with the occupation: deep down, they don't give a damn how the country is sorted out -- because they've already accomplished their main objective. But more on this below.

From Chapter Seven: Serious Business (January-August 2005)

....By summer's end -- with grieving mother Cindy Sheehan standing vigil outside his ranch -- Bush seemed thrown back on the defensive, stumbling, trying to find a new line of patter, a new propaganda ploy to regain the initiative. But it was obvious that the war was lost. The only "successful" outcome possible was the installation of an unstable, violence-ridden Islamic state. There was no way that Bush and his supporters could pretend that this was their goal when they sent the troops in. Yet even this Pyhrric victory seemed increasingly unlikely as Iraq slid inexorably toward a multi-sided civil war.

In the midst of this great darkness, some dissidents spied a ray of hope. Surely, they thought, the magnitude of the American defeat in this pointless, illegal war -- a defeat compounded at every turn by the reckless incompetence of Bush and his colonial viceroys -- would at last rouse the American people to reject the Regime and restore some measure of sanity to the Republic.

But these good souls had made a fundamental mistake in their analysis -- as had most war critics throughout the ordeal. The United States may have lost the war -- but Bush had not. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was a resounding victory for the Bush Faction in the only area that really matters to them: enriching themselves and their cronies in the war-related industries. Even if the conquest were to blow up in the worst possible way, with full-scale civil war spilling over into neighboring countries, setting the whole region -- and perhaps the world -- in flames, the resulting chaos and global instability would mean even more money for the war profiteers. After all, the greater the insecurity, the bigger the budgets for "military servicing" and "security" firms. Add a comment
Read more: Serious Business

Extremist Mullah Calls for Assassination of American Leader

23 August 2005 2855 Hits
That's Pat Robertson, of course, calling on his good Christian friend, George W. Bush, to murder Hugo Chavez, elected leader of the South American nation of Venezuela. (via Media Matters).

In his frothing rant, Pat manages to accuse of Chavez of being an agent of both "communist infiltration and Muslim extremism" -- a pretty neat trick. If I may be forgiven a personal note, it reminds me of the very first piece of hate mail I received as a young college columnist after publishing some criticism of Ronald Reagan (who had not yet ascended to bipartisan sainthood in those days). A furious Reaganite wrote in to accuse me of being -- I kid you not -- a "Hindu Marxist Nazi." The young cretin was, in his ignorance, simply spewing out any word that he could think of which would denote a feared and despised "Other" in his mind.

The old cretin Pat Robertson is doing the same thing -- but not out of ignorance. Robertson is as wily and wordly as they come, a well-educated son of wealth and privilege who has been in top reaches of the national elite his entire life. (His father was a U.S. Senator.) He knows full well the violent enmity between militantly secular communism and Islamic extremism. But he wants to associate any critic or opponent of the American Empire with whatever might call up the image of the feared and despised Other in the minds of his viewers -- most of whom, it must be said, are far more ignorant than Pat Robertson. (Which is why he has played them for suckers all the way to the bank for lo these many years.) Add a comment
Read more: Extremist Mullah Calls for Assassination of American Leader

No Direction Home: The Debate on Withdrawal From Iraq

23 August 2005 5231 Hits
There's a very interesting debate going on right now at Informed Comment, where Juan Cole – one of the most important and indeed informed voices throughout the entire Iraqi debacle – has laid out his strong case against an immediate end to the U.S. occupation. Cole made many good points, well worth serious consideration. He has now gallantly posted a respectful but powerful rebuttal to his case, from Gilbert Achcar. The whole exchange is a good example of the kind of debate that should be taking place throughout the American power structure – not just in the blogosphere.

For what it's worth, my take on the withdrawal question is below. It's a column I wrote around Easter 2004, and I've seen nothing to make me change my stance since then.

No Direction Home: The Red Wheel of War Crime Keeps Rolling
(Excerpts):
As the red wheel of Operation Iraqi FUBAR continues to roll, spewing hundreds of corpses in its wake, it becomes clearer by the hour that there is only one way for America to end this stomach-churning nightmare it has created: get out.

That's it. The occupying armies – including Bush's 20,000 corporate mercenaries – should leave now. They should never have been sent in the first place on this ghoul's errand: a war of aggression, a mission of murder and plunder – the perversion of every enlightened value of the civilization that the Coalition's "Christian leaders" purport to defend….

Their chest-beating pronouncements about "staying the course" and "seeing it through" are just so much rag-chewing nonsense. The way to rectify a crime is not to keep doing it – or in John Kerry's ludicrous formulations, to keep doing it in some different, "better" way – but simply to stop doing it. The illegal invasion was a crime, the occupation is a crime, and if you would not be a criminal, you must stop committing crimes

Add a comment
Read more: No Direction Home: The Debate on Withdrawal From Iraq

Inside Information

23 August 2005 3252 Hits
Jonathan Scharwz tells "A Funny Little Story About the Media" -- and reveals a mountain of truth about the way the American Establishment really operates in this remarkable post on his excellent blog. (And for laughs -- albeit the bitter laugh of painful truth -- check out this earlier posting: We Must Protect Our Precious Creek-Based Fluids. The title alone is worth the price of admission.) We won't excerpt the media story here; you should read the whole thing. Add a comment
Read more: Inside Information

A Crime Without Punishment

20 August 2005 5197 Hits

 Alain Gresh lays out "the most glaring scandal of them all" regarding the UN "oil-for-food" program in Iraq. Some excerpts, from The Guardian:

But no committee of inquiry has been set up to investigate the most glaring scandal of all: the imposition of sanctions on Iraq in August 1990 and above all their maintenance after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. These have had devastating consequences on the country and will be a burden on it for a very long time to come. While the media frequently drew attention to Iraq's difficulties in obtaining food and medical supplies - even after the start of the oil-for-food programme in 1996 - they neglected the effect sanctions had on Iraqi society.

Despite the inventiveness of Iraqi engineers, the state's infrastructure crumbled. Basic services, ministries, power stations and drinking water all became precarious. Corruption spread throughout society. Crime exploded. The inhabitants of Baghdad, who had never bothered to lock their doors, now barricaded their homes. When the US invaded, Iraq needed only a little push for the worm-eaten state to collapse.

Sanctions also affected the structure of the population. Middle-class emigration, which had begun before 1991 as people fled the dictatorship, accelerated. Iraq was emptied of its managers and administrators. The education system, which had catered for all the country's young, was abandoned. Children left school to work and help their families, resulting in a generation of quasi-illiterates. Academic links with other countries were severed. Iraq fell 15 years behind and is not about to catch up.

Add a comment
Read more: A Crime Without Punishment