Here We Go Again
Posted: Sunday, April 11, 2004
By Rootsie, www.rootsie.com
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Here we are again. A quagmire. It could be 1964, but it's so much worse. The United States versus a billion Arabs.
Like 1964, an election year. Neither party with the political will, neither candidate with the simple integrity to say "We made a mistake. It's time to get out of there." The pretext for this war was to 'free the Iraqi people.' No need to say what a crock that is, but even on that basis the United States has failed. What lies ahead for Iraq is a ghastly civil war and, at the end, a fundamentalist Shi'ite state. Moderates in the Islamic world have had the rug pulled out from under them, and are really in an impossible situation. They are already pulling out of the 'interim government.' How could it possibly be in the Shi'ites' interest to share power three ways with the Kurds and Sunnis when they comprise 80% of Iraq's population? How can moderate Shi'ites stand with any moral or political authority when they are perceived as shills for the Americans?
'But we can't leave now. That would leave Iraq to civil war and chaos.' Just as in Vietnam, the United States harbors the self-serving illusion, or at least feeds the public the line that 'we' hold the key to 'lasting peace and stability,' in some grotesque caricature of fatherly concern. 'We have to destroy Vietnam to save it.' Compared to the guys running things today, Nixon looks like a starry-eyed liberal.
Kerry says the answer is to run to the UN for help, that the problem with Iraq is not that United States invaded, but that it invaded without cajoling the UN into joining in. That was a ridiculous argument he and his Democratic buddies were making last winter, and it is more ridiculous now. Democrats were joining the anti-war protests last winter with that line, and they should have been called on it then. They deserve no less than the Republicans to be thrown out of office.
This is not 1964. Americans are far less mindlessly patriotic now, far more in love with their selfish pleasures. You don't notice anyone saying too loud that sacrifices will have to be made. No one is in the mood. It is disgusting to say, but the only hope I see is that regular Americans will not take kindly to this rising body count and it will take far fewer than the ten years it took then to stop this war.
The United States left Vietnam quietly with its tail between its legs and that was that. The denouement to this escapade will not be nearly so neat. Another false pretext for this war was to 'combat terrorism,' but again all I can say is we ain't seen nothin' yet.
Arabs look at those images of the dead in Fallujah and they see the humiliation of Palestine. They see 150 years of first the British and now the Israelis/Americans. 150 years of rage. We say insurgency. They say Intifadah. 'Bringing stability to the region?' How about World War III?
The idea of the use of nuclear weapons is on the table. It is hard to imagine this nightmare scenario, but the future of global capitalism is at stake. A mistake that many people have been making for a long time is not allowing themselves to see the full dimension of the nightmare, unable to imagine that 'they' could really, after all, be so terrible, unable finally to entertain the notion that their own comfort could actually be disrupted in any way. They actually believe that 'getting rid of Bush' is the answer, as if the 'problem' will go away when he does. Well I don't feel too sorry for them, and they will see soon enough what their implicit support for the status quo buys them in the end. In this war for corporate global hegemony, American people are as expendable as any others. I wonder how kindly they will take to thousands of their children being used as cannon fodder to advance the interests of the rich. They don't seem much concerned about their civil liberties being stripped away one by one. Maybe Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor was right: people are ultimately terrified by freedom and don't want it at all. Maybe they've gone too soft to care.
At this late date it seems too little to say that America's inability to behave decently in the world, with its citizens' passive approval, has sown the whirlwind. Maybe at last the consequences will fall squarely where they legitimately belong.
My father is 92 years old. He lived through the Spanish Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II, and they affected him and his family directly. These days he just shakes his head. "It's never been this bad," he says. I wonder who else has noticed. I wonder if it's too late to avoid the worst.
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