"He is free who knows how to keep in his own hands the power to decide at each step, the course of his life, and who lives in a society which does not block the exercise of that power." ~ Salvador De Madariaga
1-2-3 What Are We Fighting For?
1-2-3 What are we fighting for? Don't ask me, I don't give a damn. The next stop is Vietnam . 5-6-7 Open up the pearly gates. It ain't no time to wonder why. Yippee! We're all going to die.
-- Country Joe and the Fish
I write this just after Memorial Day weekend. I cannot help being reminded of the above tune made famous at Woodstock.
What, pray tell, are we fighting for in Iraq? Why are American men and ' even more sadly ' women spilling their blood? What is in it for America? Or are our troops in Iraq spilling their blood in vain?
When he was seeking the presidency in 2000, Dubya proclaimed that America would be 'a humble nation'. On his watch, America has been one of the most arrogant nations in the history of the world.
In February 2001, neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer boasted that 'the U.S. can reshape, indeed remake, reality on its own.'
Remake reality? Far out, man!
He further proclaimed that 'America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will.'
Create new realities? Can I buy some marijuana from you, Mr. Krauthammer?
(It reminds me of some graffiti I saw years ago: LSD consumes 47 times its weight in excess reality.)
The ongoing insurgency in Iraq bears witness to the folly of Krauthammer's pronouncements.
It took no courage to wage the Iraq war. Iraq is a country with 1/13 of America's population, 1/180 of America's economy and 1/200 of America's military budget. The U.N. boycott of Iraqi oil, in which the U.S. participated, had already devastated Iraq's economy and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. (1)
And yet, to hear Dubya and his amen corner in the media tell it, Iraq was a thermonuclear juggernaut hell-bent on blowing up the planet.
Well, we found no weapons of mass destruction. (If Saddam actually had them, he would have, like, used them when we invaded.) We caught Saddam. Gasoline is more expensive than ever. There was no Saddam-9/11 connection. (It always amuses me how, within 48 hours of the 9/11 attacks, everyone knew Osama Did It. But it took a year and a half for Dubya to build the case for Iraqi involvement in 9/11.) Iraqi gangbangers are busting caps on Americans left and right. (Yes, some Iraqis are glad we are there. However, America's invasion of Iraq has done much to fuel anti-American hatred throughout the Muslim world.)
What are we fighting for in Iraq?
Don't ask a neocon. He doesn't give a rip. It is Bush's war, and we must rally around our president during wartime.
Oh, that's it! We are going to bring democracy to Iraq!
Other than Israel, there are no enduring democratically elected governments in the Middle East. Oh sure, you might have one election in Iraq. One man-one vote will happen one time in Iraq before the whole country unravels into Islamo-chaos. Unlike Germany and Japan in 1946, there is no history of popularly elected governments in Iraq.
No matter how unapologetically America demonstrates its will, it cannot remake indigenous cultures. The Brits, French, Belgians, Portuguese and others were unable to remake African cultures. The Brits were unable to remake the culture of India or, for that matter, most places where they set up shop. The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were predominantly populated by ' oh this is going to open up a can of worms ' white folks who brought with them things like Christianity and notions of individual freedom and limited government.
And if recent headlines are any indicator, the Iraq war did nothing to deter further terrorist threats. Many pointed out that, of the seven terrorist suspects whose pictures appeared on page one of every newspaper in America recently, one was a woman and one was an American. However, no one pointed out that not one of these scumbags was an Iraqi.
The smart money says that there will be another terrorist attack on American soil between now and the November conclusion of the big urinating contest between these two princes of the world system. Who knows what form it will take? Will jet planes fly into the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay bridges, thus paralyzing America's fourth largest metropolitan area? Will a stadium implode during Monday Night Football? Will we witness a cyber-attack?
No matter what happens, our invasion and occupation of Iraq will have done nothing to deter it. Our $400 billion annual military budget will have done nothing to deter it. Our troop presence in over 130 countries ' the Soviet Union could never make such a claim ' will have done nothing to deter it.
You cannot throw your weight around to the extent that the United States does and expect to have everyone love you. The Brits were not universally loved. Nor were the Soviets, the Romans, or anyone else who played the empire game. And if we are not playing the empire game, what do you call it when you have troops stationed in over 130 countries?
Yeah, but what about our freedom?
Terrorists can fly planes into buildings, drive vehicles into pizza shops, set off bombs and so forth. However, they cannot deprive thee and me of our freedom. Only our own government can do that. And they cannot do it without our blessing.
George W. Bush has done more to take away our freedom than Bill Clinton ever did. In the name of a false sense of security, we have let him do so. Not only have civil liberties eroded through things like the Patriot Act and the turning of airports into mini-police states, but all the social programs that Republicans used to say they hated ' Medicare, government schools ' have been expanded recklessly since 2001.
How much more freedom will we relinquish after of the next terrorist attack?
Had Al Gore tightened the tourniquet like Dubya has, Rush Limbaugh would no doubt lampoon him as Kim Jong-Al. But since Bush Almighty is tightening the tourniquet, let us now bend the knee and disengage the brain.
1-2-3 what are we fighting for in Iraq?
For years, I viewed the Country Joe lyrics at the start of this article as a juvenile jab at those who were spilling their blood in Vietnam. Now, in 2004, they serve as a satirical description of the mentality of those who are engineering the Iraq war.
Deaths are merely collateral damage. You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Don't ask questions. Don't think: follow!
King Solomon knew 3,000 years ago that there is nothing new under the sun. All of America's power, dominance and technological wizardry cannot, in Krauthammer's words, "create new realities." Communism doesn't work because it cannot create a new reality. No government, not even the United States government, can create a new reality. There is only the old reality. Deal with it!
(1) Source: NationMaster