Didn't watch Bush's speech the other night (good God, why would I?), but read dozens of takes, pro & con; and what Bush said and how people reacted pretty much met my preconceptions. In other words, no surprises. Same old shit.
If pressed to cite anyone specifically, I'll stay local with Juan Cole, whose tireless, balanced accounts of the surging madness makes the battle boys crazy -- well, crazier. Cole (who I'll be interviewing for a magazine profile at summer's end) makes the rather conservative point that Bush's invasion and occupation has made the region much much worse and unstable. He then cedes the stage to Alan Richards of the University of California Santa Cruz who details just how fucking worse it'll all get before, or if, it's over.
It may appear to some that I take delight in passing on bad news. After all, every time I write about Iraq, I'm up to my neck in negative assessments. Actually, I have to drag myself to the keyboard to tap out these bitter posts. And as I tappa tappa tappa I either laugh like a lunatic or sigh and hold back tears. Because, really, how else does one approach this rancid topic while trying to remain honest? There are only so many angles one can take when examining a human meatgrinder that's always running, none of which are pleasant.
So why, Mr. Son, do you put yourself through this?
I answered this to a degree last month, and much of what I wrote then still holds. But since then I've been thinking a lot about endless war, thoughts that are fueled by the likes of Rumsfeld who casually predicts another 12 years of imperial conflict. Given that this criminal initially said that the Iraq war would last six months tops, which anyone with a passing knowledge of the region and its history immediately knew was dogshit, I suspect that 12 years is an understatement. Bush more or less made this plain Tues night -- no timetable, no end. He's determined to hand this disaster to whomever has the nasty luck to succeed him, then it's off to Crawford and heavily-guarded ranch seclusion while the rest of us deal with Bush's corpse-strewn mess.
In 12 years my son will be 21 and thus eligible to fight and die for a deepening geopolitical barbarism and multinational greed. I sincerely hope he doesn't and will do what I can to persuade him not to, but ultimately, that will be his decision -- or not, should military service become mandatory by that time. Who the hell knows. But for his sake alone I have to stay in the game and remain alert, regardless of how much this hammers my sanity. What choice do I have?
(I worry much less about my teen daughter -- she's about as likely to join the military as is Michael Totten.)
As Seymour Hersh recently stated, the Bush/Cheney gang have no idea how fucked things are in the Middle East, nor do they care. Their political isolation makes them impervious to reality and indifferent to criticism. Personally, I think that at some level, this murderous bunch knows exactly what they're doing. They desire and are making certain that the Middle East be as violent and unstable as their rhetoric -- making the "facts" fit their "vision." They did this shamelessly in order to justify the invasion two years ago, and it appears that little has changed as the occupation drags on. Endless war means ongoing corporate profits and justifications for control. Of course, this could and may very well backfire on them, but the beauty of that possibility is that more chaos is created, more fear and dread whipped up, and more pretexts for those in power to "save" us.
There are precedents for this. Consider what Israel did in the early-80s with the then-infant Hamas. Threatened by a moderating PLO that was anxious to find some kind of political solution in the occupied territories (a "peace scare" it was called by some), Israel needed to find and expand whatever rifts existed within the Palestinian movement to nullify the PLO's overtures and thus justify the military solution that many in the Israeli leadership preferred. They found what they were looking for in Hamas. Read Richard Sale's informative piece for more details on this well-known but little-discussed period of Israeli history, the effects of which are ongoing.
And then there was that US/Pakistani "freedom fighter" operation that took place in Afghanistan around the same time, the effects of which may never end, if those who benefit from it have their way.
As for the state of our political "opposition," Max Sawicky surveys the lib hawk terrain.
And so, and so . . .
Look for this site to mix it up in the coming days and weeks, because as necessary as it is, I frankly can't stand writing nothing but war-related posts. I've been going through my files and came across Michael O'Donoghue's unpublished manuscript "Letters From France," sections of which I may post here for your amusement. I also have some thoughts about Uma Thurman as Action Hero, and why as nostalgia, the 80s are no match for the 70s, esp in commercial terms. And remember when I vowed to write humor every Monday? The guy who made that vow is around somewhere. When I find him, I'll shame him with his broken promise.
Oh, speaking of sons and war, Christopher Hitchens typed one of his dumber pieces of late regarding this subject. His son is now 22-23, and I wonder what that young man thinks about his father's public displays, as well as Pop's lust for cruelty and violence. But that's between them.
As for me, I've been informed that my City Pages piece about Hitch will be included in "Terror, Iraq, and the Left: Christopher Hitchens And His Critics," to be released early next year by University of California Press. Of course, there are certain critics that Hitch won't and can't face, but we already knew that. I'm still here, big boy. Whenever you choose.