Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cooped Up

It's always fun to be categorized, esp if you have no real concept of the category you've been assigned. Me, I'm now a member of the "radical left," or so says Marc Cooper in his latest blog post. His evidence? My post from yesterday, which Marc apparently found hard going.

I'm not really sure what the "radical left" is these days, or even if it actually exists. I do confess that at one time, I did have the hots for Bernadine Dohrn, but I've long since married and settled down. I think what Marc means is that I don't see any constructive purpose to ongoing US military action in Iraq. And this, I suppose, makes me a "radical."

If that's the case, then I have a lot of company. A growing number of Americans are turning against the war, or have formed a negative opinion about it. Most of the world is against our imperial presence, and has been from the start. The majority of Iraqis themselves want us to leave sooner than later.

I always thought that "radicals" were a minority. Not when it comes to Iraq, if Marc's definition has any meaning. Still, if anyone is siding with a radical few, it's gotta be Marc.

But Marc protests that I'm "tone deaf" to his position, that I've whittled it down to simplistic black and white. Perhaps there's some nuance I'm missing, but Marc has stated that he's against an immediate US pull-out, because if that happens, Iraq will most likely suffer a worse fate than it already has. The jihadists and Ba'athists will take over, heads will roll, mass graves will fill, and fascism will rule the day.

If Marc truly believes that, then he should definitely support the US occupation, which he tacitly does . . . except when he says he doesn't. Which is it? I think that deep down, Marc doesn't know what to think. "I pretend to have no viable answers," he says, which demonstrates his ongoing confusion. I think Marc means that he "doesn't" pretend to have viable answers. Or maybe he does have viable answers, but he pretends not to have them. But whatever he pretends or doesn't pretend, it's clear that Marc is as helpless as the rest of us, only in his case it's excusable. In my case, it's borderline criminal.

Meantime, the meatgrinder keeps running, 24/7. What to do? Marc advocates some hazy "third way" out of the mess, but he can't be bothered with the details. That's for the antiwar movement to conceive. But whatever we come up with, it better be bloodless, or else the ongoing carnage will be our fault. What's that? Bush is to blame for lying us into an unwinnable, increasingly barbarous war? How simplistic of you! Just because the Bush admin, which controls the machinery of state, is directly responsible for mass murder and torture in Iraq (and elsewhere), and continues to justify this insane conflict with more lying and sweet-talk, doesn't mean it deserves to be singled out. The antiwar movement is equally guilty, and has the supreme responsibility to end this war the Cooper Way (whatever that is)!

For the sake of clarification, I support Iraqi trade unionists, and have repeatedly said that any shot for a secular, democratic Iraq really begins with them. There are many international antiwar groups who show their solidarity with Iraqi workers, among them US Labor Against The War (which is sponsoring an American tour of Iraqi labor leaders in June), but for some reason, Marc seems to miss these activists, preferring to fling slime at the self-righteous-granola-eating-Birkenstock-wearing-Pacifica-listening-Mumia-loving-left stereotype that serves as his standard target. Looking for an answer amid the chaos? Listen to Iraqi workers and start from there.

One other thing: Marc finds "demonstrably false" my agreement with Steve Gilliard that Iraq is worse than Vietnam. Comparing the millions killed in Southeast Asia to the (at least) 100,000 butchered in Iraq, Marc wonders how I could take such a position. Well, Gilliard laid it out, but I'll be happy to reply. The death toll in Vietnam is from a 13-year-period. We're only in year two in Iraq, which, if we make a direct comparison, is 1964 Vietnam-time. Millions weren't dead by that point, but the slaughter was underway. And as Gilliard stated, Saigon was never the free-fire zone that is Baghdad today. American GIs and journalists could move about the capital more or less freely, which is not the case in Baghdad. I caught Russ Feingold on the radio yesterday. He was in Baghdad a few months ago, and he said that even in the Green Zone, everyone wore helmets and flack jackets. Far from focusing solely on the "bad news," as Fox-watchers insist the Liberal Media does, Feingold said that if anything, the American press is "under-reporting" the madness in Iraq. It's that fucking bad. Go back and read press reports from Saigon in 1964, and see which situation is worse.

Is there a way out? Again, I doubt it. As I said yesterday:

"One of the main reasons for the invasion was to establish a permanent US presence in the region (which has long been a goal of US planners), and to create 'critical leverage' to be used against economic rivals like China, Russia, and the European Union. There is no way that after pouring billions into this carnage that the US is simply going to pack up and go."

That's not "throwing up my hands" and taking delight in mass death, as Marc suggests. That's the fucking reality. Marc may want to fantasize about some solution where everybody lives happily ever after (so long as he's not pressed for tangible ideas), but as my old mentor used to say about Vietnam, a war so squalidly conceived cannot be honorably ended. It's a corpse-strewn mess any way you look at it. And, I fear, we're only in the early stages.