Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What's On My Mind

Okay, the thing on my mind, on the mind of anyone who’s thinking—the war.

The people in that region think of us—meaning the West, but particularly the U.S.-- as meddling bastards—primarily because we have been. Good book to read—“A Peace to End All Peace: Creating the Modern Middle East, 1914-1922,” by David Fromkin. It describes how the West carved up the mideast at the end of World War I for political expedients of the time—oil was not even a consideration at the time. The divisions were in such a way that it guaranteed future conflicts. The discovery of oil and the creation of Israel only added fuel to an existing fire. They have viewed the West as outsiders and barbarians from way back.

So in a region where there’s a fair amount of well-justified resentment toward us, we went in and took out a government. It wasn’t a good government, but that’s not the way people see it. Look at our own history. People in the South still defend the Confederacy—a government that was based on perpetuation of massive human rights violations. So even if Saddam’s regime was horrendous, it was still Iraq’s. Invading that country stirred up a hornet’s nest. It has fueled the imbecilic fundamentalist aspirations in the region. It was a bad, bad chess move.

The other day, I noticed one of my neighbors had a bumper sticker that said “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.” It made me think back to when I was a kid and the Vietnam War was going on. I remember how everything centered on it. Even in my grade school, kids talked about it. The entire 1968 election was focused on it. Why aren’t there riots in the streets over this war, which is very clearly a disaster? Because only a relative handful of long-term military professionals, with the help of an army made up mostly of America’s poor, are involved.

My father pointed out long ago that the shit didn’t hit the fan during the Vietnam War until white middle class kids started getting drafted. Maybe that’s what we need to get people outraged.

It’s funny, though—this whole rightward shift in the United States started with the humiliation we felt when we left Vietnam tail between our legs. It’s risen up, with sabre-rattling freaks like Reagan, Cheney and Rumsfeld running the show. Supporting terrorists in Nicaragua, intervening in more places than I can name. It all ends up with this war. I cannot conceive of another ending to this fiasco except for us once again leaving tail between our legs. Thirty some years later, the cycle completes.

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