Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Have We Learned?

We've learned from the WikiLeaks video of the slaughter of some dozen Iraqis from above that what we see is routine. That is how the Glorious War On Terror is conducted, that is how is has consistently been conducted for years upon years, that is the daily reality the Wogs face and have been facing since well before the Glory of our Expeditions Abroad was brought into focus by the public opening of the various fronts in our perpetual wars of aggression.

To the Wogs on the ground -- remember, they have no airplanes, no helicopters, no drones with which to defend themselves from the ceaseless slaughter -- the exterminations from above are entirely random, arbitrary, cruel, and extremely brutal. The Killers almost always take out entirely innocent civilian targets, who have no idea they are targets, but the survivors learn that any Wog at any time can -- and quite likely will -- become a target for the Killers From Above. Perhaps they are lucky that their faith provides a fatalist outlook on events so they if by random "luck" of the draw they are slaughtered by the Killers, they will accept their Fate with almost as much equanimity as their Killers deliver it.

We've learned that the military lies, constantly, and that lying is Doctrine,; even when they tell the truth, they are lying. They lie about everything, and they lie all the time. It is their way. It is who they are. It is the world in which they live; it is all a lie, a constant lie, and they want, nay demand, that we, civilian observers of their slaughters and their lies, believe their lies, or at the very least set aside our disbelief long enough for them to get on with their job. Which is the killing of Wogs.

Time and again, we heard the defenders of the Killers claim that the killing was justified because an RPG and AK-47s were found among the crushed and burned and separated remains of the Wogs who were exterminated from above that day. Indeed, from the video evidence, it appears that at least a couple of the Wogs are carrying rifles, but there is no sign of RPG weapons, despite the hysteric calling of the troops that they "see" one. No they don't, they see two cameras which they hysterically misidentify as RPGs and which misidentification they then use to justify opening fire on the Wogs. The rifles seen in the video are never aimed or used in any sort of threatening manner; they appear to be entirely defensive weapons. But weapons just the same.

But the RPG "presence" is the justification for the slaughter, not the rifles, and there is no RPG. No RPG is found. What is found are mangled and destroyed camera lenses which the hysterical declare to be "RPGs" and so it is still being reported that an RPG "round" was found among the dead and mutilated remains, because it is the central lie of the whole episode. The Killers must have this central lie believed.

We've learned that the Killers are hysterics, and they are terrified of Wogs, absolutely petrified with fear of Wogs and Woggery, and their sole response to their fear and their hysteria is to kill, kill, kill! The Killers appear to be so drugged up they can't tell what it is they see on their monitors, so they call it whatever they need to call it to justify the slaughter they are about to conduct, regardless of any reality outside their hysterical fear of the Wogs and what they will do. And we've learned that they will be backed up by their superiors, all the way up to the Pentagon and the White House without reservation.

We've learned that Our Rulers have no shame at this conduct. We've learned that our troops have no shame at this conduct. We've learned that Americans are almost entirely desensitized to this conduct -- or actively cheer it on. We've learned, or we should have learned, that Power, naked, raw and and cruel, is what this so-called War is about, and the application of Killing Power, arbitrary, random, and cruel, is how it is conducted.

Now that we know this, what shall we do? It is the endless conundrum. What shall we do?

There are those who defend the Killers because they're "just doing their jobs," and they should not be held to account for what they do. I've never understood or agreed with that viewpoint, because in fact, they are responsible for what they do, and they cross the line on their own volition. They can say no. There may be consequences for doing so, of course, but there are consequences (eventually) for the slaughters they conduct as well.

That does not relieve their officers and commanders all the way up to the Pentagon and the White House of their responsibility, but it is up to those on the ground and in the air over the so-called "battle zone" to say NO, loud and clear, and refuse to fire, refuse to believe a camera lens is an RPG, refuse to become hysterical killers for... what?

As much as we want to think that it was the protests at home that ultimately ended the Vietnam War, it was just as much the fact that the troops were refusing to continue killing gooks wildly to no discernible object, and that they were even killing their officers rather than continue the insane slaughter of the gooks.

Until the troops in our expeditionary forces take the initiative and refuse to continue the slaughter, it will go on. It is the first step. The command will, eventually, follow. They will have no choice.

The military is nowhere close to that point yet. And as Dan Froomkin points out, absolutely no one in Congress is the least interested in exploring the basis for what is shown in the WikiLeaks video. None. Not at all.

We learned a long time ago that Our Rulers do not listen to what those on the "Left" have to say about anything. It is not in their interests to bother with what the "Left" has to say. They are, on the other hand, more than happy to fret and worry right along with whatever the Rightists and other hysterics have to say, fearful always of what the Rightists might do. Which is one reason why the "Left" is ignored: they have demonstrated time and again they will do nothing, whatever, that Our Rulers need to pay attention to if they don't get their way. Whereas we know the Rightists love to kill people and blow shit up and are heavily funded by Rightist economic interests to hold that threat constantly over the Government and Our Rulers. So they often do get much more than a hearing, they get action to satisfy their demands.

Surprising how that still works, but it does.

The only thing we can be certain of is that the world of Our Rulers and their expeditionary forces is entirely divorced from that of the rest of us, and that we, The People, as it were, have more and more in common with the suffering (and often slaughtered) masses in the rest of the world than we have with those who rule us and seek ever greater levels of control over us.

Provided we learn the lesson of our global commonality with one another -- and our utter alienation from those who rule us -- we will have a way forward. Until then, the path is backwards.

Will we learn that lesson?


  1. Good article, Ché.

    But if Theodore Draper is correct, our soldiers in Nam weren't all opposed to killing the Vietmanese. The doctrine and strategy from on high of blowing them up, of forcing them out of their villages, often into killing fields, provoked understandable reactions. Those reactions meant that our soldiers were getting blown up constantly by booby-trapped villages and this basically led to hatred of all Vietnamese. Draper says that soldier surveys put it at 40% and a majority of noncom officers.

    Other people said different things about Vietnam, so who knows? But I think there was plenty of hate flying around over there, and it should have taught us a lesson for all time. The powers that be thought we needed a "revolutionary war" to win, but for some odd reason, they didn't understand the fact that we were playing the role of the British. For some reason, they must have had it in their little heads that we were augmenting Vietnamese Paul Reveres, etc. etc. instead of slaughtering them.

    Reading history just breaks my heart. Santayana has been quoted all too often, but damn if he wasn't correct. We don't learn anything from generation to generation, especially when it comes to war, to the economy, to the environment. Which, of course, makes sense, given the fact that we can't even agree about present reality. How the hell are we going to learn from historical experience if we can't even come to some basic understandings about concrete facts in the here and now?

    America had a chance, right after WWII, to be the first hegemon to turn down the "honor". If we had, if we had decided NOT to go into Korea, Vietnam, South and Central America, Africa, Iran, Iraq, etc. etc. . . . John Lennon's song might have come true.

  2. True enough regarding Vietnam.

    Killing Vietnamese was engaged in with more glee by more soldiers than not, but there was resistance in the ranks, much as there was resistance at home, and the first upshot was the ending of the draft (that's the primary victory of the protestors); the second was ending the war itself -- which was a far more complicated endeavor.

    A whole lot of folks still don't understand we play the role of the British (and their mercenaries) in world affairs, but I think TBTB do understand it, and heartily approve, and they foster and guide America's current and past Imperial adventures.

    Isn't it something that essentially immediately upon the conclusion of WWII Victory celebrations, the United States revved up the War Machine once again and set out on a permanent war and proxy war, and this was the primary legacy of President Truman, a Heartland liberal of the first order.

    The irony is that Eisenhower tried to ratchet back this permanent state of war. Kennedy went on the offensive to rev it up again.

    Johnson did seem to learn from history -- at a horrible cost -- not that it did him or his successors any good. But I think Johnson, for all his many flaws, is the most under-appreciated of our Presidents from the recent era. He did seem to come to understand what "justice" -- in a civil and social sense and ultimately, possibly, in a global sense -- really meant; he set out to do what he could to ensure it, won some, lost some, and he did try to pull the plug on the Vietnam expedition. Which failed. And he wound up doddering back at the ranch.

    In his time, he was extravagantly vilified both in the streets and in the halls of power. Yet in retrospect, and given what came afterward, he was at least trying to do the right thing -- once he woke from his reverie of American Hegemony.

    I don't know what will work on the current set of Our Rulers sufficiently that they will wake from their reveries of Absolute Power. All I know is that they can be successfully resisted, but such resistance as there is in this country is almost all from the wrong quarter. Despite the constant chorus of criticism from the "Left", as it were, the main critics are really hand in glove with The Powers That Be. They mainly wish to shape that Power more to their liking -- not at all a Revolutionary impulse.

    The Key is with The People, always, and finding a way out of the trap we're in will require learning the lesson (again) of our commonality with one another contra The Powers That Be.

    Of that I continue to have hope.

  3. True.

    I think much of this comes down to poor math skills, literally and metaphorically. Perhaps it's because of our eternal and often bizarre American "optimism" that we don't do math. Perhaps it's also our sense of American exceptionalism. But if we just started thinking in terms of everything being finite -- power, wealth, the environment, energy -- then perhaps we'd finally realize that if you add something over here, you subtract it from there.

    If you put tons of resources into the military and empire, you lose those resources for purposes at home. If you say the CEO should be able to make as much as he or she desires, his or her workers get less, by definition.

    For some reason, all too many Americans seem to think you can have unlimited power and wealth, and no one else has something subtracted from their liberties and freedoms. It's all supposedly win/win, when it's obviously, by definition, win/lose.

    If we had declined the position of world hegemon in 1945, and focused entirely on prosperity at home (for all strata) and aid abroad, we all would have gained from that "loss". And if other hegemons rose? So what? They'd rise and fall, same as it ever was.

    Ironically, America's rise prior to WWII was chiefly the result of our refusal to take the role of world hegemon up to that point -- though we reduced our potential for even more prosperity and freedom by playing hegemon in our own hemisphere. We were lucky that no one was even close to offering a serious rival, which wasn't the case for the nations of Europe, as they busied themselves slaughtering each other.

    Their loss was our gain, but we failed to follow those lessons after WWII. And you're right. Truman started it, and he got us rolling into Vietnam as well.

    As for Johnson. I agree. He was underappreciated (Civil Rights laws, etc), and our economy, overall, has never been better than it was under his term. People forget that as well.

    All kinds of what-ifs at that point. If JFK had lived, it looks likely that he would have gotten us out of Nam early in his second term. Then, no Nixon. Perhaps Bobby would have followed him, and the 70s would have been entirely different.

    Though, perhaps RFK would never have had the transformation he did, after his brother was killed. He remade himself, and I think was authentically and genuinely transformed into our most left-liberal politician since FDR at the time of his murder.

    If JFK had lived, and ended Nam before it really got going, perhaps there is no failed student rising, which seems to have turned off all too many Americans who refused to even try to understand it . . . which enabled the conservative reaction to take hold.

    What-ifs and math. They keep me up at night.