Mad Dogs, Scared Rabbits--laughing While Resisting
For good reason it is hard for many people to see anything amusing at the current political scene, with a "war on terrorism" already devastating one small country, first class war criminal Ariel Sharon unleashed to assault another civilian population, and the Washington Axis of Evil speaking daily about "regime change" in Iraq and the possible use of nuclear weapons.
But we must take the tiny spinoffs of benefits along with the heavy costs, and one of them is the steady stream of gaffes, brazen lies, mind-boggling hypocrisies, and arrogant assertions of the right to intervene and kill at the sole discretion of the Washington Axis.
Cartoonists are having a field day in this environment, and we should look occasionally at the "bright" and laughable side of the ongoing villainy. Who knows, maybe it will not only offer a bit of cheer but contribute its small bit to undermining the Axis's authority.
One of the funniest features of post-9/11 is that while the Washington Axis is bullying, militarizing and threatening on a global scale, it is running scared, as if the bin Laden forces are about to descend on this country with a navy, air force, missile attack, plus more suicide-bombing planes, chemical and biological warfare and much else.
On the day after the bombing U.S. warships were planted outside New York Harbor waiting for bin Laden's navy, and ever since there have been 24 hour Air Force surveillance flights over New York, Washington and other cities, only recently cut back a bit, presumably waiting for bin Laden's air force to make its appearance. That enormous security budget is really proving itself, isn't it?
It failed utterly to protect the country from a pretty large terrorist operation that apparently got its training and did most of its organizational work right in the United States; but by God they are ready now with "Maginot lines" for every improbable contingency. It is lucky this country can afford such massive resource waste--for "national security."
It has not been noticed in the mainstream media that although the Washington Axis has been engaging for many months in a violent assault on Al-Qaeda (and "collaterally damaging" the people of Afghanistan who are "harboring" some of them, or are just in the way), that Al-Qaeda hasn't engaged in a single act of retaliation against this country.
This hasn't led to any downgrading of its menace, nor has it--nor simple rationality--caused any serious debate on whether the armed forces need a vast enlargement to deal with that menace, or any other.
It is sick-funny to see 9/11 provide the basis for approving money for the 70-ton Crusader howitzer originally designed to stop a Soviet advance in Europe, new advanced fighter aircraft, and the National Missile Defense super-boondoggle. We are going to have "global security," "homeland security," "national security," and how about more tax cuts for Bush's business friends and contributors to provide "economic security"--for those who don't need it.
How about Secretary of State Colin Powell warning Iran to stop "meddling" in Afghanistan. This is the voice of the Godfather telling the little folk that stand in his way to watch out or have their legs broken. Iran, adjacent to Afghanistan, doesn't have any right to try to influence politics there because the Godfather is bringing "enduring freedom," previously "infinite justice," to that benighted land.
What the Godfather confronts there is genuine "evil" in the Taliban, a group that mistreats women, and which the Godfather abhors--unless that group is useful in fighting an enemy like the late Soviet Union or sits on a lot of oil to which he has access (e.g., Saudi Arabia).
This is what is known as "principled flexibility," a system that allows Godfather to turn lesser principles on and off in accord with higher principles (commercial access, profits) and the demands of his principals (oil companies).
Another Afghan war gem is the Bush-Pentagon attempt to counter criticisms of its bombing policy effects on a starving population by dropping little packets of food from the air.
The food aid groups whose efforts had been curtailed by the bombing contended that the amounts being dropped were negligible in relation to needs and failed to come anywhere near offsetting the bombing-related cutbacks in their own ground supplies, besides generating more people in flight and needing help.
In addition to being a hugely inefficient mode of supplying food, with much lost or falling into the wrong hands, or dropped into mine fields, the Pentagon's packages were originally of the same color as cluster bombs, so that children looking for food could be said to be playing "Pentagon roulette," a Free World version of Russian roulette.
Bush-Pentagon (BP) humanitarianism in Afghanistan is also revealed in their attitudes and policies toward Afghan civilian casualties. It has been notorious that BP humanitariaism and infinite justice doesn't extend to bothering to COUNT civilians wiped out in U.S. bombing raids, let alone people starving to death in the war zones, let alone prisoners executed by the BP's freedom fighter allies.
In one notable case, after a bombing raid in which many civilians were apparently killed, Western reporters trying to reach the village to see for themselves, were turned back by U.S. soldiers threatening to shoot.
Now this might appear like an attempt to cover up the ugly realities of "collateral damage." But on the other hand, it may just be that the BP team wants to spare the reporters and the U.S. public the pain of seeing human agony and dead bodies, especially when this might cause that public to think twice about the BP struggle for infinite justice and enduring freedom.
I'm sure that Christopher Hitchens, who early on recognized that the BPers were taking infinite pains to avoid civilian casualties ("an almost pedantic policy of avoiding 'collateral damage'"), would see this constructive side of a seeming suppression of evidence.
Speaking of Hitchens, one of the funniest features of the current global scene and war on terrorism is how sharply it contradicts the Panglossian euphoria and vision of a new era of "humanitarian bombing" preached during the Kosovo war by Hitchens, Richard Falk, Mary Kaldor and their crowd.
David Rieff spoke of human rights as now "an operating principle in all the major Western capitals," and Michael Ignatieff claimed that fifty years of human rights have drastically altered our "moral instincts," making for benevolent interventions and applications of force by the Great Powers.
These folks all glossed over the ignoring of international law by the NATO powers in going to war against Yugoslavia, and their simultaneous support of maassive human rights violations in Turkey and East Timor.
But they now confront a situation where one Great Power is telling everybody else to get lost--it decides; it engages in "regime replacement" at its sole discretion; it plans to attack Iraq even if every other country in the world objects; it gives Ariel Sharon carte blanche to attack Palestinian civilians in the "occupied territories," whatever the international consensus may be; and it makes a deal with Putin allowing him to butcher Chechnyans.
The relevant "moral instincts" are those of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, helped along by Richard Perle, Otto Reich and Elliott Abrams.
There is more good fun in Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft-land. How about Ashcroft's $8,000 expenditure on curtains to conceal an exposed breast on an Art Deco statue in the Justice Department building? Is this a moral government or isn't it?
And how about Bush's announcement in February that in lieu of a lot of money for teachers and school construction, his 2003 budget would allocate 1.5 billion gold-star stickers to be given to encourage and reward school children. Senator Hollings commented that "The president is talking about rewarding good behavior, and he doesn't even mention candy?" That may come next, if the strained national budget can bear the cost.
This is rich terrain--so enjoy as you weep and resist!