June 09, 2008

The Triumph of the White, Male Ruling Class (II): Damn You

[Part I]

Our alliance is based on shared interests and shared values. Those who threaten Israel threaten us. Israel always faced these threats on the front lines.

And I will bring to the White House an unshakable commitment to Israel's security. That starts with ensuring Israel's qualitative military advantage.

I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat from Gaza to Tehran.

Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success and it must be deepened. As president, I will implement a memorandum of understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade, investments to Israel's security that will not be tied to any other nation.


Now, there's no greater threat to Israel or to the peace and stability of the region than Iran. This audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats. And the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that, regardless of party, Americans stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our commitment to Israel's security.


The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists.

Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.


We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, everything.
-- Barack Obama, Remarks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, June 4, 2008
Chris Hedges:
The failure by Barack Obama to chart another course in the Middle East, to defy the Israel lobby and to denounce the Bush administration's inexorable march toward a conflict with Iran is a failure to challenge the collective insanity that has gripped the political leadership in the United States and Israel.

Obama, in a miscalculation that will have grave consequences, has given his blessing to the widening circle of violence and abuse of the Palestinians by Israel and, most dangerously, to those in the Bush White House and Jerusalem now plotting a war against Iran. He illustrates how the lust for power is morally corrosive. And while he may win the White House, by the time he takes power he will be trapped in George Bush's alternative reality. [NOTE: None of this is a "miscalculation." As a member of the ruling class, all of these policies, in every detail, are ones that Obama is fully convinced are legitimate, right and just.]


The Israeli leadership, like the Bush White House, is increasingly bellicose and threatening. The Israeli prime minister, after a 90-minute meeting with Bush in the White House on Wednesday, said the two leaders were of one mind. "We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat," Ehud Olmert said. "I left with a lot less questions marks [than] I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term in the White House."


Barack Obama, when we need sane leadership the most, has proved feckless and weak. He, and the Democratic leadership, is as morally bankrupt as those preparing to ignite our funeral pyre in the Middle East.
NOTE: Neither Obama nor the Democratic leadership are "morally bankrupt" in the sense that they once advocated fundamentally different policies and desired different ends. Global American hegemony, to be achieved by any and all necessary means, is and has always been their goal. This is what they want, all of them, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Hedges also writes:
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, in a letter to President Bush on May 8, threatened to open impeachment proceedings if Bush attacked Iran. The letter is a signal that planning for strikes on Iran is under way and pronounced.
The Democrats are not "morally bankrupt" since, like the Republicans, they had no moral standing in this matter to lose. But they are remarkably stupid, and they are so by choice, as are many of their dedicated supporters. That or they're all liars on a monumental scale, or some combination of both.

In "The Worsening Nightmare," published on August 15, 2007, I wrote:
I began my first series about the coming war with Iran in November 2005, more than a year and a half ago. (Links to most of my major articles about Iran and related issues will be found at the end of this post.) Many people told me I was worrying about nothing, that I was creating a crisis where there wasn't one. I wonder what they might be saying today. I claim no special insight for my concern: I study history, and I try to understand the patterns that emerge over time. Every conflict in the past had a long gestation period, which was usually ignored or diminished in significance in ways similar to those we've seen over the last few years. Such crises are almost always ignored, until they finally explode -- and until it is too late to do anything to prevent them.

I wrote about the moral and political significance of an attack on Iran in an essay which I still think is among my best, from April 2006: "Morality, Humanity and Civilization: 'Nothing remains...but memories.'"


The Democrats don't object and they completely fail to mount serious opposition to our inevitable course toward widening war and an attack on Iran, not because they are cowards, not because they're afraid of being portrayed as "weak" in the fight against terrorism, and not because of any of the other excuses that are regularly offered by their defenders. They don't object because -- they don't object. That is: they agree -- they agree that the United States is the "indispensable" nation, that we have the "right" to tell every other country how it is "permitted" to act, that we must pursue a policy of aggressive interventionism supported by an empire of military bases. They agree about all of it; moreover, in most critical respects, they devised these policies in the first instance, and they implemented and defended them more vigorously and more consistently than Republicans, with the exception of the criminal now residing in the White House.

They agree. Try to wrap your head around it. Try to absorb the indisputable fact, which has been proven over and over and over again in the last century, and particularly in the last 60 years.


With this in mind, listen to this discussion about the ramifications of pursuing impeachment; Digby is one of the three participants. [For the radio discussion, try this link.]


The discussion about impeachment is measured and deliberate, with careful consideration given to the various possibilities and their implications. One quality is notably absent: any sense of urgency. Then, toward the end of the discussion, the participants consider what might happen if the Bush administration ordered an attack on Iran. At that point, Digby says, everything would be on the table: impeachment, plus other possibilities for action. Digby maintains that an attack on Iran would be against what "the American people" want, and would be so outrageous that any and all strategies of opposition should be immediately pursued.

This is, I submit, utterly fantastic. As I noted in that earlier article, the aftermath of an attack on Iran and what would almost certainly be a rapidly widening war would wipe every other issue out of existence. Consider only some of the possibilities.

First, despite the monumental Judith Miller embarrassments (and other, similar instances of unquestioningly transmitting government lies), the New York Times has been carrying administration propaganda about Iran on its front pages for months. Actually, it's been much longer than that: see this post, from October 2005. As I note from time to time, it is not only the case that our entire governing class has learned nothing from the Iraq debacle: not a single part of the mechanisms by which the elites continue their rule has altered in any significant degree. That is certainly true of the mainstream media, which continue to dutifully convey whatever arguments and whatever "facts" the government wishes to be disseminated. The public is already convinced that Iran represents "the new Hitler," and the latest incarnation of "Ultimate Evil," even though they may have some generalized resistance to further war. But that would quickly be overcome, and all the major press organs will happily see to it that it is. Which brings me to the second point:

Second, one of the standard objections to the likelihood of an attack on Iran is that it will put American troops in Iraq in grave peril. If you make that objection, I have only one thing to say to you: Wake the hell up. Of course it will put American troops in Iraq in grave peril. A great many of them will probably be killed. But -- and please try as earnestly as you can to get this -- the administration is counting on exactly that happening. [Added, to clarify: this must be true, given the logic of the situation, at least implicitly. In individual cases, it might also be true explicitly, in the sense that a particular person is consciously aware of what must happen.] I'm sorry to be rude, but honest to God, how stupid are some of you? Imagine that 500, or a thousand, or even several thousand, American soldiers are killed in a single engagement, or over several days or a week. What do you think would happen?

The administration would immediately blame "Iranian interference" and "Iranian meddling." They do that now. Every major media outlet would repeat the charge; almost no one would question it. Pictures of the slaughtered Americans would be played on television 24 hours a day. The outrage would grow by the minute. Within a day, and probably within hours, certain parties would be calling for nuclear weapons to be dropped on Tehran. Almost everyone would be baying for blood, and for the blood of Iran in particular.

No one, and certainly no prominent politician, would dare to remind Americans that we have no right to be in Iraq in the first place. They won't say that now. Who would point it out after 800 Americans have been killed? And what Democrat would dare to oppose the tide, especially with a presidential election looming? Not one. Everyone with a national voice would be demanding the destruction of the current regime in Iran. No one would oppose such a course.

And Congress would begin impeachment proceedings in this atmosphere? Please tell me you're kidding.

That is only one way events might play out. See this post from a long time ago for other scenarios. Perhaps Israel is attacked. Again, the calls for retribution would be universal, and not a single major voice would be raised in opposition. Probably the government of Pakistan is toppled; that is close to happening even today. And then we would need to worry about actual nukes getting into the hands of those who might genuinely wish to attack us. The possibilities are many, but they all lead to the same end: widening war, war, and more war.

And now it is too late. The kind of educational campaign I recommended as essential might have had a chance six months ago; it has no chance at all today, even if someone were prepared to undertake it -- and no one is. I see only one possibility that might stop these events: a massive demonstration or series of demonstrations in Washington, probably accompanied by a massive sit-in in the offices of Congress. Nothing short of that has a chance in hell.

But that's not going to happen. So we proceed on our path to a still worse and deepening nightmare. Our destination was set a long time ago. The intention to provoke a wider war has been announced repeatedly. No one believed it could happen, or wanted to believe it could happen. Such resistance and denial are common before all catastrophes of this kind. The warning signs are all around us and have been for years. Almost no one paid attention. No one acted to prevent what was obviously coming.

And still, no one will act to prevent it.
As these excerpts and the numerous earlier essays linked above and at the conclusion of "The Worsening Nightmare" demonstrate, I have been writing about these issues for several years. I first set out one possible course of action, a detailed series of practical steps, in February 2007. Since then, I have repeatedly cajoled, encouraged, and begged others to offer better, additional ideas, and to provide help in implementing any or all of them. Aside from six or seven individuals, no one has cared about any of it.

Now we stand once again on the very edge of hell. And still no one will do a goddamned thing.

Damn you lazy, worthless, irredeemably and determinedly stupid, piece of shit bastards.

Damn you.