December 02, 2008

Clinging to the Wreckage (I): Murder, Inc. -- The Continuing Obscenity of U.S. Foreign Policy

Our troops did the job they were asked to do. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They conducted the search for weapons of mass destruction. They gave the Iraqi people a chance for elections and to have a government. It is the Iraqis who have failed to take advantage of that opportunity. -- Hillary Clinton

It's not change when [McCain] promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians..." -- Barack Obama [Both quotes appear in my essay, "The Triumph of the White, Male Ruling Class."]
Obama and Biden will press Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their future and to substantially spend their oil revenues on their own reconstruction. -- Official Barack Obama website, Issues - Iraq

We're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq at a time when the Iraqis have a $79 billion surplus, $79 billion.

And we need that $10 billion a month here in the United States to put people back to work, to do all these wonderful things that Sen. McCain suggested we should be doing, but has not yet explained how he would pay for.

Now, Sen. McCain and I do agree, this is the greatest nation on earth. We are a force of good in the world. But there has never been a nation in the history of the world that saw its economy decline and maintained its military superiority. -- Barack Obama, Second Presidential Debate, October 7, 2008
If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer -- a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed -- can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer.

The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means -- and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a "success."

We are a nation that has voluntarily renounced all its most crucial values, and all its founding principles. We can appeal all we want to "American exceptionalism," but any "exceptionalism" that remains ours is that of a mass murderer without a soul, and without a conscience. We have destroyed the most basic foundation of liberty -- and the nature and meaning of our act has already, in less than a couple of weeks, almost entirely vanished from public discussion. It is useless to appeal to any "American" sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong.

Remember the five-year-old Iraqi girl who was killed by the same bombs that killed al-Zarqawi. Remember the following, and try to understand it at long last... -- From my essay, "The Missing Moral Center: Murdering the Innocent," October 11, 2006
Barack Obama repeatedly insists that the greatest task before us, the task to which he tells us again and again he himself is fully committed and to which he asks all of us to dedicate ourselves as well, is "change." To change a policy of any significance requires that one first identify honestly and in detail the nature of the policy one wishes to alter. As is true of every other national politician of prominence, Obama resolutely refuses to name the actual nature and meaning of U.S. foreign policy today and for the last several decades.

Obama's own statements, together with his selection of individuals for major foreign policy and defense positions in his administration, make unarguably clear that he will change nothing of any importance in America's conduct of foreign policy. When Obama tells us he is committed to "change," he is lying, just as he has lied on a lengthy series of issues of great importance. As I noted in "Obama's Whitewash": "Truth is the enemy; truth is to be destroyed. ... This is how we live today: lies are the staple of our diet. Without them, we would die, certainly in psychological terms."

The above statements from Hillary Clinton and Obama express positions they have offered on many occasions. I set them beside my own description of the United States' actions to make the contrast as starkly clear as possible. I realize all too well that many people will read that excerpt from my earlier article (as well as most if not all of my writing) and dismiss such views with a contemptuous shrug of dismissal: "That's just ridiculous. Why do you have to be so extreme? Sure, we've made mistakes, including some terrible ones. But the worst mistakes are Bush's fault. America itself, especially if the nation returns to its real values, has done great good in the world. Under the leadership of a man like Obama, she hopefully will again."

This, too, is where we are: to state the truth, the full truth without equivocation or avoidance, is "extreme." After all the writing I have done over several years, I despair at ever breaking through the wall of resistance that surrounds most Americans, the wall that separates our ruling class from any meaningful realization of the destruction and death their policies have caused around the world over many horrifying, blood-drenched years. As I wrote in "'Regrettable Misjudgments': The Shocking Immorality of Our Constricted Thought":
As a nation, we are resolute in our refusal to identify the true nature of our actions, and in our refusal to acknowledge the consequences of what we do. This may well be true of most nations throughout history. Yet there is a direct correlation between a nation's power and influence, and its reliance on myth and other public relations ploys. As the world's sole superpower, the United States via its ruling class saturates its subjects at home and abroad with propaganda on a scale and with an intensity that have rarely been surpassed. As is true of all propaganda, permissible viewpoints are confined within suffocatingly constricted boundaries of thought; variation of any moment from the prescribed guidelines is prohibited.


Consider how far into fantasy we have traveled, consider the scope of our determination to banish facts from our awareness. It should not be controversial or noteworthy in the least to observe that conquest of foreign peoples by force of arms necessarily involves bloodletting, dismemberment and mutilation, that subjugation shatters the mind and the body, not just of the subjugated, but of those who would rule in this manner. History tells this tale repeatedly. Indeed, when our leaders wish to condemn other nations which utilize identical practices, they will examine these evils in endless detail. Our leaders will explain to us with enthusiastic commitment that such practices are deeply immoral and can only lead to disaster. But suddenly, when the United States sets out to conquer entire regions of the world, all these evils are not only transformed into a force for good: the evils miraculously cease to exist. The United States is good -- it is "the culmination of human development" -- and all its works are good. In "respectable" conversation in "respectable" places, you may not say otherwise.
In that same essay, after a consideration of the reality of the genocide the U.S. government's actions unleashed in Iraq, I quoted Chris Floyd as follows:
Back home they're glorifying the war, or else, at most, tut-tutting over how "incompetently" it has been managed -- or, as Hillary Clinton likes to do, berating the Iraqis for not taking advantage of the wonderful opportunity we've given them by invading their country, killing their families, destroying their society, robbing them blind and empowering violent sectarians to rule over them. This is the full range of acceptable, "serious" discourse on Iraq: it's either a noble crusade marching steadily toward victory or a noble if mismanaged crusade on behalf of a bunch of ingrates who don't deserve our benevolence.
In the context of what the United States has done and continues to do, the statements from Clinton and Obama about the "failure" of the Iraqis to act in a manner they find "acceptable" are loathsome in the extreme. Their views, which I emphasize again are shared by every national politician who actually wields power (by which formulation, I exclude the very few exceptions such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul), represent the murderous triumph of "American exceptionalism" -- the doctrine that lauds the United States as uniquely "good" and Americans as "the good guys" in a manner that no other peoples can ever hope to equal, and that, with its always implicit and frequently explicit racism, condemns all other peoples on Earth to sub- or even inhuman status. That final element, of course, makes it considerably easier to slaughter them in large numbers, even when they could never possibly threaten us.

The absolute refusal to identify the facts and their meaning sometimes drives me to employ a crudity of expression I would prefer to avoid. But as I noted, my attempts to get through more "politely" have proven futile. Thus, about Clinton's and Obama's disgusting remarks about the Iraqis' "failures," I wrote:
The condescending superiority of this perspective is unassailable and unchangeable. (In yet another loathsome example of the identical mentality, John Kerry has also said the same thing.)

Listen up, Obama, you cheap, lying fraud: the United States government launched a criminal war of aggression against a nation that never threatened us. It continues a bloody, murdering occupation which does nothing but worsen the agony of the Iraqi people. We have no right to be in Iraq at all. We never did. The actions of the United States government have led to a genocide of world historical proportions.

Genocidal murderers and those who support and enable them -- as you do, Obama, since you vote to fund this continuing crime -- do not get to "ask" one single goddamned fucking thing of their victims. Not. One. Single. Goddamned. Fucking. Thing.
And still, after the genocide caused by the U.S. government's actions, after all the death and mutilation, after the destruction of an entire country, Obama tells us: "This is the greatest nation on earth. We are a force of good in the world."

To understate in my own criminally irresponsible manner: this is not "change." This is the full, loving embrace of "American exceptionalism," and of all the detestable consequences of that detestable doctrine. For those who have been paying attention (and I thank the approximately 14 of you who have), this is hardly news. I discussed Obama's adoration of and dedication to "American exceptionalism" in "Songs of Death," which was written in May -- of 2007.

Among others, two points from that earlier piece should be noted here. First, I recommend that you consider the meaning and possible results of Clinton's positive comments about the fact that the United States may "have to take offensive military action against Iran..." In a sense, I suppose one should thank Clinton for this moment of clarity. It's helpful when individuals who are already war criminals tell us of their intention to continue their murderous careers. Those few of us who object to unjustified widescale murder may take what actions we think advisable, and the future victims of U.S. aggression may defend themselves as they deem fit and are able. If you had thought the danger of an attack on Iran would diminish with the close of the Bush Administration, you're ignorant, deluded and/or a fool; I discussed that issue in detail here. (I say that Clinton is "already" a war criminal because of Iraq, of course, and also because of her vicious support for her husband's Balkans policy, about which more in a subsequent installment -- see "The Truth Shall Drive You Mad" for a head start.)

The second point from "Songs of Death" that deserves emphasis is Obama's "justification" for U.S. intervention abroad, a justification so comprehensive that it permits U.S. intervention on any basis, anywhere, at any time:
This is the Open Door world carried to impossible, entirely unrealizable and ridiculous extremes. The door is not only open: the door and the entire structure in which it had been installed have been obliterated. The United States must be the global hegemon so that every human being eats well, is properly educated and has a good job, until every society and culture is thriving and properly "democratic" in the form we alone will dictate, and until there is a (healthy) chicken in every pot.
See the full essay for the details, and for the meaning of the "healthy chicken" reference.

Confronted with the close to unanimous refusal to face the excessively bloody facts, it is with some relief that I find a few individuals who have not completely succumbed to the mind-numbing commandments of Obamamania. About the retention of Robert Gates, Matthew Rothschild writes:
Let’s remember: Gates was head of the CIA during Bush I. As such, he was involved in the invasion of Panama, the funding of a genocidal regime in Guatemala, the support of Suharto’s brutal government in Indonesia, and the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti.

With Bush I, he pushed the first war against Saddam Hussein, even when it seemed that Saddam was preparing to withdraw from Iraq.

And now with Bush II, he’s been running the Iraq War, which Obama vowed to end.

And Gates has come out with modernizing our nuclear weapons arsenal—that means making new nukes—even though Obama talked about nuclear disarmament during the campaign.

Something’s terribly wrong with this picture.

And it’s simply this: Obama doesn’t really want a change in foreign and military policy. He said as much during the campaign when he praised Bush Sr. and said he wanted to return to the bipartisan consensus of the last forty years.

In those forty years, the United States waged war against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It helped overthrow the Allende government in Chile. It supported Suharto’s invasion of East Timor. It financed and trained death squads in Central America. And on and on.

With the Gates choice, Obama proves he’s not about ending the U.S. empire.

He’s about running the U.S. empire—with less bravado than Bush-Cheney, but perhaps more efficiently.
Ah, yes: "efficiency," which also goes by the term, "competence" -- the beloved goals of every monstrous regime in history. But this should not come as news, either. For several years, I have repeatedly made the point that the Democrats have no objection to endless U.S. interventions or to wars of aggression, nor are they repulsed in the smallest degree by unjustified slaughter. The Democrats only want U.S. murders to be managed "well" and accomplished "competently." For empires, "neatness" is a great virtue. Bloodstains on the plush carpets of the corridors of power are distressingly unpleasant, don't you know. See, as just one example, the discussion of Point One in, "Trapped in the Wrong Paradigm."

The persistence and comprehensiveness of our mythmaking are revealed even in Rothschild's otherwise clear-eyed analysis. Rothschild commits two major errors, one at the very opening of his article:
Barack Obama’s got a big problem.

He’s suckered himself into believing that we need a bipartisan foreign and military policy.
So even though Rothschild goes on to argue correctly that Obama "doesn’t really want a change in foreign and military policy" and that "Obama proves he’s not about ending the U.S. empire," his prefatory remarks largely blunt his own assessment. You see, Obama's "suckered himself." He doesn't actually believe it, not in his heart of hearts, not if he were fully true to his best instincts.

Which are you going to believe -- Obama's own numerous statements and actions, his repeated declarations of the "truth" of American exceptionalism and all its bloody consequences, and his plans for interminable future American interventions, or your self-generated delusions about what Obama "really" stands for as a "thoughtful," "reflective," "progressive" leader? The undeniable truth -- or your preferred, self-flattering fantasy? This particular fantasy (including its many variations) is the favorite of many liberals and progressives, and it is their preferred method of avoiding the fact that this "progressive" leader is a war criminal, of the past, present and future. I suppose if I had voted for him, I'd avoid the meaning of my own actions as well. History has repeatedly taught us that this is one of the primary routes to hell, yet most of us refuse to learn the lesson.

Rothschild's second error, one shared by a great many people, is his contention that Obama "vowed to end" the "Iraq War." This is profoundly wrong in several respects. Moreover, Obama has never "vowed" any such thing, not if you understand the meaning of all of his statements on this subject. In short, this is another of Obama's lies, and an especially heinous one. But he's already lied about so many issues, what's one more?

How do I know Obama has lied on this point? Because he's told us so himself. If you've been paying attention to all he has said and its necessary meaning, you already know this, and this conclusion is fully demonstrated by his recent appointments.

I'll turn to Iraq and Obama's "promises" about it in the next installment.