March 30, 2011

Apres Moi ... Aw, C'mon, Who Gives a Crap?

So we don't get very hung up on this question of precedent because we don't make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We base them on how we can best advance our interests in the region. -- Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough
Thank God the moronic, lying and/or hugely ignorant "humanitarians" are no longer embarrassed by the militant anti-intellectualism of the criminal Bush administration. Today they can enthusiastically embrace the militant anti-intellectualism of criminals with whom they feel entirely comfortable. Progress of this kind causes me to weep uncontrollably.

The weeping part is true. However, I am impelled to confess to a deformity of soul that also causes me to laugh uproariously. Aside from three or four of you, and you know who you are, is there anyone who fundamentally and -- dread word! -- consistently opposes the use of violence to achieve allegedly "good" ends? It appears there is not.

Of course, "our interests" is a phrase that is intentionally meaningless. It is infinitely elastic and can be used to justify any intervention anywhere; it is the indispensable tool for those who lead the American Empire. And let us not forget the impressive sophistication of the argument advanced on this point by one Barack Obama, as long ago as the spring of 2007:
In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it’s America’s problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.

Whether it’s global terrorism or pandemic disease, dramatic climate change or the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation, the threats we face at the dawn of the 21st century can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.

The horrific attacks on that clear September day awakened us to this new reality. And after 9/11, millions around the world were ready to stand with us. They were willing to rally to our cause because it was their cause too – because they knew that if America led the world toward a new era of global cooperation, it would advance the security of people in our nation and all nations.
In that same essay, I then wrote:
While I do not minimize the (possibly) serious dangers of avian flu, it must be acknowledged that this is a novel justification of the notion that the U.S. must continue to maintain the greatest military in the history of the world, as Obama goes on to insist. It appears we must be able to invade, nuke or otherwise coerce every nation on earth into doing our bidding -- so that the world will be safe for healthy chickens. And here I had thought the Marx Brothers all were dead.

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.
With regard to all the "humanitarian" justifications that have been revived for the gabillionth time in connection with The Glorious Liberation of Libya, I can only ask: How fucking stupid are you people?

Really? That fucking stupid? To credit the "humanitarian" argument in the smallest degree, you have to be. I will not reinvent the wheel on this subject, for I've written about it extensively. In fact, I had forgotten I'd covered it this extensively. In the fall of 2009, I wrote about Matthew Hoh's supposedly "principled" resignation because of his objections to the war in Afghanistan. As I pointed out, there was nothing at all "principled" about Hoh's action, as Hoh himself made painfully obvious. But I also offered a number of observations about "humanitarian" interventions in general.

So, for the benefit of those who seem unable to appreciate facts that can be grasped by a healthy ten-year-old of average intelligence, I repeat the following:
[T]he conventional nature of Hoh's statements and approach made me begin to wonder precisely why he resigned, and if there was some additional reason that he hasn't identified. It's not that I disbelieve him, for I have no reason to. But my question, one which only grew stronger in my mind as I read his comments, is: Why did he draw the line here exactly? Why not somewhere else? And, most importantly, why not in Iraq? But as we know, he was "never more happy" than when he "whacked" some bad guys in Iraq, although neither he nor any other U.S. personnel had any right to be there.

This underscores another of my earlier arguments: Hoh's objection regarding Afghanistan is basically arbitrary. No principle informs it. As I wrote:
The significance of Hoh's own judgment of his actions in Iraq, and his own failure to acknowledge the true nature of the U.S. presence there, lies in the fact that it undercuts his protest about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan on the most fundamental level. Hoh offers no principled opposition to wars of aggression: he approves of a criminal war in Iraq, but opposes it in Afghanistan. And he opposes it in Afghanistan not because it's a crime and morally abhorrent -- which it is -- but because it's not "working." It's "ineffective." This perfectly mirrors the typical liberal criticism of the Iraq crime: that it was executed "incompetently." Opposition of this kind finally reduces to no opposition at all, except on specifics. Such opposition is futile, inconsistent and contradictory, and ultimately worthless. It fails to challenge U.S. policy on the critical, more fundamental level -- and it invites a future catastrophe on an equal or, which is horrifying to contemplate, an even greater scale.
This is an issue of singular importance. Many manifestations of arbitrariness of this kind can be offered. I've written about one of them at length: those Democrats and liberals who vehemently opposed the Iraq invasion but approved and even encouraged Clinton's Balkans policy. See, e.g.: "The Truth Shall Drive You Mad: The Men and Women of the Empire of Death."

Perhaps of even greater significance here is another essay, "The Lies in Your Head," and especially the excerpts from Jean Bricmont's, Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. Bricmont traces the connections in policy between the Clinton administration's interventions in the Balkans and the Bush administration's war in Iraq, connections that many (if not most) liberals will not confront to this day. Certainly, the Bush administration offered multiple, shifting rationales for the Iraq invasion, only one indication that they never told the truth. (The truth was the drive to U.S. global hegemony, as explained by Higgs.) But it is also true that alleged "humanitarian" concerns were one justification put forth. For many liberals, such concerns were irrelevant in Iraq, but determinative in the Balkans -- and made intervention an absolute necessity in the latter case. Why that factor necessitated intervention in one case and not the other has never been satisfactorily explained, and it cannot be.

And humanitarian concerns are offered today in connection with Afghanistan, and Hoh mentions some of them in his chat. In fact, this argument is only another example of the camouflage used by the ruling class to disguise its true purposes. Just as our leaders will never willingly surrender the base at Bagram, so they were intent on establishing a major base in the Balkans, Camp Bondsteel. Humanitarian justifications had little or nothing to do with what was actually going on.

Even if we take the humanitarian argument on its own terms, it's incoherent, as Bricmont demonstrates at length. He writes:
During the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, a certain number of Western intellectuals fancied themselves following in the Spanish footsteps of Malraux, Orwell, and Hemingway. But, unlike their predecessors, they largely remained at home or ensconced in the same hotel, rather than entering the fray, while the International Brigades and the Spanish Republican Army were replaced by the U.S. Air Force. Now, nothing in United States policy indicates the slightest sincere concern for human rights and democracy. Assigning it the prime task of defending these values is strange indeed. Moreover, to call on an army to wage a war for human rights implies a naive vision of what armies are and do, as well as a magical belief in the myth of short, clean, "surgical" wars. The example of Iraq shows that it is possible to know when a war starts but not when it will end, and it is totally utopian to expect an army that is under constant attack from guerrilla forces not to have recourse to torture in order to obtain information. The French used it massively in Algeria. The Americans used it in Vietnam and again in Iraq. Yet both the French and American torturers were citizens of "democratic countries, respectful of human rights" -- yes, but when they were at home, and in periods of relative social peace.
To make the point again: if you wish to oppose these immensely destructive wars, bombings and interventions, you must ignore all the superficial marketing and camouflage -- all the talk of "humanitarian" concerns, promoting "democracy," "regional stability," and so on -- and focus relentlessly on the intentionally and carefully chosen policy of U.S. geopolitical dominance. And that is the policy Hoh accepts in all its essentials. He argues only one particular war, and only on narrow, strategic grounds. He offers no opposition that can genuinely encourage change, which must always be opposition on principle.
I also draw your attention to a related article, "Peace Is the Means and the End," and especially to these words from Jeff Nall:
What was most horrifying about Obama being awarded the peace prize was the content of his acceptance speech in which he defended the utility and morality of violence and war. Rather than merely ignoring the legacy of peacemakers before him, Obama used the speech as a full-frontal assault on the very philosophical tenets of nonviolence advocated by Gandhi and Rev. King.

On December 10, 2009, Obama followed in the footsteps of so many believers in war before him: letting out a cry for peace while loading his guns. ...

Rev. King directly assailed those who proffered words of peace and love while they showered their enemies with bullets and bombs. "Many men cry ‘Peace! Peace!’ but they refuse to do the things that make for peace," wrote Rev. King. Summing up the philosophical tenet underwriting nonviolent direct action King continued: "One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal." In short, peace is both the means as well as the end.


Continuing [Obama] said, "Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."

The history Obama recognizes, however, is that cruel, blood-soaked fable of American Exceptionalism. Rev. King saw through this fraudulent cloak of Divine American Right when he observed, on April 4, 1967, that it was the United States that is "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

Rev. King was not being hyperbolic. He merely fulfilled the call of justice to look beyond national heritage and to honestly assess the actions of his country. And so his heart and mind followed our nation’s long trail of blood. ...

Since King made those remarks the U.S. only increased its commitment to resolving problems through militaristic means.
This is the infernal work that Obama continues today, expanding the reach of destruction, suffering and death still further.