Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good Germans

First over at Marisacat:
And then there is war. But no news, not really:
Many of the same people who think George W. Bush is a war criminal who lied us into invading Iraq will nonetheless dutifully pull the lever for Hillary, who has criticized the president for being soft on the mullahs.
Having already given her moral and political sanction for attacking Iran by voting for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution – which, even in the slightly watered-down version passed by the Senate, provides enough cover for the Bush administration, or its successor, to claim the authority to take military action – Hillary Clinton will inherit and continue the neocons’ wars, and will be no less committed to “victory.”
Americans see their leading politicians “debating,” but none of them are opposing war with Iran: indeed, they all seem to be going along with it, with a few exceptions – and these exceptions, precisely because they aren’t going along to get along, are invariably dismissed by the pundits as “minor” or “fringe” candidates, who cannot under any circumstances be taken seriously.
The majority of Americans now want a definite deadline for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and yet not a single “major” candidate for president proposes such a course.
The debate, the course of it and the aftermath, was largely predictable…
Then this from Zogby:
A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.
Hat tip American Leftist. Add to this some pertinent commentary by Arthur Silber:
Most Americans don't care about the genocide in Iraq, and most Americans aren't even aware of it. Most Americans don't care about the destruction of liberty here at home, and most Americans know nothing about what has happened in recent years to the foundations of our government. I challenge any reader to ask 10 or 15 people encountered at random in your travels today to tell you what habeas corpus is, and what its status at present is in America. Don't ask people interested in politics to the extent you are; ask some of those "ordinary" Americans who are so wise and so peace-loving. If even one of them can tell you, I will be astonished. (I've performed this experiment myself, more than once. The results are uniformly dismaying in the extreme. "Ha---beas...what?" Even if the question is asked more informally -- "What was the basic foundation of all American freedoms?" -- the result is unchanged.) Some time ago, I noted that we are becoming the stupidest nation on Earth. So much for "the last, best hope" of the planet; so much for "the American people."

To return to intervention and its lethally destructive and uncontrollable effects: although an attack on Iran represents the gravest threat facing us in the immediate future, it is a serious error to think that the U.S. and Iran exhaust the list of significant actors in this deadly drama. That list is now much longer than you might think. For this is one of the disastrous consequences of intervention over a period of many decades -- and in fact, the Western powers' interventions in the Middle East have gone on for more than a century: the possibilities for catastrophe multiply in every direction, and the routes to what may literally and finally be a war to end all wars can barely be counted. More than one hundred years of unjustified, unnecessary and uniformly disastrous interventions have brought us one hundred routes to hell.

You should read Alastair Crooke's article, "Ticking Clocks and 'Accidental' War," in its entirety. In the final section of that piece, Crooke describes in detail how any one of the following flash points could trigger a wider Middle East war: Lebanon, Syria, the Salafis, Iraq itself, Pakistan, Turkey, and instability in the West Bank. I would suggest even these hardly exhaust the possibilities. The word "accidental" is properly placed in quotes: a wider war would be "accidental" only in the sense that the particular trigger cannot be predicted, and may even have been unintended. But that a particular route to war may be unintended does not mean that war itself is unintended. To the contrary: what the U.S. ruling class wants and intends to have no matter what is "Dominion Over the World." If war is the necessary means to that end -- and it is -- then war it will be. And the American public will be on board. As the recent polls indicate, the American public is already on board. Americans are not remotely antiwar: they have only turned against the Iraq catastrophe because we are losing, and losing very obviously and before the entire world. If we had gone into Iraq, swiftly and effectively kicked a lot of ass (what's one more genocide, after all?), and established even a minimally effective, brutal colonial government, the American public would be inordinately proud of that fact, and also of the criminal aggression that had led to that result. The American public objects only to the fact that the United States -- "the culmination of human development," with the most powerful military ever known and a global empire of bases -- has been humiliated.
Via Liberal Street Fighter, check out Bruce Schneier on the war on the unexpected:
We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested -- even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats.

This isn't the way counterterrorism is supposed to work, but it's happening everywhere. It's a result of our relentless campaign to convince ordinary citizens that they're the front line of terrorism defense. "If you see something, say something" is how the ads read in the New York City subways. "If you suspect something, report it" urges another ad campaign in Manchester, UK. The Michigan State Police have a seven-minute video. Administration officials from then-attorney general John Ashcroft to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to President Bush have asked us all to report any suspicious activity.
Watch how it happens. Someone sees something, so he says something. The person he says it to -- a policeman, a security guard, a flight attendant -- now faces a choice: ignore or escalate. Even though he may believe that it's a false alarm, it's not in his best interests to dismiss the threat. If he's wrong, it'll cost him his career. But if he escalates, he'll be praised for "doing his job" and the cost will be borne by others. So he escalates. And the person he escalates to also escalates, in a series of CYA decisions. And before we're done, innocent people have been arrested, airports have been evacuated, and hundreds of police hours have been wasted.
Conform or risk the wrath of the Taser.

Via the Newshoggers, we're reminded that Chuckles Schumer and Diane Feinstein, Democrat US Senators, have effectively cleared the path for the nomination of yet another pro-torture AG (in this case Mukasey). Good Germans, indeed.

Oh, and it looks like our medical schools are in the process of creating an new generation of Nazi Doctors:
The findings in a survey of medical students indicated that few received adequate training in military medical ethics, many were ignorant of a physician’s responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions, and the overwhelming majority failed to realize that civilian physicians are subject to being drafted into the military. The results of the survey were published Oct. 29 in the International Journal of Health Services.

Dr. J. Wesley Boyd and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Boston, and the Cambridge (Mass.) Health Alliance, contacted 5,000 medical students at eight U.S. medical schools by e-mail and invited them to participate in the survey. Overall, 1,756 students (35%) completed the survey, and of those, a little more than 5% reported having served in the military or having an obligation to serve in the future (Int. J. Health Services 2007;37:643-50).

Of the total, 94% had received less than 1 hour of instruction during medical school about the ethical obligations of the physicians serving in the military, 4.3% received 1-5 hours of instruction, and 1.5% received more than 5 hours of training.
Given our nation's own tortured history stretching back at least to the mid 20th century, I can't say I'm entirely surprised.

Land of the free my ass. Of course there are historical precedents for societies harboring delusions of "democracy", "freedom", and "civilization" while careening ever deeper into the authoritarian abyss. History may not repeat itself exactly, but certain patterns do - with relatively predictable consequences. We are witnessing those patterns now.

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