A Nation Obliviously at War (August 1, 2007)
Correspondent Fabius Maximus has a new article entitled America takes another step towards the "Long War"-- Part I which I strongly recommend.
I have written about the nation's blind complacency to the waging of war for almost three years:
Is This A Nation At war? (September 2004)
Katrina, Vietnam, Iraq: National Purpose, National Sacrifice (September 15, 2005)
Bringing the War Home (November 19, 2005)
(Please see 2007 archives and 2005-2006 archives for more entries on the war.)
What bothers me is the willful complacency of the media, a complacency apparently welcomed by the American people, who seem more interested in consuming drugs and other "goods and services" than in pondering what their government is doing with their Military and their taxes.
Are there any true debates about the war which don't split quickly into tired camps of "I support my President" ideologues or those vociferously against the President's policies? Yes, there are, but you have to be a reader of Foreign Policy or Foreign Affairs magazines to find them. Foreign Affairs has a circulation of 154,000, while Foreign Policy has about 110,000 subscribers. So perhaps 300,000 non-active-duty (members of the U.S. Armed Forces) citizens in a nation of 300 million have an informed grasp of the complexities of the war we are currently waging.
Let's be generous and reckon another 300,000 citizens have become informed by reading "on the ground" blogs from the likes of Michael Yon, or the professional military journals like USNI Proceedings or serious journalists/academics such as Fouad Ajami in The New Republic:
We should make our peace with Iraq's history
or books such as:
The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace by Ali A. Allawi
Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (American Empire Project) by Chalmers Johnson
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks
Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War by Michael Isikoff and David Corn
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror by Robert Young Pelton
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror by Michael Scheuer
State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III by Bob Woodward
Reading any two of these books provides a much better window into the realities than any mainstream media coverage. While I haven't read all of these books, I have read reviews and/or selections and on that basis can recommend them to you.
Bottom line: if Americans are ill-informed about the "long war," Peak Oil and the crumbling foundations of our currency and financial system, how can they make good decisions? And if only a few percent of the voting/adult populace can be bothered to become even somewhat informed, then where will the other 95% take us in their blind ignorance?
Yes, there are occasional in-depth reports or informed discussions elsewhere in the media, but in general the war in Iraq rarely makes the front page or the "news" (gag) on TV except as a bit player in a crowded drama.
We all know the reasons to be uninformed--it's far away, we can't do anything about it, we're too busy, etc. But at least we can inform ourselves, can't we? Is that too much to ask of a nation at global war?
As many of you know from previous entries, contributor Harun I. served our nation for many years in elite units of the U.S. Navy. As a result, I have always found his commentaries well-grounded. I sent him the above link and asked for his comments, which I reprint below.
The piece was interesting indeed. Thank you.I would add that the dysfunction of the U.S. government is a reflection of the dysfunction of its people and their culture. It all sounds like so much blah-blah-blah, to rail against the blindness, the greed, the Third-World-like corruption, the mainstream media's laser-like focus on the distractions of new stock market "highs" even as food and oil become unaffordable to working-class Americans. But is it true? No one seems to even want to ask the question, much less attempt an answer.
Can victory ever be declared in a war without an end-point? The answer is no-- this nation is engaged in another "long war" (The Cold War being a similarly war without end) with an ill-defined end. So what is the purpose of a victory-less war? To employ the machinery of a vast intelligence and military bureaucracy left bereft of purpose and funding by the collapse of the Evil Empire? Or as our Navy shrinks from 500 ships to 350 ships, is even the U.S. Military paying a price for the "secret global war" we as a nation are pursuing virtually everywhere?
Sites like this one are only small outposts on the World Wide Web; in the past 7 months the site has been visited 385,000 times by over 151,000 visitors generating 1.2 million hits. Meanwhile Chinese actresses garner 100,000 visitors a day as they discuss their latest hair style, and a site which tracks recently deceased members of myspace.com gets 100,000 visits a day--and with all those pop-up ads, the proprietor is making a pretty penny offering up ghoulish distractions for a "wired" nation.
Wired to what? Music downloads and social networking, while 8 million Iraqis are without water, power and food, and young American soldiers are perishing every week? How can we as a nation have spent $565 billion (or perhaps more) in Iraq and achieved such horrendously poor results for the expenditure of young lives and treasure? Is the fact that we borrowed the $1 trillion (don't forget the $165 billion expended in Afghanistan and the billions spent elsewhere on the GWOT) from the Chinese make it all OK?
Since it has only "cost" those who voluntarily serve their nation via military duty, then the "cost" is apparently "free" to most Americans. But what about the spiritual cost of our ignorance of what's being done in our name, and our blind acceptance of our leaders' assurances? What of the hidden damage being done to an economy based on profligate borrowing and wild spending both by citizenry and government?
Yes, there is little I can do, or you can do. That has always been the case. But even the smallest gestures can add up, just as apparently "worthless" votes can add up to stunning political transformations. It is important that we try--to become informed, not drugged and complacent, and that we put our money and our votes to work for something other than complacency.
And in an uncanny alignment with today's topic, here is a great Haiku from reader/poet Ron M.:
Lindsay and Brittney
Scapegoats for our vanity
Pawns in Bush's War
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.
copyright © 2007 Charles Hugh Smith. All rights reserved in all media.
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