Monday, January 21, 2008

Where we are now

Almost everyone I know is in a funk. That certainly includes myself. While a very large number of Americans do not follow world events, I think the bad news still trickles down and affects their lives. I would include most Americans but certainly not Mr. Bush who still acts as if America is in the same position it was in January, 2001, when he took the oath of office. (Swearing to uphold the Constitution; an oath that he has violated on many occasions.) Mr. Bush is destined to remain in his bubble I suspect for the rest of his life.

The largest, most tragic event that wears on us is the occupation of Irak. While not on the radar screen for countless Americans, our leaders both in the military and in politics have now indicated that the United States will continue this occupation for at least the next decade, if not longer. In fact, Bush is attempting to make binding agreements with the government of Mr. Nuri Al-Maliki which the incoming president (who replaces him in January, 2009) will not be able to alter. Furthermore, all of the major candidates for that position, both Republican and Democratic (except John Edwards) basically agree with this, i.e., that The United States will not withdraw its forces in the near future.

Thus, while the majority of Americans, when they think about it, say they want us to leave Irak ASAP, our leaders continue to believe that "victory" is possible. Does this not remind you of two historical dramas? The first would be the senseless mass attacks in the trench warfare of the Western Front in 1916-1918 (particularly the battle of the Somme, July-Nov 1916). The second would be Hitler's refusal to recognize that his army would never take Moscow, destroying it in the process. (I should have included Napoleon's foray into Russia also.) Have our leaders not learned with almost five years of experience that there is no "victory" to be had in Irak? No.

The human situation in Irak must be inhumanly awful. I have not been there, but what I read (e.g. at Gorilla's Guides) or see (in the daily slide show at Yahoo)suggests that this country and its people which we invaded for no good reason has been damaged beyond repair. How the continued occupation by an army that is despised is going to have a good outcome is beyond logic. The situation in Irak is an albatross that America will wear around its neck for years. It is doubtful that in 2040 the situation will resolve like Vietnam has. We have messed it up terminally.

The most ironic thing, though, is that Americans do not seem to blame Bush and his cronies for the disaster they have created. An argument has been made that Nixon was threatened with impeachment not so much because of Watergate (a mere trifle compared to the crimes of BushCo), but because of the Vietnam War. Now, I'm not so sure. There seems to be almost no support for impeachment. If Bush is never held accountable, then we will be left with that unresolved issue, the assignment of responsibility. Some would make an argument that a country must contend with this before it moves forward.

I continue to believe that the reason we are in such a mess, and the reason that the mass of American people have not risen up to confront these evils is that they are not personally threatened. This is particularly true of the youth. It was the youth, who were threatened with the draft and death in the jungles of Southeast Asia that turned the tide of public opinion against the Vietnam War and, eventually, Nixon.

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