Cutting through the bullshit.

Monday, 27 November 2006

More than just cluster bombs; The rise and fall of the yes person

Today’s Times sported some truly shocking revelations. In an editorial entitled ‘Learning from Iraq’, they divulge that the function of the euphemistically labeled ‘Department of Defence’ in reality is much more sinister than we thought.

despite six years of ideologically driven dictates from Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, Army leaders remain usefully focused on the real world, where actual soldiers daily put their lives on the line for their country and where the quality of military planning goes a long way toward determining whether their sacrifices help achieve America’s national purposes.

Achieving ‘America’s national purposes’. Whatever those might be. In any case, at least we know it’s not to defend US citizens from marauding barbarians. But I guess we already knew that. It’s just kind of interesting for one of the premier instruments of propaganda lay it all out in black and white. It’s not entirely obvious what they aim to achieve by placing distance between ‘America’s national purposes’ and what’s ‘ideologically driven’. Are we supposed to be more comfortable that what drives ‘our’ heros to face down bows and slingshots with 500kg bombs, helicopter gunships, and remote controlled drones is naked greed?

But wait, there’s more!

Modern innovations in warfare make it possible for America’s technologically proficient forces to vanquish an opposing army quickly and with relatively few troops. But re-establishing order in a defeated, decapitated society demands a much larger force for a much longer time.

It’s just one astonishing revelation after another. The principal function of the ‘technologically proficient forces’ is to create disorder.

Correcting deficiencies in American military training is also essential, since the biggest reason the United States has not been able to withdraw significant numbers of its own troops over the past three years has been the lack of adequately prepared and reliable Iraqi security forces.

It’s true that it has largely been the peaceloving Democrats who have been braying for more troops, but it’s news to me that the Bush regime has been trying so hard to withdraw significant numbers of its own troops over the past three years. But on reflection, I suppose it’s obvious that it would have been far better if the Iraqi troops had been sufficiently reliable to bomb Fallujah hospitals and snipe at pedestrians from the rooftops.

when a host government lacks the will to rid its security forces of sectarian militia fighters more intent on waging civil war than achieving national stability. That so far has been the biggest obstacle in Iraq.

The ‘host government’, the puppet regime holed up in the Emerald City and owned lock, stock, and barrel by the occupiers – they’re the ones who are responsible. And fancy treating their invited guests this way by not trying to achieve the national stability. It’s all ‘we’ have ever asked for. And what is all this an obstacle to? Why, of course, America’s national purposes!

Also in today’s Times, one Alan Ehrenhalt, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of William H Whyte Jr’s Organization man, writes in his op-ed,

What we can say with confidence half a century later is that Whyte got the future almost entirely wrong. He saw conformity and the social ethic as the values that would shape America — much to its detriment — for the remainder of the century.

But was Whyte really so wrong? In a world where alternative sources of information are so readily available, the vast majority of people seem content with the pablum they get from the educational system and the Times. I read an article by Howard Zinn about American exceptionalism yesterday on ICH (originally from the Boston review), and I couldn’t believe that he still thought he had to say those same old things about the annexation of most of Mexico in the 1840s, about the slaughter in the Philippines after the Spanish American War, about the twenty year military occupation of Hispaniola – both Haiti and the Dominican Republic – from 1915…

On the eve of the war with Mexico in the middle of the 19th century, just after the United States annexed Texas, the editor and writer John O’Sullivan coined the famous phrase “manifest destiny.” He said it was “the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” At the beginning of the 20th century, when the United States invaded the Philippines, President McKinley said that the decision to take the Philippines came to him one night when he got down on his knees and prayed, and God told him to take the Philippines.

It’s as if people live in the world, even in cyberspace, and somehow remain insulated from the history that would let them make sense of what they observe around them? Sure, they don’t teach this stuff in school. But if all you knew was what they told you in school, you’d be pretty bloody ignorant, now wouldn’t you? Worse. You’d be actively disinformed. Are there really still people around who think the US removed Saddam Hussein from power, but didn’t put him there in the first place? Well, it would seem so, judging from the kind of stuff I found on the Dilbert blog yesterday after Scott Adams put in his two bob about why he reckoned ‘we’ should get out of Iraq. So where does this come from? Presumably not from the independent thinking iconoclasm that Ehrenhalt imagines has replaced the organization persons of the mid fifties.

In case you were concerned about the ‘one million cluster bombs dropped by Israeli aircraft during the July-August war against Hizbullah remain unexploded in south Lebanon, where they continue to threaten civilians’, the Jerusalem Post reports that they are not the only little traps the moral Israeli military left behind for Lebanese children.

After ‘two European disposal experts’ lost their feet ‘and a Lebanese medic’ was wounded, the UN Mine Action Coordination Center in south Lebanon divulged that

The detonating object was an Israeli anti-personnel land mine placed in a mine field newly laid during the fighting in July and August… Lebanon's south is riddled with land mines, laid by retreating IDF soldiers who pulled out of the region in 2000…Lebanon has long called for Israel to hand over maps of the minefields.

Now what good would those mines be against unsuspecting terrorists if they had maps showing just where they were? Preposterous!

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