Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crazy Thinking

For those innocent folks who might have thought that the election of 2006 proved that American democracy was in good shape, the events of the last couple of months must be quite disillusioning. Polls show that 67% of the public disapproves of Bush’s handling of this war, and 64% think that the war was just flat-out not worth fighting. And yet we are witnessing not only a plan to escalate the Iraq war, but a steady drumbeat signaling an eventual attack on Iran.

Our country is owned and run by a small group of moneyed elites. In the final analysis, they don’t care what the majority of citizens think. They do what they want to do to advance their interests, which are the interests of the corporations and the military-industrial complex, and then the people are fed a steady diet of prevarication and distortion designed to confuse, divide, and disempower us.

The consensus in Washington seems to be that the war in Iraq must be a noble cause because America couldn’t have an ignoble cause, since that would be a disgrace. By all means this disgrace must be avoided, so we hear politicians blaming the Iraqis for not doing “their part,” and criticizing Bush for not waging the war competently, rather than for waging the war at all. The rightists in particular become hysterical at the mere thought of American failure, lurching around for someone else, anyone, to blame for the catastrophe.

It’s a peculiar, emotionally insecure kind of rhetoric that we’re hearing. It’s taken for granted that things would get much worse in Iraq if American troops pulled out, but there’s no real basis for this belief other than desperation. The invasion of Iraq caused the problem in the first place. The waging of this war has given birth to the civil war. I believe that the situation could only get better if the U.S. pulled out. This is not to say that the civil war would suddenly end, but without American troops there the people would actually have a better chance of resolving the issues. (Wayne O’Leary at Progressive Populist sums up the practical benefits of withdrawal here.)

There’s a strong element in the establishment, right wing or otherwise, that sees everything in the emotional terms of victory or defeat, triumph or disgrace. Instead of really considering what would be the best course of action for our country, and our security, they are ruled by the fear of weakness. War becomes about perceptions and messages rather than any real political strategy, just as we saw in Vietnam. The central problem, then, is the delusional belief in American infallibility, entitlement, and virtue. An adolescent pathology has been projected onto an entire country, as if “America” were an actual living being with a sensitive ego that should never be challenged.

The polls show that the majority of people really have a much more sensible approach to things than the leaders who are supposedly representing them. Hubris and concentration of power in the executive have resulted in insanity. That’s what it is. When someone refuses to acknowledge the reality that everyone else sees, he is considered insane. The cocoon of prestige and media-fed oblivion surrounding the powerful prevents them seeing their own insanity. But more and more ordinary people are seeing it, and it’s truly a radicalizing experience.

I don’t know what will happen if Bush bombs Iran. I can tell you one thing—it won’t make us safer. In fact, everything this government does places us in an increasingly dangerous place. Perhaps the cruel truth about having a pretend democracy is that things have to get unbelievably bad before the people get mad enough to make a difference.

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