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08.18 Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don't buy the science [a willfully ignorant people? or a public conned by oil-industry subsidized news media distortions?]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
08.19 Living with Trump
08.18 GOP Senator Drowned Out By Cheers for 'Single Payer' at Town Hall [might our 'representatives' understand better if we took their free healthcare away?]
08.18 The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now [2:54 video; “Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
08.18 Trump's evangelical panel remains intact as others disband. Who are his religious cheerleaders? [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
08.17 Stranding CEOs Too Slow To Quit, Trump Disbands His Own Business Councils [could a wider boycott accomplish resignations or positive change?]
08.16 Indiana prosecutors want to incarcerate the opioid crisis away [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
08.18 Buses in Seoul install 'comfort women' statues to honour former sex slaves [immoral crimes are hard to forget]
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08.19 The long read: Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world
08.15 Why Are Drug Prices So High? These Politicians Might Have The Answer [especially since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, BIG money corrupts & controls U.S. government to the public’s detriment]
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08.17 Investment Bank Report Predicts the Cost of Electric Vehicles Will Match Regular Cars by 2018 [pressure is building for electric utilities to become 100% renewable or we'll die]
OBAMA EMBRACES NEOCON LOGIC: ILLEGAL ‘PREEMPTIVE’ WARS FOLLOWED BY NEVER-ENDING MILITARY OCCUPATIONS IS “THE BEST WAY” TO CATCH WIDELY-SCATTERED CRIMINALS
Surge Protectors: Obama Embraces Bush-McCain Spin on IraqFriday, 05 September 2008
Obama continues to purge himself of any of that weak-sister "anti-war" taint that got attached to him in the early days of his campaign -- which was, of course, responsible for his phenomenal rise in the first place.
Barack Obama has now declared -- on Fox News, no less -- that George W. Bush's escalation of the flagrant war crime in Iraq has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." He also proclaimed his "absolute" belief in the "War on Terror," and pledged, once again, "never to take a military option off the table" (not even the nuclear option) against the "major threat" of Iran.
In short, he continued his relentless campaign to purge himself of any of that weak-sister "anti-war" taint that got attached to him in the early days of his campaign -- which was, of course, responsible for his phenomenal rise in the first place. He rode that wave to national prominence -- trading on the desperate hopes of millions of Americans that the ungodly criminal nightmare in Iraq might finally end -- but it was obvious long ago that he was never going to dance with the ones that brung him. Once it was clear that he might really make it all the way to the top of the greasy pole, he began a dogged campaign to prove to our ruling elite that he would be a "safe pair of hands" for the imperial enterprise.
We've seen this in, among other things, the shameful FISA vote, the bellicose threats to launch incursions into Pakistan (a policy which the Bush Administration is already implementing, with the usual deadly results for civilians), the ritual and repeated assertions of his willingness to attack Iran, and the foolhardy promise to shepherd Georgia's entry into NATO -- a mirror-image of Dick Cheney's stance, and a policy guaranteed to ratchet up tensions with Russia and quite possibly spark not only a new Cold War but a hot war of horrendous proportions if Georgia pulls its future NATO treaty partners into another conflict with Moscow.
But it is Obama's surrender on the Iraq War front -- or rather, the anti-Iraq War front -- that is most striking, and most disheartening. On the very night that John McCain was putting the "success" of the surge at the center of his campaign, Obama was openly, cravenly laying down one of his chief weapons at the feet of Bill O'Reilly. Obama's cheerleading for the surge -- "beyond our wildest dreams!" -- surpassed anything that McCain himself has claimed for the escalation.
Obama also emphasized the obscene and morally depraved position that has become the Democrat's standard line on Iraq: that the lazy, no-good Iraqis "still haven't taken responsibility" for running "their own country." The arrogance and inhumanity of this position is staggering, almost indescribable. The United States of America invaded Iraq, destroyed its society, slaughtered its citizens, drove millions from their homes, occupied the country and made itself the ultimate master and arbiter of the conquered land -- but still the Iraqis are condemned for "not taking responsibility for their own country."
Not a single Iraqi attacked America. Not one. America's action has killed more than a million Iraqis. But it is the Iraqis who are now "responsible."
Not only has Obama validated McCain's position on the surge, but his and the Democrats' stance on the Iraqis' "responsibility" also completely buys into the Bush Faction's lie that the "government" of Iraq -- installed at the point of foreign guns, with a "constitution" based upon the arbitrary directives of an occupying power -- is somehow legitimate. This stance too validates the "success" of the entire war: "Hey, they've got a legitimate government there now, so they need to take responsibility for their own country."
This bears repeating: the Democrats' position on Iraq fully accepts -- and even celebrates -- the Bush Administration's fundamental claims for the war. The war has established a legitimate, democratic government in Iraq, Bush and the Democrats both say. The "surge" has succeeded "beyond our wildest dreams" in "securing" Iraq, Bush and the Democrats both say. When "conditions on the ground" are right, America should withdraw its "combat troops" from Iraq, leaving behind an unspecified number of troops for training Iraqi security forces, conducting counterterrorism operations and providing security for other American personnel and reconstruction projects, Bush and the Democrats both say.
Where then is the actual difference -- the evidence for genuine "change" -- between these two positions? While the Democrats will occasionally assert that instigating the war was a "mistake" -- because we should have been fighting more wars elsewhere -- they steadfastly refuse to denounce it as an illegitimate and criminal action. And, as we have seen, they agree almost entirely with Bush on the results that the war has produced. The rhetoric is different, of course, and each side denounces the other in the usual partisan bickering -- but the fundamental agreement is undeniable.
And now Obama has made it explicit: a success "beyond our wildest dreams."
But let's put the disturbing implications of Obama's stance aside for a moment, and deal with the facts of his statement. Is the surge really a "success"?
Well, yes, it is. The "surge" -- which in addition to an influx of troops included the ruthless ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the walled ghettoization of vast swathes of the city, and the arming and funding of violent sectarian militias across the land -- certainly succeeded in extending the duration of the murder, suffering and chaos engendered by America's armed and belligerent presence in Iraq.
So it is indeed a great "success" ... in the same way that, say, Albert Speer's miraculous efforts to keep the Nazi war machine going from 1943 to 1945 -- resulting in the deaths of millions of people, including the worst ravages of the Holocaust -- was a "success."
This is what Obama is celebrating when he lauds the "wild" success of the "surge": the extension and entrenchment of war he ostensibly opposes.
But is the surge a "success" on its own public terms, in the way that it is portrayed almost universally now in the media: a bold campaign that has brought peace and security to Iraq? Of course not. As Juan Cole points out below, the "surge" (and several other major factors unrelated to the U.S troop escalation, not least of which is Iran's intervention to tamp down Shiite insurgency and bolster the allies it shares with Bush in the Baghdad government) merely reduced the amount of violence in Iraq from that of an unspeakable hell on earth to the level of some of the very worst sectarian conflicts of the last century. As Cole noted a few days ago (see original for links):
This is the "success" that exceeds all dreams, according to the Democratic candidate for President of the United States -- the voice, you'll recall, of hope and change.
But there is no hope in Obama's stance on Iraq today, which does not differ in any fundamental way from that of George W. Bush or John McCain. And given the Democrats' agreement on every front with Republican positions -- on Iraq, Iran, Russia, the War on Terror, authoritarianism, offshore drilling, etc., etc., etc. -- there will be no change come November either.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on September 6, 2008.
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