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Economic and environmental crises muffle anti-war voices

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childernPerhaps someone should point out to the Israeli government that being a democracy and a bully-nation are not mutually exclusive conditions.  Once again, as in countless times in the past, Israel finds merit in its political choice for the Jewish people – only living democracy in the region – using it as if that had superior redeeming value against its treatment of the Palestinians or its continuously deceiving conduct in seeking peace – this time in its rejection of the 2012 NPT conference focusing in making the Middle East a WMD-free zone.  Israel, for obvious self-serving reasons, has failed to join 189 nations of the world in becoming a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

It took 15 years for the Arab nations sponsoring the banning of nuclear weapons in the Middle East to get the support and consent from the US and the other nuclear powers, but it seems that the Obama administration jumped the gun by not clearing this consent with Israel first.  So as it continually happens when acting without first obtaining a proper imprimatur, embarrassed America had to backtrack – we never learn, it appears – by way of its senior officials headed by US National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones.

On Tuesday, June 1st, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in this his second visit to the White House in just nine weeks, will no doubt be reminding his host, Barack Obama – and maybe the president’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel – that in matters concerning Israel, the script must be written not in Washington but in the Holy Land.

Meantime here is our hapless president trying to multitask his decision-making in crisis after crisis, from an economy headed for greater disastrous depths – regardless of the booster shots of confidence by the government to an ignorant citizenry – to the current irreversible environmental disaster that will finally show people that capitalism’s gamble has always been funded by the people.  Let’s face the truth in front of us: the culprit of what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico has less to do with corporate malevolence by BP, and more with a predatory capitalism defended and emboldened by governments that are neither of, by, or for the people: a joint corporatism which is in essence fascism.

Americans, fundamentally citizen-consumers as most of their brethren in the western world, are so concerned with the implications of a lower standard of material well-being that there is no room in their minds, or in their consciences, for how other people on this earth may be suffering because of unnecessary wars; usually wars of our own creation.  And it is this almost universal economic concern in the population that helps muffle the few anti-war voices which have always existed.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and other places… they all appear so distant from us thanks to a prejudicial press coverage!

Whether it was an effort by Obama to ingratiate himself with the hawks at the Pentagon, and the conservative politicians that dream of empire, the president made it abundantly clear from the outset that he would not deviate from this nation’s past war culture, even if wrapped with the vestments of peace.  And that he, elected leader who was expected to bring change to a country presumably clamoring for it, was more inclined to proceed cautiously with ideological compromise; his willingness even extending to making the Afghanistan conflict his very own war.

So here we are, sixteen months after Obama took the reins of the nation, with more US troops in Afghanistan (94,000+) than in Iraq, tripling the number of two years before.  It should come as no surprise that of the 1,000 Americans dead in that war to date, 43 percent of them have occurred since Obama took office, a period of time amounting to only 15 percent of the total since Afghanistan was invaded as punishment against a Taliban government which had permitted Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda to set up training camps there.

So what does Obama and his military “viceroy”, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, have to show for this expensive military effort and 430 US military dead?  Nothing, really… for by even the most optimistic accounts, this last campaign has been a failure: a government in Kabul tabbed as totally corrupt; mirage gains in expelling Taliban from cities, such as Marjah, that see them come right back – Kandahar being the next major offensive; a poor region more interested in receiving economic aid than in meeting the needs of their occupiers… for, after all, the Taliban are their own people, while Americans and their NATO allies are not; and a population clearly upset at the price they are paying as civilians are being killed – something cold-bloodedly accepted by military standards as collateral damage – at the rate of 10 Afghans for every American GI (well over 6,000 during the past three years).

Whether Obama’s war in Afghanistan, the fluid situation still existing in Iraq, or the unbearable at-war predicaments faced by Palestinians in Gaza, you won’t hear much from Americans these days.  The economy rules the day… now compounded by the reality that we could end up with a trillion-plus dollar disaster at the Gulf if the gushing spill isn’t capped soon… a cost that will be shared, willingly or not, by all Americans.

Should we be surprised at the corollary reached by people like Anwar Al-Awlaki, the Yemeni cleric born in the United States, who blames the American civilian population because “the American people, in general, are taking part in this and they elected this administration and they are financing the war”?  This is certainly food for thought.

© 2010 Ben Tanosborn


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