“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”
Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
On Thursday, April 24, 2013, former President George W. Bush will dedicate his presidential library with all our living Presidents present at a time when the irony of this event is overwhelming.
George W. Bush has been keeping a justifiably low profile since leaving office in 2009. The recent birth of his daughter’s baby got positive news coverage. Good. But numerous polls about his presidential decisions show he is not well regarded by most of the US public and certainly many overseas.
The day before this dedication, a 4/23 Reuters piece dressed up his record with mention of his few good moves. I have often thought, “Shouldn’t there be some selectivity about who gets a library based on performance?”
We learned from a 4/23 Huffington Post piece by Simon McCormack, that
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, “the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack,” the Post writes, citing “U.S. officials familiar with the interviews.”
The report comes one day after U.S. officials told the Associated Press that it was the religious beliefs of Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan that fueled their alleged plot.
But if the officials who spoke to the Post are correct, the Boston bombing suspects would be the latest accused terrorists who have listed American interventions as their motive.
The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly argued that U.S. violence in other countries are what actually fuels terrorist attacks.
Greenwald frequently cites a Pentagon report finding that, “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies,” including “American direct intervention in the Muslim world.”
Greenwald also notes that this is one of the reasons mentioned by Osama Bin Laden as a justification for his support of violence against America.
Last year, convicted underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab argued that his attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009 was intended to avenge, “the attacks of the United States on Muslims.”
The Boston Bombing took place just days after a deadly attack in Afghanistan killed 17 civilians, including 12 children, according to the New York Times. The Afghan government blames the C.I.A. for the attack, while the agency itself refused to comment.
That’s true irony, Folks. As Bush opens his library, the Boston bombers add another case of violent disaffection for America because of Bush’s Iraq invasion. Americans generally agreed with the Afghanistan attacks but not our occupation, something Bush’s father wisely eschewed in the first Gulf War in 1991.
Folks, you have noted that around the world the terror, bombings, assassinations, and general civil disruptions have not been uncommon. And the numbers of people killed daily so far surpasses anything we have experienced here. These immense differences (hey, look at Rwanda!) would seem to be noteworthy by comparison, but like the nose on our faces, seldom compared.
Boston’s bombing should not come as any surprise. Regardless of who did it, the chances of terror whether either internally or externally fostered has risen dramatically since 9/11 and our subsequent preemptive invasion of Iraq, but such mayhem has roots far back in our invasive behavior into such tinder boxes as the Middle East when US CIA Director, Allen Dulles, led the overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government in August 1953, an event which Time Magazine’s August 31, 1953 issue heralded as “Iran, The People Take Over”. Nothing could have been farther from the truth; it was a sheer incursion by our government in the affairs of a sovereign nation.
As Wikipedia tells us:
According to the history based on documents released to the National Security Archive and reflected in the book Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, edited by Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, the coup caused long-lasting damage to the U.S. reputation.
“The ‘28 Mordad’ coup, as it is known by its Persian date, was a watershed for Iran, for the Middle East and for the standing of the United States in the region. The joint U.S.-British operation ended Iran’s drive to assert sovereign control over its own resources and helped put an end to a vibrant chapter in the history of the country’s nationalist and democratic movements. These consequences resonated with dramatic effect in later years. When the Shah finally fell in 1979, memories of the U.S. intervention in 1953, which made possible the monarch’s subsequent, and increasingly unpopular, 25-year reign intensified the anti-American character of the revolution in the minds of many Iranians.”
Reading this entire article presents a disgusting and dreary picture of US policies.
As authors, Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, report, “The world has paid a heavy price for the lack of democracy in most of the Middle East.”
Get the picture? The first step in USA’s construction of its present military empire. Bet this wasn’t your personal opinion of your dear democracy, the good old USA, was it?
How well has this overt 60 year history of military expansionism helped us? Many might argue “Mightily!!” More cheap oil, lots of technical advances made with government money to military contractors, creating lots of good, high paying jobs and the general employment which attends being in long term war or military buildups, as we pursued a manic domestic growth program.
Of course, inflation, beginning in earnest with Johnson’s “Guns and Butter” policy in the mid 1960’s has meant that inflation was used as the way forward to cover this profligate spending. To equal the purchasing power of a 1965 dollar today, one needs $7.36!!
Having become a new Roman Empire, we can readily forecast a future which will lead us to more corruption, less honesty, more greed and more pratfalls before the mighty USA now transformed from a widely respected bastion of freedom into a sickening sludge of expediency, based on the kind of popularism which those Roman emperors used. You recall their offers of bread and circuses to their subjects while reserving the high life for the elites which supported them. With wealth concentrated today as it is in the US (e.g. One percent of us own 40% of all our measurable assets), the wealthiest’s capacity to purchase the votes of those elected to public office has been readily demonstrated over and over.
What we have done is cover our avarice for power by overestimating (with huge propaganda) the strength and intentions of our enemies. Yes, Stalin was a bad guy who took what he could from a ravaged Europe and built a Communist regime which threatened us. However, we used that threat as the principal building block to create a defense establishment which went so far beyond the reality of need that today we are on the road to bankruptcy, buoyed only by our position of having (for the present) the world’s reserve currency which allows us to print money to pay our bills for as long as the world accepts them. How long? Who knows.
In the Argentine where I just spent a couple of weeks, their currency is so lowly valued that the dollar can be used freely to purchase their goods and commands a premium if one buys pesos on the street. But elsewhere many are concerned.
Let me close by praying some of our leaders are not all committed to money and power. And by referring you to a splendid piece of reality writing entitled “The Enemy-Industrial Complex”, by Tom Engelhardt, who on the day of Boston’s terror attack wrote about what I argue the USA has done, when he begins this 4/15/13 op ed by saying, “How to Turn a World Lacking in Enemies into the Most Threatening Place in the Universe”.
Engelhardt says better what I outline above. So go there and read what he says first hand.
But I would also mention the words of FDR, when he said, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself” as the nation was in the grip of the Great Depression. Yes, WWII followed as we ignored the Hitler buildup through the 1930’s and after that war we vowed never to lapse into unpreparedness again. But, again, readiness does not have to be aggressiveness, unless, as we now know so well, we, like Hitler’s Germany, must have more resources to feed our growing numbers. And of course we are not alone. As world population soars to historic heights, the threat to all escalates.
Will more arms save us or will spending on the welfare of all in the planet be a better course of action. Making up just 1 percent of the U.S. Government’s overall budget, the Department of State/USAID (US Agency for International Development) budget totals $51.6 billion.
Since 2001, the base defense budget has soared from $287 billion to $530 billion — and that’s before accounting for the primary costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
We need a world wide commitment to reducing human numbers as humanely are possible. I am not an optimist on this possibility, but hopeful that the obvious failure of our empire building will foster changes in attitude both here and among leaders elsewhere.
Meantime, let me repeat myself, we better start to heed the words of Tom Englehardt, mentioned before above, and the long time co-commentator on Blowback, the late Chalmers Johnson, whose final masterpiece, “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” was widely acclaimed by the main stream media.
Engelbardt, after describing our vast military might compared to anyone else in the world, closes with that famous line from Walt Kelly uttered by Pogo in that legendary cartoon strip, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Between our wars and our fixations with religions, the latter seeming to always endlessly lead to war, we and too many in the rest of the world continue down the path of our ancestors en route to the possible destruction of our entire human civilization.
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