The Talking Dog

February 14, 2010, Valentine's Hearts (and Minds)

Obviously, innocent people suffer and die in war (by the hundreds, thousands or millions... as Stalin said, one death is a tragedy and a million is a statistic and all...) In that sense, an "errant missile," which has killed at least ten INNOCENT AFGHAN CIVILIANS, and let's not even mitigate or that or sugarcoat for one second... that our military has INADVERTENTLY MASSACRED AT LEAST TEN PEOPLE who were no threat to it, or our nation, or anyone else... in the course of an offensive during which, PERHAPS, SOME TALIBAN MIGHT be picked off too... just shouldn't be that big a deal. Although, let's face it: a St. Valentine's Day Massacre was precisely what our military did not need right about now.

I'm not making a "legal" judgment here: the person or persons who pushed the button are covered by "belligerent immunity"... even if our government won't extend the privilege to others entitled to it, to the eventual disastrous consequences of our fighting personnel. It's a simple fact: innocent people, as has probably happened almost every day since 9-11 (if not since World War II) have, whether intentionally or accidentally, died at the hands of the United States military. Yes, I know... in the great scheme of things... just another statistic (five of the victims being children... notwithstanding). I know, I know.

You see, boys and girls, I've kind of come full circle on the Afghan campaign. I used to think that defeating the Taliban justified everything we did in and to Afghanistan, in light of my own emotional twists and turns associated with 9-11 (which unlike many or most of you, are come by in my case from having been there and all)... but as Izzy Stone would say... you can be honest or you can be consistent... and I'd rather be honest. Ergo, having had the current President f*ck me (and everyone else who supported him) on that whole "justice and human rights" thing, my college classmate, for whom I campaigned, to whom I gave campaign contributions, whom I supported on the blog and for whom I worked the polls on election day... has finally convinced me that he is every bit as feckless as his predecessor... and hence, President Obama's decision to escalate the Afghan campaign, like any and every other exercise of American imperial aggression... is just wrong. Just wrong. I'm finally sold. The decision to escalate the Afghanistan campaign... like other "Bush's third term" decisions... is just wrong, too.

There. I said it. The only conceievable benefit to our military adventure in Afghanistan (other than its actual purpose of enriching Eric (Erik?) Prince ("Mr. Blackwater") and his military-industrial-complex brethren) was to at least stabilize Afghanistan and protect it from the Taliban. But it seems, we are incapable of even taking the trouble to make sure we actually target "the bad guys." And when that happens-- the "hearts and minds" we desperately need to support our military efforts... will probably not be particularly forgiving of our "efforts." Which will make those efforts harder. Which will require yet more brutality. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Sorry. I don't think that's a good idea any longer.

Meanwhile, even in "great game" terms... the Chinese will be busy locking up the world's best oil contracts, and not pissing anyone off (like we are, out of some misguided messianistic belief in our own greatness... and of course, because Mr. Prince... and Mr. Lockheed and Mr. Halliburton... pay well at that window behind that revolving door). Indeed, the Chinese model of "force projection"... their seeming inability to project force beyond perhaps 100 meters of the borders of China... is one we should seriously be thinking about at a time when our own imperial aggression represents around 7 or 8 % of our (declared) GDP, and an ever growing fifth of our entire federal budget and also happens to represent its entire deficit.

In short... this is a good a time as any for me to say that theft, force and aggression are every bit as immoral and illegal when exercised on a macro-scale as when exercised on a micro-scale, and "American exceptionalism"... doesn't excuse us.

The "support our troops" canard has been used to bamboozle us long enough. Enough. We no longer have a draft; our all volunteer military has troops who have chosen their task; I'm sorry to see that they're ill-used, they're inadequately paid, and they're inadequately supported (particularly by our government, after they have returned from their service). But they are. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we must ask the question: is it really "our defense" they are fighting for, or all these years later, is it STILL United Fruit that they are fighting for? It would seem that neither Mexico nor Canada is interested in attacking us, and the threat posed by the rest of "our enemies" is conveniently overstated by one or more orders of magnitude. We would be every bit as safe-- no screw that-- FAR. SAFER-- were we to demobilize to nothing more than a defensive force comparable to, say, Canada's. FAR SAFER. I'm not going to question the sincerity of the individual men and women who have signed on to our military... they are doing their jobs, as are so many of the rest of us. But are their jobs helping? Were our military much much smaller... in which case we wouldn't be around the world manufacturing enemies in over 100 countries in which our military is deployed, the way we are now... wouldn't we be safer? Wouldn't we?

TD... TD... This is just crazy talk. When the hell did you get to be a full-blown crazy-ass PACIFIST?

Maybe it happened recently... maybe it happened a while ago. Don't know. All I know is that's the only "honest" response to the insanity of the world... the what was that word... INJUSTICE of it. That's always been the subtext of this blog... so I may as well be more explicit about it. It is now OUR DUTY to be every bit as appalled when innocent people are killed by "our side" as when killed by "their side." We do not have a monopoly on suffering... and to think so is, itself, wrong. It's not much... but it's all I got. Maybe at some point our countrymen will wake up and realize the futility of having picked up the mantle of imperial aggression from the very imperial power that we shucked off in the 1770's and 1780's, with the first battle of our then nascent republic fought literally in and around my own Brooklyn neighborhood. Speaking the same language (and having our leaders descended from the same aggressive forbears) as the imperialists we have taken over for... is no longer good enough.

As I'm nearly through Dickens' Little Dorrit, let me just say that that 1850's tale of unbridled rapacious greed, swindlers and debtors' prisons and rentiers... and people struggling to maintain character and goodness in the middle of it all... is as current a work as exists. It seems... nothing ever changes. The empire of Dickens' era... gave way eventually. But in the 1850's, it had quite a bit longer to go than we do now, IMHO. Our country, which can no longer tell us why torture is even "illegal" let alone "wrong":.. is gone, probably irremediably so, as I've said in recent posts. The question is whether its occupants can, at least, save themselves.

We can start with our souls. And on that... we can start with the premise that the killing of innocents is wrong, no matter who does it, and we can be appalled accordingly. Again... it's not much... but it's all I got.