Why aren't we getting out of these two senseless wars?


I noticed as early as 2007 that the mainstream media were acting as if there were only two candidates for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I also noticed that there were no significant differences between their policies, because while Obama could do a good imitation of a fiery populist, his actual positions were center-right, just like H. Clinton's.

There were still other candidates out there campaigning, but they received little coverage, because before a single vote was cast in Iowa, Obama and Clinton were anointed "the frontrunners."

Why? They had raised the most corporate cash. Furthermore, the mass media loved asking the question, "Do you want the first woman president or the first president of color?"

That's really what the race boiled down to, and on political message boards, advocates of one candidate or the other were accusing each other of either racism or sexism. (Since I didn't have much use for either candidate, I watched in dismay.)

What a wonderful way to distract the electorate from the real issues!

Now where am I going with this?

Our politicians are bought and paid for by the major corporations, the financial institutions, and the military-industrial complex. Anyone who seems reluctant to do their bidding receives no corporate cash and no publicity. The last thing the Big Money Boys want is a president who will ruin things for them when they're gobbling up hundreds of millions of dollars per day at the public trough.

When was the last time we had a president who genuinely stood up for the economic welfare of ordinary people or for a sensible foreign policy and would not be bullied or badgered or bribed or sweet-talked into caving in? I'm trying to remember... (No, Reagan doesn't count. I said GENUINELY stood up for the economic welfare of ordinary people.)

Leftists are angry these days because they feel that they put Obama into the White House and that he is disrespecting them. There is some truth to that. However, the ones who really put Obama into the White House and who would have hobbled his candidacy if he had crossed them, are the financial elites, the corporate bigwigs, the media conglomerates, and the military contractors.

They don't want to get out of Afghanistan or Iraq, because they're making too much money, and they will be insulated from the worst effects of an economic collapse. Besides, they tend to be like Harry Lime in The Third Man, regarding ordinary human beings as mere ants crawling on the ground.

They will continue to do so until the American people wise up.

Tim Kane
Mesa, Arizona

It has fallen to the Obama administration to clean up the many and varied Bush's messes. One of those messes is Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan project got off to a rousing good start. But the corruption, intrinsic to Republicanism (graft, greed, oil, and corporatism) perverted the project.

The first big mistake was not grafting on to existing Afghan constitutional institutions (they had them!), like the return of the Monarchy, which after 30 years of civil war and anarchy held maximum moral authority for the people, the use of the loya jurga as an indigenous assembly body that could have help create a proto-constitutional democracy and the ancient, tried and true, implementation of neo-feudalism into the mix to align local war lords with progress.

The important thing about feudalism and neo-feudalism, and monarchy and proto-constitutional monarchy, in the developmental state is that it is intuitive to all in a relatively primitive society. We could have supplemented that with our strength, vast amounts of international development funds, and Japanese and Korean economic and planning bureaucrats (the best in the world, and our allies). If this had been done, Afghanistan might be something of a success story today.

Instead, the Bush administration planted a presidential system (unintuitive and difficult for most societies to make use of) with a petroleum industry lackey in the presidency, then got side tracked jousting windmills in Iraq, allowing the whole afghan project to descend into chaos when it need not be.

In "Structure and Change in Economic History" by Nobel Laureate and Economic Historian, Douglas C. North cites that the Roman Empire collapsed because wealth and power had become extremely concentrated, 6 Senators owned half of North Africa, so that the Wealthy and Powerful were able to use their influence to avoid paying taxes.

The Empire, consisting of 1/4th of the earth's total population of about 60 million people and controlling all of Western Civilizations resources, when Western Civilization included the western half of the Middle East, Turkey, Egypt and North Africa, lacked the political will to raise enough money to provide a large enough army to control the Empire's borders.

The Roman legion still held a tactical edge over the barbarians, but it had thinned. They needed a larger army but lacked the political will to fund it.

Other historians will say that the empire collapsed because it's commercial (cash) economy collapsed. As we are aware of, by what we are living through now, this is the same thing. When wealth concentrates, demand collapses and with it the commercial economy. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, until they became serfs.

Still other historians will claim other causes to the collapse of Rome, however, the same basic dynamic of concentrated wealth leading to the collapse of so many other empire's, civilizations, economies and states (Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, Byzantium prior to Manzikurt, Pre-Islamic Mecca [Islam was, in part, a reaction to sudden concentrated wealth there at the time], Medieval Japan, arguably Hapsburg Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, Coolidge/Hoover America, Reagan/Bush America) is so common that it deserves the highest level of presumption.

The thing about these dynamics, is that the Wealthy and the Powerful, the very people with the most to lose from collapse, were also the same ones who brought about the collapse. The power of greed is so great, that all perspective is lost and the movement of the greedy cannot be contained by foreknowledge that they are precipitating their own ruin.

To save money, the Romans hired barbarians into their army. Then they belatedly abandoned Brittan around 405. Too little, too late: by 455 the Roman Empire was no more.

Much of these dynamics are taking place now. The concentration of wealth in the United States is greater than it was in 1929. This lead to collapse of financial institutions and a jobs depression. Some hindsight from 1929 brought about swift stabilization of financial institutions, but the collapse of demand, without massive stimulus, looks to be permanent. If so, deflation will soon set in, leading to a serf like existence for many who once hailed from the middle class.

We are struggling with immigration and the control over our own borders.

By the time we get around to pulling out of Afghanistan and other commitments, like the Roman Empire pulling out of Brittan, it will be too late. The economy will be destroyed. The vast majority of working people will live a serf like existence. The wealthy will so jealously hang onto their wealth that the Government will be powerless to do anything constructive. What resources that are available will be utilized to control the helot serfs of our economy and protect property rights.

Meanwhile, the renaissance in East Asia continues.

I can see nothing on the horizon to stop this process of dissolution.

Carole A. Dunn
Ocean Springs, Miss.

I challenge anyone to say the US is the "land of the free and the home of the brave" with a straight face anymore. Our government has been systematically selling us into slavery to the military-industrial complex.

The war in Afghanistan is just a part of the war on the average American. It's part of the plot to drain our treasury so that there is nothing left for America to be a modern and civilized country. Our jobs have been exported and low-wage workers imported, and the large corporations are rewarded for it. The big banks perpetrated huge financial fraud against the country as a whole, but primarily against the working classes, and they were rewarded by bailouts at no cost to them. The money they are not hoarding they are lending out at high rates of interest, while savings are losing value every day. (My interest on an account with an average daily balance of about $2,500 was 18 cents for July).

The rich have been paying tax rates that are lower than their own workers who make salaries in the lower five figures, starving the treasury further, and causing one-third of the deficit. The recent financial debacle didn't start the states on their starvation diets; the states started running out of money soon after the Bush tax cuts in 2001. As a result, the middle and working classes have seen everything go up, from property taxes, sales taxes and all sorts of fees. We have seen services and any attention to infrastructure go down, including our educational system. Out of one side of their mouths our "leaders" talk about improving education, and out of the other side they call for the laying off of teachers.

We are no longer an upwardly mobile nation. A person growing up in a working class family, whether he/she goes to college or not, only has a twenty percent chance of rising up to a higher station in life. For many young people the only chance at a future is with the military, if they live long enough to reap the benefits. We are not even anywhere near as geographically mobile as we used to be. Thanks to the moribund housing market, those lucky enough to find decent jobs in another part of the country are unable to sell their present homes and move on. Around here, people can't even find tenants for houses they can't sell.

We don't believe in global warming. We don't believe in evolution. We don't believe the government should help the poor. We sit on our duffs and do nothing while the entire country is being sold out from under us. The war in Afghanistan won't end until the big war profiteers decide it's time. I hear rumblings that the ideas being put forth to "save" Social Security, like raising the retirement age and cutting benefits are making people mad. People don't get mad enough anymore. Make no mistake: our fascist government will do what they want and the American people will role over. We are allowing ourselves to become a nation of people who will be just marking time until we die.

We ask the president and the Democrats in Congress to grow a spine. It's time for us to grow a spine.


David Keppel, Bloomington, IN said...

General David Petraeus's statement that he did not go to Afghanistan "in order to preside over a graceful exit" is an echo, surely conscious, of Winston Churchill's "I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire."

And there you have it: a brilliant, politically powerful general whose whole strategy of counter-insurgency is modeled on the British in the Malayan Emergency. I thought that under the Constitution generals went to wars in order to obey the directives of their democratically elected civilian superiors. Instead we have a new Douglas Macarthur complex in the military (more sophisticated in Petraeus than in Stanley McChrystal but no less dangerous).

Churchill's grand rhetoric did not prevent the liquidation of the British Empire, and Petraeus's imperial war in Afghanistan will only hasten the liquidation of America's dwindling financial power and moral standing. President Obama needs to summon the courage to reassert not only civilian control but also civilian priorities.

Marie Burns, Fort Myers, Florida said...

After the way in which Gen. Stanley McChrystal self-destructed (Gen. McChrystal just got a nice gig teaching at Yale; Boola Boola!), it is counter-intuitive to suggest Gen. Petraeus is going off the reservation in his round-robin interviews touting the continuation of the decade-long War for Nothing. Petraeus obviously is doing the Boss's bidding. Just as President Obama fell in with the Wall Street elites, so he has rolled over for the generals & the defense industry.

Comparing President Obama's plight to that of President Johnson is apt. Some dutiful sculptor would be chiseling a likeness of Mr. Johnson's awkward mug on Mount Rushmore right now had he not bogged down this nation in a debilitating, divisive, unwinnable Asian war.

But another President comes to mind, too -- a Republican who knew something about war: Dwight Eisenhower. Several columnists & bloggers today have been thinking about Ike in the wake of Fred Kaplan's Foreign Policy article about Defense Secretary Robert Gates & his admiration for Eisenhower.

Ike warned we would be in the fix we're in today. And he explained, way back in January 1961, exactly why we waged war against Vietnam and why we remain in Afghanistan today. It is eerie to watch the video of President Eisenhower's farewell address to the nation:

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time, and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense.

"We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.... Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government.... We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

"The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist...."

Yes, it does exist, and yes, it has persisted. But it is worse than "potential." It is a fact of life in the U.S. We as a nation are fulfilling Ike's prophecy every day.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

fCh said...

Could it also be that we stay in these 2 wars to be able to [...] Iran?

Aileen171, NC, USA said...

Citizens of the United States are between a rock and a hard place when voting in the November mid-terms. We face a reality that our government, supposedly ‘of and for the people’, is actually a wholly owned subsidiary of the military-industrial complex and Wall Street bankers. The events of the past decade and two administrations have sealed the deal. Both political parties have done this.

When an interviewer pointed out to Dick Cheney that the people of this country did not want war and torture, Cheney’s response was: “So? It doesn't matter what they think.” When the current occupant of the White House faces the people’s rejection of war and corporatist coddling, Mr. Gibbs’ response is that we should be “drug-tested”. The arrogance of both parties is astonishing.

After ten years of rich old men laying waste to our best and brightest young citizen in pointless and bankrupting wars, now the government’s ‘cat food commission’ wants to lay waste to its senior population who have worked all their lives and paid into that fund, by defaulting on Social Security to pay for more pointless war and Wall Street speculation. The GOP wants to go even further by the outright turning over all monies paid into Social Security to its Wall Street cronies for their greed-driven gambling pleasure and ‘broker cuts’ off the top.

Democrats with rare exception have been (to coin Joan Walsh’s phrase) a “tower of jello” in failing to stand up for what is good for our citizens, which includes serious ‘nation building’ here at home (our schools, our roads, our public works, our health care). Democrats have cowered in the face of GOP corporatist obstructionism. The Republican ‘party of no’ alternative with their extremist right-wingnut base and corporatist allies, is even WORSE. In short, our nation is being cannibalized by the military-industrial complex run amok and deregulated Wall Street criminals — while the leadership of NEITHER party has the guts to say ENOUGH. Neither of the two main political parties cares a whit about the ordinary folks who built this country from the ground up. What both parties do is evidence of who really owns them.

The government of a nation that will not provide jobs and keep them in this country, that will not regulate corporate cannibals, that will not invest in infrastructure, manufacturing and social safety nets for its own citizens, …is in no moral position to ‘nation build’ elsewhere. It should scare the heck out of all of us that the military generals and Wall Street bankers are now the de facto government of the United States, with both flaunting their power all over cable news. If this trend continues the United States will soon be reduced to a third world nation status like Afghanistan, and the majority of our citizens reduced to similar extreme poverty. Government officials, military generals and Wall Street bankers will be the only ones living or retiring with security. Our only hope is to elect real progressives, assuming it is not already too late.

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