Sunday, March 20, 2011
I have watched mothers and fathers keening in grief over the frail corpses of their children in hospitals in Gaza and rural villages in El Salvador, Bosnia and Kosovo. The faces of these dead children, their bodies ripped apart by iron fragments or bullets tumbling end over end through their small, delicate frames, appear to me almost daily like faint and sadly familiar ghosts. The frailty and innocence of my own children make these images difficult to bear.
That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
Barack Obama, on his opposition to the American Invasion of Iraq, October 2002
If Libya had artichokes rather than oil, the U.S. would have a very different relationship with Gaddafi.
Cornel West, March 2011
In the first 24 hours of the UN "action" against the military forces loyal to Libyan dictator Kaddafi, the British, French and Americans have launched 110 cruise missiles at military targets. Each of these missiles cost taypayers $569,000 to produce. At least 48 lives (and, no doubt, some civilians) have ended due to these so far. And, for the indefinite future, the Libyan coastal skyline will rain missiles, produced in Tucson, subsidized by American taxpayers. The past 500 years of Western history can be summed up by raw materials, rich markets and militaries. The Western tradition continues. A few thoughts:
1. Ironically, the UN invasion of Libya comes on the 8th Anniversary of the start of the American invasion of Iraq. Total Muslim countries invaded by American military forces: 3.
2. Also, ironically, the American President who worships the Prince of Peace and won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize continues his rather hawkish behavior after coloring himself as the anti-war candidate in the 2008 Democratic Primary.
3. This is all about oil. We could document all the countries in the world whose civilian populations desperately need UN action more than Libya. That would take a long time...it would be a long list...after all, it's Sunday and there are some great basketball games on.
4. There's nothing like a war to distract political leaders and the corporate media (and therefore the public). Here's how Obama put it in 2002:
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
Ironically, Newt Gingrich popped off about Obama's distracting NCAA bracket--this coming from, apparently, a leading Presidential nominee, representing the political party distracting us with a whole host of what Bill Maher calls "fantasy problems": public unions, Sharia law, anchor babies, the mosque at Ground Zero, ACORN, National Public Radio, the war on Christmas, the new Black Panthers, Planned Parenthood & Michelle Obama's war on dessert.
The only problem with Obama taking 15 minutes out of his desperately busy life to fill out an NCAA bracket is that he jinxed the Jayhawks...for the second year in a row. On the other hand, war is the biggest distraction of them all, a godsend to wealthy elites who eagerly anticipate any opportunity to divert us from our overwhelmingly unjust income inequality.
5. We Americans have been trained from our youth to root for American military dominance over "crazy" and "uncivilized" foreign leaders like Kadafi (I remember the feelings of justice and vindication when Reagan bombed his ass back in '86...I was 12). Consider the role of the media, including movies. Here's what David Sirota (a virtual 80's pop culture expert) wrote in his column this week:
When I rented Hollywood's first PG-13 rated production, 1984's "Red Dawn," and I saw the teen heartthrobs protect America by racking up execution after execution, I didn't know the movie would also become the Guinness world-record holder for violent acts depicted per minute in a film. All I did was cheer.
Confronting the Powers involves calling out this lie that plays over and over on the walls of living rooms, movie screens and computers.
6. Last but not least, Libya is about lifestyle. Americans need to learn to live more simply and sustainably. Oil (and therefore military adventures) dictates too much of our federal and household budgets (which are inherently moral documents). No doubt, corporate interests (like this and this) are behind all this violence. We are all consumer-citizens. We should discriminate against businesses that dehumanize us. Let's shop for a better world.