A 9/11 Every Day For Ten and a Half Years: Most of Us Will Eat Shit Until the Day We Die
By Arthur Silber
12/02/08 “Once Upon A Time” – — -Let us begin with the proposition of greatest importance. From my essay, “The Missing Moral Center: Murdering the Innocent”:
There is one final point to be made about all this — and that has to do with the supreme value of a single human life. In our desensitized, dehumanized age, most people have almost no appreciation for what I’m talking about, and our political establishment and media only make this grievous failing worse. Each of us is unique; not one of us can be replaced. Each of us has a family, loved ones, friends and a life that is a web of caring, interdependence, and joy. When even one of us is killed or horribly injured for no justifiable reason, the damage affects countless people in addition to the primary victim. Sometimes, the survivors are irreparably damaged as well. Even the survivors’ wounds can last a lifetime.
This is of the greatest significance. There is nothing more important or meaningful in the world. No moral principle legitimizes our invasion and occupation of Iraq, just as it will not justify an attack on Iran. Therefore, when the first person was killed in Iraq as the result of our actions, the immorality was complete. The crime had been committed, and no amends could ever suffice or would even be possible. That many additional tens or hundreds of thousands of people have subsequently been killed or injured does not add to the original immorality with regard to first principles. It increases its scope, which is an additional and terrible horror — but the principle is not altered in the smallest degree.
So think of the five-year-old Iraqi girl who is no more, or think of any one of the countless other victims of this criminal war and occupation. Think of their families and friends. Think of the lives that have been altered forever, and of the wounds that will never heal. Think about all of that.
Contemplate the devastation and the horror. Make it real to yourself. And ask yourself if forgiveness is possible.
We now know — at least, those of us who are minimally honest know — that the United States government has murdered in excess of one million Iraqis. In yet another attempt to break through the massive wall of resistance erected by our government, the U.S. media, and the American public, I once put this in terms that I hoped would hit home more directly:
For ease of computation, we’ll use approximate figures. Assume the U.S.’s war crimes have resulted in one million deaths. That is roughly 1/26 of the total Iraqi population. An equivalent number of American deaths would be 11.5 million people. 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9/11. In terms of casualties, 11.5 million deaths represent 3,800 9/11s — or a 9/11 every day for ten and a half years.
Let me repeat that: a 9/11 every day for ten and a half years.
Perhaps you think these casualty figures are highly inflated. Fine. Cut them in half. That’s a 9/11 every day for a little over five years.
Do you begin to understand now?
Our government, our media and most Americans remain absolutely determined not to understand.
Let us proceed to a second proposition of great significance. The ruling elites in the United States have been committed to a foreign policy of American hegemony for over a century; this has been especially true in the decades following the end of World War II. This foreign policy of global hegemony, to be actualized by overthrow, assassination, war, murder, torture and occupation as required, has been and remains a fully bipartisan affair. Both Republicans and Democrats, insofar as the parties bearing those names are central institutions of power in the United States, embrace this policy; very often, Democrats have been notably more aggressive and ruthless in pursuit of this end than Republicans (always excepting the current war criminals in charge of the executive branch). I have detailed this bipartisan policy of murder and conquest in numerous essays; see all of my “Dominion Over the World” series (all the essays in that series are linked at the end of that article), and the other articles linked in those pieces. Scan the archives for still more.
The Democrats were never going to end the occupation of Iraq, as I noted in a post just prior to the 2006 election: “An Election Conceived in Nausea.” The other predictions in that post have also been borne out by events. Predicting how loathsome the loathsome Democrats will be is not a difficult task — not if you are minimally honest.
In a new article, Matt Taibbi details the nauseating depths of the Democrats’ abominable record over the last year. Taibbi notes the Democratic leaders’ lofty calls to inspirational principles — from Harry Reid (“We have the presidential election,” Reid said recently. “Our time is really squeezed.”), and from Nancy Pelosi (“We’ll have a new president,” said Pelosi. “And I do think at that time we’ll take a fresh look at it.”) Reid and Pelosi offer such resounding calls to first principles as more and more people are slaughtered every day. Couldn’t you just die? Lots of people are dying, but not anyone you know (or Reid or Pelosi knows) — so you don’t give a shit.
Working behind the scenes, the Democrats have systematically taken over the anti-war movement, packing the nation’s leading group with party consultants more interested in attacking the GOP than ending the war. “Our focus is on the Republicans,” one Democratic apparatchik in charge of the anti-war coalition declared. “How can we juice up attacks on them?”
The story of how the Democrats finally betrayed the voters who handed them both houses of Congress a year ago is a depressing preview of what’s to come if they win the White House. And if we don’t pay attention to this sorry tale now, while there’s still time to change our minds about whom to nominate, we might be stuck with this same bunch of spineless creeps for four more years. With no one but ourselves to blame.
Taibbi makes two errors here, one that is obvious and one that is implied. The obvious error is to speak of the Democrats’ “betrayal.” It is only betrayal if the Democrats had, in fact, been committed to ending the occupation. That in turn would require that they question the basic assumptions of United States foreign policy. But they weren’t and they don’t, as many of my essays demonstrate. It was betrayal only to those stupid enough to have believed what the Democrats said, as opposed to what their actions — and the underlying dynamics at work — showed. I suppose I should add that one need not necessarily have been stupid (and here, I cast my eye around the “progressive” blogosphere): a person might be so consumed with achieving power for the Democrats above all else that he or she is willing to lie endlessly — so as to curry favor with those in power (or who might be), to wield “influence,” and/or to make a sufficient number of mindless readers happy (or keep them suitably intellectually sedated).
Taibbi’s implied error is his talk about “whom to nominate.” He names Hillary Clinton as one of those who peddles endless “bullshit” about wanting “to do the right thing” — and he notably fails to mention Obama. Memo to Taibbi: if you’re thinking that Obama represents a genuinely different point of view on these questions, you’re wrong — he doesn’t. (I’ll have more about the particular dangers represented by Mr. Obama, and they are considerable, in the next few days.)
Later in his article, Taibbi offer these sickening details concerning the mechanics of the Democrats’ actions:
Rather than use the vast power they had to end the war, Democrats devoted their energy to making sure that “anti-war activism” became synonymous with “electing Democrats.” Capitalizing on America’s desire to end the war, they hijacked the anti-war movement itself, filling the ranks of peace groups with loyal party hacks. Anti-war organizations essentially became a political tool for the Democrats — one operated from inside the Beltway and devoted primarily to targeting Republicans.
This supposedly grass-roots “anti-war coalition” met regularly on K Street, the very capital of top-down Beltway politics. At the forefront of the groups are Thomas Matzzie and Brad Woodhouse of Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq, the leader of the anti-war lobby. Along with other K Street crusaders, the two have received iconic treatment from The Washington Post and The New York Times, both of which depicted the anti-war warriors as young idealist-progressives in shirtsleeves, riding a mirthful spirit into political combat — changing the world is fun!
But what exactly are these young idealists campaigning for? At its most recent meeting, the group eerily echoed the Reid-Pelosi “squeezed for time” mantra: Retreat from any attempt to end the war and focus on electing Democrats. “There was a lot of agreement that we can draw distinctions between anti-war Democrats and pro-war Republicans,” a spokeswoman for Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq announced.
What the Post and the Times failed to note is that much of the anti-war group’s leadership hails from a consulting firm called Hildebrand Tewes — whose partners, Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes, served as staffers for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). In addition, these anti-war leaders continue to consult for many of the same U.S. senators whom they need to pressure in order to end the war. This is the kind of conflict of interest that would normally be an embarrassment in the activist community.
Worst of all is the case of Woodhouse, who came to Hildebrand Tewes after years of working as the chief mouthpiece for the DSCC, where he campaigned actively to re-elect Democratic senators who supported the Iraq War in the first place. …
With guys like this in charge of the anti-war movement, much of what has passed for peace activism in the past year was little more than a thinly veiled scheme to use popular discontent over the war to unseat vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2008.
Taibbi goes on:
Even beyond the war, the Democrats have repeatedly gone limp-dick every time the Bush administration so much as raises its voice. Most recently, twelve Democrats crossed the aisle to grant immunity to phone companies who participated in Bush’s notorious wiretapping program. Before that, Democrats caved in and confirmed Mike Mukasey as attorney general after he kept his middle finger extended and refused to condemn waterboarding as torture. Democrats fattened by Wall Street also got cold feet about upsetting the country’s gazillionaires, refusing to close a tax loophole that rewarded hedge-fund managers with a tax rate less than half that paid by ordinary citizens.
After all this, the liberal-progressive blogosphere continues to propagandize endlessly and raise huge amounts of money for “more and better Democrats” — on the model of Jim Webb, I suppose, one of those “better” Democrats who offered one of the most pathetically stupid defenses in the history of the universe in support of his vote for last summer’s atrocious FISA legislation.
Here’s a rule you can take to the bank:
Any individual who rises to the national political level is, of necessity and by definition, committed to the authoritarian-corporatist state. The current system will not allow anyone to be elected from either of the two major parties who is determined to dismantle even one part of that system.
Yes, yes: there are a handful of exceptions. That’s so some of you can continue to prattle about the virtues of “participatory democracy.” That’s so you don’t notice that the ruling elites don’t give a damn what you think, except for brief periods surrounding elections — when they’ll tell you what you want to hear, even though history, including yesterday’s history, proves they don’t mean a single damned word of it. And please note that the two or three exceptions are not those individuals championed by these same liberals and progressives: note how the leading progressive bloggers themselves led the marginalization of Dennis Kucinich.
I’ll be blunt, even rude: You can call it Republican shit. You can call it Democratic shit. You can call it progressive shit. It’s still shit. It’s still murder, and torture, and criminal war, and a growing surveillance state. If you vote for the Democratic or the Republican candidate for president — and if you vote for almost any of the candidates for national office — you’re voting for murder. You’re voting for torture. You’re voting for criminal war. You’re voting for the growing surveillance state.
Is that what you choose to do? Is that what you choose to support? Is it?
At the end of his article, Taibbi writes:
How much of this bullshit are we going to take? How long are we supposed to give the Reids and Pelosis and Hillarys of the world credit for wanting, deep down in their moldy hearts, to do the right thing?
Look, fuck your hearts, OK? Just get it done. Because if you don’t, sooner or later this con is going to run dry. It may not be in ’08, but it’ll be soon. Even Americans can’t be fooled forever.
Perhaps not forever, but most Americans are perfectly willing to be fooled (hell, they’re enthusiastic about it) until the Empire begins to crumble around them — that is, in ways that directly affect them in their lives. That day may be coming, perhaps sooner than we might prefer to think.
Some of them won’t be fooled at that point. But then it will be too late. A lot of you will eat shit until the day you die.