Sunday, September 18, 2011

klare, hedges, and the irish

A propos being stuck in the tar pit: in the week after the 9-11 decennial -- a week with the Texas drought deepening to 'exceptional' levels; the Arctic melt either being the second worst ever or having set a new all-time record (depending on how the Bremen University data hold up); the polar climate having moved beyond the tipping point; and the U.S. House of Representatives now being 'the most anti-environmental in history' -- three superb summaries of the realities resulting from America's wrong response to 9-11 have appeared.

One is Michael Klare's America and oil: declining together? 
America and Oil.  It's like bacon and eggs, Batman and Robin.  As the old song lyric went, you can't have one without the other.  Once upon a time, it was also a surefire formula for national greatness and global preeminence.  Now, it's a guarantee of a trip to hell in a hand basket.  The Chinese know it.  Does Washington?  (more)
Another is Chris Hedges's We are what we loathe
We have still not woken up to whom we have become, to the fatal erosion of domestic and international law and the senseless waste of lives, resources and trillions of dollars to wage wars that ultimately we can never win. We do not see that our own faces have become as contorted as the faces of the demented hijackers who seized the three commercial jetliners a decade ago. We do not grasp that Osama bin Laden’s twisted vision of a world of indiscriminate violence and terror has triumphed. The attacks turned us into monsters, grotesque ghouls, sadists and killers who drop bombs on village children and waterboard those we kidnap, strip of their rights and hold for years without due process. We acted before we were able to think. And it is the satanic lust of violence that has us locked in its grip. (more)
Third is an editorial by Jim Roche in the Irish Times about the decennial.  Personally I have mixed feelings about Ireland.  Some repulsive relatives of mine live there, postmodern relativists with no moral compass.  But this Irish editorial rings so true it deserves to be quoted at length:
The communal grief and sympathy for those killed and bereaved on 9/11 was willfully exploited by a neoconservative agenda in order to wage terror on a massive scale, premised on the extreme ideology of the now defunct Project for the New American Century, through which Messrs Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney et al had argued repeatedly for regime change in Iraq. The real aim of the Bush administration, of which it boasted quite openly, was to seek global hegemony by the United States – a flawed policy that confused dominance abroad with security at home.
The farcically named “war on terror” has caused immense suffering to millions of people. Premised on disinformation, false claims and a desire for world dominance, it has involved the corporate theft of resources; the misuse of reconstruction funds; illegal rendition and torture (as in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib); an assault on civil liberties; the gross vilification of the Islamic religion; the stoking of ethnic tension and hatred; indiscriminate bombings and shootings; the use of cluster bombs and white phosphorous; the cowardly use of unmanned drone aircraft; and thousands dead, injured and displaced.
Take, for example, the violence visited on a medium-sized town of 350,000 people on the Euphrates river west of Baghdad in Iraq’s Anbar province between April and November 2004. As unembedded journalist Dahr Jamail relates in his book Beyond the Green Zone , the response to the killing by insurgents of four private Blackwater military contractors was a siege and assault by US forces in a surge of collective punishment.
US forces declared a curfew and refused the evacuation of the wounded and the ingress of medical aid while snipers shot from the minarets of mosques at anything that moved, including women and children. Hospital doctors confirmed between 20 and 30 per cent of victims’ wounds were the result of sniper fire, often from dumdum bullets.
Almost every family in this city lost a member. The number of dead is disputed but ranges between 6,000 and 12,000, the majority being old men, women and children.
Mike Marquez of the Guardian noted that the city’s compensation commissioner reported that “36,000 of the city’s 50,000 homes were destroyed, along with 60 schools and 65 mosques and shrines”. Patrick Cockburn of the Independent called it “a city of ruins” and reported on the dramatic dramatic increase in cancers, birth defects and infant mortality, more than those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, as a result of the use of chemical weapons.
The city is Fallujah. 
It is natural, indeed inevitable, to make mistakes.   That's what humans do.  We are not perfect.  And it is prudent, indeed intelligent, to own up to one's mistakes.  This requires courage and lends us our humanity.  The first step in owning up to a mistake is to cease and desist from doing more of the same.  The second step is to formulate and firm up the resolution to do the right thing from now on.  The third and final step, actually a process, is to launch into a clear-sighted effort at correcting the mistake made.

America can get out of the oil quagmire and return to its former leadership role on this changing planet.  It needs to own up to its contribution to climate change.  It needs to stop military operations in the Arab world.  It needs to enact a progressive gas tax, to regulate carbon emissions, and to launch three New Deal-style work programs -- one for building the wind farms we need to meet domestic energy demands, another for massive production and free installation of solar panels on every single rooftop in the country, and a third for expanding and upgrading the national railroad system.  Then -- and only then -- America would look at a bright future.  But as long as such realism, rationality, and courage are not shown, Gaia's clock will keep ticking ever louder and harder.

Sixty-three months left.

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