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Saturday, 20 November 2004 09:01
Forged Legacy: America's Next Four Years 

As ignorant and lacking in empathetic imagination as they might be, if transported to Iraq to see the bombs falling, the houses destroyed, the missing limbs, the mangled children's bodies, the wailing parents -- even such Americans would be moved to a higher political consciousness.

The Anti-Empire Report, No. 15
November 19, 2004
by William Blum

Some thoughts o­n that election thing

"How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?" asked the Daily Mirror of England in large type o­n its front page two days after the American presidential election.

What the Brits may not realize is that many of those who voted for Bush actually pride themselves o­n their ignorance. They associate being any kind of intellectual with elitist East and West Coasters, the dissolute 1960s, "old Europe", and other nasties o­n their love-to-hate list; for many of them as well, whether consciously or unconsciously, it is a source of satisfaction that they have a president who's no smarter than they are.
"Moral values", we are told, is the thing that was of primary concern to most of those who voted for Bush. The daily horror brought by Bush to the people of Iraq does not indicate less-than-noble moral values in the minds of these Americans. Bush is a religious man; religious people are moral people; ergo, Bush is a moral man.

Discarding a clump of embryonic tissue cells, as unconscious as a rock, is much more "morally" upsetting to these good folk than sending a cruise missile screaming into a crowded Iraqi apartment building. Two people of the same sex who love each other and wish to get married is a greater crime in their, and god's, eyes, than the sadistic torture of Iraqi prisoners.
There is now discussion amongst progressives about reaching such people, trying to win large numbers of them over. This is certainly an understandable goal, but I suggest that we not waste our time, energy, and resources.

Certainly, with any o­ne individual amongst them, if we secluded that person o­n a farm with a dozen articulate progressive activists for a few months, and with a plethora of moving audio-visual materials, something would probably click in that individual's head. But we haven't got enough activists, time, or farms to make even a crease in the target population of "Valueites".
As ignorant and lacking in empathetic imagination as they might be, these people, if transported to Iraq to see the bombs falling, the houses destroyed, the missing limbs, the mangled children's bodies, the wailing parents -- even such Americans would be moved to a higher political consciousness. This has already happened with a number of American military personnel in Iraq, but is of course impossible to arrange for the many Valueites.
In any event, any such tactics couldn't be pursued in behalf of an electoral campaign that supports the war every bit as strongly as Bush does. (See, as an example chosen at random, the John Kerry campaign.)
Whether trying to win over Valueites in behalf of the Democratic Party, an independent party, or for any other reason, we must keep Harry Truman's dictum in mind: "If you give the voters a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they'll always choose a Republican." Who knows how many liberals and radicals stayed home o­n election day because Kerry failed to offer them anything like a decent alternative to Bush?

I went to my polling place o­nly because Nader was o­n the ballot. The 18-to-29 portion of the population voted decisively in favor of Kerry. But how many more of these idealistic young people stayed home in disgust?
I've tried to console myself by thinking that it's good that Kerry lost for at least two reasons:
1) Kerry would probably not have alienated the rest of the world as much as Bush did, and thus might get more support for the historical continuance of American interventions, resulting in even more American interventions, this time under unindicted war criminals, Secretary of Defense Wesley Clark and Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. Bush, o­n the other hand, is now free to continue infuriating the entire planet, increasing anti-Americanism to yet more frightful levels, and driving the empire into total disgrace and disintegration in some unpredictable manner, hopefully not taking the entire planet along. This may be the o­nly way the American imperial dragon will be slain.
2) If Kerry won, the chance of any reform of the Democratic Party would have been negligible, and the party would have moved even further to the right, confident that the voters had "vindicated" their conservative policies.
Well, we'll have to wait to see how number o­ne plays out. As for the second, the prospect of the Democrats returning to more liberal ways does not appear to be off to a running start. A week after the election, veteran Democratic political and policy operatives began an advocacy group aimed at "using moderate Senate Democrats as the front line in a campaign to give the party a more centrist profile", as the Washington Post (November 11) put it.

They call themselves Third Way (Did someone say Tony Blair?), from the idea that there should be an alternative to conservative and liberal orthodoxies. They also entertain the conceit that they're "progressive centrists". o­ne of them, Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, a possible 2008 presidential candidate, said that the election day exit polls showed there are more self-described conservatives, 34 percent, than self-described liberals, 21 percent, while 45 percent described themselves as moderate. "Do the math," Bayh said.

Presumably, if the polls had shown more conservatives than moderates he would be urging the party to become conservative, this time out of the closet. The Post added, however, that some Democrats believe that the Bush campaign "showed that softening ideological edges or seeking common ground with opponents is not a winning strategy."
Kerry forfeited playing the "values" card by his support of the war, but he could have played the equally important "national security" card by exploiting Bush's awful record: Not o­nly did September 11 occur o­n Bush's watch (while Bush read a book about goats to a class of children), but the US bombing and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq have unleashed scores of terrorist acts against American targets, as was predicted -- military, civilian, Christian, and other targets -- in the Mideast, South Asia, and the South Pacific, including two major o­nes in Indonesia. Bush won by a large margin amongst those who cited terrorism as o­ne of their main concerns. Did Kerry say a word about this record to question Bush's success in fighting terrorism?

What century are we living in?

350 years ago, in the English Civil War, both Catholics and Protestants went into battle shouting, "Kill for Jesus". Presented here is a short current report to show you how far humankind has come since that time.
Fallujah ...a dialogue amongst a group of young insurgents: "I had a vision yesterday that I would finally be granted the martyrdom" ... " A friend was injured in an attack. They took him to the hospital. When he opened his eyes he saw a beautiful woman. He cheered and thanked God that he had finally become a martyr and was granted o­ne of the divine virgins. But then he realized that he was still alive and started crying." ... "They exchanged Koranic verses and sayings of the prophet Mohammed, divine poetry about the beauty of martyrdom."{1}
With US forces massing outside Fallujah ... "35 marines swayed to Christian rock music and asked Jesus Christ to protect them ... [the marines] perceive themselves as warriors fighting barbaric men opposed to all that is good in the world. ... waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles beside them, and chanted heavy metal-flavoured lyrics in praise of Christ ... 'Victory belongs to the Lord,' another young marine read. ... The marines then lined up and their chaplain blessed them with holy oil to protect them."{2} ... Marine Colonel Gareth Brandl declared: "The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Fallujah. And we're going to destroy him."{3}
As another writer named William o­nce said, "A plague o­n both your houses!"

{1} Washington Post, November 9, 2004, p.24
{2} Agence France-Presse, November 7, 2004
{3} BBC-TV, UK, November 6, 2004
{4} Washington Post, October 9, 2004
{5} The Guardian (London), December 20, 2001, p.16
{6} US Defense Department briefing, November 1, 2001
{7} William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's o­nly Superpower, pp.76-7
{8} New York Times, October 28, 2001, p.B1
{9} Telford Taylor, "Nuremberg and Vietnam: an American Tragedy"
(New York, 1970), p.140-43
{10} Inter Press Service (Rome), September 21, 2004

William Blum < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it > is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's o­nly Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays o­n the American Empire
<www.killinghope.org >

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 November 2004 09:01

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