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Read my March, 2003, summation of the status and prospects for the war on Iraq: Http://www.jimpivonka.com/pages/PerpetualWar.html

Weblog, 2009-03-31,
Tiw's Day

Six years ago, in March, 2003, I summarized the status and prospects for the war on Iraq as I saw them.

It has been a long six years. Dealing with the aftermath will take longer still.

Perpetual War!  A political agenda motivates the drive to perpetual war.

Senator Robert Byrd, West Virginia on March 19, 2003 - Before the War


Originated March, 2003

Senator Byrd is and has  been a firm critic of Shrubbyist war policy.  Yet even he permitted himself, while criticizing the impending war, to be fooled into the vain hope that "the cloud will lift".  No sign of a lifting yet, at all.

We are becoming in Iraq a despised, and perforce despotic, invading and occupying power, aligned (in fulfillment of  the apocalyptic visions of Perle, Wolfowitz, Rove, and their religious fundamentalist, neo fascist section of the PNAC company) with both the politics and methods of the fascistic Sharon family ruling the once, but no longer, democratic state of Israel.  The signs and portents of their dark vision are manifest; they lead to the death of the vision of human freedom and progress that has been the official public ideology of the "West" since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

We are ourselves subject to the rule of a Supreme Court selected Regent, George W. Bush, who is afflicted with messianic delusions, and locked in mortal personal and psychic combat with his equally megalomaniac alter-egos around the world - Osama, Saddam, Kim Joing Il.  In the final analysis, Bush will sacrifice anyone and anything to win this war, these impending wars, so the eventual  outcome is a foregone conclusion.  All that is in doubt is the size of the sacrifice, and its consequences to the future of the world.

Gen. Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak, retired former chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force offers  a professional military assessment of the magnitude of our political leadership's diplomatic failures and their consequences.   And Thomas Freidman will lay out, in an excessively optimistic and pro-interventionist context, the impending consequences of the Shrubbyist failures in a report airing tonight, Tuesday, April 1, at 8:00 PM ET, on the new "Discovery Times Channel".  (The program "Thomas L. Friedman Reporting: Searching for the Roots of 9/11" premiered on the Discovery Channel Wednesday, March 26, 2003 from 10-11 PM (ET/PT.)

Mass death and destruction in Iraq, with consequent world wide rejection of US and British pretenses to benignity, and a flood of rage against the "West" among humiliated and impoverished Muslims, seems increasingly likely.  Of course our client regimes in the Arab world will be well paid and increasingly militarized to suppress popular discontent.  This is a far sight from the supposed vision of a flowering of democracy which has been proffered by PNAC and the Shrubbyists. But I, personally,  have never believed the fundamentalists were after anything other than the re feudalization and militarization of world civilization.

The war in Iraq is promised to be followed by the same in Korea, Iran, possibly Pakistan... there seems to be no limit.  Perpetual war is a goal, not an accident, for these people.  They suspended operations against Al Qaeda, and shelved plans for the Department of Homeland Security until after the 9-11 attack gave them the "opportunity of a century" they proposed in the PNAC master plan.   This goal is in service of even broader, political goals and objectives, represented by such actions as the un American "Patriot Act" and its successor "Patriot II" which Granny D has so cogently called 'treasonous'.

But perpetual war is more than the justification for suppression of Civil Liberties.  It is also a political strategy, based on the public's natural support for a "war president" and the slavish devotion of the US media to servicing the goals of the war, to gain passage of an extremist political agenda.  That agenda, long in place but in serious political doubt until 9-11,  is rooted in the  religious fundamentalist, messianic and apocalyptic character of Bush and his advisors, which fits so well with that of his political 'base'.

"For months, there has been a widespread assumption in Washington that, once the war with Iraq is successfully completed, Republicans will use the patriotic afterglow to push through the most controversial elements of Bush's domestic agenda. What virtually no one imagined was that they would begin doing so as soon as the war began. The GOP strategy was set out by a Republican leadership aide speaking anonymously to Roll Call this week. "As one evaluates the next three weeks," the aide said, "you have got to say, 'Okay, let's assume in a war context the public doesn't have an appetite for bickering and the president's approval is additional leverage."  http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030407&s=chait040703
The convenient, if idiotic, notion that the successful prosecution of the war depends upon passing Bush's domestic agenda in toto is being touted by the Bush regency (Fleischer) and certain legislators, in an effort to drum up support in the Congress.  Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas went so far as to assert that "When our troops are over there fighting, we don't want partisan bickering to be what they see on television from back home."

Through diversion of our national income and treasure to war, combined with (war linked!?!) tax reductions for the wealthiest and most powerful, it is intended to "make inevitable" the permanent impoverishment of the public sector, of any possibility of support for public services and purposes at any level of government, and to prevent the funding of the Social Security system, which was clearly within reach only 3 years ago.

Through semi legal administrative devices, it is placing religious extremists in positions of power over major areas of public policy, especially those related to the reproductive rights of women and the education of our children.

It is attempting to pack the Judiciary arm of the United States government with judges who have no judicial experience or qualifications, except alignment with the  extreme right wing poliltical agenda.

It is providing for further concentration of media ownership, which has already reached proportions unimaginable only 20 years ago.  The company (Clear Channel Communications) owning the vast majority of US radio stations is prohibiting the playing of anti-war music on its stations, and funding pro-war demonstrations in US cities already.  The path is being cleared by the Powell FCC for even more egregious violations of what was once considered to be a public trust for balance and impartiality on the part of media organizations.

Right wing organizations have aquired control of the electoral process itself, through ownership of the companies manufacturing voting machines and the software operating them.  These companies have refused to open the software to scrutiny by computer science experts, and have fought the adoption of systems of voter confirmation records which would provide voters a record of how their votes were recorded by the systems.

The battle to prevent war in Iraq is over.  Bush has won that battle, and will win the war, no matter what the cost.  He must do so, because his true goals, the subversion of democratic government in the US and over the world, cannot be achieved if he loses it.  In winning the war in Iraq he guarantees the perpetuation of world wide war, especially terrorism by the impoverished and humiliated peoples of the countries he causes us to destroy and dominate.

At this point, if he and his anti Enlightenment, religious fundamentalist allies are to be opposed, it must be politically, by opposing and defeating his agenda for fundamental,  anti democratic alterations to the basic political culture and systems of governance of the US and other traditionally democratic countries.  If the Shrubbyists were to win those battles, the entire "developed" or "first world" civilization would  come to look like the fortress of repression that Ariel Sharon has made of Israel, after the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by his religious fundamentalist allies there.

I believe that those who oppose the war on Iraq must realize that they are opposing a strategy of perpetual war; that that strategy is in service of the Bush regency's messianic and apocalyptic vision of the future of the world which requires reshaping of world political culture away from democratic ideals and toward the neo feudalist, fundamentalist visions of his advisors and polital allies, and that the only truly effective way to oppose war is to oppose the entirety of the Bush government's political program.
end of draft material

It is the Shrubbyist political agenda that drives their need for perpetual war, not oil and not terrorism.
Every part of the Shrubbyist domestic and international agenda depends on perpetual war.

Weblog, 2009-03-30, Moon Day

Perhaps it is because I have carried the story of Jessica Lynch and Lori Piestewa in my mind and heart for six years, perhaps it is out of gratitude for a writer like Lee Patton who can, finally, do that story justice - but I think it is the story itself. At last, Jessica and Lori are honored, appropriately. And together, as they served. If you can read to the end without being brought near tears, you've a harder heart than I.

March 28, 2009

INSTANT ICONS' INSTANT FAILURE: The Propaganda War Bush Lost in Iraq

By Lee Patton

Six years ago this spring, a teenage West Virginian supply clerk got caught in military fire and suffered incurable internal injuries. Remember the Special Ops rescue of Jessica Lynch?

Six years ago this spring, the U.S. Army issued a pack of cards, each a “Most Wanted” Iraqi face. Remember “Chemical Ali” and “Mrs. Anthrax”?

Six years ago this spring, as Baghdad fell, the invaders toppled Saddam Hussein’s statue, the spitting image of Lenin’s in Moscow, right in the heart of the desert metropolis. Remember citizens dancing around the pulverized chunks of Saddam?

As the U.S. military invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration tried to create and control a heroic narrative with emblems of American triumph. Despite the fleeting popularity of the Iraq mission after Baghdad’s quick fall, each propaganda attempt toppled into general ridicule and scorn with the same bruising speed that Saddam’s regime fell to the invaders.

The pro-war icon-makers could not even weave the most hackneyed of all fantasies -- the rescue of a damsel in distress. When aspiring kindergarten teacher Jessica Lynch, 19, was wounded in the first days of the Iraq invasion in March, 2003, she was taken unconscious to an Iraqi hospital. U.S. forces declared the supply clerk missing in action while a heroic story circulated that Lynch had rescued her comrades with Rambo-ette automatic fire. Special Operations staged a nighttime raid on the local hospital as cameras rolled. In search of a great opening-volley war story, cable news seized upon the military’s narrative of a brave, young, blonde -- and telegenic -- female soldier and her Special Op saviors. For a short while, Jessica Lynch was a true-blue American folk hero, about to burst forth as our first Iraqi War American icon.

The icon, though, refused to play along with the Army and media iconographers, and their fantasy unraveled within days. Lynch asserted that she never fired a single shot during the ambush. After her gun jammed, she said she dropped to her knees and prayed. The Iraqi hospital staff, demonized as enemy medics holding her hostage, were actually local professionals who treated the young soldier’s wounds and even sang soothing lullabies. Most accounts confirm that there was no resistance to the Special Operations “rescue.”  Although the guns-blazing U.S. raid was carefully filmed, the Iraqi military had long deserted the hospital. In reality, Lynch had already been rescued -- by the local Iraqis -- and afterwards deeply resented being the semi-conscious centerpiece of a staged re-rescue.

The U.S. invasion’s other vaunted emblems of victory suffered the same fate as the fake Jessica Lynch rescue. Before Bush’s Iraq occupation exploded into civil chaos, the Most Wanted deck of cards were selling for up to $120 on Ebay, though the Army didn’t release the original packs and, in April 2003, Stars and Stripes exposed the EBay versions as fakes. (Today, you can buy a phony pack for $1.99). Real or fake, the "Most Wanted" cards instantly inspired caustic parodies, such as George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney depicted as a "flush hand" of war criminals, or decks of Most Wanted U.S. War Profiteers.

The toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in central Baghdad was far from a spontaneous celebration. Even a source as mainstream as the Boston Globe, on the day after the April 9, 2003 statue-toppling, openly cast doubt on the images in Firdos Square, noting that they...

“looked an awful lot like the looting taking place nearby. Footage of both activities showed gatherings verging on anarchy. Yesterday's coverage of the ‘jubilation’ also had a self-conscious and forced quality, as if the media were too eager to capture ‘liberation’ for its daily news cycle. Whenever the cameras pulled back, they revealed a relatively small crowd at the statue.”

George W. Bush’s icon-making was so ham-fisted that he could not even enjoy a simple photo-op with the troops during his first wartime 2003 Thanksgiving visit to Iraq. He merely had himself photographed bearing a turkey on a tray, but before anyone could make a sandwich from leftovers, the mainstream media, including the New York Times, purported that the turkey was plastic. Pro-war websites immediately counter-attacked that the alleged turkey was real, the Times retracted the plastic assertion, and the poor bird was relegated to urban myth status. Myth or not, flesh or plastic, the turkey’s real meaning lies in the speedy self-destruction of yet another Bush war emblem: in only six months the mainstream media’s invasion cheerleading had devolved to instant suspicion and hyper-vigilance about any feel-good administration Iraq War press release.

Plastic turkeys are one thing, but heroes ought to persist in flesh-and-blood glory. Yet Bush’s attempt to show off heroic endorsement self-destructed a month before his Iraq invasion was launched. A real American icon, Colin Powell, who impressed the American public with his candor and pragmatism during his command of the Gulf War in 1991, toppled from hero to lackey in a mere wink of live-camera glare. In Bush’s last-ditch effort to persuade the skeptical U.N. that his Iraq invasion plan actually had a purpose, he dispatched Powell in February 2003 to present a series of slippery suppositions and altered photographs about baby formula factories, trains on tracks, and empty aluminum tubes before the General Assembly. The “evidence” was tortured into a thesis so scant in support that a fourth-grader had to wonder why the great man would stoop to offer such a third-grade audio-visual presentation. Powell later admitted to NBC’s Tom Brokaw that he went through the exercise only a “loyal soldier.” In the instant-failure Bush iconography, even the commanding, genuine Colin Powell could melt into worthless plastic.

Though Bush’s ensuing Iraq debacle became a ruinous, endless waste of life, limb, and property, the quick failure of pro-war propaganda was breathtaking, a bracing triumph of simple human truth over manufactured militaristic spin. Duped into war against Cuba in 1898 by false news reports about a Spanish attack (probably a coal bunker fire) on the battleship Maine; duped into World War I after lies about Huns bayoneting babies; duped into Vietnam with the phony 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident -- still, in 1991, the general public seemed happy to be duped again and march off to invade the Persian Gulf. With tales of Iraqi soldiers ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators -- a transparent fiction of Kuwaiti royals who invented, then confessed it -- the incubator-ripping tale lived on in Americans’ need to fuel their own war fever, to give a pretext for the first armed invasion of Iraq.

Thus, the junior Bush had every reason to believe the American public could be easily duped again and, still under the shadow of 9/11, be easily manipulated into a new war-time stupor, obedient to military prerogatives and desensitized to civilian suffering. Yet the junior Bush could never create the pro-war sentiment of the senior Bush’s Persian Gulf War, when yellow ribbons and newsprint flags sprouted across the nation’s front porches. The 1991 “war” was far shorter than its endless series of victory ticker-tape parades, all understood as atonement for America’s shunning of Vietnam veterans as well as a celebration, a vindication -- the most powerful military in the world really could defeat a shaky dictatorship one-tenth its size!

Not really, though. Vietnam had already taught the U.S. how its massive, obscenely expensive military force could lose against a small, penniless, technologically weaker adversary, but the junior Bush proved incapable of learning. It was one thing to rout frightened conscripts from Kuwait’s border in 1991 and entirely another to try to occupy the entire nation of Iraq in 2003.

It’s marvelous but puzzling as to why the American public didn’t go along; even “Mission Accomplished,” the once-AWOL airman’s May 1, 2003 image-making in a flight jumpsuit on an aircraft carrier drifting outside San Diego, became an instant joke as Iraq immediately descended into its first murderous summer. The plastic junior Bush Mission-Accomplished “action figure” pressed into public sale soon melted down in anti-war ceremonies or was stuck with pins in angry family voodoo.

It’s tempting to praise “postmodern” sensibilities, to advance the idea that by 2003 a jaded, media-savvy populace became -- at long last -- impervious to crude militarist public relations iconography. Maybe, but it’s worth recalling the plain old modern sensibility that led millions to hold anti-war protests in U.S. cities, with much larger ones abroad, for months prior to Bush’s Iraq war. Phenomenal in their size by any measure, they were far and away the largest protests ever held on the planet in advance of a military invasion.

The pro-war faction had to resort to overt manipulation of the Iraqi threat, spinning fictions about Nigerian yellowcake and nonexistent nukes to urge a casus belli on a reluctant nation. Even in the mushroom-cloud shadow of this hype, with thousands of Americans already deployed to the Iraqi-Kuwait border, there was only a quick spurt of war fever -- shredding car-antenna flags and fake-ribbon magnets on Cadillac Escalades. The broader U.S. public proved amazingly resistant to the hype before the invasion, and the anti-war resistance only grew during Bush’s mismanaged, violent occupation.

As with most true/false, real/fake, modern/postmodern conundrums, questioning the story of origin might be the most fruitful way of fighting the manufactured icons and mutton-headed boosterism that’s always needed to urge a sane populace to embrace the insanity of war. In this case, the origin story belongs to Jessica Lynch and her best friend, Lori Piestewa, 23, the single mother who was killed in the same ambush on the supply convoy, along with 11 other soldiers.

The origin question is basic: Why did Jessica and Lori need to join the Army anyway; why did the road to kindergarten teaching and successful single-motherhood have to end up anywhere near that violent ambush in Iraq?  Both were from financially struggling American families in places the coastal media regard as obscure at best. Under the war propagandists’ desire to exploit Jessica’s valor lies a twisted truth about America’s real economy, where underprivileged teacher hopefuls need to go to war to fund their hope. Still, Jessica had true valor under fire. She refused iconic status and chose truth over fake glory.

Lori, though, was never made into much of an icon by the Bush fabulists or the national news media. Maybe it’s because she was killed immediately -- and such killings became commonplace -- with none of the suspense and drama of the Jessica Lynch rescue tale. Besides, Lori wasn’t the TV type, not the right white-girl-next-door. Inconveniently, Lori was a Hopi-Mexican from a poor family in unromantic Tuba City, Arizona, and what do the celebrity-making media care about another dead American Indian?

Another origin question. Who on Earth needed this young mother -- driving blindsided into some ambush in Iraq -- to “serve her country”?  (I can tell you, as a taxpayer, citizen, and coward, that I never asked for this service.)  But icon-making is nothing if not ironic. The Hopi culture places great value on warriors, on service to one’s people.  Like many American Indians, Lori came from a distinguished line of military veterans -- and out of their grief at losing a native daughter, her community elevated Lori’s memory to a place of honor.

Six years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it’s impossible to imagine any of that war’s planners, schemers, and propagandists honored the way that Arizona has honored Lori Piestewa. Who will name anything -- even a fetid ditch, a broken sewer, a breached levee -- after such pro-war figures as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer, or so many others, those who urged, led, and cheered the policies that resulted in Lori’s wrong turn in Iraq?  Only months from their departure from power and influence, these policymakers’ reputations trade lower than a fake pack of "Most Wanted" cards on EBay.

But in Arizona, visible all around Phoenix, a young soldier and mother will always be honored. Honored without questions about post-modern irony or authentic vs. fake; honored with realities -- granite and sky-piercing altitude -- as long as Piestewa Peak rises above the desert metropolis.

Weblog, 2009-03-13, Freya's Day

In my life I found you
in my dreams I keep you
in peace I will leave you
in another life I will look for you
Semper fidelis

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Read my March, 2003, summation of the status and prospects for the war on Iraq: Http://www.jimpivonka.com/pages/PerpetualWar.html

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