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The War on Iran, Iraq Fiasco & US Public

By K. Darbandi


Why is the US so close to another major war in the midst of the Iraq war fiasco? While polls show that the majority of the US public is for pulling out of Iraq, there is no indication that they are having any anti-war sentiments about an attack on Iran. In this country there is no massive outcry against the current administration's obvious and public call for yet another war.  Ordinary logic would have guided one to believe that the global bully has learned its lessons and will start negotiating with the regional bullies, Iran. To the amazement of many, it seems as if the political space is there for Bush administration to keep pounding the war drums. Reports indicate massive fire power is ready to be launched against the I.R. regime and Iranian state and society as a whole. The US public is hardly blinking.


Only if People Knew


There are, of course, a lot of individuals and political movements and action groups in US and Europe that are spending valuable time and effort opposing US current policy. The vital connection between these trends and the public at large is missing. Some in the progressive anti war camp might be thinking that the US public at large is not opposing Bush clear policies because of media propaganda by networks like Fox, or the intrigues of big business like Halliburton and other employers of Bush and Cheney, or even maybe the Israeli lobby and other mysterious interest groups.


These assumptions, are however, truly insult to peoples' intelligence. It assumes that after 4 years the US public is not yet aware that 9/11 and Iraq are not connected,-other than the fact that both involve Arabic speaking peoples. It assumes that people do not still realize that Iraq war was pre-emptive, a war of choice, and waged on shaky allegations and against international law. It assumes that in the wealthiest democracy on earth, the public has been stupefied to such extent that they just need to know the facts and they'd be acting in a very anti-warish fashion. The Fox news and a few very large conglamorates have done it again: the US public still does not know that Israel is the biggest recipient of US aid and with it, has been slowly exterminating a whole group of people. Only if people knew after more than 40 months that their soldiers are also torturers, kill detainees in their custody, and rape and murder 13 year olds and their whole families; only if they had seen the Abu-Ghraib pictures, they would know how criminally disposed the US military can be and how much worse the next war is going to get!  Only if the US public knew how they have destroyed a country of 25 million people they would stop their president from picking on another one of 70 million!


The simple fact is that no public is that stupid and ignorant; they might not stand up to the moral and ethical standards of progressive intellectuals, but in the social context of US society, with all the availability of information and social comfort and leisure time, people can not be in such depths of intellectual deprivation. There is nothing in water or genetically wrong with the American public at large to force such general behavior, and there is no lack of access to alternative information other than big media in this country. The vast majority has enough leisure time and basic life comfort to pursue all sorts of information that affects them.  


The US public is so not anti-war that in the past weeks, even front-running Democratic presidential candidates have shown their worth to be head of state to the public by leaving the military option on table against Iran (Clinton), or to promise to invade unilaterally another country's territory, in this case Pakistan, in pursuit of the 'terrorists' (Obama). Somebody needs to explain how front-runners of the so-called opposition party are so overtly against international law and pro-military in the midst of Iraq war fiasco? The lady and the African-American candidates are only responding to the trends already present in the country. They are trying to look Presidential in the eyes of the US public. As Mr. Chomsky has put it, the assumption of the US ruling elite is that they own the world, and in my view, Clinton and Obama are only working based on this assumption.


Anti-war activists in the US could be having a wrong assumption about US public, in that they assume people in general are inherently good, moral and ethical beings. So if they are complicit in participating indirectly in one genocide after another, send their sons to commit one atrocity after another, then there must be a lot of brain washing and false propaganda going on that has led them to act that way.


Superman, Video Games & Disney World


The US public turned against the Iraq war only after it started going South. Check the US opinion poll history on Wikipedia for yourselves. The public image of  the war, promised by Rumsfeld was to get in quick, smash everything, make it safe for oil drilling and to pull out, putting the place in the hands of a loyal puppet regime. Sort of like the rhythm of events in classic Superman movies, where things are as clear as black and white: it is Superman, and there are the Bad Guys. And the red and blue guy can't just take it slow like Sherlock Holmes and use his head to solve the problem. No, there is nothing to dwell on; he is muscular, fast and invincible. And boy is he American!


Well, the Iraq war started and was projected like the ending of a Superman movie, but in time gradually turned into Raiders of the Lost Arc, with the US forces playing the German nitwits of the movie: they are on the set only to be blown away. And Harrison totally absent from the Akron! So people gradually lost interest, and I don't blame them, what happened to the happy ending? Most of them want Out now, allowing Iraqi warring factions to fight each other to total death and destruction.  You see, even the sentiments against the Iraq war has a very Xenophobic and racist tone to it: they know fully that it was US boys that smashed up the place, but they don't see it that way, rather that the Iraqi's are not worthy of our reconstruction help, let's change the channel and forget about it! Or let's 'internationalize' the situation, i.e.: let's call the foreign-speaking Cleaning Ladies to take care of the mess, just like how the German, Polish, S. Korean and other forces are cleaning up Afghanistan. You see, it is hard to do a good job cleaning after another, hence the perpetual dirt in AfghanLand!


The opposition of US public to Bush policies in Iraq is not really against the initial policy of going to war, and it is not about abandoning the 'mission' and the devastated Iraqis, but primarily the 'involvement' in Iraq is not digestible any more: it has become too culturally alien to watch.


It used to look like video games: buildings or tiny figures on the screen only to be blown away in a cloud of dust. It used to be sanitized.  It is also a bit too messy, the tortures, civilian deaths; the clean-cut look is not there any more. What happened to the smart bombs Rumsfeld?! US Military spend billions since Vietnam war to repackage foreign wars and bring a whole new look to the sensory internalization of its global crimes in US public eye. The US public is now used to this cleansed packaging and gets very uncomfortable when wars are not presented to it in that way. The US military has succeeded very well in its packaging strategy since Vietnam, so much so that the public does not even have the stomach to tolerate the real thing any more!! They are indeed victims of their own success!


The number of injured-to-deaths is disproportionately high in this war thanks to the same Military planners that repackaged wars since Vietnam. So too many young soldiers are coming home without limbs or faces, and that have totally ruined the Superman image all were expecting. This war has caused a cultural crisis in this country.


The advances in medical evacuation and body armors has not helped much either. The idea was to bring down the death casualties, but Pentagon and its huge Medical establishment got so busy saving combat wounded lives that they totally forgot that what is saved are basically human remains with heart beat: mutilated, faceless and brain-damaged young men and women of the volunteer armed forces. The number of these victims of the economic and educational system of US is growing everyday, and the financial, social and medical infrastructure to support their tattered existence has yet to be constructed.


Cultural identity is dear to all but the pocket book is a completely different matter for the public. The US public has realized that this war is costing us too much and might, just might, ruin the plans for the next vacation to Disney World. Taking away the fairy tale image is one thing, but you can't rub us of our fairyland! Hardship is for losers, and Americans are winners, especially when it comes to their fun time! People did not turn against the Iraq occupation because of the crimes against the Iraqis, or the complete disconnection of 9/11 with Saddam; but they did partly depart from supporting it after all the implicit economic rewards turned into a financial nightmare.


At this juncture, the cultural crisis is compounded with the financial fiasco that the public knows it has to pay for it sooner or later.  The public needs a change, is desperately awaiting a solution to this quagmire. The progressive intellectuals propose solutions; the Democrats have several solutions, but so does president Bush. Frighteningly, his might be the most congruent to the current cultural crisis of the American public.


Give me Back my Culture


Well then, Bush says, let's reflect calmly on the true reasons for this fiasco. There must be something in the picture now that was not there when we went to save the Iraqis from Saddam. Uh of course, it is the hostage-taking terrorist-breeding, girl-stoning Jew-hating Iranians! They are the real cause for the havoc in Iraq. Bush says: "I can fix it for you all; I will restore your Superman, your video games and your trip to Disney World. Just let me get these hairy dark bastards, and I will get you to your blond Cinderella in time for the 8 o'clock fireworks extravaganza!


So says Bush: "Hear me out folks! I have the cruise ships ready in the Gulf. We'll go in fast and swift, mostly from air and the sea; from that altitude you won't see any blood; I promise it will be clean. Then we occupy the southern oilfields, and I will bring all the money back with cheap Iranian oil and Iraq will be ours again to manage...How's that?"  Go get them Tiger!


Fox News and '300'


What Fox news does in the current political and cultural context is quite similar to what the movie 300 has done: to make the public feel good about itself by inviting them to attack and destroy a sub-human race of evil creatures.  A "Few Good Men" will annihilate the incompetent, savage and inhuman enemy in a very one-sided event. A large number of people who watch Fox actually do not care about the truth, they want to hear what is said, it is an affirmation ritual to feel better; but as the war-junkies that they are, they won't rest until they get their war. In this context, the movie 300 is part of the war plan; to de-humanize the Persians, who are depicted in the picture as actually all the colored and sexually ambiguous people on this earth.  The neurotically selfish culture will reaffirm its racial superiority once again while we all wait for the anti-war sentiments to grow in the US public.


We need to understand better why people turn against wars. The US public, by and large, is disposed of a very anti-intellectual culture and with the current popular cultural traits, it will never turn against wars for the reasons that progressive intellectuals do. The link is missing, and has been missing for decades between us and the social body. The prime reasons lie in the current cultural traits of the public and our failure to understand the public in its fullness, with the good and evil that it carries with it, like all other peoples in other societies[1].


More wars will come and go, but what we can start to accomplish for a beginner, in my opinion, is to smash the Democratic hold on the Left in this country. Everything else will follow from that.


[1]  Many Iranian intellectuals, under threat of war, have defensively drawn on the historical glories of the "Persian" civilization, attempting to purify the image of a very troubled society in contemplation of a possible coming invasion, vast bombing and war. Instead, they should focus on simple current facts such as the vast crowds that still come to squares to watch public executions in the Islamic Republic. These and other dark voluntary acts by at least large segments of the Iranian public are part and parcel of what still keeps the I.R. of Iran in power. Glorifying the public seems to be a universal disease of the progressive intellectual.

... Payvand News - 9/4/07 ... --

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