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Archive for March, 2008

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BlogswarmThere was a popular Bryan Adams song, “Everything I Do, I Do It For You.” I think I was in 4th grade the first time I heard it. It made me want to find a girl like that, someone I’d do anything for. That was where bliss lived.

Though we’re shielded from realizing it, that sort of mentality is what makes us Americans dangerous.  If I’d do anything for the person I love, who wouldn’t I harm to ensure her happiness?

I always ridiculed the “you complete me” crowd. Then a woman put me back together, and I promptly closed my mouth. I find myself saying stuff like that to her all the time now, and thinking it far more often than I say it. Just this morning I caught myself typing, “You are my everything,” in an email to my partner. I backspaced out of those corny words, but never their sentiment.

The human social order breaks down in a time of crisis. When people care too much about themselves and those close to them, inevitably, resource wars will follow. This is how the world will end, someday. If we don’t nuke each other off the planet, we’ll die fighting each other for the last scraps of life as the planet purges us.

Resource wars—“hot conflicts triggered by the struggle to grab valuable resources”—can be global, as is the race for oil, or local, as in the case of a hurricane ravaged town short on food and supplies.

Who wouldn’t you kill, if they refused to share their resources with you? If there was no food, who wouldn’t you steal it from to feed your family? Who wouldn’t you tell to piss off, if they were starving and begging for your generosity?

We imagine resource wars as humanity’s last resort. But already these conflicts have begun, albeit in an inversed format, waged not by the have-nots but by us, the haves. We wage them not for our survival, but because we can’t live without the things we want. That’s what makes our resource war in Iraq unlike the ones penciled in for “Armageddon.” Right now the world has too many people and not enough resources to satisfy all of them. There could be enough, of course, if the West would stop craving more than it needs. But why should we? What’s ours is ours! And what isn’t ours, we’ll acquire fair and square, through hard work and discipline and war.

Affluenza

The nightmare of capitalism is being unable to supply products that others demand to purchase. We, the consumers, want more and more and more; and as long as we’re willing to pay for it, merchants will provide it; because they too want things they don’t need. As consumer demand rises, the needs of these corporate suppliers increase as well. So the really powerful men in the NW hemisphere send their less powerful minions to do their killing, because with fewer human beings comes a smaller strain on resources. And from our vantage point, this killing manifests itself in conveniently tame ways—as gas prices dropping, or as the dollar rebounding.

Meanwhile, across the universe, an Iraqi woman waits at a bomb site. Her husband worked there, and didn’t come home today. Now she stands at the edge of the seething acre of debris, from which they’re recovering pieces of bodies, charred and melted together. The woman can’t face the corpses. She looks instead at pictures of their teeth. Hunched over these images of dead souls, eventually she recognizes the one she shared her life with, the one man she would have done anything for.

Imagine: the body you held last night while drifting to sleep, bulldozed away with the rest of the rubble in tiny specks of burnt flesh? Would you even want to recognize the face that presses itself yours in love, as it melted off of a decapitated skull in the name of someone else’s love, and dribbled back into the spongy soils of the earth?

If you had to bury that face, how might you feel about your foreign enemies, villains from another world who have the luxury of bitching about gas prices and mortgage rates and baseball players on steroids?

We hate that there is suffering, so we push the suffering outside ourselves. Gosh, that’s terrible, but what can we do? Anguish is easier to bear when we remove it from the burner, place it off our radar, beyond our control. We look at the suffering that happens now, and it may as well be 1944; old, historical movies of past wars, horrifying events that happened long ago and can’t be changed now.

The pundits remind us that “the economy has now surpassed the war in Iraq as the number one issue to American voters.” But do we think these two issues are divorced? We may pay lip service to the idea that it’s inhumane to fight wars for oil, but anyone can say that. We don’t want to spend more money on gas. We don’t want to drive our cars less often, or ride our bikes to work. We don’t want to inconvenience ourselves, to overcomplicate our lives by underspending. No matter how many strangers’ lives might be saved, we don’t want to change anything at all about how we live, because, for all our whining about the war, We Don’t really give a fuck about strangers, do we?

Please, somebody else make the sacrifice. Don’t be so corrupt, Mr. Politician; don’t be so spoiled & greedy, Mr. Business Man; don’t be so dishonest, Mr. O’Reilly. It’s up to everyone else to change, not us. But who pays for this system, who keeps it running, who makes it work? We do. We want, we want, we want; and we take, take, take, take. And Corporate America gives it to us—with their hard work and their discipline and, oh yes, they even have decency to shield us from the implications, the realities of what we’re taking, and from whom?

Sorry strangers, I can’t “be the change” this year. Nor am I required yet to sacrifice, that will come later. For now, there is a girl, and I will do everything for her. So Die for me, Mr. Iraqi—I can’t afford the diamond ring if you’re alive.

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Foreign Policy March/April 2008

I support our troops, as do many Americans. You can tell as much from their “Support Our Troops” ribbons, stuck to the backs of many of our cars. In addition to this kindhearted gesture, which is of limited use to the troops during battle, it might be helpful to actually listen to what the soldiers themselves have to say.

It is in that spirit that I direct you to this study. Foreign Policy magazine conducted a study of 3,400 high-ranking officers in the U.S. military. (more…)

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pot kettle black 2I was reminded of the above H.G. Wells quote after reading the comments to Sparticus’s post, “Oh Eliot, How Could You?” The Eliot Spitzer scandal draws a clear line between free-thinking dissenters and the “Proud to be a Democrat” variety. The latter accept uncritically that, but of course, we must all show how thoroughly outraged we are at Spitzer’s hypocrisy—as if omitting that disclaimer implies that we, too, cheat on our spouses with hookers and gigolos.

But what if instead we refused to treat this scandal as newsworthy? (more…)

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Cross-posted at Jonestown:

tiptoeThere appears to be this edgy sense of tiptoeing around on the part of Obama’s “rainbow people” and the inwardly frantic disciples of the Clinton Dynasty. Each camp is desperate for unflattering sound bites about the other, but not the kind so devastating that voters will remember them in November. While both sides continue to fire shots, but it’s getting to where they’re only aiming to wound. not kill.

The Billary fan club seems increasingly stiff and confused these days, as does Billary him/herself. (more…)

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Superman 2

While covering the presidential horse race, CNN and other mainstream news outlets keeps showing “delegate counts” without explaining their significance, as if there’s no real distinction between “superdelegates” and the apparently not-so-super ones.

But there is a distinction, an important one. Regular delegates, or “pledged” delegates, correspond to actual votes. Superdelegate votes reflect the arbitrary whims and fancies of powerful individuals. (more…)

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