What Noble Cause?

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened -- we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It's a big disappointment."
-Safia Taleb al-Souhail, Iraq's ambassador to Egypt, Reuters interview, August 24, 2005

Iraq: The unseen war
The grim reality of Iraq rarely appears in the American press. This photo gallery reveals the war's horrible human toll.

Aug. 23, 2005 This is a war the Bush administration does not want Americans to see. From the beginning, the U.S. government has attempted to censor information about the Iraq war, prohibiting photographs of the coffins of U.S. troops returning home and refusing as a matter of policy to keep track of the number of Iraqis who have been killed. President Bush has yet to attend a single funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq...
- Salon.com

Who Will Say 'No More'?
...History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war that is draining the finest military in the world, diverting Guard and reserve forces that should be on the front line of homeland defense, shredding international alliances that prevailed in two world wars and the Cold War, accumulating staggering deficits, misdirecting revenue from education to rebuilding Iraqi buildings we've blown up, and weakening America's national security.

But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on?

The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken. The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began.

Who now has the courage to say this?
- Gary Hart, Washington Post

Dear Mr. President
...Mr. President, the United States Armed Forces should never be committed to wartime operations unless the following conditions are fulfilled:
  • That there be a clear statement by the President of why it is in our vital national interests to be engaged in hostilities;
  • Guidelines be established for the mission, including a clear exit strategy;
  • That there be support of the mission by the U.S. Congress and the American people; and
  • That it be made clear that U.S. Forces will be commanded only by U.S. officers whom we acknowledge are superior military leaders.
It is the opinion of The American Legion, which I am sure is shared by the majority of Americans, that three of the above listed conditions have not been met in the current joint operation with NATO ("Operation Allied Force'')...

Harold L. "Butch'' Miller,
National CommanderAmerican Legion
Letter to President Clinton
May 5, 1999
- Billmon


Sheehan & the Exploitation Charge

by SusanG
Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 11:40:13 PM EST

The shameless opportunist exploiting Casey is his own mother, Cindy Sheehan.

One of the oddest accusations to come out of the Sheehan phenomenon is that this mother is "exploiting" her son's death and her own grief. I've thought about this for a couple of days, and the illogic of this argument is not settling down. In fact, it's becoming more crazy-making the more I think about it.

The logic (if you can call it that) in this "exploitation" argument is thus: If a tragedy befalls an individual and the individual decides to devote every action of her being to ensuring no other human being suffers this same tragedy, she's ... exploiting? Huh?

By this analysis, Christopher Reeves was "exploiting" his injury by advocating for cures for spinal injuries. MADD members are "exploiting" the deaths of their children by pushing for stronger punishments and deterrents of drunk drivers. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is "exploiting" a sister's death by raising money for breast cancer research through its highly successful Race for the Cure series. And so on. You get the drift.

Conversely, it's always represented to me the height of maturity and courage to be able to take a private grief and turn it into something public, something bigger, something more heroic and true than a personal, massive sorrow. I know that I simply will not be able to survive the death of one of my children in any sort of shape that will allow me to become a spokesperson for a cause, no matter how righteous that cause is. As it is, I have trouble sustaining discipline and energy for something as straightforward as blogging a couple of times a week. If one of my kids goes, I assure you that I will crawl into a corner of the universe and emotionally die. You will not hear from me again; I know this well because for 16 years I've had a child living on the edge of this life-death deal with a congenital heart defect and numerous (mostly unsuccessful) surgical interventions. Sorry, I've looked into my soul and I cower in the dark of night. You won't find me as a poster woman for the American Heart Association any time soon. Just breathing will be considered a victory.

How many of us, if faced with the death of a child, would be able to muster the courage, grace and energy to make public appearances on behalf of other people's children? And how many of us could do so while being demonized relentlessly and our private lives examined in detail? Sheehan's words and acts are never going to bring her son back. She knows that. This is by no means a silly woman.

But my God, she's a heroic one. As surely every thinking parent on this planet knows, deep in their hearts.

"I find it ironic that some of these people scrutinize everything I said, but they don't scrutinize everything that George Bush has said," she said

She reopened debate about war, and, boy, is she hearing about it

and, from Camp Casey, there's no way you'll want to miss this exquisite piece, The President & The Minister

by ePluribus Media
Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 11:02:18 PM EST

Part Three in a Series of columns by Brian Keeler ePluribus Media


The Nature of Fear

Fear and anxiety are two of the oldest, most instinctual emotions we possess. Survival depends on both. One of the oldest structures in our brain is the amygdala:
Located in the brain’s medial temporal lobe, the almond-shaped amygdala (in Latin, corpus amygdaloideum) is believed to play a key role in the emotions. It forms part of the limbic system. In humans and other animals, it is linked to both fear responses and pleasure.
Fear overrides both reason and logic, which are two reasons why it is such a powerful tool. In the hands of a fanatic, this tool can be used to change the direction of entire governments. In the hands of a government, this tool can be used to change the direction of an entire people. In the hands of a people, this tool becomes the foundation of majority oppression. Today we see more fear in everything - from television to the economy to political campaigns.


So what is a person to do when society is so desensitized, cheap rubber masks and equally cheap campaign commercials no longer scare us? Simple: saturation.

9/11 was a turning point in our history, but not for the reasons we once believed. We are a people who no longer believe in no fear. This government and its supporters use this weapon, and not just a fear of terrorism, or death, but everything. We have promoted so much fear, so much distrust, so much hatred, it has become impossible to rely on reason or logic. Instead we maintain one, long stream of anxiety which permeates our lives to every extent the opposition can reach.


for the whole piece see
It Affects You: The Nature of Fear after first taking a look at The Third World Traveler's

Consent, American Style

Many cultural critics, such as Michael Parenti, Noam Chomsky, and Ben Bagdikian, have pointed out that in order for American power to carry out the atrocities it has perpetrated abroad, it needs to "manufacture" the consent of the American people. That is because America must at one and the same time carry out the appearance that it is the freest society in the world (true, to a degree, as Chomsky acknowledges) while tyrannizing much of the rest of the world. The democracy of the U.S. is managed, while the democracy of the rest of the world is deterred, as a host of militaristic and authoritarian national governments point to themselves as "allies" of our great nation. Opinion in our society must be carefully shaped and molded within certain careful boundaries: those who transgress those boundaries are libel to wind up "extremists," "ideologues," "fanatics," or "agitators." Now that dissidents in the U.S. can no longer be labelled 'fellow travellers' of the Moscow-run Commie conspiracy, the task has become more urgent. And how is it that consent, that most valuable of social products, is manufactured?