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Posted by skalie on 05-08-2003 09:23 PM:

Post war rants....

Didn't really know where to post this one, but it kind of summed the post-coitus-after-war-having-a-fag feeling for me.

My Country: The World

As a patriot, contemplating the dead GIs, should I comfort myself (as, understandably, their families do) with the thought: "They died for their country." If so, I would be lying to myself.


By Howard Zinn

05/08/03: (Tompaine.com) Our government has declared a military victory in Iraq. As a patriot, I will not celebrate. I will mourn the dead -- the American GIs, and also the Iraqi dead, of which there have been many, many more.

I will mourn the Iraqi children, not just those who are dead, but those who have been blinded, crippled, disfigured, or traumatized, like the bombed children of Afghanistan who, as reported by American visitors, lost their power of speech. The American media has not given us a full picture of the human suffering caused by our bombing; for that, we need to read the foreign press.

We will get precise figures for the American dead, but not for the Iraqis. Recall Colin Powell after the first Gulf War, when he reported the "small" number of U.S. dead, and when asked about the Iraqi dead, Powell replied: "That is really not a matter I am terribly interested in."

As a patriot, contemplating the dead GIs, should I comfort myself (as, understandably, their families do) with the thought: "They died for their country." If so, I would be lying to myself. Those who die in this war will not die for their country. They will die for their government. They will die for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And yes, they will die for the greed of the oil cartels, for the expansion of the American empire, for the political ambitions of the President. They will die to cover up the theft of the nation's wealth to pay for the machines of death.

The distinction between dying for our country and dying for your government is crucial in understanding what I believe to be the definition of patriotism in a democracy.

According to the Declaration of Independence -- the fundamental document of democracy -- governments are artificial creations, established by the people, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed", and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Furthermore, as the Declaration says, "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."

When a government recklessly expends the lives of its young for crass motives of profit and power, always claiming that its motives are pure and moral ("Operation Just Cause" was the invasion of Panama and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in the present instance) it is violating its promise to the country. It is the country that is primary -- the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty. War is almost always a breaking of those promises (although one might find rare instances of true self defense). It does not enable the pursuit of happiness, but brings despair and grief.



Tom Paine said: "My country is the world. My countrymen are mankind."



With the war in Iraq won, shall we revel in American military power and, against the history of modern empires, insist that the American empire will be beneficent?

The American record does not justify confidence in its boast that it will bring democracy to Iraq. Should Americans welcome the expansion of the nation's power, with the anger this has generated among so many people in the world? Should we welcome the huge growth of the military budget at the expense of health, education, the needs of children, one-fifth of whom grow up in poverty?

I suggest that a patriotic American who cares for his country might act on behalf of a different vision. Instead of being feared for our military prowess, we should want to be respected for our dedication to human rights.

Should we not begin to redefine patriotism? We need to expand it beyond that narrow nationalism which has caused so much death and suffering. If national boundaries should not be obstacles to trade -- we call it globalization -- should they also not be obstacles to compassion and generosity?

Should we not begin to consider all children, everywhere, as our own? In that case, war, which in our time is always an assault on children, would be unacceptable as a solution to the problems of the world. Human ingenuity would have to search for other ways.

Tom Paine used the word "patriot" to describe the rebels resisting imperial rule. He also enlarged the idea of patriotism when he said: "My country is the world. My countrymen are mankind."


Posted by mudded on 05-08-2003 09:31 PM:

It is unapologetically one-sided.

But I share most of the sentiments in that piece.
good read Skalie... thanks


Posted by Feral Automaton on 05-08-2003 10:20 PM:

We called the invasion of afghanistan 'operation infinite justice' for two days before changing its name to something a bit less fanatical.

In the aftermath, we count some 4,000 afghani civilians dead - people whom had no connection to the sept 11th attacks - and we call our actions just?

'Infinitely just', at that.

We fancy ourselves the judges of all those who walk the earth yet fail to take responsibility for our own injustices.

We are, in fact, the Jolly Green Giant and we do, in fact, pack some pretty heavy firepower and we will, without doubt, have it our way, right away.


Posted by Mugtoe on 05-08-2003 11:03 PM:

The fact that the folks we were after are almost indistinguishable from the folks who were hostin em makes that figure of 4000 seem fairly laudable to me for the takeover of a country. I don't feel the need to account to those folks any more than I think we should account to the innocent civilians killed in Germany, which was a far higher number. That country had less capability to bring destruction to our shores than Iraq had, and we killed a lot more innocents there in the process of prevailin over em in the west. I'm readin a book this afternoon describin the battle of Franklin where more people than that were killed in an afternoon.


klaatu birada nikto

__________________

quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
The brotherhood of melon loving will save us all, I am sure of it.


Posted by Feral Automaton on 05-08-2003 11:38 PM:

So the past only counts when it works to dismiss the present, right?

Not so, for instance, like when I use it to illuminate the current policies of our government, though?

Dresden alone is a fucking nightmare, but it doesn't excuse another slaughter just because it was so fucking huge.

And if we couldn't distinguish between civilians and terrorists than maybe we should've used an alternate tactic, no? Isn't that what Zinn is pointing out with his whole children killing bit?


Posted by Mugtoe on 05-09-2003 12:32 PM:

Not at all. I'm saying that 4000 civilian deaths (and I'm taking your figure at face value - I'm sure that statistic fluctuates wildly in either direction) for the takeover of a country is an amazingly small number, and we are likely the only country that would even concern itself about such things in such a situation. I'm sure the Chinese didn't think about that in Tibet, and they have no desire to leave it.

__________________

quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
The brotherhood of melon loving will save us all, I am sure of it.


Posted by Smug Git on 05-09-2003 01:11 PM:

quote:
Originally posted by Mugtoe
Not at all. I'm saying that 4000 civilian deaths (and I'm taking your figure at face value - I'm sure that statistic fluctuates wildly in either direction) for the takeover of a country is an amazingly small number...


It wasn't the takeover of a country, though (operation 'Infinite 24 hour news' in Afghanistan). It is still a small number, but it was much more limited than the take-over of a country. It isn't even much like a country, in some respects. What China did in Tibet was to impose its own rule and political system on a nation by force, and that would be bloody even if the Chinese had cared about how many people they killed (which they don't generally appear to, taking the attitude that there are plenty of people to go round).

Iraq, however, is a take-over of a country and that will be more interesting as a military exercise (although what Afghanistan turns out to be like will also be of great interest; it would be a great shame if the high-falutin words of our leaders were forgotten just because we have a new toy). Stage one (mass military operations are over) and what happens now is fascinating from a sort of historical viepoint (probably less 'fascinating' for the people who have to live through it).
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Posted by Goatboy on 05-09-2003 01:16 PM:

They will die for their government. They will die for Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld

Its a bit niave I think for any soldier to believe otherwise. Why the outrage?

But sure, I too like the sentiments in the post, especially in regards to the one sided news journalism in the US for the period (though of course, a couple of news stations here in Spain were guily of the other side of the coin).

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Posted by Smug Git on 05-09-2003 01:18 PM:

And it seems to me that Feral's main point is that the action against the Taliban was predicated on retaliation for the attacks of 11/9/2001 on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon and that innocent Afghanis who died as a result are attributable to that retaliation. A very strong case can be made for justification, but 4000 dead people in the WTC appeared to send parts of the US population into hysterical and vengeful grief and so those people at least ought to be able to understand the significance of that number of deaths. Some poor peasant trying to survive what is already a hard life, having nothing to do with the reason that the West are after the taliban, getting bombed from the sky (and the potential hardship and anguish to his family) is as tragic as some office worker going into work in the WTC and getting murdered by a group of Islamic fundamentalists. I don't see how that can't be the case.

__________________

I want to live and I want to love
I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of


Posted by Aydin on 05-09-2003 03:01 PM:

quote:
Originally posted by Mugtoe
...Germany, which was a far higher number. That country had less capability to bring destruction to our shores than Iraq had, ...

Just had to quibble with this one point. Where were the Iraqi submarines just outside NY harbor, or off the Florida beaches?


Posted by Mugtoe on 05-09-2003 03:33 PM:

No, and I don't argue the point in that sense. But the alleged capability to deliver much greater destruction and the willingness to do so on the part of Iraq without a declaration of war on their side was more what I was thinkin of. I realize that those are points of debate in themselves as well.

__________________

quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
The brotherhood of melon loving will save us all, I am sure of it.


Posted by Mugtoe on 05-09-2003 03:34 PM:

I actually think one got up into the Mississippi River as well. There was a lot of interesting stuff that happened in that war.

__________________

quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
The brotherhood of melon loving will save us all, I am sure of it.


Posted by skalie on 05-09-2003 03:46 PM:

quote:
Originally posted by Mugtoe
No, and I don't argue the point in that sense. But the alleged capability to deliver much greater destruction and the willingness to do so on the part of Iraq without a declaration of war on their side was more what I was thinkin of. I realize that those are points of debate in themselves as well.


Er, don't you mean North Korea?


Posted by 3MTA3 on 05-13-2003 02:59 AM:

Oh God...I cant even read that knowing it was written by Zinn...hes the ugly half brother of Noam Chomsky...and they are both absolute retards with little to say thats truly interesting...

Lemme guess...he said that the Iraq War was just more of white America killing the browskins...more capitalist exploitation crushing out the 'happy good vibe' of whatever system it stands next to and truckloads of bullshit being piled on the 'people', right??

That guy is such a socialist wanker...his 'Peoples History' literally made me ill...revisionism is such crap.

Poop.

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pennis in the sluts machine


Posted by Smug Git on 05-13-2003 08:23 AM:

Whether you agree with him or not, Noam Chomsky is anything but a retard. He is exceptionally clever. Doesn't make him right, but he isn't stupid at all.

__________________

I want to live and I want to love
I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of


Posted by euphorbia on 05-13-2003 08:42 AM:

quote:
Originally posted by Smug Git
He is exceptionally clever. Doesn't make him right, but he isn't stupid at all.


clever as in creative maybe...I would argue someone who isnt right a lot of the time isnt very smart.
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taste the fucking rainbow & dont touch my junk.


Posted by 3MTA3 on 05-13-2003 10:08 AM:

Chomsky has mastered a writing style that is something I can only describe as watered-down-propaganda...he wont come right out and say 'capitalist pig dogs', so he runs around in circles harping about exploitation and carefully picking his points...its highminded idealistic rhetoric and its too far left for me to take it seriously...just as anything by Coultier is too far right for me to do the same...they both use their catchwords, pepper their writing with premanufactured sound bites...its just garbage. I sometimes think people only read him because they think it makes them seem smarter to the other people they mention his books to...

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pennis in the sluts machine


Posted by Smug Git on 05-13-2003 10:57 AM:

quote:
Originally posted by euphorbia
clever as in creative maybe...I would argue someone who isnt right a lot of the time isnt very smart.


Well, a lot of other people do think that he is right, so they might say the same things about us. In interviews he is exceptionally clever, with very well-thought out answers. The points of disagreement are with his premises, but in general I think that he constructs a good argument from the premises that he has. As far as his premises are concerned (role of government, 'human rights', that sort of stuff), he has every right to believe them; I don't think that my underlying premises are so sound that I can pour scorn on his, although I do disagree with them. He also uses emotional arguments too often (although not as often as the run of the mill political commentators/analysts, but he should know better than that); the seedy trick, used by the majority of political speakers (including me, I would say) is to resort to emotional string-tugging rather than logical debate, because emotional heart-tugging has more effect.

He might be like Coulter in the sense that he is politically extreme (by domestic US standards, that is), but Coulter isn't really a good comparison because she is a polemicist of no enormous wit; there will surely be right wing thinkers of considerable intellectual achievement with which to more adequately compare Chomsky.

If there was more reasoned and explained beliefs like those of Chomsky on the left, that would increase my respect for them; agree or not, I admire his ability to construct an argument. Of course, it is far easier to admire the ability of someone of broadly opposing views to construct an argument than it is to do the same for someone of similar views to yourself.

If debate was done around the predicates for a direction of argument and then the consequences of that, that would be enormously more constructive than arguing emotively about it, which is the route that both our governments and their oppositions prefer to take. Because, I guess, it works; people are often more impressed by the emotive arguments rather than the logical ones. Which makes sense, in that emotions stir us up and logic is just a way of getting a good answer (ideally, at least).
__________________

I want to live and I want to love
I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of


Posted by Indigo on 05-17-2003 08:55 AM:

Chomsky had a lot of interesting and original ideas that have become cliched and staid. He's very bright, and has inspired a lot of people, but he's past his peak. It's intriguing to me that the reason that his ideas have become cliched is precisely because he did influence a lot of people and they repeated his arguments over and over. But his arguments really haven't developed much. And, I do think that his writing has become increasingly propagandistic over the years. Part of that is probably with time, though, and the view of things from inside the Cold War vs. post cold war.

Smug's right, I think, that it's because the premises are flawed. Interesting though. Any 14 year old with any brains picks up chomsky--(or just young enough to find the ideas new and exciting)--and they'll walk away saying, yes, yes that is the way that the world is--no doubt, no doubt, and this man is a genious.

but Smug, his more recent work has been shit, shit, shit. increasingly ranting.

anyway, just avoid the ad hominems. Always a safe row to hoe.


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