The fallen.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Four special forces soldiers were killed in the African nation of Niger earlier this month, and the Trump administration doesn’t want to talk about it. There’s been no discussion of what our policy is in Niger or more broadly in that region of Africa, no information on the circumstances of the men’s deaths, no nothing. It’s a bit reminiscent of the Yemen raid that went bad just a couple of weeks into Trump’s tenure, except that they HAD a story for that one and it turned out to be as bogus as a Linkletter million dollar bill.

Another thing the Niger incident echoes somewhat more dimly is the Benghazi attack back in 2012. You know, four dead Americans, questions about how much support they received from Washington, and so on. So I imagine Trey Gowdy will start holding hearings on this quite soon, right? (Trey? Are you out there, Trey?)

What they DON'T want to talk about.Okay, so, the thing MSNBC has latched onto is Trump’s call to one of the relatives of the lost soldiers in Niger and his comments surrounding presidential condolence calls in general. This seems like a red herring. The fact is, Trump radiates a sense of not caring about anything that happens to military people. This just points to what I’ve contended for some time now; that Trump is all of our worst tendencies balled up into a big, fat, greasy wad of nothing. He doesn’t care about lost soldiers in much the same way that most Americans don’t care – at least, not enough to step away from their televisions or to put their forks down. Sad, as Trump would tweet, but true.

Do Americans wonder why our military is operating in places like Niger, Chad, etc.? My guess is that they don’t, since both the government and the media are not taking a close look. One freelance journalist working in that region, Amanda Sperber, commented on Democracy Now! that she found it surprising that Americans weren’t aware of our presence in Niger; that we have, among other things, a drone base in that country. Why? Because we the people don’t make it our business to question these deployments. We don’t have to pay (at least, for the time being) and we don’t have to fight, so we essentially don’t give a fuck.

We will become a civilized people the moment we start treating our service personnel as if they were members of our immediate family. When we get to that point, maybe Trump will adjust his behavior … or, even better, be sent home.

luv u,

jp

Bodies count.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

Though you probably didn’t hear about it on the evening news or NPR, the group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (of which Physicians for Social Responsibility is a member) released a report on casualties of the so-called “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The toll is conservatively estimated at 1.3 million in total, with 1 million in Iraq killed as a result of our 2003 invasion. Anyone familiar with the figures breezily tossed around by the last two administrations might be surprised by this total. (I recall W. Bush casually offering 30,000, as if guessing the number of marbles in a jar.) Actually, the number is roughly in line with what the Iraq Study Group estimated in 2005-06.

This is what hegemony looks likeNo matter – this wasn’t worthy of comment, except on Democracy Now! That’s not surprising. We can’t acknowledge the magnitude of our own crimes, only those of our official enemies. Assad is an execrable mass murderer, right? Sure he is. But has he killed as many as we have over the past fifteen years? Not nearly. How about ISIS? Killer crackheads, to be sure. But pikers next to us. Absolute freaking amateurs. We have a long tradition of outdoing those we criticize. No one denounced the Russians for their invasion of Afghanistan more than we did; and yet here we are, 14 years into our own Afghan war, no end in sight. Noble mission vs. international crime. Curiously, the former has a higher body count.

This is nothing new. We’ve just passed the fiftieth anniversary of our invasion of South Vietnam – the arrival of the first contingent of combat units in the country. If they think about it at all, most Americans generally think the number of dead in the Vietnam war as being in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps – maybe 300,000. Given that millions were killed, millions more gravely wounded, this is akin to holocaust denial. Kind of sickening. It’s estimated that about 40,000 Vietnamese have died since the war due to unexploded ordinance alone – see this recent article in the Nation.

Unless we come to terms with this as a people, we will be condemned to repeat it. We already have, and we will again. But we don’t have to. It’s up to us.

luv u,

jp

What’s up with Doc.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Political Rants

As is typical for me, I’m going to roll through a couple of topics. Who knows where we’ll land, eh?

Haiti redux. Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned to Haiti last week, a fact treated as something of a curiosity by the mainstream media. Sure, they referenced the fact that he killed thousands during his 15-year tenure, picking up the club left by his departed “president for life” father (who was himself removed from office via the only constitutional means available to such a leader). But they didn’t examine the circumstances of Baby Doc’s arrival very deeply at all. All Things Considered did a piece on it Thursday night, and they basically navigated around any suggestion of political maneuvering. (They also managed to avoid mentioning the fact that Lavalas, the largest party in Haiti, was excluded from participating in the recent election.)

The most plausible explanation for his return was suggested by Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté on Democracy Now! this past Wednesday. With his return, pressure is being put on René Preval to allow the U.S./French – favored Duvalierist candidate to participate in the run-off for the now disputed Presidential race. Baby Doc is there to rally his supporters, in case Preval hasn’t been getting the message. In as much as there has been talk of sending Preval into exile, I have to think he’s feeling more than a bit pressed. Ives points out that, after having been supine before the demands of the U.S., France, and Canada, Preval is facing deportation over his first disagreement with the international community overlords he has so faithfully served. This is independence?

What’s just as sick is the fact that the 2004 coup, supported wholeheartedly by the United States and France, has been dropped into the memory hole as far as the mainstream media is concerned. The All Things Considered piece, for instance, simply said that Aristide left on an American plane in 2004. True… but hardly “all things considered”. The invented story about his choosing to go into exile has stuck. If these reporters and editors had any integrity, they would provide the crucial context that a.) the country is being ruled by those congenial to the 2004 coup, and b.) the only legitimate mass-based political party in Haiti is banned because it is not sufficiently subservient to the interests of the United States and its allies. Honestly…. if Baby Doc can come back to Haiti and Aristide cannot, there is a political reason for that.

Okay, that’s one topic. And that’s all I’ve got. In all honesty, this irks the hell out of me, so it’s just as well.

luv u,

jp