Archive for the ‘REMEMBER THE MAINE’ Tag




John Chuckman


The darkness to which I refer is something largely unanticipated in political studies and even in science fiction, a field which definitely enters this discussion, as readers will see. There have been many examples of national tyrannies and even stories of global autocracies, but the Hitler-Stalin-Mussolini type of tyranny is an antiquated model for advanced states despite its applying still to many third-world places. A unique set of circumstances now works towards a dystopian future in advanced states with no need for jackboots or brutal faces on posters.

Ironically, one of the key forces which brought Europe and North America over a few centuries to the kind of liberal democracies we know today is capable of delivering a new and unprecedented form of tyranny. That force is the body of interests of a nation’s middle class – the group of capable, ambitious, and rising people who were called a few centuries back by Europe’s landed old aristocracy “the new men.”

By “middle class,” I certainly do not mean what the average American Congressman encourages, in boiler-plate speeches, the average American to believe: that every family with steady work is middle class, all other classes having been eliminated from the American political lexicon. No, I mean the people of significant means – and, although not wealthy, of considerable talent and education – who hold as a group an important set of interests in society through their holdings and valued services. It was the gradual growth of this class of people over centuries of economic growth in Western societies that eventually made the position of monarchs and later aristocracies untenable: the middle class’s interests could no longer be represented by the old orders while their importance to burgeoning economies had become indispensable. They provided the indispensable force for what we now think of as democracy in their countless demands that their interests be represented.

But there is evidence, in America especially, that something altogether new is emerging in human affairs. The real middle class, at least a critical mass of it, has been folded into the interest of the modern elites, the relatively small number of people who own a great portion of all wealth just as they did in the 17th century, wealth today being generated by great global enterprises rather than the ownership of vast national estates. Great enterprises cannot be operated without much of the cream of the middle class: they serve in computer technology, finance, engineering, skilled management, the military officer class, and in intelligence. Their futures, interests, and prejudices have become locked-in with the interests of America’s corporate-military-intelligence establishment. They are indispensable to the establishment’s success, and they are accordingly rewarded in ways which bind their interests – health care, pension-type benefits, privileges, working conditions, opportunities for promotion, etc.

This marriage of interests between elites and the talented middle class effectively removes many of the best educated and most skilled people from being political opponents or becoming critics of the establishments for which they work. At the same time, America’s middle class in general – its small store owners, small factory owners, modest bankers, and even many professionals – has been under attack from economic competition in a globalized world for many years and has little to look forward to but more of the same. America’s legendary working class “middle class” – that brief postwar miracle of auto and steel workers and others who through unionized, unskilled labor earned long vacations, handsome pensions, home ownership, cars, and even small boats – has been battered beyond recognition, every year for decades seeing its real income fall and long-term having absolutely no prospects.

Despite the rise of a society much steeped in the illusions of advertising and marketing, most Americans likely still assume in their day-to-day affairs that their neighbors and business contacts do pretty much what they say they are doing, that while there may be an exaggeration or white lie here or there, most matters proceed according to understanding, laws, and ordinary civility. By and large for the present, they are still pretty much justified in their assumptions.

But when it comes to the level of the national government, and especially in matters of international affairs, these ordinary truths simply cease to hold, almost as though you had moved from the visible, work-a-day world to the quantum strangeness of the subatomic. Likely, it has always been the case to some degree, but the evidence mounts that we have entered a startling new reality, one which shares almost nothing with traditional civil society. America’s national government has become inured to lying and cheating the people whom it ostensibly serves, lying as consistently and thoroughly as would be the case with an occupying foreign power trying to keep a captive population pacified. Americans were lied to about Vietnam, lied to about Cambodia, lied to about the Gulf War, lied to about the invasion of Afghanistan, lied to about the invasion of Iraq, and lied to about a host of policies and interventions.

But we have reached a new level in these matters, a level where the extent of the misrepresentation almost severs the social contract between those governed and their government. America’s neo-con faction has had its agenda adopted over the last few decades, that of freely and happily using America’s great military and economic power to crush those abroad who disagree with America’s arbitrary pronouncements, creating a long crusade intended to re-order the affairs of others with no apologies to them and no honest explanation to America’s own people who pay the taxes and provide the lives of soldiers. While the neo-cons are a passing phenomenon, much as the Middle-eastern garrison state with which they are ferociously associated, the values and lessons they have successfully imparted will remain part of America’s ruling consciousness, serving yet other interests. A tool once successfully used is rarely abandoned.

Not only is there a quantitative difference now, there is a new qualitative difference. After the holocaust of Vietnam (3 million dead Vietnamese justify the term), the United States military realized that it could no longer depend upon citizen-soldiers in its colonial wars. It also realized that that it could no longer tolerate even a moderately free press nosing around its battlegrounds, thus was born the idea of an imbedded press in a professional army. Of course, in the intervening years, America’s press itself changed, becoming an intensely concentrated corporate industry whose editorial policies are invariably in lock-step over colonial wars and interventions and coups, almost as though it were an unofficial department of government. In addition, this corporatized press has abandoned traditional responsibilities of explaining even modestly world affairs, reportage resources having been slashed by merged corporate interests as well as by new economic pressures on advertising revenue, the result of changing technologies.

There is only one lens in America’s mainline journalistic kit, and that is one that filters everything through corporate American views, an automatic and invariable bias found in every image taken or written outside America’s borders. Now, some will say in response that a few newspapers like The New York Times or The Washington Post are exceptions here, but they couldn’t be more wrong. When a journalistic institution gains a reputation for thoroughness and detail in some of its operations, it becomes all the more able to powerfully leverage its reputation in matters which concern the establishment. If you examine the record of these newspapers for some decades, you will find absolutely without exception, their close support for every dirty war and intervention, as you will find their close support for the brutal, criminal behaviors of favored American satrapies like Israel. In a number of cases, CIA plants have worked directly for these papers as disinformation pipelines, but in all cases, reportage and editorial reflect nothing beyond what the publicity offices of the Pentagon and CIA would write themselves. It actually is a sign of how distorted American perceptions are that these papers are in any way regarded as independent, disinterested, or demonstrating consistent journalistic integrity.

The American political system at the national level makes these practices practicable. No one is genuinely responsible for anything in an open and direct fashion, secrecy is as much the norm in America as it is in any authoritarian government you care to mention, and money is the only governing principle in American politics. Openness or transparency simply does not exist, as one might expect it would, transparency being one of the hallmarks of responsible and democratic government. Without transparency, there can be no accounting for anything, and it is the sine qua non of democracy that politicians and officials be genuinely accountable to the electorate. Lastly, the things which tend to remain secret from the people today are far more likely to be pervasive, world-changing developments, far more so than in the past given powerful emerging technologies and the great concentration of power in American society. They are, in short, the very things citizens of a democracy should know about but don’t.

It has long been the case that dishonesty and secrecy have marked America’s foreign policy, as it invariably does with great imperial powers. After all, when Theodore Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst, and others decided in private to arrange a nasty little war with the declining Spanish Empire, one to become known as the Spanish-American War, they were hardly being honest with Americans. “Remember the Maine” was a cheap, dishonest slogan while America’s brutal behavior in Cuba and the Philippines (the first place waterboarding is known to have been used by Americans) were raw truths. So it has been time after time, so that the national government has learned that dishonesty and secrecy are successful and virtually never questioned.

During the long Cold War, America’s government became inured to these practices with its dozens of interventions and coups and long wars of terror like that waged against Cuba from Florida and New Orleans, a terror operation whose extent made bin Laden’s later mountain training place resemble a boy scout camp. Now, at least two new developments have now influenced these practices, with a third just beginning to make itself felt.  One, America, under the influence of the insider group called neo-cons, has pretty much given up pretence in its aggressive foreign policies: it has come to believe that it is able and entitled to arrange the world according to its arbitrary desires. Two, under the pretext of a war on terror, the United States government has transferred the hubris and arrogance of its foreign affairs into domestic government, no one having voted for a Stasi-like secret surveillance state, one moreover where even local authorities are endowed with armored cars, drones, and abusive powers. Three, technology is genuinely revolutionizing the nature of war, putting immense new power into the hands of elites – power which, unlike the hydrogen bomb, can actually be used readily – and nowhere is this occurring at a more rapid pace than in the United States.

The approaching reality is America’s being able to kill, highly accurately, on a large scale without using thermo-nuclear weapons and almost without using armies. With no need to recruit and support vast armies of soldiers, no need for mess halls and sanitation, no need for px’s and pensions, costs can be slashed, and there is even less need to explain what you are doing or to account for your decisions, and secrecy is promoted even more perfectly.

Today, we see the American government sending killer drones to multiple parts of the world, having already killed several thousand innocent people, with absolutely no accounting of victims or purpose, beyond flannel-mouthed stuff about getting bad guys. But even more dramatic killing machines requiring no soldiers are well along in development. A robot soldier, something resembling Dr. Who’s dreaded delaks with machine guns, already exists, with various advanced models under development equipped with every form of artificial recognition and various means of killing. Eventually, such robots will be delivered to places America wishes to secure, unfortunately without any care for the mistakes and horrors they may inflict on civilians, but America’s establishment does not care about that now as people from Fallujah or Hanoi could readily testify. A hypersonic robot plane or missile, able one day to deliver conventional explosives with precision to almost any spot on earth within an hour or two of launch is well along. Intelligent torpedoes and underwater drones are also well along. Robot tanks and ships are being developed. America’s mysterious space-plane vehicle, resembling a scale-model space shuttle, just having been tested with 500 days in orbit without any crew, has many potential uses for killing and control from space, including the launch of missiles from a position above any target, putting the reach of a fleet of them within minutes of any target on earth, a kind of early prototype Death Star if you will. We also have the advent of extremely powerful new lasers and electric rail-guns, both of which can be completely computerized in their operation. Advances in software, especially in areas like facial and voice-recognition, will enable completely automated targeting of victims almost at the press of a button.

One day, victims may well include troublesome Americans, not just unwanted foreigners. After all, the components for slipping into such a practice are virtually in place, and we know there are no qualms on the part of many of the people leading America today. In a secrecy state, people disappearing would rarely be noticed and never explained. The NSA’s unblinking surveillance on all American citizens would provide targeting information on demand.

We are not quite there yet, but in the close future, less than twenty years, the United States will operate under a military system not unlike the automated, radar-operated machine-gun towers Israel uses to pen in the people of Gaza, only it will do so on a planetary scale. Such immense power in the hands of a relatively few people anywhere and always would be a threat, but in the hands of America’s corporate-military-intelligence elites, people who already are not held accountable for what they do and feel virtually no need to explain, it is a looming threat to the peace, decency, and political integrity of the entire world.

I have no idea how the relentless march towards this brave new world can be stopped. Indeed, I am almost sure that it cannot. Americans in general no longer have anything which could be termed control over the acts of their government, and their role in elections is nothing more than a formal choice between two establishment-loyal candidates heading two parties that differ on virtually no vital matter. George Bush’s time in office proved something profound generally not recognized in the press: America does not now need a president beyond the Constitutional formalities of signing documents and making speeches. Bush was an utterly incompetent fool, but America’s national government never skipped a beat during his eight years, never skipped a beat, that is, in matters important to the establishment, which of course excludes matters like a disaster in New Orleans, concern for the welfare of the American people having long ago faded away as one for the national government.

After all, when you have lied to and manipulated a people for a very long time, how can a growing contempt for them be avoided? It cannot, in much the way a heartless conman fools an old widow into giving up her life savings. Besides, the more government focuses on the kind of matters America’s government focuses on, running for office and government service almost certainly increasingly attracts and rewards narcissists and sociopaths and repels those with broader public interests. The lack of concern and empathy becomes a self-regulated mechanism.

Barack Obama’s tenure has only demonstrated the point made by George Bush further. He has signed off on many new ways of killing people, many secret and disturbing policies, continued to wage Bush’s pointless wars, supported anti-democratic forces taking power in a number of place, including importantly Ukraine and Egypt, reinforced anti-democratic forces in many places like Bahrain, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and not lifted a finger over Israel’s decades-long suppression of democracy and fundamental rights for millions. Obama’s only claim even to helping his own people is a pathetic, costly, unworkable health-care program in which the establishment has absolutely no interest.

The argument that there is an underlying concern for humanity and for rights in the American government couldn’t be more wrong, even though those are themes in the blubbering speeches of a George Bush, a Barrack Obama, a Hillary Clinton, or a John Kerry. America’s deeds abroad are without exception now to control, whether through wars and coups and assassinations or through the cajoling and threats that go on behind the scenes at every single vote by any international body, such as the United Nations.

I do not believe the citizens of the United States any longer possess the capacity to avoid these dark prospects. They are being swept along by forces they mostly do not understand, and most are unwilling to give up on the comfortable almost-religious myths of enforceable Constitutional rights and a benevolent national government.  The world’s hope of avoiding global tyranny now lies in the rapid advance of nations such as China, Russia, India, and Brazil to counterbalance America. Europe, an obvious possible candidate to oppose America’s more dangerous and obtuse efforts, appears in recent decades to have fallen completely under America’s direction in so many areas where it once showed independence, an increasing number having been bribed or seduced or threatened to join NATO and unwilling to use the limited international agencies we have, such as the United Nations, to oppose America’s disturbing tendencies.


Posted April 14, 2014 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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Shouldn’t Laura Know the Words of the Song Before Getting Up to Sing?

John Chuckman

“In the U.S., if there’s a terrible report, people don’t riot and kill other people. And you can’t excuse what they did because of the mistake – you know, you can’t blame it all on Newsweek.”

Laura Bush at the start of her trip to prop up the world’s sagging opinion of America

What can you say about so uninformed a statement? Could it just be dishonest?

We all know the Newsweek story was not a rumor. The Koran was dunked in a toilet by American soldiers as an act of psychological torture against their poor captives. Captives, we might remind Laura, since rights are supposedly the point of her journey, held in cages with no legal rights and against the Geneva Accords.

“Freedom, especially freedom for women, is more than the absence of oppression. It’s the right to speak and vote and worship freely,” Laura told business and political leaders. Women’s rights she said had made “extraordinary progress” in the Middle East since the Taliban was suppressed. I doubt Laura was referring to uniformed American women photographed torturing Iraqi prisoners and having group sex with other Americans. They certainly set an interesting example of American women exercising freedom.

When you consider even a small part of the history Laura ignores, you’d have to say the Muslim world’s reaction to a nasty story was relatively calm by American standards.

How many hundreds of black Americans were lynched owing to rumor? A lot of them in Laura’s Texas, right into the 1930s. There were sensational cases in the 1920s – the most famous being in Laura’s neighboring state of Oklahoma, another in her brother-in-law Jeb Bush’s state of Florida – where an entire community of innocent black people was massacred and buried in mass graves after the mere rumor of a white woman’s rape.

It was as late as the 1950s that thousands of innocent Americans were persecuted, effectively stripped of many rights, and dismissed from their work on the basis of nothing but rumors of being Communists.

A mere rumor near the turn of the last century caused the United States to invade Cuba under the slogan, “Remember the Maine!” The Maine was an American warship which exploded in Havana harbor. Americans immediately assumed, and were encouraged to believe, that the ship had been attacked. Today we know almost to a certainty that the Maine blew up because of a faulty steam boiler system.

What about the invasion of Iraq? Just the rumor of non-existent weapons was enough to launch an invasion that slaughtered a 100,000 civilians and cost tens of billions of dollars. Laura’s dear hubby led the political baboons grunting that it must be so.

The Hate Wing of American Fundamentalist Preachers – presumably all welcome guests in Laura’s White House – enthusiastically promoted war following 9/11. The act of a few individuals were used to fire hatred against a billion people. Now, I’d call that reasonable and fair, wouldn’t you?

Today America shelters a known terrorist by the name of Luis Posada Carriles. This man blew up an airliner full of people in 1976. He worked at one time for the CIA in its ugly campaign of murder against Castro during the 1960s. God knows what other acts of terror he committed. Would he be welcome at Laura’s White House?

London’s Daily Telegraph, at the start of Laura’s mini-crusade, called her the President’s secret weapon, but I believe appreciation of her charms is limited to a stretch of odd country known as Middle America, the place where women are generally still expected to wear aprons and bake cookies. While there are no laws against women expressing independent views in America, look what happens when a prominent woman actually does so. Hillary Clinton is vilified, literally spewed with hatred and abuse, for daring to be independent and express her intelligence. The never-ending campaign against her is almost pathological.

Pretty much the same treatment was received by John Kerry’s foreign-born, outspoken wife when she was briefly in the spotlight during the last presidential campaign.

For any less famous woman with independent views, the odds are small anyone in the United States will publish or broadcast them and even smaller anyone with influence will listen to them. Anyway, the airwaves of America are such a cataract of subsidized right-wing hate that any little broadcast by a truly independent woman, or man, simply is lost in the ear-splitting roar.

Laura in attacking women’s rights in the Third World picks an extremely safe target, but what is she really doing with the timing and subject of her trip? Providing a cheap propaganda counterpoint to abusing prisoners and throwing the holy book of a billion people in the toilet.

Despite the sparkle in Laura’s eyes, the sheer abundance of what she doesn’t know, and her often foolish words reveal perceptions and attitudes almost as limited as those of her mother-in-law, who said in public not long ago,

“Why should we hear about body bags and deaths…? It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?” Barbara Bush


Featuring Michael Moore and “Fahrenheit 9/11”

John Chuckman

The controversy over Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” provides sharp insight into contemporary American liberalism. You might think from all the noise that something radical or revealing or important was happening.

But you would be wrong. The noise represents another example of what Robert Hughes called America’s “Culture of Complaint,” an endless bickering, never deciding anything but enjoyed purely for itself.

The film is at its heart a thoroughly conservative document, a fact which generally has gone unnoticed except in Robert Jensen’s acute review, “A Stupid White Movie.” Worse, it explains virtually nothing about events it claims to examine.

Michael Moore’s role is to make American liberals feel good about themselves without having to question the practices of a society which cast an increasingly long, cold, dark shadow over the planet. The job pays well, and Moore is becoming a wealthy man, a kind of well-kept court jester for those with occasional twinges of liberal conscience or human decency.

Moore likes to play the big, innocent kid from the heartland, a kind of latter-day Spanky McFarland, only much older, happily shuffling along with a beat-up baseball cap instead of beanie, keeping the faith with values absorbed in 1950s Flint, Michigan, but asking bright-eyed, impertinent questions about serious things. He’s America’s backyard Socrates in baggy pants and gym shoes.

The image appeals to the confused, clinging-to-childhood quality of American culture. Yet that very quality is what let the invasion of Iraq and so many other terrible events happen.

Moore, unlike straight-shooter Spanky, also displays a streak of the somewhat unpleasant practical joker or prankster. I do not mean the talent for funny lines that makes his books sell well, but a certain tendency to sly sniggering tricks, a certain Eddy Haskel or Candid Camera quality which overlays and sours the honest Spanky image. We see this clearly in the many stunts he uses, some quite clever, in movies or television to get filmed reactions from or about those who will not respond to him in a direct manner. These are the tricks of the process server or repo-man.

Moore’s film revels in exactly the kind of inconsistent thinking, full of unwarranted assumptions, thick with suggestions of undefined conspiracy, typical to one degree or another of most media in the United States. The thinking also is typical of a President who keeps telling us he decimated Iraq and spent a hundred billion dollars to save American lives.

Moore told the world some months back that he had found his presidential candidate in former General Wesley Clark. That announcement should have been a warning, because Clark is indistinguishable in his views from George Bush, and the general’s behavior in the former Yugoslavia was arrogant, provocative, and dangerous.

Moore simply wants to be rid of Bush, and he was ready to support an opportunistic and dangerous man like Wesley Clark to do it. Now, in his movie he has assembled a pastiche of attitudes, assumptions, and interesting, but largely unenlightening, film clips hoping to elicit enough of an emotional response to be rid of Bush.

Why does Moore, and I use him to represent all of liberal America, so want to be rid of Bush that he takes what I regard as the unprincipled position of supporting someone as bad or worse?

I do not believe it is because Bush represents a danger to American values, the favorite charge of many fuzzy-thinking American liberals, because in many ways Bush accurately reflects those values. I think they are desperate to be rid of Bush because he is an embarrassment. There is something excruciatingly American about Bush, revealing some painful truths about the society he represents, much the same as was the case with President Nixon’s brother and his efforts to create a fast-food empire based on Nixon-burgers or President Carter’s whining, beer-swilling brother, Billy.

Yes, Bush has done a lot of damage in the world, but Presidents can’t act alone. In Nixon’s last days of wandering the White House corridors late at night, a muttering ghost with a tumbler of Bourbon, the armed forces and others were alerted not to respond to orders that did not pass through the appropriate chain of command. And it is not just the cabinet that limits a President’s ability to act. It is the Congress and, more generally, the people of the country. The anti-war protests that engulfed America, once Vietnam was seen for the ugly fraud that it was, had no force of law but they very much influenced policy. The murderous fiasco of Iraq happened with the complicity of Congress, notably including Senator Kerry, and with the passive acceptance or indifference of most Americans.

The truth is that Bush is a fairly typical white, suburban, middle-aged American. He talks and thinks the way a great many Americans talk and think. He jogs and plays golf. He has a fondness for school-boy pranks, although less clever ones, similar to Michael Moore’s. He unquestioningly accepts America’s fairy-tale, official version of itself as God’s own chosen place on the planet with liberty and justice for all – something shared by Michael Moore and most flag-waving American liberals.

Bush’s personal redemption story is shared in tens of millions of American homes. When Americans aren’t experiencing redemption first-hand, they are consuming it from check-out-line magazines and talk shows. It’s a national obsession with its promise of being able to start life over representing another kind of clinging to childhood.

Bush has always enjoyed a comfortable life without any evidence of earning or meriting it, but that is what so many Americans dream of doing as they throw away money on state lotteries and at casinos. Americans love watching television families similar to Ozzie and Harriet in the 1950s where nothing real ever happened, just nice people floating in a timeless space. Many modern shows, like Seinfeld, are just hipper versions of the same thing.

Bush’s total lack of interest in serious books – there is no evidence he’s ever read one – genuine art, and new ideas is quite typical. The last President of the United States who took some interest in the arts or thinkers was Kennedy. Bush’s lack of interest in anything outside the United States – only altered as required in his role as President – and his Dagwood Bumsted behavior, right down to choking on a pretzel while watching football from a couch, put him at the very middle of middle America.

You may ask, we know Bush is a brutal, rather psychopathic man, so how can he be like so much of middle America? You see, middle America is not the harmless, gentle place it seems in Hollywood’s confections. It is the place where thirty-year old couples assume they are entitled to a five-bedroom home on a sprawling lot in the suburbs with at least two lumbering vehicles in the driveway. It is the place which ignores the ugly parts of its own society, the ghettos, the broken-down schools, the lack of healthcare. It is the place where the relentless demand for still more endangers the planet’s future. And it is the place that drives America to global empire.

Bush is not, as so many American liberals claim, out of step with American history. Childish slogans about taking back America or, even worse, “Dude, Where’s My Country?” are just that, childish. Bush is an awkward, unpleasant exemplar of enduring American behavior and values. Did the invasion of Iraq represent different values or attitudes than the “Remember the Maine” invasion of Cuba? How about the invasion of Mexico, or the seizure of Hawaii, or the holocaust in Vietnam and Cambodia? Does the Patriot Act represent anything different than the Alien and Sedition laws of John Adam’s day or the dark excesses of the FBI under Hoover?

Americans are always attracted, like Marlon Brando’s wonderful character in “On the Waterfront,” to what used to be called “class.” The movies of Hollywood’s golden era, from those with John Garfield to Humphrey Bogart, are filled with that word used in that way. Because the entire throbbing core of America is about making as much money as possible as quickly as possible in almost any way possible, afterwards, you are supposed to settle in for some show of class.

While the flavor of American culture has changed, especially in its complete abandonment of post-depression era sympathy for struggling little people, the desire to display something that is the equivalent of “class” in 1950 remains palpable. It’s there in everything from the names bestowed on car models and real-estate subdivisions to the look of popular American designers like Ralph Lauren or figures like Martha Stewart. Part of the problem with Bush, no matter how quintessentially American he is, is that he has no class. It’s unnerving to have an empire whose Caesar is laughed at by much of the world, all those funny-talking people out there in the world sniggering at the leader of God’s own chosen place.

I have a problem with all the liberal whining in America over professional soldiers being killed in Iraq, actually still a small number compared to the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed both in the war and in the decade-long run-up of brutally harsh American-imposed restrictions, and it is no different for Moore’s scene of a mother’s tears. No, I’m not talking about the poor mother herself whose loss is real, but about the calculation of Moore’s film in using the scene and about the very predictable result on American audiences. Pictures of a small number of flag-draped coffins appear to be almost the only thing fueling America’s limp antiwar movement.

When I see pleas about dead American soldiers I can’t help but think of all the tears shed at the Vietnam memorial for the relatively few who died helping in the work of bringing overwhelming destruction to another land, but there is never a tear shed for the millions of souls extinguished by America.

There is a scene in a much more moving documentary from the Vietnam War called “Hearts and Minds” in which a poor Vietnamese man bawls and screams over the limp limbs of his dead young child, one of countless innocents snuffed out by Americans flying too high ever to glimpse the horror they delivered. The film then cut to an interview with General Westmoreland sitting comfortably, pontificating about the way Asians didn’t regard life the same way Americans do. Propaganda, yes, but still shatteringly true and unforgettable.

Well, it was a fine film of its type, but it wasn’t destined to make its director a wealthy man. Americans just are not much interested in the suffering of others, especially it seems when they cause it. Although, in mitigation, it is fair to point out how little of the suffering they ever are permitted to see, the lack of imagination over what must happen when you drop thousands of tons of high explosives and flesh-ripping shrapnel is still appalling.

But even if you do not feel the same way I do, and you were moved by the mother’s tears in the last part of the movie, be very careful how you vote to get rid of Bush. Kerry has never so much as condemned the war. He has never condemned Bush, except by repeating official-report findings all thinking people on the planet understood a year before the official report. Kerry’s view of the Middle East, frantic pandering to Israel’s darkest interests, promises no end to future troubles. He is an unrepentant, unimaginative supporter of global empire.

That brings us to the real tragedy of America and the real cause of 9/11 and so many other horrors: America’s swaggering readiness to play the game of global empire with all the brutality and incivility that it implies. You tell me how a confused film like Moore’s, even if it contributes to toppling a confused President like Bush, adds anything to resolving America’s great dilemma of insatiable greed and willingness to do terrible deeds while mouthing high-sounding ideals.

Posted June 1, 2009 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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