News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: "The Politics of Atrocity"

Friday, December 15, 2006

"The Politics of Atrocity"

In a recent posting, former defense intelligence Col. Pat Lang (ret'd) responds to an analysis by Alexander Cockburn of the social chaos that is tearing Iraq apart. Cockburn documents the lack of concern inside the US for the suffering and pain that has resulted from the Bush preemptive war on what the President calls "terror."

Lang suggests that whatever the US does, Iraq will never recover its cohesion again and will instead descend into a hell that will devastate and ruin even more than it has now. According to Lang, Iraq has become a nexus of criminality and bestiality where, he says, the normal operating procedure is "the politics of atrocity." …

Lang writes:

We are going to go all the way down, down down.... All the way down to whatever circle is reserved for the ignorant, proud and presumptuous.

And the Iraqis, whomever they are? They are going to go with us although perhaps to a different circle. Their's may be one reserved for the bloody minded who can't see their neighbors as other than mortar targets.
Bolstering Lang's claims is the Lancet report. Based on sophisticated statistical survey models, this report estimates that between 300-650,000 Iraqis died after the US invasion in rates higher than would have during less violent times.

In Congress’ December session, Representative Dennis Kucinich held a hearing on the Lancet report. That hearing and the report's conclusion did not find their way into the mainstream press. Much like Pres. Bush did when he responded to a question by a reporter on the report's findings, the MSM has turned a blind eye to the report and its necrotic statistics.

For Bush, only 30,000 or so Iraqis have died since the US invasion. Either the President is lying or he is woefully unable to grasp such large numbers. The latter possibility would enhance Bush's image as intellectually challenged. (Does he use that bumpkin image for political advantage, maybe as a way of impugning such "intellectual" studies.

That is, striking that bumpkin pose he can speak to the common man in a way that communicates to him that any results of eggheads are not serious enough for discussion, since it's obvious that they are politically motivated anyway.

Perhaps a better insight into the President's spiritual state vis a vis the war is his recent statement that he sleeps well at night. I am not sure that he should have said this, even if it's true. Maybe he doesn't lose sleep over the deaths of 30,000 dead Iraqis. But it does seem callous not to lose sleep over the deaths of American soldiers.

This indifference to human suffering seems endemic to those who know the reins of power. Rupert Murdoch recently said that only 3,000 US soldiers had given their lives so far in this war. From the view of this man who knows and understands more about the workings of human nature and its world, these are small potatoes. More people have died in other wars, so the expenditure here in this war is minuscule and bearable—no doubt from a profit/loss analysis.

These men with big visions—who see the world from that God-view I’ve discussed before—understand that little men think about such matters. Anything of great import requires sacrifice and suffering. Those who question this wisdom just don't have that vision or the will to dream those great plans and fight for them.

Such themes are immortalized by Dostoevsky's novels and short stories. More disturbing, though, to those in positions to worry about America's soul is that such comments might represent a situation of one so alienated from the ideas that inform these views that such thoughts are meaningless.

The aspirations to greatness seem typically American, informed as it by the Renaissance republican humanist ideals. But what makes the recent imperial plans of the Bush admin and the neoconservative policymakers different from Renaissance ideals is a limiting factor that Machiavelli accepted as paramount.

This limiting factor says that all actions must not just benefit a few but the whole community. The economic abuses of this war have yet to be comprehensively documented, but there are already signs that members of the ruling class have benefited financially from this war.

Of course, for Machiavelli financial gain is not the only factor that determines political corruption. Anything that unfairly benefits one part of society over another and makes the one dependent on another is inherently corrupt and corrupting.

Selfish actions—including those that involve political and social or cultural status—are included. In contemporary American politics, the economic benefits of this war are counter-balanced by the grasping for unlimited political power by the executive branch. Also, the social and cultural battles over who determines the communal ethos show that politicians hope to use war as a pretext for gaining a hegemony of ideals defining who and what this country means.

One thing that's becoming apparent from this war is that America might have to begin defining social interest to mean more than the boundaries of the nation-state. Instead, the US political ideology must start understanding itself in international terms that do not simply give lip service to human aspirations or an intellectually barren notion of democracy.

This expanded consciousness would not only see its own suffering as worthy of concern but also the suffering of others upon whom it visits immense social chaos and human misery.

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1 comment:

Brad Eleven said...

"One thing that's becoming apparent from this war is that America might have to begin defining social interest to mean more than the boundaries of the nation-state."

Ay, yi, yi. I'd thought that I wouldn't see enclaves with virtual boundaries replace nations with geographical boundaries in my own lifetime. Oh, well--that's what we get for allowing 2% to make decisions for all of us.

I think I can find at least three more fringes to exist on, though. I don't care what they threaten me with, from embarrassment to death: I ain't joinin' in to sing their song. Ever.