Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can't we all just get along? :: Foreign Policy and the Environment :: Intro/Part I

Since the environment is the one thing I have been passionate about almost my entire life, I'm going to continue writing in this vein for a while. Dare I say I am more passionate about the environment (and the future of humanity and the critters and flowers) than I am about tango?

Anyway, here goes with my latest thoughts....

As the United States continues down its path of asshole capitalist saber rattling in the world order, I'm struck by how much more often it is about money, dollars, dinero, making a profit, perhaps with a bit of power and ego thrown in and not necessarily about doing the right thing. Nor doing the thing right.

We often hear in the media (from the mouths of our leaders) the words "protect American/U.S. interests". War is business. It's the business of protecting business. It's the business of protecting cash flow, resource flow, the redistribution of wealth to the wealthy in America. War is a business in and of itself. There is money to be made - bullets and bombs. Our current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in response to 9/11, the "War on Terror" - is like CocaCola laced with cocaine. Addict the people to fear, the fear of terrorism, and you have a product in "War" that people will be willing to spend money on for years and years into the future. Forget the short skirmish, the two or four year or ten year war, we're talking decades of war here.

That is, unless we, the people, grow some balls and say enough is enough. This is not what we want to do. "This is not who we want to be. This is not how I want my tax dollars to be spent."

War is most often waged under the guise of democracy. Spreading democracy. Democracy by force, at the business end of an M1-A1 Abrams tank or an AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for real, true, bona fide democracy. I'm all for an ass-kicking nuclear powered military. I'm all for superior air power and superior weaponry. I'm all for going in and kicking some really bad dude's ass - as a last resort - and with the blessing of the people of the country in question. And with the blessing of the people of THIS country.

I'm struck with the thought, however, that democracy springs forth spontaneously, from within the people, from within the collective. That's how it started here in America, right? Democracy is not a product to be plopped down on foreign soil. You can't shoehorn it into a society that is based on something entirely different. How can you take thousands of years of tribal existence and expect to just erase it and replace it with democracy? Like I've said before, we are stupid.

So while the upside/profit goes to private individuals (investors and stakeholders), the downside/losses/mess/cleanup/liabilities go to the American people/taxpayers. The latest is the $40 million dollar super-prison in the middle of the desert in Iraq that is sitting idle/empty and will likely have to be bulldozed because of shoddy construction. Don't even get me started on the $100 million in bricks of $100 dollar bills - pallets and pallets of shrink wrapped cash that went missing in Iraq. "Hey what about that $100 million stored in the warehouse!? Has anyone checked on that lately?" Don't even get me started.

Sure there can be the upside of a job well done - a people and a country who are happier and safer and more productive and better off - because of U.S. military (or civil) involvement. Can anyone name the last time this happened? Germany and Japan and most of Europe after World War II? I'm not up on my American military and foreign policy history, but in my lifetime, it's been debacle after debacle.

Does anyone remember that we armed and trained the rebel dudes in Afghanistan during the Russian occupation of that country? The rebel dudes (mujahideen aka al Qaeda) that we are now paying to put down with lives and blood and cash. Our cash. Your cash. The lives and blood of our loved ones. For what? Democracy? In your dreams.

We are being Enron'd by our own government. Enron'd by the special business interests with the blessing and aid of our own government. The American people are seen as a big cash cow - an unlimited ever flowing fountain of tax dollars. The largest cash cow ever. Keep the money flowing while everyone is too busy with "life" to notice that we are screwing them. Too busy trying to make a buck and figure out how to put Johnny and Amy in college. Too busy trying to make a buck and figure out how to afford $4/gallon gas. Too busy trying to make a buck and figure out if you should walk away from your $400k mortgage on a $300k house. Too busy trying to make a buck and figure out what the fuck happened to the "American Dream". The problem is we all are/were dreaming. The capitalist induced dream of more, bigger, faster, cooler, better off this year than I was last year.

So, I got sidetracked in my intro as usual. Sidetracked into war and Iraq and Afghanistan. But that's why you guys love me right? My obtuse/obscure tangents are hopefully not entirely a waste.

I wanted to lay some pertinent ground work for where I will be going with this thread. What if? What if we were to actually walk the walk and talk the talk on what America and democracy and the American way is "supposed" to be. What if we were truly using our resources and efforts to re-build Iraq after Saddam? Schools, universities and jobs and training for the men. Water and power (oops!) projects. Infrastructure. Agriculture. An economy that fits the Middle Eastern tribal/Islamic model. Sure we should "ever so gently" try to influence the way they think about and treat women there, but not at point of a gun. We should deal with all things counter to basic human rights - always. But what if we were actually doing it right? Doing it peacefully with the citizenry and leaders and letting the military deal with the bad guys. My hat's off to our soldiers and their leaders. They have a tough job there. What exactly is their job there? I forget.

If they had a life, if they had a future, a roof over their heads, a job to go to, something to look forward to, they wouldn't be wanting to kill the dudes occupying their country.

The thing is, we are all going to have to start getting along.

But first, we have to make our government and leadership accountable. Accountable to we the people.

"True patriots must be willing to defend their country against their government..." [Attributed to author Edward Abbey]

1 comment:

Johanna said...

What???!!! Tango is NOT your greatest passion??!!!

All kidding aside, I've been fretting about the status quo of our country for almost a decade. But I think it's a combination of a lack of education (or interest in being educated) and having had it so good for so long that our citizens have become complacent and "allowed" stuff to get where it is. As long as we can still Supersize, Hummersize, and be Mindlessly Entertained, we could care less about how business is run.

Now that the shoe is starting to pinch, we seem to be waking up from our post-gluttonous stupor and asking questions. Hopefully, it isn't too late.