Monday Morning Enlightenment

by lizard

Over 130 people have been killed as militants battle for control of Benghazi:

Heavy fighting flared on Sunday between Libya’s army and Islamist militias apparently trying retake one of their largest camps in the eastern city of Benghazi, military officials said.

At least 130 people have been killed in the past 10 days during street fighting in Libya’s second-largest city — part of a wider picture of chaos gripping the major oil producer three years after the downfall and death of Muammar Gaddafi.

Don Pogreba did make a little appearance in last week’s post about Libya as another example of Imperialism run amok, but it wasn’t to admit he was wrong. Instead it was to counter another commenter calling him out for his subsequent silence now that Libya is the failed state critics like me warned about:

Wow, I’m responsible for ISIS? I didn’t realize how much my blog mattered. Thanks, guys, for the affirmation of my importance.

JC certainly isn’t blocked at my blog, by the way, despite his repeated untrue claims that he is. You’ll find ample evidence of me being censored when I question his posts here, though. Does that mean he’s responsible for ISIS, too? Ebola? The disappointing final season of How I Married Your Mother?

I’ll admit I lack your sophistication to understand the nuances of blame. I look forward to being enlightened.

Well Don, let me try to enlighten you.

50 years ago America became involved in a little war in Vietnam. By late winter, 1968, it was becoming increasingly clear that America wasn’t doing so great. One quote from a US official after a village was decimated encapsulated the insanity engulfing the cheerleaders of that disastrous conflagration:

On February 7, 1968, American bombs, rockets and napalm obliterated much of the South Vietnamese town of Ben Tre — killing hundreds of civilians who lived there.

Later that day, an unidentified American officer gave Associated Press reporter Peter Arnett a memorable explanation for the destruction.

Arnett used it in the opening of the story he wrote:

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” a U.S. major said Wednesday.

He was talking about the grim decision that allied commanders made when Viet Cong attackers overran most of this Mekong Delta city 45 miles southwest of Saigon. They decided that regardless of civilian casualties they must bomb and shell the once placid river city of 35,000 to rout the Viet Cong forces.

Sadly, not much has changed in 50 years. After half a century America remains a nation of brainwashed exceptionalists deferring to deranged political leaders still fighting a cold war with Russia.

Here is another quote from an article today by Norman Pollack, titled One-Sided Cold War. It’s the opening paragraph of the article, and does a good job of describing our current predicament with regard to reigniting a global showdown with Russia:

America’s shrill, expanding demonization of Putin, Obama now equating Russia and Ebola as paired dangers in the modern world, follows from its ideological-structural matrix of decline as the unilateral military-economic leader of the international order. Decaying societies don’t fare well in global history, especially when the inner rot of the political culture erodes the foundations of reason, moral principles, and humaneness, precisely where America now finds itself. The inner rot is not merely capitalism per se, although that gets it off to a good start because in practice characterized by petrifaction in the face of challenge and dissenting opinion, but capitalism as it presently exists in America, where the fear of social transformation (i.e., anything which jeopardizes the power of ruling groups, questions Authority, or otherwise destabilizes class relations) has yielded systemic militarization to keep capitalism on pace and secure. And even the militarization of capitalism, generally adequate to normalizing conditions of fascism, emergent or full-blown, in America has a particularity distinguishing the society from all others: its fusion of Exceptionalism and counterrevolution (each needed to sustain the other) dressed up in the language of liberal or humanitarian intervention in world affairs.

For those looking for a little Monday morning enlightenment, there you go.

  1. I must ask, and I pose this to primarily myself: Pogie is such a lightweight that he is no more than a fifth grader who stayed up past bedtime among serious people. He’s not well read, has no substantial debating skills, is thin-skinned and petulant, and takes comfort among those like him rather than challenging his own weak abilities.

    Why does he trouble me so? He’s hardly worth a second glance.

    • lizard19

      what troubles me is the worldview he represents—it takes a heavy dose of US exceptionalism to continue ignoring the consequences of our interventionist foreign policy. I’m also troubled that the worldview I represent is mocked and ridiculed by liberal lapdogs like Don despite the proof that that worlview is valid and the warnings that stems from that perspective have been proven to be well-justified. instead of Democrat supporters waking up to the war hawks infesting their party, it’s libertarians like Rand Paul who are capitalizing on the war-weariness of the US public.

      • If it offers any enlightenment, the Indochina Wars were largely carried out while titular Democrats were in power with only a few of noble mind standing up to it. That Obama smoothly transitioned in into office and instead of killing the wars, killed the anti-war movement, should be no surprise.

        There was a brief flurry of grassroots activism in the Democrat Party after Watergate, and the DLC, formed in 1985, was tasked to bring the party back under control. That was Clinton’s primary accomplishment, to marginalize progressives in the party. That is the current state of the party, and why Nader felt obligated to ditch them in 2000.

        • Turner

          I wonder whom you mean by “a few of noble mind” standing up to titular Democrats. In the anti-war demonstrations I participated in, EVERYONE used to chant, “Hey, hey, LBJ, How many kids did you kill today?” We weren’t a few, and we didn’t consider party loyalty as we protested against the war, even though 99% of us were Democrats.

          We wanted an anti-war candidate for president in 1968 but didn’t get one. I couldn’t vote for Humphrey. My vote went to Dick Gregory and Mark Lane.

          Fast-forwarding to the near future, I think in 2016 I can’t support Hillary for the same reason I couldn’t support Humphrey. I’m still a Democrat, but I’m still waiting for a candidate who represents my ideas about what is best for our country and the world.

          Maybe Elizabeth Warren. But no Republican comes anywhere close to attracting me — certainly not Rand Paul!

          • lizard19

            what did you think of the NATO intervention in Libya? did the liberal interventionists convince you that it was necessary? if not, why? if yes, do you still believe it was necessary? do you think it was worth it? and do you think the US has any responsibility for the bloodshed that has occurred since?

            • Turner

              This is a short answer (yes), followed by a meandering attempt to think about your questions.

              Any military power is responsible for the effects, positive or negative, of its actions. In deciding to intervene in another country’s affairs (such as a civil war or tribal conflicts), an intervening power must take into account whether or not the intervention will worsen an already bad situation.

              I don’t know what the American (or French, Canadian, or British) calculation was in deciding to intervene in Libya in 2011. They must’ve talked about what might happen, good or bad, if they “succeeded.”

              I don’t assume, as some do, the absolute worst of motives for the intervening powers. It’s possible that they miscalculated and brought about worse bloodshed than they anticipated. In war, it’s hard to “game out” every consequence. And if the situation is already a bad one (Libya was already broken), they can’t be fairly blamed for all the breakage that occurred.

              If you assume the worst possible motives on the parts of the intervening powers — that they MEANT to create chaos and horror for some nefarious end I can’t even imagine — then you can look at the worst effects of their intervention and accuse them of, I suppose, an international crime.

              But in any chain of causes and effects there are questionable links. Maybe A didn’t solely cause B. Maybe it was a combination of A, C, D that caused B. If we look only at A as a cause of B and ignore C and D, our analysis is incomplete and distorted.

              In the case of the 2011 Libyan intervention, what (good or bad) were France’s motives? Or England’s or Canada’s? Are we to assume that they all blindly followed their evil leader, the USA? Or could each of the intervening powers have had their separate motives, some more defensible than others?

              If all western leaders are evil and incompetent, we’re truly screwed and so is the rest of the world. I don’t think all our leaders are evil and incompetent. though. They often act out of the best motives (trying to fight Ebola in Africa, offering humanitarian aid after disasters around the world). They’re sometimes wrong or acting on indefensible motives (protecting large corporations), but I refuse to believe that they’re mainly villains.

        • I was referring to Democrats in power, and I believe one of them “of noble mind” (a phrase I copped from Napoleon) was Mike Mansfield, though he was ineffective (LBJ thought him to be spineless). Ron Dellums operated at the House level, and of course there was McGovern and Fullbright. They seem genuine in retrospect. Of course those people in the street would tend to be of a more progressive bent and so might also have been titular Democrats too, but tehy did not have the support of that party.

          The death of RFK in 1968 represented the end to any real hope for a political solution to the war. He was probably the only one who ever intended to do anything about it and who stood a serious chance of being elected. (McCarthy sort of wandered off into the sunset reciting poetry, never doing a thing with the movement he helped create, meaning he was probably a plant.)

  2. 130 people killed in the past 10 days? Big deal.

    Here in the US we kill murder 41 per day.

  3. lizard19

    Turner, I’ll respond down here.

    I appreciate you taking some time to formulate a response. just to make sure I’m hearing you, your short answer is yes, the liberal interventionists convinced you a military intervention in Libya was necessary, and that military powers do have some culpability in the outcomes of their interventions, but Libya was, in your words, “already broken”, which to me sounds like you’re giving the US driven NATO campaign an escape hatch from responsibility.

    you go on to say a bunch of stuff that makes this sound more complicated than it is. other nations have some degree of self-interest, and also some degree of worry about opposing a nation that spends more money than the rest of the world combined on the power to destroy and kill. when the previous administration made it clearly known that you’re either with us or against us, I think that message still resonates, considering Obama has repackaged the same geopolitical game Bush’s cronies were playing.

    and the game, Turner, really is pretty simple: attack and undermine any challenge to US hegemony. instead of absorbing this core motivation, you say stuff like this:

    If you assume the worst possible motives on the parts of the intervening powers — that they MEANT to create chaos and horror for some nefarious end I can’t even imagine — then you can look at the worst effects of their intervention and accuse them of, I suppose, an international crime.

    the crux of this statement is your admitted lack of imagination. you can’t even imagine that creating failed states is an acceptable outcome of US interventions, just like I’m sure it’s hard for you to imagine that facilitating drug trafficking and the subsequent social ills produced from, say, addiction to crack cocaine, is an intentional mechanism of oppression.

    then you conclude with this:

    If all western leaders are evil and incompetent, we’re truly screwed and so is the rest of the world. I don’t think all our leaders are evil and incompetent. though. They often act out of the best motives (trying to fight Ebola in Africa, offering humanitarian aid after disasters around the world). They’re sometimes wrong or acting on indefensible motives (protecting large corporations), but I refuse to believe that they’re mainly villains.

    who is saying ALL our leaders are evil and incompetent? I don’t usually bring up logical fallacies, but I get damn tired of the straw man attack:

    A straw man is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on the misrepresentation of an opponent’s argument.[1] To be successful, a straw man argument requires that the audience be ignorant or uninformed of the original argument.

    The so-called typical “attacking a straw man” argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent’s proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition (i.e., “stand up a straw man”) and then to refute or defeat that false argument (“knock down a straw man”) instead of the original proposition.

    regarding this post, the original proposition is embodied by this statement:

    After half a century America remains a nation of brainwashed exceptionalists deferring to deranged political leaders still fighting a cold war with Russia.

    your commentary in this post has only bolstered my argument. you do have a choice, though. you can stop deferring to deranged political leaders still fighting a cold war with Russia and accept that the US is not an exceptional imperial force destined to be the one and only empire not to overextend itself and collapse.

    the choice is yours.

    • Turner

      Look, I admit it. I’m way over my head trying to think about current or even recent international events. I don’t have a reliable source of information or a fall-back ideology — certainly not American exceptionalism — that allows me to instantly attach blame to a certain cast of characters when things apparently go wrong.

      I’ve been reading Vernon Parrington’s 1920s classic Main Currents of American thought. Everything I thought I knew about the founding of our country appears to have been wrong, corrected by a book written almost a hundred years ago.

      And my knowledge of things that happened just a few years ago, or yesterday, is even more shaky. Initial reports of what happened nearly always turn out to be wrong, or only partially right. And paid liars in the media (e.g., Meet the Press) cheerfully distort facts to promote any of several agendas.

      I’m ambivalent about American hegemony. First of all, I don’t think it’s actually American. I think it’s international elites, corporatists, who are the hegemones. Many but not all are Americans. Second, I’m not sure what the alternative is to their rule, which seems at times arbitrary and cruel. I hope it’s not embracing a fascist like Putin or getting out of the way of ISIS so they can cut and slash their way back to the ninth century.

      Finally, living comfortably in the belly of the beast as I do, I’m a beneficiary of the hegemony — and so, by the way, are you. I was in Missoula Sunday to attend a wonderful concert. All those around me in the audience appeared happy and well fed. Driving past the Salvation Army building the next morning, I noticed a dozen or so men standing in in front of the building. They didn’t look happy or especially well fed.

      They’re victims of our hegemony, I suppose, though not on the scale of victims in Libya or Syria.

      We better treated folks can have breakfast at a precious place like The Shack (the irony of its name is inescapable) and move on with our lives. We have our sources of worry, but we’re not about to get bombed. We’re not being somehow oppressed by Obama.

      We have consciences, though. That’s why I always donate to the right liberal causes, hoping the world will be somehow improved. What else, short of giving everything I own away and spending my remaining years in Africa fighting Ebola, am I supposed to do?

      • lizard19

        the alternative for Americans is accepting a multipolar world where we aren’t arrogantly trying to export “democracy” with bombs and bullets. if we can’t accept that reality then we better prepare for another world war.

      • JC

        Turner, by what standard do you label Putin a “fascist?”

        And do you recognize the overt fascism — actual remnants of fascism from WWII (Baderites and Gallacians) — of the factions in Ukraine our government and its [U.S./Ukrainian/Russian/Jewish] oligarchs are supporting? Does that not seem incongruent?

        One last comment: “American hegemony” is just the visible vehicle through which the deep state and the oligarchy project their power. It was previously called British hegemony, and those hegemonic forces cared not that the British Empire ceded itself to the American Empire. It may next be called Chinese hegemony. In all of these cases it is the same power structure projecting itself through a nationalist screen.

        • Turner

          His open promotion of anti-homosexual torture and murder (gays are his scapegoats, his Jews) and his background in the nefarious KGB are significant clues. I wonder that some Americans have such warm fuzzy memories of the old KGB. Russians remember them fearfully as torturers and murderers.

          Also his extreme nationalism — using it to justify expansion — and his establishment of state partnerships with capitalists.

          Bare-chested machismo, the projection of a strong man image, is another characteristic of fascism.

          The man reeks of fascism.

          • JC

            And by your estimation, how does Russia deserve to be treated? Sanctions? Reentry into a Cold War? Military engagement?

            I hear you demonizing the man, when much of what he represents is Russian majority thinking. I also get the feeling that much of your impression is generated through a western media propaganda lens (I mean, how different is a media photo of Puttin bare chested any different than any of the ones of Bush or Obama?). How much different is Putin’s treatment of homosexuals in the military than Clinton’s “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy?

            As to your comment about expansionism, rate Russia’s expansionism against that of the U.S., and give me a fascism rating.

            And with state partnership with capitalists, how is that different than our government’s relationship with say, Halliburton or Boeing? Or the purchasing of bad debt of Wall Street banks or GM and taking partial ownership? The Fed’s issuance of vast quantities of cheap money in the form of mobile capital to corporations by which to manipulate the worlds trade markets?

            Do you ever read what he has to say and put him in his role of President of Russia into perspective? Try to set the western propaganda lens aside for a moment to hear what Russia is trying to communicate?

            Here, read Putin’s latest speech. Sure, it is full of Russian nuance and propaganda. But if we are to understand current events and international relations, we owe it to ourselves to look independently at the reality (i.e. printed speeches) and draw conclusions. To pair Putin’s remarks with those of Obama, who recently (in a speech to the U.N.) labeled Russia, along with ebola and ISIS as one of the world’s three greatest threats.

            • Turner

              To compare Putin’s active program of terror against homosexuals with Clinton’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy is ludicrous. If you can’t see that it’s ludicrous, you’re beyond hope.

              Yes, the U.S. has drifted toward fascism. The New Confederates in elected office, people like Gommert and that guy that sounds like Huckleberry Hound from S. Carolina, are leftovers from our country’s most fascist period. They miss the good old days when they had black people (their Jews) firmly under control. Their party may well take over our government soon and try to reestablish overtly fascist policies. The Supreme Court might lend them a hand.

              But back to your man-crush on Putin. Where is this coming from? Do you think that the repressive state policies in Russia are ones you’d like to live under? My experiences as a traveler in Russia tell me that it’s not a good place to live — it’s crawling with corruption. You have to pay bribes to get anything done. Compared to the PRC, where I lived for 2 years, Russia is a moral cesspool, one that Putin and his friends helped to create.

            • JC

              Well, I have no “man crush” on Putin. I just think it is important for us to understand Russia and its president if we are going to implement an overt foreign policy to isolate them, and a covert policy to destabilize them.

              A foreign policy that has already ignited an arms race, initiated Cold War 2.0, and pushed the rest of the world not fully in the western hegemonic sphere into constructing bi- or multi-polar agencies intended to replace the west’s (currency, lending, trade, security, etc.)

              Judging by the valuation you put on Russian culture, society, and politics, might I conclude that you are down with the west’s attempts to subvert Russian sovereignty and lead it into a place where it can be dissected and fed to the various capitalist and/or oligarchical entities salivating over its resources and strategic locations?

            • JC

              Oh, one more thing. How do you propose the west deal with Russia’s nuclear missiles if we succeed in creating enough chaos in Russia to fracture it into “manageable” parts? Ready to have Sakhalin or Kamchatka have their own nuclear arsenals?

              Or do you propose full subjugation and invasion of Russia so that we can tactically interdict and either capture or destroy Russia’s nuclear missile system before it can be deployed?

              • Turner

                I’m proposing none of the insane things you’re suggesting. And neither is anyone else currently in authority in this country. Some progress toward mutual disarmament was being made before your idol assumed full control over his country.

                I guess you’re down with his program of terrorizing gay people, right?

              • JC

                Instead of throwing out accusations, please put up a link to your evidence of Putin “terrorizing gay people.”

                And yes, NED is working on applying what it learned in Ukraine’s destabilization and color revolution in Russia.

                Also, Congress has legislation (Russian Aggression Prevention Act) that, among other things:

                “Directs the Secretary of State to increase efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and political and civil society organizations in the Russian Federation.”

                Read, “Color revolution.”

      • Turner, I was the one who gave you four stars. I meant to give you five, but missed. I don’t care if we disagree on specifics, or that people might think you’ve stumbled into deep waters … none of that matters. The important thing is that you are using your brain, trying your best to reason your way through, and are obviously troubled by what you know. That trouble, that cognitive dissonance, is the key to understanding if you do not let contradiction stand and keep pushing forward.

        It’s all any of us do, and who is to say, in the end, whether any of us know enough.

  4. lizard19

    Turner, you’ve got some exceptionalism infecting your noggin’.

    since WWII, America has been responsible for the deaths of literally millions of people. since 9/11 our leaders took the gloves off in order to torture and kill even more. people are detained without charge, American citizens are killed without due process, our constitution is in shreds as the security state spies on all of us, the Obama regime persecutes whistleblowers and goes after journalists, minorities are persecuted in the drug war, protestors are persecuted by the police state and Wall Street continues gaming the system to line their pockets while impoverishing millions of Americans.

    and you want to talk about Putin persecuting gay people.

  5. Turner

    I don’t know how to link on this site. If you Google “Russia terrorizes Gays” you’ll find plenty of entries. The Verge site is probably most informational.

  6. I think it would help, Turner, to see how other sources report on these matters as well as state-controlled American media (news and entertainment speak with once voice). But don’t you think, however, that American right wingers criticizing Russia for its treatment of gays is rather ludicrous?

    Putin is widely respected and admired throughout the world. He was treated with respect in the American media until Russia thwarted US state planners in their attempt to pin a false flag chemical attack in Syria in 2013 on Assad. Apparently the regime was to be toppled by massive bombing, as was Libya’s in 2011. Russia’s exposure (not covered in US media) of the chemical attack as false flag set in motion the current propaganda campaign to demonize Putin. Part of it included the overthrow of the Ukraine government and its attempts now to draw Russia into war in its eastern provinces, which have not succeeded.

    The gay-bashing issue is just part of a larger propaganda campaign in the US, and is hardly noticed in any other press reports around then world. Same with the Pussy Riot affair, which appears instigated as outside agitation.

    If you rely on American news outlets for your news on these matters, you’re being mushroomed.

  1. 1 The mushroom effect | Piece Of Mind

    […] see it everywhere. Most recently there was an interesting exchange at 4&20 involving Turner, a nice fella doing his best, but he repeated the current propaganda meme that […]

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