Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Half a Trillion + One Million = One Emmigration
Anyone have a relative or friend in Canada? I am leaving the country if I get half the chance.
The US government has spent upwards of 450 million dollars (and shows no signs of stopping the hemorrhaging) on killing people in Iraq. The total dead in Iraq is difficult to estimate but the numbers are closing in on 1 million, a significant proportion were children.
We learned nothing from Vietnam. Two high school buddies were killed there for the sole propose of carrying on a war against poor brown people. Doug, and Lance, I haven't forgotten you. Back then, I had just enough youthful comprehension of US government propaganda to avoid the draft with student deferments, and avoid it further when the draft lottery was instituted. I got lucky, or did I? My next-door neighbor moved to Canada in the early seventies to avoid the draft. Maybe I would have been better off if I'd been drafted because I would have followed him north.
I'm ready to go now. I'm a slow learner, but just give me a decade or two, or three, and I'll eventually get the picture. When then President Johnson said:
"Without superior air power America is a bound and throttled giant, impotent and easy prey to any yellow dwarf with a pocket knife."As an eighteen-year-old torn by pressure toward "patriotism" and having been abandoned by my father the year before, without an honorable external moral compass, I did well enough to comprehend that the vast, ubiquitous, messages from TV and newspapers didn't gibe with reality. I was just a kid who grew up in a tiny town in southern New Mexico. Our family moved to Los Angeles when I was ten but I was really just a hick in tight white jeans in hip L.A. trying to fit in. Fitting in then meant "my country, right or wrong" and images of John Wayne leading the heroic charge to defeat the "yellow peril." It wasn't until much, much later that I learned that the Japanese were just people, fallible people like the rest of us, who were emulating the British. If the British can conquer and subjugate India and half of the Middle East and Africa, what better role model?
Well, the Vietnamese were not the Japanese. They hadn't shown any signs of landing on the beach at Santa Monica. We still went to the beach at Santa Monica and Venice. The amusement park Pacific Ocean Park was still there. I didn't' see any signs of Vietnamese landing onshore to capture the hot dog stands or take over Muscle Beach. I knew then, without having the capacity to articulate the political dynamics, that the US "news" media---had nothing to do with news and everything to do with convincing teens like myself to go half way around the world to kill people. Teens. My best friend was killed in Vietnam before he was old enough to vote. I shook hands with Robert Kennedy in '68, but I couldn't vote, either.
In Iraq, the dead and maimed US soldiers were old enough to vote; a lot of good that was. At least in Iraq, they're fighting for something. When the US is done with it, the oil will be stolen. Iraqi oil is being divvied up between US and British oil corporations now. In Vietnam, they didn't have anything worth stealing. Maybe this is how modern progress is measured.
The average American citizen is incredibly stupid regarding foreign affairs, not for lack of intelligence, but by the sheer weight of mass-media propaganda and the intentionally bad public schools. That's a very provocative statement. I include myself in there. I'm American, too--at least for now.
It's not just we citizens, either. Senators Joseph Biden and Carl Levin have made incredibly stupid statements recently. They both think they know what Iraqis need and how to fix their internal civil strife. Both Biden and Levin are astonishingly stupid. There is no other word for it. The American people aren't stupid. They're purposely misinformed. The only thing the Iraqis need is for the US invasionary forces to stop killing Iraqis and get out of their country. The book was written years ago. PCs for Dummies. Macs for Dummies. Dating for Dummies. War for Dummies.
The most powerful step citizens can take is to consider that we really don't know anything meaningful about foreign cultures and US imperialism. In school, we were taught that Manifest Destiny was limited to stealing California from the Indians and Mexicans. Manifest Destiny: The World. Wolf Blitzer is lobotomized eye candy. That's not information. It's propaganda. What little we were taught in public schools and from endless hours of TV was jingoist at best, and scandalously racist at its worst. We were the TV generation raised on the Lone Ranger and Philip Morris. Our entire generation was a social experiment in the childhood developmental effects of the new media: Corporate TV.
Most of my adult life has been devoted to unlearning what I learned in school, as Mark Twain said more famously. That's not far from the facts. What is far from the facts is the official school-version of US foreign involvements beginning with the Spanish American War. How many students were taught that the US military promised the Philippine people independence in 1898, then immediately betrayed that commitment? US troops killed an estimated one million Filipinos, subjugating the people to American colonial rule for the next half century. More recently, how many teens on the street, if asked, would know how many Vietnamese were killed by the US military during the Vietnam War? How many adults know? Why don't they know? They're intelligent people, no less intelligent than the Vietnamese. They don't know because they weren't taught anything of substance in public schools or on TV. An entire generation was no longer a cohort of citizens, but rather enter the new packaged person: The Consumer.
The US government has never apologized to the Vietnamese for the war, and never paid the promised reparations, either. Only in America can a war criminal run for president. Senator McCain is a war criminal responsible for killing defenseless Vietnamese. Instead of living a life of shame and pubic ridicule, he's a proud presidential candidate. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.
Well, that's part of growing up. Knowing that "the picture" isn't what it seems. Smoke and mirrors. When Henry Kissinger---responsible for the deaths of uncounted humans in Vietnam and in Cambodia, and in Laos---received a Nobel Prize for peace---I knew something was seriously wrong with this picture.
Anyway, I am at last, all grown up now and ready to move to Canada. Seriously. If you have a relative or friend who will provide a track to a visa, I will pack my bags. No joke.
To answer my own question, an estimated two million Vietnamese were killed during the American invasion of Vietnam. Invasion is a term the US press never uses with respect to US military activities. We never invade any country. We're just "defending democracy." During the past 50 years, the US government, in the form of overt military action or covert CIA action, is responsible for (or participated in) overthrowing 50 governments, including duly-elected democracies (Iran 1953, etc. etc.). The Vietnamese still suffer from deaths related to this war in the form of landmines that continue to kill and maim indiscriminately. The environmental and health effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam has never been acknowledged by the US government. Something is wrong with this picture.
Anyone want to bet that Bush will invade Iran and also direct the CIA to topple the Chavez government in Venezuela? Chavez is especially dangerous to "US interests" because Hugo Chavez is acting in the public interest of poor Venezuelans. What would happen if the notion that elected officials in the US were expected to act here, in this country, in the public interest?
The US government doesn't represent me and my world. I share no common interests with the government; I've disregarded my assigned social identity. I buy, therefore I am.
Modern democracy is where one can choose from a dozen flavors of spaghetti sauce at Wal-Mart, but only one flavor of power at Washington-Mart.