Sunday, March 24, 2013

reality, political reality, & blood on our hands

Can't get this picture out of my mind. It will be the shorthand icon for the Iraq invasion and dismem- berment, just like another picture of another little girl has served as the icon of another. earlier invasion.

The Iraq photo hits particularly close to home because the four- or five-year-old girl looks a lot like my daughter did at that age, and is responding just as my Rachel would have if she had been splattered with the blood of her parents, shot multiple times in the front seat of their moving car while she sat in the  back.

My reaction to this photo of Samar Hassan, now grown up and still  living in iraq, is the same now as it's been since I first saw it, and segues well with the world's reaction to the photo of Kim Phuc running down that road in Vietnam with other terrified children after having all her clothes burned off in a napalm attack. And that reaction is to ask what kind of monsters in human skins would deliberately create the conditions that not only permit these things to happen, but insure that they inevitably will happen.

To react that way in the US, however, will invariably get you a long lecture about "political realities" concerning US interventions where "our interests" are concerned, which, it's always implied, are engraved in stone and will never change.

But "political reality" is nothing but bullshit we've all agreed to believe. Changing it would be as easy as changing our socks, if we all decided tomorrow to do so.

And now comes a glimmer of hope from the mother country. Former NY Times reporter Stephen Kinzer in an editorial this morning in the Guardian (UK) asserts that "Republicans and Democrats -- albeit in small numbers -- are starting to question the existing paradigm" of Uncle Sam as global cop and 'intervener-in-chief.' 

Noting Rand Paul's now-famous filibuster of Obama's drone policy, Kinzer suggests that Sen. John McCain, a petrified militarist who  has never seen a war he didn't like, has inadvertently come up with the perfect name for the new caucus when last week in the Senate he flamed Rand Paul and all the other "wacko birds of the right and left," by which he means those of us who ignore so-called political reality.

"Our next step," says Kinzer, "is to produce a Wacko Bird manifesto defining what we are for and against."

The bottom line is "American exceptionalism" and America's  implied right to rule the world. Public perception of these things is changing rapidly, but our political system lags behind. Someone needs to tell Obama that in pursuing his drone war he is digging up his own roots, and destroying his own country.

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