The jingoism implicit in daily life taints everything we say, let alone what we do. To use my friend Bill Osborne’s term, we are all “Orwellian zombies.” This includes even the most sincere opponents of the President With His Head Up His Ass and his regime of BananaRepublic war criminals.
Consider Chris Hedges, a former war correspondent. His loathing of war in general and the Iraq war in particular expressed by two of his books — “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” a cri de coeur, and the deadpan “What Every Person Should Know About War” — would seem to place him above reproach.
Yet he, too, can’t be excluded from the ranks of Orwellian zombies. His latest column, “The Next Quagmire,” illustrates the point.
When Hedges writes that “we live in an age where dialogue is dismissed and empathy is suspect,” he is correct of course. Same here:
We prefer the illusion that we can dictate events through force. It hasn’t worked well in Iraq. It hasn’t worked well in Afghanistan. And it won’t work in Iran. But those who once tried to reach out and understand, who developed expertise to explain the world to us and ourselves to the world, no longer have a voice in the new imperial project. We are instead governed and informed by moral and intellectual trolls.
But Hedges “goes on to create the same alarmist bullshit as bad as the policy folks he criticizes,” Osborne contends, as indicated by a key paragraph. His comments on Hedges’s points are bracketed in italics:
The Pentagon has reportedly drawn up plans for a series of airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran. The air attacks are designed to cripple the Iranians’ military capability in three days. … It is not hard to imagine what will happen. Iranian Shabab-3 and Shabab-4 missiles, which cannot reach the United States, will be launched at Israel, as well as American military bases and the Green Zone in Baghdad. [The missiles could be taken out within 24 hours — and hardly get a shot off.] Expect massive American casualties, especially in Iraq, where Iranian agents and their Iraqi allies will be able to call in precise coordinates. [They would not have a window of opportunity for massive casualties. I would say 20 Americans dead.] The Strait of Hormuz, which is the corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, will be shut down. [For about 5 days at most.] Chinese-supplied C-801 and C-802 anti-shipping missiles, mines and coastal artillery will target U.S. shipping, along with Saudi oil production and oil export centers. [Utterly vulnerable to A-10 jets so no big threat. Boats laying mines would also be instantly wiped out by A-10s and F-16s.] Oil prices will skyrocket to well over $4 a gallon. [Or at least the plutocracy hopes.] The dollar will tumble against the euro. [Ditto.] Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon, interpreting the war as an attack on all Shiites, will fire rockets into northern Israel. [With the same minimal effectiveness as during the last idiotic invasion of Lebanon.] Israel, already struck by missiles from Tehran, will begin retaliatory raids on Lebanon and Iran. [The pretense for hegemonistic invasions would be welcomed.] Pakistan, with a huge Shiite minority, will reach greater levels of instability. The unrest could result in the overthrow of the weakened American ally President Pervez Musharraf and usher into power Islamic radicals. [Yeah, like our actions in Iraq and Iran. It is secular, leftist nationalists we actually fear. In the end, theocracy and plutocracy make great bed partners. See Saudi Arabia. And if business arrangements can’t be made, theocracies are easily isolated.] Pakistan could become the first radical Islamic state to possess a nuclear weapon. [Oh dear, I see the smoking gun mushroom cloud already.] The neat little war with Iran, which few Democrats oppose, has the potential to ignite a regional inferno.” [Uh, don’t let the cat out of the bag about our one-party government.]
Osborne adds: “Yeah, yeah, more mushroom clouds as smoking guns, aluminum tubes, Nigerian yellow cake, attacks on Holy Israel, etc. The Iranians don’t have the terrible abilities he describes. Frighten us Hedges, so we will think war with Iran should be brutal and quick. When will someone finally admit that if the Islamic world goes out of control they won’t attack Israel with any significant effectiveness, but that they will start slaughtering each other (just as in Iraq and Palestine)? Which is just what the U.S. is counting on.
“Same old story with Serbia, by the way. As the last East Block holdout, it rejected neo-liberal globalism and had to be destroyed. And of course, every fucking honky swallowed the demonizing propaganda hook, line and sinker. Keep up the great work, Hedges. Propaganda disguised as criticism.
“The alarmist Hedges report is a good example of the thinking that gets the sissies (to use Gore Vidal’s terms for Teddy Roosevelt and his ilk) shooting at everything. There is nothing more dangerous than a paranoid, belligerent coward with a big military apparatus. They’re out to get us; pulverize them!!!!
“And how about the photo (above) that illustrates Hedges’s column? It makes his argument hilarious: Iranian female militia members. The column might be called “Big Guns Under Burkas.” Notice in the photo how only the front row of women have guns. I can well understand why the patriarchal theocracy in Iran wouldn’t want to have too many women running around with AK-47s. There would be some big changes made there really quickly! With just a few touches the column would be great for The Onion.”