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Keith Olbermann This Hole in the Ground

    And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

    In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car - and only his car - starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot - but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

    And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

    "For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own - for the children, and the children yet unborn."

This Hole in the Ground
    By Keith Olbermann
    MSNBC Countdown

    Monday 11 September 2006

    Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter.

    All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and - as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul - two more in the Towers.

    And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors.

    I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.

    And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

    However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast - of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds - none of us could have predicted this.

    Five years later this space is still empty.

    Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

    Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

    Five years later this country's wound is still open.

    Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

    Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

    It is beyond shameful.

    At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial - barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field - Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

    Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

    Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

    Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

    Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

    And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

    And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

    The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

    Those who did not belong to his party - tabled that.

    Those who doubted the mechanics of his election - ignored that.

    Those who wondered of his qualifications - forgot that.

    History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

    Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

    The President - and those around him - did that.

    They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

    They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

    The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

    The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

    Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country.

    Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11.

    Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.

    Yet what is happening this very night?

    A mini-series, created, influenced - possibly financed by - the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.

    The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.

    How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you - or those around you - ever "spin" 9/11?

    Just as the terrorists have succeeded - are still succeeding - as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero.

    So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.

    This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.

    And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."

    In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car - and only his car - starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot - but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."

    And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.

    "For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own - for the children, and the children yet unborn."

    When those who dissent are told time and time again - as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus - that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American ... When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11" ... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:

    Who has left this hole in the ground?

    We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

    You have.

    May this country forgive you.

[Aug 25, 2006]  Michael Ignatieff on Israeli Self-Defense and Serb Ethnic Cleansing by EDWARD S. HERMAN

August 25, 2006 | zmag.org

Faith-Based Analysis

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Michael Ignatieff, now a Canadian MP and contender for a top leadership position in the Liberal Party, was slow in responding to the Israeli war on Lebanon. He told the Canadian media on August 1st that “I’ve been following it minutely from the beginning and watching it unfold and figuring out when was the time when a statement would be important and relevant.” (Linda Diebel, “Rae criticizes liberal rival for delay,” Toronto Star, August 2, 2006). He considered it necessary to give Israel enough time “to send Hezbollah a very clear message” that kidnapping soldiers and firing rockets on Israel will not be tolerated. Of course, Israel was killing mainly civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure while sending this message, and there was the question of whether the world shouldn’t be sending Israel the message that aggression and the commission of war crimes under the pretense of “self defense” is not permissible, but like George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, for Ignatieff the Israeli message was crucial, not any Lebanese civilian casualties or Israeli law violations.

Michael Ignatieff is a skilled trimmer, who has adjusted his principles and thoughts to the demands of the U.S. and Canadian power elite, and advanced accordingly—from academia to preferred commentator on human rights and other political issues in the U.S. mainstream media, and on to becoming a member of the Canadian parliament. He was for some years Carr Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University, and for several years was a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine. He has always found that what the United States has been doing in the international arena is good—well-intentioned, necessary for international well-being, and inevitable, though occasionally flawed in execution. He was a strong supporter of the U.S. wars in Yugoslavia, objecting mainly to the sluggishness in the application of force. He approved the invasion-occupation of Iraq and has supported the use of torture in the abstract as well as specifically in the Bush administration’s so-called “war on terror,” and as noted he has recently been very understanding of Israel’s need to defend itself against the threats of Hezbollah and its other enemies.

One would have thought it might be problematical for a professor of human rights to vigorously support two wars (Kosovo, Iraq) carried out in violation of the UN Charter and hence “supreme crimes” in the view of the judges at Nuremberg. These two wars of aggression also resulted in serial war crimes, such as the regular bombing of civilian sites and the use of illegal weapons such as cluster bombs, napalm, phosphorus and depleted uranium, that should have been anathema to a devotee of human rights. But these matters didn’t bother Ignatieff, who was troubled only by the lag in initiation of NATO violence in the Balkans and the ineffectiveness and mismanagement of the occupation of Iraq. Similarly, Israel’s long-term ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the occupied territories, and massive human rights violations in the process, have not troubled him in the least, although he is bothered by the failure to bring “stability” and the absence of a quiet occupation and dispossession process.

He gets away with this support for supreme crimes and systematic violations of human rights because he does this only as regards crimes and abuses carried out by the United States and its allies and clients. He is quite passionate about the crimes or alleged crimes of target states such as Yugoslavia and Saddam’s Iraq. As this bias parallels and therefore supports official positions, he is treated well by the Western elite and their instruments such as Harvard University and the New York Times. He can make egregious errors and unverifiable and dubious claims, accept official claims as unquestionably true, and apply double standards across the board, without cost. Treating him well means not only giving him support and access, it also means letting him get away with intellectual murder.

Ignatieff came into prominence during the Balkan wars, where he joined forces with a number of other liberal intellectuals and journalists who took on the cause of Alija Izetbegovic--author of the Islamic Declaration and close ally of Osama bin Laden--and the Bosnian Muslims, and pressed strongly for military intervention on their behalf.1 Ignatieff’s position also aligned him with the Clinton administration, and he established “close relations” with Richard Holbrooke, General Wesley Clark and former Yugoslav Tribunal chief prosecutor Louise Arbour.2 These close links with officials with an axe to grind might be thought to compromise a journalist and human rights activist, but it doesn’t work that way in the United States—as with “embedded” journalists, such links enhance a reporter’s authority. It is only in enemy states that official connections and embedding compromise journalistic integrity, as by assumption our officials don’t lie and manipulate, and/or the linkages do not cause journalists to lose their critical capacity, whereas elsewhere governments lie and embedded journalists become propaganda agents of the state.3

One revealing illustration of Ignatieff’s integration into the propaganda apparatus of the war-making establishment was his November 2, 1999 op-ed column in the New York Times on “Counting Bodies in Kosovo.” By the time Ignatieff wrote this piece, the wilder claims of the State Department that 100,000 or even 500,000 Kosovo Albanians had been killed by the Serbs had collapsed in the wake of the very modest results of the intense forensic searches that followed the NATO takeover of Kosovo after June 10, 1999. The new claim made by Carla Del Ponte, the Yugoslav Tribunal’s prosecutor (who had succeeded Louise Arbour), was that 11,334 Kosovo Albanians had been killed. According to Ignatieff, whether all the 11,334 bodies will be found “depends on whether the Serb military and police removed them.” Possible error or inflation by the Tribunal and its sources was ruled out for no reason but deep bias.

Del Ponte had been vetted by Madeleine Albright before taking her position, the Tribunal had been organized and largely staffed and funded by the NATO powers, and it consistently served as a PR-judicial arm of NATO.4 The Tribunal’s investigator, who recommended dismissing any charges of war crimes against NATO without a formal investigation, stated that he had been satisfied with NATO press releases as an information source on the motivations and results of NATO actions.5 Del Ponte followed his recommendation, implicitly accepting this use of evidence, and expressing satisfation that there was “no deliberate targeting of civilians or unlawful military targets by NATO” (presumably the targeting of the Chinese Embassy and the Serb broadcasting facility, among hundreds of other non-military targets, was lawful). Only an unscholarly partisan would take her number as definitive (and only a partisan newspaper would invite Ignatieff to write on the subject and subsequently bring him on board as a regular). Eventually only some 4,000 bodies were recovered in Kosovo after the NATO takeover, by no means all or even a majority Bosnian Muslim civilians, and 2,398 remain listed by the Red Cross as missing, yielding a total—6,398—substantially below the 11,334, a difference never commented on by Ignatieff or the New York Times.6

During the Kosovo conflict Ignatieff offered a stream of claims and interpretations that make an enlightening contrast with his apologetics for Israeli aggression, ethnic cleansing and structured racism. Commenting on an incident in which the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) murdered six Serb teenagers, Ignatieff wrote that this was “doubtless a KLA provocation, intended to goad the Serbs into overreaction and then to trigger international intervention. Yet it is worth asking why the KLA strategists could be absolutely certain the Serbs would react as they did [he is referring to the “Racak massacre” of January 15, 1999]. The reason is simple…only in Serbia is racial contempt an official ideology.”7

We may note first that for Ignatieff the KLA killings were only a "provocation," not a murderous act to be severely condemned. Note also that although there is compelling evidence that the Racak incident was arranged into a "massacre" following a furious battle, and is therefore of extremely dubious authenticity, Ignatieff takes it as unquestionably valid.8 On the certainty of the Serb reaction, killings such as those carried out by the KLA produce similar responses in civil conflicts everywhere, so that Ignatieff's blaming it on Serb racism is nonsensical for that reason alone. But it also flies in the face of Serb tolerance of Albanians in Belgrade, along with Roma--in contrast with Kosovo Albanian intolerance of both in NATO-occupied Kosovo.

The contrast with Ignatieff’s treatment of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon is also dramatic and revealing. With the June 25 capture of an Israeli soldier in Gaza and at least two other Israeli soldiers in still-disputed circumstances around the Israel-Lebanon border on July 12, minimal consistency with his treatment of the Serbs should cause him to regard these as “provocations” that induced an Israeli “overreaction,” and he should condemn this overreaction, which in Gaza and Lebanon has been far more deadly and murderous than the Serbs’ alleged overreaction at Racak. He might explain this overreaction and this willingness to kill large numbers of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians on the “simple” ground that “only in Israel is racial contempt an official ideology.” Of course he does not do this, although the case that can be made for racial contempt as an official ideology in Israel is vastly greater than the evidence for Serbian racism.9

For Ignatieff, Israel’s legitimate “security needs” justify the Lebanon response (and he evades discussing the reinvasion and attack on civilians and humanitarian crisis in Gaza). Didn’t Yugoslavia’s legitimate security needs justify Racak and other actions of the Serbs, with NATO threatening an attack--that soon materialized--and working in coordination with the KLA? There is of course no hint at this in Ignatieff—his frame of reference is always that of his side (NATO), and the enemy is always wrong and has no right of self defense.

Ignatieff was enraged at the Serb expulsions in Kosovo during the bombing war, claiming that “Milosevic decided to solve an ‘internal problem’ by exporting an entire nation to his impoverished neighbors,” and he also described it as a “most meticulous deportation of a civilian population” and “a final solution of the Kosovo problem.”10 One would hardly realize from these effusions that Yugoslavia was under military attack by NATO, forced to defend itself in a situation where the KLA and NATO were working in close coordination; that proportionately more [ethnic] Serbs fled the bombing war in Kosovo than [ethnic] Albanians; that there was nothing “meticulous” about the flight, induced by the KLA and bombing as well as Serb actions, and that there is no reason whatever to think that Milosevic viewed this as a “final solution,” another dishonest piece of rhetoric that conflates Nazi industrial murder with a war-induced flight of civilians.

Again, the contrast with Ignatieff’s treatment of the forced exit of a million Lebanese by the Israelis is dramatic. Here Israel is justified in “sending a message” to Hezbollah reflecting Israel’s right to defend itself. Yugoslavia had no right to send a message to the KLA and NATO powers in the process of defending itself, although NATO’s war threatened its survival, whereas Israel had only suffered minor losses in a border skirmish with a force that did not threaten its existence. Ignatieff has not even expressed sympathy with the million Lebanese displaced to “send a message” to Hezbollah; and he will clearly not speak of this as a “meticulous” ethnic cleansing and “final solution” via an “export” of Lebanese civilians. Human Rights Watch and the Red Cross (among others) have repeatedly declared the Israeli attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure to be war crimes,11 but Ignatieff has not said a word about anything wrong with Israel’s attacks on civilians or the use of illegal and anti-civilian weaponry like cluster bombs and depleted uranium, and he has never hinted that these frequent and ruthless attacks on Arab civilians could be because of Israel’s racist ideology, although the evidence for such attitudes in Israel is massive (which it is not in Belgrade).

In short, we are dealing here with gross political bias and gross apologetics for aggression, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. Add to this the fact that Ignatieff has swallowed Bush’s claim to be striving to “bring freedom everywhere,” an ideological premise that allows him to rationalize anything the Bush administration does externally because it is in a noble cause—based solely on the fact that Bush says that that is his aim (see his “Who Are Americans To Think That Freedom Is Theirs To Spread?,” New York Times Magazine, June 26, 2005; and my analysis of this apologetics landmark: Herman, “Michael Ignatieff’s Pseudo-Hegelian Apologetics for Imperialism,” October, 2005).

Facts no longer matter for Ignatieff; they are trumped by proclaimed aims and values, but only for the side he favors and that produce benefits—to Ignatieff and some of the elites that underwrite his work. Clearly this is a man worthy of a human rights chair at Harvard, a special place in the Paper of Record, and a bright political future in our close and reliable ally Canada.

Edward S. Herman is Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and has written extensively on economics, political economy and the media. Among his books are The Real Terror Network, Triumph of the Market, and Manufacturing Consent (with Noam Chomsky).

Endnotes:

1. For a general account, Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “Morality’s Avenging Angels: The New Humanitarian Crusaders,” in David Chandler, Ed., Rethinking Human Rights: Critical Approaches to International Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), pp. 196-216 (as posted to ZNet, August 30, 2005). The New Humanitarians have been members of a network of like-minded people, often friends, who have worked in coordination with government officials and government-linked thinktanks, bonding and hobnobbing among themselves in Sarajevo or at international conferences and being fed information by U.S. and, in the 1990s, Bosnian Muslim officials. Sometimes, they worked together in establishment operations such as the Independent International Commission on Kosovo (Richard Falk, Richard Goldstone, Michael Ignatieff, Mary Kaldor, Martha Minow), the International Crisis Group (William Shawcross), the American Academy in Berlin (Paul Hockenos), George Soros' Open Society Institute (Aryeh Neier), and offshoots of these and similar institutions. The first three groups have been heavily funded by NATO governments, and have had on their boards numerous NATO government officials, past and present.
In a nice illustration of what C. Wright Mills might have called the "social composition of the higher circles" of New Humanitarianism, Timothy Garton Ash wrote back in 1999: "When I arrive in the late evening…[at Hotel Tuzla,]…I step into the lift, press the button for the second floor, and at once subside, powerless, into the cellar. The reception committee in the bar consists of Christopher Hitchens, Susan Sontag, and David Rieff. When I join them, Sontag is just saying to Michael Ignatieff, 'I can't believe that this is your first time here." And he adds that on the very next day, after arriving at an event hosted by the Bosnian Muslim leadership of Tuzla, Mary Kaldor welcomed the group, and the British actress Julie Christie read a poem in homage to Sarajevo, "glowing white…as a translucent china cup." Ash, History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (New York: Random House, 1999), p.147.

2. The quoted words were used by David Rieff to describe and laud his ally Ignatieff’s connections with the West’s political and military leadership, in “Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 3, 2000.

3. Back at the time of the controversy that followed the May 1981 shooting of Pope Paul II by a Turkish fascist, the mainstream U.S. media relied heavily on the expert Paul Henze, rarely pointing out--and never suggesting any problem based on--lhis 30-year employment as a CIA propaganda specialist and his having been head of the CIA station in Turkey.

4. For a compelling analysis, see Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder (London: Pluto, 2004), pp. 132-46.

5. Ibid., pp. 188-191.

6. "Statement to the Press by Carla del Ponte" (FH/P.I.S./550-e), Carla del Ponte, ICTY, December 20, 2000, par. 16; "Kosovo: ICRC deplores slow progress of working group on missing persons," ICRC News, March 9, 2006.

7. Michael Ignatieff, “Only in truth can Serbia find peace: There is racism everywhere in Europe, but only in Serbia is racial contempt an official ideology,” Calgary Herald, June 26, 1999.

8. On questions about Racak, see Mandel, pp. 72-80, 170-73; see also the devastating testimonies of Judge Danica Marenkovic, forensic expert Professor Slavisa Dobricain, Col. Bogoljub Janicevic, and Col. Milan Kotur, during the Milosevic defense period, March 23-24, April 8, 13, and 26, and January 27, 2006. None of this testimony was reported on in the New York Times.

9. Under the subheading “Root Causes,” Israeli analyst Reuven Kaminer says “It is impossible to oppress an entire people for 40 years and not to succumb to the ultimate rationalization for such action. Anti-Arab racism is endemic to Israeli society. This racism is so pervasive that it covers the political landscape like a cloud and infects all the thinking and the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Israelis.” (“Who Won and Who Lost and Why,” Portside, August 17, 2006). See also Edward S. Herman, "Ethnic Cleansing: Constructive, Benign, and Nefarious," ZNet, August 9, 2006.

10. Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2000), pp. 86-87, 78-79, 84.

11. See, e.g., Peter Bouckaert and Nadim Houry, Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon (Human Rights Watch, August 3, 2006; and Peter Bouckaert, “For Israel, innocent civilians are fair game,” International Herald Tribune, August 4, 2006.

The Disinformation Age by John Young

Sep 21, 2006 | The Smirking Chimp

 permalink article tools: email | print | read more John Young
 

A train derailed in Crawford Tuesday, spilling many gallons of the toxic whitewash used to portray Bush policy.

Maybe whitewash isn’t what it was. The official word was ethanolamine. That’s the chemical term for “not salad dressing.”

I debated going out to see if the good-haired TV guys were getting the straight skinny. My wife had a veto on that. She even wanted to bring in the dogs. Fumes can travel 15 miles, she said. Ask any smokestack.

I settled back. It was just another peaceful night in the state of fear.

We ought to be able to believe official reports about something related to our safety.

We ought to be able to believe, for instance, that when sons and daughters are sent to war it’s over a real, certifiable, verifiable threat to us. If it’s about nation-building, Middle East restructuring or the ever-poetic “freedom marching.” If that’s your war pretext, say it in advance. Of course, we’ll probably say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

We ought to be able to depend on the words of the people who represent us in halls of government or theaters of battle.

We can’t right now.

Take the recent report from the Pentagon that violence was down markedly in Baghdad because of intensified U.S. patrols. That was slightly off. The morgues showed three times as many Iraqis killed in this so-called period of pacification as U.S. spokesmen were saying.

Next consider the difference between the official count of America’s wounded in Iraq, roughly 19,000, and the 62,800 that PBS’s McLaughlin Group attributes to the number removed from the battlefield because of physical or mental wounds.

The first number, alarming though it ought to be, still appears tailored to the other big lie underlying pre-2003 designs on Iraq: That war could be low-cost, low-imprint, sort of like, um, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

No, war is a deathly endeavor. A nation had better believe in it fiercely to make it worth the investment of lives, including innocents.

And a nation that so invests had better be prepared to give the stockholders some truth about gains and losses. Consider the family of Cpl. Pat Tillman, who left the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals to enlist after 9/11. For more than a month after he was killed in Afghanistan in 2004, Tillman’s family and countrymen were fed a lie about his death, which came from friendly fire. Five inquiries have yet to clear up events.

Ironically, Tillman was in on another much-trumpeted story that wasn’t the truth. In a tour of duty in Iraq, he was with the squad that recovered America’s most famous POW in Iraq, Pfc. Jessica Lynch. Americans were told she was rescued in a blaze of gunfire. Actually, Lynch’s captors had fled when the U.S. troops arrived.

Gary Smith, in a penetrating portrait of Tillman in the Sept. 11 Sports Illustrated, writes of “how wars and soldiers get marketed by government and media alike, and how you can find yourself cast in the commercial whether you auditioned for it or not.”

In an eerie passage, Tillman, who enlisted to go get the bad guys behind 9/11, watches battles rage in the Iraqi desert and calls the U.S. invasion “f——— illegal.” Go market that.

A friend who is a disabled Vietnam veteran and who has grimaced throughout the Iraqi mission thinks of what awaits the many individuals who come home with terrible wounds and mental disabilities.

With as many as one in three Iraqi veterans reportedly suffering mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder, he notes a recent initiative by the Department of Veterans Affairs to tighten up the definition of PTSD. This comes at a time when Waco’s VA hospital, psychiatric care as its chief mission, looks to an uncertain future. Can we trust this government to fulfill its obligation to people who’ve sacrificed so much? I can’t believe I’m even asking that question.



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War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least


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Last modified: August, 29, 2014