Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catch A Falling Empire

In a reasonably healthy society, the Wikileaks disclosure about US behavior in Afghanistan would raise political hackles, potentially threatening the government itself. And while the military and Obama's circle warn that Wikileaks is doing just that, in reality the state is in no danger from its subjects, the killing machine free to operate sans serious objection. Obama nodded to this amid the alarms, admitting that Wikileaks merely confirmed what those paying attention already knew. That this might stir wider dissent is an elite concern, but even they know there's little to worry about.

Obama is using Wikileaks to distinguish Bush's Afghan policy from his. Bush, as we know, wasn't serious about the Taliban threat to our existence, whereas Obama is playing for keeps, boosted by Congressional financial support. Some Democrats and liberals are opposed to Obama's brutal expansion, but they aren't quite as vocal as they were against Bush, for obvious partisan reasons. If Bush were overseeing what Obama says is crucial, I suspect most liberals would call for his impeachment, and rightly so. While there is anger and feelings of "betrayal," I've yet to see any prominent liberals call for Obama's head.

Despite this grim scenario, Wikileaks proves that dissent exists, that there are those committed to showing the Terror Wars in full color. The problem is that there's no real antiwar movement to take advantage of these revelations. Obama's PR offensive in '08 was extremely effective in deflating antiwar sentiments that thrived under Bush, which is why Obama received the elite support that put him into office. Comparisons to LBJ and Vietnam pop up, but unlike the populist Texan, Obama faces no citizen unrest, no mass marches on his doorstep. His public opposition is largely self-pitying white people lost in fantasies about Islamo-communist takeovers and related socialist nightmares. The crazier they act, the better Obama looks.

The Wikileaks clamor overshadowed a report in The Independent about the deadly after effects of the US assault on Fallujah. Infant mortality, cancer, leukemia, and birth defect rates are through the roof, tied to the use of depleted uranium, white phosphorus, and other weapons in freedom's arsenal.

When you focus on this horrid reality, it makes sense that major news outlets aren't creating a fuss about Fallujah, nor our political "representatives" who insist that Iraq is a success story. Denial or dismissal are the only mainstream options here. Taking responsibility for such war crimes would require political courage and personal morality of a kind rarely seen in present American life. For consumers, feeling bad about Fallujah doesn't alter their status, so why dote on such depressing news? Like everything else, Fallujah will fade from imperial view, to the degree it ever penetrated the national mindset.

Afghanistan is supposedly the graveyard of empires. If true, then ours is currently digging its own. One can only hope. Until then, we continue to create graves for countless others, ruining the lives of their survivors. Given the evidence, our imperial demise will doubtless be a a loud, messy, destructive one. Then again, we're Americans. How could it not?