Monday, March 21, 2011

This Time For Sure

Our latest Humanitarian exercise follows a worn script, players pro and con assuming their standard roles. It's so predictable it's funny. You'd think that after a decade of constant war in numerous countries, our betters would whip up a different scenario, for variety's sake if nothing else. But I'm a romantic. I like to believe that people crave originality. Yet the sad reality is that Americans happily feed on redundant themes, the simpler the better. And you can't get much simpler than violence wrapped in piety. If we don't save the world, who will?

Bill Hicks once likened US foreign policy to old westerns where a gunman forces an unarmed man to pick up a pistol and then kills him when he does. But I think our national values are closer to The Sopranos -- armed sociopaths trying to maintain their power and wealth by any means necessary. And if a former friend/ally/business partner becomes inconvenient, two in the back of his head. Bada bang. It's only business.

I had my doubts about a Western assault on Libya. I didn't think it would happen. It made no sense. But I stupidly disregarded a sudden imperial shift, and for that I apologize. No matter how closely Gaddafi worked with imperial powers, he wasn't one of them. His early defiance (The Most Dangerous Man in the World, recall) suggested potential deviation, and a Sopranos foreign policy can't risk that. Plus, Gaddafi is easily demonized. He plays his role with relish. So sending cruise missiles his way is simple to justify. Obama sounded bored announcing it.

I'm not sure what the end game is here. Even if I did know, it wouldn't matter. (Friend Richard Seymour offers what I think is the best explanation.) We have zero power over our owners, who can bomb any country they want with no public input or debate. The real comedy comes when public commentators act as if their two cents have currency.

Some of the pro-bombing arguments I've read are true howlers, filled with ass-kickin' rhetoric and testaments to nobility. In an earlier day I'd link to them, mock them, engage them. But I lack desire to exchange flames with pro-war liberals. You probably know who they are, and if not, you're better off.

Trading insults won't stop these expanding wars, nor will heroic postures save Libyan lives. We are mere spectators to violence and power. Pretending that our concerns matter to those pushing launch buttons delays any chance at liberation. The sooner we accept our powerlessness, the closer we'll be to forging actual politics.

Then again, I'm a romantic.