As so often happens with some new sickening outrage, words fail me in confronting the base cowardice of the Democratic "opposition" in completely caving to the deeply unpopular Bush Administration and giving Little Caligula a blank check to continue his reeking slaughter in Iraq. Fortunately for us all, words did not fail the ever-incandescent Arthur Silber, who has written with blazing fury about this latest sell-out. [See A Murderer's Confession, then immediately read the rest of the pieces now up on Silber's site, Once Upon a Time.] Silber is firing on all cylinders these days, writing in depth and with eloquence not only about the criminal follies of our present politics but also the deeper ignorance and malevolence that lie behind them – the seedbank of historical, philosophical, psychological and systemic factors that gave rise to the bitter fruit we eat today, and will generate further bloody harvest as we blunder on in our murderous bipartisan arrogance, all the while proclaiming – and perhaps even convinced of – our invincible goodness and eternal wisdom, our divine uniqueness, which in turn justifies any crime, any desecration.
For if "we" do it, it can't be wrong, because we are inherently good and incapable of evil. Or as George Herbert Humbert Humbert Walkie-Talkie Bush once said, "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are." This was in response to a U.S. ship shooting down a Iranian passenger jet in 1988 – an "accidental" missile attack (for which the ship's officers were given medals) that occurred at the height of America's military assistance to Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War. Indeed, so close was the Reagan-Bush regime to Saddam, so thoroughly supportive of his war on Iran, that a year before, when an Iraqi plane attacked an American ship in the Persian Gulf, the USS Stark, and killed 37 Americans, the Great Communicator himself shrugged it off, as Renato Redentor Constantino relates on TomDispatch:
"We've never considered them hostile at all," was the way President Ronald Reagan described Saddam's military. They've never been in any way hostile... And the villain in the piece is Iran."
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As for that Iranian airliner, Constantino notes:
A little over a year after the attack [on the Stark], on July 3, 1988, two surface-to-air missiles are fired by the USS Vincennes, an Aegis-class cruiser, reportedly inside Iranian territorial waters at the time, at Iran Air flight 655. The first missile cut the civilian airliner in half. All 290 passengers and crew aboard the Iranian airbus were killed.
In her coffin, reported [Robert] Fisk, who, at the time, was in the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas where the human remains of flight 655 were collected, Leila Behbahani was still in the same garments and bracelets that she had worn when she was fished out of the water minutes after the Vincennes brought down the passenger plane – a green dress and white pinafore, two bright gold bangles on each wrist, white socks, and tiny black shoes. Leila was three-years old. There were 66 children on board the aircraft.
The Pentagon claimed that the Vincennes shot down the Iranian plane because it appeared the pilot was attempting to fly it into the warship – even though the USS Sides, a frigate in the area, recorded the airliner climbing, not diving...
When the Vincennes returned to San Diego, its homeport, the ship was given a hero's welcome, while the members of the crew were "all awarded combat action ribbons." The air warfare coordinator of the ship won the Navy's Commendation Medal "for heroic achievement" for the "ability to maintain his poise and confidence under fire." Citizens in Vincennes, Indiana, raised money to build a monument – not to the dead Iranians but to the ship that shot them down.
If we do it... As Silber puts it:
If you have ever wondered how a serial murderer – a murderer who is sane and fully aware of the acts he has committed – can remain steadfastly convinced of his own moral superiority and show not even the slightest glimmer of remorse, you should not wonder any longer.And thus even with a war that the majority of the American people do not want continued, that every single day sinks the nation further into the mire, that is bankrupting the country and blighting the future of our own children (not to mention Iraq's children, which no one ever does) with decades of chaos and blowback – even now, the jellyfish of the Democratic Party cannot bring themselves to do the clearly expressed will of the people and take even one small, practical step toward beginning to end the war. As Silber notes:
The United States government is such a murderer. It conducts its murders in full view of the entire world. It even boasts of them. Our government, and all our leading commentators, still maintain that the end justifies the means – and that even the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents is of no moral consequence, provided a sufficient number of people can delude themselves into believing the final result is a "success."
We are a nation that has voluntarily renounced all its most crucial values, and all its founding principles. We can appeal all we want to "American exceptionalism," but any "exceptionalism" that remains ours is that of a mass murderer without a soul, and without a conscience. We have destroyed the most basic foundation of liberty – and the nature and meaning of our act has already, in less than a couple of weeks, almost entirely vanished from public discussion. It is useless to appeal to any "American" sense of morality: we have none. It does not matter how immense the pile of corpses grows: we will not surrender or even question our delusion that we are right, and that nothing we do can be profoundly, unforgivably wrong.
The Democrats will not alter our foreign policy in any fundamental way. For God's sake, they began our current foreign policy, they crafted it, they maintained it throughout endless decades of slaughter – and to judge by the statements of the major contenders, a future Democratic president will surely begin a war with Iran, if Bush does not do so first.The Democratic triumph in last year's election was a false dawn. The glow of hope that some espied on the horizon then has proved to be just another conflagration in our endless, senseless war.
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