Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Corruption (editorial)

The neo-liberal / neo-con press likes to talk about how President Karzai is so "corrupt" -- as is much of the "developing world" (used to be "3rd world").

The self-righteous tone, coming from an occupying force with no business being there, is pretty awesome. "What? The Pakistanis don't really want us here either? How corrupt could they be? How unfair, as we're only here to help."

The hypocrisy is too deep to stand up in, as there's no way to explain either "operation" (as in "botched surgery") except as a result of greed, fear and ignorance ("corruption" in other words).

What was the original mission in Iraq?

To oust Saddam Hussein and eliminate any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), although what gave any leader the right to pre-emptively strike, in the absence of clear and present danger, is still an open debate (oh yeah, right: "911" means "debate over").

The Americans were stampeded, against their better judgment, into committing an atrocity. They listened to their so-called best and brightest. Same mistake under Kennedy.

True, some semblance of obeying international law was mocked up by Colin Powell and his team, followed by invasion, occupation and the Bremer Edicts (remember those?).

The WMD thing fell apart pretty quickly, just as Hans Blix and Scott Ritter knew it would, and Saddam was captured by the Kurds and turned over to a vengeful militia.

Some elections were held, with the winners ever promising they'd get the Americans to leave.

So much for democracy.

So what's the pretense today, for hanging out in Iraq? There isn't one really, except one: people need the work i.e. jobs, jobs, jobs.

Americans don't wanna leave Afghanistan because then they "might look weak" -- as if using that rationale were anything beyond the epitome of weakness.

If that's really the game, then game over already. Who's fooling whom?

Again, people need the work. It's a living. Jobs, jobs, jobs is the only reason people flock to Afghanistan.

A crashed economy in the USA provides a big incentive (could these phenomena be coupled? Insightful analysts sometimes connect those dots).

Clearly, the best way LAWCAP knows to "stimulate the economy" is via military spending. This has been true for some decades (since FDR) and the corporate welfare state has become highly dependent on its insolvent Uncle Sam, its dutiful puppet.

"Give us defense contracts or we'll give you death" is the message to cowed politicians, who line up to toe the party line (it's a one party state with an institutionalized opposition -- the better to get nothing done, which is kind of the point).

Now president Karzai of Afghanistan has issued an edict of his own: private security forces should leave or stay sequestered to their embassies. "But that's impossible!"

Immediately we hear about the jobs, jobs jobs that will be lost, by the poor Afghanis as well. Plus Afghan security forces are so corrupt, whereas the occupying "international community" is just there to be professional, to show how it's done.

When politicians talk about a troop draw-down, it's always "redeploy" -- journalists are careful to write that way too. No one wants to suggest a reduction in "absolute numbers" (heresy!).

The broad unspoken agreement is: "defense spending" must go up up up, and eventually the entire population must be in permanent military mode. That's what the War on Terror is all about no? Jobs jobs jobs.

A hard-nosed economist might suggest that paying people just to sit home and watch TV would cost the world far less, in terms of lives lost, oil squandered, opportunities denied.

"Redeployment" should be to vast video-game playing facilities (arcades on steroids), minus the killer drones on the other end. The games could be educational. Real money could be channeled. Sounds like Wall Street.

Could soldiers become bankers then? Having tasted what truly bad investments are like, they might well make better ones. Lets turn some big banks over to veterans and see if they invest in health care and scholarships for themselves. That'd be a bigger stimulus than private security forces. Worth a try?