Monday, May 29, 2006

Monday with McKenna: The Failure of USA, Inc.

Terry McKenna is back today with some thoughts on BBQ course I meant Memorial Day.

I am occasionally reminded that Terry and I, as much in accord as we are over the current tyranny here in America, do sometimes differ. I look back over the history of war and see nothing but the marks of failure and a spiraling course of genocide. WWII is a perfect example: it was the result of a diplomacy of ignorance in the '30's that culminated in one holocaust being answered by another. The final blow was a stroke of ethnic cleansing by USA, Inc.: two bombs, a quarter of a million dead, countless millions wounded, terminally sickened, and genetically altered. The dawn of what I have elsewhere dubbed the Age of Suicide.

But the real turning point of this nation's history, the place where we began the downhill slide into the ideological Hell that we live in now, is the war that continues to be celebrated on this day. At a moment where he could have said, "oh, you wanna secede? go ahead, we'll leave the light on for you when you get tired of it. Oh, and never mind that blockade of your ports, it will go away when you come back"; an American president chose instead the course of half a million dead and an entire generation of young adult males effectively wiped out. We would never quite recover the spirit of independence that spawned this nation.

There's my BBQ Day spout; let's see what Mr. McKenna has for us.

Memorial Day is a good day to reflect upon the near uselessness of war, even while we remember and honor our war dead. And before any of you start reminding me that WW2 was a just war, I’ll agree that it probably was, but after that, it’s hard to name another war that was other than folly. For example, WW1 was completely pointless carnage. Viet Nam equally pointless (at least for us). And regardless of your opinion about historical wars, our current wars are troubled affairs.

The war in Afghanistan may have been justified purely for vengeance – but our incomplete effort there is coming apart; the Taliban are back. Our Iraq adventure was never justified, except by using lies and magical thinking. It too is a failure. Yes, we keep hearing about our having turned a corner, but if we turned ¼ turn every time the president said we’d turned a corner, we would have turned around several times now. Thus a new government may finally have been established, but it is incapable of protecting itself. Their security forces are a mix of mutually opposing militias and corrupt officials who are in cahoots with the bad guys. If we leave security to Iraqis, we have chaos – of course, that’s not far from what we have now anyway.

Both of our current wars were designed to change the Middle East – and since that’s not happening, they can be considered failures, even if somehow or other we manage to obtain ultimate success. Having demonstrated that we can neither dominate nor change the middle east, our policy options are now limited.

Maybe it is time to back away from the Middle East altogether.

For example: We are now energized over Iran’s efforts to make a uranium bomb. Of course this is serious, but remember, there is little that we can do over there but talk. And we have nothing to bargain with, not even money (yes they love oil money, but they can get all of that from the Chinese who are cutting their own deals with Iran).

And yes, there is the problem of Israel, for Israel may see the need to strike at Iran if they get closer to building a working weapon. It would be better for all of us if we could somehow get Iran to go no further. But we probably can’t.

If we thought of the Middle East as a marketing problem (and of the US as a product) we would have a bunch of bad facts.

• Our most faithful ally in the Middle East is Israel
• Everyone else HATES Israel
• Even if a Middle East leader agrees (probably for Western consumption) that Israel has the right to exist, their populations don’t
• The US is variously thought of as the great Satan, a Christian crusader and the reason why the Middle East is so backward

Then we have the frustrating socio-economics. The bulk of the Middle Eastern nations are postcolonial Muslim states with limited democracy and civil rights. Their economies are oil based and those sectors that are not based on oil are meager and constricted. Oil wealth is controlled by the ruling family or party.

It doesn’t look good. For USA, Inc. it is time to close up shop and go home. Sure, let’s continue to trade as we do. And maybe we should still give aid (in equal amounts) to Israel and Egypt. But let’s not sell any more military jets, nor open up more military bases.

Long ago, I ran a fast food store for a national brand. We received lots of solid information about marketing. One of the lessons we learned was that not only was it important to run our stores well (we had a few dozen in the area between Cincinnati and Dayton) but that if our customers had a bad experience with our brand in another district, that would affect our sales. The rule of thumb was that a customer who was turned off would not return for at least 2 years.

Well, we have turned off the Middle East in so many ways that it’s hard to see anyone returning to USA, Inc. for at least a few dozen years.

And maybe, if we are quiet and peaceable for a few decades, maybe “they” will want to engage with us again.

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