Tuesday, May 30, 2006

U.S. Imperialism: The Only Game in Town

While I take an inordinate amount of time with some other posts (such as the much-advertized one on The Sleepwalkers; I know, I know, bated breath, etc.), here are links to some good political stuff I've been reading.

To start with, an interesting piece by James Petras on the CIA and the Cultural Cold War (reviewing Frances Stonor Saunders' book, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War) (link via Maxims and Reflections):

The CIA's cultural campaigns created the prototype for today's seemingly apolitical intellectuals, academics, and artists who are divorced from popular struggles and whose worth rises with their distance from the working classes and their proximity to prestigious foundations. The CIA role model of the successful professional is the ideological gatekeeper, excluding critical intellectuals who write about class struggle, class exploitation and U.S. imperialism, "ideological" not "objective" categories, or so they are told.

The singular lasting, damaging influence of the CIA's Congress of Cultural Freedom crowd was not their specific defenses of U.S. imperialist policies, but their success in imposing on subsequent generations of intellectuals the idea of excluding any sustained discussion of U.S. imperialism from the influential cultural and political media. The issue is not that today's intellectuals or artists may or may not take a progressive position on this or that issue. The problem is the pervasive belief among writers and artists that anti-imperialist social and political expressions should not appear in their music, paintings, and serious writing if they want their work to be considered of substantial artistic merit. The enduring political victory of the CIA was to convince intellectuals that serious and sustained political engagement on the left is incompatible with serious art and scholarship.
And some good ones on the present situation:
  • Juan Cole on Bush rebuffing, in 2003, a peace offer from Iran: "Bush and his various constituencies (the military-industrial complex; the Christian Right; the Likudnik Lobby; and Big Oil) do not want peace with Iran." (link found in the comment section for this post at Lenin's Tomb.)

  • Two excellent posts related to the massacre at Haditha, from the always-worth-reading Stan Goff. First, in defense of John Murtha:
    Murtha is telling the public that the Pentagon investigation will show that the US Marines massacred civilians in Haditha in November 2005.

    That is why I am grateful to Representative John Murtha for not adhering to what is considered good manners. He is not only defying the spineless and oportunistic Nancy Pelosi’s directive to avoid the issue of the Iraq war, when he says saying we need to get our troops out of there pronto; he is now being very explicit about why. The fact that he is a former Marine with scar tissue from Vietnam only makes his public statement, that the result of the investigation will confirm a massacre at Haditha, discomfit the war-boosters of the right and the Schumer-Pelosi sales managers of the center that much more.

    They know Murtha has an inside line to the Pentagon. That’s why he prefigured the rebellion of the Generals earlier this year with his declaration last year that the aggression in Iraq is a disaster that will only improve by ending it. Murtha knows what I know, and a lot of veterans who are willing to tell the truth know. Imperial occupations are by their very nature — in the words of Daniel Ellsberg — atrocity producing situations.

    The war in Iraq is an atrocity itself — and no Democrat who fails to oppose it deserves to ever hold public office again.
    Second, on the "rogue apple" defense:
    We need a new legal precedent that disallows this defense; but then again we need to put the whole war and the system that spawned it in the dock.

    We take a bunch of boys and raise them to believe that their sexuality is associated with the ability to menace in order to get respect. We sit them in front of television and films to see how killing resolves problems and guns attract adoring erotically objectified women. We send them to school to learn American Origin Myths about the glory of genocide. We encourage Boy Scouts where they can learn military discipline. We segregate them into a youth culture where gender policing kills their empathy. And when they haven’t been specially prepared by Daddy’s net worth for law school or medicine or management where they can sublimate all that aggression, we give them the option to work at Mickey-D’s or join the fucking Marine Corps — where, by the way, they will learn to fight dragons (you saw that ad, didn’t you) and wear spiffy uniforms. Then we get them in Basic Training or Boot Camp, where during bayonet training they learn to holler “Kill, kill, kill!” Or “Blood, blood, blood makes the grass grow!” Instead of merti badges like they got if there were Scouts, they can earn new badges. Then we prepare them to fight a war for lies; and prepare them with intelligence briefings and cultural indoctrination that are racist drivel, delivered often as not by a Staff Sergeant with a pickled brain who watches “Cops” in his off time. When they get to the war, there really are people who are trying to shoot them (they have just set foot on these other people’s land with guns, fercrissake… what would WE do?). So they arrive with aggression trained for a lifetime, surrounded by masculnity police (their peers) to ensure when the time comes they show no mercy, then add fear and shake well. Their job is to beat down this population. They know it. The population knows it.
  • And finally, this awesome interview at Arthur Magazine with Godsmack frontman Sully Erna, in which the interviewer confronts him on the use of the band's music in military recruitment ads (link via be.jazz):
    JAY [impatient]: Why don’t you do some research before you get involved with these sorts of things? You’re talking about young kids’ lives. You’re talking about kids—

    SULLY: [yelling] Would you rather not have us be protected so they can come and overrun our country?!?

    JAY: Do you know what a “fool’s errand” is?

    SULLY: I’m asking you a question!

    JAY: No one is threatening—

    SULLY [interrupting]: Would you rather us not be protected?!?

    JAY: You know what I’d like, Sully? A Department of Defense, not a Department of Offense that attacks other countries—sovereign nations—who do things in a different way than us, who we have no right to go over and invade and change their governments. Would we want someone else to do that to us?

    SULLY: I’m not saying—

    JAY [interrupting]: How hard is that to think about?

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