We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Some of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES

by JOHN CHUCKMAN Friday, Sep. 27, 2002 at 7:45 PM

WHY WAR MEANS SO LITTLE IN AMERICA...

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES

Printed on Thursday, September 26, 2002 ( print.php?sid=723print.php?sid=723)

By John Chuckman

YellowTimes.org Columnist (Canada)

(YellowTimes.org) – I've written before that much of American foreign policy is determined by domestic attitudes and politics, in a society driven by the fantasies of adults who never want to grow up, rather than by the complex realities of the world.

How else do you explain the perverse and destructive nature of so many of America's intervention in the world after World War II? Like big, thoughtless kids kicking at colonies of birds' nests, destroying lives and community without noticing anything much more than the exhilarating time they've had doing it.

Meanwhile, where great power might really have achieved something worthwhile, generally it has gone unused. I refer to the several genocides that occurred in the last third of the Twentieth Century, not using that word genocide loosely as it often is used in America but to describe massive, blood-soaked horror inflicted on a class or type of people. Indonesia, Cambodia, and Rwanda - each of these involved upwards of half a million people being slaughtered by their own countrymen. In each case, America never lifted a finger.

The rivers of Indonesia ran red and thick with gore at the end of Mr. Sukarno's regime, but the American government thought that was fine since it was presumed members of the Communist party that were having their throats cut en masse.

Cambodia's agony, brought on by America's destabilizing secret bombing and invasions during the Vietnam War, was also fine since it only demonstrated the inhumanity of Communists and the validity of the paranoid "domino theory," it being the intervention of war-weary Vietnam that mercifully ended the "killing fields."

There is no consistency here at all. In one genocide, Communists were being killed. In the other, Communists were doing the killing. Perhaps the State Department took to heart Emerson's line about a "foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds." The same philosophy undoubtedly prevailed in the several instances of America's overturning unfriendly democracies and installing friendly brutal thugs. America only likes democracies that yield acceptable results.

Consistency did show up in the attitude towards Rwanda. After all, that was Africa, and who the hell cares about Africa?

There are many perverse and not-widely-understood aspects to this relationship between foreign affairs and domestic attitudes and politics. One of the most interesting was suggested to me by an off-handed remark in a letter from a reader in the Netherlands: Americans can't even keep peace and order in their own cities, what makes them think they are capable of doing it anywhere else?

Indeed, and that might explain the philosophy of "we destroy, you rebuild as best you can" so characteristic of America's interventions. The big kid can climb aboard his supersonic plane and, almost like pushing the buttons on a fancy video-game, make flashes and puffs of smoke rise from tiny structures far below with even tinier, ant-like dots running in all directions. Some Americans are capable of mustering that much interest. Besides, you get to be called a hero for doing that.

The immense arrogance of a term like "regime change" is lost on America. Much of the world, in American eyes, just resembles beat-up, ugly ghettos run by gangs that can't speak English, anyway. Why would anyone complain if we blew some of them up? This is the world as seen by American suburbanites cruising along in shiny, four-ton SUVs from "gated communities" to gated corporate headquarters, showing no interest in the scenes that rush by between one island of security and another. All that "stuff" in between might just as well be China or Egypt or Iraq.

America is a country that has almost no experience of war, except during the Civil War, and that was a very long time ago and was pretty much limited to one region of the country. America has never seen a city reduced to the rubble of Berlin or Tokyo after World War II, peopled by phantoms flitting about desperate to find any scrap of something useful or edible. It has never had to deal with millions of displaced persons who've lost everything, even their identification papers. Or had to endure a siege like that of Leningrad where tens of thousands of frozen corpses were stacked like logs in the streets as the living were reduced to conditions resembling the Stone Age. It has certainly never experienced the remorseless rape and pillage of a foreign army sweeping through its towns and cities. It never had to bury millions of its own.

Even in the gigantic upheaval of World War II, America's loss of life amounted to just over one-half of one percent of the fifty million souls who perished.

So when decisions are made to bomb the homes and factories of others, killing and maiming thousands of people far away, most Americans have no experience. It's all a little abstract; it is the job of politicians to decide.

Being immersed in concerns like whether they'll be able to find just the right doll for little Kaitlyn's birthday, they show little inclination to imagine what it would be like to feel the ground shudder hundreds of times between the screams of bombs and dying neighbors. Hell, who wants to think about things like that after a tough day at the office?

Another interesting aspect of this relationship between foreign policies and domestic matters reflects America's attitude towards its own national government. Basically, since the nation's beginnings, Americans have hated having a national government. Americans would never even have won the Revolutionary War without the immense assistance of the French. Many contemporary observers tell us how indifferent Americans had become to events in the last years. M. Duportail wrote that there was more excitement about the American Revolution in the cafes of Paris than he found in America. Washington spent most of his time writing desperate letters pleading for help, letters that often were ignored.

The proximate cause of the American Revolution, Britain's imposition of taxes designed to help pay its vast expenses in securing victory over the French in the Seven Years' War (a.k.a., the French and Indian War), a war which greatly benefited American colonists, reflected the colonists' hatred of paying taxes. Little has changed in two and a quarter centuries. There are many Americans who view Washington as the distant capital of an occupying Roman power.

They have matured to this extent since the Revolution: they are willing to pay taxes for the military, although not much else.

This strange arrangement has a profound effect on foreign affairs. With many Americans taking little interest in foreign events and little interest in national government, a great deal of "maneuver room" is afforded to the nation's power establishment. Their actions are effectively not subject to quite the scrutiny you might expect in an ostensibly democratic country. That is one reason a country that has so many of the characteristics of a democracy is capable of the kind of shameful things abroad you might expect from oligarchs or juntas.

This effect is further enhanced by the way in which elections are financed. Those who pay the bills are heard, and they are anything but a majority of Americans. Furthermore, the country's major popular information sources are owned by a relatively small number of powerful groups whose interests tend to be with the jingoistic and imperial.

It is often only intense international pressure which prevents America from doing some truly destructive and stupid things, just as on more than one occasion during the Cold War, Washington stood fully ready to use atomic weapons. One can only hope that international pressure has been sufficient to prevent the moral and intellectual mediocrity that now occupies the White House from launching an action whose long-term consequences may be just as terrible and unforgiving as the use of atomic weapons.

John Chuckman encourages your comments: jchuckman@YellowTimes.org

YellowTimes.org is an international publication. YellowTimes.org encourages its material to be reproduced, reprinted, or broadcast provided that any such reproduction must identify the original source, http://www.YellowTimes.org. Internet web links to http://www.YellowTimes.org are appreciated.

Report this post as:

© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy