Radically Inept
Thursday, June 17, 2004
  Possibly the best 'reasoned' argument for John Kerry

The argument is made by Chalmers Johnson in a speech he made to a democratic party, but before that, I wanted to point to these two paragraphs by TomDispatch in his intro to the speech:
"Of course, off screen, the world trundles on in all its present confusion and unpleasantness, but thanks to the way our media grabs single subjects, blows them up till they fill all available space, and then runs with them until they pop, we have been focused this week only on the name of, and sundry details about the life of the riderless horse that carried Ronald Reagan's boots backwards into the sunset, or the curious fact that our military has a whole unit devoted solely to the study of and preparation for state funerals -- including the present one, the 300-page plan for which has been updated yearly since first filed by the Reagans in 1989.

Think of the following, then, as my version of counter-programming. It's a speech Chalmers Johnson gave to a Democratic Party club in southern California which had asked him to make the best case for voting for Senator John Kerry for president this November. Let me just add a small note to his speech: Johnson quotes various American military men who feel that 'staying the course' in Iraq now has us at the verge of disaster. For all of you, including the military officials cited below, who express amazement that the Bush administration -- despite its own Secretary of State's 'Powell doctrine' -- had no 'exit strategy,' there is a reason for this, though seldom discussed. Amid all the half-baked planning for and fantasizing about occupied Iraq, the lack of an exit strategy was in every meaningful sense planned for -- at least as much as the permanent military bases being built in Iraq by private 'contractors' and the Army Corps of Engineers to the tune of billions of our dollars. There was no exit strategy because the strategists of the Bush administration never planned on leaving. This wasn't just their mistake; this was their intent, and so is the most essential truth of our war in Iraq."
That's how I feel the situation looks. There was no exit strategy included in the plan to go to war w/ Iraq because we are not planning on leaving.

Now Chalmers gives an excellent summary of the current DoD/contractor situation, the costs to us tax payers, and follows w/ four, well thought out reasons for supporting Kerry, and you should go read the speech.

But right now, it is these three paragraphs in the summary that I want to direct your attention to:
Having said all this, let me nonetheless end by noting that the political system may not be capable of saving the Republic. It is hard to imagine that any president of either party could stand up to the powerful vested interests surrounding the Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies. Given that 40% of the defense budget is secret and that all of the intelligence agencies' budgets are secret, it is impossible for Congress to do effective oversight of them even if it wanted to. This is not something that started with the Bush administration. The Defense Department's "black budgets" go back to the Manhattan Project of World War II to build atomic bombs. The amounts spent on the intelligence agencies have been secret ever since the CIA was created in 1947. The stipulation in article 1, section 9, clause 7 of the Constitution that "a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time" has not been true in our country for more than fifty years.

A good example of the sorry state of oversight was the recent hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning the military's torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The hearings were a travesty. The committee, with the possible exception of Sen. McCain, treated the secretary of defense and the military high command as if they were beyond accountability to the representatives of the people. The Army Times was more effective. Its editorial of May 17, A Failure of Leadership at the Highest Levels, demanded that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers resign or be fired.

I believe that if the Republic is to be saved it will be as a result of an upsurge of direct democracy. A little more than a year ago some ten million people in all the genuine democracies on earth demonstrated against the war in Iraq, against George Bush, and for democracy. These were the largest demonstrations in British history -- two million people in London -- but they also included 400,000 people in New York City and a million each in Berlin, Madrid, and Rome. In late April we saw a powerful demonstration in Washington DC of over a million for a woman's right to choose and to encourage younger women to vote. A half-million demonstrated in Rome last Friday against a visit by our Boy Emperor.
"[A]n upsurge of direct democracy" might work; I'm just not sure that w/ the energy and the defense industries in bed together all the way to the top, just how successful citizens can be at affecting real change w/in the confines of the system. These groups are powerful and international, and to most of their important work out of sight of the citizenry. I worry that we need to ask the UN to come in and oversee our elections much as they have for other third world countries, which we appear well on our way to becoming. However, most 'Americans' would refuse the assistance out of false pride and a belief of inherent integrity in the system, which isn't there anymore. I don't know how much integrity the system had when, but it does not appear to have any, anymore.

So my thoughts run to attempting to affect the system by threatening it w/ irrelevance. I'm certainly NOT advocating violent overthrow of our government as I am hoping we are not so far down the road to dictatorship to make that necessary, but I AM advocating civil disobedience. Maybe we could to the Million People March On Langley, camp out for days, and shot down normal ops. Or maybe we could get 30 million of us could withhold paying taxes until our representatives can show how our money is being spent (it would destroy the legal system to try and prosecute 30 million people at one time). We could take a lessons from previous successful, non-violent movements like Otpor: the youths who booted Milosevic:
"Slobo, save Serbia: kill yourself," chanted a band of youth in the streets of Belgrade, Yugoslavia's capital city. Defeated in the presidential election on September 24, 2000, Slobodan Milosevic- Slobo for short- kept clinging to power. On October 5, the dictator fell.

Opposition parties, international pressure and mass demonstrations contributed to Milosevic's doomsday. So did Otpor ('Resistance' in Serb), whose story is unique in the annals of eastern European protest movements. Without leaders or a clear cut political ideology, the group played a decisive role: like a termite colony, Otpor gnawed away at the regime's foundations before the top realized that the whole edifice was rocking.

Founded by a handful of libertarians in October 1998, Otpor counted 4,000 members by the end of 1999, a number that has swelled to 100,000 today. The overwhelming majority can't even remember when the movement was born."
Now these kids were truly Radically Inept, it makes my eyes well up everytime I think of how 'some kids' were able to bring down a powerful dictator, and put a democracy in his place w/o having to resort to violence.

And I'm afraid we may get to that level here in the US, and just like then and there, there will be a large number of people, the majority in fact, who will continue to support a bad regime out of ignorance, fear, greed, etc, until near the end, when suddenly the entire country was 'Optor' for a few days. That moment did not last forever, but the democratic government they help bring about is still in place. Can we, as 'Americans', do less to save our country, maybe and probably.

On the otherhand, maybe w/ the help of our fellow citizens (doubtful), we could bring pressure on our representatives to be responsive to their constituents not just big money w/in the context of the present relationship. We do have the vote; we just don't seem to have citizens who care. It's really like we live in Huxley's "Brave New World", and surrounded by people who are content w/ their lot in life as long as they have TV, sports, beer, and sex, life is just fine. [I re-read that, and I guess it is sort of understandable. Pathetic, but understandable.]

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