Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Revisionist History (opinion)

One of the amazing and also terrifying things about humanity is the capacity to forget the past, and distort it to one's own end. We all do it. Painful memories are 'edited' in our head to make us able to live with them, or sometimes it's just an honest mechanism of incorrectly remembering events. In politics however, this is getting out of control, and unlike an individual attempting to deal with a traumatic experience, politicians re-writing history should raise eyebrows for us all. 

In no place is this more apparent than with politicians such as John McCain who has now become a serial flip-flopper. First he said he was totally for a prisoner swap to get back Bowe Bergdahl, the captured Army Sergeant who was traded for five former Taliban commanders on Obama's orders. McCain then proceeded to say he would never have done the swap. So either he has lost his mind, or this is purely political at the expense of OUR sanity.

It doesn't stop there.

Ever since Obama has been elected, Republicans have made a concerted effort to re-write their history to, I don't know, erase the presidency of George W. Bush entirely and blame the last two decades squarely on Obama. 

Let's set the historical record straight here, lest we all become so mentally damaged that we don't know who's our enemy and who's our friend.

On 9/11, the Bush administration slipped up. They allowed 19 hijackers to crash massive airplanes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and another plane went down in Virginia. This caused the deaths of nearly 3,000 people. And subsequently, we went to war with Afghanistan - never mind that ALL of the hijackers were of Saudi origin. The Taliban were 'sheltering' Osama bin Laden, a man trained by the CIA under the direction of Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Sr., during the Cold War and the Russian occupation of Afghanistan (which also did not go so well). 

The Saudis were great friends of the Bush family. Bandar bin Sultan of the House of Saud and George W Bush go way back. And ON 9/11, the Bush administration actually fucking evacuated the entire bin Laden family back to Saudi Arabia. On what planet was this a good idea? Outrage from the right? Zero.

Shortly after 9/11, the Bush administration fabricated any evidence they could to get back into Iraq, with the idea that if we removed Saddam Hussein from existence, Iraq would be some sort of American-loving Disneyland where we get free oil, military bases, and a new ally. First, it was the specter of 'the mushroom cloud' that they showed us, with video of nuclear blasts (that we did). A CIA officer by the name of Joe Wilson, and his wife, also an agent, Valerie Plame, challenged the 'intelligence' that Iraq was seeking 'yellow cake uranium' (which would need to be refined... where was the refinery? Nowhere). The Bush administration - namely Dick Cheney, and I. Scooter Libby (their then press secretary) subsequently 'let slip' the identity of Joe Wilson and confirmed him as an intelligence agent, effectively ending his career and putting his life in grave danger. Outrage from the right? Zero.

Bush then fabricated the notion that Iraq had stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. Indeed, Iraq did have some weapons at one time. Reagan and Bush sold them to Iraq to combat Iran. Saddam then used the gas to kill tons of Sunni Muslims (himself being a Shiite Muslim), which I guess surprised Bush Sr., and started the first war against Iraq, effectively ending the friendship that Bush, Reagan, and Rumsfeld had with Saddam (yes, they were friends before). Now, the thing about biological and chemical weapons is that they expire. Especially biological weapons. Viruses, bacteria, etc. need a host to survive. With no host, they expire. The weapons have a shelf life of around a year or so. The weapons they were referring to would have been over a decade old, and ineffective. 

So they invented a 'mobile weapons lab' in cartoon form to have Gen. Colin Powell present this as evidence to the United Nations in order to justify a war in Iraq.

To this date, there has never been a connection proven between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. No, indeed Saddam HATED al Qaeda and was fighting them long before we were. Any challenge to Saddam's power in the region was not tolerated. Saddam's regime kept things together for the region, keeping sectarian violence at bay, and keeping the economy moving. Once we removed Saddam, those sectarian bulwarks broke down completely, leading us to where we are today.

After killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Taliban, and more, the Bush administration annihilated all the things that were keeping jihadists, Sunnis and Shiites from killing each other. All the military, police, and law enforcement in the country was dissolved. Seasoned, trained officers were banned from serving in the new US led government, and all enlistees were to be trained from the remaining civilian population. This obviously didn't work, as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) just now steamrolled parts of Syria and Iraq. And now, after over a decade of war in Afghanistan, and Iraq - we have NOTHING to show for it except a dead Saddam Hussein, and a dead Osama bin Laden. 

Obama has WISELY chosen to tell Iraq "We will help you if you want, but this is YOUR problem, this is a civil war". Why is this the wise thing to do? Because American bombs being dropped won't solve a damn thing. At all. Iraq has an identity crisis. The whole region does. You may not even know this, but the Middle East and all of its borders were drawn by WESTERN powers, who had no clue as to tribal relations, feuds, and the various religious sects. No clue whatsoever. All that is happening now is that the Middle East grew tired of Western meddling after WWI. They're ignoring the borders we drew, and the ones enforced by the UN. 

And there is nothing we can do but let the situation play out. 

However, now that you know all of this, look at what's happening in the news, and on political pundit shows. Fox News hosts are saying Obama is responsible for the situation in Iraq, which is complete horse shit. That situation would not even exist if Bush had never gone into Iraq on false pretenses. He LIED to get us in there, and he fucked it up, badly. So much for being 'greeted as liberators', "Mission Accomplished", and 'we're getting a lot of oil which will lower gas prices'. Yeah, NONE of that happened... outrage from the right? Zero.

Whatever your opinion of Obama is, and there are legitimate reasons to be critical of him, this is not something that Obama caused. This is something GOP policies toward the Middle East caused. The heavy handed policy of "We don't know what we're doing, so let's just bomb the problem away" does not work. The ignorant politicians who think that showing 'America's might' in the face of people who would gladly die for their cause is misguided and wrong. The notion that establishing American military outposts in the Middle East is a good idea, is stupid, given that we're 'desecrating their holy land' and just pissing them off more.

Look, America needs to get back in touch with REALITY. The REALITY is that Obama is trying to calm that situation down, not escalate it. And we cannot 'babysit Iraq' for the rest of history. It will make us more broke than we already are. Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Afghanistan... all of these regions are in turmoil, and the borders are dissolving... well, with the exception of Israel, who has its own problems with its neighbors.

One thing America needs to get real about is that there will ALWAYS be countries, or religions, or tribes, or individuals that don't like us. And we can't make them like us by bombing them. We can't make them like us by occupying them. We can't make them go away by exterminating them. And you can't kill an idea or belief system. It's futile. And the GOP notion that you can actually do any of this in the Internet age is absurd.

We need to stay out of the Middle East, and we need to stop attempting to re-write history. If you have a skewed version of history in favor of whatever political party is trying to protect its legacy, we will continue to make grave mistakes.

Obama simply is not responsible for the situation in the Middle East. From WWI until now, every leader had botched the Middle East. From the British powers that attempted to administrate it, to the UN who re-drew the borders, ignoring sectarian divisions and racial quarrels, to the GOP who insist on solving everything with guns, tanks, jets, and bombs, to the people who actually live over there who are not willing to live peacefully with their own people.

There isn't much that can be done to a region that has been so hopelessly ruined. You have to let it play out, you have to let someone over there win, and then deal with them. If that means dealing with a new 'caliphate' or Islamic state, so be it. You cannot prevent it, you cannot extinguish an idea, and you cannot tell these people how they can or cannot live.

All we can do is protect ourselves and shield our own land from harm.

We have to realize there will always be enemies, allies, and countries in between. We have to live with that. We cannot continue to try and strong arm countries into having governments and citizens that we approve of. Its simply out of our control, and we need to be truthful about this. The truth is that we have no fucking clue what we're doing. And we never have. 

 Re-writing history is a great political strategy when you're trying to win votes. And unless, as I suspect the GOP is doing, you're actually TRYING to have perpetual global conflict for the sake of having war profits flow to defense companies - we need to make this sort of lie illegal. It harms us on every level. And news stations, who are supposed to be looking out for us, seem to have been corrupted by political money. They're just repeating political talking points now, it's all worthless to watch. They're as guilty as the politicians for rallying us behind these very bad ideas.

The GOP created this Middle East Mess with the UK's help. The media helped them to do it. The GOP beat the drums of war endlessly, because, well, the entire party in Congress is a bunch of white, Christian males who would like to see Islam extinguished, despite their occasional platitudes to the contrary. 100% of them. Look it up. You've effectively turned the USA into a Christian theocratic oligarchy. Don't expect the GOP to change, they'll keep telling you all of their mistakes are Democrat blunders, that everything wrong with the Middle East and the world is all Obama's fault. This is a party that is incapable of admitting when it has done something wrong. They double down, not admit failure. They lie to protect themselves with viscous attacks, anti-Democrat propaganda (like calling us communists, socialists, terrorist sympathizers, and all their fucking pet names like 'dumbocrats', 'democraps', etc). This is a very dangerous position/tactic to undertake. This means that when they get back in power... guess where we're going? Iran would probably be next. Bad fucking idea. If John McCain were elected, that's exactly where we'd be.

Just wake up and pay attention. It's all I ask. Really learn the situation over there. Stop being blinded by fun rhetoric about 'red team vs blue team' and wake the fuck up to see what we've done to the world. We need to take our toys, and go home.