9/11 images were war pornography?

September 11th 2001 was a dark day in American history. That isn’t disputed. What is debated is how the country reacted afterward. I read a blog entry on a website today that bothered me because the writer seemed to be blurring how events turned out rather than what was known that day.

On the website Crooks and Liars, writer Susie Madrak posted an entry titled “Flashback: The Day The Earth Stood Still”.

It was a very personal account of what happened to her on September 11th 2001. I was interested in reading the essay as it matched my feelings that day until I got to the end when she wrote this:

My grown son was staying with me while he looked for a job and was sleeping on the couch when I came home. I flipped on the TV and it woke him up. We watched as they showed the planes crashing into the building, again and again and again.

“Turn it off,” he said after an hour or so. “This is pornography, war pornography. Turn it off.”

So I did.

When we have our limbic brain punched over and over again by horrific images, and those images are then used to justify more horror, there is only one solution: Turn off your TV.

My son was right: The 9/11 images were war pornography, something watched over and over as we stroked ourselves into wargasm.

Flashback: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Those words bothered me because of the way I spent my day that day. I watched the TV coverage all day and into the evening because it just didn’t seem real and I need to see the live coverage to keep driving it home that it happened.

Yes the attacks were used to justify an unneeded war in Iraq – later. On that day in September is was impossible to know how it would turn out. How could someone claim the TV images were being used to manipulate people.

That would be like saying the newsreels showing the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was used to trick us into war.

The war was started by those attacks just as they were in September 2001.

Calling the news images that day “war pornography” is either an after-the-fact colorization of the event or a cold hearted reaction to mass murder.

I hope it is the first and not the former.

Bush wants to compare Iraq to Vietnam

On Wednesday August 23 President George Bush, speaking to the VFW convention in Kansas City, said this:

Finally, there’s Vietnam. This is a complex and painful subject for many Americans. The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech. So I’m going to limit myself to one argument that has particular significance today. Then as now, people argued the real problem was America’s presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end…..

There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today’s struggle — those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001. In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper after the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden declared that “the American people had risen against their government’s war in Vietnam. And they must do the same today.”

President Bush Attends Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, Discusses War on Terror

Bush, and his neo-con buddies, are trying to introduce another “reason” we need to stay in Iraq. He thinks that if we leave then Iraq will descend into chaos and it will encourage our “enemies”.

Iraq is a lot like Vietnam but not like Bush wants us to think.

Our work in Iraq is the result of arrogance and a lack of acknowledgement of a failed policy. President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamera knew their Vietnam policy was wrong and we wouldn’t “win” but were so worried about their pride that they allowed thousands of more US deaths. The Bush administration will not admit their policy has failed and their pride makes them come up with stories like Bush’s speech to the VFW.

In Vietnam, President Johnson believed that if more troops were sent in then we would win. Even after having 500,000 troops on the ground and winning the few conventional battles that North Vietnam tried, we still couldn’t win the non-conventional war that was the main focus of the Viet Cong. Just as in Iraq, conventional troops can’t win a non-conventional war no matter how many troops you have.

The Johnson administration supported, propped up, and manipulated a corrupt South Vietnam government. Just like in Vietnam, in Iraq, the civilian government has no power without the US troops keeping them protected. Instead of trying to form a government that would give the people the democracy we say we want it seems we want a government for our own purposes. It didn’t work in Vietnam and it won’t work in Iraq.

The Mahablog stated:

Vietnam and Iraq are similar in that they present the same paradox — that victory could equal defeat. By that I mean using enough military force to utterly crush the warring factions would amount to throwing away our political objectives. The operative phrase, I believe, is “Pyrrhic victory.” To those who continue to complain that we could have “won” in Vietnam, and could still “win” in Iraq, I say, of course. But this isn’t a game. Get over childish ideas about “victory” and “defeat” and see the bigger picture, for once.

Instead of talking about winning and losing, we should clearly understand what our objectives are in Iraq and then consider how those objectives might be achieved. Military “victory” and “defeat” are abstractions that don’t apply to the reality.

Of Soldiers, Spooks, and Do-Gooders

Before we got into Iraq, Bush and his cronies strongly claimed that it would not be another Vietnam. Now Bush wants us to believe it will be and it will be, just not the way he thinks.

If you think the Walter Reed scandal was bad

If you think the Walter Reed scandal was bad…

I read an article in the Nation tonight that talks about the rash of military discharges of wounded Iraq war veterans, in order, it seems to save the VA money on benefits.

The article, How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits, by Joshua Kors, highlights a previously unreported practice of discharging wounded soldiers as having a personality disorder, which happens to be one of the ways a soldier can be discharged and not be eligible for any future benefits.

The article highlighted the case of Jon Town, from Findlay, Ohio, who was seriously wounded, in 2004, when a rocket slammed into a wall 2 feet above his head. Since then he has suffered from deafness, memory failure and depression. In 2006 it was determined that he would never recover enough to go back to active duty.

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town’s wounds were actually caused by a “personality disorder.” Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits. The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans’ rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals.

They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers like Town and that it’s doing so for one reason: to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses.

How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits

Not only did Town lose his disability pay or chance to receive long-term VA medical care, but he left the Army actually owing $3000 when they took back his $15,000 bonus.

The article reports that up to 22,500 soldiers have been discharged for a “personality disorder” in the past 6 years with a sharp increase since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The US once again shafts veterans.

The Bush who cried wolf

President Bush has a creditability problem. Here are a couple of examples.

Gosh, reading an economic report to Congress from President Bush, one wonders if he is back on the blow. Here is how an AP article put it on 2/13/07:

Looking back on last year, Bush said the economy turned in a solid performance despite the ill effects of the residential real estate bust.

The economy grew by 3.4 percent last year, as measured by gross domestic product from the fourth quarter of 2005 to the fourth quarter of 2006.

The president’s report projects that economic growth will slow to 2.9 percent this year, reflecting lingering fallout from the housing slump. Next year growth will pick up, with the economy expanding by 3.1 percent.

Bush pushes free trade as key to strong economy 

Meanwhile, this week Chrysler announced the cutting of 13,000 jobs, US icon candymaker Hershey announced they would cut 1,500 jobs and move more production to a new plant in Mexico, and Coca-Cola plans to cut 3,500 jobs.

So growth in 2006 was 3.4 percent and is expected to be 2.6 percent in 2007 and then 3.1 percent in 2008? And 3 major employers are slashing payrolls.

I am not an expert but Bush’s report is NOT good news and neither is the economic forecast.

President Bush also now wants us to believe that Iran is supplying arms to Shiite militias in Iraq in a way that recalls the efforts the administration tried to “prove” the danger of Saddam Hussein as a pretext to invading that country. The mainstream media seem to have collective amnesia of that debacle and are reporting the “proof” about Iran without challenge.

The website Media Matters, as well as anyone with an IQ over 10, sees the parallel:

In reporting on the Bush administration’s allegations about Iran’s role in Iraq, media outlets have covered the matter in a muddled, incomplete manner, omitting any skeptical or critical analysis of these allegations, which suggests, in the words of washingtonpost.com’s Dan Froomkin, that “the lessons we should have learned from Iraq may not have been learned at all.”

Fool me twice? — NY Times, CBS, NBC report Bush allegations about Iran without context, skepticism

Froomkin, writing on the website “Nieman Watchdog” said:

You Can’t Be Too Skeptical of Authority

Don’t assume anything administration officials tell you is true. In fact, you are probably better off assuming anything they tell you is a lie.

Demand proof for their every assertion. Assume the proof is a lie. Demand that they prove that their proof is accurate.

Just because they say it, doesn’t mean it should be make the headlines. The absence of supporting evidence for their assertion — or a preponderance of evidence that contradicts the assertion — may be more newsworthy than the assertion itself.

Don’t print anonymous assertions. Demand that sources make themselves accountable for what they insist is true.

How the press can prevent another Iraq

Froomkin also listed the “provocation alone does not justify war” and that we need to find out what others outside the US think.

Knowing that Bush is such a religious person, I would also like to offer the classic fable by Aesop about the “Boy who cried wolf” that I learned in Sunday school.

The moral is if you lie enough times, when there is real danger you will not be believed. Bush wonders why people have a hard time believing his accusations about Iran.

Iraq Solution

One only needs to turn on the news these days and hear about the chaos and sectarian strife happening in Iraq. From bombings, abductions, to outright killings, it seems that Iraq is in a state of civil war. Not to mention US troops still being killed on a daily basis. And even as President Bush and others still deny it, Iraq is one of the most unstable countries today .

On one of the e-mail discussion lists I participate, in the run up to the invasion in 2003, I had a heated debated with a pro-Bush person on the merits of invading Iraq and removing Saddam. At the time I mentioned that the British ran into a mess of trouble during their attempts to force their ideas of civics on Iraq after World War I when they had a mandate. I told my opponent that if the US invaded it would be another Vietnam and the US would muck it up. If the guy was still on the list (he was kicked off after accusing me and others of being traitors because we refused to support President Bush) I would be pleased to post the following note:

I told you so.

The reason the US will never “win” is the same reason the British never “won” back in the 1920’s. Iraq was forced together into a country. It was made up of different clans who hated each other and still do. Most are Muslim but act more like Catholic and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Each claims the other are heretics. Then you have the Kurds in the north who are as different as night and day to the Sunnis and Shiites.

There is a good overview of the British occupation of Iraq in 1917 that gives some uncanny parallels to the US invasion in 2003. Here is quote:

Within six months, Britain was fighting a military insurrection in Iraq and David Lloyd George, the prime minister, was facing calls for a military withdrawal. “Is it not for the benefit of the people of that country that it should be governed so as to enable them to develop this land which has been withered and shrivelled up by oppression? What would happen if we withdrew?” Lloyd George would not abandon Iraq to “anarchy and confusion”. By this stage, British officials in Baghdad were blaming the violence on “local political agitation, originated outside Iraq”, suggesting that Syria might be involved.

Come again? Could history repeat itself so perfectly? For Lloyd George’s “anarchy”, read any statement from the American occupation power warning of “civil war” in the event of a Western withdrawal. For Syria – well, read Syria.

Iraq, 1917

So what is the solution?

The only real solution is to let Iraq devolve into clan areas. That’s right. Iraq, as a country, should go away and be replaced with the areas that existed prior to World War I. Each area would be controlled by either the Kurds, the Sunnis, or the Shiites.

They each want to control Iraq so if you remove the country then you take away their reason for violence.