War, Iraq, American Politics and why do I care? (ok, it's a rant)

war_protests_melbourneThe War –

You’d think with the mess Australian politics is, I wouldn’t have time to get upset about American politics.. but I am getting upset. Like most people I was appalled by both the American and Australian governments in recent years – going to war with countries that pose no threat to us, fabricating evidence of weapons and dire threats when really the war was about – settling old scores, getting our hands on oil resources and trying to implant Western influence in the Middle East (take your pick). this_was_the_evidence

In the case of Australia – we went to war despite our government knowing that the Australian people completely opposed to entering the war. In fact there were protests in every city in numbers not seen since the Vietnam war. Instead of following the will of the people of Australia, John Howard’s government bent its knee and bowed it head, once again, for our American masters who went off to start a war. We have had a change of government since, but I fear the Labour party isn’t very different from the Liberal party when it comes to keeping Uncle Sam happy. Like New Zealand, Australia SHOULD have told the US that we would not be involved in illegal invasion of a sovereign country and actively discouraged our allies from doing such, but then we may not have got our Free Trade agreement (of questionable value) which the Kiwis were denied.

Iraq

Years later, Iraq is a complete mess. The people of Iraq have suffered immeasurably. Family members and friends have died, homes have been lost, children suffer birth defects from radiation poisoning caused by American munitions and the rebuilding of Iraq is hampered by corruption, violence and lack of funding. Basics like food, medicine, water, electricity are hard to come by and in most cases, much worse than before the war began.

bombings_in_iraqEvery year America mourns the death of around 3,000 American’s in the attacks of September 11, 2001 – as is their right.

Recent studies have shown approximately 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war in Iraq and the toll continues. I personally do not believe the life of an American / Australian is more important than that of an Iraqi, we do not choose where we are born, and yet we see no mourning for the people of Iraq who have suffered by our collective hands. Regularly we hear reports of the terrible toll on American soldiers, but there is little mention of the civilians of Iraq.

I genuinely feel sorry for American soldiers who have joined the military to serve and protect their country, only to find themselves fighting an illegal war based on fabricated evidence with an unnamed enemy. uncle_sam_support_war_on_terrorA ‘War on Terror’ has no beginning, no end, and no way of winning. There are no ‘good’ or ‘evil’ people as Bush and his cronies would have you believe – only people. The American media has tended to equate support of troops with support for the war – this is an appalling premise. Truly supporting the personnel of the military would include insuring they are fighting an honourable war for which their efforts will be appreciated personally, domestically and internationally. It’s clear the Iraq war does not qualify in this respect.

American Politics – Firstly, the ‘War on Terror’, with frightful similarities to George Orwell’s 1984 vision, has been and will remain an all powerful excuse to exert military power, whittle away civil rights and in some cases completely ignore international law – as is happening in Guantanamo Bay and other places. By having an illusive and mysterious ‘boogie man’ enemy, the Western governments can shake a ‘scary stick’ at their populations whenever they need a distraction from their own failings.

Barak Obama and John McCain – The state is set for the American election and the mud is flying. It really does bring out the best and worst.. In Australia we don’t generally receive a deep understanding of policy differences between American parties (do Americans?), rather we get audio and video ‘grabs’ which amount to not much more than entertainment television for the most part. Barrack has been portrayed as the ‘change’ guy and McCain as the ‘POW / ex Military’ guy who would also like to change some things, if his party will let him.public_enemy_fear_of_a_black_planet

I have been appalled at the reign of George Bush, so ‘change’ sounds pretty good, but without understanding exactly what that means, it’s hard to be too enthusiastic. Claims by Insight, and later FOX News and the New York Post – that Barak Obama may actually be a Muslim are shocking – not because Mr. Obama may be a Muslim, but because this is being used as an deeply wounding insult which is affecting his popularity. What are the Muslims of the world to think of America, when even the malicious rumour of you being a Muslim is enough to adversely affect your chances of election. Also, without fail, Barak Obama is described as ‘black’. He had a white mother and a black father. I can’t help but think of Public Enemy lyrics on ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ that explain how if you have ANY black in you, then you’re black.

The Republicans know how to win an election.

Politicians used to promise things to their electorate to win votes. They would promise services, tax breaks, jobs, opportunities, education – you name it. The political carrot has been replace with the stick, or the ‘scary stick’ in this case, which as found to be far more effective. If you DON’T elect a republican –

  • The terrorists will win, after all, Republicans have spotted them EVERYWHERE
  • The wars will go badly, some might even stop completely without ‘winning’
  • National security will fail
  • Everything will be socialised
  • Taxes will go up, especially if you can afford to pay them
  • Your guns will get taken off you
  • Your children will learn how their body works how to use a condom (the horror!)
  • Your maid might be able to become an American and demand better pay
  • Everything will become more French (apparently this is an awful prospect to Americans ?)

My prediction

the Replican’s need a bigger threat– even this list of frightful things that Democrats will introduce is probably not enough. What you need is something REALLY scary that will have voters running back to the comforts of the Republican party. What better than the threat of conflict, even WAR to bring back the voters..

So who do American’s love to hate? The Russians. I’ve been watching the manoeuvring around Georgia with interest and I believe this is where we are going to see America aggravate Russia by proxy, through the use of a reckless Georgian president to the point where there is a real chance of escalation.

Russia is already understandably sensitive about regions that were previously part of the Soviet Union becoming independent. Some of these countries also have significant energy reserves. Russia is also rebuilding its wealth and power and exerting influence over Europe through the use of its gas and energy supplies which are critical to Europe. What it doesn’t want are countries – Ukraine and Georgia – previously part of the Soviet bloc, becoming independent, joining NATO (with a famously stated goal “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”‘) and worse, creating an energy corridor to reduce Russia’s virtual energy monopoly in Europe.

georgian_gas_pipeline<– Is this the ‘democracy’ America is protecting (proposed gas pipleline)

The erosion of Russian power and loosing of face is exactly what America has been supporting – offering financial assistance, the promise of gas pipelines and even military training and equipment for Georgia. While Bush professes to supporting a ‘fledgling democracy’ (with very dubious history of democratic legitimacy), there is obviously other motivations for America. Instead of attempting to calm relations when the conflict occurred between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia, the Republican leaders threatened reprisals if Russia did not withdraw. Since that time NATO warships with the latest weaponry were deemed suitable vehicles for delivering aid to Georgia – further inflaming relations with Russia.

I fear relations between Russia and America will deteriorate in the near future. With the Republican Vice Presidential nominee (currently the Alaskan Governor) already showing a willingness to go to war with Russia. Obviously she’s not wasting any time showing off her international diplomatic abilities. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that a war will start – this is something that America can ill afford at this time. I believe this deterioration in relations will be intentional and at least in part, to firm up the support for the Republican party so the presidency can be handed from one Republican leader to another in a time of fear – which has worked well for the Republicans in the past.

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