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Tuesday, 19 February 2013 07:43

Dying for the Rhetoric of Old Men

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We will no doubt be remembered as one of the most wasteful societies ever, not only for our devastatingly careless treatment of the environment, but also for the terrible toll our arrogant disregard for human life has exacted on our youth - - without apology or shame, it should be noted.


Remarkably, former vice president Cheney - who never carried a weapon in defense of the country, and who successfully floated deferment after deferment during the Viet Nam era in the name of fatherhood - still struts the land as if his role in engineering the nation’s foreign policy produced the desired sine-qua-non for all time. Aside from his dismissive attitude with regard to torture, his deceitful manipulation of classified and semi-classified material was breathtaking.


His stand-in, Scooter Libby, tore the journalistic fabric to shreds by engaging former NY Times reporter, Judith Miller, to shepherd propaganda pieces purporting to be straight news onto the front page of the Times. Cheney, meanwhile, stood back, innocently pointing to the fact that his team was right after all - - the world’s most illustrious newspaper having reached the same conclusion as the Bush team. In the end, Judith Miller lost her position at the Times and moved on to Fox News, but by that time few people remembered the details or cared much about them.


Today, Chuck Hagel is being skewered by the Republican right-wing that has never forgiven him for correctly assessing the issues that made the US invasion of Iraq such a huge “blunder,” and for not hewing to the party line. Of course, John McCain and Lindsey Graham don’t admit that they were wrong to accept their party’s embrace of such a foolish and costly foreign adventure, and they have been trying ever since to justify plunging the country into a messy debacle on the basis of faulty intelligence and hysterical innuendo.    


In addition to faulting Hagel for what they contend are false assumptions, they are about to compound their own factual miscalculations by pushing us toward the precipice of yet another ill-advised conflict. And by insisting that we support Israel without reservations, we are expected, in effect, to dovetail our policies with those of our ‘most reliable ally in the Middle East’ - - something that isn’t always in our own best interest. We have just spent more than a decade scrambling around the unforgiving landscape of Afghanistan in some of the more remote outposts in which our troops found themselves. And the experience of trying to establish democratic institutions in Iraq left Officer Keating with the distinct feeling “that the experiment in Afghanistan would fail just as surely as earlier American efforts in Iraq, Haiti and Somalia had…” (The Outpost, Jake Tapper)


The fact that Cheney, McCain and others keep trying to convince us that they are the protectors of life, liberty and all that is holy and worth fighting for in remote lands is astonishing. For those actually fighting like lieutenant Keating, “The abstract threat of terror was not enough. What the hell are we doing at the base of three mountains?” Clearly an indefensible position, but one they were honor-bound to defend with their last breath, which was often the case.   


Before we ever again send troops into battle, we should make certain that we aren’t just responding to the rhetoric of old men who are willing to sacrifice the lives of young men in long and pointless wars that fail to resolve political differences, or validate the positions we take.