Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hypocrisy is Contagious

“Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy.”  – Jose Marti

Eight years ago we launched ourselves into two extraordinarily stupid wars with no clear objectives or exit strategies. Despite the best efforts of Congress, the White House, the Department of Defense, and the major media outlets to polish these (pardon my expression) “turds”, the wars continue to carry that signature aroma to which we have all become accustomed for far too long. These unpleasantries I expect as par for the quality of individual we elect to lurk about Washington D.C.,  but what has taken me completely by surprise is that everyone seems to have forgot that these things stunk to high heaven from the start. 
Many of us knew it but acted upon what we saw as our patriotic duty to support the troops, as misguided as it is.  Others, still reeling from the attacks of September 11, may have harbored misdirected frustration (coupled with a weak grasp of geography) and assumed the warsantiwar were just wars being retaliatory in nature. 
However, I also remember boisterous protests all over the world and in my own little corner of the globe, being Seattle. The suburb of Lake Forest Park had at  least weekly protest converge at the intersection of Bothell Way (Rte. 522) and Ballenger Way. Attended by 15 to 20 rambunctious idealists getting the message out that these were illegal wars, the machinations of Bush family insiders out to make a few bucks, or just plain old imperialism. Similar protests were fairly common in Seattle’s Pioneer Square or other neighborhood venues. 
However; there were no more protests anywhere the instant Bush left office and Obama moved into the White House. If the war was illegal before January 20, 2009, what made it less so the following morning? The conflict surely did not gain legality by virtue of who occupied a single public housing unit. Did Imperialism swing back into fashion? Did we make vital changes to ensure that the “correct people” were getting the loot from the military contracts now instead of Bush’s buddies? 
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was appointed by Bush after Donald Rumsfeld fell from favor in 2006, and is currently retained by Obama as head honcho of our armed forces occupying both Iraq and Afghanistan. What is the deal?
We are still in Iraq eight years after invading a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11, harbored no weapons of mass destruction, and who’s people have had about as much of our Freedom that they can stomach. 
The good news is the “insurgents” are attacking with far less frequency due to our military's efficient efforts.  The bad news is we have worn out our welcome, assuming we had one in the first place, long ago. Our epic and colossal failure to provide nearly everything we promised the Iraqi people prior to the invasion (with the exception of getting rid if Saddam) thus far may have something to do with this souring relationship. Basic infrastructure such as transportation and utility conditions such as clean water in Baghdad, which are by far the best in the country, are nearly unlivable for the average Iraqi. Many roads are cut off by blast walls six meter tall that have transformed neighborhoods and thoroughfares into a maze tiny box canyons supposedly “protect the residents” from the adjacent prison yard communities. Is it any wonder that the Iraqi’s are handing us our hats, wishing us well, and holding the door open for us to leave? Is it any wonder that the opposition our forces are facing are increasingly the Iraqi people themselves? 
I can find no evidence that our overall policies in Iraq have changed with the new Administration, barring a significant decrease in the abuse of prisoners being detained by United States forces thanks to scandalous headlines more than good administration or oversight. As a veteran myself, I know that there were protocols and procedures to be followed like everything else in the military. If the impossible happened and the soldiers guarding the prisoners had neither theater specific protocols and procedures to guide their conduct, then the protocols of the Geneva Convention are the guide. Had these stalwart standards well known to every American soldier been applied with a modicum of common sense and maybe a shred or two of basic human decency, then the abuse never would have happened. 
At the risk of belaboring this point, wasn’t the abuse of prisoners by Saddam one of the primary “reasons” we cited to justify our invading Iraq in the first place? 

Still, not a single protest from anyone who was so ardently dedicated to saving lives by standing up, doing the right thing even if it was unpopular! I remember one of the protesters telling me that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” a couple years ago, so where is their patriotism meter hovering now? A better question might be, where the hell are they? 
Was the Anti-war movement wrapping itself in the flag and punctuated by quotes from the Founder Fathers just another ploy of party politics being played out on the public stage? It sure seems that way to me. However I think the real problem is that ”Hypocrisy is Contagious“ both parties are acutely infected by it perhaps in different ways but just as terminally contaminated and it’s time to put both of them under strict quarantine before they spread the infection any further.

Please watch the following video and ask yourself:
  1. What were our grounds for pursuing this conflict?
  2. Have those grounds been proven legitimate?
  3. What was our stated objectives in the beginning of this conflict?
  4. Have those objectives been achieved or within reach?
  5. Where are we now in the scale between benevolent liberator and malevolent invader?
  6. How did we get to this point? 

Happy Birthday America!

…now please try to remember who you are.

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