Monday, May 19, 2008

I wonder if the war on terror isn't linked to the Cold War

In terms of domestic consumption. The major idea of the War on Terror that's repeated over and over again is that they hate our freedoms and that they, the Muslim and Asian countries we don't like, are stopping at nothing to get weapons of mass destruction that they will craftily use to dominate other countries and take their freedoms away. Why exactly they don't like freedom is not specified. Maybe the leaders had bad encounters with freedom lovers as children that have left them scarred for life. In any case they just hate the idea of freedom and to even try to understand why they do is to be on their side, because their thought processes are so far out in the stratosphere beyond normalcy that they don't make any sense, and you're better off not looking at them because they might influence you too. Even though they're completely irrational. The doctrine has the appeal of not requiring any sort of an explanation of why the people and states we're targeting, if they really are working against the U.S., are doing so, leaving us with a series of options that resembles a neo-Nazi poster that surfaced in the '80s that had a gun and a swastika with the words "Violence: it's the only thing they understand". The Cold War was packaged the same way.

Yes, the Soviet Union did have huge censorship powers, it forbade opposition parties and free elections, it severely restricted artistic freedom, and didn't tolerate people who they thought were acting against the interests of the State, but the people who were enforcing all of this didn't do it for no reason, or just because they hated the free press. Their reasons for all of this weren't very good, and I think, although I can't confirm it yet, that they were holdovers from what Stalin had done to the USSR, but there were reasons. If the media in the U.S. had tried to understand the motivation for all of this on the part of the Soviets and reported on it in a critical yet informed way it could have had the effect of pushing the U.S. government into a closer engagement with them. It could have defused part of the Cold War, although not all of it.
I'm not saying that "If the government had.." because writing this it appears certain that the U.S. government wouldn't have, and that restrictions on art, democracy, and press freedom weren't what bothered them since they supported ultra-right dictatorships in South America that were as bad as the Soviets on that score. Instead, the U.S. seems to have been afraid of the redistribution of goods and of power. Anyways.

Just as Communism was unintelligible but very dangerous, threatening to put the entire world under a dictatorship so is radical Islam, plus assorted other official enemies, unintelligible but threatening to put the entire world under a dictatorship. Same shit, different name, only in this case there's even less justification because radical Islam doesn't control huge countries having over a billion citizens. Maybe the problem started with Gulf War I, where the media shifted from Cold War to Saddam War without bothering to let people know that, hey!, a lot of what we told you about the Soviets was bullshit in the way it was presented.

Now the GWOT has taken its place. Maybe we should have an amnesty for truth instead of bumbling towards more and more idiotic but deadly wars with no official reason that's in any way believable , for goals that really reflect those of big industrial capitalists.

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