Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 15, 2014
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“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
When we fail to “reproach evildoers,” or even bring them to account, chicanery follows sure as sunrise. Chicanery arrived with all its luggage this week. This country has turned its back on the farrago of lies, falsehoods, and blunders that ensued after 9/11 in the same way that a family rotten with abuse issues keeps it a family secret. This week, the war in Ukraine took a backseat to the spectacular collapse of the neocon project in Iraq. Neocon apologists are blaming Obama in the same way they blame him for El Niño, locusts and eccentricities in the orbit of Saturn. The lessons of hubris are the order of the day, and were also visited upon a House Majority Leader. The American id rose up in Las Vegas and Oklahoma. Eventually we all sit down to a banquet of consequences. Belly up.
The wheels are coming off the wagon of Empire- from Nulandistan to Libya to Syria, now Iraq. The glittering jewel in the neocon crown, the exemplar of democratic nation-building summoned from the fever dreams of the Project for a New American Century, has been found chimeric. Not surprising in that it was built on a foundation of hubris, folly, arrogance, and old fashioned Yankee avarice.
As anyone not equipped with a set of noise canceling earphones knows by now, a Sunni insurgency known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has captured Tikrit and Mosul. According to some reports, they are already on their way to Baghdad. Any facts written here will long since have been eclipsed by events on the ground by the time of publication, as this story is unfolding with the speed of a motorized column. What bears discussion is the policy that got us here, and how it continues in force under a president who campaigned using the slogan, “Change you can believe in.” Irony pill, stat!
To review the bidding: Al Qaeda was not even in Iraq until United States invaded. Washington’s Blog posted a useful article showing the remarkable escalation of terror attacks in Iraq after the US invaded. Another little known fact is that Al Qaeda allies took over Fallujah six months ago. Hmmm… let’s see, Isis is a Sunni insurgency. Was it only 10 minutes ago that we were backing the Sunnis in Iraq, and then a Shiite became the president? We’re also now backing Al Qaeda in Libya and Syria, yes? And now according to reports we learn that Iranian fighters have joined the battle.
Meanwhile as the Iraqi army fled, they left behind huge caches of US supplied weapons, Humvees, MRAPs and other vehicles along with their discarded uniforms. And did we mention Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopters? With the capture of Mosul, Iraq’s major oil center and second-largest city, the insurgents now have a ready source of revenue to sustain their fight against an Iraqi Army that does not appear to be, uh, enthusiastic to engage. (For a good look at the implications, see Steve Ludlum here.)
McClatchy noted the extremists captured:
A civilian airport, a military airport, a military division headquarters, a border crossing with Syria, a weapons depot, government offices, banks and television stations.
Looking for root causes and origins,? Stop first at Charlie Pierce‘s place:
Was this predictable? Was “kick over the hornet’s nest and see what happens” considered a laughable strategy by informed observers back in 2002? Of course it was. That was why Brett Scowcroft cautioned against an invasion and occupation of Iraq in the Wall Street Journal. It’s what Anthony Zinni and John Shinseki were talking about. It was what Zinni meant when he said that a project like that would require that American troops stay in Iraq “forever.” But all of that has been wiped from the memory banks in favor of blaming the current situation on the president that disentangled us from it, and who was removed entirely from the fiasco when it was launched. . . There was no tenable political context, in either the U.S. or in Iraq, in which a commitment of U.S. troops sufficient to counter the current offensive by militants was in any way viable. If the people pushing this notion are really arguing that the U.S. occupation of Iraq should have been perpetual, and that our army should have functioned as a kind of imperial police force for the next few decades, not merely in Iraq but in Syria, as well, then they should say so and stand for election on that proposition.
Personally, I would love to see these chickenhawks run on the eternal occupation of our neocon colonies. I would also like to see Richard Cheney hooded, cuffed, and awaiting trial in The Hague. These people are always willing to fight the next war to your last son or daughter. How long will we let them? In our arrogance we forget that Shia/Sunni is a sectarian dispute 1200 years running, and so bitter and blistered with resentments that it makes Catholics and Protestants in Ireland look like a Elks Club banquet. We suppose that calling dreamed-of US troops a “residual force” means that they will be only ornamental, not to be used in fighting? Meanwhile the “insurgents” and “terrorists” that our terminology minimizes are moving with all of the intent and organization of an army, which they are. And the arms they have recently won in the Levant Lotto? Going to the same group that hawkish elements in Congress demanded we arm in Syria several months ago. Very convenient.
We need to remember that we got out of Iraq because we elected a president who promised to do that, which he did. Now, many of the same people who cheered us into Iraq are, in Pierce’s phrase, “drinking deeply from the river of forgetfulness.” Not for nothing did Gore Vidal refer to this country as “the United States of Amnesia.” For some useful perspective, see this. And Juan Cole, in this. Welcome to Iraqnam. And in related news, due to Middle East instability, gasoline is up thirteen cents in two weeks. Good news if you work in a petroleum-related industry. So perhaps “mission accomplished,” indeed.
Hubris, meet Nemesis
Beltway hubris came back tanned, fit, and rested this week as Eric Cantor was handed a stunning electoral defeat in Virginia’s Seventh District Republican primary by Dave Brat, a professor from Randolph Macon. It’s hard to overstate how big an upset this was: and This is Villanova/Georgetown territory. Miracle on Ice. Buster Douglas/Mike Tyson. Jets/Colts in Super Bowl III. Or perhaps most apt, Upset over Man o’War at the Sanford Memorial.
Brat, an Ayn Rand evangelist and true believer, was spurred on by right-wing radio fishwives and swirling dark money. Apparently Cantor, who retained some capacity for negotiation especially when financial self-interest was at stake, was too liberal for Virginia’s Seventh. The take away here is that the voters intend to not send anybody to Washington to govern, but demand that their man help pull the wheels off the wagon. To that end, Brad has already announced that he won’t vote for any more of those commie debt ceiling increases.
Professional bloviaters have declared that Cantor lost because immigration was a dog-whistle issue. Immigration clearly resonates with the xenophobe far right, and Brat got to Cantor’s right on it. But living two hours the Seventh District, I fail to see its potency in Richmond and environs. Politico agrees. A far greater issue was Cantor’s internal polling, or lack. One internal poll had him leading by 34 points. Right-wing types typically live in a bubble described by the circumference of a circle drawn from their home to the country club to the yacht slip, but that is a pretty big miss. Here’s hoping Cantor’s pollsters are now enjoying witness protection:
Meanwhile, Cantor was deeply unpopular in his district, the PPP poll found. About 63 percent of those surveyed in his district said they did not approve of the job Cantor has been doing, with 30 percent of registered voters approving. Among Republicans, 43 percent approved of Cantor’s job performance, while 49 percent disapproved, the survey found.
What undid Cantor was Cantor himself. Lack of constituent service, conspicuous staff arrogance, a perception that he catered to big-money types at the expense of the home folks, a penchant for high-end steakhouses, and for dealing himself in to a profitable place at the trough. Brat hammered these successfully, which served to undo the incumbent.
Brat told [Internet radio host Flint] Engelman, “just go Google and type the STOCK Act and CNN and Eric Cantor. . . ”
The STOCK Act, a bill to crack down on insider trading, was significantly watered down by Cantor in early 2012. The lawmaker took out provisions that would have forced Wall Street “political intelligence” firms to register as traditional lobbyists would, and removed a section of the bill to empower prosecutors to go after public officials who illegally trade on insider knowledge. And Brat may be right to charge that Cantor’s moves on the STOCK Act were motivated by self-interest. Cantor played a leading role in blocking legislation to fix the foreclosure crisis while his wife and his stock portfolio were deeply invested in mortgage banks.
So Cantor met defeat at the hands of a 100-1 shot who sounded like a Occupy candidate running against Wall Street and the US Chamber of Commerce. Lesson to GOP incumbents: if you are going to slavishly carry water for Wall Street banks and financier types, when standing for reelection try some love for the folks back in flyover country.
What’s Behind All the Right Wing Cop Shootings?
Apparently the Millers got tossed from the Cliven Bundy armed gaggle for being too radical. The VICE article reports findings of Jack Kay, a professor at Eastern Michigan University and a student of right-wing militia groups for three decades:
“I think we are going to see violence like this continue. Background for all three of the shooters involved heavy rhetoric and the patriot movement. The ideology is a hatred of the federal government, a believe the federal government is not legitimate and is there to oppress, they will eventually be taken over by the New World order.”
All That Glitters…
As South China Morning Post reports, police were last night making arrangements with a mainland businessman to check whether HK$270 million of gold bullion he bought in Africa was genuine after part of the consignment was swapped with metal bars.
On Wednesday, Zhao Jingjun, 43, opened part of his shipment in front of his buyer in Hong Kong and discovered the gold had been switched for worthless metal. A senior officer said it would be the city’s biggest heist in a decade if it was confirmed that all the gold had been stolen.
USS Liberty attack anniversary
This week marks the anniversary of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. The attack killed 34 American servicemen, including the father of a good friend. The official story was that the attack was a case of “mistaken identity,” even though the Liberty was flying the American flag and had a profile markedly different from the one alleged by the Israeli government. The Johnson administration ordered American fighters scrambled to defend the ship to return to their carriers. The reasons remain opaque, but the fact that there was a substantial official cover-up remains. Follow the story here and find Ray McGovern’s take on it here.
Bring back stoning
Every time you think society has found bottom, count on our extremist colleagues to find an exotic new low. One wonders if brain worms have begun to sprout inside the skulls of candidates in the newly insane state of Oklahoma:
Tea Party state House candidate Scott Esk endorsed stoning gay people to death: “I think we would be totally in the right to do it,” he said in a Facebook post. Esk went on to add nuance to his position:
We’ll let the libertarians police their own. Meanwhile, let’s take up a collection for the writers at The Onion.
The price of God’s love: PimpPreacher.com Houston Bureau 06/06/2014
According to Essence Music Festival – a 3 day pass to see Prince, Lionel Richie, Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu and more on (July 4-6, 2014) in New Orleans is only $249, with 111 tickets remaining. According to StubHub.com, ticket scalpers are selling tickets for The Joel Osteen Tour for as much as $850. On the StubHub.com site, tickets are being resold by Ticket Scalpers ranging from $18 in the Nose Bleed Seats, all the way up to $850 if you desire to look directly up Joel Osteen’s Nose.
Since when did scalpers start scalping church tickets you ask? Since 2005, when Joel Osteen proved he could sellout a stadium. Traditionally ticket scalpers are only interested in sold out events. Apparently the scalpers feel this event will sell out, and fans of Joel Osteen are willing to pay their asking premium.
Behold the magnificence of the Invisible Hand raised in Praise. Me, I’d rather hear Prince and Erykah Badu.
Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and a shifting menagerie of women both young and young at heart.