I was looking at Sunday morning TV the other day and watching that George Stephanopoulos bit where they show a list of our soldiers who’ve died in Iraq the past seven days.
Like I do every week, I looked at their ages – 20, 21, 22, 23 – and I had tears in my eyes as I thought of young lives snuffed out for some mad-as-a-hatter con by two oil men in the White House that’s causing all these deaths while enriching Halliburton, the company formerly run by one of these men.
And then I thought: do I shed tears for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths caused by our war? Do I have the same empathy for the four million Iraqis displaced by the war?
No, I realized, I have no feeling whatsoever for them. It’s not that I don’t give a damn. I just have no feeling about them one way or another. The media haven’t figured out a way to dramatize Iraqi suffering for me, nor will they ever even try, because such programming won’t sell fast food or dog food or beer or whatever else TV is there to do.
So I was trying to think of an analogy for this – good analogies often being the very stuff of thought – and up in my mind popped the most over-used and odious analogy of our time: those damn Nazis.
And here’s what I thought: we in America have become like the good Germans who did nothing even when they knew something.
I know we march and complain about the war, and that the Democrats have been making anti-war noises ever since they figured it could help them win elections, but few of us are actually taking time out to do something about the fact that most of our tax dollars are being used to kill Arabs who never bothered us about anything except they had the bad luck to be born with a lot of oil under them.
This is what is happening in Iraq: Iraqis are killing each other, we are killing Iraqis, and Iraqis are killing us, and all because a bunch of neo-cons convinced George Bush to invade and occupy Iraq for reasons nobody cops to.
Let us for once be clear about those reasons: if Iraq didn’t have oil, we wouldn’t have invaded them. If their main export was strawberries, we wouldn’t be there. So whatever else anyone might say – WMD, 9/11, terrorists, Al Qaeda, Israeli lobby, Saddam was a bad guy – the basic subterranean reason for us being in Iraq is this: there’s a lot of unexploited oil under that desert sand, and there are US companies who are very good at getting that oil out, and there’s an oil law in front of the Iraqi parliament now that gives these companies the right to get that oil out, and the President and the Vice-President of the US are oil men.
You can tell me till you’re blue in the face about bad Saddam and bad WMD and good spreading of freedom and dire necessity of us having permanent military bases in the Middle East, and you may be right, but to me the most obvious dots to connect spell O-I-L.
Anyway: to get back to the odious Nazi analogy. Let’s see where it takes us.
Hitler had the Germans behind him because they were real sore at having lost WWI and all those reparations they had to pay. Plus he told them they’d been stabbed in the back by the Jews.
Now isn’t it a fact that a good part of the US is still sore at having lost the war in Vietnam? You know those Americans. You’re probably one of them: we would’ve won the war in Vietnam, but we were stabbed in the back by war-protesting hippies and the liberal media who made us pull out when we were winning.
We didn’t cause our humiliation: no, it’s the fault of those draft-dodging hippies. They’re the ones who made America lose to a bunch of peasants in black pajamas.
Why do we make all these excuses? Here’s why: our pride suffered. We’re America, the great America, users of 25% of the world’s resources, supremo oil-guzzlers of the planet, and we’re entitled to our lifestyle, it’s our oil, dammit, and we don’t take kindly to having our pride hurt, because we’re entitled to our pride, because God is on our side and we’re the best country that ever was bar none in the history of the world.
And hey, we got our pride back when we kicked ass and bombed Afghanistan (forget for a moment that the Taliban now controls a good part of that country).
That’s when we’re at our best, and our proudest, when we’re bombing the hell out of people with strange accents.
And boy, we could really push our chests out when our President stood on the deck of that ship with the big banner behind him that said “Mission Accomplished.”
Well, now we know in our bones that this is one mission we will never accomplish. In fact, it will be aborted, most probably with helicopters leaving rooftops or in some other humiliating pride-suffering way.
But meanwhile, we go along with the war.
In Vietnam we kept going till we killed somewhere between a million and a half and two million Asians, and we have no memory about those deaths, and built no monuments for them.
In Iraq our war has caused the deaths of over half a million Iraqis and displaced four million of them, with two million having fled to Syria and Jordan and Lebanon, plus we’ve destroyed their infrastructure, and some of us even call it a war crime.
But most of go on with our lives totally untouched. We drive our SUVs and go shopping at the mall. It’s not our war. Most of us aren’t the parents of kids who had few options besides the Army and are now dead or horribly wounded. None of us give a thought to all the dead and displaced Iraqis.
In other words, we’re behaving like good Germans who didn’t smell the smoke of burning Jews. They knew the Jews had been carted off somewhere, but they didn’t complain.
We know the Iraqis are dying over there, but we don’t really complain about them. We’re more sore about losing than about all the deaths we’ve caused. We want out because our guys are dying and the war doesn’t seem to get us anywhere. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – that’s not the reason we want out. We don’t think of them, just like those good Germans, who didn’t think of the Jews.
In fact, most of us bought wholesale into Bush’s swaggering Texas cowboy act when he launched the Iraq War, exactly like the Germans bought into the swaggering corporal act of Herr Schickelgruber when he invaded Poland.
Bush was giving us back the pride we lost in Vietnam, like Hitler was giving the Germans back the pride they lost in WW1.
What happened to all the good Germans after Hitler’s dream turned to ashes? Well, they changed. They became the Germans of today, who won’t start another war.
What will happen to us now that Bush’s Iraq dream is turning to ashes?
Hmm. Here, I fear, the odious German analogy breaks down. Mark my words: the myth will be spread that we lost the war in Iraq because we were stabbed in the back by the liberal media and MoveOn.org.
Instead of becoming civilized, like the Germans did, we will revert to the usual US default status of swaggering barbarians, who argue about how we should put murderers to death – is the two-drug potion before the electric chair humane? – instead of arguing about the morality of capital punishment itself.
We will revert to our barbarian selves because this is the terrible fact about us: there is nothing meaner than a fundamentalist, free-market, blue-collar, red-state, Christian Republican. They hate queers, blacks, feminists, liberals, socialists, illegal immigrants, and towel-heads. That’s what fuels them. They voted for Bush because he’s a jumped-up swaggerer like them, or at least acts the part. They like guns, bombs, and killing ducks and deer and foreigners.
These Republican barbarians are our full-on Nazi-proud kick-ass bad Germans, and they will sure as hell get us into another war as soon as we’re half-asleep again. Which won’t be long. They need their pride to be fed on death. A cause will be found to stoke their hate and pride, whether it’s Communism or terrorism or oil. And then the rest of us, the half-assed Americans, will go along.
Just like the good Germans we Americans have become. Heil, everybody.Powered by Sidelines