Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What are you afraid of?

Update below (I mean besides the one I do after finding my mistakes, or most of them hopefully):

Updated again!!!:Below

Now it’s an argument over whether Wikileaks is working for Obama and BP or if Wikileaks is sincere in its goal, whatever that may be. I assume it is to end the Terror Wars. And honestly I don’t give a hill of beans who wins that argument. My own impression is that Julian Assange honestly believes that he is doing some good. Fine, he’s trying to do the right thing and he has no ulterior motives, we could use more people like him if that’s the case.

In an interview with Assange it seems quite clear he sincerely believes that the leaked documents will set the stage for ending the Afghan War. In Assange’s own words:


”This material shines light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war. The archive will change public opinion and it will change the opinion of people in positions of political and diplomatic influence.”

No matter how much I like Assange’s position on war I don’t think he is going to achieve what he wants with the method he is using. Let’s begin with will it change public opinion. At the dire risk of repeating myself, why should it? Will it make the antiwar crowd more anti war? Will it make them more effective in organizing a genuine grass roots peace movement? Will it change the segment of the public who root for war? Clearly not. The carnage isn’t important to the public, therefore it is a poor approach to take to convince them war is wrong. In the end public opinion matters little anyway but for the sake of argument the public is already dimly aware that there is a link between the Terror Wars and their growing poverty, this would be a quicker route by appealing to how it affects them rather than appealing to their humanity (assuming there is any humanity to appeal to). They don’t care about the Afghans, or most don’t and the slaughter has nothing to do with the growing disquiet over the Afghan War. The disquiet over the Afghan War is economic in nature, not humanitarian.

Now let’s consider the opinion of people in positions of political and diplomatic influence. While there is always the few exceptions to the typical war monger member of Congress the problem is simply in the numbers as in not enough. I’m extremely dubious regarding the blissful ignorance of our members of Congress regarding the Afghan War when you consider they are an important part of the military-industrial-scientific-complex. They are also part of the ruling class, many of them are fabulously wealthy, not all, but many. These are the people who engineered the wars in the first place. You think a little slaughter is going to daunt them? Here is what Obama is telling us:


“While I’m concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama said to reporters in the Rose Garden. “Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall.”

Obama doesn’t appear to be terribly affected by the leaks. In fact, he sticks to his usual false justifications for the war (citing 9/11, once again, even though -- oh never mind):

“For seven years we failed to implement a strategy adequate to the challenge in this region, the region from which the 9-11 attacks were waged and other attacks against the United States and our friends and allies have been planned,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s why we’ve substantially increased our commitment there, insisted upon greater accountability from our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan, developed a new strategy that can work and put in place a team, including one of our finest generals, to execute that plan.”

“Now,” he said, “we have to see that strategy through.”

The main fact is that Obama has not changed his mind because of the leaks. To be sure our Congressional members will make some of the proper noises of concern to reinforce the façade of true and real leadership but in the end you can bet they will continue to fund the wars.

What does need to happen is conservatives, liberals, libertarians, and any and all people against the wars for whatever reason, need to set aside differences and organize a peace movement because the problem is once again, with the numbers, as in not enough. The U.S. is way conservative, so much so that even the liberals are fairly to the right. Right now there is antiwar sentiment with some conservatives, one reason being that it isn’t one of their own leading the war. This could be used as common ground between the various factions. Does it matter why people are against the war? Not when you need their help it doesn’t. Unless you have some numbers you won’t have any clout and even then the outcome is dubious. However all that may be our society is way too fractured for a real movement to occur. You can see Obama’s reaction for yourself in the above quotes, “we have to see that strategy through.”

If people are serious about ending the wars they had better start figuring out what works and what doesn’t and an ability to identify the problems which means when the truth is staring you in the face you should see it as an ally not the enemy. That is to say even if the truth is ugly and repulsive, as it is often is, we need to have the ability to recognize it for what it is and use it in a constructive way rather than trying to see the silver lining where there isn’t any.

For there to be any real change it will have to happen on a fundamental level, at the cultural level. Indoctrination, whether subtle or stupid, has been all too effective in shaping our culture into what it is today. Perhaps a good place to begin would be to find a way to counter the indoctrination and stopping it as much as possible. Why do we need to force kids to pledge allegiance to a flag? What are you afraid of?


By happy coincidence I see Justin Raimondo makes the same point I do
about what needs to be done, as in a coalition of disparate factions to form a peace movement that is effective only he does a much more thorough job. I recommend it to one and all. I do have to note though that after Raimondo says this he calls the leftist anti-war leaders blood sucking parasites, which may be true as far as I know but c’mon, is that any way to begin to build a coalition? A small point, Raimondo’s piece is outstanding.

Update II:

Congress just passed legislation for war funding. I hate to say I told you so, but … I told you so. As Jason Ditz puts it:


Though one would have expected that the massive release of some 92,000 classified documents Sunday underscoring just how poorly the war is going would have changed some minds, the Obama Administration has gotten its way once again, with the House of Representatives approving the $59 billion emergency funding bill to keep the war going by a 308-114 vote.

There was, at the very least, some vigorous debate in the House today, with Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D – OH) and Ron Paul (R – TX) at the center of the opposition to continuing the war. At the end of the day, however, all the new evidence about the disastrous war was ignored in favor of pumping tens of billions of dollars into the conflict.

Indeed, political self preservation is a powerful motive.


At July 28, 2010 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does need to happen is conservatives, liberals, libertarians, and any and all people against the wars for whatever reason, need to set aside differences and organize a peace movement because the problem is once again, with the numbers, as in not enough.

Yes indeed.

Which is why the Assange/WikiLeaks story is being spun out of rationality and into partisan pissing... to keep the division, the tribalism, operating in a consistently effective manner.

We can witness this already, where the WikiLeaks story is being alternately hailed and attacked depending on the commenter's partisan loyalty(ies).

People allow themselves to be spun like a Duncan Yo-Yo.

At July 28, 2010 6:04 PM, Anonymous cemmcs said...

Here's what Obama said in the NYT:

At the White House, Mr. Obama echoed recent statements from his advisers and said that the problems that came to light in the leaked documents had long been known and that he was addressing them with a new strategy he put in place last year. “Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall,” he said.

At July 28, 2010 7:16 PM, Blogger rob payne said...


Exactly, divide and conquer.


Of course the joke is that there is no new strategy, they have only one strategy – surge.

At July 29, 2010 12:39 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...

Citing the America First Committee once leading anti-war rallies as better than SWP leaders being jailed for opposeing WWII during WWII, as Raimondo does, is prety laughable.

As for me, I don't think there is that much anti-war sentiment in the U.S. People might say they want the U.S. to leave Afghanistan and Iraq when asked, but it doesn't come out nearly as much when not prompted.

At July 29, 2010 3:22 PM, Blogger rob payne said...


You don’t have to agree with everything Raimondo writes but overall I would say he is quite correct on what needs to be done. I agree with you about anti-war sentiment in this country not being all that prevalent in the U.S., people may get tired of a nine year war but they never tire of wars per se.

I don’t believe that there will be much chance of success as far as organizing an effective peace movement. It looks very much to me that the empire will just have to burn itself out. The question remains as to just how destructive the end will be when it happens.

At July 30, 2010 11:45 AM, Anonymous Jenny said...

I was gonna post Louis Proyect's thoughts, but Micha beat me to it:

At July 30, 2010 3:47 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

Thanks Jenny. I find Justin Raimondo to be very useful. I don’t agree with everything he says either but I agree with him on a lot of things and I believe he is correct about a coalition regardless of what Porject says which doesn’t have much to do with the topic. I’m sorry if you didn’t enjoy the link.

At July 30, 2010 9:54 PM, Anonymous Jenny said...

It's fine, It's just that Raimondo's unbreakable support of Ron Paul and his belief that the tea parties can ultimately be swayed to protest the Afghanistan war is really troubling to me.

At July 30, 2010 10:38 PM, Blogger rob payne said...


Well, I’m not sure why that would bother you. Would it be so bad if the Tea Party opposed war? What does it matter if somebody calls themselves conservative or libertarian or whatever? Heck, they could call themselves pink three legged giraffes with purple polka dots as long as they oppose the wars. The thing is all of us have a stake in ending the war, it’s bad for everybody except a handful of people.

Of course, if the Tea Party opposes the Afghan War it is only because the guy in charge isn’t one of them. I’m sure they will gladly support invading Iran, North Korea, Guam, and New Jersey, given half a chance. I don’t think we need worry that peace is suddenly going to break out and people will regain their senses.

At July 31, 2010 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Jenny's position seems hopelessly mired in a pro-Democrat mindset, I find all her posts really troubling.


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