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imperialism & war

Are We on the Road to Ruin or Redemption?

It's as if we were on a runaway train headed toward a precipice, with the mercenaries of the Republican and Democratic parties battling for control of the engine, and us, the passengers, hanging on for dear life to keep from being thrown from the train. Will we gain control of the locomotive before it's too late?
First published in Information Clearing House, August 28, 2004

What looked like a televised fireworks display was actually a view of Baghdad with exploding missiles lighting the sky, a pitiful defense against the super weapons the U.S. would unleash against the unfortunate city that night. Then a gigantic explosion collapsed the buildings in a broad section of town, and a dark cloud of smoke rose high overhead. I couldn't believe the travesty that unfolded before my eyes, sanctioned by our Congress with little apparent opposition from the U.S. public.

Twelve years earlier, during George H. W. Bush's administration, I had watched televised scenes of our military gunning down retreating Iraqi soldiers following their being ousted from Kuwait. I will always remember the overpowering disillusionment I felt when I realized that other viewers didn't share my horror at the brutal action.

At the time of the attack on Baghdad, I hadn't discovered the alternative press that was flourishing on the Internet, with its voices in the wilderness crying out the evil deeds of the reprobates that had assumed control of our government, so I felt alone in my grief over my country's gruesome display of power. I remembered the prophesies of the Cherokee concerning a "Great Shaking" of the nations for their trespasses against Mother Earth and visualized the president and his confederates caught in the grip of a powerful eruption of nature's force, being pummeled for their crimes against man and nature.

While searching for an alternative to commercial media's cold treatment of the unprovoked attack, I happened upon a live broadcast of Amy Goodman interviewing Kathy Kelly, a U.S. civilian in Baghdad. I don't remember exactly what she said, but I recall being struck by her courage and compassion. She had been living among the Iraqis as a witness to the hardship placed on the common people by the U. S. imposed sanctions, and had chosen to stay and see her Iraqi friends through the attack. Her act of courage inspired me, and afterward I began speaking out against the violence in my writing. I resolved to learn more about this modest but remarkable woman.

There was a valuable lesson in that experience that didn't register at the time - that the voice of a person offering solutions, in the form of example of strength or guidance, is empowering, while apocalyptic expectations, such as that which I found solace in during my frustration, tend to be disabling.

Almost a year and a half later, the president's ambitions have been exposed as a part of a grand plan for world domination, initiated more than fifty years ago by men who have since stirred violence and inflicted suffering around the globe. The evidence against the key players in this latest episode of world aggression is so plentiful that it would be safe to treat accusations of the most hideous crimes as common knowledge. Still the public has made no unified effort to remove the malefactors from office. It seems that the more cruel the crime exposed, the less able the people of this country are to face up to their responsibilities.

Aside form selfish interests, which play an obvious role, one can distinguish several possible explanations for this inaction. Some people seem unwilling to ever believe the awful acts that the Bush administration has sanctioned, no matter what evidence is presented. Others who see what's going on fail to stand up because of the propaganda that presents a false image of the president's favorable standing.

Another powerful contributor may be the pervasive sense of impending doom created by the government's constant terrorist warnings, which induces a state of mental paralysis in many, preventing them from engaging in any meaningful reform activity. The destitute, people who are addicted, minorities, people on assistance, and others frequently abused by the judicial system, have had more than a decade of harassment to learn their powerlessness, yet perhaps not surprisingly are among the most vocal supporters of the militants running the country.

And then there are those people who are driven by the brutish turn in this country toward apocalyptic religious beliefs - the Native American prophesies of catastrophic natural phenomenon and belief of some Christians that the evil of the day signals the impending end of time. Recent changes in weather patterns and devastating natural disasters add credence to these beliefs, at least for the believers.

Apologists for the current structure are calling economists predicting a major stock market crash "dooms day prophets." I have to admit, after having been ridden rough shod over in dealings with various banks, it was more than a little gratifying to think that the "big shots" who seemed to be continually figuring out new ways to benefit from my misfortune would finally get their just desserts. But there are all those other people caught in the stranglehold of a greedy system.

Even though I lack savvy when it comes to economics, these predictions seem credible, even considering a single aspect of World Bank and World Trade Organization's speculative investment practices - the requirement for ever expanding economies to support the appetites of the U. S. backed money lenders that are ravaging the local economies of the world.

Perhaps there is no better example of a society caught in the stranglehold of greedy government and corporate institutions than our own. Many millions of people in the United States have bought into the "get rich quick" mind set promoted by the commercial media but are unable to get ahead, in spite of diligent efforts. Instead, they are finding it more difficult to just make ends meet because of ever increasing taxes, fines, penalties, and license fees. Even those who believe they are living the good life may be only one setback away from homelessness because of their extravagant spending, promoted by the money lenders and capitalized on with outrageous interest on overdraft fees and other predatory charges.

Reviewers of Robert R. Prechter's book, Conquer the Crash, state that he presents convincing evidence of a forthcoming crash. Investors may find, however, that his suggestions on protecting their investments to be the most valuable element of his work.
Others who are critics of our materialistic, money driven society have found their redemption by rejecting the current system altogether and creating solitary or community habitats more in harmony with nature. In his online book, Treasures of Simple Living, Jim Arraj tells how he and his family escaped the constraints of commercialized living and created a natural lifestyle in a wilderness setting. Other reformers have pioneered environmentally friendly building techniques and trading alternatives to government issued money.

(Click link to view Jim Arraj's website, Simple and Sustainable Living. Read Treasures of Simple Living foor account of building experience.)

A person can find thousands of sites on the internet presenting alternate or in-depth information about what's really going on in this country. There are innumerable groups opposing the Bush war machine, and new ones are formed daily. The numbers of alternative news centers, dissident journalists, anti-war web sites, and government/corporate watchdog journals are also growing at a phenomenal rate. The people operating organizations like the Independent Media Centers and Guerrilla News are not in it for the money, and many are energetic young people committed to staying in the battle for the long haul. Considering this burgeoning of organized opposition, an estimate of millions of ordinary citizens opposing the government's aggression seems modest. And with the quality and quantity of opposition, how long can such a corrupt system endure?

A very knowledgeable man told me once that if you want to make a stubborn mule obedient, blindfold him and lead him across a shaky bridge. That seems to be a known tactic among the present administration who have used fear and deceit to control a democratic minded people.

Sooner or later - I can't believe it will be too much later - the present coalition and their corrupt system will fall. This time they won't be able to get by with making scapegoats of a few low level officers like they did in the Vietnam aggression. I hold to the belief that the instigators in this latest outbreak of violence will stand before honorable judges to answer to the war crimes they have committed. The evidence is there, many witnesses are willing to testify, and millions are crying out for justice to be served.

But at the present time, most people in this country don't seem to want to hear about the abuses of our government. In this climate, people like Kathy Kelly receive little attention for her humanitarian efforts. In Her article, "Crossing Lines," written prior to her imprisonment for civil disobedience during protests at the infamous School of the Americas in Fort Benning (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), she describes the abuses she observed in the U.S. justice system during contacts with the courts. More than just a rant, her discussion reveals compassion for the people made victims of an oppressive government and dedication that has motivated her to repeatedly put her life on the line for her beliefs.

In spite of the commercial media's black out concerning the heroism of people like Kathy Kelly, her voice has been heard around the world, thanks to the growing alternative media, and in it millions have recognized a message of redemption.

(Click link to view "Crossing Lines," by Kathy Kelly, Interactivist Info Exchange, October 31, 2004.)

We led the world in environmental efforts prior to the Reagan-Bush era, during which time our country's course has deviated toward ever more wasteful consumerism. The war merchants have bullied and bought their way into some key positions in this country, and from these seats of power have ravaged communities and resources around the world.

It's as if we were on a runaway train headed toward a precipice, with the mercenaries of the Republican and Democratic parties battling for control of the engine, and us, the passengers, hanging on for dear life to keep from being thrown from the train. Will we gain control of the locomotive before it's too late?

They are few and we are many. True, they have control - at the moment - of the military forces and have strong allies in the law agencies which have been aided by generous federal grants of money and power. But the most experienced military leaders oppose the deadly course our country has taken, and where the community has taken a stand against the increasingly brutal tactics of local law enforcement, the abuse has been checked. In a standoff for democracy, the self appointed tyrants running amuck with our country would be hard-pressed to garner the support they would need to retain control.

It may take a "Great Shaking" in the form of a stock market crash or natural calamity to cause people to pull off their blindfolds, but we shouldn't expect divine or supernatural powers to clean up the mess that we humans have made. Any liberation - or redemption - we might expect will come from human response to the great battle that faces us. It seems to me that the more stubbornly we cling to a corrupt and gluttonous economic system, the more painful will be the results of its collapse.

In and interview with Gerry McCarthy of The Social Edge.com, Kathy Kelly attributes the demonic role our country has assumed to our addiction to war. In the article she said:

Ultimately we have to change our culture. We in the U.S. have to find ways to wean ourselves off of expecting that we get to consume 30 to 40 percent of the world's resources (by conservative estimates) even though we're only 4 percent of the world's population. We also have to wean ourselves from thinking we have some kind of God-given automatic right to take other people's precious and irreplaceable resources at cut-rate prices. And to practice our levels of consumption while other people bury their children due to starvation and water-born disease.
(Gerry McCarthy, "The Social Edge Interview: Kathy Kelly," Social Edge.com, November 2003.)

(Click link to view entire article)

Your choice of action for redemption from the current oppressive system will most likely be different from mine, but there are exciting options for making a difference in the world. Many have joined the ranks of those working for justice for war crimes. Others have started local activist groups to oppose the government's illegal actions. Some write letters in response to Amnesty International's human rights violation alerts. Recently I began a concerted effort to contact those leaders taking a stand for humanity and the environment to express my support for their work.

Today's political propagandists create the illusion of individual powerlessness. But the strength of this country is its constitutional protection of the individual's freedom to exercise her rights. If you think that one person can't make a difference in the liberation of this country, take a simple action, like writing a letter to a Congressperson expressing your views, then see if you don't feel the power of that action.

Another important part of our struggle for liberation is our battle for economical control of our lives. Possibly the most liberating thing I've done lately is to change my banking habits so that there is less opportunity for my bank to profit from my hard times. Also, I'm researching alternatives to federally issued money, such as barter and local currency.

Breaking loose is scary, but it's also exciting. Don't you imagine this is how the first patriots of these United States of America felt?