Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, September 18, 2006


I don't know about you, but lately I often have the feeling that it just isn't worth worrying about the stuff I'm paid to worry about, at least not all that much, because we may have much bigger problems. The biggest problem of all, of course, is the vicious gang of malignant clowns who are running the U.S. government.

You don't have to take it from Sy Hersh any more - maybe you've already noticed that Time magazine is making it sound like plans for war with Iran are well under way, presumably just before the November elections, and too late to mount a meaningful public response. For non-subscibers, Josh Marshall has stolen the money quote:

The first message was routine enough: A "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. The CNO had asked for a rundown on how a blockade of those strategic targets might work. When he didn't like the analysis he received, he ordered his troops to work the lash up once again.

What's going on? The two orders offered tantalizing clues. There are only a few places in the world where minesweepers top the list of U.S. naval requirements. And every sailor, petroleum engineer and hedge-fund manager knows the name of the most important: the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 40% of the world's oil needs to pass each day. Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed—but until now largely theoretical—prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.

This seems utterly insane, but to me it is plausible. This is the Hail Mary pass for the PNAC. A Democratic take over of either house of Congress in November will mean Congressional hearings that will strip away their armor of lies, hearings that the corporate media will not be able to ignore or spin away. Their plot to terminate the American republic and replace it with a permanent dictatorship of the possessors will hit the rocks. War with Iran is the one event they believe will let them recapture the magic glow of the two years following Sept. 11, 2001, when they led the country to disaster riding a flying carpet of mass delusion.

They don't care what happens to the United States, or its people, or humanity, or about any principles or ideals. They care only for power, and greed. If the military leadership, and the corporate media, and the five or six Republican members of Congress with a shred of decency and self respect allow them to finally immolate the constitution on the altar of megalomaniacal fantasy, then the American experiment will have failed.

So, it's a little hard to write about public health and medical sociology when I'm in this kind of mood. But don't worry, I'll get back to work anon.

UPDATE: And while you're waiting, you might want to check out John Mueller in Foreign Affairs. "We're at war!" with a phantom -- the projection of our own worst nature.

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