Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The American Disease

It seems to be a pathological aversion to self-examination. As you are unlikely to know from the U.S. corporate media, which has largely ignored the story, the UK is currently holding a public inquiry into the Iraq war. I think it would be way fun to do that here, but not going to happen. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, who was head of the British spy agency MI5, has just testified. The only real surprise is that MI5 was telling Tony Blair the truth all along and, as a pious Christian, Blair was compelled to lie to the public about every single fact. Some major highlights:

  • MI5 did not think the Saddam Hussein regime posed a threat: "We did think that Saddam Hussein might resort to terrorism in the theatre if he thought his regime was toppled but we didn't believe he had the capability to do anything in the UK," she said.

  • The evidence of Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had been "fragmentary", she said, and she dismissed Tony Blair's argument that action had been necessary to prevent them falling into hands of terrorists.

  • The toppling of Saddam had, she suggested, also given al Qaida a foothold in Afghanistan [sic -- I believe she said Iraq] for the first time. "Arguably we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad," she said.

  • As additionally reported by AP, "those pushing the case for war in the United States gave undue prominence to scraps of inconclusive intelligence on possible links between Iraq and the 2001 attacks. She singled out the then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "It is why Donald Rumsfeld started an alternative intelligence unit in the Pentagon to seek an alternative judgment," said Manningham-Buller, who was a frequent visitor to the U.S. as MI5 chief. "Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 and I have never seen anything to make me change my mind," she said.

  • Manningham-Buller also indicated that MI5 disagreed with then-Prime Minister Tony Blair over a key justification for the war — Iraq's purported harboring of weapons of mass destruction. She said the belief that Iraq might use such weapons against the West "wasn't a concern in either the short term or the medium term to either my colleagues or myself."

What this all means in sober fact is that the United States and the United Kingdom conspired to launch an illegal war of aggression, based on a campaign of lies. Iraq was laid to waste, something on the order of a million Iraqis have died, and Iraq today remains with its water and soil polluted, its people living in squalor under constant threat of violence, its social fabric shredded. It seems rather self-centered to mention the more than 4,000 American dead, the tens of thousands of Americans scarred physically and emotionally, and the trillions of dollars squandered, but let's just say it anyway. This is, by every accepted definition, a crime against humanity.

We will never have a similar inquiry here because all segments of the political elite -- including the opposition party and the corporate media -- were complicit in the crime; and because our political culture admits of no blame to the United States.

Alright, the president says we're looking forward, not back. But we aren't doing that either. No American politician will tell the people the truth, because that would be a career ending gaffe. The United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, accounts for 46.5% of world military spending. This does not include defense-related spending outside of the The United States, such as veterans' benefits and the secret "black ops" budget which U.S. citizens are not permitted to know about, so we can only estimate, but total annual U.S. military spending is probably more than $1 trillion per year. The United States publicly admits to having 737 military installations abroad, and has additional secret bases, where among other activities it holds secret prisoners, without charges or any recourse to courts, who it tortures.

The United States has no significant international enemies; it is threatened by no-one. There is no significant opposition in Congress or in the corporate media to this trillion dollar annual expenditure, but we can't afford to fix our roads, invest in renewable energy, or pay teachers, police or firefighters.



Mark B. said...

Wow, I hadn't even heard about this! I can't believe the US media isn't really covering this. That's it, I'm switching to BBC News and blogs only.

Cervantes said...

There was an article in the NYT today, but it focused on her assertion that the invasion had increased terrorist activity in Britain, not her debunking of the original case for war, since that of course would have reflected on both the prior U.S. administration and the New York Times.

Anonymous said...

Ironic that our excessive spending on 'defense' is making us LESS secure.