Sunday, February 21, 2010

Afghanistan and democracy break the Dutch government - part 2


     When is a modern “democracy” – a supposedly representative government - interested in what ordinary people (not racists like the Tea Baggers* stirred from above)  think?  The American public has been deeply skeptical of the long Iraq occupation and even resistant to sending more troops in Afghanistan.  It is part of the drop in enthusiasm for the Democrats since they were elected to withdraw the troops in Iraq – Obama was the anti-“dumb” Iraq war candidate as opposed to Hilary, the toughest "guy" on the block, the one who takes the “3 AM” phone call, was "under fire" in the Balkans, and out-McCains McCain.  The greatest problem the Democrats have is, of course, jobs and the appearance that with enormous majorities in the House and Senate and having the Presidency - controlling all  but the quasi-authoritarian Supreme Court - they can do nothing.  This is the brokenness of the Senate as an institution. 

       But Barack is waging 5 or 6 wars whose costs have to be kept out of sight, out of mind – a completely privatized military, good news of the capture of a Taliban leader (misnamed by Glenn Beck a leader of Al-Qaida whom he called for shooting in the head – vigilante justice being the great tradition of the Ku Klux Klan and the Republican Party/t-bag crowd).  But the big story internationally this week was the American missile which killed six children among twelve innocents in a house in Marjah.  General McChrystal had to apologize to Prime Minister Karzai, the weak Afghani puppet whom the US imposed but dislikes – corrupt and won’t mobilize Afghans to fight – because of the anger of ordinary people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not to mention everyone in Europe who heard about it on the BBC and even Americans who follow these matters.  McChrystal even promised not to fire any more missiles at Marjah (maybe as a torturer in Iraq, perfectly willing to be odious and criminal, but who finally figured out this wasn't bright,  the General could tell Obama that shooting up civilians with drones - and trying to name this "collateral damage" - is criminal, hateful, wins America no friends, and makes Americans hourly more insecure.

     Two scenes: the American media, tries to pump America up (the Pakistani ISI got the Taliban leader but we pushed them into it, as in the Times' front page story last Tuesday),  America in terms of world public opinion becomes, despite its surprising turn-around with Obama, more and more lost.

       Part of the corruption of any empire is what I name the moral backbrokenness of American and global news.  The privatization of war, including keeping secret American operations of a war criminal sort (outside of the photos from Abu Ghraib which finally revealed even to Americans what America had become) is part of reducing civilian, common good-oriented, democratic opposition.  If the people knew, as in the majority movement before the Iraq war (the greatest anti-War movement before a war in the history of the world), there might even be an uprising.

       The American people also want everyone covered by health care (otherwise known as universal health care).  The number diminishes when the insurance companies launch a campaign in the kept media in favor of unnecessary deaths and cruelty, but it has probably always been a strong majority when intelligent questions - roughly “do you want your children and elders covered?”, as opposed to variants on “do you hate socialized, big government medicine?” - are asked.

       Oligarchies with parliamentary forms as in Holland - a big election once every few years and then the elite rule - are not very democratic or common good-oriented (except to get elected occasionally), even when they are not dominated by a war complex, in decline both economically and as the "unipower," and with increasing executive or Presidential – meaning tyrannical – rule as in the United States.

       But Holland now considers the Iraq war a crime.  Antiwar sentiment kept the Dutch, despite its support of NATO, from sending troops to Afghanistan in 2001, but Bush kept working, working the elite parties including Labor, and in 2006 they sent troops against popular sentiment.  Still, the continuing US/"NATO "effort to impose even more troop demands, as Dutch soldiers die, has run into opposition from the coalition Labor Party which caused the downfall of the government.  21 soldiers are dead; the war is not getting Bin-Laden (American occupations and drone missiles killing civilians actually strengthen Bin-Laden; diminishing or ending the occupations, trying to divide and co-opt the Taliban through negotiations and money (one of Barack's plans) and taking steps, as with Pakistani security, to go after enemy leaders would do much to improve America's standing in the world and weaken Al-Qaida).  In any case,  democracy rules in this respect in Holland whereas it does not in the war complex-driven United States.

       September 11th murdered 3000 civilians in the United States.  Al-Qaida did this. Bush was going to strike back regardless of whether what he did would actually bring down Bin-Laden.  Afghanistan was a crude war of vengeance, launched as an aggression by Bush and supported by others.  But the Bush administration never cared about getting Bin Laden.  From “Wanted Dead or Alive” to “I can’t remember his name" – and presto, “Saddam!”   It is 8 years in Afghanistan  and counting.  Pat Tillman, who models American heroism in response to Al Qaida, was murdered by “friendly fire” and lied about by McCain and the Pentagon probably because he disagreed about the war in Iraq.

      Democracy in the United States, Obama sadly seems bent on proving, is the comparatively intelligent will of the war complex (the military-industrial-think tank “expert”–media-political complex).  See here.  Glenn Beck and the Republican/authoritarians just want: shoot ‘em in the head.  It beats torture because even the pretence of getting information as opposed to murdering whoever "other" they can their hands on really is not of much interest to them. To speak of a rule of law here, even among the lawyers who compose the Republican as well as the Democratic Party, is further and further unreal.  I guess the “center” in American politics is the newly elected Massachusetts Senator who drives a truck and wants more and bigger Guantanamos. To say that this spectrum is variants on aggression and torture  (Obama has barred the worst forms of the latter, but has left of the rule of law in shambles) is, sadly, to say the truth.

      No war complex as in Holland, the people speak.  No war complex, the Dutch government falls.  War complex and depression, the American regime promises to fall to the right.   If we can’t fight for something more decent from below here – I mean ordinary people - and if the Democrats don’t force a few decent measures though the Senate, this incredibly weaponized government which cannot and will not help its own people or the world, which is so deeply broken that even someone quite exceptional among the elite like Obama cannot patch it, will take a lot down with it.

Published on Saturday, February 20, 2010 by Agence France Presse

Dutch Government Falls over Afghan Military Mission: PM

The Dutch government collapsed Saturday, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said, after members of the coalition government failed to agree on a NATO request to extend the Netherlands' military mission in Afghanistan.

THE HAGUE (AFP) - - The Dutch government collapsed Saturday, the prime minister said, after members of the coalition government disagreed on a NATO request to extend the Netherlands' military mission in Afghanistan.

"Later today, I will offer to her majesty the Queen the resignations of the ministers and deputy ministers of the (Labour Party) PvdA," premier Jan Peter Balkenende told journalists in the early hours.

He made the announcement after the cabinet held more than 16 hours of talks in The Hague to try to settle the dispute between the PvdA and Balkenende's Christian Democratic Appeal, the senior partner in the governing coalition.

In the latest in a string of political rows, vice-premier Wouter Bos invoked the ire of his cabinet colleagues by stating this week that his PvdA would not support extending the Dutch deployment in Afghanistan beyond 2010.

NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen had asked the Netherlands earlier this month to take on a new training role and remain in Afghanistan until August 2011, a year later than originally planned.

Bos' comments prompted Balkenende to respond that the matter was still under discussion, while the Christian Union (CU), the junior partner in the coalition, chided Bos for speaking out of turn.

The public spat resulted in a snap parliamentary debate Thursday, during which Bos was accused of using the issue for political gain as polls show his party lagging in the run-up to March 3 municipal elections.

The deployment of Dutch troops in Afghanistan was an unpopular move with voters from the outset.

"As the leader of the cabinet, I came to the conclusion that there is no common road for the CDA, PvdA and the Christian Union to take into the future," Balkenende said.

"For days we have seen that unity has been affected by ... statements that clash with recent cabinet decisions."

This was Balkenende's fourth government in a row in eight years. All have collapsed before their mandate expired.

Around 1,950 Dutch troops are deployed in Afghanistan under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The Dutch mission, which started in 2006, has already once been extended by two years and has cost 21 soldiers' lives.

*The Tea Party is a New York Times/media rebranding since t-bagging is silly, but the Boston Tea Party was something.  To say that history repeats itself as farce does not quite get this.  Even Mel Brooks might have trouble with it: Springtime for Glenn Beck in… 

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