FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Publicity Stunts as Public Policy

by RON JACOBS

About 2500 US known dead, give or take a corpse or two Untold tens of thousands of Iraqis. A new and more repressive crackdown in Iraq’s capital city titled, rather lamely, Operation Forward Together. No Iron Fist this time. No Desert Storm. Just Forward Together into the fog or perhaps the abyss.

No one really seems to know any longer yet the commander-in-chief in Washington and his sycophantic henchmen both in and out of uniform continue to insist that their soldiers and the people whose country they are destroying will stay “until victory.” Like most wars, such victory is vaguely defined. However, even the US adventure in Korea looked more purposeful to US residents than this one in Iraq.

The recent murder of Zarqawi and the current crackdown in Baghdad serve well as metaphors for the entire nature of this war. An overkill of US military power with results that mean virtually nothing in the longer term.

So what–they killed Zarqawi? Does that bring an end to the war any closer?

So what–the newest Prime Minister of the Green Zone, a man whose reliance on Washington’s firepower already seems to rival that of Ayad Allawi (DC’s first handpicked man), announces a giant security sweep of Baghdad. Under Washington’s direction, he tells the city’s residents (and the compliant US press) that there will be over 70,000 US and Iraqi more troops in their city setting up checkpoints to harass them, take their guns (always a popular move in Iraq), breaking into their homes at night, arresting men on minimal suspicions, and just irritating and disrupting their already wartorn lives.

Will it end the war? Of course not. Like other such operations before it, Forward Together is another public relations exercise whose primary audience is the US public and whose primary targets are any Iraqi that gets in the way of the troops swaggering through their streets and homes. It won’t amount to a hill of beans.

Talking about hills of beans, how about Congress? Now that there are 2500 dead US soldiers and many thousands more permanently wounded, those fine men and women are debating whether or not they should hold a debate about the war in Iraq.

As of this writing, the decision to hold such a debate has yet to be made. They had to get their pay raise passed first, not to mention the ever-important vote on same-sex marriage. Oh yeah, one can’t forget the pressing national question of drug use by professional baseball players! Even without holding that debate about the war, both houses passed with nary a whimper a $94 billion supplementary appropriations bill–$66 billion of it going to continued murder and mayhem in Iraq and Afghanistan. Speaking of Afghanistan, does one needed to be reminded that the war there is heating up again, with two more coalition soldiers killed on June 14, 2006 and another Afghani child killed by a US soldiers driving a truck? I can’t help but be reminded of the Creedence Clearwater song “Fortunate Son.” For those that don’t know the song, here are the relevant lines:

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them, how much should we give,
oh, they only answer, more, more, more, yeah

More blood, more money, and more time. In Iraq, in Afghanistan and in every other country that the US empire’s machine wishes to extend its reach. Whether it’s prisons or airports that enable secret kidnappings known as renditions in Europe or the US version of Great Britain’s H-Block in Guantanamo Bay where hundreds are held without charges. Guantanamo Bay, where dozens of these prisoners are on a hunger strike and two recently hung themselves in what a US official callously described as a publicity stunt.

Let’s get something clear here, George Bush’s visit to Baghdad on June 13, 2006 was a publicity stunt. George Bush’s strolling onto that aircraft carrier in a flight suit so many moons ago was a publicity stunt. Threatening war on Iran because it wants to go its own legal way on nuclear development is a publicity stunt (hopefully).

Two men hanging themselves out of despair in a prison is not. Unless, of course, the deaths of 2500 US soldiers in a war for power and profit are publicity stunts, too.

 

 

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail