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When Obama came into power, there were roughly 35,000 American troops in Afghanistan. Within two years, he tripled that number. Now, Obama announces that 10,000 soldiers will come home by the end of 2011, and 33,000 by the end of next summer. He surges twice, pulls back once, and declares it a successful withdrawal, as promised. I’m sure glad Obama’s not my accountant, or both of us would be arrested for fraud, but wait a sec, Obama is my accountant, and my banker, and my president.
And why are we in Afghanistan? Officially, we are there to fight the Taliban, whom we propped up in the first place. Democratic Jimmy Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan armed, financed and trained these freedom fighters or Islamofascists. In the 1980’s, America poured gasoline onto the flames of Islamic fanaticism to burn down the Soviets. Now, we are the Soviets.
America goes into Iraq and Afghanistan, turns these countries upside down, then explains that it would be irresponsible to leave them topsy-turvy, but as long as America stays there, these countries will remain messed up. America causes bombs to explode, then insists that it has to stay put until these bombs stop exploding, but America is the bomb! Time and time again, America has set the fire, then shows up as a volunteer firefighter. Such is the burden of being a world leader in freedom, democracy and weapon sales.
America, you are a sentimental mass murderer. You wage war after war, then pretend to mourn for some of the victims. (The “us” victims, not the “them” victims.) As Barack sends America’s sons and daughters into these needless carnages, Michelle urges us to value their pointless sacrifices.
While our grunts perform their imperial overstretch duties overseas, their loved ones struggle back home, so Michelle wants us offer these families comfort and assistance, “It can be helping a neighbor mow their lawn. People can volunteer to babysit for an afternoon, cook a meal, offer to fix a heater, or reach out to a reserve family living away from the support of a military installation.” Of course, these hardships could be avoided if we would only stop sending our gung ho fodders all over to kill and maim, and sometimes be wiped out in turns.
As the husband kills, the wife comforts, but often, this janus trick is performed by the selfsame joker. It has become an annual rite for Colin Powell to give a solemn speech on the Capitol lawn on Memorial Day. This year, he again paid tribute to Americans “fighting the global war against terrorism, serving and sacrificing in Afghanistan and Iraq and at other outposts on the front lines of freedom. The life of each and every one of them is precious to their loved ones and to our nation. And each life given in the name of liberty is a life that has not been lost in vain.”
Though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no weapons of mass destruction, Powell can claim, even now and with a straight face, that it is a front line of the war against terrorism. Done with his unctuous and hypocritical verbiage, Powell went into the crowd to hug a dozen vets and their loved ones. He patted the baby of a brain-damaged and blind man. Why no one, but no one, stood up and shouted, “Hey, Powell, wasn’t it you who helped to lie us into war? Didn’t you stand in front of the whole world and pointed to bogus satellite photos of ‘mobile laboratories for making biological weapons’?” In contemporary America, an architect of war can play at consoling its victims, and no one will bat an eye.
We are also led to believe that the people we bomb, shoot and rape are our beneficiaries. According to Yahoo! News, the withdrawal of American troops brings “a mix of joy and concern [among Afghans] as the nation struggles with the idea of less assistance,” so to invade a country is to assist it, but such is the logics of empire. Next time someone shoots you, know that you’re being assisted.
The empire is going broke, however, so our victims should voluntarily send us loads of cash. Visiting Baghdad, congressman Rohrabacher (CA) declared, “Once Iraq becomes a very rich and prosperous country… we would hope that some consideration be given to repaying the United States some of the mega-dollars that we have spent here in the last eight years. We were hoping that there would be a consideration of a payback because the United States right now is in close to a very serious economic crisis and we could certainly use some people to care about our situation as we have cared about theirs.” Bombed by Obama, Libyans should feel a similar gratitude, “If the Libyans for example are willing to help pay, compensate the United States, for what we would spend in helping them through this rough period, that’s one way to do it.”
With one hand, Uncle Sam will shoot you. With the other, he’ll jiggle the tin cup. Give it up already, all you bloody ingrates! America’s in deep, deep trouble. With our media the way they are, our leaders will continue speak nonsense and there’s nothing we can do about it.
America needs an urgent triage, but none is forthcoming. As she decays, festers and convulses, our next president is asked, “Deep dish or thin crust? American Idol or Dancing with the Stars?”
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.