FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Winning

“They say we can’t prevail. I see that violence and say we must win.”

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld urging the troops not to believe those who say the insurgents cannot be defeated or who otherwise doubt the will of the military to win, asking help to “win the test of wills.”

Like Satan in Paradise Lost who said he would melt at the sight of the loving Adam and Eve and leave them in peace had he not promised his constituents to lead their righteous war of revenge, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld framed the challenge to the troops in Iraq as winning for our side. The poet Milton, a veteran of political speeches, remarks about Satan’s line “so spake the Fiend, and with necessity,/ The tyrant’s plea, excused his devilish deeds.”. Milton understood this is always the rationalization: we do it for God and country and goodness and peace and democracy and freedom and Allah and our land and good guy winning. He also kept noting that Satan spoke ‘glozing lies’-glossing, flattering, smooth empty words to mask the malice.

“I see that violence and say we must win.” Help “win the test of wills” against the insurgents. The insurgents no doubt say the same thing. They see American violence-over 100,000 civilians killed, cities in rubble and without security-and say they must resist the occupying violent force. Who is winning what?

Pork Chop Hill? Fallujah? Hearts and minds? Freedom? Democracy? Our land? Our religion?
The test of wills for Rumsfeld is military will. We will fight.

Winning is a sports figure-competitive, fight team fight. If we import ‘winning’ to war the rationalization of violence goes from exerting energy and living to fight another day to rationalizing death. Enemy violence becomes bad violence because they are evil and our violence becomes righteous violence because we are good. Violence is the necessary tool-as torture can be or the death of 100,000 civilians. Not a bad thing. The good end justifies the bad means. ‘You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.’ ‘Freedom is messy,’ as Rumsfeld flippantly said about pillaging and looting Baghdad. Rumsfeld slings cliches like guided missiles taking out objections. He’s excellent at guerilla comments.

Lately people have taken exception to his slingers. ‘You go to war with the army you have not the army you want’ was called arrogant and insensitive. Signing death letters with a machine was called callous and contrasted with the commander-in-chief’s personalized signatures. The President then defended his warrior chief as a kind fellow and the warrior chief himself talked about his deep compassion and feeling.. The current cliches are feeling cliches.

The winning the Secretary of Defense is good at is word winning. We have lost the war of hearts and minds. We are losing the war of violence, that contagious poison we unleashed and can’t control.

During the Vietnam War many said we should just declare we won and leave-cynically understanding that we cannot bear to lose. Though we absolutely did lose despite incurring more devastation than we can measure.

Iraq invasion was presented as a preemptive but defensive war against weapons of mass destruction. Then it was defended as bringing freedom and democracy to an oppressed people. Now it is pursued as a war against insurgent anti-democratic violence. Whether these are all glozing lies or delusions or public relations packaging Milton would say God alone knows. In Milton’s view only God can pierce hypocrisy because humans and even angels are fooled by the pretense of piety.

The great thing about the idea of God is that it asserts that human judgment is imperfect. We should understand we cannot read hearts and minds. We should read actions. Which speak louder than words. Destruction is not liberation. Death is not freedom. Evil is not good. No matter the excuse or repackaging.

Winning can be glozing.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

 

More articles by:

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail