Outrageously yet routinely, America is preparing for yet another war. Though warned by Iran not to bring an aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf, the US now has an unprecedented three. (Gee, I wonder why they call it the Persian Gulf, but don’t be surprised if, say, 200% of our high school seniors don’t even realize that Persia is Iran.) Forget the nuclear weapon babble, America is harassing Iran because it ranks in the top five in both oil and natural gas preserves. Further, it has the chutzpah to wrest itself away from the dollar hegemony by selling oil to Russia and China for rubles and yuans. For five years, Iran also tried to operate an oil bourse where customers were asked to pay in currencies other than the greenback. This, America clearly saw as a grave threat and provocation, for if the petro dollar expires, this empire will sink with it. For showing similar insolence, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were barbarically and publically killed, with their final moments broadcast to the world as a warning. See, when there’s a body to be shown, America does not hesitate to display her trophy.
On land, America has surrounded Iran by having troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. At sea, she has dozens of ships, with a permanent naval base in Bahrain. Assassinations linked to Israel and America have happened inside Iran, and American drones have flown over the country, with one shot down. On the economic front, America is leading an oil sanction. So with all this intimidation and threat of violence, this is what our Peace Laureate President has to say, in his recent State of the Union, “We will stand against violence and intimidation.” Here, Obama was referring to Syria, who is yet another victim of our intimidation if not, soon enough, violence.
Without a doubt, America is the world leader in violence and intimidation, and the US, UK and Israel alliance is the true axis of evil, for these countries have been behind so much violence and turmoil for several decades now. They instigate, spearhead, package and sell violence as a normal, day to day business. First in war and looting, they are a much graver threat to world peace than Iran, Syria and North Korea ever were, or could be. Most lives worldwide are untouched and cannot be molested by what’s decided in Tehran, Damascus and Pyongyang, but a mere sneeze in DC, London or Tel Aviv can send scores to the emergency room.
When this empire is over, and it cannot end soon enough, I doubt that it will be remembered for its artistic achievements, for Americans themselves are completely indifferent to all of their artists. Even the highly educated among us would have a very hard time naming a single living American painter, sculptor, composer or poet. Practitioners of meditative forms, they cannot compete with the hyper kinetic seduction of pop music, pop dancing and sports. Americans cannot think about the arts because their minds are crammed with hundreds of athletes.
In his State of the Union, Obama started out by thanking the troops. He praised their teamwork and urged us all to emulate them. This teamwork ethos is inculcated most effectively in sports, for both participants and spectators, but also at the workplace. Now, unity and sacrifice are certainly laudable, but only when they serve honorable goals, which are clearly absent if you happen to be in the US military, occupying a Goldman Sachs cubicle or drawing a paycheck from the Carlyle Group, etc. Soldiers speak often of fighting primarily for each other, and this makes perfect sense once you’re already on the battlefield, but if they would only step back and reflect, a near impossibility in the herd culture of the military, where the highest virtue is abject obedience, they might discover that they are just dumb, stupid animals being used, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger. Hell, they might realize that they are even less than dumb, stupid animals, for an animal’s strongest instinct is safety. Beside a contemporary American GI, I can’t imagine any primate that would volunteer to be shot at just so another SUV could be sold, not even a mouse lemur with a brain weighting just two grams.
As America moves its war pieces into place, the folks back home can watch helmeted pseudo-warriors crash into each other with each play. In our culture, repeated collisions are a primary excitement. The players’ immediate aim is to gain yards, which are carefully tabulated, with the climax happening in an end zone, a goal which, unlike other sports, cannot be crossed by the ball alone, but must be accompanied by one’s own body. This hard fought, much resisted entry is called a touchdown, as if one has been airborne and homeless all this time. In the end time, the blessed among us will be allowed into that final, celestial end zone, where we can whoop it up with a real Touchdown Jesus, Vince Lombardi and Joe Pa. The Cowgirls will shake their pompoms and more, and Billy White Shoes Johnson will do his funky chicken dance.
Meanwhile, on this depleted uranium, corexit, cesium, agent orange and corn syrup mess of an earth, we can look forward to this game on Sunday, where military jets will roar overhead and there will be a huge flag the size of the field itself, with soldiers standing at attention. During the broadcast, troops stationed overseas will be shown so we can all thank them in our hearts for allowing us to watch these simulated wars at home, and when an actual war starts, we can watch that too. Between real and fake wars, car commercials. It’s so exciting, all these wars all the time.
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.