Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fab Five: Chris Floyd For Glenn Greenwald At Salon Dot Com

Chris Floyd has just finished a remarkable week's work as a guest at Salon dot com, where he, Anonymous Liberal, and Pam Spaulding filled in for the very popular blogger Glenn Greenwald, giving Glenn a chance to put the finishing touches on his new book. I can't tell you how pleased I was to see Chris' work at such a popular site.

In my opinion, Chris Floyd is not only very bright and well-informed; he's also a brilliant analyst and a master of the language, with a solid historical background, a thorough understanding of both Shakespeare and Dylan, and a memory that just doesn't quit. His heart is in the right place, too.

I've been reading Chris regularly ever since I stumbled across Global Eye, his (former) weekly world affairs column for the Moscow Times, and I've always been impressed with the truth and power of his words.

If we could just clone this man, and install one of him in the editorial office of every newspaper in America .... and one in every barbershop and beauty salon too ... but now I'm really dreaming!

Seriously: If you haven't already read the five pieces Floyd contributed to Salon in Greenwald's absence, please do so. Here's a quick compendium, with links to all and quotes from each. Click the links for the full versions, and follow Floyd's links for more depth and detail.

I: Unhappy Birthday: The Democrats' Year Of Living Disastrously
Outrage follows outrage, surrender follows surrender: Every day the unreality of our political discourse worsens, even as the reality on the ground grows more bitter and uncontainable. As we approach the anniversary of the Democrats' recapture of Congress -- an event that was supposed to mark the repudiation of the Bush administration's lawless, blood-soaked enterprise -- it is undeniable that the situation is actually worse now than before.

The prospect of a Democratic victory in 2006 was for many people the last, flickering hope that the degradation of the republic could be arrested and reversed within the ordinary bounds of the political system. This was always a fantasy, given the strong bipartisan nature and decades-long cultivation of greed, arrogance and militarism that has now come to its fullest bloom in the Bush administration. But desperation can crack the shell of the most hardened cynic, and no doubt there were few who did not harbor somewhere deep inside at least a small grain of hope against hope that a slap-down at the polls would give the Bush gang pause and confound its worst depredations.

One year on, we can all see how the Democrats have made a mockery of those dreams. Their epic levels of unpopularity are richly deserved. At every step they evoke the remarks of the emperor Tiberius, who, after yet another round of groveling acquiescence from the once-powerful Roman Senate, dismissed them with muttered contempt: "Men fit to be slaves." The record of the present Congress provides copious and irrefutable evidence for this judgment.
II: Rain of Terror: The Iraqi Air War in Context
Monday, the Pentagon acknowledged a long-unspoken truth: that the bombardment of civilian neighborhoods in Iraq is an integral part of the vaunted "counterinsurgency" doctrine of Gen. David Petraeus. The number of airstrikes in the conquered land has risen fivefold since George W. Bush escalated the war in January, as USA Today reports:

"Coalition forces launched 1,140 airstrikes in the first nine months of this year compared with 229 in all of last year, according to military statistics ... In Iraq, the temporary increase of 30,000 U.S. troops ordered by President Bush in January has led to the increase in bombing missions. The U.S. command has moved forces off large bases and into neighborhoods and has launched several large offensives aimed at al-Qaeda ... 'You end up having that many more opportunities for close air support,' said Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen Mueller, director of the Combined Air Operations Center in Doha, Qatar."

Leaving aside the undigested lump of pure propaganda spewed up by the reporter -- "al-Qaeda" has not been the sole or even the main target of the "offensives" launched into civilian areas -- the military stats reveal the growing centrality of airstrikes in Iraq. What's more, these figures do not include attacks by helicopter gunships, whose fearsome destructive power rivals that of any bomb or missile.

The results of this deliberate strategy have been entirely predictable and deeply horrific: Innocent civilians chewed to pieces by blast force and metal. Innocent civilians dispossessed of homes, cars, goods, all means of survival. Innocent civilians turned into bitter enemies of the United States, as they bury their young, their old, their most beloved ones.
III: Friends Reunited: Blair and Bush Team Up to Sell New War
Speaking at the annual Al Smith charity dinner -- safely distant from the mother country, where he has become a national embarrassment, never mentioned in polite society -- Blair eagerly trafficked in the ludicrous trope that views "Islamic extremism" as one huge, all-powerful, amorphous yet somehow monolithic mass, comprising -- as Mitt Romney once put it with blazing ignorance -- "Shi'a and Sunni ... Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood." In the minds of would-be he-men like Blair and Romney, this amalgamation of conflicting sects and completely disparate groups is a single, mighty Saracen sword aimed at the heart of Western civilization: a threat that must be stopped at all costs -- or, rather, at the cost of other people's blood and treasure.

Blair even went Romney one better in the dumb-and-dumber sweepstakes by stuffing this writhing mass of Islamic serpents into one big Persian basket. After wondering "if we're not in the 1920s or 1930s again" -- and of course invoking 9/11 over and over (an ancient rhetorical device known as guilianius affectus) -- Blair put Iran in the cross hairs as, well, the focus of evil in the modern world. Squeaking at the top of his pip, Blair declared: "This ideology now has a state, Iran, that is prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilizing countries whose people wish to live in peace."

Think of that: We now have a state -- a concrete target -- where we can strike all of the strands of Islamic extremism at once, thereby quelling a dire and imminent threat to our very existence. How can we not attack it under such circumstances?
IV: People get ready -- one shoe away from war with Iran
This is the sound of one shoe dropping:

"Ratcheting up the pressure on Tehran, the United States on Thursday designated Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a proliferater of weapons of mass destruction and its elite Qods force a supporter of terrorism. In total, Washington slapped sanctions on more than 20 Iranian companies, major banks and individuals, as well as the Defense Ministry, in a bid to pressure Tehran to halt its nuclear program and curb its 'terrorist' activities."
V: Dissent or Disgrace: The Only Choice Left for Americans
How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.

-- Henry David Thoreau
Every day it becomes clearer that Thoreau's answer is the only basis for a genuinely effective resistance to the accelerating depredations of the Bush-Cheney regime. Disassociation, boycott, filibuster, strike -- call it what you will, but the Gandhian tag might be the best: "non-cooperation with evil." The corruption and authoritarian tyranny that the regime has imposed on the nation are evil. The war of aggression it has launched against Iraq is evil. The war of aggression it is fomenting against Iran is evil. If you would not be complicit in evil, then you must not cooperate with it, and you must not acknowledge its power as rightful or legitimate (however powerless you may be to resist its application by brute force)...
Here's a good idea: Read the whole thing.

Here's a better idea: Read all five.

I: Unhappy Birthday: The Democrats' Year Of Living Disastrously
II: Rain of Terror: The Iraqi Air War in Context
III: Friends Reunited: Blair and Bush Team Up to Sell New War
IV: People get ready -- one shoe away from war with Iran
V: Dissent or Disgrace: The Only Choice Left for Americans

And here's another good idea: Bookmark Chris Floyd's site, Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, and visit every day. Tell your friends, too. The more the better.