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Posts Tagged ‘blowback’

President Obama has accurately described the feelings of many Americans towards the financial sector CEOs’ use of the bailout funds.  We hear of management retreats at luxury spas, multimillion dollar corporate jets, huge bonuses, funds used for acquisitions rather than to ease credit, and even a multi-million dollar mansion being “sold” to one CEO’s wife for $100.  Are these people so out of touch with reality that they don’t see this behavior as resembling Marie Antoinette’s infamous response to the privations of her subjects?  No wonder that some wags are suggesting that they spend some time in the accommodations at Gitmo for a dose of reality!

And we read that as the wealthy continue to spend their millions, they’re asking that their luxury purchases be delivered, wrapped as gifts, or placed into plain bags so that their conspicuous consumption isn’t quite as obvious.  So at least some of them are aware; they apparently just don’t care.

The more I hear of the lack of oversight and accountability for the first half of the TARP funds, the angrier I get.  I’m still shaking my head that there were no requirements and that the ones that were included were written with such large loopholes that you could fly several corporate jets through them doing aerobatics all the while.  Again and again I’m reminded of the comparisons with the S&L fiasco during the latter years of the Reagan administration, although the real damage didn’t show up until the early years of Clinton’s first term. Once again, we’ve flirted with deregulating the financial sector, and not surprisingly the results are similar; this time around they’re even worse.

Last night I finished reading Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback.  For those of you who haven’t read it, I highly recommend it — along with Naomi Klein’s Disaster CapitalismBlowback is the first of a trilogy addressing the implications of imperial over-reach.  Written prior to 9/11, Johnson delves into the relationship between the US and its allies in East Asia, and writes in detail on the events and decisions leading up to the economic collapse there in 1998.  In summing up, he writes presciently as follows:

The world remains poised on the edge of a possible, United States-induced recession, athought the United States itself has thus far been the least affected by the economic crisis.  Even if a collapse of global demand is avoided, misguided Amerian economic policies have set back thirty years of economic progress in Southeast Asia and laid the foundation for unpredictable forms of economic, political, and military retaliation by the devastated nations. […]

Johnson isn’t the only voice who predicted some of our current economic mess.  Kevin Phillips did as well in American Theocracy.  The title of Phillips’ book is somewhat misleading as he spends fully a third of it on the problems inherent in our dependence on foreign oil and another third on the challenges and inherent dangers of an economy based on financial services rather than on producing goods.

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So What?

There was an astounding exchange during W’s recent interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz.

BUSH:  One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq.  This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand.  This where al Qaeda was hoping to take…

RADDATZ:  But not until after the U.S. invaded.

BUSH:  Yeah, that’s right.  So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand.  Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat.  And then upon removal, al Qaeda decides to take a stand.

It’s now official.  The man is as delusional as Illinois Governor Blagojevich!  This is so stunning a statement that it’s hard to know where to start.

First, the arrogance.  Or ignorance.  Or maybe both — could it really be that he’s proud to be so totally clueless???

Second, the statement totally puts a lie to the facts.  We now know that the Bush administration was looking for an excuse to topple Saddam Hussein even before 9/11.  Bush and his neocon cronies began to plan for such an action almost as soon as he took office.  And following the attacks, they were eager to find a connection to Iraq that would justify their plans — whether such a connection actually existed or not.  Could it be that Bush’s reality exists only in his mind???

Third, the rise of an insurgency shouldn’t have surprised anybody.  Post-invasion planning was almost non-existent.  So, once Saddam was toppled, a power vacuum existed.  Just who the hell did Bush figure would fill that vacuum?  Let’s see… there were all the criminals that Saddam had released from prison in the run-up to the invasion.  And there was the Iraqi army and bureaucracy that Grand Poobah Bremmer fired as his first two acts.  And then there were all the ordinary Iraqis whose sense of honor and national pride was battered by the invasion.  And, finally, Rumsfeld and his cohorts thought they knew better than the US military leaders about the number of troops that would be needed, and the neocons wanted to believe that we’d be welcomed with roses.  Hmmmm…. so, is it really any surprise that an insurgency developed?  Not to most people who were paying attention to the facts beyond the official pronouncements or just using common sense.

After all, if our country were invaded and our political leadership toppled, our military and bureaucracy toppled, the Smithsonian looted, would we have been tossing flowers at the feet of the invading military?  I think not. Rather, I think we’d be doing everything in our individual power to thwart the plans of the invaders.

Given all this, the disconnect between Bush’s response and that of the Arab street to the shoe-tossing is also far more understandable.  Bush laughs it off — another “so what” moment I suppose.  Whether he understood the depth of the insult that came flying with those size 10s is questionable, given that he seems totally oblivious to criticism from any quarter.  The Arab world, on the other hand, have had more than enough of the man and his policies.  These latest incidents only serve to confirm what they’ve realized for some time.  The tragedy is that rather than trying to tamp down the hatred, his every pronouncement serves only to ratchet it up further.  And when the blowback occurs, too many Americans will wonder why…

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