Cold-hearted orb that rules the night
from "Late Lament" by the Moody Blues in their 1967 album
What the American public perceives as reality matters more than reality itself, and the Bush administration is hell-bent on keeping it that way. They have not only succeeded in keeping the American public in the dark about the facts and failures of their policies, they have also fooled themselves into believing they are God's chosen visionaries for the world. Unfortunately, America's corporate press doesn't seem willing to do anything about it, probably because continued profitability means keeping close ties to those in power.
Amongst all the flapdoodle in the newspapers during the lionization of the late Ronald Reagan, an interesting anecdote appeared in David Broder's column in the June 7 Washington Post. It seems that a correspondent for the Richmond Times-Dispatch was thoroughly chagrined because he had convinced himself that he had seen Reagan at a local drugstore and had subsequently reported it to the world -- all this in spite of the fact that Reagan had never actually been there. When they finally met, Reagan consoled him by saying, "You believed it because you wanted to believe it. There's nothing wrong with that. I do it all the time."
And so he did. And so did Reagan's handlers who would later be chiefly responsible for Bush's disastrous term in office. And so did the American people who supported this administration's illegal war even though it is yet to be determined just who the real enemy is.
It couldn't be further from the truth that there's nothing wrong with believing something because you want to believe it. Throughout history, this mind-numbing scholastic thinking is primarily responsible for most of humankind's self-inflicted miseries. Wars involving God have been particularly brutal, and history has proved time and again that only those who believe in absurdities are capable of committing atrocities. The 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 atrocities believed that their ticket to heaven was in killing thousands of infidels. But one has to wonder if they would have so quickly ended their own lives if, for even one moment, they had stopped to think that heaven just might not be there when they arrived.
You cannot convince otherwise those who are unreasonable, those whose beliefs are beyond doubt. And our cocksure president says practically every day for one reason or another, "There is no doubt in my mind." It's no small wonder why America's diplomacy is in shambles. You cannot reason beliefs out of people whose beliefs were never reasoned into them in the first place. You'll have equal success arguing with a tree.
George Bush and the "true believers" of his administration want to persist in their ill-conceived mission in Iraq that is based on a neoconservative pipe dream of a democratic Middle East sitting atop the world's richest oil reserves. Even though their public rationale for invading Iraq has changed several times, they are steadfast in their resolve to implement their hidden agenda regardless of how many innocent people they must kill in the process. And sadly, it looks like they are going to get away with it. That's because facts don't matter; it's perceptions. Mere allegation can be spun into proof and then sold to a credulous American public who can no longer distinguish reality from television entertainment, a public who can only echo carefully crafted sound bytes instead of thinking critically for themselves..
Meanwhile, living conditions in Iraq continue to deteriorate. Water and electricity have not even been restored to their pathetic pre-invasion standards, and only $1 billion out of the $18 billion appropriated by Congress for Iraq's reconstruction has been spent -- none of which has gone to help alleviate Iraq's horrendous unemployment rate that's been running near 70% since early July. Instead the money has gone to line the pockets of foreign carpetbaggers and mercenaries.
Currently, the majority of Iraqi men, women, and children are considered to be "insurgents" and subject to the wrath of the U.S. military because they are violently opposing U.S. military forces that have no legal right to be in their country in the first place. These people are not foreign terrorists; they are mostly from a Shia Muslim majority who would choose a Muslim state if they were allowed to have truly free elections. But the U.S. cannot afford to let this happen, so the violence is going to get predictably worse with no end in sight.
Yet in spite of the issuance in July of a classified National Intelligence Estimate that paints a rather grim picture for Iraq -- the best-case scenario being a country that is only tenuously stable to the worst outcome being civil war -- President Bush continues to tell the American people the exact opposite. It isn't a matter of the President not knowing the facts; it is a matter of the President wanting to believe that things are getting better. And Americans are buying it because they, too, believe only what they want to believe based on their circumstantial needs.
Even as late as September 21, President Bush told the U.N. General Assembly that Iraq is well on its way to becoming "secure, democratic, federal, and free." This president doesn't have the remotest connection with reality, and neither do those who would vote to reelect him. Even areas immediately around the Green Zone in Baghdad aren't safe anymore. Meanwhile the Pentagon is planning a major bloodbath to take place after the November elections.
As for Afghanistan, forget about it!
I say, as long as there is still a little light left, is anyone up for a game of tennis?
Harold Williamson is a Chicago-based independent scholar. He can be reached at: email@example.com. Copyright © 2004, Harold Williamson.
Other Articles by Harold Williamson
The Vietnam War: What Goes Around Comes Around