Sunday, December 02, 2007

Can I get some comic relief over here?

Recently I was reading an interview in the Metro Times with Scott Ritter, the former weapons inspector, who was smeared by the Bush administration when he questioned how dangerous Saddam Hussein actually was. I like Ritter because he sticks to his guns for what he thinks is correct, regardless of how unpleasant that may be.

[Metro Times Interviewer (MT)]: But it is now clearer than ever that our invasion of Iraq has been a disaster. How do you explain the lack of opposition?

Ritter: It's difficult to explain. First of all you have to note, from the public side, that very few Americans actually function as citizens anymore. What I mean by that are people who invest themselves in this country, people who care, who give a damn.

Americans are primarily consumers today, and so long as they continue to wrap themselves in the cocoon of comfort, and the system keeps them walking down a road to the perceived path of prosperity, they don't want to rock the boat. If it doesn't have a direct impact on their day-to-day existence, they simply don't care.

There's a minority of people who do, but the majority of Americans don't. And if the people don't care — and remember, the people are the constituents — if the constituents don't care, then those they elect to higher office won't feel the pressure to change.

The Democrats, one would hope, would live up to their rhetoric, that is, challenging the Bush administration's imperial aspirations. Once it became clear Iraq was an unmitigated disaster, one would have thought that when the Democrats took control of Congress they would have sought to reimpose a system of checks and balances, as the Constitution mandates. But instead the Democrats have put their focus solely on recapturing the White House, and, in doing so, will not do anything that creates a political window of opportunity for their Republican opponents.

The Democrats don't want to be explaining to an apathetic constituency, an ignorant constituency whose ignorance is prone to be exploited because it produces fear, fear of the unknown, and the global war on terror is the ultimate fear button.

The Democrats, rather than challenging the Bush administration's position on the global war on terror, challenging the notion of these imminent threats, continues to play them up because that is the safest route toward the White House. At least that is their perception.

The last thing they are gong to do is pass a piece of legislation that opens the door for the Republicans to say, "Look how weak these guys are on terror. They're actually defending the Iranians. They're defending this Ahmadinejad guy. They're defending the Holocaust denier. They're defending the guy who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth." The Democrats don't want to go up against that. They don't have the courage of conviction to enter into that debate and stare at whoever makes that statement and say they're a bald-faced liar. They're not going to go that route.

[Metro Times Interviewer (MT)]: Do you think there is anything that can happen at this point that will stop this attack [on Iran]?

Ritter: You have to take a look at external influences, not internal ones. I don't think there is anything happening inside the United States that's going to stop that attack. I do believe that, for instance, if Pakistan continues to melt down, that could be something that creates such a significant diversion the Bush administration will not be able to make its move on Iran.

To attack Iran, they're going to need a nice lull period. That's what they're pushing with this whole surge right now. They're creating the perception that things are quieting. I don't know how many people picked up on it, but one day we're told that 2007's been the bloodiest year for U.S. forces in Iraq, the next day we're told that attacks against American troops are dropping at a dramatic pace. So, what's the media focus on? The concept of attacks dropping at a dramatic pace. No one's talking about the fact, wait a minute, we've just lost more guys than we've ever lost before.

They are pushing the perception that Iraq is now stable. If you have a situation in Pakistan that explodes out of control, where you suddenly have nuclear weapons at risk of falling into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, that could stop it. If Turkey attacks Kurdistan and that conflict spins out of control, that could put a halt to it. These are things that could overshadow even Dick Cheney's desire to bomb Iran.

And there could be some other unforeseen meltdown globally that's not on the radar at this time, that, unfortunately, we have to be hoping for to stop an attack on Iran. And that says a lot, that we have to hope for disaster to prevent unmitigated disaster.|Bombs Away? - Metro Times|(emphasis added)
I think Ritter's analysis is persuasive, if a bit depressing. Waiting for this administration to leave office we're all in damage limitation mode, especially the Dem's.

But Ritter makes a good point that I should heed. The Bush administration couldn't dismantle our democracy if the American public weren't so apathetic about the loss of fundamental liberties and the end of transparency in government.

This theme goes largely undiscussed in a recent piece in the Guardian discussing the negative reaction of the movie-going public to movies about the Iraq war and the recent policies of rendition and torture.
Audiences have voted convincingly that they do not want the war in Iraq depicted at all - or at least not yet. As Variety editor Peter Bart recently noted in one of his columns: 'I applaud filmmakers for dealing with real issues in the real world. At the same time the feel-bad genre (which is only in its early stages) is becoming downright oppressive. Filmgoers have a right to ask: When are we going to get some comic relief?' |America shuns Hollywood's take on Iraq - Guardian|
The American people will get exactly the government they deserve.

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