So much we are supposed to forget or not know and/or care about, so little we are supposed to remember.
“We must never forget” 9/11, when “America was attacked” (when, as cannot be said without sounding “controversial,” the United States Middle East policy blew back on the nation’s financial and political capitals).
For 20 years I resisted making any personal remarks about the attacks September the 11th, particularly regarding the World Trade Center in NYC. I thought it was inappropriate and inconsequential because I did not suffer personal loss like so many that day. But I have been reflecting a lot on that historic event lately. And given that the US war against Afghanistan is now over, at least officially if not covertly, I think there is good reason for that.
When you imagine ending a war, do you imagine the U.S. President lamenting the human cost of the war’s financial expense while simultaneously demanding that Congress increase military spending — and while mentioning new wars that could potentially be launched?
In some future lovely little war, perhaps with China or some other demonized target, some percentage of the U.S. public may suddenly exclaim: “Hey, since when does a draft include young women as well as men?!” Old tunes will be revised and sung in protest with lyrics about being the first one on your block to have your daughter come home in a box. The tragedies will be played out in tears and screams and flag-covered propaganda-regurgitating rationalizations. Dead women and men will be thanked for the service of stirring up World War III before being dumped in the ground to rot, as some of the living begin to envy them and wonder about the merits of the service they’ve provided.
I wanted to share some thoughts with you on Afghanistan, as it sits atop the rubble of another indifferent imperial folly with the dread of once again living under a fundamentalist authoritarian regime on the horizon. And especially on the American public’s disconnect from its own government’s culpability in spreading misery there and throughout the Global South. I wanted to talk about reflection too.
On the show this week, Chris Hedges discusses the debacle in Afghanistan with Danny Sjursen, a graduate of West Point Military Academy, former US Army Major and author. He is a combat veteran who served in Iraq and later as an Army Captain in Afghanistan I command of B Troop in Kandahar Province from February 2011 to January 2012.
In many ways, war is ever more and less visible. Of course in U.S. academia, the Pinkerist pretense that we are living through a period of great peace is accomplished by all sorts of statistical manipulation, but first and foremost by declaring civil wars to not be wars, and declaring U.S. wars to be civil wars — a tricky thing to do when the minute the U.S. leaves, Afghans, for example, decline to keep killing each other (damn them!).
This fall, the much-awaited remake of Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic Dune will hit theatres. Dune tells the complex and multi-layered tale of a feudal interstellar empire in the future, where noble houses compete, often violently, for dominance over the planet Arrakis, a desert world that possesses the only source of a substance called the “spice.” It is essential for space navigation and also has the potential to enhance mental and metaphysical senses and abilities. The imperial powers of the Dune universe use political chicanery and treachery to manipulate various political figures within the noble houses. Arrakis has a desolate and hostile environment. Its inhabitants, the Fremen, are looked down upon by most of the noble houses as savage, inferior and backward. They are the last to see any benefit from the trade of spice, if any at all.
Liberals and progressives would do well to understand that while class is not everything – far from it, as I shall argue below – there are still no real or lasting solutions to problems that rightly agitate them under capitalism and bourgeois democracy, that is, under the de facto material dictatorship of the capitalist class and its mode of production.
President Biden put a popular flag-waving wrapping for America’s forced withdrawal from Afghanistan in his 4 PM speech on Monday. It was as if all this was following Biden’s own intentions, not a demonstration of the totally incompetent assurances by the CIA and State Department as recently as last Friday that the Taliban was over a month away from being able to enter Kabul. Instead of saying that the massive public support for the Taliban replacing the United States showed the incompetent hubris of U.S. intelligence agencies – which itself would have justified Biden’s agreement to complete the withdrawal with all haste – he doubled down on his defense of the Deep State and its mythology.
Titanic fires lay waste to vast forests in Siberia, California, Algeria and beyond. Violent muddy rapids sweep through quaint German villages, and the city of Sochi in Russia, and inundate modern subway systems in China and NYC. Marine life bakes in their shells, not in any cooker, but in the very ocean habitat where they were spawned. Stunned crowds clamor onto ferries surrounded by flames that stretch upward to the sky on picturesque Greek islands… It is that last image that somehow strikes at the heart, and somehow in a way that is different.