Monday, June 24, 2013

The Madness of American Foreign Policy III

The Madness of American Foreign Policy III
P. Schultz
June 24, 2013

            Here is some of the best commentary on American foreign policy these days that I have encountered anywhere. These passages are taken from a book entitled, Every Man in This Village is a Liar, by Megan K. Stack. I highly recommend this book if you wish to experience war, at least about as much as one can without being there.

            “This war around me now doesn’t feel like a dream. That’s the problem: I have been dreaming ever since Afghanistan. I let myself get tougher and smaller, pulled myself back, back, back behind my face, behind the interviews, behind the stories. The uglier it got, the harder it got, the more I drew myself in, the more I distracted myself with colorful myths. I am a foreign correspondent. I am covering the story of our times. I am covering wars. It all matters. It is worth everything. You turn yourself into something separate, something absent. There and not there….This works fine until all of a sudden it doesn’t work at all. It occurs to me now that maybe this is the most American trait of all, the trademark of these wars. To be there and to be gone all at once, to tell ourselves it just happened, we did what we did but we had no control over the consequences.” [P. 240]

            “And now in the depths of this war, I believe that nobody will ever see this, that Israel will never really look, and America will never really look either. This is real to nobody. This would never be real to me if I were not here. Oh God just make it stop. Make the bombs stop. There was this policy, and that policy. One war and then another, all of it clumped together. It must have meant something – it seemed to mean a great deal – back when we all went into Afghanistan. Somewhere between Afghanistan and Iraq, we lost our way. The carnage of it and the disorder, all to create a new Middle East. But naturally there would be no new Middle East because the old Middle East is still here, and where should it go? Only a country a quixotic, as history free, as America could come up with this notion: that you can make the old one go away. Maybe you can debate it until makes sense from a distance, as an abstraction. But up close the war on terror isn’t anything but the sick and feeble cringing in the asylum, babies in shock, structure smashed. Baghdad broken. Afghanistan broken. Egypt broken. The line between heaven and earth broken. Lebanon broken. Broken peace and broken roads and broken bridges. The broken faith and years of broken promises. Children inheriting their parents’ broken hearts, growing up with a taste for vengeance. And all along, America dreaming its deep sweet dream, there and not there. America chasing phantoms, running uphill to nowhere in pursuit of a receding mirage of absolute safety.” [Pp. 242-243]

            This is just wonderful prose and, I believe, pretty much nails it – for a lot of Americans. But I feel the need to interject a few questions: What if destruction is the policy? That is, what if the goal is not a “new Middle East,” but “no Middle East?” What if the goal is a wasteland, a place of death and destruction? A thoroughly broken place? Mission Accomplished!

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