Suffering and Virtue


Is suffering required for Virtue?

I’m watching a show on Global Voices,
“My So-called Enemy.”
About teen-age girls,
Christian, Muslim, Jewish,
but divided by being
“Palestinian” or “Israeli.”
Nationalism rules.

These girls looked about 12-16,
and all had suffered in
the 2002 Intifada.
At the time, it seemed like a sacrificial
warning NOT to attack Iraq,
and for Israel not to join in
on this crude vendetta.

Hadn’t we done enough damage
already, with Clinton doubling it
with “No Fly Zones” and sanctions,
and bombing missions daily.
And then “the Big One” –
using the UN inspectors as spies
to target whatever military capability
Iraq had left,
telling them to get out
and then blaming Saddam
for “expelling” them.

The end result was killing
a million or more civilians
“half of them children”.
This was the finding (by some UN
Agency or other international authority
on humanitarian disasters) which
Madeleine Albright so cheerfully defended.

That wasn’t good enough
for the Republicans,
wanting to put the (other) War Party
back in power,
and do it all over again
on a totally different scale.
Not to defeat an enemy,
but to destroy a country
and its people, killing
and displacing millions.

The very definition of “genocide,”
I’d say….

Hey, not to worry.
This is the good old USA.
All we’re doing
is helping folks. You know,
protecting them from terrorists.
That’s really all we do.
We hate the oil companies
and the weapons makers,
the vast sums wasted on a military
which is far from “worth it.”

Bush II cut a deal
with the Neo-cons:
Elect me President
and you’ll get your war,
and the liquidation of that pesky
Saddam Hussein, our former client.

This is Blackjack, isn’t it?
Double down again!
Remember, this was 2002,
a year before the Invasion
actually happened.
Giving the whole world
time to organize and stop it,
which we gladly did.

The greatest peace demonstrations
in history. W, being a man of his word,
flipped them the bird and said
“Mission Accomplished”
before the real invasion/occupation
had even begun…

He must have forgotten
how to give the order:
End the war
right here and now.

Or was there, perhaps, a coup,
with his daughters held hostage
to some Holy Crusader against Islam.
Bush did say “crusade” once,
and was slapped down for it.
Overall, he had much better
personal relations with Islam
than President Obama ever did.

And don’t forget that
“House of Bush, House of Saud”
I’ve read that Osama bin Laden
actually visited the Bush ranch
in Texas
while we were still fighting
on the same side
against Soviets, or whatever.

We all hoped and prayed
for peace,
no matter how obtained
or what the terms.
Anything is better than war,
and we always have a choice.

Anyone who doesn’t think peace
is preferable to war, and
the vast disruptions and destruction
it entails – well, that person needs
to be locked up.

We dismally failed
in the last great manifestation
of peace and justice.
Nie wieder Krieg!
How can they keep doing it?

We forgot:
War is contagious.
It builds on itself,
and it is well-nigh irreversible
once it reaches a certain frenzy.

The press, the media,
you fed that frenzy.
You stifled dissent and reason.
You must have thought,
like William Randolf Hearst,
that war sells papers.
I got that in Viet-nam.
It became a back-lot for the
American Media Machine
in all its glory.

That’s why they’re saying,
The present crisis is the most dangerous
ever – more, even, than Cuba
which had a status-quo
which could be maintained
through trade-offs and negotiations.

Still, it’s an example
of what is happening now.
No one knows,
or apparently even cares,
what might happen
as a consequence of embargoes,
sanctions, ultimatums,
and undeclared “black ops”
which today aren’t even denied.
Everyone now knows
they happened, and are happening
even as we speak.

Who can say, “Enough!”?
How many times have I said it?
This was Occupy’s message,
and that of the Hundred Just Men (People)
who continually warn us of our peril.

Noam Chomsky, the late Gore Vidal,
a whole great website and magazine
called “Counterpunch.”
Paul Craig Roberts, Reagan’s economist,
who truly understands “both sides.”
“The Anti-Empire Report,” Bill Blum’s
longstanding account,
and 100’s of others – some
not political at all,
but merely, like John Driscoll’s
Steward Magazine,
“a human place.”

They say you can find
good people in every party.
And every “nationality”
even when they are fighting
over the same territory.

Too often, we confuse nationalism
with “conservative” or even
“right-wing” tendencies. Norwegians
are very patriotic,
and quite “left wing”,
as we would understand
their system, here.
I am troubled by these really
“good countries”
belonging to NATO,
and actually participating
in all of its predations
and destruction.

I’ve told them as much,
which is just about all I can do.
Getting out of and disbanding NATO
is the highest possible priority.
As well as disarming Israel
which may well be
the reason we now
retain an alliance
with a war machine like NATO.

Are there any business people
who mostly get it?
Who want to change the system
so that social responsibility
is rewarded, not punished or prohibited?
The Good Society needs some rules
the main one being The Golden Rule.

We need to think
outside our box,
and from the other guy’s
We all have
equal status, so that
some can’t be sacrificed
for the benefit of others.

All public services
should be transparent,
non-profit, and run
without graft and payoffs.

Wages from labor
should not be taxed.
Certainly not at the
lower levels.

The so-called
“Negative Income Tax”
or income “floor” below which
no American can descend
would be a good idea.
Right there, we end most crime
and suffering of the victims.
Isn’t that worth a little “welfare?”

Energy policy is dirt simple,
and of a similar kind.
Tax fossil fuels
and close down nukes immediately.
This will give the coal plants
a few more years
while giving every incentive
and encouragement to renewables –
mostly wind and solar,
efficiency and conservation.

In this respect,
Germany is the leader.
They directly subsidized
roof-scale solar, and now get
a good percentage of energy
from that.
Of course, they’ve always
been “green” and efficient
on fossil fuel use
since they don’t have
much of their own.
It makes them more competitive
in international trade.
They really have to trade value
instead of threats and sanctions-
a sure sign of bankrupt foreign policy.

– Paul Stephens, 7-29-14


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