Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On having an uncomfortable familiarity with the concept

From a Truthout post by Lawrence Davidson:

The state is run by narrow elites who make policy according to their own needs, and the public plays no role and is given little consideration. Its fate is to be lied to and manipulated. So, of course, those elites are going to operate from back rooms and behind censored media. The person on the street knows this to be so and accepts it because, if he or she protests, the "security" services will come after them. They will be charged with endangering the state or framed for some other crime. And their lives will be ruined.

Davidson is writing about states in the Middle East, but says that democracies, too, are subject to the manipulation of the “national interest” by special interest elites:

But what about democracies? Well, the truth is that they, too, are run by political and economic elites whose interests are rarely the same as the general public. That is why, when the government uses the term "national interest," one should always be suspicious. When it comes to foreign policy this can be most clearly seen in the policies long adopted toward places like Cuba and Israel. A very good argument can be made that the policies pursued for decades by the US government toward these two nations are no more than the product of special-interest manipulation, with no reference to actual national interest or well-being. Indeed, in the former case it led to an illegal invasion of Cuba by US-backed forces in 1961 and, no doubt, encouraged the Cubans to allow Soviet missiles on their territory in 1962. The latter has contributed to numerous disastrous actions on the part of the US in the Middle East, out of which came the attack on September 11, 2001. None of this is in the interest of anyone other than the elites, whose semi-secret machinations led to the policies pursued.

Davidson goes on – as you’ve probably figured out by now – to argue for the historical necessity of people like Julian Assange.

I am going to repeat a quote from Glenn Greenwald that I used yesterday:

In my view, the NYT article represents exactly the kind of secret information journalists ought to be revealing; it's a pure expression of why the First Amendment guarantees a free press.  There are few things more damaging to basic democratic values than having the government conduct or escalate a secret war beyond public debate or even awareness.  By exposing these classified plans, Mazzetti and Filkins [NYT journalists] did exactly what good journalists ought to do:  inform the public about important actions taken or being considered by their government which the government is attempting to conceal.

And just one more quote, from Smedley Butler in War is a Racket:

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.


Tom said...

Would you please name names of 4 or 5 people making huge fortunes from the recent back and forth rocket exchange around Gaza?

blogspotdog said...

That one, is of course, absurdly easy. International arms dealers; Israeli arm manufacturers; American defense contractors, Israeli land speculators. I'm sure the list goes on.

Tom said...

Names please.  No generalizations.  Halliburton, etc. will do.

blogspotdog said...

I'm not your research librarian, Tom.

Tom said...

Maybe Smedley could provide the information as it is he who is making the as of yet unsubstantiated claim about "a few people making huge fortunes".  Just saying something doesn't make it true.