The Dark Side

The Dark Side, a Frontline documentary recently broadcast on PBS, is the latest expose? to shed light on how the Bush Administration, led by “Lord Cheney,” duped the American public into supporting the invasion of Iraq – a war that has now cost the lives of 2,500 U.S. soldiers and approximately 40,000 Iraqis. I’m ashamed, infuriated and saddened by the extent of the deceit.
But I’m astounded that a significant number of Americans continues to parrot whatever “propaganda du jour” is served up to justify the occupation of Iraq. These improvised excuses have evolved from:
• We must defend America against the imminent threat of WMD; to • We must liberate the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator; to • We must fight the terrorists over there, so we don’t have to fight them over here; to • It’s our mission to spread democracy throughout the Middle East; to • Stay the course: “real men” don’t cut and run.
Why was this Administration so keen to invade Iraq? My guess is that it hoped to easily install a regime that would serve as a buffer against unfriendly governments in the region, and provide steady streams of oil. In other words, Iraq would become a “new and improved” pre-revolutionary Iran. Of course, the Administration
knew that few Americans would “rally round the flag” for a geopolitical gambit, so they needed an imminent threat to justify the invasion.
I’m not naive enough to believe that the U.S. has ever been corruption-free, but I never imagined that my leaders would spin so many lies and half-truths. I never imagined that I’d be living in 21st century Rome, where the politically connected gobble up the nation’s wealth while ordinary citizens distract themselves with “bread and circuses.”
The country is immersed in debt, suffocating under the weight of rising healthcare costs, and polarized into special-interest strongholds. Meanwhile, many people’s concerns revolve around Britney Spear’s “bad parenting” and NASCAR races. When it’s pointed out that we, the American people, are being terribly misled, some people prefer to wallow in denial. “No, no,” they say, “that’s nothing but Bush-bashing from the liberal media.”
President Eisenhower said, “If men can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war include almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man’s intelligence and his comprehension … would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution.” It seems as though peace does not bring power and, these days, it certainly does not make any money.
Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex still resonates today. According to the New School’s Arms Trade Resource Center, “The Pentagon budget totals $439 billion and has increased almost 30 percent since 9/11. In addition, the U.S. spends $21.8 billion on nuclear weapons activities within the Energy
Department, and this does not include the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those funds come from emergency supplementals. When these costs are taken into account, military spending for the coming year will exceed $600 billion.”
Meanwhile, America’s enemies and allies continue to upgrade and expand their own militaries to counter the perception of immense U.S. power. Iran is threatening to develop their own nuclear weapons, North Korea is testing missiles, Pakistan continues to amass arms, and soon India will be provided with American nuclear know-how to supplement what they already have amassed.
Most recently, the might of Israel is threatening Syria, steamrolling its way back into Gaza and demolishing the infrastructure of Lebanon. All sides provoking and simultaneously destroying any progress made toward peace and democracy.
Where does it all end? How much longer will bureaucracies play political, economic and military games while the world’s people suffer from their arrogant, short-sighted and lethal decisions?
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have seen some signs of progress. People in Eastern Europe have overthrown brutal governments, the Internet is helping dissenters discuss and promote democracy in nations from Iran to China. Slowly, more voices are raised in support of human rights and economic justice for people across the globe.
When will the powerful of this world realize that they have no sane choice but to care for the masses as well as themselves? When will all of us realize that greed for more money and military power is merely quickening the pace with which we destroy our resources, as well as our souls? When will we realize that arms buildups and wars benefit only those who prefer the policies of repression?
When will we listen to those, like Eisenhower, who warned us about the military machine: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
This “theft” does not go unnoticed or “unrewarded.” Organizations like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas recruit their most zealous adherents from the world’s poor, hungry and oppressed, helping to ensure that the cycle of violence will repeat itself ad infinitum – helping to preserve the power of the dark side.

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