Friday, December 18, 2009

The Sweet Momentum of History

History is chaos upon which an arbitrary narrative has been imposed. An African proverb tells us that until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.

In truth, the past is habit run amok until it hits a wall and a new habit is born. The narrative that is imposed on is a post hoc rationalizing of a toxic momentum that rolls over all in its path.

So when John Feffer tells us that, “Barack Obama demonstrated that he, too, cannot step outside history,” he is telling us that Obama has been swept up by the collective habit that drives the Beltway.

It is an ugly habit that leaves dead women and children in its wake. This is why leadership is so often an exercise is sociopathic behavior. A decent leader, seeing clearly the consequences of his actions would cringe in revulsion.

This is why historical narratives are always written on thick paper so the blood of the victims can’t soak through. History is a shroud in which the victims are buried. History sanitizes and sprinkles perfume on the stench left in habit’s wake. So it is that then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (the same Madeleine who said of the half million Iraqi children who were victims of our draconian sanctions, “It was worth it,”) can call the United States an “indispensable nation.”

Feffer cites Obama’s Oslo speech as an example of whitewashing a dung pile. Obama proudly proclaimed that, “Wars are morally justified…if they are conducted in self-defense or as a last resort, if the force employed is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared violence.”

Feffer then proceeds to make mincemeat of Obama’s statement by pointing out that:

The problem with the president’s interpretation of just-war theory is that the conflict in Afghanistan—the issue that most threatens to undercut the legitimacy of his prize—doesn’t fit the bill. It is difficult to claim the war is still in self defense, not when the Taliban pose no threat to the United States and al-Qaeda has been reduced to a few fragments that could relocate elsewhere. The force is far from proportional, given that the most powerful country in the world is bombing one of the poorest. And civilians have surely not been spared violence.

History turns deadly when momentum is treated as destiny. Momentum sails into destiny’s harbor on a ship built of lies. (One of the bigger lies is that we are a “military superpower.” If we’re such a superpower, why haven’t we won a war since World War II? Sure, we have more military hardware than anyone else, but most of it is useless in the counterinsurgency wars we have fought and are fighting.)

The truth is that Obama is a much of a prisoner of momentum as his predecessors. He has fallen into a raging torrent that will sweep both him and those who follow along until it is reduced to a trickle. Some call it history; others call it madness.


Ivan Hentschel said...

At $57,000 per minute ( se:, madness never had better funding. What is this I just heard on NPR? We have one contractor employee in Iraq/Afghanistan for every soldier on the ground? Methinks this is "un-conomics"

Case Wagenvoord said...

But, when has it ever been economical? We're blowing $57,000 peer minute with no return whatsoever. So much for our boldest and brightest.

Ivan H. said...

I was just trying to be skeptically "un-comical".

Case Wagenvoord said...

And you indeed were.