Sunday, October 28, 2007

Berets and War

Lately, I have picked up my old habit of reading Mother Jones magazine. For those unfamiliar with this magazine, its motto is "Smart, Fearless Journalism" and it has a "progressive" or "left-wing" bent.

Draw whatever positive or negative connotations from those terms you want.

Ideologically, I probably consider myself a progressive (if anything). Yet, my positions, like most people's, are more nuanced and varied than this label may suggest. And frequently, I find that I don't agree with what is expressly or implicitly said in some articles in the latest Mother Jones.

Anyway, here are some items of note in the November-December 2007 issue of Mother Jones:

1. Any non-mainstream publication will have..... interesting advertisements. Some of the items/services one can buy are surprising.

For instance, who would have thought that there is a large market among the peace-lovin' crowd for berets?

But yes, in every issue of Mother Jones, you can read the usual ad for "European Berets $10" coming in "black, navy, brown, red, caramel, and grey." You know, because some ads are just that stereotypically perfect. Personally, when I write on my progressive blog, I usually wear my red beret. Preferably whilst sipping on some wine (or a local micro-brew) and listening to my favorite independent artist of the week.

2. Mother Jones' war coverage in general has been more comprehensive than anything the mainstream media has produced. The latest issue, for example, had a series of articles discussing how the US should leave Iraq: starting with the assumption that peace-activists' cry of "US Out Now" is too simplistic as an immediate troop pull-out would result in a lot of regional violence and instability. And, peace activists should work within this reality.

That makes sense. I don't know how "groundbreaking" that argument or idea is. But what struck me from the article was this quote from General Zinni:

"The government is us. We made promises and commitments. The administration proposed the war; Congress-the voice of the people-authorized it; we are responsible for it. We can't claim 'I didn't vote for him in the first place' or 'I changed my mind.' There has to be some sort of obligation that falls to us as a society for what our government does in our name."

There are many problems with this statement that I can see.

a. The magnitude that corporate-funded multi-millionaire Congresspersons really reflect anything close to the "voice of the people is questionable.

Come on now.

b. While, yes, the Congress/so-called voice of the people authorized the war, they did so on false information. Is an act really willful if it is an act based on misinformation?

c. I did not vote for Bush. Most people in this country did not vote for Bush (the first time). I did not support this war. In fact, I marched in peace protests to try to stop us from going to war. Sorry, but I, personally, am not going to take responsibility for this war.

I agree that as a society, yes, we should take responsibility now for getting out in the best way possible. I will fulfill this social responsibility by paying my taxes. But only those who actually supported Bush and the war should now take personal responsibility.

d. Interesting that this General is sort of framing the war as some sort of "people's war." Sorry, but if this were a true "people's war" where the common person had any sort of say, we probably wouldn't be sending troops to the Middle East. They'd probably be closer to home.....

In sum, I am tired of people passing the buck.

Bush, with his disastrous presidency, is going to keep on doing what he's doing until his term runs out and then he's going to pass this mess on to the next administration. Frankly, has he owned up to any mess or mistake he's made yet??

I don't trust most of the presidential candidates, most of whom voted for the war, to not lead us into another war in the future.

I'm reluctant to criticize our military. Many people use the military as a way to move up in the world, to pay for school, or because they have few or no other options. They are following orders. Yet also, we don't need the chiefs telling us, civilians who have little political power, that the mess is our responsibility now.

Frankly, the buck should stop at capitalism and greed- and consequently at those with the real power in our society. And I wish more people would realize that.

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