Monday, July 19, 2010

Taking peace public

This is the first in a series of entries that will explore the intersectionality of intellectualism, positive peace, and our national conversation about issues in America. I am prompted by this because of a nest of problems.

One, my country illegally and immorally invaded another sovereign nation, Iraq, based on demonstrable lies, hyperbole, manufactured evidence, twisted claims and bald propaganda. This stands as the worst crime on Earth in the new millennium.

Two, most intellectuals keep relatively informed of current events and they knew that the raisons d'guerre were false. Yet when we look back we find few instances of these intellectuals speaking out on mainstream radio or television against the invasion, or writing in the mainstream media in opposition to it.

These are the major driving problems and I will be examining potential reasons for the second problem. I will ask why our peace intellectuals were not a significant part of our national conversation as we decided whether we could support Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Rice and, sadly, Powell in this ghastly drive toward a war that was only necessary if you consider feeding massive profits to the elite owners of the war system as more important than human life, decency, environmental protection, and the economy.

Since my goal is not to inflict despair upon myself or anyone else, but rather to ultimately generate hope, I want to speculate on just how we can move beyond the steady diet and drumbeat of government officials, military spokespeople, and strategic studies intelligentsia that we hear from in our mainstream media any time powerful interests attempt to propel us to war. I want to ask who are the exceptions--who are the scholars who challenged that invasion publicly in the mainstream media in the period of time in question, August 2002-March 2003? If we can find those outliers, perhaps they can show us a new model that will break out of the warmaking drumbeat as we enter future crises, real or manufactured.

This is not what warmakers want. As documented in Naomi Klein's germinal Shock Doctrine, both Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney were among the many decisionmakers and perpetrators of this invasion who profited enormously from it financially, in excess of scores of $millions each, personally. Some of these policymakers who led us to war profited in political power gains for themselves, some in personal economic wealth, and some in status. Most profited in all three ways, forming a sort of war cabal of mutual greedy self-interest that left millions of citizens in several countries suffering and ultimately contributed to not just the loss of US status and position and trust in the world, but in the near collapse of the Iraq and US economies and loss of millions of jobs in Iraq and the US. What this war promoting elite did first to Iraq it later did to the US in less bloody and less utterly devastating ways, but the mirror of suffering includes both countries' citizens and the citizens of all nations drawn into this debacle.

The Pentagon spends a great deal on propaganda, even beyond this year's $4.7 billion, if we consider the recruitment budget as partially propaganda as well. The public relations budgets for the profiteering corporations who receive the enormous daily contracts from the Department of Defense cannot be small. And when the stockholders and corporate officials from these war profiteering corporations are elected or appointed to public office, even at the top levels, the picture is complete and the problem is overwhelming.

And that is why those who can offer alternatives are so significantly needed. I will be trying to examine this from multiple perspectives in this forum for the coming period and I welcome discussion.

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