Muddled Thinking on Korea, Iraq, Vietnam

rakesh bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Wed Sep 18 01:21:59 MDT 1996


Ang, this debate has taken off since your initial response to me.  And I
just can't take in all the turns at this point.  So please allow me to
respond partially to your first post only.

Actually let me just respond to one argument:

"Yes, I think most people buy it [the humanitarian intentions of Clinton's
aerial bombardments--rb].  And, I don't think it's inbred racism but
effective propaganda instead (which of course leads to racism).  Even in the
NYTimes lately, you have to read paragraph after paragraph before you see the
word "oil".  Most Americans get their news from T.V. anyway.  Remember the
recent e-mails discussing the U.S. media's take on the U.S.'s recent missile
attack?  Remember the fake horror stories we heard about Kuwait - the ones the
U.S. hired an infamous public relations firm to put forward?   At no time in
the mainstream media do I ever recall it being asked why it made sense to
protect people from Dictator A/Kingdom A rather than DictatorB/Kingdom B.
Tell me the last time you read, or if you indeed ever read, in the mainstream
U.S. media - about the effects of the U.S. sanctions (really unilateral now)
on the Iraqi people in depth?  Do you think that if people had all the real
facts they would not be horrified and respond?"

Perhaps five years ago, most people did buy the propaganda that the US was
there to protect the sovereignty of a country (Kuwait), the rights of a
minority (Kurds)...and the world from a nuclear and chemical and biological
threat.  Moreover, the humanitarian intent of the US action was underlined
by the American ability to strong-arm and bribe UN members into providing
approval for the destruction of Iraq.

However, I don't think you have proven this is the case today. Nobody
thinks these bombardments have been blows for human freedom delivered by
the democratic heavyweight champion of the world, the US of A.

   Instead I would argue that people are simply identifying with and indeed
soem are even egging on their national leadership, hoping that crumbs from
its presence and adventures abroad will fall on their table (or at least
hoping that another "Arab"-induced depression will be avoided), and
discounting the human toll of US intervention abroad by taking on the
bourgeoisie's racist disregard for the Arab people themselves.

This identification with the nation provides many immediate psychological
benefits. At the most basic level, it is always more difficult to fight
your own ruling class than join with it in a war over a now manifestly
inferior opponent even if it means that something is lost in the way of tax
dollars or even American lives.

In my opinion, this is the mood right now in the country--the search for
quick, non-antagonistic answers to  intensifying contradictions.  The
support for bourgeois foreign policy, underpinned by racist disregard for
the humanity and freedom of Arab people,  is only one example of the
popular predisposition to quick, authoritarian actions for the
stabilization of the economy and eventual hopeful reattainment of economic
hegemony. And this mood is deeply-felt even among those who are themselves
domestic victims of American racism.

Marxism must at all times militate  for workers' struggles against their
own bourgeoisie. This means we run the risk  at all times of being branded
unpatriotic. Even outsiders.   Yet we have the history of two world wars to
remind us that the abandonment of this difficult path only results in
endless horrors.

I know one person who was always willing to run the risk of being
considered unpatriotic even in the roughest of terrains, one Lisa Rogers, a
brave comrade indeed.

 Rakesh







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