The Most Significant Recent Event in the US is the Unprovoked War on Iraq
The Bliss of Ignorance
Many events of historical proportion have occurred in America's recent past. The infamous attack of 9/11, the election of a person of color to the nation's highest office, and the government bailout of Wall Street in the midst of a financial meltdown the likes of which had not been seen for decades come to mind.
These events pale in comparison to America’s naked engagement in unprovoked warfare against the nation of Iraq.
The United States has a long history of routinely engaging in unprovoked acts of war, seemingly as a matter of policy, but its tendency has been to do so with at least some superficial effort at covertness and/or diplomacy.
Mexico was offered money on more than one occasion for a major part of its territory before the Thornton Affair was used as an excuse to take that territory by force. Four decades later, in his eagerness to expand the empire beyond its seashores, Teddy Roosevelt would write to his buddy Alfred Thayer Mahan: “What this country needs is a war – any little war will do.”
An explosion in the boiler room of the USS Maine that killed 266 Americans was all the excuse needed to start that “little war.” “We attributed to this feeble nation plans of offensive warfare which it never dreamed of making,” Roosevelt later said of Spain.
The American-controlled Hawaiian government pleaded for annexation as protection from the Spanish hordes sure to come, and, after the defeat of Spain, the Philippines were taken by brutal force.
Pretty good pay dirt for a "little war."
It's no secret to the vast majority of Americans that their tax dollars and acquiescence sponsor coup d’états, assassinations and brutal dictatorships on an ongoing basis, but they've come to expect these operations to be executed in a manner which will allow them to claim ignorance, therefore, innocence.
The attack on Iraq, however, proceeded under a very thin and tattered veil, and Uncle Sam’s blood-soaked hands, long since conspicuous to the rest of the world, must now be acknowledged by every American.
While it's true that the Bush administration doggedly sited the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to Al-Quaeda as justifications for war, it was clear then to anyone of normal intelligence that no evidence supported such claims. It should be crystal clear to everyone now that those claims amounted to no more than a transparent pretext and a ruse.
Yet, rather than concede that America’s actions from the beginning were motivated by economic self-interest, Bush and his supporters now maintain that it was Heaven-sent American benevolence that has caused the unspeakable suffering, death and destruction. Apparently, they have been stricken by a case of mass amnesia with respect to the original pretense, or they are under the impression that the rest of the world is predisposed to the affliction.
In my lifetime, the government of the United States has been responsible for much of the avoidable suffering throughout the world. This has been accomplished through military action, corporate abuse, and economic sanctions to name just some of the means.
I've noticed a common theme among the surviving victims of America’s transgressions throughout the years: they often point out that their anger and outrage is not directed towards the American people. They believe that Americans are good, decent human beings. It is the government of the United States that they blame. It is the government of the United States that they hate and not the people.
I do not believe this generous point of view will survive.
Americans have tipped their hand just as the whole world was watching. The people of the United States are not mere sheep after all, simply submitting to the will of their elected government officials. Americans have consented, no, they have approved, no, they have embraced the policies and codes enforced by their government, and the re-election of George W. Bush to the Office of President of the United States in November of 2004 serves as unimpeachable evidence for this. Indeed, Americans would not even consider changing course, as is witnessed by the fact that Bush's opponent was a virtual mirror image of the president in terms of social and political values
...without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime .... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction .... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real ....But the burden is also clearly on the Bush Administration to do the hard work of building a broad coalition at the U.N. and the necessary work of educating America about the rationale for war.
John Kerry, Georgetown University, 2003
The people of the United States gave their president a mandate to stay the course.
As a result of these recent events, the bliss of ignorance to which Americans have clung to for so long is a luxury no longer available to them. The economically motivated self-interest that is institutionalized within every level of American society can no longer be denied. Americans have made it clear that they will support whatever means necessary to maintain their privileged position in the world.
As long as their investments continue to yield profits and as long as their financial security is assured, Americans will sleep soundly. If dropping bombs ensures that their property values will continue to rise, then let it rain.
This is not a new philosophy. What is new is that even the most disingenuous American can no longer pretend to ignore the dripping blood as the olive branch is offered.