Is There Really A War Going On?

Random Lengths News | May 2, 2007
The other day, I was asked somewhat innocently by Jack Baric the former editor of that other publication in town, what it was like during the Vietnam War because, "this just doesn't seem like we are at war" now. Well, there's a simple and a complex answer to that, young Jack, most of which has to do with how the corporate owned media reports the war, or in this case doesn't report the war.

With Vietnam -- this long into the quagmire -- the nightly war reports routinely showed experienced and well-known reporters in the field, often with pictures of wounded soldiers and actual battlefield scenes that showed some of the real horrors of war. Since that time (and as a direct reaction to the embarrassment of losing Vietnam), the US military tightened the reins on the media, ultimately embedding them with the troops in Iraq and heavily censoring all news releases for the domestic market. Hence, what we see on our evening news, consistently titled on almost every station as, the "War For Iraq" are sanitized, cleaned up reports sans wounded soldiers or any of the blood and guts that graphically repulses us to the gruesome realities of war. (The only report that comes close to this is the nightly report of car bombings in Baghdad, but there are rarely pictures of dead bodies.)

Hidden behind the patriotic fervor of the US media conglomerates is their total acquiescence to this President, with a lap-dog mentality towards not questioning his War On Iraq and the greed of the military-industrial-complex's profiteering. If you peel back the veneer of ownership to see that General Electric, which owns NBC, is also a major military contractor then you begin to see how they have compromised American journalism. This is a difference between then and now. Only four years after the invasion are we being told about the lies that were offered us, broadcast to the nation by our "trusted" media outlets, that fooled much of this nation into believing that there were legitimate security reasons to invade a sovereign nation without provocation -- a nation that was actually an enemy of those who attacked us on 9/11.

I was never fooled by this evasion of the truth, Jack, I knew from the very beginning that this didn't pass the smell test. Heck, it didn't even pass the military's own Powell Doctrine, crafted by the military specifically to avoid another Vietnam! The lack of candor, dependable civilian support for the real mission, sufficient troops, and an exit plan -- all of these missing elements were known to the military as absolutely vital for success.

But if the military remembered, the politicians never learned. And so it turns out this whole mess in Iraq is like Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld justifying the tragic mistakes in Vietnam (which ended so deplorably on their watch as the first crooked President in recent memory was about to be impeached) -- just to prove that they weren't wrong then and they sure as hell won't be now, as long as we "stay the course."

Since Vietnam, the warmongers in Washington DC have realized that they could not depend on a military draft to pursue unpopular wars, which is all that we have had between then and now. Thus, there are no campus uprisings or students shot at Kent State. The all volunteer army and repeated deployments of National Guard units have been used to place the burden of war on either working class citizens, mostly minorities, and on the aging guardsmen of my generation who never thought that they would have to fight another illegal war. America is full of opportunities isn't it?

The thing is that this war has been hidden in plain view from the public and sanitized for public consumption. It is shilled to the press with administration talking points, planted stories, embedded reporters, and coordinated propaganda via the office of Public Diplomacy -- grinding out news like so much pork sausage from a meat grinder. This gives us, in the end, censored news reports. That so many of us just shrug it off saying "all governments lie" is only more cover for those doing the lying, and is no justification for this war.

The other thing you are missing, Jack, is that you personally have not been impacted by this war -- that you know of yet! They haven't tapped your phone yet or carted off every man with a Croatian last name to Guantanamo. But let me share a little personal experience. At 17, I participated in the peace demonstration when President Johnson came to speak at the Century Plaza Hotel. At one point the LAPD panicked (overreacted), and like the protest that occurred this May Day at MacArthur Park, the police batons were swinging indiscriminately. I saw unarmed citizens running from their own police force, some of them bleeding, some of them with children and mothers, and the sting of tear gas in the air and choppers flying. That war was brought home to me and thousands of my generation. This was caught on the local TV and could not be hidden from the local news crews -- just like this last time when several of them were themselves beaten by LA's "finest officers" in blue. That we now have the same police force that has once again been armed for military reaction, ostensibly to protect the homeland from terrorism, but which will inevitably be used on us, is how you will come to know this war.

The war on the home front will be experienced long after we get out of Iraq with increased surveillance of workers and civilians on the waterfront, at our airports, in our schools, and on our computers. National ID cards will be mandatory and security at every juncture will be heralded as the solution while we forfeit the very liberties that supposedly the authorities are sworn to protect! Repression will be saluted as liberties are denied. The permanent police state will be much more sublime and its tyranny so complete by the time they come for you, Jack, that you will probably end up apologizing to the officers who lead you away for the inconvenience you have caused them -- a violation of which you are ignorant.

Now I know some of you will call this an exaggeration or some might even think it extremist, but it has happened here in America, here in California, and here in San Pedro all before. They arrested Upton Sinclair for reading the First Amendment on Liberty Hill, killed striking workers in 1934 and arrested hundreds of Japanese fishermen on Terminal Island in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

That you think it can't happen here, that it isn't happening already, in bits and pieces, is only an expression of what?

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