American Dreams and Beans

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In my sometime role of a prophet, I have taken it upon myself to sort out the material from the immaterial, the trivial from the profound, and the sidelines from the show.

In the past several weeks, we have observed a proliferation of media focus on the irrelevant and unimportant. We were treated to a walk in Baghdad by a US Senator with presidential ambitions, feigned outrage at a visit to Damascus by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the ongoing saga of the improperly fired US Attorneys, a heated American Idol controversy and an impassioned backlash against a radio host’s racist misspeak.

Topping the list of the borderline absurd was the stroll of Senator John McCain in downtown Baghdad. The delusional man-who-would-be-king in a flak jacket, surrounded by a brigade of heavily armed and armored warriors with a fleet of machine gun helicopters floating overhead, offered his walk down a street cordoned off by concrete barriers and razor wire as proof that the president’s latest “surge” strategy is working.

In the midst of an ongoing offensive (Operation Black Eagle is just under way), the wonder is that no one thought to ask: Don’t these soldiers have anything better to do than to risk their lives and threaten the lives of Iraqi civilians for a cheap political stunt?

Will the good Senator take his show on the road to Tal Afar, Ramadi and Fallujah? Will he venture across the border for hard-knuckled talks with Iraq’s neighbors? Will he convince them that all is well and they had better jump aboard the victory parade? Not likely.

Regarding Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Damascus, rarely is so much ado paid to so little. While it is useful for American leaders to deliver the message that we are not all in step with our president or his war, no one is under the illusion that the Speaker conducts foreign policy.

As for the saga of the fired US Attorney Eight, it has a little more bite but in the end it is only another symptom for a disease most of the electorate has already diagnosed: Systemic corruption and incompetence. Though it serves to remind us that this administration’s first response to any exposure of official impropriety is denial and deception, it is also a distraction from far greater crimes and misdemeanors the pursuit of which have the power to bring down the curtain on the Bush reign of terror.

Against a backdrop of sideshow punditry and titillation, the Iranian-British hostage crisis played out without erupting into expanded war, effectively serving notice to the American war president that the world will not cooperate or collaborate in his twisted vision of a Middle East in flames.

Against a backdrop of a contrived American Idol controversy, the situation in Iraq has gone from grave and deteriorating to implosion. In the absence of live footage or the indelible image of blood on the streets and wailing Iraqi mothers, we are delivered words and numbers that are lost in back pages and diluted in impact. One hundred and fifty died in a single day in Tal Afar of northern Iraq. Six hundred died in the last week of March, a month that also marked 80 more American deaths.

The violence in Baghdad continues unabated (and will increase sharply with the showdown of occupation forces against the Mahdi Army) while violence outside Baghdad rages from Basra to the south, Anbar Province to the west and Tal Afar to the north.

America’s erstwhile Middle East allies, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have called for an end to the occupation and serious diplomatic engagement of all regional powers, while our traditional allies outside the region have fallen eerily silent against waves of popular dissent.

There is no one left in the world that can even envision an American “victory” in Iraq. There is no one left who believes that America’s cause is righteous or that the world would be better off if we prevailed. There is no one left who will follow the American war president into battle.

Against a backdrop of playoff dramas and sporting events, the situation in Afghanistan has become grave and deteriorating. Our most critical ally and its despotic leader, General-President Pervez Musharraf, have marked a new path of negotiation, compromise and accommodation with the warring parties, a path that offers a least costly exit to an untenable quagmire for American and NATO forces.

Against a backdrop of extreme weather from the heartland to the east coast, yet another study by the world’s most esteemed scientists reaffirms that the situation on planet earth is also grave and deteriorating for its varied inhabitants and all measures to combat it are as yet tepid and grossly inadequate.

Against a backdrop of a thousand daily distractions, it would be all too easy to yield to Apocalyptic visions: War and more war, terrorism and terrorist attacks, floods, tornados, typhoons, hurricanes, food shortage, hunger, drought, disease and nuclear annihilation.

It would be all too easy to summon the worst nightmare from the darkness of humanity and foresee doom and mass destruction but it is not the vision I see.

I see America awakening.

I see a leader emerging, a new kind of leader, the kind who understands that avoiding blame for past crimes and strategic failures is not worth the cost of a single life or the prolonged suffering of a beleaguered and tortured people.

I see a leader who acknowledges the solemn truth that the neocon fantasy of conquering the Middle East in a series of misbegotten, illegal, immoral, genocidal and delusional wars is a shallow and pathetic vision unworthy of mature and civilized nations.

I see a leader who will choose the path of peace and mobilize a waiting world to the challenge of healing a toxic planet.

I see a leader who understands that the future of the global economy depends on a vibrant and prospering working class, accessible education and responsible technology.

I see an America that is accountable for past crimes, amenable to reparations and receptive to world opinion.

I see an America that will lead the world into a new age of enlightenment.

You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.



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