Two Tribes Go to War

Frankie Goes to Hollywood was one of the new wave techno bands that had a few hits in the 1980s.  They were famous for their song “Relax.”  However, they also had a hit that made it to Number One in the United Kingdom in 1984.  It was called “Two Tribes” and their MTV video showed U.S. President Ronald Reagan and then Soviet Premier Konstantin Chernenko fighting it out in the arena which symbolized the Cold War.

Tomorrow there will be a similar battle between two tribes but in this case it will be a “debate” between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton who won their respective nominations for the office of President of the United States.  CNN has drummed up the battle by showing the faces of the two nominees up close with an ominous tone stating that they face each other head to head for the first time.  This publicity sounds as if it were a big fight on the UFC circuit.

No doubt we will hear the bromides from each of the candidates stating that if one is elected that women and blacks will be chained in cages for years to come while the other accuses the other of being soft on crime.  It is essentially going to be a two hour slug fest with no new ground being plowed.  We will have analysts scoring points for each side that would make the judging from the Roy Jones-Park Si hun fight from the 1988 Olympics look remarkably honest by comparison.  No meaningful issues will be discussed like the never-ending war in Afghanistan, the disastrous interventions in Libya, Syria and Yemen that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and the massive $20 trillion debt that weights on our country like a one ton iron yoke on one’s neck.  It will all be cosmetic fluff with “solutions” that no one really believes in.

However, the viewers in selected audiences will be amused with the antics and bloviations and will be asked who “won” the debate via satellite from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other outlets.  The people are hungry for solutions, but they will not find them in Washington.  They must find them from inside themselves and their communities for the politicians care little for them anymore.   It will be a non event that I will not miss.  However, if they bring back the great boxing announcer Jimmy Lennon from the dead to officiate the debate, I might reconsider.

The New Thirty Years War…and then some

Here is my latest book review.  It is Andrew Bacevich’s new book on the history of the War in the Greater Middle which can be purchased here.

Andrew Bacevich has written a brilliant history in a nutshell of our adventures in the greater Middle East which began in earnest with President Carter’s aiding Afghan rebels against the Soviets in 1980. Since that time we have gone from one intervention to another in ensuring that we have access to oil and project the American dominance over the world as the sole superpower.

Bacevich shows us that the vacillation on the part of our leaders and disrupting the lives of many people in that part of the world in many instances have cost numerous lives there, resulted in the maiming and killing of many of our soldiers and has put a tremendous drain on our government budgets over the last 30 years. Events in Iran, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Somalia and many other countries are discussed with brief yet precise aplomb. Iran-Contra for instance is shown by the author as an instance where we were on both sides which the government did in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The author breaks down the Gulf War in four phases. The aforementioned Gulf War of the 1980s, the conflict in Desert Storm in 1991-1992, the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the recent conflict with ISIS. In essence, this has been the new Thirty Years War and the result has been hundreds of thousands of dead, broken infrastructure, massive division of countries and bitterness from locals. Today, as Bacevich notes, the American people no longer want to hear about incidents in that part of the world, preferring to put such things down the memory hole. Yet, the fight still rages on and will do so for years to come.

Bacevich gives four sound reasons for the war in the greater Middle East being perpetrated with no end in sight. The first reason is that neither party has a strong anti-war or anti-interventionist wing within their parties; this should be a surprise to many. The second is that many candidates prefer to “support the troops” than to question the reasons for the war’s continuation. The third reason, the most sinister in my opinion, is that some sectors of the government and private sector benefit financially from the war’s continuance. The final reason is that American citizens seem not to care and that they wish for deficit spending to cover this campaign and lay the debts on future generations. As the author concludes his book, he states that Americans are in a deep slumber and that they are in for a rude awakening. I couldn’t agree more.