Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Drew Trott (druid) Tue 23 Nov 04 23:36
> it's easier for anti-Bushniks to swap tales about the ogre > than to take a few hard steps toward ending the war I completely agree, Carol. I spent the last four years preaching earnestly to my already-converted friends about the horrors of this administration and the general direction of American society and culture, getting off my butt only for the last couple days of the election. I think there are a lot of people like me who are now scared enough to be determined to make real efforts -- if we can only figure out what to do. We just hosted a "Future of MoveOn" party here where 30 similarly alarmed progressives tried to identify the most pressing issues and the most important strategies. I'm not sure we accomplished much more than some community-building among ourselves -- which I now believe is a critical goal in itself. But the question remains: What are those "hard steps" we should be taking?
Eric Mankin (stet) Wed 24 Nov 04 11:43
I don't mean to be sceptical, but I do think some kind of structural examination of message and medium needs to be on the agenda. For one thing, the past 16 years have seen systematic demonization of all labels to the left of the center, liberal and progressive. What's been missing -- and still is -- is a counterlabel with some deep popular resonance that provides a wide-scale point of attack; plus additionally a new label for those opposed. What irritating about this is the fact that culturally, the left does own the field. That's been shortcircuited by the Big Lie, more and more skillfully applied.
gazorinblat (dwaite) Thu 25 Nov 04 07:20
Someting I find interesting about Bush from several supporters I spoke with pre and then post election is that befroe this last election - those supporters were talking about the grand way Bush has led the country - post- election, these same Bush supporters talk of how every president lies... I think there is some kind of withdrawal hapening even from his supporters regarding how far they have been snookered even if it is shallow acceptance of those lies... This quote in the book seems to come right out of the present day republican adgenda and the ever expanding Americanization of the rest of the world - I guess Americanization is the populist view of America's from of imperialism. "Let every nation know, wheather it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burdon, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty." I grew up idolizing JFK, but the more I read of him, the more I wonder just how much a democrat he was, instead of accepting that he was backed into Vietnam and Cuba's assault at Bay of Pigs - which I see similar to the Gulf1 conflict including the call to rise up and the failed support...
Eric Mankin (stet) Thu 25 Nov 04 11:50
Years ago, on the occasion of a Kennedy biopic I wrote a review called "Kennedy without Tears." Sympathetic biographers say he'd have found a way backward out of Vietnam, but I'm not so sure. But to return to the subject of Carol's book, rather than gloomy doomsaying (mea culpa!!) -- Carol, in one of your most analytical chapters, "The Political Economy of Death," you talk about something becyond a "military industrial complex" -- you talk about what seems more like a cancerous growth of publically funded/privately profiting companies. Can you talk about what's changed since Vietnam -- what's involved in carrying on an aggressive, militariest foreign policy without a mass army of draftees?
Carol Brightman (carolbrightman) Sat 27 Nov 04 15:25
Good question (again). But I'm reading all the messages I missed while I went to a family thanksgiving on the Cape. Am only back now Saturday eve, very embarrassed that I missed so much... Eric, I talk in the book about the military/industrial/congressional complex, and one difference is that the military appropriations are more directly aimed at individual congressmen and their `markets,' i.e. constituents. The latest are 16 multibillion dollar `weapons systems,' and most are unrelated to the assymetric war we're fighting now. Many are right out of Star Wars, the sort of systems you see in the movies, and some--like the `net-centric' intelligence system presented in the newspapers two weeks ago, "giving a `God's eye view' of the battlefied to every soldier," are so dependent on satellites as to be unimaginable.. None of them have much to do with Iraq, and while they may keep certain countries believing in the myth of American military hegemony, they certainly do not favor a victory in the war right in front of us. David: a quick reference for you. George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant! It's supported by the MoveOn folk and Soros and Howard Dean, etc. One of many books by a cognitive scientist about "framing," and how it may not matter what facts you present someone if they have a deeply held frame that contradicts them. Like gazor.. said his opinion of JFK was shifting, and he wasn't a democrat, is saying that his frame about JFK is changing. And I have a feeling that "take back America from Bush" (which you said) is another frame--I don't know what it means--which somehow made it hard for you to hear the antiwar proposals...
Eric Mankin (stet) Sun 28 Nov 04 08:01
Carol, what do you think of the creation of a parallel private military, mercenaries recruited out of our (and other) armies and working for contracters that have popped out of nowhere. If they were a country, they'd be (I believe) the second largest force in Iraq. It's new: nothing like this happened in Vietnam or elsewhere, though the CIA made use of cutouts and institutions like Air America.
Carol Brightman (carolbrightman) Sun 28 Nov 04 13:08
well, there were too many snags for them to work out in Iraq, and you almost never hear of them now. When I wrote the book there were over 20,000 working in Iraq, employees of private military companies--pmc's--not all involved in combat. It's another private asset of Rumsfeld's Pentagon that bit the dust. The real armies were uneasy with them. They weren't accountable to the same rules and were being paid astronomical salaries. Also they were exposed in a way the armed services never are, like the four "contractors" who were captured and strung up by their heels in Falluja in April, with dire consequences which are still being played out by US forces... Up until recently over 10,000 men were employed by the British company Eryines to protect oil fields. You don't hear about them any more either, but then you don't hear about Iraqi oil wells, which have been shut down under pressure of constant sabotage. The only pmc employess who remain are mostly sequestered inside the Green Zone as guards for the many US Embassy employes, three of whom (Brits) were killed by mortars two weeks ago.
If gopod's on our side s/he'll stop the next war (karish) Sun 28 Nov 04 21:58
>structural examination of message and medium I'm sure that Lakoff's ideas will provide a worthwhile point of departure in revisiting how we think about our goals and how we present them. The next step will be difficult, too: getting the message out. In 1970 it was possible to get free publicity by engaging in civil disobedience or by assembling a large group of people. The rules of the game have been changed to make that much more difficult, both by the news outlets and by press managers who exert much more control than they did then.
Carol Brightman (carolbrightman) Mon 29 Nov 04 09:30
Interesting, my "frame" then was not that you got "free publicity" by engaging in civil disobedience, but that the engagement was itself news and newsworthy. The reason for assembling the people, that is. So I guess that makes the next step that much more difficulty. What would you say the new "rules of the game" are?
Eric Mankin (stet) Mon 29 Nov 04 15:06
New media, better use of, and, top priority, establish position in radio. Lefties are funny, That will be difference. But they have to be on the air to be funny, in drive time. They aren't. The result is you get solemn lugubriousness from NPR, or foamies. Jon Stewart sensibility can work in drive time, and I think talent could be found to make it work.
Eric Mankin (stet) Mon 29 Nov 04 17:48
And on the other thread -- if the merc option has crashed and burned (a story that hasn't surfaced yet in the NY Times or elsehwere, but should) what does this portend for a activist, interventionist US foreign policy?
Uncle Jax (jax) Mon 29 Nov 04 18:29
The draft that both parties promised wasn't going to happen.
Carol Brightman (carolbrightman) Mon 29 Nov 04 19:59
wait a minute--not sure what eric's "other thread" is, or how the merc option affects an activist US foreign policy...? As for the draft, it's the biggie that Vietnam had and Iraq doesn't. So far it's all backwards, roping in the National Guard and Reserves and the Individual Ready Force (or whatever), and shows that the US is not really serious about the war, not in Afghanistan and not in Iraq either. Now Iraq is getting really ugly but Bush still wants to start pulling out troops after elections which can only succeed in bringing in Shi'ites, and therefore Iran.
Karen (kgf) Mon 29 Nov 04 22:10
I find myself wondering what will happen when people who voted for Bush, because he is "one of them" begin to realize that he may very well bring about armageddon, but that they won't, in fact, be being whisked off to heaven first.
If gopod's on our side s/he'll stop the next war (karish) Mon 29 Nov 04 23:10
My attitude toward the newsworthiness of demonstrations changed during the 1972 Presidential campaign. Several hundred of us greeted Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan with signs, chants, and shouts when they arrived at the San Jose airport. The news coverage was of an angry mob menacing the President and the Governor. A week later Newsweek ran a story about how the Republicans had shaped the news, quoting Reagan's gloating about having provoked the crowd by flashing a peace sign at us.
Carol Brightman (carolbrightman) Tue 30 Nov 04 17:44
nice memory, even if memory not nice. The shift did begin way back then, which was when a lot of us retreated to bringing up baby or jobs, though many of our thoughts didn't change. And the right came out of their caves shaking their fists over what a near miss the country had with chaos, or with how much really had been lost--re abortion rights, civil rights, an antiwar movement that got the last word over VN--and they're now moving into position to reverse all that. After decades of working through the media, think tanks, and magazines to lay the groundwork. What were we doing? What are we doing? What are we going to do?
Eric Mankin (stet) Tue 30 Nov 04 19:39
The two threads -- worth distinguishing, in my opinion -- are: 1. what's being done. 2. what we can do about it. On the first thread, Carol's thoughts about the crash-and-burn of the mercenary effort seem to me important and unreported. Again, what do they mean for further adventures (i.e., Iran or N. Korea, both much harder military nuts than Iraq).
gazorinblat (dwaite) Wed 1 Dec 04 07:43
Eric is dead on with myu concern as well. the hired forces are taking the place fo the draft and the cost analysys seems to be palatable to the American people. well paid contractors can get shot and killed so long as there isn't a draft.
Carol Brightman (carolbrightman) Wed 1 Dec 04 09:25
gazor... you missed my earlier post to eric. Hired forces are not by and large combat soldiers, but guards, though the distinctions may not be so clear, and we woulnd't know about them in any case. But they didn't work in Afghanistan or Iraq on a large scale, and when they went down, as in Fallujah in April when four "contractors" were strung up on the bridge, they went down in a blaze of defeat.. The mercenaries are central to Rumsfelds vision of privatizing the military, but anathema to the military.
David Gans (tnf) Wed 1 Dec 04 11:31
From what I hear, the real military people are not happy w/ all these "contractors," nor do they relish the idea of a draft. Why iis it that there are apparently no constraints on war spending from these nominally fically-conservative "leaders"?
Eric Mankin (stet) Wed 1 Dec 04 16:27
I'd imagine that thousands of heavily armed highly paid men working outside the military chain of command in a theater of operations would drive the military crazy. But aren't they still there -- are the numbers going up or down?
Carol Brightman (carolbrightman) Wed 1 Dec 04 17:39
The numbers have gone way down. They're mostly ex-solders, mostly special forces, hungry for more money and less supervision. But no more match for the iraqi insurgents than the marines. But like I say, they remain mainly as guards. David: the war spending is two kinds: the 200 billion dollar Iraqi war, which is paid out as "supplementals" by Congress, and Congress (conservative or liberal) has never voted down a war.. And second are approriations for "war systems," like the near 500 billion dollar congressional appropriations in 2004 for Lockheed-Martin, Northrup-Grumman, etc. who used to be "airplane companies" and now call themselves "warfare companies." It's so basic to what it means to represent your constituents in this state or that, that it's hard to imagine anymone standing up to oppose them. Of course they have precious little to do with asymmetric warfare in Middle East.
Eric Mankin (stet) Fri 3 Dec 04 09:50
This story in today's Washington Post struck me: BAGHDAD, Dec. 2 -- Citing security concerns, the U.S. Embassy on Thursday banned its employees from using the highway linking the embassy area to the international airport, a 10-mile stretch of road plagued by frequent suicide car-bomb attacks. The move, which followed similar action by the British this week, reflected the growing difficulty that U.S. forces are having ensuring safe passage along the high-profile route. Precisely because of the road's importance, insurgents have shown increasing boldness and ferocity in targeting vehicles used by U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors. A large armored bus, nicknamed the Rhino, had been carrying passengers to and from the airport. But it stopped operating last week after being struck by a car bomb. No one on the bus was injured, but its engine was damaged. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A29731-2004Dec2.htm If we can't secure the road to the airport what does that say about our hold on the rest of the country?
gazorinblat (dwaite) Fri 3 Dec 04 11:09
Last week also announced the largest contingent of US forces 150k in Iraq, and todays Chicago Tribune noted that bed space is at a premium for solders in Iraq because of the longer tours that wear heavily on the soldiers... I'm wondering about Vietnam and the soliders that would do multiple back to back tours - do you think it was a sense of obligation, fear of coming home, self-served attitude? More to the point, Carol, and I have a bunch more quesitons about yoru book, it's wonderfully imformative, but I digress - Can you share with us your thoughts on the effects of soldiers in an occupied land and time in country - longer tours, breaks from combat, etc?
David Gans (tnf) Fri 3 Dec 04 12:22
Our next interview has taken center stage, but there's no reason why this one has to stop. Carol and Eric, thank you for doing this, and please carry on!
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