Saturday, September 7, 2013

Distortion Unlimited: Syria, Fukushima, and Labor

Political satirists have been driven to despair once again as Nobel peace prize winner Barack Obama prepares to militarily attack his seventh country in less than five years in the name of protecting the world from weapons of mass destruction.  The case for a Syrian sarin gas attack is based almost entirely on Washington insistence, not empirical confirmation, and constitutes the usual self-serving pretext for U.S. imperial war that large sectors of the world are increasingly disgusted by; but Obama is determined to "lead" by submitting to one ridiculous neo-con fantasy of an "evil dictator"after another.  And naturally he overlooks Washington's own long tradition of using weapons of mass destruction, from white phosphorous to depleted uranium to Agent Orange to atomic bombs, and that's just the short list.

The farce is made doubly ridiculous by the effort to assure an imperial-war-weary U.S. public that not a single U.S. soldier will enter the Syrian fray with "boots on the ground," so that American casualties will not grow.  But isn't this an absurdly self-interested preoccupation for the leader of a "humanitarian" intervention to have?  If Assad is truly exterminating civilian populations with poison gas, including children, shouldn't Americans be gladly willing to risk their lives to rid the world of such hideous policies? What cause could be more important?

Washington's reluctance to ask for Americans to sacrifice gives the imperial game away.

The reality is that the American people are highly skeptical of intervening - and justly so - because just a decade ago the neo-cons told us we had to invade Iraq to stop another "evil dictator" (Saddam Hussein) from employing weapons of mass destruction, and it turned out he didn't have any.  Secretary of State John Kerry tries to characterize this skepticism as mere "fatigue" with the costs of war, but in fact it is a response to being continually lied to.  In other words, the American people aren't tired of war, they're tired of being played for suckers.  For the likes of John Kerry the answer to that problem isn't to start telling the truth, it's to tell slicker and more murderous lies.  After a "distinguished" career serving imperial propaganda, he is well up to the task.

The whole ridiculous "debate" about the need to "draw a line in the sand" and defend "the norms of civilization" is sheer adolescent fantasy.  The United States is far and away the world leader in designing, producing, selling, and employing advanced weapons systems that have killed millions of people around the world since the end of WWII, so it has no moral standing to be judging anyone else. And if sincere advocates of civilized conduct want to eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction from the world, the first enemy they will have to confront is not Syria, but the United States, especially its bloodthirsty neo-con cabal.

Meanwhile, in Japan the clean-up of the triple-meltdown at Fukushima is finally being taken over by the government - just two-and-a-half years after the radiation-spewing disaster occurred.  The utility TEPCO has proven completely incapable of containing the contamination, and this week it admitted that radiation levels near one leaky plant were 18 times higher than previously indicated -  and sufficient to kill a human being in just four hours.  While pushing to reopen reactors in Japan and sell more of them abroad, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that "a fundamental solution to the problem of contaminated water" (a highly radioactive underground lake could spill into the Pacific Ocean) was to build a mile-long underground wall of ice around the intensely radioactive reactor cores.  Piece of cake.  Keep in mind that it's non-contaminating solar energy that's said to be impractical.

It's high time we phased out nuclear power, which obviously cannot be made safe.  Its waste is not just carcinogenic, but mutagenic, which portends ultimate destruction of the genetic integrity of all species exposed to it.  And the experts in risk assessment - insurance companies - refuse to insure any commercial nuclear plant against the possibility of reactor accident, such as have now famously occurred at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, with no doubt more on the way.  The energy that was promised to be "too cheap to meter" has turned out to be too hot to handle - literally.  Let's cut our losses and abolish the industry, not later, but now.

Labor Day has come and gone while the deplorable state of U.S. labor remained unremarked on.  Kevin D. Williamson wrote in that, "The main problem of the poor in the United States is not that they are worked too hard but that they do not work at all."   With all due respect for the problems of unemployment, this is nonsense.  Who does Williamson think is cleaning airplanes, office buildings, homes, and cars?   Who is waiting on people in hotels and restaurants?  Who takes care of pre-school children while their parents are working?  And what wages do these jobs bring?  It takes a minimum of reflection to arrive at the answers, but the propagandists of "free market" fantasy aren't paid to reflect.

The rest of us know that labor works more and more and earns less and less, and neither the Democrats nor the Republicans care.


"The Week," September 13, 2013


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