Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Question for Fred

Lately I've suggested in this space, once or twice, that the official outrage over the Wikileaks enterprise seems to be due to our supervisors' determination that the un-photogenic details of Our Glorious Struggle Against Terrorism be kept secret from the American public. Fred Reed's current column makes the same claim -- which, I hasten to say, puts me in pretty good company. An excerpt:
In recent decades the military has almost achieved its wettest dream, the separation of wars from the American population. The fielding of a small volunteer army prevents the riots on campus that helped to end the adventure in Asia long ago. “Embedding” reporters with combat units pretty much prevents coverage that might upset people. The media for whatever reasons are now complicit, declining to air what really happens on the ground. All of this allows ghastly behavior, which is what wars always produce, to go forward with little opposition.

Ah, but leaks, YouTube, holes in the wall of silence—these pose real threats to the flow of contracts.

If you don’t think that contracts—money—have a great deal to do with wars, reflect that all those hundreds of billions of dollars end up in pockets, and those pockets do not belong to soldiers. Makers of body armor, boots, ammunition, helicopters, on and on, are rolling in gravy. All this half-watched loot flows in cataracts at the price of at most sixty dead American kids a month (and lots of brain-damaged droolers, but what the hey). A bargain. Afghans don’t count.

Note that the Pentagon’s orchestrated screaming has not been about technical data that might in fact get GIs killed, but about revelation of the ugly things the US is doing to people. Consider the footage of an American helicopter gunship killing pedestrians in a city street, and apparently having just a swell time doing it. This didn’t reveal military secrets. But it showed the gusnip crew as the butchers they are. Bad juju for the military. PR is all.

The pattern holds. Remember when the White House furiously suppressed video of torture? The Taliban would have garnered no tactically devastating details. But men screaming, choking, crying, bleeding, begging—even the patriotic might gag.

Why are the fun and games at Guantanamo kept secret? Watching a man die under torture does not make it easier for the Taliban to ambush Marines. In no way would it endanger American forces. But it would endanger the war. The golden goose.

Then there was the photo of the hideously wounded and dying GI that was (miraculously) published in the New York Times. SAD Robert Gates (Secretary of Alleged Defense) said that the publication was “irresponsible.” Oh? How so? The Taliban could have gotten no militarily useful pointers from seeing an expanse of red gushing meat (the leg looked to have been nearly severed). But people in Kansas might look and think twice about the war.
It seems to me, though, that Mr. Reed falls short at the same place I do. Yes, The Authorities™ certainly behave as if they fear inconvenience if their deeds are exposed to the light of day. Perhaps that is their concern. But why? If Mr. Reed can offer any evidence that the conscience of America has ever become aroused to the point of disobedience, or even voting the scoundrels out of office, by the scoundrels' misdeeds, I wish he would encourage me with that evidence. Alas, I fear there is none. When have we ever seen the people in Kansas -- or in red, red Indiana -- ever look and think twice about any war? Only in the case of the Vietnam war do we see a war of gratuitous intervention perhaps having been abbreviated by public disenchantment; and there, widespread conscription provides the immediate motivation for that disenchantment.

No, I think my blogging buddy akaGaGa pretty much nailed it in her comment on a recent post:
Take the Tea Party, for instance. As long as their taxes don't noticeably go up and they can keep their guns, they could care less how many people our government kills, "Swarthy" or low-life, drug-using, Americans. And getting complete control of Mideast oil that doesn't belong to us would just be a bonus.
I'm glad our rulers are worried, but I don't see that they have much to worry about.


Cammie Novara said...

"The media for whatever reasons are now complicit, declining to air what really happens on the ground." I can really relate to that quote from my own experience.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the link!

I'm glad our rulers are worried, but I don't see that they have much to worry about.

Agree. The beltway has nothing to fear from Kansas.

God, however, is another matter.