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America: Drugged up, dumbed down and crazy dangerous

Robert Bridge has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1998. Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Moscow News, Bridge is the author of the book, “Midnight in the American Empire.”

Published time: June 21, 2012 08:31

The dogs of war are barking in the backyard and some deranged minds seem determined to swing open the gates – again. At the same time, the American people, the only ones who can stop the savagery, are saddled with long-term debt, deficits and depression.

As the new age Romans mission-creep toward the next doomed Middle East neighborhood, this time in Syria, when does the quaint phrase “experiencing déjà vu” become just a polite way of saying we are apathetic spectators at the Circus Maximus? Does uttering mindless platitudes while the swords are swinging make us accomplices to death and destruction? Do our politicians – the nice guys who bailed out the bankers to the tune of trillions while we got cash for clunkers – really care about innocent civilians abroad who are getting caught in the crossfire?

By playing the knight in shining armor on behalf of every oppositional groundswell, we are actually encouraging these revolutionary uprisings from the start. As the Arab Spring shows, the opponents of the ruling authorities are seizing the reins of power through street violence, which seems to be the preferred method of political campaigning these days.

The opponents of vanquished Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, for example, did not have to prove their political prowess to win power. They only had to show up and demonstrate their staying power until NATO air support was called in. Eventually, the opposition revealed their true colors, however, when they dragged Gaddafi from a hole, Hussein-style, before summarily executing him. No trial, no judge, no jury, no worry.  Welcome to the brave new political jungle where the side with the best crowd control always wins.

Essentially, the western powers are bankrolling unproven political wannabes not with hard cash, which is bad enough, but with overwhelming firepower. This opens the door to crimes of worse magnitude than would have been the case had nobody interfered in the first place. For example, if the Syrian political opposition understand, as they certainly must, the infinite power of global communication, then they will also understand the effectiveness of sending a message (tweeting, texting, whatever) that government forces committed an “atrocity.” Even if they have not.

Consider the May 25 massacre in the village of Houla. Nobody yet has been able to prove beyond a shadow of doubt the identity of the perpetrators behind that barbaric event, which saw the murder of 108 people, mostly women and children. The opposition claims government forces hired mercenaries known as Shabiha to carry out the attack. However, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad maintains that armed groups were determined to sabotage UN peace talks (on May 15, one day before a UN Security Council meeting on Syria, militants carried out a massacre in the town of Homs, while the Houla attack coincided with a visit by UN negotiator Kofi Annan). Why would Assad, of all people, be opposed to ending the violence that threatens to topple his government, and possibly far worse?

To date, western forces have thrown their support behind the political opposition in Egypt, Libya and most infamously in Iraq. And how is that working? Egypt is witnessing a tense standoff between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, while the new Libyan authorities have just detained four members of the International Criminal Court who were in town to provide a defense attorney to Gaddafi’s son. So much for planting the seeds of democracy. Meanwhile, many Americans are still scratching their heads over the “preemptive” attack on Iraq, which never had weapons of mass destruction or a hand in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Yet, we still have not learned the lessons of Iraq. In fact, some people are now twisting that failed operation to fit the new mission statement. A writer for Haaretz argued that the “world must intervene before 'Iraqization' of Syria,” reasoning that “the collapse of the Syrian army and Assad's regime is liable to lead to the ‘Iraqization’ of the country, in such a way that it will no longer be clear who controls it.”

Have we already forgotten that it was the US-led invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003 that prompted the “Iraqization” of Iraq in the first place? Yes, Saddam Hussein was no nice guy, but Iraq itself was more or less a normal state before the US occupation.

Perhaps this is what Russian President Vladimir Putin partially meant when he once called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Although the momentous event triggered severe dislocations across Russia and beyond, it also gave the United States an opportunity to behave like a veritable beast on the human stage. Now, after some 20 years of snorting and licking the mirror of power, the world’s solitary superpower, saying no-no-no to rehab, continues to do what it does best: acting like an infantile Bam-Bam from the Flintstones. So where is the homegrown American opposition to rein in these military misadventures? It's gone missing in action.

If you were planning to conquer the world, or at least a broad swath of it, the war would necessarily start at home. After all, no general worth his salt would rush into battle with his rear exposed. You’d have to muzzle the media, severely curtail political choice and dissent, while preaching to the world about democracy and human rights to cover your tracks. You’d have to construct the mother of all propaganda machines, which proclaims over every available wavelength that it’s the best darn civilization since Atlantis sunk to its watery grave three thousands years ago. It would be a bit like decorating the halls of a mental asylum with idyllic nature scenes. You’d also have to hire an army of loud-mouth talking heads to shout down any and all dissenters, accuse them of being conspiracy theorists and lunatics and commies, while keeping a paramilitary police force on the standby 24/7 should the bullying tactics fail.

You’d have to spoon-feed the populace with a liberal dose of anti-depressants, Jersey Shore, American Idol and 24-hour shopping channels with easy credit to prevent them from giving a moment’s thought to real-time, third-dimensional issues. You could also fuel battles over trifling cultural issues, like homosexuals in the military, Mel Gibson’s latest rant and Charlie Sheen’s complicated love life. What we are left with after the smoke has cleared bears no resemblance to a classic, text-book democracy. What we are left with is an obese, drug-addled Burlesque Empire, bursting at the seams with electronic circuses, cocaine and corn puffs, physically and mentally incapable of finding the remote control when the scenes of war become too unappetizing.

We are overstretched at home, and like despotic Rome, overstretched overseas. Now it is anybody’s guess where this depressing joyride will take us. 

­Robert Bridge, RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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