Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making It McChrystal Clear

The war system’s response to Gen. McChrystal’s Rolling Stone interview is instructive. It is a reminder that every Memorial Day should begin by honoring the first victim of every war: truth. But as all wars are grounded in lies – the bloodier the war the more enormous the falsity of its foundation – truth becomes not only a casualty, but the enemy itself.

Whether McChrystal’s assessment was correct is not the point: it is the threat to the war racket of having insiders purporting to address the reality of war that so disturbs the state. Men of the general’s stature are expected to have greater access to evidence supporting their opinions, thus enhancing their credibility. The public acceptance of war is the default position that perpetuates its insanity. "Truth" is the input that "does not compute" within the logic of the war system, and the state undertakes every precaution – such as censorship, labeling documents and other discomforting facts as "top secret" – to silence any doubts that might be raised as to the validity of the propagandized campaign on behalf of death and destruction.

The annual ritual of gathering at the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" – is there even a body within it? – is a convenient way of reinvesting popular commitments to hazy purposes. The uncertainties and contradictions that attend the "fog of war" are more easily overlooked – or ignored – when the fallen soldiers, themselves, can be enshrouded in the cloak of being "unknown." If the soldiers who die are unfamiliar to us – fungible nonbeings who, like ourselves, have been conditioned to serve the state – how can the rest of us be expected to cut our ways through the cloudiness? As long as we are prepared to insist upon the protection of our ignorance; to wave our flags when the cheerleaders so direct us; and to regard war as but the expression of some imagined sense of "human nature," this evil, institutionally-profitable racket will continue unabated. The entire mess can then be synthesized into such an incoherent hodgepodge of confusing complexity that no one can be expected to make any sense of it. As in trying to unravel the causation of recessions, depressions, and other dislocations – an effort that requires a basic understanding of economic principles that most of us have learned to dismiss as the "dismal science," whose intricacies and subtleties are best left to institutional wizards and czars – Boobus can take comfort in his ignorance of the critical events in his life.

Gen. McChrystal has discovered what so many others before him learned – from Socrates to Thomas More to Gen. Smedley Butler to Sophie Scholl to Daniel Ellsberg to Seymour Hersh to untold governmental "whistleblowers" – even, more recently to Helen Thomas – that it is dangerous to speak truth not to power, but to ordinary people. The owners of the political establishment know the truth; they are fully aware of the lies they have fabricated; the deceptions they – along with their obliging media and academic supporters – have carefully manipulated into a perception of "truth." The owners don’t want you to know what they know. Those who would dare to so inform you get labeled as "paranoid conspiracy theorists," "disgruntled former employees," "racists," or "anti-Semitic." When I am asked if I believe in "conspiracy theories" of history, I respond – in the words of the late Chris Tame – "I am not interested in conspiracy theories, but in the facts of conspiracies."