Dennis Loo

Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path

Dennis Loo

Dennis Loo
Location
Los Angeles, California,
Birthday
December 31
Title
Professor of Sociology
Company
Cal Poly Pomona
Bio
Author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society; Co-Editor/Author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member, co-author of "Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them" statement, dog and fruit tree lover. Published poet. Winner of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award, Project Censored Award and the Nation Magazine's Most Valuable Campaign Award. Punahou and Harvard Honor Graduate. Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz. An archive of close to 500 postings of mine can be found at my blogspot blog, Dennis Loo, link below. I publish regularly at dennisloo.com, worldcantwait.net (link below) and also at OpEd News and sometimes at Counterpunch.

OCTOBER 7, 2009 10:21AM

Afghanistan: Eight Years and Counting

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"Wedding Party Anti-War Action at Grand Central Station, October 7, 2009.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

More photos such as these from the Wall Street Journal here. 

By Dennis Loo 

October 6, 2009

consortiumnews.com 

Editor’s Note: At the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, more and more Americans are questioning why the United States is still fighting this war – and asking whether there is any end in sight for this bloody occupation.

In this guest essay, sociology professor Dennis Loo expresses the view of this emerging majority, in favor of ending the war:

Eight years ago, on Oct. 7, 2001, the U.S. launched a war upon Afghanistan.

What have eight years of war and occupation accomplished? 

Government corruption is so rife and pervasive that even the U.S. State Department has condemned it. The recent elections are still being contested because of massive fraud. War and drug lords arepart of the government.

Afghanistan is near the worst in the world in poverty rates, life expectancy, unemployment, child mortality, and lack of human rights. It remains, however, number one in opium production.

Thousands of Afghans have been killed and millions continue to be refugees – either within Afghanistan or driven to other nations. Large gatherings of people, including wedding and dinner parties, are considered legitimate targets by the US military for bombing.

The results of this are predictable: Afghan anger and growing rage at the U.S. 
 
Eight years of war and occupation and what do we see? 
 
The Afghan economy is shattered. Women remain oppressed, as they were under the Taliban. This year President Hamid Karzai signed a law that requires Shi’ite women to obtain their husband’s permission to go to school, visit a doctor, go to work, and other ordinary activities.

It allows men to withdraw food from women if they refuse sexual demands. And a rapist can escape prosecution if he pays “blood money” to a girl he injured while raping her. 
 
Eight years of war and U.S. leaders continue to debate what their aims are and how to achieve those aims. Their lack of clarity here isn’t a function primarily of lack of intelligence. You cannot justify an unjust and unwinnable war. 

Eight years of war and U.S. leaders are prosecuting a war that a majority of the American public opposes. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released on Sept. 1 indicated that 57 percent oppose the Afghan war.

The percentage opposed to the war is the highest since CNN began polling after the war began. This is despite Obama’s many declarations that this is the “good war.”

The invasion was and is still being justified as self-defense because of 9/11. But according to a number of mainstream news accounts, the Afghan invasion was in the works months before 9/11. BBC on Sept. 18, 2001, reported in an article entitled: “US ‘Planned Attack on Taleban’” that “the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week's attacks.”

MSNBC on May 16, 2002, reported, “the United States intended a full-scale assault on al-Qaida even if the Sept. 11 attacks had not occurred.” (“US Sought Attack on Al-Qaida”) 

Eight years of war and despite nearly 400,000 personnel working for the U.S. war effort, the “insurgents control or contest a significant portion of the country,” according to Gen. Stanley McChrystal. 

U.S. military leaders openly admit that they are engaged in a “long war” in Afghanistan. Depending on which one you listen to, the war will last anywhere from five years to a few more decades. Obama tells us the U.S. has to fight this war so that the Taliban and al Qaeda cannot retake control of the country.

But since our invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban has increased in popularity because U.S. attacks enflame Afghanis against the U.S. and is driving many reluctantly into the arms of the Taliban. 

“With regret,” a Russian official said in September 2001, trying to warn the U.S. of what lay ahead should we invade Afghanistan, “I have to say that you’re really going to get the hell kicked out of you.”

Cofer Black, Director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorist Center, responded: “We’re going to kill them,” he said. “We’re going to put their heads on sticks. We’re going to rock their world.” [Bush at War by Bob Woodward, p. 103] 

This is the attitude that got the United States into this war. This is the attitude that invaders and occupiers of Afghanistan have always had before they end up withdrawing years later in shame and defeat.

Many of those who the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan were brought into being by American support of reactionary fundamentalist forces when the USSR was the invader. … [For more on this history , see Consortiumnews.com’s “Why Afghanistan Really Fell Apart.”]

9/11 was blowback for that and this war upon Afghanistan is perpetuating a cycle of violence and sowing the seeds of more 9/11’s, more terrorism, and more wars. 

The view that the U.S. can win the hearts and minds of the people by killing more Afghans cannot and will not win this war.

October 6 is a National Day of Resistance, intended to deliver a powerful message to the world that day that the American people will no longer allow their government to commit war crimes in Afghanistan.

Dennis Loo is Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and co-editor with Peter Phillips of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. He blogs at Open Salon.

To comment at Consortiumblog, click here. (To make a blog comment about this or other stories, you can use your normal e-mail address and password. Ignore the prompt for a Google account.) To comment to us by e-mail, click here. To donate so we can continue reporting and publishing stories like the one you just read, click here.

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For reports on and pictures of the anti-war demonstrations in D.C. go to worldcantwait.net

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I applaud your posting this, I'm glad today is a "National Day of Resistance," but I am convinced that no one in a position of responsibility is listening. The New York Times today reported that Obama sat down at a table with a number of members of our government and they discussed the Afghan War in a reasonable way, with Obama emphasizing that we will not be withdrawing troops. The report mentioned that the participants had "only a glass of water and a notebook" in front of each of them. Somehow that detail sent me around the bend. F***ing guys sitting around a table, being reasonable and rational and agreeing that after 8 years we still have a long way to go. I feel helpless and hopeless and so angry I can barely write.

Someday, I know, it will be over, it will be "history." But at what cost to individuals, what cost to our country? So much money, so much arrogance ... I think it may destroy us in the end.
Kestralwing,
We are the one's in the position of responsibility-we meaning, the people of this country. We have to stop thinking that we can vote ourselves out of these wars/occupations for U.S. empire and we need to be in the streets in a mass visible way.
kestralwing: You are so right to be mad. The demonstrations that have been going on for the past couple days, and also today, are actually receiving a substantial amount of surprisingly accurate coverage. The objective of those demonstrations isn't to get them to listen exactly, although the people "in a position of [ir]responsibility" are in fact paying attention to this, even if they pretend that they aren't. The way you bring a halt to wars that your government is waging is you make the political costs domestically of their continuing too high. You create an atmosphere in which their political credibility is strained to the breaking point and they have to withdraw or face too much exposure and too much turmoil on the home front. These actions also help to create the atmosphere that fosters GI resistance also. Take a look at this report from Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait:

Viewing all the news coverage today on yesterday's 500-strong protest at the White House, I'm struck by how effective it was. Reporters on the way to the daily briefing were stepping around us, and couldn't help but hear Cindy Sheehan, with World Can't Wait, Code Pink and Veterans for Peace right outside the Rose Garden press area.

The first question to Robert Gibbs was about the protest. Of course, we planned October 5 months ago to mark the 8th anniversary of the occupation of Afghanistan, not knowing that the government would be in turmoil over how to proceed.

More Articles on D.C. protests: by Elaine Brower; Kevin Gosztola; Missy Beattie

Democracy Now ran the following exchange:

"The White House said Monday President Obama has no plans to walk away from the war in Afghanistan, which began eight years ago this week. Obama is expected to decide soon whether to send tens of thousands of more troops as requested by US commander General Stanley McChrystal.

During Monday's White House press briefing, reporter Helen Thomas questioned Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the President's plans.

Helen Thomas: "Is pulling out of Afghanistan part of the assessment?"

Robert Gibbs: "No. In fact, the President was-the President was exceedingly clear that no part of the conversation on-no part of the conversation involved was leaving Afghanistan. That's not something that has ever been entertained, despite the fact that people still get asked what happens if we leave Afghanistan. That's not a decision that's on the table to make."

Thomas: "What does he think will happen?"

Gibbs: "What does he think will happen?"

Thomas: "If we leave?"

Gibbs: "I don't think we have the option to leave. I think that's-that's quite clear."

Hundreds of mainstream news stories were filed on the protest, many of them accurate in depicting the demands and demeanor, and many interesting details of the protest.

I was interviewed by media from all over the world. Dana Milbank noted the World Can't Wait t-shirt and anti-torture protest: "The policies that earned Obama such a salute were printed on the back of the "Obomba" T-shirts, sold by the group World Can't Wait: "Indefinite Detention." "CIA Rendition." "Escalation of War in Afghanistan." "Increase in Government Spying." "Unmanned Drones Bombing Pakistan." And those shirts didn't mention Obama's latest bomb dropped on civil libertarians: reversing his support for a law to protect anonymous sources who expose wrongdoing."

Elaine Brower organized the display of 870 pairs of boots and hundreds of shoes this weekend on the Ellipse, commemorating the deaths of US military and Afghani civilians, the first time such a display has been mounted on Afghanistan. Read her account:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Kicking-Some-Serious-Ass-i-by-Elaine-Brower-091006-202.html

Missy Beattie, whose nephew was killed in Iraq, was also with us, and writes in CounterPunch today.

OCTOBER 6: Day of Resistance to Recruiters. Today we were in high schools, and soon will report on what we learned. In Denver and San Francisco, the protests are focusing on recruiting offices. We learned that all military recruiting offices were closed today in Arkansas, specifically because World Can't Wait organized this day. And the day was mentioned in the New York Times blog. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/blogtalk-exclusive-or-man-on-the-street/

Tomorrow, here in New York, we'll be in Grand Central Terminal with a dramatic new kind of protest, bringing the message to commuters of just what their government is doing in Afghanistan. Wedding photos soon!

In donations ranging from $5 to $300, you are coming through to keep World Can't Wait in a position to lead street protests, produce high quality programs, get into schools, and maintain websites and mailings to reach those without the Internet.

DONATE now, or email me with your pledge, so that it will count for our matching funds.

SAVE the DATE: Sat/Sun November 7/8

World Can't Wait National Gathering in NYC
If you're thinking "business meetings" or the usual panels and workshops: no. We are bringing together presenters at the center of critical issues with activists and thinkers to strategize and envision resistance to the crimes of our government in 2010.

Special feature: The US preview of Andy Worthington's new film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo."

All the details soon -- but make plans to be in NYC for a 9am Saturday start time, through mid afternoon Sunday.
This is interesting.

"The invasion was and is still being justified as self-defense because of 9/11. But according to a number of mainstream news accounts, the Afghan invasion was in the works months before 9/11. BBC on Sept. 18, 2001, reported in an article entitled: “US ‘Planned Attack on Taleban’” that “the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week's attacks.”

Wouldn't it have been better if we had acted sooner?
Nobody's ever won a war there, why should we? The war started out well, because the Seals and Special Ops found targets and worked with the militias. Instead of bombing willy-nilly, we could easily have been more precise. But now? We've screwed it up. When are we ever going to learn that nation-building doesn't work?

R
The stated goal is to protect the American people. The real goal is to protect American interests. We may be deluding ourselves, but we are not fooling the rest of the world.
If Obama and co. HAD actually discussed the war "in a reasonable way", there would have been an announcement that we're outta there.
Billy Glad: The plans to invade, occupy, and control Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran were made back in the 1990s.
@Dennis
I'm a little disappointed that you didn't answer my question directly. No matter when the plans were made, wouldn't it have been better if we had used the CIA and the Northern Alliance to overthrow the Taliban and disrupt al Qaeda before 9/11 instead of after?

There is zero chance you can force Obama out of Afghanistan. The American President who turns Afghanistan over to the Taliban or Iran, or who lets Afghanistan degenrate into a failed state will go down as the greatest boob in American history. Not Obama's style.
Billy: Here's a more direct answer to your question, although my earlier answer actually was direct, and hopefully this will make it clearer why:

The premise underlying your question is problematic - that the US can take out, so to speak, terrorist forces such as al-Qaeda and reactionary forces such as the Taliban.

Al-Qaeda's political roots fundamentally grow out of the ongoing plunder and domination of Middle Eastern (and Muslim countries more generally, and on the most general level, Third World countries, Muslim and not) by imperialism, headed up by the U.S. The parasitic regimes that imperialism sponsors and protects in these countries are hated by their respective peoples (e.g., the Saud Family) and would not be in power and bleeding the resources of these countries and peoples without the US's backing. (This holds true in spades, by the way, for the state of Israel whose role for the US is as gendarme in the Middle East. The US subsidies its existence and supplies it with much of its weaponry.) The US's reactionary role in these countries is an ongoing source of recruitment for groups like Al-Qaeda. And, of course, its policy of torture and indefinite unjust detention are the top two reasons why, according to ex-Navy Counsel General Alberto Mora, for the growth of Al-Qaeda:

"[T]here are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."

The policies of trying to get rid of the Taliban without undoing the policies that lead people to be pushed into the arms of the Taliban are what are the underlying, most important reasons why the Taliban has gone from being nearly extinguished to its resurgence.

The point I was making earlier about the plans being laid back in the 1990s (by the neocons) to really dominate the region through warfare is that they aren't trying to get rid of anti-state terrorism. Their policies actually foster anti-state terrorism, and this isn't something they don't actually recognize. 9/11 was a pretext for these plans, in other words. The way you minimize anti-state terror (you can't totally get rid of it, any more than you could get rid of mosquitoes) is to dry up the swamps that create sympathy and support for them. Those swamps are the policies the US was following prior to Obama and continues to follow under Obama.
Caracalla: I am suggesting, and we are suggesting, a total US pullout. Pakistan is a disaster in the making, but it is a disaster in the making of our own making. The only chance to avoid a catastrophe involving Pakistan would be to radically change our policies in the region. The "solutions" that are being used by our government aren't solutions - they are like pouring gasoline on a raging fire in an attempt to drown the fire.
@Dennis

"The premise underlying your question is problematic - that the US can take out, so to speak, terrorist forces such as al-Qaeda and reactionary forces such as the Taliban."

Respectfully, that's not my premise. I do believe it's possible to disrupt and hinder them significantly. Personally, I wish we could have done it sooner rather than later. I don't doubt we've done it.

I also don't doubt we can keep the Taliban down and al Qaeda out of Afganistan as long as we want to. Ho was convinced he couldn't push the American military out of Vietnam. That's why he used American and world opinion to force the US out of South Vietnam. Rational people, the majority in the US, came to believe continued engagement in Vietnam was not worth the candle.

I've always been amazed that Ho could run a successful propaganda campaign in the United States without a political machine or a single consultant or PR hack.

Maybe the Taliban will be able to do the same.
@Caracalla's
Good point on conscription. The draft may be the reason Ho was able to prevail in the court of public opinion while the Taliban won't. But my main point, that Ho knew he couldn't defeat American forces in the field -- even as the Taliban know it -- is correct. I think you're wrong about tech taking the place of boots on the ground in Afghanistan. The boots are too symbolic.
Caracalla wrote: "Do you want the billions of military and economic aid to Pakistan to stop? Are you out of your mind? Do you want the US to convene a global peace conference inviting Al Qaeda and the Taliban to the conference table? Are you kidding? So what credible solutions are you peaceniks proposing? I honestly don't understand what realistic program you can put forward that has can get any political traction in America."

First, I'm not a "peacenik," nor am I a pacifist. I do, however, recognize the difference between a just and an unjust war. This war upon Afghanistan, and the wars on Iraq and Pakistan are unjust wars. If you start from the premise that American lives are no more precious than Afghani lives, which is where I'm coming from, then the policies being carried out are obviously immoral as well as illegal (they are war crimes under int'l law) and furthermore, they won't work. Worse than that, they will rebound and are rebounding in the opposite direction. That was one of the points of my original article and of my subsequent comments. Any measures whether from the air with hi-tech, without or without boots on the ground, that is designed to either minimize or attempt to liquidate the Taliban and/or Al-Qaeda will not and has not worked. You can kill some combatants, and in the process, also kill innocents, but you can't kill the movement that they are part of. It doesn't take a brilliant tactician or leader for anti-state terrorists to survive and thrive. So even if you were successful in decapitating these organizations, you will not have succeeded in winning the "war on terror." The means being employed to "fight" the war on terror are means that any sensible person who isn't blinded by xenophobia should be able to see are counter-productive in the extreme. Take a look at any of the news reports from these countries from sources that aren't beholden to the US. You need not spend more than a few minutes before you see very clearly what these policies are generating.

As for "traction" in American politics, you have to start from the premise of what is actually going on over there and what the US policies actually are, not what you think might or might not gain traction within the existing bipartisan rule here in the US. The people who opposed the Vietnam War didn't for the most part, fortunately, decide this on the basis of what would gain traction in D.C. Many of them, the leading core of them, decided what they would do based on what the war was really about, what it was doing to both the Vietnamese and the US, and on whether what was being done was right and moral or not.

It's hard to have a reasonable dialogue about Afghanistan and Pakistan in the US because the nationalistic blinders of being within the superpower that is responsible for carrying out war crimes on a daily basis over there are so big.
It's interesting that you should mention human nature. As a social scientist the notion of some kind of fundamental human nature is something that we as a whole do not accept. What you describe about what you expect to find among, for example, Arab leaders that Arab lives are more important than African isn't what I'd describe as human nature. We'd call it ethnocentrism, the belief that the cultural practices of our people are superior to those of others and relatedly, that our people are better and more valuable.

It's interesting when you read the comments or talk to people from places outside the US such as Palestine or Iran. While there is no universal opinion among any people, what is striking is that so many of them (not all of them) make a distinction between the US government and the American people and despise the former while being charitable and accepting of the latter.

The American people as a whole, as I point out in my article above, are in their majority opposed to the Afghan war. If it was human nature to uphold the privileges that you mention that accrue to Americans because we live in an imperialist superpower, then why are a majority, in the face of government propaganda and the pronouncements of the immensely still popular Obama that the war is necessary and just, against this war?

I would quibble with your figures about the 20/80 split you state within the US. The top 1/2 of 1% are enjoying unparalleled wealth and power and the rest of us, let's say, to be conservative here, bottom 70%, are in increasingly shaky circumstances. The reason why Obama, a first term senator and a black man to boot, ended up president was because the Empire under Bush was in grave difficulty and the powers that be had to reach further than they have ever had to reach to bring people back into believing in a system that they were increasingly disaffected with.

What appears to be the balance of forces at any given moment isn't the whole picture. There are fractures under the surface and the pressure is rising. The forces that Obama is trying to keep under control are increasingly problematic - consider how precarious the financial/economic situation is and what measures they had to go to rescue the system from worldwide collapse.
"This will be combined with all kinds of information manipulation/management/propaganda with a more sophisticated development of local collaborationist elements, maybe through civil society initiatives, etc. Bribery and corruption will also be exploited by the US foreign policy managers..."

I think that all this was started already long times ago. As I wrote in my blog, the military complex realized already twenty years ago that they cannot get any supremacy in the world with conventional military means. So they started to use technologies for spying people, creating all kinds of disinformation, bribering, arranging false flag terrorist attacks, etc:

"the military commanders of 'the war on terrorism' are bound to use all kinds of indirect methods like spying technologies, arresting, torturing and in general terrorizing the people 'to win the war'. Because they know that by the conventional means they probably cannot win."

The result is that whenever we hear about any terrorist attack or read news about a militant group in armed resistance against the state somewhere, or about killed politicians, the first thought is that it was maybe again arranged by cia.

In short America has gone quite mad already some time ago. And the rest of the world cannot trust much on any plans or even on news coming from that country. Americans are besides nearly in an economical bankrupt, already in a moral bankrupt situation.

It is quite strange that so many people living in such a multicultural society as American society is cannot understand the simple fact that all people in the world are equal and they should have equal rights.

About Afghanistan the best thing common people could do is to force the US government to pull the troops out.
I’m down with a cold today, but I want to try to respond to your argument. I’m going to excerpt them piece by piece with my response.

“Yes, the 20/80% split was very rough. I only meant to say that American society has always been highly mobile...massive flows of immigration to the US are still the norm because of the expectation that an education and hard work will be rewarded. If that paradigm is now being undermined by global economic/technological/political/environmental developments then there again we will have a serious causative factor reinforcing ethnocentrism and conservatism. When I spoke of human nature I guess I meant ethnocentrism, which is very hard to dislodge...the end result is the same.”

I would say that your 20/80 split would be closer to the truth if it were reversed. I’m a teacher, so I have some close contact with tBehe question of expectations about education and hard work (i.e., upward mobility). While people continue to try to make this happen for them (and in every generation some of them rise and some fall), the holding power of this belief is on shakier ground and the populist sentiment, both right wing and left wing, is the rising trend overall. More and more people are waking up to the realities of neoliberal regimes in which even a decent education isn’t assured, let alone jobs and job security.

The distinction I was making about human nature v. ethnocentrism is that while the former doesn’t exist and the latter does, ethnocentrism is, while pervasive and spontaneous, subject to being dislodged and revised. The tendency, in times of crisis, as we are in now, is for there to be both retrenchment of backward, narrow or outright reactionary sentiments AND for there to be the shoots of a much more open and left radical sentiments. The problem that I have with your analysis overall is that it is very one-sided and mechanical. You only see one side of the picture and not the dynamics of it and the fault lines.

If what you were saying about ethnocentrism were true, that it is very hard to dislodge, then you would have to say that the efforts of people in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s was foolhardy. Ditto those who participated in and supported the anti-war movement and the women’s liberation movement. History has shown that these efforts were not for naught and that mass movements can and do succeed.

“As to being against the Afghanistan War I suspect that the majority of the respondents in that category are against the high COST of the war...not the war per se.”

Whether they’re against it for the reason you speculate here or for a combination of different reasons on one level doesn’t matter. The fact that they DO oppose it in their majority undermines your argument that people are so easily fooled and bought off/intimidated. The sacrifices that the ruling class in this country is expecting from people and imposing upon people – both financial and otherwise, including dying because of lack of proper health care or income or because they’ve been put into a war theatre or because of disasters that neoliberalism induces and aggravates – have dual consequences, not just suppression by the rulers. As they try to win these unwinnable wars, and as they try to intimidate people worldwide and here at home, they also in so doing spark resistance against them. As physics teaches us, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

“In 20 years the surveillance and computer processing power may be so great that literally every human being in a contested zone will be tagged with biometrics and round the clock surveillance, with eavesdropping on all conversations remotely, will successfully target insurgents and insurgent sympathizers. This will be combined with all kinds of information manipulation/management/propaganda with a more sophisticated development of local collaborationist elements, maybe through civil society initiatives, etc. Bribery and corruption will also be exploited by the US foreign policy managers...everything will be thrown into the mix to keep the status quo intact.”

To begin with, the status quo isn’t intact. The status quo keeps changing beneath our feet. The situation is fraught with peril and volatility. The fascist led right wing populism going on right now is but one indicator of this. Not a good sign in itself, but an indicator of the volatility and anger. When the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979 his regime and the CIA had all kinds of hi-tech equipment and savage repressive devices to keep the people down. They couldn’t in the final analysis. Hi-tech and surveillance devices aren’t automated. Human beings must run them. You cannot ever guarantee the 100% loyalty of those who are charged with monitoring and using these devices. There will be defections and there will be and are whistleblowers. Again, your assessment is one-sided. The rulers don’t have everything sewed up.

“You say that the present policies of the US are counterproductive. But if you elucidate what specifically is counter productive about them, and what alternatives the anti-war proponents can offer, I suspect that very quickly you will be arguing for a fairer more redistributionist world, for correcting unfair terms of trade, reversing the capital flows from the Third World to the overdeveloped, privileged countries, etc., etc. What you people ultimately want is a complete revolution in the economic, social and power arrangements, starting domestically, and encompassing the world. When these consequences are pointed out to the American people I am sure that the vast majority of the electorate will side with the present power structure and status quo, hoping for some modicum of economic growth under the old paradigm, rather than embark on a sequence of radical restructuring that can only end in disorder, and the usurpation of your good intentions by new tyrants.”

The candidates for president like Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney who were marginalized by the Democratic Party and by the mass media had platforms that actually far better matched popular sentiment than any of the “major” candidates. That is an expression of why what you said above isn’t fundamentally true. The majority of Americans have wanted an immediate end to the Iraq War for at least three years now, on the order of about 70%. Yet the war goes on. Obama isn’t following the lead of popular sentiment. He is bucking it and trying to pretend that he isn’t by trying to finesse his way into doing things fundamentally the same way that Bush did them, except with a more clever cover.

“Remember how the well meaning reformist Kerensky government in 1917-18 Russia was swept aside by the ruthless Bolsheviks.”

The Kerensky government failed and was overthrown by the Bolshevik led revolution because the Kerensky government wanted to continue Russia’s participation in World War I. The reason the Bolsheviks won was not because they were more ruthless. They won because they were the only uncompromising force on the scene that demanded an end to the war and really meant it when they said Land, Peace and Bread. The masses of people eventually swung their support to the Bolsheviks for that reason.

The situation we face today is not unlike in some respects that situation. The Democratic Party is thoroughly bankrupt in its policies and is in collusion with the GOP. It is carrying forward these multiple unjust imperialist wars and torture. They will not ever pull out of Iraq unless they are kicked out by a movement in Iraq and a movement here in the US. They are supporting and implementing profoundly immoral and illegal policies.

You say that I’m idealistic and that such a stand cannot get traction in this country. I would suggest that you consider the power that the moral high ground has. We in this country are like a very large expedition party in the wilderness and those who are leading us are lost themselves and causing people to die in sinkholes and swamps and from want and exposure. A few of us have a (moral) compass. We are urging people to follow it and to win them over to departing from the misleaders among us. At some point the reality of the situation cannot help but dawn on people and the fact that some have a compass and the existing leaders have none.
The Khymer Rouge can't be compared to the Bolsheviks. Pol Pot was insane.
Afghanistan = Karzai + pipeline. Thats all. As far as McChrystal goes, please show me one military man who didnt say more More MORE! Thats the reason there is supposed to be civilian control on the military (will someone please tell that to the Ds who "just want to support the president?" That is their constitutionally appointed job)
I briefed the MSNBC piece you linked. Dont buy it. Bush ignored all Al-Queda and Bin Laden warning pre 9/11. Al-Queda didnt have oil so it wasnt on his myopic little radar screen. And you never heard much about it since, certainly nothing about freezing assets or sharing info.
Again I say it. Great to see you on topic Dennis.
I agree with Dennis. We have seen that the resistance against the war is rising and most of Americans are already against it. So we have seen that the majority of Americans are still not buying all the lies by the people who started that war and still are continuing it.

It is quite funny that some Americans are thinking that their culture could become similar as that of Russians. They have got very different history in Russia.

About that 'well meaning reformist Kerensky government' I have got a bit different opinion than 'Caracalla's Amanuensis'. Basically Dennis is right with his analysis of that. Kerensky's government was not that 'well meaning' and actually it was Bolsheviks who gave the independence to the country where I'm living, Finland, besides getting Russia out of the first world war, which was of course the bigger achievement. Later Russian policies again degenerated. But even during the hard times of the cold war Russians were really far behind from the record making Americans in starting wars and occupying other people's lands. So in reality it would be good if Americans really would become a little bit like Russians...
I agree with you that Caracalla's Amanuensis' 80/20 ratio should be reversed. The problem is the power of that 20% --the people who supported Bush even when his own party rightly viewed him as election-year poison, who disrupt town hall meetings, and who show up armed to Obama's speeches. Ridiculous as the seem individually, they're dangerous, and have influence far beyond their numbers. They get much more media attention, but provoke far less police reaction than protesters on the "left." I'd hazard to say that this is due to their serving, however unwittingly, the corporate powers behind the throne.
Tim, Hannu & Ben: Thanks as always for your comments. Tim - the actions prior to 9/11 by the Bush regime weren't designed to really take on anti-state terrorists like Al-Qaeda. Hannu: good points. Ben: yes, the 20% has the backing of the PTB.