By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
Obviously, it’s not the first time, but I’m getting disillusioned by a person I supported and in whom I set great hopes.
President Barack Obama (D) ran on a platform of getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. This paper endorsed him mainly on those promises for the future of this country’s international reputation and domestic economy. And he wasn’t Bush. I still assert President George W. Bush (R) was the greatest disaster ever to befall this country.
A war that was sold on a bushel basket full of lies, the Iraq quagmire slowly gets footing with some troop reductions and self-governance. But we are still there, up to our waists in sticky, never-ending spending we cannot afford in lives and in resources needed here at home.
“Oceanias” away, Iraq plus Afghanistan equals a sad posit of George Orwell’s 1949 novel 1984, wherein war is waged all the time, a perpetual besetting on the consciousness of citizens, calling for the personal sacrifices. The region of “Oceania” was the setting of 1984, where hope was dead because of the patriotic death of privacy and the psycho-birth of betrayal of real love for the programmed love of “Big Brother.”
Yes, as Orwell famously said, “Big Brother is watching you” even today, right here in Rockford; I have four “traffic cameras” on my street corner. How about you, Mr. and Mrs. Smith? This paper endorsed Obama on the hopes he would repeal the Patriot Act. He has asked for its continuance, and has asked the Supreme Court and now Congress to withhold pictures of the torture of U.S. “detainees” in the War On Terror.
Winston Smith continues to tremble as Orwell’s futuristic nightmare of a protagonist, and “Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there were still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason.”
In 1984, honorable loyalty is turned to blind, compulsive loyalty, buffered by shifting, fad-like “victories,” provided by the emotional surety of an omnipresent state, constantly under attack or the threat of attack. Sound familiar? The following slogans are postered everywhere in 1984:
“WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”
While the last slogan sounds like it was broadcast by FOX News, the constant attacks in 1984 on Oceania, similar to the British Isles, America and the south sea area, come from Eurasia and Eastasia, depending on the latest alliance. They’re similar to Europe and Russia versus China and Japan. In between is the “disputed zone.” Sound familiar? Yup, that’s where Iraq and Afghanistan lie today.
Locally, Chicagoans and Rockfordians were very disappointed when we didn’t get the Olympics. We could really use the money. We didn’t even get out of the first round of competition. Many pundits pointed to blowback from Bush’s unilateral legacy as a bias on the part of the Olympic Committee. What about the fact we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are we being bushwhacked by Obama?
Then, we had the weird awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a president who is still waging war. It came like a consolation prize or European stimulus package to say, “Pres. Obama, we have faith in you in Israel and the resulting conflicts.” After all, Europe is experiencing a huge Muslim immigration phase. Some Westerners will say the migration is by nefarious “culture war” design; then again, poverty and war do tend to make people move to richer areas.
Reportedly, one of the reasons Obama doesn’t want the torture pictures released is because of the hatred they will pump up in the Muslim world, not that the U.S. would be further embarrassed.
Muslim hatred is now on the forefront of postulating about the Fort Hood tragedy. Muslims don’t want to fight Muslims, but go figure on the many internecine wars among Arab tribes and nations for years; but again, Israel’s sand is a prime motivator. The U.S. and Israel are common enemies for many extremist groups, but our policies can drive some seemingly-normal people over the edge.
Enemy. An interesting word. In 1984, Orwell wrote, “The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.”
Remember communism? Those Reds used to be the endless enemy. Now, we just had the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall with everybody on both sides of the former wall there holding hands. Very ironically, they tipped over a row of dominoes in the ceremony. Everyone remembers the dreadful “Domino Theory” and the little place called Vietnam, don’t we? Now, China is America’s biggest trading partner and job stealer.
The money and lives we wasted on both sides in Viet Nam is starting to look very sadly familiar. That took four presidents to get through. Add on the other Mideast wars (don’t forget Granada and El Salvador and Panama and the first Gulf War) to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the total is 1984—perpetual war, war all the time. I’m sick of this death and taxation to support what Eisenhower warned us about—“The Military-Industrial Complex”—few know his speech was edited to use the word “complex” instead of “corporations.”
Just like the bank bailouts, and the other corporate welfare, these wars are complexes on the backs of taxpayers, you, me. They’re bad for our health. The longer we stay, the more Muslims will go over the edge internationally; and here at home, we can’t even afford health care for our own people, let alone blasting the crap out of people overseas.
According to the 2008 statistics by The Center for Arms Control land Non-Proliferation, titled “War Costs in Perspective”:
“With $872.6 billion, the cost of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan so far, the United States could fund…
…a year’s worth of health care for 117 million Americans ($7,439/person)
…one year of public elementary school for 116 million children ($7,500/child)
…four years of public university tuition for 35 million students ($6,185/student)
…145 billion mosquito nets to help stop malaria in the developing world ($6/net)
…4.6 billion laptops to promote literacy in the developing world ($188/laptop)
If you had an expense account that let you spend $1 million per day…
…it would take 2,391 years to spend $872.6 billion, the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan so far.
The cost of Iraq and Afghanistan laid out end-to-end in $100 bills…
…would extend 846,157.6 miles – or just short of 34 times around the Earth’s circumference.
The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost each American family of four $11,458.
For the Nov. 10, 2009, figures, which are contantly updated, go look at: www.costofwar.com. The cost of war in Iraq was $699,022,378,313, and the cost of war in Afghanistan was: $231,265,881,179. The dollars keep rolling out of our country. Go look at that site.
Want some local statistics? Here’s some from www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home:
Taxpayers in Rockford, Illinois, will pay $484.2 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
202,276 People with Health Care for One Year OR
643,946 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
9,964 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
8,445 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
49,001 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
90,511 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5350 OR
3,511 Affordable Housing Units OR
333,709 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
71,674 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
7,443 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
7,064 Port Container Inspectors for One year
By the way, President Obama is considering, and is said to be favoring, increasing our troops in Afghanistan. Why don’t you write, call, or e-mail him and all your federal elected officials and tell them 1984 should remain a novel. Tell them to read it for themselves, too.
From the November 11-17, 2009 issue