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News ::
Whose country right or wrong? (english)
25 Jan 2003
Can a war against Iraq, a war so obviously about empire and the interests of Big Oil, be stopped before it starts? Maybe.

Somewhere amidst the war in Vietnam, perhaps mid-way in the 1970s, the media and the word on the street was all about “My country right or wrong”. A heated, yet healthy debate was taking place throughout the 50 states and beyond concerning just how far a population should extend its consent to a questionable war in a far off land. The argument took place at dinner tables and bars, on television and radio, in the papers and on the streets. Enemies were made among families and friends; new alliances were formed. The whole nation seemed to be in turmoil. Many who rallied around the flag, who supported the war regardless of its rapidly eroding justifications, viewed its opponents as naďve at best, traitors at worst. Conversely, opponents of the Vietnam War saw most of its supporters as blind patriots being led around by the nose at the hands of a corrupt, immoral government serving the interests of industrialists and their power mongering minions, or simply as goose-stepping fascists.
Those were, perhaps, more innocent times than today. Coming out of the McCarthy era and the white bread repressed haze of the ‘50s where few voices of dissent were heard about any issue, much less the validity of one’s patriotism, a debate focused on loyalty to the choices of government was seemingly unheard of, even though a few decades earlier (before the unifying factor of World War II) the same dynamic arose around the Spanish Civil War and the rise of socialism before it. Presently, no such vacuum exists. The raging national controversy of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s put the question of loyalty and patriotism squarely onto center stage. No longer was the Pledge of Allegiance a given. Many of us remained seated, having finally seen the fallacies of contrived circumstances, government engineered crisis, and the evils of perception management. In short, much of the citizenry appeared to have matured. A sort of collective wisdom took form.
Now, here we are again. Before us looms a war yet to begin, but equally in question, albeit without body bags of young Americans. Once again some voices in the media and on the street doubt an administration and its policies, and once again U.S. citizens are engaged in an increasingly intense dialogue. The anti-war demonstrations of the past few weeks, FINALLY being acknowledged by the mainstream media, are having an effect. The issue is no longer viewed as a matter for policy wonks and political activists. The talk at the dinner table and at the corner bar is heating up. The question this time however, is whether ”my country right or wrong” holds any water. Most of the world and about half of the U.S. population believes that the country is indeed wrong.
NPR senior correspondent, Daniel Schorr, noted recently that the Bush Administration knows the polls and sentiment will shift in their favor if they go to war. Will they? That was the case during the Gulf War, but the peace movement back in the early ‘90s had yet to mobilize and do its outreach to the extent it has in the past few months. Perhaps more importantly, it was a distinctly white middleclass movement, unlike the amazingly diverse movement we are witnessing at the moment.
Today’s peace movement appears to be operating at the same levels we experienced well into the Vietnam War. A movement of that breadth combined with today’s depth is unlikely to cave-in to manufactured rallying ‘round the flag sentiments whose foundations have been so weakened over the years under the light of public scrutiny. People don’t trust the government as much as they used to, and an administration and party that took the reins of government under circumstances as dubious as those of the present regime are in an even more tenuous position. Over the past thirty years, far too many administrations and their supporters in congress and the judiciary have displayed little but contempt for the vast majority of people in the USA and for the Constitution that represents them. Their surrender to the corporate/military cabal that President Eisenhower warned about long ago has wounded the legitimacy of national politics perhaps beyond repair. A growing number of U.S. citizens are beginning to wonder just whose country this is.
Can a war against Iraq, a war so obviously about empire and the interests of Big Oil, be stopped before it starts? Maybe. The peace movement seems poised to wield its power, but much of that strength hinges on the corporate media’s response and the corporate media feeds from the same trough as the present occupants of Congress and the Whitehouse. World opinion in this age of globalization is a real factor, but so is the boundless arrogance of the Bush regime that has pretty much blown off other nations with its historic disregard for treaties and international cooperation. Spineless Democrats who went along with the Republicans’ war machine (to get along with their own careers and corporate handlers) won’t turn back without good cause. Worse, if the present regime in DC fabricates another Gulf of Tonkin or “Remember the Maine”, the rally ‘round the flag factor will find new legs. However, if the Bush administration and its lackeys decide to go into Iraq without some sort of invented disaster to initiate the charge, their prospects for real support seem dim.
Empires were made to fall. They all do. The older they get the more arrogant and foolish they become. The more removed the rulers are from the ruled, the more suspicion and contempt abounds. And, when the genie of doubt and scrutiny has been let out of the bottle into the streets and clubs, when it takes a seat at America’s dinner tables and takes a good long look at what government has to offer, there’s no going back. My country right or wrong? We don’t think so.

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