The flag won't
protect you; it's in the wrong hands
By Luciana Bohne
08/13/05 Across my lawn, I can see an American flag waving in my
neighbor's backyard. Mr. Smith (not his name, of course) is a nice man but he's
95 years old, and I can't take issue with him. I can't tell him that the
sporting of the flag, at this time, is tantamount to saying, "I am a fool.
Traitors run the country in our name. They are taking our money from the
treasury and spending it on a shortcut to world domination through
The one in Iraq costs something like $200 million a day. Our troops
come back in coffins no one is allowed to see. The president does not attend
their funerals. He mocks their death with a jest, amusing the press by
pretending to look for elusive weapons of mass destruction (WMD) under his Oval
Office desk. The vice president is planning to nuke Iran should there be
another 9/11. Meanwhile, Iraqis, living and dead, swim in a river of boiling
blood. If I fly the flag, I'm saying all this is all right by me. Poor flag, to
be raised in a time like this! Wouldn't it be more respectful to tuck it away
for more honorable service in better times?
Better times? Time to stop
fooling myself. The idiocy is contagious.
When were there better times?
Since the birth of this nation, it has engaged in more than 200 armed
interventions around the globe.
Since 1945, a conservative death count
for US adventures abroad can easily tally up to 6 million. Easily! Circa 3
million in Vietnam alone; then there's Indonesia, Haiti, Panama, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Chile, just off the top of my head. Plenty of torture, too:
Argentina, Brazil, Egypt. Oh, you know the sad litany.
And not just
abroad. There was slavery, reputed to have cost forty million lives and the
bloodiest conflict in history up until then, although freeing slaves was merely
the hypocritical pretext for one industrial power block to crush the
inefficient slave-agrarian one. A different slave system was born-imitated
throughout the world, and now in its imperialist, full-spectrum, warpath phase.
There was one of the most brutal and cynical genocides in history-against the
native population-to reckon with. There was the crime of being the first and
only nation to have used the atomic bomb . . . TWICE-without many scruples or
visible residual guilt. In fact, today 50 percent of Americans say they would
have no trouble using it again.
And yet, these Americans are convinced
they are the emissaries of peace and good will. Pretty staggering delusion all
things considered-pathological, one might say. What is the cause of this
megalomania? Perhaps it's that radical branch of Protestantism called
Puritanism? A kind of Anglo equivalent of Wahabbism? I mean, that weird
theology that grants Americans the status of Elect, All-Good, Ever-Just.
Certainly the New England writers of the 19th century thought so.
wasn't it that Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, who, 50 years after the
American Revolution, thought the good pilgrims were infected with intolerable
arrogance for starting the only or first-or however they put it-democracy in
the world. Some democracy. For the few, of course-mostly propertied, white,
Anglo-Saxon males. A slave democracy! And it hasn't changed. Oh, there's a
black Secretary of State, but she is only black on the outside. Her heart is
white, male, and propertied. Besides, she rubber-stamps the fiction of racial
equality. Very useful cookie, ideologically speaking, is Condi Rice. And,
anyway, she is only a servant, merely the means by which the social order of
the truly Elect-the rich folks-reproduces itself. Ditto for Colin Powell and
that fool on the Supreme Court-that black judge with the ethics and sense of
humor of a guttersnipe. But it's not like the white-skinned servants are any
less revolting. Just look at the president's "advisors."
"What have you got against Puritans?" says I to my
newly-wed, American professor-of-literature husband some 30 years ago.
"Hypocrites," says he, laconically. And cryptically, I thought until now. But
he's gone. And I can't share his wisdom with a conspiratorial smile. This God
of theirs is indeed a God of Hypocrisy, for He bestows on their remarkable
aggression and love of war a unique affection. You could call Him Mars-but then
we know we make our gods in our own image
On this feeling of being this
weird God's Elect trade those economic interests of the commercial oligarchy
which represent 5 percent of the population who own 50 percent of the national
wealth. Their names are hidden in the shadows behind the names we know so
well-the Cheneys, the Rumsfelds, the Wolfowitzes, the Roves (the Bushes are
both shadow and act, a special category at the moment, their interests hidden
in plain sight). To these people, we are nothing. We are the people who will
die in bogus terrorist attacks-in New York, in Madrid, in London. At 9 o'clock
in the morning, when we are going to work. Or we are shoppers-indebted unto the
third generation, as they like us to be. Or we live in those parts of the world
where we can look forward to their exported democracy, which means exploitation
of our natural resources and of our labor. It's a self-serving and highly
technical definition of democracy-the abuse of people for profit. Democracy for
them; slavery for us.
Is it so difficult to understand that the US
wants to own the world, not to govern it but to exploit it? Is this why the
political philosopher, Karl Marx, is so reviled in this land? Because he dared
to name the unnameable? "Capitalism has no homeland." Imagine if we had to face
the truth of that? Imagine if they taught us that proven truth in
But let me get to the point. My neighbor's flag is flying.
Cheney is planning to nuke Iran (because it is too militarily strong to take in
any other way), and Tony Blair has refused an investigation into how the London
attacks could have been prevented. What connects these three
First, the flag. We are being duped. Period. Iran? Well, if we
are to do Iran, we need to free up some troops, now bogged down in Iraq. NATO's
would come in handy. But European constitutions mostly forbid aggressive wars,
and the European populations positively abhor war. If you go back to the Madrid
"terrorist" attacks, you will note that the Bush gang at that time was very
eager to get NATO involved. The attacks on Madrid were supposed to scare
Europeans into agreeing to NATO deployment. It didn't work.
is supposed to be heading the EU for the next six months. It's an opportunity
he means to exploit. He's been talking about NATO and threatening Iran. He's
locked in a fierce conflict with French President Jacques Chirac. For who shall
lead the EU, Britain or France, (the only two nations in the EU to be armed
with nuclear weapons)? If Britain, then the EU will be guided by US hands, and
NATO will be brought under US command. If France, then EU policy will be guided
by France, in competition against the US. Blair's task is to neutralize the
"non" of the French referendum on the EU constitution-which, some say, Chirac
covertly expected. For Chirac, either the European Union will be guided by
France, or it will not happen at all.
In the midst of this conflict
between Britain and France, there is an alleged terrorist attack in the London
tubes. And Blair doesn't want an investigation. What he wants is to terrorize
the EU members into compliance with Washington's fiction of "the war on
terror"-a.k.a. as the Plan for the New American Century of World
So, cui prodest? Well, the Blair/Bush team bet it's going to
be their "values," their "way of life." I believe they are sincere in this
because without war for world domination and exploitation how can they hope to
stave off the impending implosion of the US economy and the crash of Britain's
credit economy which supports a personal debt per person of 110 percent? They
are sincere: their backs are against the wall. It's just that they don't tell
us that their values and way of life don't exactly coincide with ours. They let
our naivete interpret those words: we see Western Civilization (those of us who
are devoted to the Telebible) clashing with Islam! That's how they spin it
after each convenient terror attack. Besides, it's not just the crisis of the
moment that impels them. There's a lot at stake when you decide to take over
the world: gold, diamonds, oil, water, uranium, copper, etc., etc.
one entity certain not to benefit from the London "terror" attacks is first of
all us, the world's people, and, second, Iran-as Afghanistan and Iraq didn't
benefit after 9/11. In fact, quite the contrary. It didn't help that the
Iranians voted in a leader the West didn't like; Rafshanjani could have been
bought; he was their choice.
No, I wouldn't put out more flags. Because,
Dick Cheney is planning a nuke attack on Iran if 9/11, Part Two, happens. What
are the chances, do you think, for both happening? Do you see why I say this is
no time to waste on flying flags? We live in dangerous times. And the danger is
state-grown, here at home. Under the cover of our flag.
Luciana Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of
Pennsylvania. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.