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Wanted: a New York Times Columnist with “Three Functioning Grey Cells” (or a Modicum of Courage)


MEDIA ALERT: Childish power-worshipping petro-imperialism denial and doctrinally mandated policy ignorance are reaching new levels of absurdity among New York Times columnists.

As the world's leading intellectual and top U.S. policy analyst and critic Noam Chomsky has observed in words that most of the world's morally and politically cognizant population would find uncontroversial, "the U.S. invaded Iraq because it has enormous oil resources, mostly untapped, and it's right in the heart of the world's energy system." 

If the U.S. succeeds in controlling Iraq, Chomsky has elaborated, "it extends enormously its strategic power, what Zbigniew Brzezinski calls its 'critical leverage' over Europe and Asia . That's a major reason for controlling the oil resources – it gives you strategic power. Even if you're on renewable energy you want to do that. That's the reason for invading Iraq , the fundamental reason," readily understood, Chomsky adds, by anybody who has "three gray cells functioning."

The core objective behind the invasion will "hardly be attained by helping Iraq act in accord with the principles of democracy and national independence."

As the noted Left geographer and world-systems analyst David Harvey argues, the United States' long decline, reflecting predictable (and predicted) shifts in the spatial patterns of capitalist investment and social infrastructure gives special urgency for the U.S Empire to deepen its control of Middle Eastern oil and use it as a bargaining chip with even more oil-dependent regions like Western Europe and East Asia, homes to the leading threats to U.S. economic power.

Wanted: a columnist at the United States' "newspaper of record" with "three functioning grey cells."  Or two.

I'll leave out other parts of the human anatomy.  

Please look at my list of the five basic and intimately interrelated topics that cannot be mentioned in dominant U.S. media coverage and commentary on the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq: 

1. The monumentally criminal nature of the invasion, which involved (in the words of the 2005 Istanbul Declaration) "planning, preparing, and waging the supreme crime of a war of aggression in contravention of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles." 

2. The brazenly imperialist and colonial nature of the occupation, which is richly continuous with earlier U.S. behavior within and beyond the Middle East and provides critical context for understanding why U.S. soldiers die on a regular basis in Iraq (where Americans are understandably seen as unlawful invaders).

3. The racist nature of the occupation, expressed in the false conflation between al Qaeda and a small group of predominantly Saudi hijackers on one hand and the broad Arab and Muslim worlds on the other hand.  This racism has found expression also in U.S. ground forces' recurrent description of Iraqi civilians and resistance fighters as "hajis" and "towel heads"(among other terrible designations) and in many Americans' insistence on describing the entire Middle East as a den of primitive, barbarian and enemies of modern "civilization."

4. The full and overwhelming extent of Iraqi civilian casualties, including more than 700,000 dead by now.  The Iraqi body count dwarfs the U.S. death toll in Iraq , but dominant U.S. media remains primarily and narcissistically obsessed with U.S. fatalities in Mesopotamia . The mostly civilian Arab victims of U.S. imperial violence (a lovely expression of America 's noble commitment to "civilization") are unworthy victims of the Iraq War as far as dominant U.S. media is concerned.  

5. The critical role of the American Empire Project's longstanding core concern with the control of Middle Eastern oil in shaping the decision to invade Iraq and in ensuring that the U.S. will not completely or truly withdraw from that illegally occupied nation or indeed the region anytime soon, whichever corporate-imperial party happens to hold power in Washington.

Thinking of taboo number 5, turn to the Op-Ed section of last Wednesday's New York Times. There the noxious neoliberal columnist Thomas Friedman did a piece about the United States' supposed only two options in Iraq — stay or leave — and never mentions oil (not even tangentially) as a relevant part of that discussion. The title of his column is "In or Out" and the only concerns addressed are humanitarian (which would be best for our good friends the Iraqi people, staying or leaving) and deterring evil Iran (TF, "In or Out? New York Times, 11 July 2007, p. A23).   
How childish and (since Friedman certainly has more than three grey cells working) disingenuous. We can be sure that petroleum is a dominant concern for the  U.S. planners beneath the fairly tale version of current events that Friedman et al. are in charge of transmitting to the bewildered herd.  A little brutal honesty: the next administration's job  will be to balance continued imperial presence/control with a measure of populace-pleasing "withdrawal." What passes for withdrawal in mainstream discussion is removal (from Iraq but not from the region or of course from basic imperial duty) of combat troops but of course they have built permanent military installations, will maintain air/sea terror (I imagine there will be increasing reliance on air violence, which tends to be more indiscriminate in who it kills), will keep the massive hyper-fortified embassy complex and special "anti-terror"/rapid response forces. The stupendous Iraqi oil reserves (opened for Western multinational exploitation by the invasion's Petroleum Law) must be protected – that is kept out of the wrong hands (including that of the not-so sovereign Iraqis).  The notion of letting the "liberated" Mesopotamians ("hey, cheer up we killed your tyrant…we came over here sacrificing our blood and treasure just to help you guys out because that's what we do, ok?") doing whatever they want will all "their" super-strategic black gold is just unthinkable to imperial planners and policymakers in Washington. Talking about all this is taboo and marks you as a member of the lunatic fringe in the U.S. but is elementary common sense is most of the world beyond the Armed Madhouse.
Things got yet more idiotic (if that's possible) in today's Times, where the monumental centrist uber-moron Thomas Brooks wrote a column titled"The Endgame Deadlock" (New York Times,  Friday the Thirteenth, July 2007, p. A21).  In his interesting discussion of "Why the Iraq war won't end soon" (in total defiance of majority U.S. opinion, he forgets to mention), Brooks fails to mention a rather critical factor in the invasion and its continuation —- umm. err,.. Iraq's stupendous petroleum reserves —- even once. 
The neoliberal Democrat Friedman and the neoliberal Republican Brooks agree: selfish petro-imperial ambitions that ought to be obvious to a junior high school student of U.S. foreign policy (past and present) are beyond the pale of acceptable discussion in the "liberal" paper that claims to contain "all the news that's fit to print."
How incredibly pathetic and emblematic of what's wrong with the dominant corporate-crafted moral and political culture of the United States. 
I am happy to announce that my next book (nice looking cover; I like the contents too) can now be ordered at amazon.com.   

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