This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 22, 2009.
In trying to destroy one national megalith - our absurd Health Care-Big Pharma complex - itís promising the President and Congress handed the military industrial complex a shot in the groin yesterday when the Senate rejected ordering any more F-22 Raptor fighter planes, preventing the President from having to follow through on his promise to veto any bill that allowed it to continue. This was a huge program with jobs in many states, and had been targeted by Defense Secretary Gates and others, including John McCain, as wasteful and irrelevant and, in any case, we already have 187 of them and no competition against them. Even so, the House of Representatives had plenty of folks defending this program providing jobs to their districts. F-22ís arenít useful in places where weíre likely to be for a while, like Afghanistan and Iraq, because there is no rival worthy of them, much like the new intercontinental bombers of late. This assumes they work as planned, unlike the expensive attack helicopters that had to be withdrawn from duty in Iraq some years back on their first mission. We already are working on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that will, supposedly, be used by Navy and Air Force and Marines in a variety of roles. Thatís intra-service cooperation that defies comment for those with long memories, but itís up and flying and the vibe is that our air defense is still way ahead of current competition.
The thing about weapons systems is they have to be imagined and designed years, sometimes decades, ahead of their proposed use. So bad assumptions and bad decisions of the past can have long, funded shelf lives. Thatís true of many things, these days, including how we fight our wars, and weíre currently paying the penalty for a bad, bad decision of the Bushies made early in his administration. In Afghanistan, Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl of Ketchum, Idaho, is a prisoner of the Taliban. There is some confusion as to how this happened. He has said he fell behind a patrol and was captured, others say he went out drinking with Afghanis and they turned him over. In any event, this American soldier is being displayed on video, and itís pretty sad. The officers of the Army complain itís against International Law and various conventions to do this sort of thing, but where in the past a majority of Americans and others around the world would have been righteously enraged, this story isnít even a major one to the MSM as of yet. Itís not hard to see why.
Because after Bush-Cheneyís burning of the Geneva Conventions, itís quite difficult for Washington to credibly whine about the treatment of any of our captured soldiers. The Taliban could hold the soldier hostage forever if they believe the judicial principle favored by Sen. Lindsey Graham. They could put him in stress positions naked, waterboard him, and threaten to release the pictures to his family, and in so doing would have done nothing that Rumsfeld and Bush didnít approve for their guys, should they have fallen into our hands. Worse, because they are NOT torturing this young man, the Taliban have achieved the moral high ground where it counts in the nation at issue. The Taliban look more ethical than the United States in its conduct of the war, its treatment of prisoners. Say that with me. The Taliban looks more ethical than the United States in its conduct of the war, its treatment of prisoners. That took skill and well funded decisions made in secret and carried out by real Bush patriots, who are now silent on this issue.
The Taliban, revolting ignorant men afraid of women, sex, the future, the present and the last ten centuries, look more enlightened and civilized than the United States to the men and women of the Middle East, especially Afghanistan. Private Bergdahl looks and sounds scared, but he shows no signs of physical abuse by his custodians. The Abu Graib photos are still a big deal on the WEB, downloaded and printed up and circulated.
So, itís not a question of calling upon our good name and good works to get this kid free, nor can we point to a record of fair, just treatment of our prisoners to get him free. Weíll have to get him by force, an embarrassing third party intervention, or lose him. And itís far more important and expensive than a weapons system. If only we could buy back our name and past reputation with the ease we order up fighter jets.