Sunday, July 5, 2015
Mr. Kristof Meet Mr. Galbraith (FFT, 2005)
American military deaths in Iraq: 1,447
American military wounded in Iraq: 10,770
Iraq body count: 15,654 (min.) – 17,884 (max.)
About that war: 1) In case you still think the Iraq war is about liberty and freedom, ask the Brits. 2) And it’s not all dodging bullets and shaping democracy…hey, a girl’s just gotta have fun.
In his NY Times op-ed piece for 2.5.05, Nicholas Kristof urged liberals to get on board the Bush Social Security train as it leaves the station. And he quotes Will Marshall, a founder of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)—yep, that’s the same group that brought you the jackass with a trunk, big ears and the promise that it could fly—to call all good liberals to muster behind this radical Republican reform movement. For a conscientious Democrat to answer the call of the DLC is to be among the harpooners who answered Captain Ahab’s call to catch the big one…for the last time. This is Social Security brought to you by Coke and Wal-Mart.
Instantly, I thought of John Kenneth Galbraith, the only economist that ever made sense of the Depression (The Great Crash, 1929) and post-World War II US (The Affluent Society). Galbraith did a radical thing. In each case he held a mirror up to US and forced US to see what was there. His best line about Wall Street’s role in the Depression was the following: “Wall Street, in these matters, is like a lovely and accomplished woman who must wear black cotton stockings, heavy woollen underwear, and parade her knowledge as a cook because, unhappily, her supreme accomplishment is as a harlot." In The Affluent Society (1958) he observed that the Affluent Society “challenged the myth of the U.S. economy's reliance on the gross national product for its social stability, positing instead that consumers' taste for luxury goods dictated the economy's focus at their expense [and that] meeting consumer demands does not diminish the amount of demand.” And so he coined “want creation”, the phrase that means “consumerism”, that vicious cycle of our desire for things created through mediated visions totally unrelated to our needs. In his work attacking Galbraith, Friederick A Hayek nevertheless summarized this thesis nicely: “A great part of the wants, which are still unsatisfied in modern society are not wants which would be experienced spontaneously by the individual if left to himself but are wants which are created by the process by which they are satisfied.”
Recently Galbraith wrote how “capitalism’ has morphed. "Let's begin with capitalism, a word that has gone largely out of fashion. The approved reference now is to the market system. This shift minimizes--indeed, deletes--the role of wealth in the economic and social system. And it sheds the adverse connotation going back to Marx. Instead of the owners of capital or their attendants in control, we have the admirably impersonal role of market forces. It would be hard to think of a change in terminology more in the interest of those to whom money accords power. They have now a functional anonymity.” Thus, “market forces” include you and me; they’re no longer pin stripes and top hats; they’re just folks. Under that euphemism, we must believe we’re in fact the train that’s leaving. At least that’s what the real money wants us to believe.
Bush, Kristof and the DLC are shilling, a la Madison Avenue, for the “market forces”, i.e., the billionaires and millionaires who control the crap tables and roulette wheels on Wall Street. Michael Kinsley has provided a succinct formula regarding why we should pay no attention to Bush, Kristof and, especially, the DLC. As he says, “Social Security privatization is not just unlikely to succeed, for various reasons that are subject to discussion. It is mathematically certain to fail.”
Saturday, July 4, 2015
To Be or Not To Be or Appear To Be (FFT, 2005)
American military deaths in Iraq: 1,774
American military wounded in Iraq: 13,438 (official) - 38,000 (est.)
Iraq body count: 22880 (min.) [for a specific accounting, see “Common Dreams”]
Just when I’ve lulled myself into the assurance that we can have a life that is not our media matrix lives, up pop a couple of eye openers that confirm Neil Postman’s Jeremiads in Amusing Ourselves to Death. As Postman indicates in his Foreword, not Orwell but Huxley has proven to be the more prescient social critic. Huxley feared that in “the brave new world” humans would “adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think” and that truth “would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance”. And he feared most “those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism”. Postman, who died recently, had become the guru of postmodern social criticism, just as Baudrillard (the source for “The Matrix”) has become the guru of postmodern social theory. What bothers me is how nearly perfect their visions have become our world.
For example, on this morning’s? NY Times Op-Ed page we read the story of a flight from Chicago to Port Columbus, Ohio that was turned back, because of a malfunctioning warning device. But that’s not the story. The fact that before the passengers could get out of their seats, a crew from “Airline” a “reality” TV show on A&E, rushed into the cabin, cameras running, release forms scattering and producer yelling. Once the passengers realized they had not witnessed terrorism, they gladly offered up their interviews. Later, the producer was not certain that they could use this incident. Although the “participants” had “appeared anxious and hot”, the video might not make it to a broadcast, because “it lacked certain elements that would make it a sure thing…Someone having a panic attack, or someone angry about being late for a business meeting.” Two things: imagine an army of A&E crews skulking about at airports waiting for a crisis, and imagine how we’ve become drowned by irrelevancies and innured to tragedy.
And earlier this week, I spy old Fred Thompson (time off from his Law & Order gig) walking behind our beaming Boy Scout Supreme Court nominee, John G. Roberts, making the rounds of Senate offices. I chuckled a little until I heard the hard news that Fred Thompson will be the person directing Roberts through the process. That means he goes with him everywhere and sits with him at the hearings. And this is a big deal, because it tells you how well Karl Rove understands Huxley’s vision. Fred Thompson, even more than Schwarzenegger, has followed a career that smudges the line distinguishing the real and the virtual. He has practiced real law and has represented Tennessee in the real Senate. But he has also been a virtual attorney and staunch supporter of “the American way” in Law and Order as well as in various films. (Incidentally, his foil on L & O, Serena Southerlyn, played by Elisabeth Röhm, is a persistent yet overwhelmed liberal.) And, as Huxley and Postman envisioned, the real has become irrelevant, and the virtual is our truth. Very few will remember Thompson’s role in the Watergate hearings. But huge masses of US will connect with the wise, gentle DA from the TV series. And that is Rove’s genius. In one TV frame he will merge all that is old, wise and good with all that is new, wise and good, Thompson and Roberts, staunch proponents of the American way. How could anyone possibly demean such an image? Perhaps the terrorists have been reading Huxley…
Friday, July 3, 2015
Pogo In Pomo-Land (FuelForThought, 2004)
American military deaths in Iraq: 1,742
American military wounded in Iraq: 13,074 (official) – 38,000 (est.)
Iraq body count: 22,563 (min.) – probably over 100,000 (see the Lancet report)
Long ago, Walt Kelly’s Pogo, in all his prescience, announced to the world that “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” What most readers assumed was that when and if things go really wrong, we have no one to blame but ourselves. This by itself is not a bad statement of personal responsibility, a concept that has submerged since Pogo’s insight. But not even Pogo or his creator could have realized just how far south things have gone.
Some of the latest news stories reveal what’s going on in our “pomo” or postmodern world. Up is down, out is in, and truth is relevant only to one’s singular purposes. Worse than that is our incredible willingness to suspend disbelief, our willingness to disbelieve our lying eyes and ears. The enemy in our postmodern world is our urge to believe in the illusion, the light show, in anything that emphasizes the sideshow.
Consider the news that psychiatrists and psychologists are willingly being used to train interrogators on how to exploit the fears and anxieties of detainees. On the issue of the ethical questions involved in such willingness, a Pentagon spokesman resorted to pomo verbal ledgerdermain, stating that the doctors were not treating the detainees as patients, were not thereby covered by ethics strictures, and were merely acting as behavioral scientists. Now you see it, now you don’t, now you are, now you aren’t. The point is: WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE?
A democracy such as ours depends not merely on an informed constituency but especially on a constituency eager to know what’s going on that affects them. This is where Pogo and pomo meet. Most of us seem to be proud of our ignorance, what I once tossed off as “the arrogance of ignorance”, to willingly and pridefully not want to know. If we are tired of being flogged by endless stories of the unfortunate person in Aruba, the BTK murderer, whether Billy Graham wants Hillary to be the next president, and on and on, then the ratings don’t show it. In other words, we want titillating information, soap operas as evening news.
Our willing suspension of disbelief seems to have become our reason for being. For the first time in 60 years, class distinctions have grown wider, social mobility has become less promising, and Europeans have a greater chance of moving up the social ladder. Also, China now stands as an even greater threat to US global economic dominance than Japan was 20 years ago. So once again: WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE? Most of US support a president and his administration, who have openly lied to the people about a winless war, maintaining that it is winnable if we will just hold on for 10 or 12 more years. They employ the Big Lie continually, and we the people look the other way. Do we the people fear the consequences of saying, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more”?
To place Pogo’s comment in pomo-land, “We have met the enemy, but we don’t care enough to acknowledge the face in the mirror.” In pomo-land, the end of days comes with a whimper, not with a bang (with a grateful nod to T. S. Eliot).
Thursday, July 2, 2015
This must be how Rip VanWinkle felt. Only in reverse. It feels like I'm back in the days of Eugene McCarthy. It feels like people believing in people again. Of course, like Rip, I possibly feel this way, because I'm getting really old. Whatever the reason, the feeling is good. Good enough, perhaps, for me to set aside my practiced cynicism. This is hope. Not the so-called transformative hope of our pomo era. More like the hope of our 18th century Rabble Rousing forbears.
And the Dems are scratching their heads. How does Bernie Sanders attract crowds in the multiple thousands while Hillary Clinton and her campaign chest of millions attract only in the multiple hundreds? Sanders doesn't speak of a resurgent Democratic party; he talks of an insurgent voting population with critical needs and palpable fears.
Are the people of US actually, finally feeling their "Network" moment, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore? I wish I knew.
If that is the case, the hill we face makes the Sisyphus climb look like an upward stroll with a pebble. Think about what's included. I suppose money is the most obvious. In our society, if you don't belong to the mainstream, the traditional, the system, you can't buy your way in; you can make a point, but you can't make a change. Mostly. Then there's the political structure. Our system is prima facie non-revolutionary. It's not structured to defeat change so much as it's structured to absorb and dilute change. How does this work? One of our forebears said that a democratic society depends on an informed constituency. What this has meant for at least the last 75 years is that the primary purveyors of information, which are owned by the same people who own the political system, articulate and manipulate the society's essential information (almost in identical language) to assure that the system at hand is the most appealing and most viable. No revolutionaries may apply, thank you very much. Actually, nothing in the history of this country (including pre-Constitutional "America") has been strictly speaking revolutionary. We had two violent secessionist rebellions: One to remove ourselves from the aegis of England; the other, smaller one, to secede some states from the newly industrialized United States. Neither was a revolution.
And then, there's who we are now. We have become so inured to our commodification that we don't even know what it means. Or if we do, we deny it and trump up (pun intended) all manner of irrelevant evidence to prove our denial. We are a nation in search of our next best or at least better palliative. We have moved beyond consumerism.
If the voting population of the USA has an inclination toward a populist mojo, they are are hiding it very well. And if we want it, we won't find it in posters and clever slogans. "Feel the Bern" has potential, but it's hardly a rallying cry, and besides, it's too derivative.
Don't get me wrong. The Bernie Sanders campaign is getting very strong responses, actually wherever it goes. Even the mainstream mouthpieces are taking notice. But remember how Obama's campaign beat the odds. It used the mystical tools of algorithm, so-called social media, to build from the street level up. Word of mouth and well wishing don't create the kind of tsunami it takes to counteract the robo-calls, which build with carloads of money.
I recall very clearly the days of the Eugene McCarthy campaign. It had the same kind of fresh energy and excitement that we're seeing and feeling with the Sanders campaign. The key difference is that McCarthy didn't have the social media that Sanders can utilize. I think that's where the actual, potential mojo is idling. And remember the critical difference between Obama's use of social media and Sanders' potential use of it: Obama had the force and resources of an established political party structure acting with him. No matter what other label one associates with it, Independent means just that.
So I say, no matter what, bon chance and buena suerte, Bernie Sanders. It should at least be exciting.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Common Sense Is “Hard Work” (FFT, 2004)
American military deaths in Iraq: 1,495
American military wounded in Iraq: 10,968 (official) 15,000 – 20,000 (est.)
Iraq body count: 16,123 (min.) – 18,395 (max.)
The Bushter is always telling US that everything from empire building (a.k.a., spreading the blessings of “democracy”) to negotiating with Old Europe is “hard work”. I’d like to borrow that phrase and deploy it in a truly rigorous exercise: applying common sense to our thinking (something the Bushter avoids assiduously). We must become more proactive and less reactive in our attempts to stem the slosh of media tripe.
This is “hard work”, because it’s much less taxing to think reactively than to think proactively. This is what much of our mediated experience involves. We might have fairly firm convictions about any number of things (from war to child abuse, to Fox, etc.). But we do nothing about these firm beliefs until something in media triggers our response. For example, when we hear that Jamie Foxx has been selected to host the Academy Awards because ABC hopes his notoriety for outrageous, countercultural, counter-mainstream comment, we nod cynically and do or say nothing and continue to watch the show to see if, in fact, he does what the network hopes we hope he will do. That’s how reactive thinking keeps us as a handmaiden of media.
Notice, I don’t say The Media, as though all media were some heinous creature out to victimize US. We are victims of nothing, because we allow that, in some cases hope that, the media plays US. Whether we shrug at the popups and other manipulative machinations on the Web, or say nothing and do nothing about the tons of direct mail promotions and advertising we get daily (and ultimately pay for!) or stay tuned to the networks that repeat the same drumbeat advertisements hourly that grate at our mentalities, or continue to purchase the same newspapers and magazines that repeat the same stories and news as the TV…we do not think independently of them. We do not take the time and common sense to think for ourselves about any number of things that matter directly to our lives.
For every minute of time our information media are taken by the missing girl in Florida, the “trial” of Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson’s next appeal, the drivel and pap that the Bushter got away with in Europe, who will be [the last ruler of the Game of Thrones’ Seven Kingdoms]* and who is the lucky(?) Bachelorette, and on, and on, and on.
Does anyone wonder how soon we will cross the 1,500 American military deaths in Iraq? Does anyone care that the cost of one concrete blast protector in Iraq (called affectionately “Bremmer Walls”) is $1,000 paid to one of the favored contractors out of our supplemental war budget, when the same thing would cost only $100 paid to one of the many local Iraqi concrete manufacturers who are not permitted to make them? Does anyone wonder in light of that why Iraq is a singular terrorist breeding ground? These are not hard questions. These are common sense questions. Can we have become so lazy, so inured to whatever media sloshes over us that we cannot muster the “hard work” it takes to apply common sense, to avoid believing our ways through life and start proactively thinking our ways through a life on terra firma?
We are victims of mediated manipulation only if we want to be. Freedom is a funny thing. An acquaintance once told me that what most Americans don’t appreciate is that freedom to be whatever we want to be entails the freedom to fail. Likewise, freedom of thought and expression entails the common sense that not all thought, especially that thought appearing to be beneficent, is worthy of our acquiescence. We need to study everything that comes our way. The “information” media work for their paymaster. Make sure you’re not working pro bono for the same paymaster.
*Not in the original.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Relocation European Style (“Trails of Tears”, part three)
(July 27, 2004)
Depending on your source, the Balfour Declaration justifies the “restoration of the Jews to their own land for philosophical, religious and imperialistic motives.” I suspect the final motive was the overriding motive, and according to one source, the French and Germans secretly joined in for what appear to be anti-Semitic motives. The problem, of course, was that the Palestinian people inhabited “their own land”. For a dateline history of the Palestinians’ plight go to “Palestine-Net: Chronology of Palestinian History”. You’ll find that Palestinian misery is deeply embedded in its cultural history, primarily as a part of the Ottoman Empire at the hands of French, British and German imperialism.
But in 1917 the Brits secured and implemented the Balfour Declaration, which justified the location of a Jewish state in Palestine and the subsequent relocation of the Palestinian people who comprised 90% of the population. That was not entirely successful, however, so the stage was set for continual clashes between Palestinians and the swelling immigration of Jews, mostly from Europe, escaping Hitler’s holocaust. Especially between 1936-39 major destructive battles occurred between the colonial repression and the indigenous resistance. Eventually the resistance fostered the terrorist organizations we’re familiar with today, e.g., Hezbollah and Hamas. Some have even referred to these groups as “savage” and “uncivilized” (see “Trails of Tears” part two). Finally, during the faux guilt experienced by the non-Jews of Europe following the Holocaust, in 1948 the United Nations sanctioned the establishment of the nation of Israel. Everyone agreed…except the people who inhabited the land, who had pretty much indicated their antipathies during the 30 odd years of combat between them and the Jewish immigrants up to that point.
But, hey, the world, especially “Rule Britannia”, felt pretty good and looked askance at this group of indigenous incorrigibles who were being relocated to “acceptable” land on the periphery of the newly drawn map of their native land. How could they possibly complain about losing the choice ports on the Mediterranean? Didn’t they have the Gaza Strip and the West BanK? Not! And the bottom line on the question of “eminent domain”? It’s all documented in the Old Testament (i.e., mythology). Case closed. The irresistible guilt driven force met a movable object, which has become resistant mit gevalt.
As far as I’m concerned, the only case that justifies my killing someone is if he or she attacks my family or I have been directly and lethally threatened. On the other hand, I certainly understand how groups of people (Native Americans, Palestinians, etc.) who have been interred on shrinking splotches of what had been their native land can turn outrage into rage and turn their pastures and fields into suicidal and homicidal killing fields. In all, including the British and French colonizations of Algiers, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the countries of the Middle East experienced 150 years of subjugation to colonial rule. And by the mid-20th century the resistance to that rule was overwhelmed by the technology of modern warfare. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed indiscriminately, especially by the British. As one might imagine, the peoples of Palestine and the rest of the region have reason to suspect promises from the West of how they will benefit from the “nation building” they’re being offered. As Rashid Khalidi says, “Westerners make a serious mistake in thinking that these events are buried in a distant past and thus are long forgotten by the younger generations…[national holidays, museums, street names, etc. reinforce these lessons for] societies that are extremely attentive to history, highly politicized, and in large measure literate” (Resurrecting Empire, p.30). • Next and final stop: Iraq and the “blessings” of intervention
Intervention Works? Go Tell Iraq. (“Trails of Tears”, part four) (July 29, 2004)
Well, here we are at the final stop on our tour of the destruction wrought by “those who believe themselves to be special, different, and touched by providence” (from Thucydides, in Khalidi, p.36). And they all, especially the US, disregard and have contempt for history. Step back, and you will see a Colossus skimming, raping and raking the riches of the world. Of course, they all do this in the righteousness of bringing the light of freedom, democracy and self-determination (Remember Vietnam? It is loaded with aluminum ore and offshore oil.) to the uninformed, under-appreciating people of the world…most of whom were highly organized with rich histories before most Europeans knew the difference between stone and metal. This, then, brings us to Iraq. How did this culturally rich cradle of civilization become what it is today? How, indeed, could it have declined under the supervision of divinely inspired interventions? (For an understanding of the “vision” that drives the neo-con directors of what passes for Dubya’s thoughts on a new Iraq and Middle East, read “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” written in 1996 and under implementation 9/11 to the present).
Is the following familiar? “On capturing Baghdad, [the general] proclaimed that [his country] intended to return to Iraq some control of its own affairs…this step would pave the way for ending the alien rule that the Iraqis had experienced…The nationalists had supported the [invading] powers in expectation of both the…defeat and the freedom many nationalists assumed would come with…victory… Much to his disappointment, [the “liberators’” appointed leader] found that the [“liberators”] were less than enthusiastic about Arab independence…The [“liberators”] were confronted with Iraq's age-old problems, compounded by some new ones. Villagers demanded that the tribes be restrained, and tribes demanded that their titles to tribal territories be extended and confirmed. Merchants demanded more effective legal procedures, courts, and laws to protect their activities and interests. Municipal authorities appealed for defined powers and grants-in-aid in addition to the establishment of public health and education facilities. Landlords pressed for grants of land, for the building of canals and roads, and for the provision of tested seeds and livestock…The most striking problem facing the [“liberators”] was the growing anger of the nationalists, who felt betrayed at being accorded [provisional] status. The nationalists soon came to view the [provisional status] as a flimsy disguise for colonialism.” And so on. This, of course, is an expurgated version from a history of Iraq under the British beginning with their invasion, continuing through their mandate and ending with the 1930 Anglo-Iraqi Treaty (the last in a decades long string of treaties) that the Kurds, the Iraqis or any of the tribes never really accepted. For a full discussion of the Iraqi move from Ottoman to British subjugation go to “History of Iraq, subtopic ‘World War I and the British Mandate’”.
After the collapse of the League of Nations, some of the burgeoning nationalist organizations (The League of the Islamic Awakening, The Muslim National League, The Guardians of Independence) gathered strength but were never able to conflate a democracy within the imposed imperial governmental structures, because “despite a constitution and an elected assembly, Iraqi politics was more a shifting alliance of important personalities and cliques than a democracy in the Western sense. The absence of broadly based political institutions inhibited the early nationalist movement's ability to make deep inroads into Iraq's diverse social structure. Thus, despite the widely felt resentment at Iraq's mandate status, the burgeoning nationalist movement was largely ineffective”. This is all tragically familiar.
Stealth treaties, appropriated lands, removal and detention of native peoples—these are the characteristics of EuroAmerican imperialism. It is always justified in highly moral language but on close scrutiny it always demonstrates a crass, materialist goal. Do the Iraqis want democracy? Yes, and they have tried to secure it under various identities in their efforts to shuck the clinging shroud of imperialism. They will undoubtedly achieve it, but it will never be what someone else thinks it ought to be.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Relocation US Style (“Trails of Tears”, part two) (July 25, 2004)
What remains of the original occupants of North America are some desolate reservations occupied by some unlucky people and some lucky people (actually they paid off some state legislators) who own some casinos. If you want to know how they’re doing up-close-and-personal, you can read anything by Louise Erdrich (especially Love Medicine) or by William Least Heat-Moon.
My father and I would argue about the Native American holocaust, and he always shuddered at my historical heresy. He would mention the usual stuff: They were unappreciating savages, they were dirty, they were drunks and they were basically incorrigible by EuroAmerican standards. That last is the point I’d like you to keep in mind. I’ll cite just one historical example of how our treatment of the original inhabitants of what is now the US was not only brutally cruel exploitation but was also a primary example of nascent EuroAmerican imperial hubris.
Much of what I have in this post I got from “The Cherokee Trail of Tears 1838-1839”. Beyond those details, my studies in American civilization (no, that’s not an oxymoron) have shown me pretty clearly that we treated the Native American population on our continent as badly or worse than the Palestinian, Kurds, Shiia and Sunnis have been treated. With one notable exception (Roger Williams of the Narragansett colony [Rhode Island]), the EuroAmerican march westward slaughtered, rounded up and dumped what was left of these people after syphilis, tuberculosis and other of the gifts we transported had decimated their tribes. And we were democratic; we didn’t discriminate among women, children and the elderly. During those times (roughly from Jackson’s presidency through the cattle industry), we taught them the savage art of scalping (yes, that wasn’t a Native American tradition) and introduced them to the joys of alcoholism. But I digress…
The Trail of Tears, the removal of the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles from the land between the original 13 states and the Mississippi River, began with the signing of more than 40 treaties completely opaque to the aborigine mind and was continued when Pres. Jackson mandated and Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, which initiated the forced march to remove them from the land that had been ceded to the U.S. By the way, the Cherokees had pretty much assimilated with the EuroAmericans, even adopting some of their laws and intermarrying. But that wasn’t final enough; they needed to be isolated and denigrated, forced to live on non-arable land, to be mocked by their conquerors.
The final humiliation was the Treaty of New Echota, the final solution to the resistance of the Cherokees. A minority of some 300-400 had remained on the land. From these 20 were selected (none were elected or represented the Nation) who signed the treaty at New Echota, Georgia. This “agreement” ceded all Cherokee lands east of the Mississippi to the US in exchange for $5 million and a homeland in Indian Territory, that is, the aforementioned non-arable, alien land from which they could not roam.
The long march Trail of Tears included some 100,000 humans from the tribes mentioned above. The Creeks suffered the most, some having been transported in chains, losing 3,500 in Alabama. Despite the protesting of 15,000 of their members, the “Treaty” was ratified by the US Senate, May 23, 1836. Our “manifest destiny”, the embryo of what we call “nation building” today, had triumphed. We slaughtered and humiliated the inhabitants of a land so that we could make a better, freer, more prosperous world.