Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Autumn Equinox: The Great Wheel Grinds on in Darfur, in Beltwayistan, in the Oceans, & at the Poles; Are We Turning Toward the Truth or Away from It?
Autumn Equinox: The Great Wheel Grinds on in Beltwayistan, in Darfur, in the Oceans, & at the Poles; But Are We Turning Toward the Truth or Away from It?
By Richard Power
The Earth spins on its axis; and we experience the revolutions as days. The Earth orbits the Sun; and we experience the revolutions as years. Light turns toward darkness; and darkness turns toward light; in the course of a day, we experience these revolutions as dusk and dawn, in the course of a year, we experience these revolutions as the equinoxes. Furthermore, everyone and everything everywhere interpenetrates; even the polarities embrace, e.g., when Fall comes to the Northern Hemisphere, Spring arrives in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are cycles within cycles, "reality" is fractal.
In Beltwayistan, the Great Wheel grinds on ...
I did not believe that this country could forget the lessons of the Great Depression or the War in Southeast Asia, but I was wrong. Not only have we forgotten the lessons, and repeated the mistakes (albeit in different contexts); even worse, there does not appear as if there will be any serious investigation or meaningful accountability for those responsible.
As Election Day 2010 approaches – as the United States wallows in the swamps of war, recession and environmental degradation – the consequences of the nation’s three-decade-old decoupling from reality are becoming painfully obvious.
Yet, despite the danger, the nation can’t seem to move in a positive direction, as if the suctioning effect of endless spin, half-truths and lies holds the populace in place, a force that grows ever more powerful like quicksand sucking the country deeper into the muck – to waist deep, then neck deep. Robert Parry, America's Decoupling from Reality, Consortium News, 9-17-10
In Darfur, the Great Wheel grinds on ...
In 1994, there was a genocide in Rwanda. In 2007, campaigning for his wife Hillary, Bill Clinton reminded us that Rwanda was his greatest regret, and actually said that "had he listened to his wife ... history might have been different." According to Bubba, Hillary "had wanted the United States to intervene." (Boston Globe, 12-11-10)
And yet here we are ...
In a major foreign policy address on September 8, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the country as a "ticking time bomb." Yet it may already be too late. The “bomb” has been ticking for over five and a half years, and neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration has been willing to devote the appropriate attention to defuse it ... Eric Reeves, Sudan Research, 9-10-10
The "ticking time bomb" remark caused a stir, but on closer scrutiny, the full text of Secretary Clinton's remarks reveal little has changed in the Obama administration's approach.
Clinton's statement is little more than an upgraded diplomatic version of U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration’s declaration that the way to “engage” with Khartoum is by means of “cookies”: "Kids, countries—they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement." Yet in the year since Gration made these notorious remarks, and set the course of U.S. policy, the regime has accelerated violence in Darfur, restricted humanitarian access even more severely, blocked reports on humanitarian conditions, and become even more hostile to the UN peacekeeping force (UNAMID). For good measure, the regime oversaw its continuation of power by engineering a massive electoral travesty in April. Eric Reeves, Sudan Research, 9-10-10
I did not believe that the people of Darfur could be worse off today, with Barack Obama in the White House, than they were two years ago, but they are. Not because the Obama administration's policy is worse than the Bush administration's, but simply because it is insufficiently different, and so the situation has continued to deteriorate. Gration, who is reported to be a personal friend of Obama, continues to *inGrationate* himself to this fugitive from the rule of international law.
Clearly, in regard to Sudan and Darfur, "U.S. strategic interests" (misguided ones) are trumping the human rights imperative, and Gration's happy talk can't distract from this ugly truth. It is tragic, but it is also typical. And yes, I pray I am proven wrong.
Of course, the Obama administration is not alone in its appeasement.
Human rights activist Mia Farrow recently posted a photo of the UN General Secretary shaking hands with Bashir. What kind of message does that send, sir?
And then there is the Arab League.
A meeting of the Arab league foreign ministers today endorsed a resolution reaffirming its position in rejecting the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir for war crimes and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur. Sudan Times, 9-17-10
Throughout the planetary biosphere, in the melting glacier fields, on the bleaching coral reefs, by raging fire, roaring flood, creeping desert and rising methane, the Great Wheel grinds on ...
The closer it comes, the worse it looks. The best outcome anyone now expects from December's climate summit in Mexico is that some delegates might stay awake during the meetings. When talks fail once, as they did in Copenhagen, governments lose interest. They don't want to be associated with failure, they don't want to pour time and energy into a broken process ... George Monbiot, Guardian/UK, 9-21-10
In 1977, in the midst of crisis, President Jimmy Carter gave a prime-time speech from the Oval Office (as the great Thom Hartmann often reminds his listening audience):
Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century. We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren ... Two days from now, I will present my energy proposals to the Congress ... Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war" -- except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not destroy ... Jimmy Carter, The President's Proposed Energy Plan, 4-18-77
As both a powerful symbol and a practical first step, Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House; and yes, one of the first steps that the Counter-Revolutionary Ronald Reagan took was to have those panels removed.
Recently, environmental thought leader Bill McKibben found one of President Carter's solar panels, and together with a band of young climate activists from 350.org, McKibben drove it across country to the Obama White House in the hope that this President would accept the symbolic gift and exploit the teachable moment. Nah.
To their queries, the bureaucrats refused to provide any answer. At all. One kept smiling in an odd way and saying, “If reporters call and ask us, we will provide our rationale,” but whatever it was, they wouldn’t provide it to us.
It was all a little odd, to say the least. They refused to accept the Carter panel as a historic relic, or even to pose for a picture with the students and the petition they’d brought with them. Asked to do something easy and symbolic to rekindle a little of the joy that had turned out so many of us as volunteers for Obama in 2008, they point blank said no. In a less than overwhelming gesture, they did, however, pass out Xeroxed copies of a 2009 memorandum from Vice President Biden about federal energy policy.
I can tell you exactly what it felt like, because those three students were brave and walked out graciously, heads high, and kept their tears back until we got to the sidewalk. And then they didn’t keep them back, because it’s a tough thing to learn for the first time how politics can work. Bill McKibben, The Enthusiasm Gap in the White House, Tom Dispatch, 9-16-10
Two days ago, I celebrated my 57th birthday.
I hope to live to see the Great Wheel turn one more time; no, not the wheel that turns from one season to another, that is just one of the little wheels -- the Great Wheel is the one that turns from Ignorance to Understanding.
Meanwhile, I encourage you to find out why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love: go to 350.org for the answer.
And as always, I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu
Visit Richard Power author's page at Amazon.com.