By David SwansonMay Day, Memo Day, Mission Accomplished DayTue May 1, 2007 15:29
May Day, Memo Day, Mission Accomplished Day
Submitted by dswanson on Sat, 2006-04-15 08:44. Labor | Peace and War
By David Swanson
The first of May is May Day, the real labor day, the commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre and the fight for an 8-hour day in Chicago – an American holiday celebrated everywhere except America. But the first of May is two other things as well in more recent but already fading history.
This May first will be the three-year anniversary of a flight-suited George W. Bush waddling across an aircraft carrier in San Diego harbor and declaring "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq – a holiday celebrated only in America and only once: this will be the second year in a row in which this holiday is minimized to an extent that should horrify Bill O'Reilly were he not so obsessed with defending Christmas and Easter.
This May first will also be the one-year anniversary of the publication of the Downing Street Minutes in the London Sunday Times – a holiday about America likely to be celebrated primarily in England and secondarily in the rest of the world, with the exception of the United States.
In preparation for May-Memo-Mission Day, I'd like to recommend three pieces of reading material aimed at restoring the True Meaning of M Day.
The first is "Day of Reckoning," an amazing play by Melody Cooper about Albert and Lucy Parsons. Albert Parsons was one of three labor journalists who were framed and executed in Chicago during the struggle for an 8-hour day. His last letter to his children from jail concluded: "My children, my precious ones, I request you to read this parting message on each recurring anniversary of my death in remembrance of him who dies not alone for you, but for the children yet unborn. Bless you, my darlings. Farewell."
The second thing to read is a brand new book by Mark Danner called "The Secret Way to War: The Downing Street Memo and the Iraq War's Buried History." It's a short book. Half of it is simply the text of the Downing Street Memo/Minutes and the seven related documents that were leaked to the media last year. To have these laid out so clearly, with short introductions and explanations of abbreviations, in a handy paperback book is a great service. But this book provides a lot more than that, by reproducing Danner's writings on the Downing Street Minutes from the New York Review of Books, along with an introduction and an afterword.
The book opens with a short preface by Frank Rich of the New York Times, which strikes a couple of false notes, blaming the public for the media's initial failure to cover the Downing Street Minutes and other evidence of war lies, and claiming that the media has now caught up to the public. But skip ahead to Danner's writings for a brilliant and honest analysis of the media's failings, and in particular a debate over the Downing Street Memo with Michael Kinsley that must have left Kinsley feeling more foolish than Dubya in his flight suit.
The third thing that everyone should read, if they haven't already, is "Secrets and Lies," a book published in 2004 by Dilip Hiro. This is the best history I've read of the build up to the war and the early months of the war itself. Rather than an analysis, this is a chronological tale. Everything is here in order, as it happened, including what we were often falsely told was happening. Here we see the war from the point of view of Americans, Iraqis, and others around the world, and we watch events unfold as they actually happened, with the myths and distortions scraped away and their creation presented as part of the story. The tale of Jessica Lynch, for example, (remember her?) is told in the way that evidence suggests events actually occurred. But we are also told what the U.S. military and media told us occurred, and how some minority of us later heard (much more quietly) the corrections.
The initial days and weeks of the war seem a distant blur now, but Hiro brings them alive, blow by blow, as we remember them and as we should have known them had we possessed more information. He takes the reader up to and beyond the day of Mission Accomplished.
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Submitted by Paul Street on Mon, 2006-04-24 18:09.
I just walked down to my local town's public library and on the way I saw the same bumper sticker on three cars sitting in the driveways of three houses. The sticker says (if I remember correctly): "George W. Bush: 'Mission Accomplished.'"
Well, that's not exactly it. The word "Mission" is crossed out and replaced with the word "Nothing," so I guess you might say that it reads "George W. Bush: Nothing Accomplished" or "George W. Bush: Mission Not Accomplished."
You get the idea. It's a sarcastic message, making fun of Bush's famous aircraft carrier landing off the hostile coast of San Diego on Mayday 2003, when the proto-fascist- messianic-militarist-in-chief proclaimed victory in Iraq while wearing a flight suit before a giant poster proclaiming "Mission Accomplished."
On two of three aforementioned cars, a John F. Kerry sticker is also present on the back bumper.
Well, okay. Bush is unpopular as Hell (32 percent approval rate and falling) now for all kinds of good reasons which is only appropriate. Some ordinary Americans are making fun of his policy fiasco in Iraq and wish that Kerry had been appointed to the White House instead of Bush II (a result that an honest vote might have produced by the way).
But here's the first problem with the message on the Bush-bashing bumper sticker: Bush's missions haven't been worth accomplishing. They amount to a vicious assault on democracy and justice both at home and abroad. Of special note, the U.S. occupation of Iraq is an incredibly immoral and illegal violation of international law and every decent norm of reasonable state conduct. It's a fundamentally criminal power-grab based largely on the venerable U.S. imperial project of controlling strategically super significant Middle Eastern oil. It was a criminal disaster from the get go, though it has arguably gone much worse for Bush II than many would have predicted because the current White House is in fact remarkably incompetent and dangerous.
The filthy rich uberaristocrat Kerry would have done a better, more astute, slicker, and corporate-liberal job of handling the vile Iraq war mission, the basic parameters of which he did not reject and actually embraced in his contemptible 2004 campaign, when he basically said "elect me, I will do a more sophisticated and effective job of managing empire and inequality at home and abroad." He would have made the Ivy League prouder than his fellow Skull and Bonseman Bush. More competently perhaps, he would have stuck to the evil mission. He said so. The predominantly antiwar delegates at the Democratic Party convention were muzzled in the interests of national unity and proper militarist decorum.
Kerry also said that he was "not a redistribution Democrat," downplaying the nation's savage and democracy-disabling wealth disparities in an effort to reassure Fat Cat campaign funders and lobbyists that U.S. state capitalism's harshly inequitable socioeconomic pyramid would be preserved under his administration. And today, the non-opposition party has centrist Hilary and realist rock star Barack Obama (he of the campaign finance Midas touch) out criticizing GBW's White House for "incompetence" and "neglect" but not for high-state criminality and class and race oppression...not for acting on the basic intertwined imperatives of empire abroad and inequality at home, not to mention empire at home and inequality abroad. Obama supported the vile neoconservative Condi Rice's appointnment to Secretary of State (of all jobs) and raises money for the right-wing post-Democrat Joe Lieberman. He is not going to endanger his shot at the presidency someday by speaking the language that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in the mid-late 1960s. Hilary runs away from the virtuous Feingold censure proposal and drums up support for a flag-burning bill or some other such jingoistic nonsense.
And here's the second problem: "Nothing Accomplished" is incorrect. Bush has accomplished a great deal for those he once only half-joking called "my base" -- the super-opulent people of supreme privelege, the same tiny socioeconomic cohort from which he and Kerry come. Bush II has carried out a significant upward distribution of wealth and power, contributing to the erosion of popular governance and the collapse social health on a scale that might make even the commemorated, recently departed symbol and agent of global and domestic tyranny Ronald Reagan wince. That's a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, folks.
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