Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Food for Thought: The Economy of Fear

It was just a quick news blurb on CNN this past Friday morning: following Thursday's announcement by the former head of Chevron's public policy committee, Condi Rice, of tougher US sanctions against Iran - the freezing of bank assets and the delegation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist entity, the price of oil had risen to a 30-something year high of $92/barrel.

There's no doubt that Rice is an intelligent woman but when you add manipulation and a staunch right-wing ideological bent to that equation, as we've seen for years now, the sum is dangerous. And while conservatives and Republicans say they won't raise your taxes, they always find a way to make you pay in the end. Rising oil prices = increased taxes for the government. Rising oil prices = increased transportation costs = higher food and goods prices. Rising oil prices = increased heating costs. Pretty simple. Taxed to death by stealth while the top wage earners and biggest corporations get the tax cuts and business booms for the military-industrial complex. An ever increasing debt - well, you get the picture. And while Bush claims that the economy is supposedly doing "great", the average Joe and Jane sure aren't feeling it. Quite the scam they have going.

Anyway, back to Condi. When she appeared before the House Foreign Affairs committee last week, they really should have handed out bibs for all of the drooling that went on about the fact that she was actually there. One starstruck/dumbstruck congressperson was quite amazed that, having seen her on his teevee a couple of days prior in another country, she was there - right in front of him! I guess he's never heard of "airplanes".

As one who hasn't put much stock in all of these news reports about how Condi is on the outs with Cheney over his warmongering against Iran - that she acts as some sort of balance to keep him from going over the edge - I listened carefully to her answer to one question: what did she think of his "escalating rhetoric". Now, being the diplomat she is (that's where her intelligence comes in very handy - she's a master of blathering on without saying much of anything, obviously in love with her ideas and the sound of her own voice), she craftily said nothing against Cheney. She did say, however, exactly what I've thought all along: that she believes in "diplomacy with teeth". In other words, she and Cheney play good cop/bad cop to get what they want and she serves as a glorified messenger girl - delivering Cheney's "teeth" with a faux smile wherever she goes. This is important: she's obviously very much on side with Cheney's plans for Iran.

The White House has obviously gotten the opposite message out in an attempt to pretend that Condi is doing what a US secretary of state is supposed to do ie. encouraging intelligent discourse as opposed to bombing the hell out of a country. They've carefully constructed the illusion that Condi has reformed since her Iraq/smoking gun/mushroom cloud talking point days. There's still smoke coming from her these days though: smoke and mirrors. The only thing that's changed is her job title.

Let's take a look at a bit of a reality check from the IAEA's Mohammed ElBaradei about what's going on in Iran. (Rice didn't mention the IAEA once in her testimony this past week that I recall. No need to wonder why.)

Via the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Sunday he had no evidence Iran was working actively to build nuclear weapons and expressed concern that escalating rhetoric from the U.S. could bring disaster.

"We have information that there has been maybe some studies about possible weaponization," said Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the International Atomic Energy Agency. "That's why we have said that we cannot give Iran a pass right now, because there is still a lot of question marks."

"But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran this month of "lying" about the aim of its nuclear program. She said there is no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the IAEA about its intentions.
ElBaradei said he was worried about the growing rhetoric from the U.S., which he noted focused on Iran's alleged intentions to build a nuclear weapon rather than evidence the country was actively doing so. If there is actual evidence, ElBaradei said he would welcome seeing it.

"I'm very much concerned about confrontation, building confrontation, because that would lead absolutely to a disaster. I see no military solution. The only durable solution is through negotiation and inspection," he said.

"My fear is that if we continue to escalate from both sides that we will end up into a precipice, we will end up into an abyss. As I said, the Middle East is in a total mess, to say the least. And we cannot add fuel to the fire," ElBaradei added.

Meanwhile, Condi makes the slide into that abyss - Bush's WW3 - sound like a Sunday afternoon picnic at grandma's. They're on top of it. No big deal. Enjoy the popcorn. As an added bonus, all of this abyss talk excites those folks who anxiously await the rapture ie. Bush's base. They're pretty disillusioned with him and his party right now since they didn't get Roe v Wade reversed or a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. They need something to make them get out to the polls in '08, as do the wealthy industrialists and the big guns in the oil patch.

Ordinary Americans have already been screwed over six ways from Sunday and, since they haven't started a revolution in the streets to take down the government yet (when both major parties are being absolutely useless), what's another war? I don't even know what "American values" are anymore. Sitting around and watching the tube while your country is being destroyed before your very eyes? That's all I can come up with. As for so-called concerned congresspeople, I can count those on less than ten toes and the Pelosi "impeachment is off the table" caucus is a disgrace to democracy - unless you believe that democratic principles consist of running away and hiding whenever the nasty Republicans call you "weak on terror".

It's been predicted that $100/barrel oil might be a psychological breaking point. Really? It inches ever closer to that mark with every threat Cheney/Rice/Bush make towards Iran and I'm not seeing any inkling of panic on the streets yet. I imagine, when that news blurb comes, the majority of Americans will just once again grit their teeth and put up with it. I guess that's what happens when you don't live in an open democracy anymore. You just give up. For a while, at least.


Target Iran part 1
Yet More Condi Rice Diplomacy
Condi Rice, Imperial Cheerleader
Iran Adapts to Economic Pressure - Oil Market Could Help It Weather U.S. Sanctions (ah...the irony)

Update: This is encouraging but what will the follow up look like? Thousands in US anti-war protests

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