Operation: Fantasy America

  1. By Stephen Blackburn, AlterNet
    May 23, 2003

    Here's the synopsis, all-too-familiar for this year's news junkies:
    Super-rich oil men and hawks within the U.S. administration connive
    behind the scenes with wealthy foreigners to fabricate evidence about
    weapons of mass destruction that Islamic Middle Eastern country(s) will
    use against the United States. The nefarious intention: to scare the
    United States into launching a pre-emptive strike against the Middle
    East. U.S. generals planning the pre-empt recognize that there will be
    "collateral damage," i.e., innocent Islamic civilians killed, but "Well, it's
    something we're just going to have to live with." The unspoken goal of
    the villainous plotters (so well understood that it need not be exposited)
    is to seize the Middle East oil fields and get even richer. American
    soldiers die needlessly as a result.

    We all know how this shameful and sordid tale turns out - or do we?
    Wait! A U.S. intelligence agent discovers that the evidence has been
    faked. He conveys this to the President of the United States. The
    president then puts his own career on the line, goes against his entire
    cabinet and the Pentagon in a noble effort to avert war and the death of
    innocents. At the last possible moment the evidence is proven to be fake
    and the strike is called back. Whew!

    No, this is not "West Wing," which has been disappointingly macho and
    bellicose of late - I mean, my God, liberal President Bartlett okayed the
    assassination of a foreign diplomat! No wuss liberals in that Oval Office!
    Surprisingly, the preceding fairy tale ending was brought to you by Bob
    Cochran, Joel Surnow and Howard Gordon, masterminds of the Fox
    channel series "24," starring Kiefer Sutherland as agent Jack Bauer,
    which just aired the concluding episode of its second season on

    The top half of the season was frightening - Islamic evildoers did their
    darndest to detonate a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. As the worm
    turned, however, it came to light that some hawks within the intelligence
    apparatus and Pentagon itself knew about the bomb, but had allowed it
    to enter the U.S. so that they could foil the plot and as heroes thereby
    advance their own war agenda, in blatant opposition to the wise, quietly
    virile President Palmer (portrayed by Dennis Haysbert, who also starred
    as the gardener opposite Julianne Moore in the critically acclaimed
    feature film Far From Heaven). I thought the entire season would be
    about stopping the bomb, but the writers threw a curve - weeks ago the
    bomb got detonated in the desert and Los Angeles was saved.

    It was during the second - post-nuclear - half of the season that the
    story got especially interesting, as it paralleled and refracted the Bush
    government's own drive to war in the Middle East. As fiction can do, 24
    offered an idealized version of reality.

    In 24, after the U.S. pre-emptive strike against three Islamic nations of
    the Middle East has been successfully called off, President Palmer tells
    his cabinet, who felt he wasn't responding to the threat quickly enough,
    "We came dangerously close to war today ... Leaders are required to
    have patience beyond human limits. The kind of action we nearly took
    should only be exercised after all other avenues have been exhausted.
    After the strictest standard of proof has been met." He tells the
    chastened cabinet (can you imagine Rummy's response to such a
    speech?) that their kick-ass-time's-a'-wastin' actions that day
    "effectively lowered those standards. And that was a profound mistake."

    Now there's a statesman.

    President David Palmer risked everything to wait until evidence or
    evidence of faked evidence was proven, so that the United States would
    remain righteous. In the real world, Bush II acted as if he couldn't wait
    to send the troops in. When the administration's British "evidence" was
    exposed as plagiarized from a college paper, Secretary of State
    Powell's response was a chilling "If that information is inaccurate, fine."
    Fine? I don't think that standard of proof would fly in an episode of
    Judge Judy, much less Law & Order.

    Recap: In Bizarro World, er, I mean the real world, the president of the
    United States told the world that a week's more time to find the WMDs
    was way too long. We absolutely had to go to war Right Now. Today,
    with Iraq in ruins, finding no smoking-gun WMDs, the Bushites tell us
    these things take time. Translation: Proof? We don't need no stinkin'

    In an article by Steve Young, published in the May issue of the Writers
    Guild magazine, Written By, the creators of 24 deny any West
    Wing-like political agenda. Cochran is quoted as saying "We're just
    trying to tell a good story." Amen. Some of the best stories have heroes
    like President David Palmer.

    Unfortunately, when you turn off the TV set, you return to a world
    where the oil men with evidence faked to provoke the U.S. into
    attacking the Middle East turn out to be the ones running our
    government. Pogo knew this plotline.

    Stephen Blackburn is a Texan living in Hollywood. He is the
    co-author, with Ron Casanova, of "Each One Teach One: Up and
    Out of Poverty: Memoirs of a Street Activist" (Curbstone Press).
  2. 4 Comments

  3. by   Mkue
    An entertaining movie to see... "The Sum of All Fears" with Ben Afflack and Morgan Freeman.

  4. by   teeituptom
    Sounds real to me
    Still havent found any WMDs
    Now we yell civil rights violations.
    This has been going on for centuries and all of a sudden its wrong.
    Just think if Saddam had his leg blown off all his doubles would be hopping mad.
    Im peach Bush
  5. by   fab4fan
    Tom: That reminds me of a cartoon I saw that went something like this--

    Iraqi politico talking to Saddam doubles:

    "Gentlemen, we have good news and bad news...the good news is that our leader, Saddam, is alive.

    The bad news is that he lost his right leg from a bomb."
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    Stating the Obvious

    "The lunatics are now in charge of the asylum." So wrote the normally staid Financial Times, traditionally the voice of solid British business opinion, when surveying last week's tax bill. Indeed, the legislation is doubly absurd: the gimmicks used to make an $800-billion-plus tax cut carry an official price tag of only $320 billion are a joke, yet the cost without the gimmicks is so large that the nation can't possibly afford it while keeping its other promises.
    But then maybe that's the point. The Financial Times suggests that "more extreme Republicans" actually want a fiscal train wreck: "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition, but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door."
    {click link to read deleted paragraphs}
    Most people, even most liberals, are complacent. They don't realize how dire the fiscal outlook really is, and they don't read what the ideologues write. They imagine that the Bush administration, like the Reagan administration, will modify our system only at the edges, that it won't destroy the social safety net built up over the past 70 years.
    But the people now running America aren't conservatives: they're radicals who want to do away with the social and economic system we have, and the fiscal crisis they are concocting may give them the excuse they need. The Financial Times, it seems, now understands what's going on, but when will the public wake up?