I became the director of Peninsula Peace and Justice Center on August 1, 1990. The next day, Iraq invaded Kuwait. By the end of that first week, President George H. W. Bush had deployed 25,000 troops to Saudi Arabia and I had organized my first anti-war demonstration as director.
Iraq and I go way back.
It was a pleasure to be able to sit down with my old friend Pierre Labossiere last night. What has happened politically in Haiti since the catastrophic earthquake is a tragedy. After the great optimism of the Aristide years — an optimism rooted in real advances in alleviating poverty and inequality — the elites have seized absolute control once again. And the repression of dissent hearkens back to the dark time of the dictatorship. And it hardly merits a word in the media. That’s why I put time and energy into alternative media.
Yesterday’s drone strike in Iraq by the US against a top Iranian military commander won’t lead to war. It is war. More precisely, it is an escalation of the US war on Iran that started within months of Trump’s inauguration.
In his prepared remarks today, Trump said, “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.” That’s a lie. Last night’s action was a ramping-up of an ongoing war.
“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” ~ Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (Essay, 1852)
If Marx was right, then Trump’s repeat of Clinton’s infamous wag the dog tactic in the face of impeachment would be at the tragedy stage. And that’s what it certainly is. It will inevitably lead to yet more tragedy. But we’re dealing with Trump here, so there’s always an element of farce at play.
I’m working on a longer, more serious piece about this disturbing escalation of violence. Please check back in a while. Or subscribe to this blog so you’ll get the post in your email.
This is a photo of Lucy the Elephant, America’s oldest roadside attraction. Think of her as a symbol of the year ahead in politics — endless exhortations to “look over there” at one meaningless distraction after another.
Trump’s constant efforts to divert attention away from whatever issue is currently generating negative headlines for him are certainly well known and well understood by now. Ezra Klein of Vox has referred to the distractions as “the core of Donald Trump’s political strategy.” The political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow was moved to pen a strip titled “Are Trump’s Distractions a Distraction From His Distractions?” just a couple of months after Trump was inaugurated.
This post is adapted from my Not-Very-Often Newsletter, which comes out on a highly irregular basis. The really good news is that it doesn’t land in your inbox very often at all. To subscribe, just send an email to email@example.com
* Paul George’s Not-Very-Often Retirement Newsletter *
Dear Friends – Happy New Year! I hope you all are having a relaxing holiday season, because we’re all going to have to work our butts off in the coming year, right? For me, retirement has meant this is the first December in 30 years that I haven’t been sweating out the results of the all-important year-end fundraising drive for Peninsula Peace and Justice Center. Believe me, that’s a huge relief. But I still care, of course, so if you haven’t made a year-end gift to PPJC yet, please click here right away. Thank you very much.
I’d like to urge you to join me for the first Other Voices TV program of the new year. On January 7 at 7:00pm I’ll be hosting Pierre Labossiere, a renowned and beloved Bay Area human rights activist who originally hails from Haiti. And that will be our topic.