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Tom Gilroy Headshot

And Away We Go

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Well, we're right on schedule for invading Iran, and all the major characters are onstage, right down to the Israeli prime minister, John Bolton, Condi Rice, Bill Kristol and George Will--not to mention W himself--- playing their roles to a T, having had months to memorize and perfect their lines.

Or were you thinking 'that whole mess over there' was some spontaneous series of events--too complex to understand, especially up against the plot of Lost--where deep misunderstandings involving near-incomprehensible things like 'history' and 'local customs' and 'weird sects'--- and of course 'terrorists' and 'militants'---all kind of meld into a big soupy indecipherable haze?

Sure, and it was also sheer luck that Scooter Libby, Enron, Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff all went down after the presidential election, too.

I guess it must be coincidence the whole chain of events in the Middle East follows to the minute the schedule laid out in the international media eight months ago--from the Israeli press, to The UK Guardian, to Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, delineating the plans of not only The Pentagon but the Israeli military (are they really two separate things?) --to go into Iran and get the oil, er, I mean, save the region from, um, nuclear something, I don't really know, it's so complicated. Something bad and nuclear, that's for sure. Was it 'pre-emptive containment'?

It's just all so confusing. Why can't they just get with the peace thing over there?

Here's why; we don't want them to, and we always get what we want. Peace is bad for the theft business. Ask a warlord, or an arms dealer, or a mafia don--or Henry Kissinger.

Here's how it works; you look at a map of the world that delineates global oil resources, and you cross out the ones you control either directly or through puppet governments; then you circle the ones you want to take. Then figure out what countries lay on top of those oil reserves and call them the Axis of Evil---decide on the reasons why later.

Okay, Step 1) find the oil you want. Step 2) try and construct some reasonable sounding 'theory' or 'vision' that twists logic in any way possible to support literally any cockamamamie philosophy, as long as the end result of touting that philosophy is you getting the oil. Regime change, spreading democracy, evildoing, free trade, domino theories, imaginary weapons of mass destruction, even genocide--it doesn't matter since you're not going to follow through with any of the philosophy in any way. Just make sure you leave with the oil.

American mainstream media outlets--thousands of rivers and creeks and streams being fed in the end by two enormous and identical reservoirs--will help in this regard, even in the liberal New York Times, where the editorial page dissects 'political visions' and uses terms like 'cowboy diplomacy' and 'neoconservative values' or 'progressive realism' --- any convoluted phrase they can float to prevent Joe Six-Pack from realizing what it really is--theft.

Step 3) start mining for reasons to invade these evil countries, and then either control them with an occupying force, install a puppet regime that will do your bidding with iron-fisted control--or foment enough civil chaos in them so you can send underprotected, undereducated and underpaid National Guardsmen from Kentucky to sprint through the crossfire and get control of the spigot while the indigenous population is too busy looking for clean drinking water or trying to behead each other. Then you call it a stabilized region making great strides toward (insert cockamamie philosophy here).

In the current example, since you've run up insurmountable debt getting at Iraq's oil reserves--after ('rightly' according to the Dems) invading Afghanistan (which happens to be sitting on the pipeline you need to extract Iraq's oil)--and building several taxpayer-funded military bases on top of the oil to keep control of it---er I mean, protect freedom-- you realize the populace you so disdain--your own--won't go into Iran over the same transparent excuses you used last time, so you need a plan B: you get Israel to do it.

Remember, you provide 100% of Israel's arms, so their military is a de facto wing of the US military, the de facto security force of US oil. So it's easy to get them to make it look like the whole mess happens spontaneously--you simply tell them to do it---and of course the best scenario would be if Iran could be provoked into interfering, but if they don't, you can always perceive and then be terrified of an imaginary reason. The press will back you up. The main thing is to get in there and destabilize them so they can't get in the way of you stealing the oil, and to make the 'spontaneous' chain of events not look too much like the lies you floated to justify the last illegal invasion, er, I mean liberation, just in case your population has looked up from NASCAR for a sec to see what you're doing.

Peace would fuck up all these plans, because peace is bad for the theft business.

Why? Because if the 'opposing sides' in any regional conflict--the Palestinians and the Israelis, say, or Iraq and Iran a few years ago--- were to sit down and compromise and agree and hug and coexist, they're sooner or later going to realize how their needs overlap and say, 'um, my dear brother, wait a minute, why are we letting this valuable resource be stolen right out from underneath us?' And that's just unacceptable to thieves.

Not only does it make stealing that oil harder, it might set a bad example elsewhere, and may even--God forbid--inspire Christians in Ohio to sit down and break bread with Mexican grape pickers or gay parents, thus making theft at home trickier.

'Divide and Conquer' is as old as the hills, and it'll work as well in Jerusalem, Israel, as Jerusalem, Kansas. Get the victim's to cripple each other before you go in for the strike; it's cheaper.

So keep them fighting over occupied territories or jihads or homelands or whatchamacallits over there, and keep them fighting over flag burning and the constitutional right to hunt deer with a missile launcher over here.

Of course all of this is to 'protect our way of life' or 'preserve vital American interests' which means, you know, that all those corporations over there making all those record profits really have your and my interests at heart. What's good for them is good for us, right? Somehow, in some magical way we're too stupid to understand, the billions a corporation rakes in from our tax dollars over there trickles down and supports you and me, right? Like with freedom or something? I mean, there's no way something like a war could result in things in America getting better for corporations but worse for me, right? I mean, the CEO of Freeport-McMoran lives the same basically free life as the families of all our dead soldiers, right? We're all in this together, sacrificin' and patriotisimin' and huggin' freedom, right?

Repeat this phrase to yourself, and teach it to your children;

'My tax dollars--and my children's future--went to pay for the torture of civilians who had the audacity to try and prevent an international oil conglomerate from taking what didn't belong to them.'

Could it be that easy, we ask? Can the lie be that big, that obvious? Don't I have to be smarter to figure it all out? Can it really be exactly what it looks like? If it looks like shit, smells like shit, tastes like shit, hardens like shit, offends like shit, and I actually saw it coming out of someone's ass, isn't there some explanation somewhere out there I'm not smart enough to understand that can convince me it's, well, not shit?

Sure, there are plenty of explanations, take your pick; how about 'The Great Nation Theory?' Or 'neo-liberalism,' or 'progressive realism?' Sounds a lot more swallowable than 'you've been screwed.'

When an oppressive government seeks to cover it's thievery with total control and constant lying, the truth stops mattering, because the more obvious the lie, the greater the show of power. They don't care if you see through it. The White House can spew whatever bullshit it wants, because the implicit message underneath it is, 'what're you going to do about it, punk?'

Because that money in Iraq wasn't blown, remember. They don't ship billions of US dollars over there and light it on fire; they transfer it to someone else's account. Someone like, well, a Ken Lay or a Jack Abramoff or a Ralph Reed or a Duke Cunningham, not someone like Calvin over at the Kwik-Mart or Ahmed down in Tech Services. That money goes into the accounts of people who run up bogus expenses or start bogus companies or divisions of companies who get contracts to build twelve airstrips, build half of one and then fold. Or re-adjust their cost analysis and then get a tax break.

What can you do about it? Nothing, this is America after all, and if you're not a Ranger or Czar or Poobah or whatever 4-H summer-campy kind of nickname the GOP gives to it's codified strata of cash supporters, you're just shit out of luck.

So you may as well sit back and idly document the largest robbery of the modern era--the one-two punch of gutting the tills at home of the world's richest nation and abroad of the world's richest resource--pumping record profits at companies like Halliburton and record salaries for their CEOs--while you sit home worrying if your wife's mammogram is covered by your crappy health care or trying to decipher how two gays getting married in Massachusetts threatens your household.

Or what to do about that terrifying rash of flag-burning you keep hearing about but somehow never actually see evidence of.

You could of course decide to actually look into things instead of merely swallowing what's being thrown at you. Democracy is kept alive by your active and never-ending participation, not just voting. Restructuring our society back into a democracy will require effort, and it may even take sacrifices like missing an episode of Desperate Housewives, or worse--having David Brooks claim in The New York Times that you're part of a fundamentalist liberal jihad because you live in Connecticut and want to dump your Senator for supporting an illegal war and loopholes in an anti-torture bill.

Because that money was stolen right out of our hands in the glare of the noonday sun. And they want more, and they're clearly not going to stop until they get it. And so here we go again with an 'urgent need' to balance the region, or prevent a nuclear Iran from something something, or compassionate containment, I'm not really sure. But I know how it'll end up.

And I don't know about you, but that threatens my way of life more than two lesbians adopting a crippled orphan in Vermont, a woman wanting to make her own private decision about her pregnancy, or PBS.

But the big picture is just too darn complicated for someone like me to understand.