Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wikileaks & US

One of the more revealing elements of the most recent Wikileaks documents is the depth and breadth of the corruption among our Afghan “partners”. In a NY Times article, they report:
“From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest official is a distinct outlier. Describing the likely lineup of Afghanistan’s new cabinet last January, the American Embassy noted that the agriculture minister, Asif Rahimi, “appears to be the only minister that was confirmed about whom no allegations of bribery exist.
One Afghan official helpfully explained to diplomats the “four stages” at which his colleagues skimmed money from American development projects: “When contractors bid on a project, at application for building permits, during construction, and at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.”
Apparently this issue of corrosive, all-encompassing corruption is one of the defining characteristics of 13th century peoples such as the Afghans. It makes it difficult to impossible to contemplate seriously the now quaint notion of instilling anything remotely like democracy in this benighted pseudo-nation. Makes one wonder why we remain. Nation-building? Perhaps we might succeed in getting them to move into the 14th century . . . if we only knew how. Perhaps we should be consulting historians on this point.
But on a grander front, it caused me to begin thinking about America. We seem at the moment a 20th century nation contemplating a move back into perhaps the 18th century . . . you know, before the Civil War and all that nastiness about states’ rights and abolishing slavery. And I’m wondering whether our national mood (let’s all take a huge step backwards, people) may not be reflective of our own peculiar form of corruption at the level of our National government. We have always had our big joke that our Congress is the “best that money can buy.” It would seem now, though, that the joke is really on us. With the most recent absurdity issued by the Roberts’ Court that we needed more money in our political system, no Congressman can now afford to offend his royal owners, the corporate CEOs who bought this last election. In olden days, the peasants at least knew who the owners were—the Dukes, Barons, et al. It was easier in some ways, because at least you would understand who it would be dangerous to offend. The Roberts’ Court assured that we might never understand at whose trough our various congressional hogs were feasting.
Perhaps Mr. Assange might enlighten us on this point.
It would be helpful, as peasants need to know these things in order to survive.
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