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Sunday, October 25, 2009

For Washington's Imperial Elite, the Health of Our People is a Luxury, while War is a Necessity: This is the Way All Empires End

And if our current political leadership, under the Obama administration, does not soon reverse the tragic course of many decades of thinking that culminated in the disastrous imperial escapade of the Bush administration--if our current political leadership does not soon reject the corrupt mentality of imperial overreach that has brought our nation to the brink of internal collapse--we will inevitably go the way of the empires that preceded us. And we will go the way of previous empires for many of the reasons that history could easily teach, IF our political leaders bothered to pay attention to history.

So why are we in this completely ridiculous and absurd predicament of being asked by our national leadership to continually support an endless war in the name of "defending American citizens" while this same leadership seems unwilling to invest in defending the basic health of the people by supporting a public option?

Yesterday Glenn Greenwald posted a great blog piece titled "America's Priorities," by the Beltway Elite, that goes to the heart of this dark imperial absurdity. Greenwald cites an article from the Washington Post editorial page (the voice of the Beltway elite and the wealthy corporate patrons they represent) that explicitly defends the prosecution of the war as a priority and necessity, while
Universal health care, however desirable, is not "fundamental to the defense of our people." Nor is it a "necessity" that it be adopted this year....
In response Greenwald points out,
a recent study from the Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance documented that "nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance" in America.
45,000 deaths from political inaction is the equivalent of nearly fifteen 9/11 terrorist events annually, occurring NOW, every year!

And these deaths are due largely to the failure of our political leaders to make government work FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE
rather than simply for the benefit of the corporations that have been profiting from the current structure of things.

Greenwald goes on in his article to underline the fundamental contradiction and absurdity of a governmental commitment to doing overseas for the people of other countries what that same government is not willing to do for its own people:
So according to The Washington Post, dropping bombs on, controlling and occupying Afghanistan -- all while simultaneously ensuring "effective governance, economic development, education, the elimination of corruption, the protection of women's rights" to Afghan citizens in Afghanistan -- is an absolutely vital necessity that must be done no matter the cost. But providing basic services (such as health care) to American citizens, in the U.S., is a secondary priority at best, something totally unnecessary that should wait for a few years or a couple decades until we can afford it and until our various wars are finished, if that ever happens. "U.S. interests in South Asia" are paramount; U.S. interests in the welfare of those in American cities, suburbs and rural areas are an afterthought.
And after citing the authority of none other than Adam Smith (of The Wealth of Nations), who understood in the eighteenth century something about the economic and political dangers of imperial overreach that our own political and economic elite have refused to acknowledge, Greenwald concludes:
Lounging around in the editorial offices in the capital of a rapidly decaying empire, urging that more Americans be sent into endless war paid for with endless debt, while yawning and lazily waving away with boredom the hordes outside dying for lack of health care coverage, is one of the most repugnant images one can imagine. It's exactly what Adam Smith denounced. And it's exactly what our political and media elite are [doing].
Unfortunately, our Beltway politicians, including many in the Obama administration, seem not yet to have learned the tragic lessons of the history of the fall of previous empires: that tragic story--especially after the lessons of our own previous imperial war in Vietnam--should be familiar to anyone who has read much history. But then we know how difficult it is for folks in DC to take seriously (& act on) the lessons of any history beyond that of their own immediate election cycle.

As for the people of the United States themselves, it should now be clear that the only solution to this imperial rot at the head of our politics is to vote out of office any politician, Democratic or Republican, who demonstrates by their votes that they have not yet learned the basic lessons of the fall of previous empires.

One of those key lessons is:

Any political elite that values the prosecution of war over the health and wellness of its fellow citizens is doomed to lead the nation to disaster.

And if the people of a democratic nation does not have the will to organize to change the nature of that political leadership, then that people (meaning we, the people) will be complicit with our political elite in paving the way to that end.

With the election of President Obama, "We, the People" merely began a process of political and policy change. But as we have clearly seen, the election of 2008 was only the beginning of a process that still has many additional steps that need to be organized to achieve significant change.

Winning the Public Option--and with it the beginning of true health care reform--is the next necessary step in rejecting a national policy that values war more than the health of our own people and communities.

Winning this battle for true health care reform will be the first key step toward the kinds of nationl policy change needed to replace a government of, by, and for the corporations with one that more truly represents a government of, by, and for the people. And perhaps then we, the people, will begin to receive the kind of priority attention from our national politicians that until now has been accorded primarily to corporate lobbyists.

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