By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: As a journalist, I became something of a body count expert. It started with the Vietnam War, where I soon learned to distrust the exaggerated counts of enemy dead made by our self-styled "intelligence" agencies.
That didn't mean that people, alas, weren't dying in droves, but not quite the people they were claiming to have killed, even if the sheer number was desensitizing and hard to relate to.
It's still like that, what with the daily drone victims, collateral damage estimates and killings on battlefields and villages from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq.
Now we can add Nigeria to the countries in pain with massacres by the Boko Harum, and their own military goons, and, with the collapse of a mega church in Lagos that looked like the 'planned demolition' fall of Building 7, claiming the lives of 67 visiting South Africans and we still don't know how many Nigerians. That House of God, known as a Synagogue Church, could not protect praying parishioners from the slaughter.
All of this is grisly, and a sad advertisement for what we used to call "civilization," but, it is still abstract, when it's happening over there, to them, people you don't know by name.
It soon becomes a bit surreal, even a form of war pornography. There's plenty of blame to go around, and the bloody trail often takes you directly back into the heart of "the homeland."
I just saw a James Bond wannabe movie called November Man about a CIA killer, that, in addition to its non-stop car chases and shoot-em ups, suggested that the US worked with Russia to stage the atrocity that started the bloody second Chechen War. Possible? Who knows?
If you are looking for bad guys these days, you don't have to look too far. Trying moving your focus inside the beltway where a long captured president scrambles to reassert his own power with a more muscular strategy of intervention designed to show he's doing "something."
The problem he's having is not just personal, although his own indecisiveness and slavish fidelity to the "uniforms" has got him into what (we used to sing about in an earlier war ) called a "hometown jam."
So far, in addition to the political problems of convincing the right and the left, the tactics so far, according to Jason Ditz of Anti-war.com are backfiring: "US airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, far from "degrading" the organization, are actually giving ISIS a huge shot in the arm, according to FBI Director James Comey, who testified before Congress.
ISIS "growing online support intensified following the commencement of US airstrikes in Iraq," Comey confirmed, saying the group was likely to try to pick up its efforts to take more US hostages going forward to get more publicity."
It seems like the people who are supposed to know what to do, don't. Immanuel Wallerstein, the brilliant world systems scholar says they are stuck because of deeper systemic problems that most of the media misses."
He writes, "The explanation is simple. The United States is in serious decline. Everything is going wrong. And in the panic, they are like a driver of a powerful automobile who has lost control of it, and doesn't know how to slow it down. So instead it is speeding it up and heading towards a major crash. The car is turning in all directions and skidding. It is self-destructive for the driver but the crash can bring disaster to the rest of the world as well.
A lot of attention is focused on what Obama has and hasn't done. Even his closest defenders seem to doubt him. An Australian commentator, writing in the Financial Times, summed it up in one sentence: "In 2014 the world has grown suddenly weary of Barack Obama." I wonder if Obama has not grown weary of Obama. But it's a mistake to pin the blame just on him. Virtually no one among U.S. leaders has been making alternative proposals that are more sensible. Quite the contrary. There are the warmongers who want him to bomb everybody and right away. There are the politicians who really think it will make a lot of difference who will win the next elections in the United States."