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Making Sense of the News: Time To Update Some Terms

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The real truth about the Bush administration's plans for Iraq are slowly coming out. Now we learn that the military is looking at keeping 130,000 or 140,000 troops in that country--or what's left of a country--for at least another four years. That's why they've been building permanent bases there for the past few years.

This ugly reality should force us to reconsider some of the terminology we journalists have been using to describe what's happening.

In the old days Iraq would have been called a colony, but we don't use words like that now, because we long ago concluded colonies were a bad thing and an anachronism. But the reality of Bush's Iraq is that it is a colony. It has a government that exists to serve the interests of the United States, and that depends entirely on the U.S. financially, militarily and politically. When the Bush administration or the Pentagon want to do something in Iraq, they don't ask the government in Baghdad for permission; they just do it. The farce about "handing over sovereignty" to the Iraqi government never passed the laugh test. So let's just recognize reality and start calling Iraq an American colony.

And that brings us to another word that needs changing. We clearly need to replace the name ascribed to those whose ideology got us into this situation in the first place: the Neoconservatives.

Since it's obvious that underneath all the deceptive rhetoric about "spreading democracy" at the point of a gun that what people like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Condi Rice really wanted all along was to establish an American colony in the middle of the Middle East, we're talking about people whose thinking is anything but "neo." These are folks who are still mentally living in the 19th Century, back when it was believed that great countries were defined as those that owned other nations, held them in positions of abject servitude and submission as colonies, and ripped off their resources at will.

We have over the past century come to understand that colonialism, besides being an ultimate kind of racist oppression, ultimately destroys the colonial power. Since colonial subjects inevitably resist their oppressors, the colonizer is forced to maintain costly military forces in its far-flung colonies, draining its domestic treasury, wasting the lives of its young, and distorting its own development.

We are in fact witnessing this situation today in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. has had to borrow close to half a trillion dollars to finance wars to repress smoldering rebellions. Those wars have been chewing up all the available combat forces of the most powerful nation on earth for five years now, with no end in sight.

It's time to call the ideologues who have concocted this disaster what they are: not Neocons, but Colonialists, or perhaps Paleocolonialists.

Now let's look too at the names of our two parties, which are long overdue for for upating.

The Republican Party took its name back when its members were advocating republican government, which is defined as a government where supreme power resides in the people who are empowered to vote, and where the leader is elected, not a monarch or dictator. Today, Republicans stand for a maximally intrusive central government that acts primarily in the interest of those at the top of the economic food chain. It is a party of the rich, a party that favors state religion, and a militarization of society with strict limits on behavior and stern punishment for dissent. Today's Republican Party also unquestioningly supports the morphing of the president into a dictator, with executive, judicial and legislative powers all subsumed within his office. The party, in practice, has also been working hard to disenfranchise large segments of the electorate by imposing obstacles to voting such as photo IDs, limited access to voting machines in poor areas, and adoption of electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail for possible recounts. There is a word for such a party, readily available. It is Proto-Fascist.

As for the Democratic Party, it has long ago forsaken its nominal etymological roots as a "party of the people" to become a party beholden to corporate power. While it still tolerates a degree of dissent, and claims to support the interests of working people, its leadership is far more concerned about catering to large corporate interests, and being financially backed by those interests. It might best be described as more or less classically conservative, so let's call it the Tory Party.

Now we're ready to understand the news of the day. Just make these insertions and substitutions as you read about what's going on. See how much clearer the news seems once you've done this!

Here's a sample of how it works, from today's news, courtesy of the Associated Press, as appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Iraq's (colonial) government indefinitely postponed a much anticipated national reconciliation conference yesterday, as a two-day spree of sectarian revenge killings and (rebel) bombings left at least 86 Iraqis dead.

Meanwhile, a militant network that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq announced in a video that it had established an Islamic state in six provinces, a propaganda push in its drive to force the withdrawal of U.S. (colonial) forces and topple the American-backed Iraqi government.

Similarly, an election story might read as follows, this time courtesy of the Oct. 11 issue of USA Today:

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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)

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