Sunday, August 21, 2016

American Umpire: Throw The Bum Out

The new film AMERICAN UMPIRE will be screened in Newton, Massachusetts this week prior to being aired on corporate faux "public" channel NPR. I haven't see the film yet but I want to respond point by point to the load of bullshit on its website. Let's start with the graphics.
How do you read this picture? My take: there's the U.S. (having appropriated the word American for itself) perched atop the planet, facing both west and east, making the call on which air strikes are fair and which are foul. He's not a player; he's the judge, jury and executioner.

I think the alpha males depicted here are perfectly situated to decide this since they are obviously above any of the bombs that will fall and kill or burn children. And they have flags! So, clearly, they are patriotic.

Now to the verbiage:
Since the end of World War II, the United States has played a unique security role in the world.
"Security role" in this context means the global power that sells most of the world's weapons of mass destruction and "unique" is a euphemism for "exceptionalism" which means we have no real rivals in death dealing.
During that time, democratic nation states have proliferated, combat deaths have plunged, and global trade has boomed. The security umbrella of the United States enabled war ravaged nations to rebuild and the Cold War came to a peaceful conclusion.  War did not disappear. Suffering and poverty were not eliminated. But when compared to any other period over the last several centuries, the last half of the 20th century was a period of historic prosperity and relative peace. Most countries in the world have benefited from what many economists call the golden age.
Combat deaths have plunged, eh? This obscures the fact that civilians -- grandparents, moms and dads, kids and babies -- are the primary victims of U.S. imperial wars. Because airstrikes kill civilians, mostly. And death dealing from on high is what the U.S. post-WWII era has as its signature military strategyAnd, if you think "the Cold War came to a peaceful conclusion" you should maybe ask Afghans about that. Or look more closely at the map at the head of this blog post.

The privilege on display here citing "a period of historic prosperity" refers to the fact that the people who serve the empire or preside at places like Harvard and Stanford do not see entire generations in the U.S. crushed by student debt. Or bankrupted and homeless because of catastrophic medical bills

Although the professors and politicians behind the film will not name it, clearly this is a puff piece for the rapacious economic system of late stage capitalism. 

The United States has benefited as well. But it has come at a cost. U.S. defense spending represents about 20% of the federal budget...
Twenty percent is a blatant lie that lumps in payroll taxes dedicated to Social Security and Medicare, ignores nuclear weapons development funded under the Dept. of Energy, and ignores the cost to care for veterans' needs. The real share of "defense" in the budget exceeds 50% year after year, even if you only count funding the Pentagon. (You can see real data and analysis of the federal budget here at the National Priorities Project.)
and spends more on defense than the next 28 countries combined. In 1947, the U.S. represented roughly half of the world's manufacturing capacity. Today it is less than 20%. Yet allies fail to meet their minimal commitments on defense spending confident that the U.S. will defend them. In fact, 95% of all military personnel around the world who are stationed outside their home counties are American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines [emphasis mine]. Their job is difficult, unpredictable, and often thankless. The question is, are we over doing it?
So only 5% of soldiers in foreign countries are not from the U.S. What part of the word "empire" do the filmmakers not understand? 

"Allies fail to meet their minimal commitments on defense spending" suggests to me that people in other nations still appear to have some representation in government.
Mainer Bruce Gagnon at a demonstration against situating THAAD anti-aircraft missiles in South Korea,
an "ally" which saw tens of thousands this summer protest THAAD deployment in their country.
American Umpire explores how the United States got into this role in the first place.  Then, through a series of outstanding interviews with prominent policy makers, scholars, military leaders, and journalists, it explores possible policy options for the future. American Umpire offers a balanced view and is an alternative to partisan hyperbole of the 24-hour news cycles and social media that paints foreign policy choices in black and while as either irresponsible isolationism or war-mongering engagement.
A balanced view offered by the educated elite in service to our corporate government. Right. I'm sure there will be an extensive look at the role of lobbying and campaign contributions (and other forms of bribes) by the corporations who make the planes, ships, drones and bombs. Not.
American Umpire seeks to open up a national discussion about the foreign policy of the United States in an important election year. More than anyone, presidents decide foreign policy and define our national vision.
Ok, now we're getting to the bottom of this propaganda effort. It's an "important election year" effort to get you to believe that the president is a decider. As opposed to a paid spokesperson for the corporations that own and operate the U.S. government.

And I think we're all pretty clear on which candidate our corporate overlords want in the White House.

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