Bhutto Dies; US Hard Power Increasingly Ineffective
Bhutto lost her life in a society where womens' rights are primitive. Pakistan joins Iraq as a place where the status of women has declined. I talked in my last post about the outrage of a Saudi rape victim being lashed; the dominant idea of male superiority enshrined in these fundamentalists leads to the debasement of women in general.
It is no surprise therefore that a political ambitious woman politician is assassinated by al Qaeda, who think of themselves as the caretakers of the Muslim male ego and the medieval Sharia codes that demean women under the mantle of male dominance.
Bhutto's climb to the position of the Harvard-educated, two-time Prime Minister was simply too much for these traditionalists to bear, or so we are led to believe. With the radical fundamentalists fervently anti-Western, and invariably anti-women, Bhutto was an ideal target. Her popularity also threatened to give progressives a leadership position in running the country.
Also possible is that al Qaeda became a convenient party to blame for the murder. Musharraf could wash his hands, declare another state of emergency, and remove a potential political rival. In trying to restore law and order, Musharraf could use dictatorial powers and further cement his control over the regime.
Musharraf may not want to stay in power. He must not wantto leave Pakistan in a state of crisis so he could hardly be pleased with the far-flung ramifications of Bhutto's death. Now while Bhutto supporters, and Bhutto herself, pointed the finger of blame at Musharraf for providing inadequate security, it's uncertain if Musharraf was involved. Attacking the regime for its failure to protect Bhutto might just encourage a broader clampdown on democracy.
Troubling indeed is the notion that al Qaeda and Musharraf both wanted Bhutto gone. Friday, on CNN, the Pakistani government claimed to have intercepted a call from an al Qaeda leader in the Tribal Areas of western Pakistan congratulating an operative for the successful strike.
Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers actually had little to fear from Musharraf. In late 2006, Musharraf's commanders actually signed a peace agreement called the Miramshah Agreement with tribal leaders from North Waziristan who were sympathetic to the Taliban. The Pakistani military agreed to stay out of the Tribal Areas and the tribesmen promised not to go after the Pakistani government.
For those who knew, the agreement testified to the inability of the Pakistani government to eliminate the Taliban. Pakistani troops had been trying to find and eliminate Taliban sympathizers for years. Militarily, the agreement could have been construed as tacit appeasement, with Musharraf buying time in exchange for leaving him alone (he'd survived several assassination attempts blamed on radical fundamentalist sympathetic to the Taliban.)
In the official US narrative which placed Pakistan as an important ally in the war on terror, the Miramshah agreement was a Public Relations nightmare. The news stayed out of the mainstream, it was only in the December(?) 2006 print edition of The Economist that I came across a little quib about the agreement, which had said that the US had accepted the Miramshah in principle. [I'm currently trying to track down the article on The Economist's website.] I presume the US feared what might happen if Musharraf continued to fail in US-encouraged efforts to deploy force in the ungovernable tribal areas.
Gareth Porter describes the agreement with border tribes, those who hosted Taliban, as "deals with the jihadi leadership in the border provinces in 2004 and 2006 that emboldened the Taliban to escalate the war against the Kharzai regime in Afghanistan" (HuffPo)
Militarily, the agreement allowed the Taliban to regroup and resupply, an issue which I've brought up here on my blog. With the supply lines secure, the Taliban could strengthen themselves in preparation for new offensives. The supply routes were, ironically, used by anti-Soviet mujhadeen in the Afghan guerilla war of the 1980's.
I can't emphasize enough how no one since Alexander the Great has been able to govern Afghanistan. Militarily, Afghanistan represents a doubling down after the strategic defeat in Vietnam, which remains fresh in the neocon consciousness. If the US could control the nation, it could claim authority to rival that of the ancient Greek conqueror, which would surely be a powerful testimony to the strength of US hard power. Instead, our commander-in-chief elected to go into Iraq and thereby divide our strength and weaken our occupation.
Alexander, as it should be remembered, did delegate through power-sharing, and would use soft power to consolidate the far-flung possessions of his empire. Obviously a few hundred thousand Greeks could not conquer and hold Alexander's vast domain, so in a process not unlike that used by the Romans, former enemies and the conquered tribes were absorbed by the empire, which lent its stature and resources back out to secure the periphery of the empire.
I'd discussed hard power, which is the use of military inducements and coercive methods to establish influence abroad. Hard power attempts to push all international relations towards the fundamental paradigm of superior military force, where the US can ostensibly bring its influence to bear.
The type of hard power used varies by definition but most uses involve military assistance, including arms sales. Hard power can involve the outright use of force but more useful is the value of hard force as a means of intimidating strategic rivals.
Pakistan has been the recipient of a massive amount of US military aid, which has been sold to the American public as instrumental in fighting the War on Terror. On HuffPo, Gareth Porter claims the US "provided $4.5 billion in disguised subsidies to the Pakistan military by 2006 and agreed to sell $3 billion worth of arms, including new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan." Dispensations of military aid are a familiar way of rewarding pro-US regimes and Pakistan's help has been called a bribe by some.
Hard power used in the Middle East helps establish hegemony for Israel, which is the number one recipient of US aid in the world. Nations like Egypt and Jordan receive huge amounts of military assistance in exchange for mollifying anti-Israeli impulses in their populations. The noble intention of bringing democracy to the Middle East really spotlighted the fact that none of the nations are pure democracies. And as the election of Hamas in Palestine showed, democracy allowed anti-US and anti-Israeli political constituencies to win big. Torture and repression have become tools of our despotic friends who, like Musharraf, are squeezed between broad anti-Israeli sentiments and US power.
Supporting Israel has caused the US great consternation on the Arab street; the US would surely be better served by trying to push for multilateral diplomacy and meaningful results in the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue. Such an exercise of soft power would likely go far in convincing average Arabs we do care about the fate of their Palestinian brethren, who are suffering horribly under Israeli occupation.
Among the neocons, Iraq was posed as a war that would make irrelevant the trend toward mulitlateralism. Players like John Bolten and Richard Perle had taken great pride in inflating their egos by casting the macho image of a US doing it alone, in the face of international norms of conduct. Patriotically erotic, the notion of the US triumphant over the world stirs nationalist sentiments that are central to popularizing right wing political views.
Like a big bully, the US has abandoned the pursuit of international law framed in the Geneva Conventions. One binding force behind the treaties was to prevent one nation from bullying another. The League of Nations--the UN's predecessor--spawned a potentially awesome soft power weapon: multilateral diplomacy.
No one country could do as they wanted with a weaker neighbor. Geneva stipulated the people in the Occupied land could not be moved to other nations, that civilian non-combatants were subject to certain rights. Laws in the occupied nation could not be rewritten by the invader. The intent of Geneva was to minimize civilian casualties--as well as destruction--in order to minimize the impact of wars, which by 1919 had savaged one part of the European continent or another almost continually since the Middle Ages. If the warring could not be stopped, at least it's effects could be minimized.
The UN, created after World War Two, sought to pursue the lofty visions laid out in the talks after the First World War. Paramount in this internationalization of politics was the fundamental principle of equality, that no one nation was superior over another. Every nation, from the mightiest to the weakest, would be subject to the rule of international law. World War Two's Nuremburg Trials, very much aware of the failures of diplomacy that led to that war, established quite clearly that waging war based on false pretenses was a gross violation of international law: a war crime.
Contrast this nobility with the depredations of the current regime. Their intent as to Iraq was conspiratorial, based on false, not faulty, intelligence.
A characteristic of hard power is its ability to displace soft power, which involves gentler forms of persuasion like cultural influence and diplomacy. It's no coincidence therefore that soft power--and the potentially potent diplomacy it could wield--would become irrelevant if the US established a unipolar world, with it as the sole undisputed champion. In such a scenario, might made right and the US would not need, nor be burdened by, the rules that other nations had better follow.
Abandoning international law and historically diplomatic regimes made the US depend even more on projecting hard power both to intimidate enemies and convince everyone else that we were the New Centurions. Part of this new reality meant showing that we exercise hard power indiscriminately, at our whim, with conclusive results. And other nations can exempt themselves from international law as well, encouraging bullies worldwide to strike at weaker neighbors.
The strength of soft power is in its receptivity and attractiveness to the host. American cultural identity is the perfect honey trap by which we can pander to the world. Like the john who temporarily sobers up, the world community has come to see us as the prostitute robbing him. Instead of a banner appealling to freedom-seeking people everywhere, our flag comes to represent our uglier side, one of violence and racism.
We see the impact of this strutting in the loss of global stature the US has endured under the Bush regime. The attractiveness of American cultural icons has been twsited into a ugly grimace, a mask of Abu Ghraib, a water-boarding, secret prisons, a xenophobic type of Amerika.
Hard power must maintain a viable threat, which the Soviets did through the Cold War, if it is to be effective. For the War on Terror to work as a mechanism for the use of hard power, the terrorists must present a threat. If they were ever eliminated, the need for hard power would collapse.
It's been said that all great empires need enemies. In 1992, when the end of the Cold War threatened militarists with cutbacks, a Defense Planning Guidance policy group determined that radical Islamic fundamentalists were the threat to eclipse the Soviets. The first strike on the World Trade Center followed soon after. It's probably not a coincidence that Cheney sought out a replacement enemy for the Soviets: he would use his ties as Bush I's Defense Secretary to lead up Halliburton, a company that has benefitted greatly from our subsequent interventions under Bush II/Cheney.
A country that is threatened, or feels threatened, is one susceptible to military influence, which can be projected through alliances, military aid, or Status of Force Agreements, which are de facto treaties signed not subject to Congressional ratification. One such arrangement recently made between the al Maliki and Bush administration forged an enduring US military presence in Iraq. Under the terms of the agreement, the US would come to the aid of the al Maliki government should it be attacked or threatened by foes internally in Iraq or from abroad. The agreements are a perfect example of an entanglement our Founders sought to avoid.
Unlike domestic politics, where a Rovian emphasis on perception management rules, military and geopolitical considerations loom supreme in the use of hard power abroad, alongside the ramifications of abandoning soft power alternatives.
Realpolitik demands that tangible results be produced in order to preserve the notion that US is superior. Otherwise our regional and global competitors steal our influence.
Typically hard power is expressed in terms of a favorable outcome, but wars are notorious for how political gamesmanship delays or negates one side's advantage on the battlefield. Hard power can't work if it only perpetuates a crisis. The problem that neocons facce with Iran is that while we have a massive military superiority, hard power seems to be able to do nothing to overcome the bonds of cultural and ethnicity betwen Shia in Iran and those in Iraq. In essence "the border crossed them"--to borrow the expression used by Latinos along our Southwestern border.
Trying to control such natural alliances has also been proven a problem in Pakistan, where a wild collection of tribesmen in Waziristan share a common cultural identity with their Taliban brethren across the (artificially drawn) border with Afghanistan. According to the CFR, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan was drawn by a British diplomat not out of ignorance or hubris but specifically to separate powerful tribes. It should come as no surprise then that the people whose lands were split by the border would ignore the arbitrary line and the governments that claimed to police the two sides.
So many nations' borders were drawn artificially. The Balfours Declaration and the Treaty of Versailles were party of a process that split up the Middle East after the First World War. The Western powers, victorious, took to breaking up the possessions of the Ottoman Empire.
Splitting up the Middle East by arbitrary stroke of pen thousands of miles away was bound to leave a host of unrelated groups stuck together on the verge of independence. Often the only unifying force keeping people of one nationality together was the influence of colonialism. So diversified and so huge were some of these colonies-turned-countries that their only commonality was the language and culture of their European conqueror.
Another nasty belated consequence of arbitrary borders is balkanization, an unravelling a country's political fabric resulting in a patchwork of isolated racial and ethnic groups. Intentional balkanization would be a process that preys on internal differences to weaken the overall nation-state and often condemn it to internal struggle and ethnic cleansing.
The process of balkanization might appeal to nations who might fear the threat posed by a unified neighbor. Balkanization could be useful to implement a strategy of divide and conquer. The US has been accused, one this website and elsewhere, of setting one group of Iraqis against another, in order to control the country and its resources.
As Iraq stabilizes and policymakers in Washington take credit for a successful surge, the real scope of ethnic cleansing is becoming clear. Iraq is peaceful because it's been divided along ethnic and religious lines, by force.
Playing by the rules of the hard power game means the weaker of the tribes or groups must submit to the more powerful lest they be beat up or blown up. In this regard, Iraq represents the destruction of a modern secular state and the ascent of politics dominated by repression of weaker ethnic groups.
By applying ever more hard power, and dispensing military assistance to various inter-ethnic rivalries, the US has created a destabilized and likely unmanageable country in Iraq. The situation will result in more destruction and bloodshed than would have occurred had international treaty law been followed. The occupier is also confounded by the absence of any reliable political authority to which it could relinquish control.
The goal of the Israeli/Lebanese border war in 2006 was clearly not to invade and conquer but rather to destabilize. Oil silos and Beirut's airport were hit; Lebanon's beaches, so vital to its burgeoning tourist economy, were spoiled. Entire blocks were ravaged in sections of Beirut sympathetic to Hezbollah--a form of collective punishment that is a war crime under Geneva. The Geneva Convention aims to curtail such a wanton use of force by a militarily superior neighbor. The treaty also sought to humanize conflict by applying arbitrary rules governing its dispensations. The US is a signator.
The framers of the Geneva convention were determined to prevent wars launched simply to destabilize a neighbor. We are now seeing the Turks invade North Iraq, without the ability to re-establish any normalcy in their wake. The strategic intent is to make a neighbor weaker and therefore less of a threat. Destabilization is the the sought-after end result. On the downside, the chaos of the invasion can destabilize other regions beyond the targetted area of effect. Unresolved hostilities can easily lead to flare-ups and have a contagion effect as larger Powers and more countries are drawn into the conflict due to treaty obligations like defense pacts.
Europeans have experienced the far-reaching consequences of stirring up nascent cross-border ethnic bonds. Hitler in the late 1930's claimed that Hungarians and Czechs shared a racial heritage with Germans and those countries could therefore be allowed to "join" the Reich. Hitler would later attribute his invasion of Poland to the need to protect Germans in that country, whose borders had been redrawn at Versailles to include East Prussia, a largely Germanized portion of eastern Poland which had been part of Germany Proper before the First World War.
The ethnic unity of Kurds can be seen in Turkey's long-standing Kurdish insurgency and its recent invasion of Northern Iraq. The borders crossed the region despite the cultral and tribal links. In short, the border split Kurdistan, which had simply been an afterthought. Kurds are spread now from Northern Syria to Iran, Iraq and Turkey. The PKK, the Kurds' nationalistic faction, has fought an insurgency claiming the lives of more than 37,000 in Turkey since 1984, according to Wikipedia.
Following Geneva's tenets would have and could still help resolve hostilities, if an end to the war and occupation is in fact sought. Resolving conflicts without a clear end point or victory conditions is both a necessity and inevitable prerequisite to victory. In this regard, rejecting Geneva and the rule of international law has hurt the interests of the US.
Better multilateral cooperation would also help share the cost of occupation, a crucial consideration that advocates of hard power consistently underestimate. In contrast to Gulf War I, the US relied on a much narrower contingent of allied nations in Gulf II. As the occupation drags on with no end in sight, our partners continue to abandon Iraq, faced with the absence of any clear resolution to the conflict and the demands of a never-ending occupation.
Nations can and do transcend their internal differences; the nations whose borders were so haphazardly drawn at Versailles live on. The ability of these nations to not only get along but prosper testifies to the power of nationalism as a unifying force. When these melting pots of tribal and ethnic identities do get along we realize that humans are bound to each other in ways far deeper than sharing the same color of skin or eyes.
As I write in the top right of this blog, I think the term "globalization" is a word hijacked by economic fundamentalists and should mean a process of socio-cultural unification that the human species seems destined to achieve--with plenty of setbacks along the way.
A student of history should look at the examples of disintergrating states to see how globalization can fail. Surprisingly, where they are left to themselves, the nations of the Mideast do somewhat well--problems tend to start when outside nations meddle. The best example was Iraq, although Afghanistan was reportedly also a wonderful place before its Civil War. The CIA's intervention in Iran in 1953 ushered in the reign of the Shah who, unlike the King of Afghanistan, ruled with a corrupt and evil hand. As the Shah was a staunch capitalist, and Iran a major recipient of US military aid, he fell on the good guys side of the line, like the Cuban regime of Batista or the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua.
Saddam Hussein's Iraq was secular and quite progressive; I wonder sometimes if the real target of the Iraq invasion weren't Hussein, but rather Arab dignity and progressive social values. Looking at how Iraq has digressed from a modernized, efficient state to the mullah-ruled catastrophe of corruption and incompetence it is today, I have to assume that at the least the US doesn't care, like a dispassionate occupier. At the worst, we've nurtured a state of internal warfare to suit our colonial impulses and to feed an economy dependent on endless war--a warfare state.
Strategically, unification of Muslim countries is thought to pose a direct risk to Israel, which we have set up as our hegemon in the region. As long as US forces remain engaged, the Israelis have been acting with impunity in cutting off Gaza and colonizing the West Bank.
We have fielded Musharraf in much the same manner as we would have done with an anti-Soviet ally during the Cold War. We've been willing to tolerate his indiscretions, such as his willingness to sign a peace agreement with Taliban militants in Waziristan. See a summary on Pakistan's tribal areas at the CFR website.
The US has been content to look the other way, content to check Pakistan off as an ally in the War on Terror while living in denial of the long-term military implications of an uncontrolled and uncontrollable border to Afghanistan's southeast. Unless our goal were to nurse along an insurgency, it appears that hard power, on which so much of our foreign policy is now based, is not working. The next question is fundamentally political: at what point will the US leadership be willing to accept that the situation has deteriorated and make changes in policy?
Hard power is losing to geopolitical realities and military limitations. Projecting force has begun to yield ever-diminishing returns. We must spend more and more on our war machine in order to convince others that it can resolve our challenges in the Middle East. Military aid dispensations appear to go towards preserving undemocratic regimes in clear contrast to our stated intent to spread democracy. The death of Bhutto has personified both the tyranny of Pakistan's ruling elite and the tragedy of diminished expectations in the artificial War on Terror.
The fruit of American intervention in the Middle East has been nothing but bad. I've made an effort to explain the limits of military power in the past, but I'm always shocked with the ignorance of Americans in regard to the political side of fighting wars. It's as if Americans todays embrace a culture of individualism that's made people completely self-absorbed in their own wants and needs. If something doesn't directly affect someone, in the course of their day, it simply doesn't exist. Like Good Germans, millions and millions of Americans have become content to let our nation slide towards despotism and the reign of an uncontrolled State ruled with total authority by an illegitimately elected would-be dictator.
I will not rave, but at some point the failure to bring an successful end to the War on Terror--if such a victory is even achievable--will make its impact on our entire country, through either a successful terror strike, a draft, or some gross economic depredations brought onn by excessive spending and borrowing. I guess many Americans will just keep digging deeper foxholes andd hunkering in their bunkers, ever in denial. The regime will get away with precisely all that it can and no less, such is the nature of the State.
Much of our problems have to do with the politicization of our military. While 9/11 served as a unifier, it wasn't long before the Bush Adminsitration divided us by launching an elective invasion of Iraq, which has been fraudulently connected to terrorism and WMD.
Seeking a second term in office motivated the Bush junta to make Iraq part of the War on Terror. Trying to defend the intelligence they used to start the war, Bush operatives outted Joe Wilson's wife in an effort to keep others quiet. From that point forward, the Bush Administration used every means available to undermine any limits on eavesdropping, as well as block Congressional oversight, in a cover-up that continues to this day.
Our new Attorney General, Murkasey, claimed to be an apolitical candidate during his confirmation hearings but in his first appearance in defense of a destroyed CIA waterboarding tape, he obfuscated Congressional efforts to determine who was responsible for its destruction.
Teethless, and in the corporate thrall, Congress has become an enabler of a National Security State that praises secrecy and embraces many of the tactics used by fascist regimes.
Beyond our shores, setting up the terror boogeyman--a convenient domestic political fear button--has generated massive anti-US blowback which has destroyed our credibility in the Arab region if not worldwide. At this point we have little soft power to draw, depending as it does on a positive and receptive audience to work its charms. On the military front, our overuse of hard power, our classic overextension invites counterstrike, if not with conventional means than whatever force multiplier that could be used to level the massive imbalance in conventional force strength.
The Occupied can be quite ingenious in throwing off a larger foe, Vietnam showed. And miliiary actions are never contained in a vaccuum free of political gamesmanship. Even if the US can maintain military superiority, the ruling party must face elections back home. The timing of election cycle actually encouraged invading Iraq, as an invasion of the country in my opinion offered the perfect opportunity to capitalize on nationalist sentiments in the wake of 9/11. Iraq had been a target of the neocons for quite some time; Iraq, not Afghanistan, was reputedly Bush's first target of choice, despite the reality Iraq had no terrorist ties to Al Qaeda or 9/11. I remember reading that Tony Blair had to commit British forces to the eventual invasion of Iraq in order to convince Bush not to attack Iraq right after 9/11.
By incenting violence, the use of hard power justifies its use in a cycle of attack and reprisal. Knocking off Bhutto pushes away one advocate of peace, one person who could have made soft power work in combatting extremism in the region. Musharraf gains by losing a political rival, but only at the expense of stability. Musharraf may not see much more political office though, and his chief motive might be easing his transition out of office, which is hardly reason to stir up more chaos by assassinating Bhutto, unless the violence is meant to encourage the State to exercise additional powers.
Like 9/11, it remains possible that the Pakistani government hadn't done enough. In the Pakistan case, it's been accused of not protecting Bhutto. Police and symbols of authority were attacked in rioting, which has been somewhat restrained, at least according to MSM sources. CNN on Thursday brought up an e-mail sent to the Pakistani by three Senators requesting that the Pakistanis take additional measures to protect Bhutto. This unheeded request comes on top of relevations about security lapses made in a failed assassination attempt in October, when Bhutto had just returned to Pakistan from exile.
I can't help think of conspiracy theories about 9/11, though, when I see something bad happen. I guess my conspiratorial mindset forces me to contemplate every eventuality. For instance, I recently read about how broccoli can cure cancer, a truly startling possibility. The writer, Mike Adams, then said that Big Pharma had tried to isolate the compounds in the broccoli that fight cancer, in order to commercialize the natural health benefits. Instead, Adams says we should simply eat the broccoli, not cooked. See the article here.
I immediately began thinking of how some pills forbid their takers from consuming things like grapefruit, which is known to be great for the heart. What better way, I thought, than to keep someonne on their pills than managing their condition and denying them the things they need to get well? This is why pharmacology has not cured a disease since Salk's polio vaccine in 1954: there is only money in treating disease, stomping symptoms, not ending the cause. There's not enough cash in broccoli.
9/11 presented an opportunity to big to pass up. The neocons had wanted an attack on Iraq. The only question to resolve is how much they knew before 9/11 happened. Serious questions remain about 9/11--the everything changed chesnut that Bush to this day uses to frame virtually all of his foreign policy decisions. 9/11 was full of instances where the command-and-control infrastructure broke down. There may likely never be a means to determine if the breakdown was intentional, or who may have done what to let the attacks succeed. Negligence is a far more appetising concept than the idea the government actually participated. Still, what if al Qaeda were itself coopted by the governments that purport to be chasing the terrorists down? A thorough investigation of connections between Western governments and al Qaeda might reveal all kinds of dirty secrets.
At a minimum, we know al Qaeda members were financed by the CIA during their battle with the Soviets in Afghanistan. al Qaeda simply means the base in Arabic, and was a list compiled by the CIA that listed anti-Soviet allies.
We also know that the mastermind of the London bombings in 2006 was thought by the British spy services to be a double agent loyal to the Crown. As it turns out Haroon Rashid Aswat, used his status as a means to recruit and travel in and out of the UK. See the video from Fox News here; a related link on Aswat is here. No one can really know, only guess, as to allegiances and motives. This is especially true after the alleged perpetrators have blown themselves up.
Pakistan has been put in the midst of one of these cycles. Terrorists are used but we know not who they serve. While there are undoubtedly fanatics eager to launch terror attacks, the vast majority of Muslims harbors no ill will towards us. The use of US military force abroad may be feeding the desire for revenge and is giving aid and comfort to the recruitment efforts of the radicals.
Americans will be held directly accountable for our nation's conduct abroad eventually. Ironically, the apologists for the ongoing occupations claim that we must stop the terrorists over there before they strike us here, but every dead innocent, every careless use of force can only encourage more terror. And it most likely won't be the hardened targets and politicians who sent us to war that get struck--it will be the undefended, soft target where average folks are vulnerable.
We need to break the cycle of attack and counterattack and it's clear that whatever we do militarily in the Middle East won't improve relations or relieve pressures. Only seriously tackling the Israeli-Palestinian divide will get us anywhere. And for that to happen, Americans need to get the real facts, avoid entertainment posing as news, and participate politically, holding to account any who continue to support the war.