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What to watch for in 2010:An American world of war

We, of course, think of ourselves as something like the peaceable kingdom. After all, the shock of September 11, 2001 was that "war" came to "the homeland," a mighty blow delivered against the very symbols of our economic, military, and—had Flight 93 not gone down in a field in Pennsylvania—political power.

Since that day, however, war has been a stranger in our land. ...

Although our country delivers war regularly to distant lands in the name of our "safety," we don't really consider ourselves at war(despite the endless talk of "supporting our troops"), and the money that has simply poured into Pentagon coffers, and then into weaponry and conflicts is, with rare exceptions, never linked to economic distress in this country. And yet, if we are no nation of warriors, from the point of view of the rest of the world we are certainly the planet's foremost war-makers. If money talks, then war may be what we care most about as a society and fund above all else, with the least possible discussion or debate.

In fact, according to military expert William Hartung, the Pentagon budget has risen in every year of the new century, an unprecedented run in our history. We dominate the global arms trade, monopolizing almost 70% of the arms business in 2008, with Italy coming in a vanishingly distant second. We put more money into the funding of war, our armed forces, and the weaponry of war than the next 25 countries combined (and that's without even including Iraq and Afghan war costs). We garrison the planet in a way no empire or nation in history has ever done. And we plan for the future, for "the next war"—on the ground, on the seas, and in space—in a way that is surely unique. If our two major wars of the twenty-first century in Iraq and Afghanistan are any measure, we also get less bang for our buck than any nation in recent history.

So, let's pause a moment as the New Year begins and take stock of ourselves as what we truly are: the preeminent war-making machine on planet Earth. Let's peer into the future, and consider just what the American way of war might have in store for us in 2010. Here are 10 questions, the answers to which might offer reasonable hints as to just how much U.S. war efforts are likely to intensify in the Greater Middle East, as well as Central and South Asia, in the year to come.

1. How busted will the largest defense budget in history be in 2010?

Strange, isn't it, that the debate about hundreds of billions of dollars in health-care costs in Congress can last almost a year, filled with turmoil and daily headlines, while a $636 billion defense budget can pass in a few days, as it did in late December, essentially without discussion and with nary a headline in sight? And in case you think that $636 billion is an honest figure, think again—and not just because funding for the U.S. nuclear arsenal and actual "homeland defense," among other things most countries would chalk up as military costs, wasn't included.

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Hello, Neo

It occurs to me that my personal inability to see myself as a whole, may have been influenced by a culture that sees and promotes people as an assemblage of parts. If I'm unconsciously spending time trying to assemble the images I see into a whole person - it's no wonder I look at myself and try to assemble things in my head using the same process. And heaven help me because my limbs are never going to look that impossibly long, nor my waist or bust match the other impossible designations. Seriously if only people who have eating disorders are being made aware of just how BAD this crap has gotten - it's a damn shame. Because the rest of us are getting fucked over too.

And I haven't even begun to mention the erasures. One shot in particular, this one, for GAP I believe, caught my attention. The young black model? She was originally in the midst of the group, now she's solo, singular, out in the cold. This one is blatant. Other erasures are subtle in that one's eyes are likely to more easily believe a limb connects to the closest body even if that body already has all relevant parts. Some badly done erasures are freaky. But again, I'm thinking about the ones not on the site. The ones done well where we'll never know if the old man with the flowers had a WoC Wife, or a male partner for that matter. Where we never realize important officials really WERE at certain meetings and photographs were taken - they were just edited out for whatever reasons...

It kind of hit me the whole:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

We create our own reality

Just who is we? And what is it that 'we' is creating?

I don't think these are idle questions. They relate to so much, as much about fashion and self esteem and body image as politics and gender equality and gender and sexuality rights. What else beside real bodies do you and I no longer know how to recognize? If the game of the day is 'We Create Our Own Reality' - then doesn't it add a sinister shade to the original push against Prop 8? And doesn't it make the Yes on 8 folk seem that much smarter? They created a reality for others to vote against, and a reality under attack - even though neither one was the actual reality.

Who is We? And just what reality have they created? Just how different is it from what many of us experience every single day in our lives? Who's been getting airbrushed out? Who's been getting slipped in? Once upon a time wasn't it the accepted practice of a fascist regime, a fascist reality, to create reality? To dictate that things didn't happen the way the public remembered them happening? To decide that someone's name would be crossed out and their picture erased and the public was never to mention it or discuss it again? Isn't that going on now?MORE

who profits from drug wars and police labeling nuns and quakers terrorists on the jump )


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