The goods news and the bad news – hum along if you know the tune

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When I was in the army a great little ditty was popular – a good news, bad news song.  I don’t remember the words, but the basic theme still resonates with me.  It dealt with the USO, but it was really about the army, every time you thought you were getting some goods news, the other side of it surfaced – the bad news.  In the song, the USO was expanding – goods news, but it would close during the expansion – the bad news; the USO is putting in a bar – good news, but it will serve no alcohol – bad news; the bar will be the largest in the world – good news, but it will not have any stools – bad news.  There will be women bartenders – good news, they will all be over 70 years old – bad news.  The bar will be open 24 hours – good news, but enlistment men will only be allowed in between 12 midnight and 2 in the morning – bad news.  It went on and on, G.I.s with a little beer in them can be pretty creative, so the verses were constantly changing and nothing prevent a person from coming up with his own.  In time the song no longer interested me, I met Ken Lindsey and we started to go to Fayetteville every night to drink beer.  The bars all had real women serving the beer – it was all good news; of course sober the women were not the youngest or the prettiest and most had husbands out on maneuvers somewhere;  and the next morning at reveille we had hangovers – the bad news.

Here is my version of today’s news, the good news and the bad news – you can hum along if you know the tune.  The vice president of China is visiting the United States, he has gone to Iowa to see people he met on his trip in 1985.  The Chinese press is covering the story in detail and accompanying it with very positive editorials about the future relations of the two countries.  There is a lot of emphasis on the agricultural connection, but every area of possible cooperation, trade and mutual interest is being noted – the good news.

The American press has a hard time finding space for stories of the visit and when it does treats it as a side show to the coming presidential election.  While smiling at the Chinese, politicians all seem to feel it is necessary to take a hardline on China, to emphasis its human rights record, its military build up in the Pacific and its threat to American dominance in international politics and the world’s economy – the bad news.

The tension between Iran, Israel and the United States has really escalated this year; and then suddenly this week, Iran sends a letter declaring it is willing to enter into a dialogue on Nuclear and other issues with the major powers of the world.  United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton think the letter is an important first step, saying it could lessen the tension, and lead to a new era of international cooperation, both are cautious optimistic – good news.

At the same time, and sometimes in the same publication there is more talk of war.  The Guardian is citing “key Obama administration officials” as saying that they do not believe sanctions will make any difference and the only course of action is an attack on Iran.  The New York Daily News says Israel could attack Iran as soon as September.  The Israel press is reporting two Iranian warships entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, purposely taunting Israel and the United States.   Israel is accusing Iran of targeting Israeli diplomats around the world.  For its part, Iran has threatened to cut off all oil to Europe and close the Straits of Hormuz.  The Russian press is reporting that Pakistan has vowed to support Iran in case of hostilities. And the Huffington Post says constant sound of the drums of war we are hearing is just like the build up to the Iraq war – the bad news.

It’s already been a decade since the media hyped bogus WMD claims prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. But it sure feels like 2002 for anyone who was around then and is now scanning newspaper headlines or watching TV talking-heads discuss a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities — an act which could pull the U.S. into another thorny Middle East military conflict. Huffington Post, 2-17-12

If the media can determine what is news-worthy, what is news, can it also create a war?  Watching the Republican Party’s lengthy process to find a candidate to face Obama in November, it more than once has occurred to me that the media is at time changes public opinion and the outcome of some caucuses; the media may not be able to choose a president, but it seems to me it is trying.  I hate conspiracy theories, but how about this one – to make certain the president is re-elected, what better tool than a war?  It would be almost unpatriotic, un-American and unimaginable  to vote against the siting president during a war.

Demonizing Iran does not help anyone, no more than demonizing China does.  So, maybe it is time to put war in that category of things that needs to be rethought.  Haven’t we seen in the last 11 years that war is not a solution or even a good tactic?  It is wearing me out, in my life there has been WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Laotian Civil War, Suez crisis, Bay of Pigs, Grenada, U.S. occupation of the Dominance Republic, Iraq, Afghanistan and a cold war, war on poverty and a war on drugs – can’t we take a decade or two and try something different as a tactic and a metaphor to get our way?  I don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but I did not want China, Korea, Pakistan, India or Israel to have them either – but we did not bomb any of those countries to stop them.

Enough, now it is time to sing the good news verse – only at the moment, contemplating a nuclear war – I can’t think of one.



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February 2012
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