The Price is Worth It*

For Brooke Adams

Large nations do what they wish, while small nations accept what they must.

Imperialism says it wants to make us happy!
–Ernesto Cardenal

One does not become revolutionary from science, but from indignation.
–Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Get rid of Moussadegh who nationalized Iran’s oil
Work with SAVAK torturers who know how to deal with trouble-makers
Support Shah’s mid-70s nuclear program aspirations
Claim the Iranian people love the Shah
We think the price is worth it

Destroy the village to save the village
Support thugs from Diem to Thieu
Blast South Vietnam to smithereens
Bomb the North (and Laos and Cambodia)
Nixon doesn’t care about civilians
Use Agent Orange, napalm, CBUs, search and destroy
General Westmoreland: Orientals don’t value life like us Westerners
Distribute 20 million bomb craters compliments of U.S. Air Force
Body counts show we’re winning
(McNamara later estimates three million Vietnamese dead from war)
We think the price is worth it

Use Saddam to bleed Iran
Chemical weapons are OK
Send Rumsfeld to Baghdad
Saddam’s a good trading partner
Don’t make a fuss about the Kurds
We think the price is worth it

Make Chile’s economy scream
Use CIA to overthrow democratically elected president
Applaud General Pinochet
Take care of the subversives in the stadium
Thousands tortured
Thousands disappear
Let the Chicago Boys take care of the economy
We think the price is worth it

The Somozas are our sons of bitches
They want oxen not citizens
They understand the needs of U.S. business
The transcendent preferential option for the rich
Throw campesinos out of helicopters
Whatever it takes to crush the Sandinistas
Contra terrorism
Target literacy & health workers
We think the price is worth it

Maintain the status quo for El Salvador’s Fourteen Families
Ignore that bishop’s letter
A million dollars a day for a decade
D’Aubuisson isn’t squeamish
Duarte will take care of things
Can’t let another one of our countries have a revolution
Tens of thousands killed
Mutilation and decapitation
Blow out Jesuit brains
We think the price is worth it

Support Israel with UN vetoes
Remember the Holocaust
Send them F-16s and Apache helicopters
Approve destruction of Lebanon (1982)
Allocate billions annually
Approve destruction of Lebanon (2006)
Watch the settlements get bigger
Watch the Palestinians ghettos get smaller
Approve destruction of Gaza (2008-2009)
Don’t talk about Israel’s nuclear weapons
We think the price is worth it

Ignore world opinion
Trash international law
Commit crime of aggression by invading Iraq
We say it’s for WMD
We say it’s because we care about those living under a brutal dictator
We say it’s for democracy
Witness destruction of culture
Erect durable military bases in the heart of the oil-rich Middle East
Construct world’s largest embassy
Generate unprecedented number of terrorist jihadis
We don’t do body counts anymore
Some estimates a million dead Iraqis
Unknown number of torture victims
Close to five million people displaced from homes and in exile
The surge “worked” it is said
Things are getting better it is said
(So now we must go on to Afghanistan and Pakistan)
We think the price is worth it



*The title is indebted to the following Q and A in 1996 between interviewer Leslie Stahl and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeline Albright on the subject of the U.S.-backed sanctions against Iraq:

Stahl: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” ‘

Albright: “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”



Thanks to Brooke & Katie & Lauren & Neil & Randa & Nima & Matt & Neeta & Adam & Sarah & Meg & Alexis & Andrew & Don & Rhoda & Lala for recent challenging conversations.

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