Stuck In Baghdad? Yeah, Right

It is no longer justifiable for reasonable people to support the war in Iraq, if it ever was. At this point, "staying the course" is neither logically nor morally defensible.

Believing in the war's ever-shifting goals and in the competence and motivation of those tasked to accomplish them is no longer a matter of ideology or party affiliation. When it comes to facts on the ground, we have reached a moment of clear division between the "reality-based community" and those willing to accept the storyline of the day from proven liars in the White House and the Pentagon.

We're almost back to the days of the "Five O'Clock Follies," when the military told a frankly disbelieving press corps that everything was going swimmingly in Vietnam. Now, top commanders testify to Congress that we have little hope of "winning" in Iraq, and then go on the cable news show circuit and say that just the opposite is true.

With such a stark disconnect, it's no longer possible to tolerate differences about whether the war should be seen through to its questionable end.

We're not stuck in Iraq for the reasons the foreign policy elite in Washington would have us believe. We're not stuck there by history, or by the threat of the country devolving into civil war (although that's a troubling reality we need to face). We're stuck in Iraq because we have a leadership that wants to be "stuck" there, and a strategic class that lives in a bubble formed of its own endlessly repeated blather about "Vietnam syndromes" and "failed states" and "Powell doctrines." And we're stuck because making Iraq into an example of U.S. dominance and undoing the taint of Vietnam, or "finishing what we started" during the first Gulf War remain the goals of other constituents in Bush's foreign policy world.

But most of all, we're stuck in Iraq because the burden of fighting the war has fallen disproportionally on rural, small-town America -- on the poor and the middle class -- while the benefits of a wide-open, ultra-liberal Iraqi economy and access to what may be the world's largest oil reserves are still on course to line the pockets of the administration's backers. And as long as they have the cover of pro-war Democrats and the shelter of their liberal media conspiracy theories, it's a lot easier for them to pretend things aren't as bad as they obviously are in Iraq, and "stuck" we will remain.

As Antonia Juhasz wrote in the Los Angeles Times:

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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