Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Goatskin Shield Hired to Protect the Iraq PMO:
Good News for the PMO, Bad News for Goats!

My spin on the spin for today is inspired by Naomi Klein's piece in The Nation, Shameless in Iraq

Excerpt: "Good news out of Baghdad: the Program Management Office, which oversees the $18.4 billion in US reconstruction funds, has finally set a goal it can meet. Sure, electricity is below prewar levels, streets are rivers of sewage and more Iraqis have been fired than hired. But now the PMO has contracted with British mercenary firm Aegis to protect its employees from "assassination, kidnapping, injury and"--get this--"embarrassment." I don't know if Aegis will succeed in protecting PMO employees from violent attack, but embarrassment? I'd say mission already accomplished. The people in charge of rebuilding Iraq can't be embarrassed, because clearly they have no shame."

In case you missed it in the above quote, the section of the press release that caught Naomi's eye (and mine) from the PMO, the Iraq Program Management Office is: "But now the PMO has contracted with British mercenary firm Aegis to protect its employees from "assassination, kidnapping, injury and ... embarrassment."

The word "aegis" is from Greek mythology, by the way ... the goatskin shield or breastplate of Zeus or Athena. Athena's aegis carried at its center the head of Medusa. And we certainly have a multi-snake-headed mess over there in the way of "contractors" "helping", eh? Check out the PMO link above for the list of sna ... um, contractors giving Olympian-like aid to the good people of the PMO.

A rudimentary understanding of human psychology tells us that mentally and emotionally healthy human beings have healthy shame. Being embarrassed for doing something wrong or harmful or stupid comes from healthy shame. It is the internal mechanism that keeps us from committing daily heinous and harmful acts. Our internal "good parent" you might say. Like the governor on an accelerator pedal... People who regularly harm and abuse people and things seem to have an underdeveloped or absent "good parent" inside of them.

Now I always thought it was PR agencies that protected their clients from embarrassment, didn't you? Since when do mercenary security corporations do it?

Absurdities pile up. That has to be axiomatic on the Happy Planet by now I think. The coincidences, the choosing of names ... etc. One of my "heroes" Albert Camus had much to say on the nature of the absurd. He devoted at least three of his larger works to it:

"For Camus, the absurd was not negative, not a synonym for "ridiculous," but the true state of existence. Accepting the view that life is absurd is to embrace a "realistic" view of life: the absence of universal logic. ... One might rephrase Camus' absurdism as "God? No thanks… I'm on my own.""
(Scroll down to the section called "The Absurds")

I salute Camus today, and Naomi too, for noticing the sheer terribleness and silliness of it all. And ask you to think about the poor goats.