Category: Iraq

In your name

If

By Arkansas Times’ “The Observer” (David Koon), June 14, 2018

 

If you can, cast your mind back to when you were very young and recall what it felt like to be separated from your mother and father. Not just playing in the yard or another part of the house, but truly, even for a moment, lost. Recall the vice crush of panic in your chest.

If you were ever a parent, remember the feeling of being in a public place, turning around, and finding that your child is gone. They’re squirrelly little suckers, and compact. Turn your head for a second and they can vanish like smoke, even if you’re the greatest parent alive. Remember that feeling. Remember the terrible possibility. Remember the vice crush of panic in your chest at the thought of “maybe” until you laid eyes on that child again.

If you are an American, understand the things that are being done at the border right now, in your name. Thousands of children ripped from the arms of loving parents and spirited away into the night, in your name. Mothers reportedly being told that their children are being taken to be bathed, only to learn minutes or hours later that they aren’t coming back, in your name. Parents being charged with the misdemeanor — yes, misdemeanor, same as public intox and spitting on the sidewalk — of illegally crossing the border, but being sentenced on the spot to having their children snatched from them, in your name. Men and women with the American flag on their shoulders are literally kidnapping children like witches in candy houses, in your name. American police officers, duly sworn, are committing the textbook definition of terrorism against little boys and little girls who will bear the mental scars for the rest of their lives, and they are doing so in order to act as a deterrent by demonstrating the inhuman, reptilian cruelty of which Americans are now capable, even to children. In your name.

If you have ever been a mother or father, imagine your child living in a corrupt and lawless land run by criminal warlords, in the kind of grinding poverty that isn’t just situational but generational, with no hope to ever escape. Now imagine that you know that somewhere out there, there is a line, and on the other side of that line is a land of bounty and safety where any person who works hard in the hot sun can earn a sliver of that bounty for themselves and their children.

If that were your situation, what wouldn’t you do to get your child to that place? Would you lie? Would you risk your life? Would you break the law? Would you commit a misdemeanor?

If you support this madness while claiming to be a Christian, you are not. You are a servant of the creeping darkness, cruelty and despair that Jesus Christ fought and shed his blood for all his short life here on earth.

If you have ever uttered or thought or nodded along when someone said, “Well, if they didn’t want their kids taken, they shouldn’t have brought them here,” you’re not a good person. You have become, in your gluttony and narcissism, a monster, too far gone to even possess an understanding of the sheer, stupid luck of being born here.

If you still claim to be a Christian, consider Leviticus 19:33-34: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord thy God.”

If you cling to the passages in Leviticus about hating gay people, but skim past those about loving immigrants, you should cast that cross around your neck into the dust, because it’s just jewelry now. Have yourself a tiny gold basin made instead, the basin where Pontius Pilate washed his cowardly hands of savagery. Have yourself a tiny gold truncheon made, a tiny gold jackboot, a tiny dollar bill. These are your gods now.

If you believe that history and our children’s children will not judge us all in the same light as those who remained silent while black Americans were bought and sold, while Native Americans were slaughtered and their families crushed, while Japanese Americans were rounded up and forced into camps, you are wrong.

If you are not pissed, get pissed.

If you are not loud, get loud.

If you are not informed, get informed.

If you are not ashamed of your country over this, you should be.

If you don’t believe it can change, it can, if those who want to make America truly great again act as one and say: “Not in my name.”

 

https://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/if/Content?oid=19088724

Photograph of Samar Hassan:  https://levantium.com/2011/05/07/i-am-samar/

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/06/20/in-your-name/

Memory is stubborn

Invention of the Mizrahim

By Susan Abulhawa, 20 Sept 2017

 

The State of Israel was conceived at the turn of the 20th century in Eastern Europe by a group of elite European Jews who launched a movement called Zionism that sought to establish a physical nation state exclusive to Jews. It was a typical settler colonial enterprise, complete with the narrative of a divine mandate and a non-existent or savage indigenous population, central to which was the myth that Jews of the world formed a singular people, favored by God, who were returning to their singular place of origin – Palestine – after a three thousand year absence.

Although it was a project conceived in Europe by Europeans and for European Jews, they lacked sufficient numbers to build a population large enough to conquer the indigenous Palestinian population. Thus, recruitment of Jews from the surrounding Arab world was a necessary inconvenience. They did so through propaganda and by creating false flag terror incidents (bombing of synagogues or Jewish centres) in order provoke an exodus of Arab Jews. A prime example of this happened in Iraq, where the oldest Jewish community in the world had lived for millennia as contributing members of Iraqi society, and who prospered, contributed to the arts and the economy, and participated in government.

But these Jews were not embraced as brethren by European Zionists. Zionism was decidedly colonial, and that meant that Jews of the Arab world were seen as incomplete, barbaric, dirty, uncivilised. Za’ev Jabotinsky, one of the forefathers of Zionism said, “We Jews have nothing in common with what is called the Orient, thank God. To the extent that our uneducated masses [Arab Jews] have ancient spiritual traditions and laws that call the Orient, they must be weaned away from them, and this is in fact what we are doing in every decent school, what life itself is doing with great success. We are going in Palestine, first for our national convenience, [second] to sweep out thoroughly all traces of the Oriental soul.”

A multitude of programs and protocols were implemented towards this goal. One of the most egregious was a large initiative of stealing the babies of Arab Jews and giving them to be raised by European Jews. But the larger efforts were simple propaganda campaigns that were implemented in schools, communities, and national projects.

The word Mizrahim, from the Hebrew and Arabic words meaning “those of the East,” was popularised to lump all of these peoples of different nations into a single miscellaneous category that erased their individual ancient histories and cultures that spanned thousands of years of life and tradition, replete with countless and invaluable achievements in their respective nations.

In essence, it was a project to strip ancient peoples of their identities, which was not unlike what they tried to do to Palestinians. Zionists were trying to create a new nation with a unified people. So, they could not abide allowing parts of this population to continue to identify as Iraqi, Moroccan, Persian, Tunisian, and so on, and certainly not as Arab Jews. At the same time, the racist impulses of colonialism could not abide putting these people on par with Jews of Europe. They could not simply be Jews in the new Jewish state.

Thus, the word Mizrahim, from the Hebrew and Arabic words meaning “those of the East,” was popularised to lump all of these peoples of different nations into a single miscellaneous category that erased their individual ancient histories and cultures that spanned thousands of years of life and tradition, replete with countless and invaluable achievements in their respective nations.

Before Israel, Jews of Iraq identified as Iraqi, of Morocco as Moroccan, of Tunisia as Tunisian, of Iran as Persian, of Syria as Syrian, of Egypt as Egyptian, and of Palestine as Palestinian. They spoke Arabic, ate the same foods as their Christian and Muslim compatriots, celebrated and partook in the same national events and traditions, lived by the same social protocols, and moved through their respective cultures as other natives did. And despite the similarities of their cultures, Tunisians were distinct from Egyptians, who were both distinct from Iraqis, who were distinct from Moroccans, etc. But Israel collapsed them all under a single identity, which was to be distinguished only from Ashkenazis, European Jews, who were higher up on the social order, and, of course, from non-Jewish Palestinians and Arabs, who were to be despised. The level of their resulting self-hate can be measured in the heightened cruelty they practise against Palestinians.

However, as Zionists would learn from Palestinians, erasing the identity of others is not an easy task. Memory is stubborn, and roots will continue to tug at humans long after they’ve been uprooted. Arab Jews continued to speak Arabic at home, to dance to Arabic music, eat Arab food, and dream of once again seeing the mountains, rivers, architecture, libraries, and colours of Persia, Babylon, North Africa and the Levant.

Israel has moved away slightly from early Zionism’s contempt for our part of the world. And while it remains a colonial project, bent on erasing the native Palestinian presence, their social efforts are more focused on “indigenising” themselves to the land. The obstinacy of Arab Jews in clinging to their cultural roots has provided a convenient avenue to lay claim to regional indigenous culture. So now, Arab foods (like falafel, hummus, shakshouka), traditional Arab clothing (like tatreez, galabiyas, keffiyehs), and Arab folkloric dances are all being rebranded as “Israeli,” yet another phase of colonial renaming, and they use the rebranded Arab Jews to justify their claim.

Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian writer and the author of the international bestselling novel, Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury 2010). She is also the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, an NGO for children. Her latest novel The Blue Between Sky and Water has been translated into 26 languages.

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/invention-mizrahim-170920103701750.html

Photograph of three Mizrahi Jews reading a copy of the Hebrew Bible at a Jewish refugee camp, March 3, 1949 [AP].

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/11/20/memory-is-stubborn/

Self-deception started early

Howard Zinn’s July 4 Wisdom Stands the Test of Time

By Howard Zinn, July 4, 2017

 

 

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism—that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder—one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking—cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on— have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours—huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction—what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession.”

When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: “It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day.”

On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our “Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence.” After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: “We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country.”

It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.

 


 

We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, “to civilize and Christianize” the Filipino people.

As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: “The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness.”

We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.

Yet they are victims, too, of our government’s lies.

How many times have we heard President Bush tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for “liberty,” for “democracy”?

One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on September 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail in 2004 that God speaks through him.

We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.

We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.

 

http://progressive.org/dispatches/howard-zinn-s-july-4-wisdom-stands-test-time/

Portrait of Howard Zinn by Robert Shetterly. https://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/portraits/howard-zinn

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/07/05/self-deception-started-early/

We expect people to die.

The destruction of the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul is another example of the ‘culturecide’ we’ve become so used to

By Robert Fisk, Thursday 29 June 2017 12:45 BST

 

Over the years, I’ve almost lost count of the priceless treasures of art and antiquity which I’ve seen with my own eyes – and which now lie in pieces.

Fourteen years ago, racing across Mosul to see the building where US forces had just shot dead the sons of Saddam Hussein, I glimpsed the “hunchback” minaret of the 12th century al-Nuri mosque looming over the old city, built by Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, an Arab hero who united the Arabs against the Crusaders. Gone, my lords and ladies, in just a few seconds, scarcely a week ago. We blamed Isis. Isis blamed a US air strike.

Back in 2012, I ran past the 12th century minaret of the Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, pounding down the road towards the ancient Citadel as bullets buzzed up the streets. Within a year, the minaret was dust. We blamed the Syrian government for shelling it. The Syrians blamed al-Nusrah/al-Qaeda “terrorists”. All over Aleppo, they felt the ground tremble as the minaret fell.

Many times in the 1980s I walked through the Roman ruins of Palmyra, visited the Temple of Bel, gazed at the triumphal arch and walked on the theatre stage. When I returned in 2016 after the Syrian army had driven Isis from the ancient city, the arch had been destroyed with explosives and the temple was reduced to shards of stone, most of them only two or three inches in length. The theatre was undamaged though I noticed the end of a noose looped around a Roman column. This was Isis’s place of execution. Then Isis returned and recaptured Palmyra and this time they blew up the very centre of the theatre.

After the war broke out in Bosnia, I walked across the shining stones of Sinan’s 16th Ottoman bridge at Mostar. Within months, that which had stood for 427 years collapsed into the Neretva river under a salvo of Croatian artillery shells. It was exactly 3:27pm on November 9, 1993. I know the time because I still have the videotape of the destruction. I used to freeze-frame the tape and press the rewind button and rebuild the bridge, the spray falling back into the river, the old Turkish stones rising mystically upwards to recompose themselves in their magical span above the river. Its loss was mourned by the Bosnian Muslims – whose ancient mosques were crumbling under Serb gunfire – as the absence of the Mosul minaret is mourned by Iraqis.

The Yugoslav novelist Ivo Andric, in The Bridge on the Drina – surely one of the greatest European novels ever written – describes how “men learned from the angels of God how to build bridges, and therefore, after fountains, the greatest blessing is to build a bridge and the greatest sin to interfere with it…” But we are used to “the greatest sin”. “Culturecide” – the destruction of libraries, graveyards, cathedrals, mosques – became a feature of the Bosnian war. In Kosovo in 1999, the Christian Serbs destroyed ancient mosques. Then the Kosovar Muslims destroyed most of the Serb churches in the province. I saw many of them, before and after their immolation.

And “the greatest sin” has, of course, a hundred thousand precedents. Who now remembers the 5th century Buddhas of Bamiyan, blasted with explosives for 25 days by the Taliban in 2001 until they were rubble. Who even cares that the Saudis – whose Wahhabi iconoclasm did so much to inspire the Taliban and Isis – have destroyed many of the ancient sites associated with the Prophet and his family?

And then what of the Second World War, the destruction of the ancient centre of Rotterdam, Coventry Cathedral, the Wren churches of the City of London, the wrecking of renaissance Italy, the levelling of Warsaw, courtesy of the Luftwaffe, the Wehrmacht and the SS. And the RAF’s 1945 destruction of Dresden and the bombing of the Middle Ages basilicas of Germany’s cities. And the mass theft of renaissance art and the sacking of museums across Europe, courtesy of the Nazi party’s “cultural” elite. And then we have the Germans of the First World War to thank for the burning of the 15th century university and library of Louvain and the total demolition of the medieval Cloth Hall at Ypres.

And – yes, this can go on and on – we can still see the ruins of the churches and abbeys which incurred the incendiary fury of Henry VIII and then digress still further and ask why the Romans of the Middle Ages used the Coliseum as a quarry – just as the Ottoman authorities used the Crusader castle of Beirut as a quarry for their port extensions in the early 20th century. And then come the Goths, Ostrogoths and Visigoths, not to mention the early Muslim invaders who themselves even tried to destroy a stone Buddha; I’ve seen its reassembled body in a Dushanbe museum. And when I think of pre-history and Sumeria, I can only remember walking through the ancient cities of southern Iraq, dug up and pulverised by tomb robbers after the 2003 Anglo-American invasion, and the statues whose broken limbs I crunched over in the darkness of the looted Baghdad Museum.

We can sometimes reconstruct. The Ypres Cloth Hall was reconstituted exactly as it was. The Old City of Warsaw was rebuilt from old maps and photographs. The UN organised the rebuilding of the bridge at Mostar. The Saudis have paid for the reconstruction of Bosnia’s mosques. Basil Spence designed the new Coventry Cathedral. Warsaw is almost picture-perfect but the new Mostar bridge will take years to look like the weathered old masonry which a 16th century visitor described as “like a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies”. The Cloth Hall at Ypres looks magnificent. So is the post-war “medieval” city in Warsaw. The ghastly, concretised new mosques of Bosnia are a disgrace. And I’m not sure if Basil Spence’s new Coventry cathedral works today, either in faith or in art.

But now the problem. If a single human life is more precious than all the planets, why do we weep for the wreckage of Buddhas and Roman cities and churches and mosques and libraries? Of all the “-cides”, surely “culturecide” should be way down our list of priorities. Yet it’s clearly near the top – the UN waffles on about our children’s heritage. But I’ve never heard it better explained than in the words of a Croat woman, Slavenka Drakulic who wrote about this very question only a month after the destruction of the Stari Most bridge by her own Croat army. She recalled seeing a photograph of a middle-aged Bosnian woman “with a long, dark knife cut along her throat” and she asked herself why she felt more pain looking at the image of the destroyed bridge than that of the woman.

And this is what she concluded: “We expect people to die. We count on our own lives to end. The destruction of a monument to civilisation is something else. The bridge, in all its beauty and grace, was built to outlive us; it was an attempt to grasp eternity. Because it was the product of both individual creativity and collective experience, it transcended our individual destiny… You would think that nothing new could happen, that, after the concentration camps and the mass rapes, the ethnic cleansing… there would be no room left for imagination…”

And for Muslims, destiny and eternity are subjects of the Koran, which was first revealed to the Prophet on the 27th day of Ramadan, the “Laylat al-Qadr”, the Night of Power. It is the holiest night in the Muslim calendar. And it was on this night – this year – that the 12th century leaning minaret of Mosul was blasted to the ground.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/mosul-minaret-mosque-iraq-isis-a7814366.html

Photograph of the al-Nuri mosque, blown up by Isis last week (AP).

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/06/29/we-expect-people-to-die/

Another odd element to our western outrage

It was bizarre to watch Samantha Power at the UN conveniently forget to mention all the massacres done in America’s name

By Robert Fisk, Thursday 15 December 2016 10:00 BST

 

So there was Samantha Power doing her “shame” bit in the UN. “Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit?”, America’s ambassador to the UN asked the Russians and Syrians and Iranians. She spoke of Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica “and, now, Aleppo”.

Odd, that. For when Samantha talked about “barbarism against civilians” in Aleppo, I remembered climbing over the dead Palestinian civilians massacred at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, slaughtered by Israel’s Lebanese militia friends while the Israeli army – Washington’s most powerful ally in the Middle East – watched. But Samantha didn’t mention them. Not enough dead Palestinians, perhaps? Only 1,700 killed, including women and children. Halabja was up to 5,000 dead. But Sabra and Chatila certainly “creeped me out” at the time.

And then I recalled the monstrous American invasion of Iraq. Perhaps half a million dead. It’s one of the statistics for Rwanda’s dead. Certainly far more than Srebrenica’s 9,000 dead. And I can tell you that Iraq’s half million dead “creeped me out” rather a lot, not to mention the torture and murders in the CIA’s interrogation centres in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq. It also “creeped me out” to learn that the US president used to send innocent prisoners off to be interrogated in… Assad’s Syria! Yes, they were sent by Washington to be questioned in what Samantha now calls Syria’s “Gulags”.

Funny old world. Samantha, God bless her, didn’t mention Gaza, where quite a lot of Palestinian children have been killed by the Israelis. Nor Yemen, where America’s head-chopping allies are now dissing the Shiites and have killed almost 4,000 civilians. Nor the mass killings by Isis in Mosul. Nor – most oddly of all – did Samantha mention 9/11. Here, surely, was an international crime against humanity worthy of mention in Samantha’s roll call of shame. 3,996 innocent dead. A must-be, you’d think, for throwing at the Syrians and the Russkis and the Iranians.

But no. For there’s a wee bit of a problem there, isn’t there? Because the 9/11 bloodbath was carried out by al-Qaeda. And al-Qaeda in Syria has changed its name to al-Nusra and then to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and – well, it’s al-Sham (alias Nusra, alias al-Qaeda) that’s been fighting against the Syrian regime in eastern Aleppo. A bit difficult, you see, for Samantha to express her horror over the most terrifying attack on her country in recent history – talk about “barbarism against civilians” – when the very criminal “jihadi” organisation which committed this outrage is, yes, in eastern Aleppo fighting against the Syrian army.

So Samantha has to throw the dead of 9/11 into the trash bin in order to tell us how “creeped out” al-Qaeda’s enemies should be at their behaviour in Aleppo. Out, too, go the Christians murdered or deported by Isis in Mosul, those Yazidis subject to Isis’ “ethnic cleansing” – a subject of which Samantha was quite an expert when it was taking place in Bosnia. In fact, Isis simply gets deleted from Samantha’s narrative. They get, in effect, a clean bill of health.

And we journos are going along with all this. What was the last time you read of Isis’ catastrophic return to the Syrian city of Palmyra last week – surely a victory for those we are supposed to be defeating in Mosul? And some of the Palmyra attackers actually came from Mosul! How did they do that when Mosul is surrounded by the Iraqi army and their allies and all those American “advisers”? And for that matter, what was the last time you heard about Mosul, surrounded by a government army trying to smash its way into the city against its “jihadi” defenders – with even more civilians besieged than in Aleppo?

So here we go again on the familiar semantic trail down which all critics of Syria’s enemies (and America) must tramp. Yup, Bashar is a dictator, his elections a farce, his militias killers, his army ruthless, his prisons so barbarous that Washington sent its captives there for a bit of brutal interrogation. I have actually seen an account of one such session in which the Syrian interrogators concluded that the guy sent over from the US was completely innocent. But seriously, if we were all so “creeped out” – like Samantha – then we would, would we not, have intervened militarily in Syria (despite the Russians) and come to the rescue of the Syrian opposition?

But there’s another odd element to our western outrage – and the clue lies in Samantha Power’s choice of atrocities. For the gassing of Halabja’s Kurds was committed by Saddam’s air force, who were Arabs. And the Rwandan genocide was commited by Rwandans. And the Srebrenica massacres were committed by Milosevic’s militias who were Serbs. We may have “stood idly by”, as the saying goes – it, is after all, what we are doing and going to do over Aleppo – but neither we nor our allies actually committed these atrocities. Samantha stayed on safe ground, didn’t she?

And this is what we in Europe are doing. The French president and the British parliament – where the former Chancellor George Osborne did his “woe is me” bit – all lamented that they had done absolutely nothing about the suffering of Aleppo. And didn’t intend to do anything; hence all the empty seats at the Westminster debate.

And I think I know why – because this is one of the very few times when our fingers are not bathed in the blood of the Middle East. For once, neither we nor our allies – except for the lads from al-Nusra who are supported by Qatar and our other Gulf chums but who are the “good guys” in all this – are guilty of anything more than indifference. Which was exactly the same problem at Halabja, Rwanda and Srebrenica. We didn’t do it, guv’. It wasn’t us this time.

So shame upon the Syrians and the Russkis and the Iranians. Creeps you out just a little bit, doesn’t it?

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/samantha-power-un-us-ambassador-america-syria-aleppo-massacres-srebrenica-rwandan-genocide-bizarre-a7476556.html or http://ind.pn/2gN5FuH

Photograph of Samantha Powers:  http://politomix.com/the-blaze/1013554/commentary-samantha-powers-weak-attempt-to-shame-bashar-assad/

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2016/12/15/another-odd-element-to-our-western-outrage/

The full measure of its guilt

justice_lg“Some People Push Back”: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens

By Ward Churchill, September 12, 2001

 

When queried by reporters concerning his views on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, Malcolm X famously – and quite charitably, all things considered – replied that it was merely a case of “chickens coming home to roost.”

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a few more chickens – along with some half-million dead Iraqi children – came home to roost in a very big way at the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center. Well, actually, a few of them seem to have nestled in at the Pentagon as well.

The Iraqi youngsters, all of them under 12, died as a predictable – in fact, widely predicted – result of the 1991 US “surgical” bombing of their country’s water purification and sewage facilities, as well as other “infrastructural” targets upon which Iraq’s civilian population depends for its very survival.

If the nature of the bombing were not already bad enough – and it should be noted that this sort of “aerial warfare” constitutes a Class I Crime Against humanity, entailing myriad gross violations of international law, as well as every conceivable standard of “civilized” behavior – the death toll has been steadily ratcheted up by US-imposed sanctions for a full decade now. Enforced all the while by a massive military presence and periodic bombing raids, the embargo has greatly impaired the victims’ ability to import the nutrients, medicines and other materials necessary to saving the lives of even their toddlers.

All told, Iraq has a population of about 18 million. The 500,000 kids lost to date thus represent something on the order of 25 percent of their age group. Indisputably, the rest have suffered – are still suffering – a combination of physical debilitation and psychological trauma severe enough to prevent their ever fully recovering. In effect, an entire generation has been obliterated.

The reason for this holocaust was/is rather simple, and stated quite straightforwardly by President George Bush, the 41st “freedom-loving” father of the freedom-lover currently filling the Oval Office, George the 43rd: “The world must learn that what we say, goes,” intoned George the Elder to the enthusiastic applause of freedom-loving Americans everywhere. How Old George conveyed his message was certainly no mystery to the US public. One need only recall the 24-hour-per-day dissemination of bombardment videos on every available TV channel, and the exceedingly high ratings of these telecasts, to gain a sense of how much they knew.

In trying to affix a meaning to such things, we would do well to remember the wave of elation that swept America at reports of what was happening along the so-called Highway of Death: perhaps 100,000 “towel-heads” and “camel jockeys” – or was it “sand niggers” that week? – in full retreat, routed and effectively defenseless, many of them conscripted civilian laborers, slaughtered in a single day by jets firing the most hyper-lethal types of ordnance. It was a performance worthy of the nazis during the early months of their drive into Russia. And it should be borne in mind that Good Germans gleefully cheered that butchery, too. Indeed, support for Hitler suffered no serious erosion among Germany’s “innocent civilians” until the defeat at Stalingrad.

There may be a real utility to reflecting further, this time upon the fact that it was pious Americans who led the way in assigning the onus of collective guilt to the German people as a whole, not for things they as individuals had done, but for what they had allowed – nay, empowered – their leaders and their soldiers to do in their name.

If the principle was valid then, it remains so now, as applicable to Good Americans as it was the Good Germans. And the price exacted from the Germans for the faultiness of their moral fiber was truly ghastly. Returning now to the children, and to the effects of the post-Gulf War embargo – continued bull force by Bush the Elder’s successors in the Clinton administration as a gesture of its “resolve” to finalize what George himself had dubbed the “New World Order” of American military/economic domination – it should be noted that not one but two high United Nations officials attempting to coordinate delivery of humanitarian aid to Iraq resigned in succession as protests against US policy.

One of them, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General Denis Halladay, repeatedly denounced what was happening as “a systematic program . . . of deliberate genocide.” His statements appeared in the New York Times and other papers during the fall of 1998, so it can hardly be contended that the American public was “unaware” of them. Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Madeline Albright openly confirmed Halladay’s assessment. Asked during the widely-viewed TV program Meet the Press to respond to his “allegations,” she calmly announced that she’d decided it was “worth the price” to see that U.S. objectives were achieved.

The Politics of a Perpetrator Population

As a whole, the American public greeted these revelations with yawns.. There were, after all, far more pressing things than the unrelenting misery/death of a few hundred thousand Iraqi tikes to be concerned with. Getting “Jeremy” and “Ellington” to their weekly soccer game, for instance, or seeing to it that little “Tiffany” and “Ashley” had just the right roll-neck sweaters to go with their new cords. And, to be sure, there was the yuppie holy war against ashtrays – for “our kids,” no less – as an all-absorbing point of political focus.

In fairness, it must be admitted that there was an infinitesimally small segment of the body politic who expressed opposition to what was/is being done to the children of Iraq. It must also be conceded, however, that those involved by-and-large contented themselves with signing petitions and conducting candle-lit prayer vigils, bearing “moral witness” as vast legions of brown-skinned five-year-olds sat shivering in the dark, wide-eyed in horror, whimpering as they expired in the most agonizing ways imaginable.

Be it said as well, and this is really the crux of it, that the “resistance” expended the bulk of its time and energy harnessed to the systemically-useful task of trying to ensure, as “a principle of moral virtue” that nobody went further than waving signs as a means of “challenging” the patently exterminatory pursuit of Pax Americana. So pure of principle were these “dissidents,” in fact, that they began literally to supplant the police in protecting corporations profiting by the carnage against suffering such retaliatory “violence” as having their windows broken by persons less “enlightened” – or perhaps more outraged – than the self-anointed “peacekeepers.”

Property before people, it seems – or at least the equation of property to people – is a value by no means restricted to America’s boardrooms. And the sanctimony with which such putrid sentiments are enunciated turns out to be nauseatingly similar, whether mouthed by the CEO of Standard Oil or any of the swarm of comfort zone “pacifists” queuing up to condemn the black block after it ever so slightly disturbed the functioning of business-as-usual in Seattle.

Small wonder, all-in-all, that people elsewhere in the world – the Mideast, for instance – began to wonder where, exactly, aside from the streets of the US itself, one was to find the peace America’s purportedly oppositional peacekeepers claimed they were keeping.

The answer, surely, was plain enough to anyone unblinded by the kind of delusions engendered by sheer vanity and self-absorption. So, too, were the implications in terms of anything changing, out there, in America’s free-fire zones.

Tellingly, it was at precisely this point – with the genocide in Iraq officially admitted and a public response demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were virtually no Americans, including most of those professing otherwise, doing anything tangible to stop it – that the combat teams which eventually commandeered the aircraft used on September 11 began to infiltrate the United States.

 Meet the “Terrorists”

Of the men who came, there are a few things demanding to be said in the face of the unending torrent of disinformational drivel unleashed by George Junior and the corporate “news” media immediately following their successful operation on September 11.

They did not, for starters, “initiate” a war with the US, much less commit “the first acts of war of the new millennium.”

A good case could be made that the war in which they were combatants has been waged more-or-less continuously by the “Christian West” – now proudly emblematized by the United States – against the “Islamic East” since the time of the First Crusade, about 1,000 years ago. More recently, one could argue that the war began when Lyndon Johnson first lent significant support to Israel’s dispossession/displacement of Palestinians during the 1960s, or when George the Elder ordered “Desert Shield” in 1990, or at any of several points in between. Any way you slice it, however, if what the combat teams did to the WTC and the Pentagon can be understood as acts of war – and they can – then the same is true of every US “overflight’ of Iraqi territory since day one. The first acts of war during the current millennium thus occurred on its very first day, and were carried out by U.S. aviators acting under orders from their then-commander-in-chief, Bill Clinton. The most that can honestly be said of those involved on September 11 is that they finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course.

That they waited so long to do so is, notwithstanding the 1993 action at the WTC, more than anything a testament to their patience and restraint.

They did not license themselves to “target innocent civilians.”

There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .

Well, really. Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire – the “mighty engine of profit” to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to “ignorance” – a derivative, after all, of the word “ignore” – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it.

The men who flew the missions against the WTC and Pentagon were not “cowards.” That distinction properly belongs to the “firm-jawed lads” who delighted in flying stealth aircraft through the undefended airspace of Baghdad, dropping payload after payload of bombs on anyone unfortunate enough to be below – including tens of thousands of genuinely innocent civilians – while themselves incurring all the risk one might expect during a visit to the local video arcade. Still more, the word describes all those “fighting men and women” who sat at computer consoles aboard ships in the Persian Gulf, enjoying air-conditioned comfort while launching cruise missiles into neighborhoods filled with random human beings. Whatever else can be said of them, the men who struck on September 11 manifested the courage of their convictions, willingly expending their own lives in attaining their objectives.

Nor were they “fanatics” devoted to “Islamic fundamentalism.”

One might rightly describe their actions as “desperate.” Feelings of desperation, however, are a perfectly reasonable – one is tempted to say “normal” – emotional response among persons confronted by the mass murder of their children, particularly when it appears that nobody else really gives a damn (ask a Jewish survivor about this one, or, even more poignantly, for all the attention paid them, a Gypsy).

That desperate circumstances generate desperate responses is no mysterious or irrational principle, of the sort motivating fanatics. Less is it one peculiar to Islam. Indeed, even the FBI’s investigative reports on the combat teams’ activities during the months leading up to September 11 make it clear that the members were not fundamentalist Muslims. Rather, it’s pretty obvious at this point that they were secular activists – soldiers, really – who, while undoubtedly enjoying cordial relations with the clerics of their countries, were motivated far more by the grisly realities of the U.S. war against them than by a set of religious beliefs.

And still less were they/their acts “insane.”

Insanity is a condition readily associable with the very American idea that one – or one’s country – holds what amounts to a “divine right” to commit genocide, and thus to forever do so with impunity. The term might also be reasonably applied to anyone suffering genocide without attempting in some material way to bring the process to a halt. Sanity itself, in this frame of reference, might be defined by a willingness to try and destroy the perpetrators and/or the sources of their ability to commit their crimes. (Shall we now discuss the US “strategic bombing campaign” against Germany during World War II, and the mental health of those involved in it?)

Which takes us to official characterizations of the combat teams as an embodiment of “evil.”

Evil – for those inclined to embrace the banality of such a concept – was perfectly incarnated in that malignant toad known as Madeline Albright, squatting in her studio chair like Jaba the Hutt, blandly spewing the news that she’d imposed a collective death sentence upon the unoffending youth of Iraq. Evil was to be heard in that great American hero “Stormin’ Norman” Schwartzkopf’s utterly dehumanizing dismissal of their systematic torture and annihilation as mere “collateral damage.” Evil, moreover, is a term appropriate to describing the mentality of a public that finds such perspectives and the policies attending them acceptable, or even momentarily tolerable.

Had it not been for these evils, the counterattacks of September 11 would never have occurred. And unless “the world is rid of such evil,” to lift a line from George Junior, September 11 may well end up looking like a lark.

There is no reason, after all, to believe that the teams deployed in the assaults on the WTC and the Pentagon were the only such, that the others are composed of “Arabic-looking individuals” – America’s indiscriminately lethal arrogance and psychotic sense of self-entitlement have long since given the great majority of the world’s peoples ample cause to be at war with it – or that they are in any way dependent upon the seizure of civilian airliners to complete their missions.

To the contrary, there is every reason to expect that there are many other teams in place, tasked to employ altogether different tactics in executing operational plans at least as well-crafted as those evident on September 11, and very well equipped for their jobs. This is to say that, since the assaults on the WTC and Pentagon were act of war – not “terrorist incidents” – they must be understood as components in a much broader strategy designed to achieve specific results. From this, it can only be adduced that there are plenty of other components ready to go, and that they will be used, should this become necessary in the eyes of the strategists. It also seems a safe bet that each component is calibrated to inflict damage at a level incrementally higher than the one before (during the 1960s, the Johnson administration employed a similar policy against Vietnam, referred to as “escalation”).

Since implementation of the overall plan began with the WTC/Pentagon assaults, it takes no rocket scientist to decipher what is likely to happen next, should the U.S. attempt a response of the inexcusable variety to which it has long entitled itself.

About Those Boys (and Girls) in the Bureau

There’s another matter begging for comment at this point. The idea that the FBI’s “counterterrorism task forces” can do a thing to prevent what will happen is yet another dimension of America’s delusional pathology.. The fact is that, for all its publicly-financed “image-building” exercises, the Bureau has never shown the least aptitude for anything of the sort.

Oh, yeah, FBI counterintelligence personnel have proven quite adept at framing anarchists, communists and Black Panthers, sometimes murdering them in their beds or the electric chair. The Bureau’s SWAT units have displayed their ability to combat child abuse in Waco by burning babies alive, and its vaunted Crime Lab has been shown to pad its “crime-fighting’ statistics by fabricating evidence against many an alleged car thief. But actual “heavy-duty bad guys” of the sort at issue now? This isn’t a Bruce Willis/Chuck Norris/Sly Stallone movie, after all.. And J. Edgar Hoover doesn’t get to approve either the script or the casting.

The number of spies, saboteurs and bona fide terrorists apprehended, or even detected by the FBI in the course of its long and slimy history could be counted on one’s fingers and toes. On occasion, its agents have even turned out to be the spies, and, in many instances, the terrorists as well.

To be fair once again, if the Bureau functions as at best a carnival of clowns where its “domestic security responsibilities” are concerned, this is because – regardless of official hype – it has none. It is now, as it’s always been, the national political police force, an instrument created and perfected to ensure that all Americans, not just the consenting mass, are “free” to do exactly as they’re told.

The FBI and “cooperating agencies” can be thus relied upon to set about “protecting freedom” by destroying whatever rights and liberties were left to U.S. citizens before September 11 (in fact, they’ve already received authorization to begin). Sheeplike, the great majority of Americans can also be counted upon to bleat their approval, at least in the short run, believing as they always do that the nasty implications of what they’re doing will pertain only to others.

Oh Yeah, and “The Company,” Too

A possibly even sicker joke is the notion, suddenly in vogue, that the CIA will be able to pinpoint “terrorist threats,” “rooting out their infrastructure” where it exists and/or “terminating” it before it can materialize, if only it’s allowed to beef up its “human intelligence gathering capacity” in an unrestrained manner (including full-bore operations inside the US, of course).

Yeah. Right.

Since America has a collective attention-span of about 15 minutes, a little refresher seems in order: “The Company” had something like a quarter-million people serving as “intelligence assets” by feeding it information in Vietnam in 1968, and it couldn’t even predict the Tet Offensive. God knows how many spies it was fielding against the USSR at the height of Ronald Reagan’s version of the Cold War, and it was still caught flatfooted by the collapse of the Soviet Union. As to destroying “terrorist infrastructures,” one would do well to remember Operation Phoenix, another product of its open season in Vietnam. In that one, the CIA enlisted elite US units like the Navy Seals and Army Special Forces, as well as those of friendly countries – the south Vietnamese Rangers, for example, and Australian SAS – to run around “neutralizing” folks targeted by The Company’s legion of snitches as “guerrillas” (as those now known as “terrorists” were then called).

Sound familiar?

Upwards of 40,000 people – mostly bystanders, as it turns out – were murdered by Phoenix hit teams before the guerrillas, stronger than ever, ran the US and its collaborators out of their country altogether. And these are the guys who are gonna save the day, if unleashed to do their thing in North America?

The net impact of all this “counterterrorism” activity upon the combat teams’ ability to do what they came to do, of course, will be nil.

Instead, it’s likely to make it easier for them to operate (it’s worked that way in places like Northern Ireland). And, since denying Americans the luxury of reaping the benefits of genocide in comfort was self-evidently a key objective of the WTC/Pentagon assaults, it can be stated unequivocally that a more overt display of the police state mentality already pervading this country simply confirms the magnitude of their victory.

 On Matters of Proportion and Intent

As things stand, including the 1993 detonation at the WTC, “Arab terrorists” have responded to the massive and sustained American terror bombing of Iraq with a total of four assaults by explosives inside the US. That’s about 1% of the 50,000 bombs the Pentagon announced were rained on Baghdad alone during the Gulf War (add in Oklahoma City and you’ll get something nearer an actual 1%).

They’ve managed in the process to kill about 5,000 Americans, or roughly 1% of the dead Iraqi children (the percentage is far smaller if you factor in the killing of adult Iraqi civilians, not to mention troops butchered as/after they’d surrendered and/or after the “war-ending” ceasefire had been announced).

In terms undoubtedly more meaningful to the property/profit-minded American mainstream, they’ve knocked down a half-dozen buildings – albeit some very well-chosen ones – as opposed to the “strategic devastation” visited upon the whole of Iraq, and punched a $100 billion hole in the earnings outlook of major corporate shareholders, as opposed to the U.S. obliteration of Iraq’s entire economy.

With that, they’ve given Americans a tiny dose of their own medicine.. This might be seen as merely a matter of “vengeance” or “retribution,” and, unquestionably, America has earned it, even if it were to add up only to something so ultimately petty.

The problem is that vengeance is usually framed in terms of “getting even,” a concept which is plainly inapplicable in this instance. As the above data indicate, it would require another 49,996 detonations killing 495,000 more Americans, for the “terrorists” to “break even” for the bombing of Baghdad/extermination of Iraqi children alone. And that’s to achieve “real number” parity. To attain an actual proportional parity of damage – the US is about 15 times as large as Iraq in terms of population, even more in terms of territory – they would, at a minimum, have to blow up about 300,000 more buildings and kill something on the order of 7.5 million people.

Were this the intent of those who’ve entered the US to wage war against it, it would remain no less true that America and Americans were only receiving the bill for what they’d already done. Payback, as they say, can be a real motherfucker (ask the Germans). There is, however, no reason to believe that retributive parity is necessarily an item on the agenda of those who planned the WTC/Pentagon operation. If it were, given the virtual certainty that they possessed the capacity to have inflicted far more damage than they did, there would be a lot more American bodies lying about right now.

Hence, it can be concluded that ravings carried by the “news” media since September 11 have contained at least one grain of truth: The peoples of the Mideast “aren’t like” Americans, not least because they don’t “value life’ in the same way. By this, it should be understood that Middle-Easterners, unlike Americans, have no history of exterminating others purely for profit, or on the basis of racial animus. Thus, we can appreciate the fact that they value life – all lives, not just their own – far more highly than do their U.S. counterparts.

The Makings of a Humanitarian Strategy

In sum one can discern a certain optimism – it might even be call humanitarianism – imbedded in the thinking of those who presided over the very limited actions conducted on September 11.

Their logic seems to have devolved upon the notion that the American people have condoned what has been/is being done in their name – indeed, are to a significant extent actively complicit in it – mainly because they have no idea what it feels like to be on the receiving end.

Now they do.

That was the “medicinal” aspect of the attacks.

To all appearances, the idea is now to give the tonic a little time to take effect, jolting Americans into the realization that the sort of pain they’re now experiencing first-hand is no different from – or the least bit more excruciating than – that which they’ve been so cavalier in causing others, and thus to respond appropriately.

More bluntly, the hope was – and maybe still is – that Americans, stripped of their presumed immunity from incurring any real consequences for their behavior, would comprehend and act upon a formulation as uncomplicated as “stop killing our kids, if you want your own to be safe.”

Either way, it’s a kind of “reality therapy” approach, designed to afford the American people a chance to finally “do the right thing” on their own, without further coaxing.

Were the opportunity acted upon in some reasonably good faith fashion – a sufficiently large number of Americans rising up and doing whatever is necessary to force an immediate lifting of the sanctions on Iraq, for instance, or maybe hanging a few of America’s abundant supply of major war criminals (Henry Kissinger comes quickly to mind, as do Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton and George the Elder) – there is every reason to expect that military operations against the US on its domestic front would be immediately suspended.

Whether they would remain so would of course be contingent upon follow-up. By that, it may be assumed that American acceptance of onsite inspections by international observers to verify destruction of its weapons of mass destruction (as well as dismantlement of all facilities in which more might be manufactured), Nuremberg-style trials in which a few thousand US military/corporate personnel could be properly adjudicated and punished for their Crimes Against humanity, and payment of reparations to the array of nations/peoples whose assets the US has plundered over the years, would suffice.

Since they’ve shown no sign of being unreasonable or vindictive, it may even be anticipated that, after a suitable period of adjustment and reeducation (mainly to allow them to acquire the skills necessary to living within their means), those restored to control over their own destinies by the gallant sacrifices of the combat teams the WTC and Pentagon will eventually (re)admit Americans to the global circle of civilized societies. Stranger things have happened.

In the Alternative

Unfortunately, noble as they may have been, such humanitarian aspirations were always doomed to remain unfulfilled. For it to have been otherwise, a far higher quality of character and intellect would have to prevail among average Americans than is actually the case. Perhaps the strategists underestimated the impact a couple of generations-worth of media indoctrination can produce in terms of demolishing the capacity of human beings to form coherent thoughts. Maybe they forgot to factor in the mind-numbing effects of the indoctrination passed off as education in the US. Then, again, it’s entirely possible they were aware that a decisive majority of American adults have been reduced by this point to a level much closer to the kind of immediate self-gratification entailed in Pavlovian stimulus/response patterns than anything accessible by appeals to higher logic, and still felt morally obliged to offer the dolts an option to quit while they were ahead.

What the hell? It was worth a try.

But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the dosage of medicine administered was entirely insufficient to accomplish its purpose.

Although there are undoubtedly exceptions, Americans for the most part still don’t get it.

Already, they’ve desecrated the temporary tomb of those killed in the WTC, staging a veritable pep rally atop the mangled remains of those they profess to honor, treating the whole affair as if it were some bizarre breed of contact sport. And, of course, there are the inevitable pom-poms shaped like American flags, the school colors worn as little red-white-and-blue ribbons affixed to labels, sportscasters in the form of “counterterrorism experts” drooling mindless color commentary during the pregame warm-up.

Refusing the realization that the world has suddenly shifted its axis, and that they are therefore no longer “in charge,” they have by-and-large reverted instantly to type, working themselves into their usual bloodlust on the now obsolete premise that the bloodletting will “naturally” occur elsewhere and to someone else.

“Patriotism,” a wise man once observed, “is the last refuge of scoundrels.”

And the braided, he might of added.

Braided Scoundrel-in-Chief, George Junior, lacking even the sense to be careful what he wished for, has teamed up with a gaggle of fundamentalist Christian clerics like Billy Graham to proclaim a “New Crusade” called “Infinite Justice” aimed at “ridding the world of evil.”

One could easily make light of such rhetoric, remarking upon how unseemly it is for a son to threaten his father in such fashion – or a president to so publicly contemplate the murder/suicide of himself and his cabinet – but the matter is deadly serious.

They are preparing once again to sally forth for the purpose of roasting brown-skinned children by the scores of thousands. Already, the B-1 bombers and the aircraft carriers and the missile frigates are en route, the airborne divisions are gearing up to go.

To where? Afghanistan?

The Sudan?

Iraq, again (or still)?

How about Grenada (that was fun)?

Any of them or all. It doesn’t matter.

The desire to pummel the helpless runs rabid as ever.

Only, this time it’s different.

The time the helpless aren’t, or at least are not so helpless as they were.

This time, somewhere, perhaps in an Afghani mountain cave, possibly in a Brooklyn basement, maybe another local altogether – but somewhere, all the same – there’s a grim-visaged (wo)man wearing a Clint Eastwood smile.

“Go ahead, punks,” s/he’s saying, “Make my day.”

And when they do, when they launch these airstrikes abroad – or may a little later; it will be at a time conforming to the “terrorists”‘ own schedule, and at a place of their choosing – the next more intensive dose of medicine administered here “at home.”

Of what will it consist this time? Anthrax? Mustard gas? Sarin? A tactical nuclear device?

That, too, is their choice to make.

Looking back, it will seem to future generations inexplicable why Americans were unable on their own, and in time to save themselves, to accept a rule of nature so basic that it could be mouthed by an actor, Lawrence Fishburn, in a movie, The Cotton Club.

“You’ve got to learn, ” the line went, “that when you push people around, some people push back.”

As they should.

As they must.

And as they undoubtedly will.

There is justice in such symmetry.

ADDENDUM

The preceding was a “first take” reading, more a stream-of-consciousness interpretive reaction to the September 11 counterattack than a finished piece on the topic. Hence, I’ll readily admit that I’ve been far less than thorough, and quite likely wrong about a number of things.

For instance, it may not have been (only) the ghosts of Iraqi children who made their appearance that day. It could as easily have been some or all of their butchered Palestinian cousins.

Or maybe it was some or all of the at least 3.2 million Indochinese who perished as a result of America’s sustained and genocidal assault on Southeast Asia (1959-1975), not to mention the millions more who’ve died because of the sanctions imposed thereafter.

Perhaps there were a few of the Korean civilians massacred by US troops at places like No Gun Ri during the early ‘50s, or the hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians ruthlessly incinerated in the ghastly fire raids of World War II (only at Dresden did America bomb Germany in a similar manner).

And, of course, it could have been those vaporized in the militarily pointless nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are others, as well, a vast and silent queue of faceless victims, stretching from the million-odd Filipinos slaughtered during America’s “Indian War” in their islands at the beginning of the twentieth century, through the real Indians, America’s own, massacred wholesale at places like Horseshoe Bend and the Bad Axe, Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, the Washita, Bear River, and the Marias.

Was it those who expired along the Cherokee Trial of Tears of the Long Walk of the Navajo?

Those murdered by smallpox at Fort Clark in 1836?

Starved to death in the concentration camp at Bosque Redondo during the 1860s?

Maybe those native people claimed for scalp bounty in all 48 of the continental US states? Or the Raritans whose severed heads were kicked for sport along the streets of what was then called New Amsterdam, at the very site where the WTC once stood?

One hears, too, the whispers of those lost on the Middle Passage, and of those whose very flesh was sold in the slave market outside the human kennel from whence Wall Street takes its name. And of coolie laborers, imported by the gross-dozen to lay the tracks of empire across scorching desert sands, none of them allotted “a Chinaman’s chance” of surviving.

The list is too long, too awful to go on.

No matter what its eventual fate, America will have gotten off very, very cheap.

The full measure of its guilt can never be fully balanced or atoned for.

Ward Churchill (Keetoowah Band Cherokee) is one of the most outspoken of Native American activists. In his lectures and numerous published works, he explores the themes of genocide in the Americas, historical and legal (re)interpretation of conquest and colonization, literary and cinematic criticism, and indigenist alternatives to the status quo. Churchill is a Professor of Ethnic Studies and Coordinator of American Indian Studies. He is also a past national spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. His books include Agents of Repression, Fantasies of the Master Race, From a Native Son and A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust.

http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/s11/churchill.html

 

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2016/09/21/the-full-measure-of-its-guilt/

He was despised and we esteemed him not

MSC_2014_Blair_Kissinger_Kleinschmidt_MSC2014 - modifiedAfter the Chilcot report, we’ll hear the New Testament – the gospel according to Saint Tony

By Robert Fisk, Friday 3 June 2016 08:25 BST

 

So, Sir John Chilcot’s report is going to be “four times as long as War and Peace”, is it? My weariness comes not with the cliché, credited to the usual tiresome “officials”, never mind the insult to poor old Tolstoy. The implication is that the Russian novel is so massive, its characters so many, its historical sweep so vast, its very length so awesome, that we can scarcely grasp its importance. But it’s the wrong book.

True, Saddam idolised a Russian leader (Stalin), but there were no Napoleons in Iraq, whatever Generals Petraeus and McCrystal might think.

We could, perhaps, turn to Tolstoy’s forgotten little masterpiece Hadji Murat, inspired by the author’s experience as a soldier in what is now Chechnya – a novel whose Muslim separatist rebel hero ends up, naturally enough, getting his head chopped off, in this case by some very angry Russian soldiers. But that’s really only a short story.

Surely it’s far more accurate to say that Chilcot’s 2.6 million words will be more than four times as long as the Old Testament. First, the titanic events of that great volume take place in the Middle East, in some cases on the lands that constitute the very same Iraq which we shamefully invaded in 2003. The narrative of the Old Testament is therefore set on familiar territory.

And only this Biblical epic of lies, cruelty, mass killing, ethnic cleansing, enslavement and betrayal comes anywhere close to the story of deceit, genocidal murder and criminality with which Sir John has been wrestling these past seven years.

Mind you, we’re not going to get the story of the war, just Britain’s role. Thus, I fear, save for our comparatively few British dead, the hundreds of thousands of equally worthy but dead Iraqis – give or take half a million – will be cast by the wayside.

I will look for a few tell-tale strands of history. What, for example, of those “conversations with Israelis”, to which Blair made such an intriguing allusion when he talked about the critical pre-invasion meeting with George W Bush at the latter’s Crawford ranch, a reference which Chilcot and his chums either overlooked or chose to ignore during the original hearings?

But yes, we will be able to forget for a few days the vast fires which now embrace almost the entire Middle East and the question of which particular criminal incendiary lit those fires, and once more hunker down to the familiar minutiae of 45-minute warnings and rulings from the Attorney General and fake intelligence reports and “weapons of mass destruction” – a phrase which, when you come to think of it, does have a rather Old Testament ring about it.

But we know what Blair’s going to do after he’s read the whole shebang (if he hasn’t already), because he revealed this very pointedly to Andrew Marr at the weekend: “By the way, the thing that will be important when it [publication] does happen [sic] is that we have then a full debate, and I look forward to participating in that.”

So there you have it. Already this wretched man has decided that Chilcot’s Old Testament will be up for “debate” – a “full debate” no less – and that only then will we be able to decide whether this massive government enquiry actually measures up to Blair’s high standards of probity and due diligence or whether it needs further embellishment. Whether, in fact, it needs a vast addendum which, no doubt, will be written. Thus, Blair promises his “participation”, a revelation which had me gasping.

Until I realised. After it’s all over, in an effort to cast doubt on the Old Testament – and to construct the killer adjective ‘controversial’ around it – we’re going to be given the New Testament according to Saint Tony. This may not be a written text, more a collection of stories handed down by apostles, generation after generation, only later formed into a codex.

Many of these scriptures are already known to us, of course and this will be shorter volume, infinitely humane and humble in spirit, a quality which Saint Tony has never had in short supply. And it will tell a simple story: the unforgettable tale of a hidden, lone Messiah, scorned by his own people; misunderstood, mocked, scourged by his enemies, tried and eventually martyred.

The latter may be a bit too much for Saint Tony, but I suppose political martyrdom will have to do. He was despised and we esteemed him not.

Nonetheless, it will be a continuing story of love, piety and individual conscience, one whose author still insists on his innocence and of the importance of the work he has done, and who goes on and on and on and on repeating himself until – yes, finally, in infinite exhaustion – we shall accept that he has told the Truth, that he was, despite all the vales of grief, truly wise and brave and honest to destroy Satan, without whom we are all far better off.

Saint Tony’s New Testament will survive forever. Eventually, perhaps only hundreds of years after his death, it will supplant the Old Testament and come to be accepted as the true gospel.

There’s just one problem. The Old Testament is not over. The ethnic cleansing continues and the slaughter goes on along with the flight of refugees across the seas for whom, alas, the waters do not part.

And George Senior begat Bill, and Bill begat George W, and George W begat Barack, and Barack begat…

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/after-the-chilcot-report-well-hear-the-new-testament-the-gospel-according-to-saint-tony-a7061111.html or http://ind.pn/20V0GnT

Photograph (modified) of Tony Blair and Henry Kissinger at 50th Munich Security Conference 2014, by Tobias Kleinschmidt, 31 January 2014, 21:39:00. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MSC_2014_Blair_Kissinger_Kleinschmidt_MSC2014.jpg

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2016/06/03/he-was-despised-and-we-esteemed-him-not/