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National decay starts at the heart, and spreads like cancer

21 August 2012

Summary:  As our War on Terror grows ever-larger, it becomes more difficult to distinguish the two teams. Our enemies increasingly are insurgents fighting tyrannical governments. Our allies are allies of Iran or (and) jihadists. And we use terrorism. Think of this as evolution. The New America slowly emerges from its cocoon, but we prefer not to see its hideous form.

“The double-tap suicide bombing was as insidious a terrorist tactic as they came — not only were innocents targeted, but first responders, individuals trained and equipped to save lives, were placed inside the indiscriminate crosshairs of two large improvised explosive devices.”
Jihad in Brooklyn by Samuel M. Katz (2005). This term has appeared in US government-sponsored reports (eg “Underlying Reasons for Success and Failure of Terrorist Attacks: Selected Case Studies“, by the Federally-funded Homeland Security Institute, 4 June 2007). We’re doing the same thing in Af-Pak, attacking rescuers after responding to our initial attacks.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
— Aphorism 146 in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

“A spoiled saint, a Pharisee, or an inquisitor makes better sport in Hell than a mere common tyrant or debauchee.”
Letter 23 from Uncle Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood

Contents

  1. The evidence
  2. The machinery we built after WWII still works
  3. The first evidence, so vehemently denied by the US government
  4. For more information

(1)  The evidence

No fair observer can deny the evidence, now overwhelming, that the US has become a terrorist nation. We have adopted the methods of the terrorists we fight.  This is yet another accomplishment of bin Laden on 9/11, a small attack (as battles go) that decisively changed the course of a great nation — away from the path that had brought it both renown and success.  Sending it off into the darkness of constant war and barbarism, probably eventually landing in the trash along with the many others that adopted evil methods to spread their control over other peoples.

As usual, Glenn Greenwald starkly states the ugly truth that we refuse to see:

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As usual, US policies justified in the name of fighting terrorism – aside from being rather terroristic themselves – are precisely those which fuel the anti-American hatred that causes those attacks.

The reason for the silence about such matters, and the reason commentary of this sort sparks such anger and hostility, is two-fold: first, the US likes to think of terror as something only “others” engage in, not itself, and more so; second, supporters of Barack Obama, the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, simply do not want to think about him as someone who orders attacks on those rescuing his victims or funeral attendees gathered to mourn them.

That, however, is precisely what he is, as this mountain of evidence conclusively establishes.

Here are a few of the many articles describing one form of US terrorism done in the name of “homeland security”:  attacking rescuers (aka first responders):

Fear her, for she’s now our enemy

(2)  The machinery we built after WWII still works

Perhaps America’s greatest contribution to the world were the international institutions created after WWII to preserve peace and create justice between nations.  Although disowned by America and only infants, they still survive.  Slowly they turn their sights upon our actions. Unfortunately they have good reason to do so.

“If it is true, he said, that “there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime”.”
— Christof Heyns (Prof Law, U of Pretoria and the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings), at a June 2012 conference in Geneva (source: The Guardian)

Ben Emmerson, a leading London barrister and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said America is facing mounting global pressure over its use of UAVs and he is preparing a report for the next session of the Human Rights Council in March. The issue, he insists, will “remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved”.
—  From “US ‘should hand over footage of drone strikes or face UN inquiry‘”, The Independent, 20 August 2012 — “The UN special rapporteur on human rights to urge establishing a mechanism to investigate such killings”

(3)  The first evidence, so long ago — so vehemently denied by the US government

Video of 12 July 2007 attack by US apache helicopter on rescuers in Iraq, released by Wikileaks in 2010. WikiLeaks has a website at which you can see the full 38 minute video.

Background from “Video Shows U.S. Killing of Reuters Employees“, New York Times, 5 April 2010 — Excerpt:

The Web site WikiLeaks.org released a graphic video on Monday showing an American helicopter shooting and killing a Reuters photographer and driver in a July 2007 attack in Baghdad. … On the day of the attack, United States military officials said that the helicopters had been called in to help American troops who had been exposed to small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in a raid. “There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,” Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad, said then.

But the video does not show hostile action. Instead, it begins with a group of people milling around on a street, among them, according to WikiLeaks, Mr. Noor-Eldeen and Mr. Chmagh. The pilots believe them to be insurgents, and mistake Mr. Noor-Eldeen’s camera for a weapon. They aim and fire at the group, then revel in their kills.

“Look at those dead bastards,” one pilot says. “Nice,” the other responds. A wounded man can be seen crawling and the pilots impatiently hope that he will try to fire at them so that under the rules of engagement they can shoot him again. “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon,” one pilot says. A short time later a van arrives to pick up the wounded and the pilots open fire on it, wounding two children inside. “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle,” one pilot says.

(4)  For more information

Background:

Looking in the mirror:

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Bluestocking permalink
    21 August 2012 4:49 pm

    The saddest truth of all is that we’ve actually been a rogue nation to at least some degree ever since 1953 if not decades earlier. The War On Terror is merely the latest — and perhaps the most egregious — example of this, but it’s possible that one of the reasons why it’s getting worse is because the American people have consistently proven through their actions (or lack thereof) that they’re quite willing to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. In much the same way that voter disenfranchisement has become more blatant, it may be that our rogue behavior as a nation has become more blatant in large part because the American people have always sent the message that they’re fully prepared to remain in ignorance and/or look the other way. You can lead the horses to water, but you cannot make them drink.

    The United States does not exactly have the best track record when it comes to respecting the sovereignty of other nations or the human rights of their people, certainly nowhere nearly as good a track record as we claim to have…and especially not when that sovereignty has the potential to interfere with corporate profits, since it seems only too clear that the military and the corporations are the real ruling entities in this country regardless of what anyone in DC might say.

    Exhibit A: Operation Ajax, in which we used the CIA to stage a coup in order to overthrow the newly-elected Prime Minister of Iran (Mohammed Mossadegh) and reinstate the Shah because we knew the Shah would be more supportive of our petroleum interests. (Mossadegh, on the other hand, wanted to nationalize the oil fields in order to help the Iranian people gain greater benefit from their own resources.) Ironically, an argument can be made for the notion that Operation Ajax is indirectly responsible for most if not all of our current troubles in the Middle East…since Operation Ajax contributed to the Iranian Revolution and the Hostage Crisis, which led to US involvement with Iraq, which in turn was a factor in the establishment of al-Qaeda and the current War On Terror.

    Exhibit B: General Smedley Butler (1881-1940), the most decorated Marine in US history at the time of his death, who made the following statement in his 1935 book “War Is A Racket”…

    “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

    Of course, the saddest part of all is that officially, the fact that Mr. Noor-Eldeen and Mr. Chmagh never engaged in any hostile actions and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn’t matter…because according to the current rules of engagement as the US government defines them, any male of fighting age in a combat area is automatically regarded as an insurgent. Not merely a potential insurgent, mind you — but an insurgent, full stop. This is the self-serving, diabolical argument which the Obama administration has been using to rationalize its claim that they have killed very few civilians — they’ve simply decided that any male civilian killed in the combat zone must have been up to no good and therefore qualifies as an insurgent. It’s almost enough to make a person suspect that this is part of a deliberate strategy designed to maintain the power of the Military Industrial Complex. After all, the more insurgents there are, the more you need the military…and of course, the more indiscriminate your response, the more insurgents there are.

    In closing, I’ll merely mention that my uncle spent part of his Air Force career at the Pentagon in the latter days of the Cold War…and he described it as one of the worst experiences of his career. Not just because he wasn’t flying (which is why he’d joined the Air Force in the first place), but because he likened the Pentagon to a tank. When you first begin working at the Pentagon, you get behind it and push it in an attempt to make it move faster. If you have any brains, you eventually begin to realize what’s really going on which is when you get in front of it and push it in an attempt to slow it down. After a while, you acknowledge the complete futility of both efforts…which is when you either climb on top and go along for the ride or walk away completely. That was back in the late 80′s, and there’s every reason to believe that it’s grown much worse since then (especially in the last ten-plus years)

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  2. 21 August 2012 9:52 pm

    “How many Americans have ever paused to consider that The United States has never bombed any nation that could bomb us back?”
    — The opening line of Paul Atwood’s War and Empire: The American Way of Life (2010)

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  3. Thomas More permalink
    21 August 2012 11:43 pm

    America has become the focus of evil in the modern world.

    Chuck Spinney has an article up on his blog in which he looks into the near future and finds it dark indeed:

    “…We can expect yet more gridlock and more of the same, and while enabler Democrats get an increasing lock on the Presidency and the crazies strengthen the control of the Republican base, the bloated plutocrats can laugh all the way to the bank.

    “Despite this rosy scenario for enriching plutocratic power in the coming years, history tells us that sooner or later, the insatiable greed of any oligarchy overreaches itself and becomes intolerable to impoverished masses who think they have or should have a voice in selecting their political leaders. When that tipping point is reached, the political system becomes ripe for revolution. In our case, I think a more likely result will be an American version of a fascist revolution on the right than a social justice revolution on the left. The vanguard of a neo-fascist revolution will be the impoverished, radicalized, middle class, minority white men who need jobs, but feel their opportunities have been screwed by the alien `others’ in our increasingly diverse population. This is an outlook that can be easily exploited by ruthless politicians to shift the focus of their anger onto other victims of the very same plutocrats who created the intolerable conditions in the first place.

    “Of course, the vanguard of an American neo-fascist revolution, like the brownshirts of the 1920s and 1930s, will be snookered into working for the further entrenchment of the oligarchy, perhaps eventually opening the door for an election victory (via another stolen election like that of 2000?) of a right wing fanatic instead of an enabler. Whoever he or she might be, the fanatic, like the Enabler, will be beholden to the oligarchy; but unlike the Enabler, the fanatic will be far more predisposed to go all the way toward establishing an overt police state, giving the thuggish domestic policing jobs (in the military, police forces, and private security firms guarding our gated communities, etc) initially to members of the angry mob. If such a scenario unfolds, it is a virtual certainty that it will be accompanied by an even more militaristic foreign policy, because war (and the patriotism and money flows it engenders) is the surest way to distract the attention of the increasingly impoverished masses from the reality of their growing disenfranchisement.
    It seems to me that some kind of neo-fascist evolution will be far more likely at this point than a revolt led by the fops of the enervated left, who are more at home in the brie and chablis salons of the Upper West Side, Versailles on the Potomac, and in the gated communities springing up across America than in the diners of Akron or Steelton or in the poor black/hispanic urban and rural ghettoes spreading across our land.”

    —”The Ramifications of Romney’s Choice of Paul Ryan: Get Ready for the Slaughter,” Chuck Spinney, CounterPunch, 18 August 2012.

    Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that America is now the first country in the world with more reported rapes of men than of women, courtesy of our subhuman prison system. See “Is the US the only country where more men are raped than women?The Guardian, 21 February 2012.

    And AP news service for 21 August 2012 reports that:

    “In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday.”

    Americans had better hope that Dr. Martin Luther King was wrong, because if “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” citizens of the united states of America are going to face consequnces truly horrific in their magnitude.

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    • 22 August 2012 1:23 am

      powerful words mr. More. I hate to say it, but Americans will be kept docile by some means and they won’t even realize the dociling agent. I see it now as things deteriorate and I’m not seeing much change.

      I often get extreme right rhetoric (as heard on t.v) from most adults and mostly cluelessness from the young. No, ignorance is powerfully joyful and we will remain in it’s trance until circumstances force us out of it.

      As for the post; we’ll see what happens when we fall into desperate times and see no hand stretched out when we beg for help.

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    • 22 August 2012 3:20 am

      IMO

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  4. SDW permalink
    22 August 2012 3:48 pm

    Terrorism is not an aberration in war, it is an integral part of war as are other atrocities such as torture and killing of prisoners. Just now reading Grant’s Personal Memoirs. He makes a special point about Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor forbidding atrocities during the Mexican War, perhaps because their actions were so unusual and commendable. Grant also mentions that many American soldiers began to see the Mexicans as victims of an unjust war, which may have helped prevent atrocities.

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  5. Thomas More permalink
    23 August 2012 9:16 pm

    SDW’s claim is anhistorical and contradicts observed reality. During the Napoleonic Wars, citizens used to carry out picnic baskets and have lunch while observing battles. Civilians were not preferentially targeted during the American Civil War (they traveled in carriages to observe the battle of Gettysburg), nor during such conflicts as the Franco-Prussian War of 1871.

    During the Papal Wars of the 16th century, civilians were typically not targeted. Even in Asian wars like the conquests of Genghis Khan, if a nation surrendered without a fight, the Khanate granted its citizens amnesty and the city-state was spared from slaughter and rape. Indeed, during the reign of Genghis Khan it was said that respect for law was such that a woman could travel naked with a pot of gold coins on her head from one end of the Khanate empire to the other without being molested.

    The specific targeting of civilians in war has become a normal aspect of warfare only starting in the early 20th century. Earlier examples of civilian slaughter remain unusual, as for example Athens’ decision to slaughter the entire male population of the island of Melos, at that time regarded as a monumental atrocity, and instrumental in creating the general revulsion for Athens which resulted in its eventual downfall in the Peloponnesian War.

    The first war in which civilians were preferentially targeted, as far as I can tall, was the Boer War of 1895:

    “To cut the Boer fighters off from their base of supply, the British resorted to rounding up civilians and relocating them in concentration camps. (Before the Holocaust, the term “concentration camp” had no sinister connotations – it was simply a camp where people were concentrated for easier control.) More South Africans died in these camps from disease than died in battle. One reason the struggle to end apartheid was so bitter was that Dutch-speaking South Africans still held bitter memories of the camps and regarded their critics as completely lacking in moral credibility.”

    This was something new in warfare. Slaughter of an entire city’s population had occurred before, but typically only as the result of a prolonged siege in which the attackers suffered almost as badly from starvation and disease as the besieged population.

    Ever since 1895, more civilians have died in wars than soldiers. The targeting of civilians (as in mass bombing in WW II) represents a drastic and historically unprecedented reversal of the casualty figures in war. The advent of 4GW war has only increased this imbalance — 4GW insurgents now typically target civilians rather than soldiers, as for instance in 9/11, when 100% of the casualties were civilian.

    Terrorism is a modern development. SDW may perhaps be confusing the term “terrorism” with “atrocity.” Atrocities have often occurred in war, usually as isolated incidents, viz., the sack of Constantinople in 1453. Terrorism is something new. Moreover, the kind of organized terrorism used as effective warfare that Lind and van Creveld call “4GW” has only existed since 1949, when Mao Tse-Tung perfected it.

    At least, this reflects my limited understanding of military history. If my claims are inaccurate, doubtless FM or Marcus Ranum or some other expert will correct me. In making these statements I’m largely reiterating Martin van Creveld’s arguments in his book The Transformation of War, which I believe sets out the definitive evidence for the overall worldwide change in patterns of warfare since the 1960s from large pitched land battles (pre-1960) to 4GW “asymmetrical warfare” now colloquiially and inaccurately known as “terrorism.”

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    • 23 August 2012 11:40 pm

      More is right that civilian casualties are a sometimes-thing in warfare. The English Civil War was mostly men fighting out in the fields. At Gettysburg there was (from only one documented civilian death Ginnie Wade, 20 years old, hit by a stray bullet that passed through her kitchen window in town while she was making bread (see this article for details).

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