LXIX – Between Iraq and a Hard Place

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The
American people have now received photographic evidence of what
most of the rest of the world has already learned: the "war
on terror" is terror! Reports of the torture and killing
of Iraqis have appeared on the Internet and elsewhere with sufficient
detail that the establishment media — desirous of protecting its
diminishing credibility — finally had to acknowledge the legitimacy
of the charges. It was only after the photos appeared on television
— the boobeoisie's electronic "Ministry of Truth" — that
the systematic wrongdoing by American forces became a permissible
topic of conversation.

The
Iraqi adventure has, until recently, had the cable television news
channels as its ardent cheerleaders. We were daily treated to an
endless supply of retired generals and colonels to tell us how well
the war was going. That many of such military "experts"
were now employed as consultants to defense contractors — who have
a decided interest in the propagation of the war — did not seem
to detract from any sense of journalistic duty to the pursuit of
truth. Informed critics were almost never allowed on network television
to raise doubts about this "holy crusade."

But
photographs — first of some twenty flag-draped coffins of American
soldiers, then of Iraqi citizens being gleefully tortured by American
troops — were able to insinuate themselves into the consciousness
of even a few erstwhile flag-wavers. What impact such evidence will
ultimately have upon the thinking of the Americans who have thus
far been content to keep their minds in idle, remains to be seen.
"Facts are stubborn things," John Adams informed us on
the eve of the Revolutionary War, "and whatever may be our
wishes, our inclinations, or the dangers of our passions, they cannot
alter the state of facts and evidence."

Even
some members of Congress — almost all of whom have been bipartisan
rubber-stamping lapdogs for an administration bent on ruling the
world — have suddenly discovered their hind legs, upon which a few
have risen to mumble unfocused questions about the Bush war in Iraq.
Some Republicans sought a convenient rug under which to keep such
evidence "in perspective." Democrats — who have been trying
to figure out how to take advantage of the horrors of 9/11 without
offending their establishment masters, a process that has thus far
only managed to cough up a John Kerry hair ball — are now speaking
of "responsibility." Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del) has proclaimed
that "accountability is essential" in assessing the causes
of these latest atrocities. "Who is in charge?," the senator
asks.

Well,
Bozo, you are supposed to be! You and your colleagues
— who rose to no higher level of congressional responsibility than
that exhibited by Caligula's horse — went into a collective swoon
over the Bush administration's "Patriot Act," enacting
it into law even before it had been fully drafted! Wisconsin Senator
Feingold, stood alone in the Senate vote against this police-state
measure. And what of Congress' constitutionally-mandated authority
to declare war? The Constitution placed this power in the hands
of Congress, not in ambitious presidents whose dreams of
imperial power become the nightmares of others.

This
might be an appropriate time for you and your colleagues to re-read
the Constitution, with particular attention paid to the fact that
legislative powers are enumerated before those of
the executive, a decision premised upon Congress being the repository
of "sovereign power." Such a perusal might also reacquaint
you with Article I, Section 3 which gives Congress the power of
impeachment, even as to the president. You might also ask your colleagues
why they so self-righteously exercised such authority when Bill
Clinton lied about his sexual activities in the White House, but
have failed to even consider such a remedy against the current president
who piled lie upon lie in his eagerness for war. Does not the months-long
cover-up by Bush and Rumsfeld of the torture of Iraqi civilians
rise to the same level of turpitude as Richard Nixon's cover-up
of the Watergate break-in?

Who
is in charge here, Senator? You might be prepared to answer
that question should some mischievous soul dare to demand an answer
in your next reelection campaign!

President
Bush and other politicians — desirous of not offending any of the
species Boobus Americanus in an election year — have been
quick to marginalize these latest atrocities in Iraq as not being
reflective of the attitudes or values of most Americans or military
people. Every embarrassment to the state is immediately labeled
an "aberration" that is not to be considered representative
of the system.

But
I strongly disagree with this assessment. To begin with, most Americans
went into saturnalian ecstasy over the wholly unjustified bombing
and invasion of Iraq, a wrong that has so far left some ten thousand
Iraqis dead, not to mention the hundreds of Americans killed in
this politico-psychotic fury. The willingness to kill men, women,
and children as a reactive rage to the events of 9/11 — when it
is clear that none of them had any connection with the WTC attack
– is a reflection of both the values and the sanity
of those who supported this war. Most Americans sanctioned terror
against such people when they embraced the "shock and awe"
bombing carried out by American warplanes. If Americans learn nothing
more from this most grisly record of Americanism run rampant, it
should be this: war is always directed against innocent people.
It is utter hypocrisy to wave blood-stained flags on behalf of so-called
"moral wars," and then pretend to be shocked when confronted
with the evidence that innocent people have been tortured and killed
in the process.

As
long as they identify themselves with the state, most Americans
— military personnel included — are quite prepared to accept these
and other atrocious acts, as long as they are done quietly, and
do not invade their consciousness. Even Harvard University law professor,
Alan Dershowitz, has advocated torture under some circumstances.
I believe that most people — Americans included — would not choose
to engage in such acts themselves, and would reject them, in advance,
if such were proposed. But once having been carried out by others,
people with a collective mindset — upon which all political systems
must rely — will be more inclined to cover up such wrongs than to
ferret out the wrongdoers. One sees this tendency in police abuse
cases, where police officers who would not engage in brutal acts
themselves, will nevertheless remain silent when confronted with
the evidence of such actions by their fellow officers.

This
is a trait common within most institutions. Look at how Bush and
Rumsfeld — who knew of these tortures as early as February — sat
on the knowledge of such acts, apparently hoping they would not
be made public. Institutions — both private and political — have
long stressed the importance of each individual being a "team
player," a term intended to convey the sense of collective
identity that will dissuade one from revealing organizational wrongdoings.

The
term "whistleblower" has either an affirmative or negative
connotation, depending upon whether one is looking from outside
or inside the organization. Unlike most people who identify themselves
with an institution (e.g., the state) the whistleblower is an individual
who does not allow his or her principles to be usurped by mandates
of that system. The "Nuremburg principles" — although
largely ignored as a standard to be imposed upon those who have
enunciated such canons for others — are premised, at least in theory,
on protecting the individuals who question the authority of those
who order wrongdoing. They are also a way of reminding individuals
that they are responsible for their acts. This is a lesson forgotten
by some militarists who are suggesting that the men and women who
tortured the Iraqis ought not to be punished, as they were only
"following orders."

But
whistleblowers are more reviled than revered within institutions.
Tami Silicio, the woman who took the photograph of over twenty flag-draped
coffins — another piece of evidence the government wanted to conceal
from public view — was fired by her employer, Maytag Aircraft, for
having done so. Even the United Nations — a body that gullible minds
regard as being above crass politics! — has been informing contractors
participating in the UN's "oil-for-food" program, to remain
quiet about investigations into alleged corruption. In a display
of ownership long since denied by its member states to ordinary
people, the UN has declared that all information on this program
shall be the "property" of the UN!

It
is the rare soul — but precisely the kind of person you would want
in any healthy organization – who runs the risk of being a
whistleblower. I suspect that the smiling soldiers photographed
above their subdued, naked Iraqi victims, were implicitly aware
of the internal pressures that work in favor of in-house secrecy.
There was certainly nothing, in these pictures, that reflected either
a fear of discovery of their deeds, or the sense, now being trumpeted
by politicians and the media, that such actions were contrary to
the values and attitudes of Americans.

Wartime
does, on very rare occasions, produce the kinds of genuine heroes
who have not permitted their principles to be completely suppressed
by the orgies of war. One such man was an American helicopter pilot,
Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, who served in the army during
the Vietnam war. His helicopter arrived at My Lai as Lt. Calley
and his men were engaged in the point blank killing of old men,
women, and children. Thompson landed his helicopter between Calley
and his Vietnamese victims, and told members of his crew to open
fire on any Americans who continued to shoot the Vietnamese. The
slaughter ended. If someone wants to build a statue to this genuine
war hero — perhaps at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington — let
me know and I shall contribute!

As
a colleague and I were watching the events of 9/11 unfold on a television
screen in the faculty lounge, he asked for my interpretation. I
told him that I thought the aftereffects of the WTC attack would
be far greater than the horrible acts we were watching; that the
repercussions would go far deeper into the conscious and unconscious
minds of Americans than they will be comfortable exploring; and
that, at the very least, Americans will have to come to grips with
the question: why does so much of the world hate America? The revelation
of the torturing and killing of Iraqi civilians may provide, albeit
some thirty-two months later, a catalyst for each of us to examine
our individual character as well as our susceptibility to being
herded into politically-driven mobs.

It
has been said that the likes of Clinton and Bush — along with their
congressional sycophants – represent the bottom of the barrel
in political behavior. If this is so, then it must be because most
of us are now scraping the lowest depths of our dark side, but without
any rethinking of the principles that should guide our conduct with
others. The corporate-state managers of the establishment that claims
ownership of your body and soul, don't want you making any such
inquiries. They hope you will be satisfied with a cursory remedy
of the torture embarrassment, instead of looking more deeply into
our own thinking. To this end, establishment voices have been offering
up scapegoats for your consideration: the resignation of Donald
Rumsfeld being at the top of the list. It has also been suggested
that formal apologies be offered, it not being clear whether
such remorse is for the acts, themselves, or for their having been
uncovered. Others have made the absurd suggestion that the prison
wherein such torture occurred be demolished, as though the building
was to blame, rather than the purposes for which the building
was constructed and used.

The
Democrats will be trying to convince you that John Kerry is the
answer to all of this. But John Kerry is just another symptom of
the same problem of politically-centralized thinking. He is an "alternative"
in the same sense that lung cancer is an alternative to emphysema,
neither of which offers a healthy prognosis.

When
I was growing up, it was said with a sense of egalitarian pride
that, in America, anyone can grow up to be president. George
W. Bush has confirmed the truth of this proposition. The underlying
premises of his thinking and conduct also attest to the fact that
most Americans will accept the rule of anyone. This man lacks any
credibility to thoughtful and intelligent people. He refuses to
acknowledge even the possibility that he might have been mistaken
in any of his policies, an attitude that makes him immune to the
learning process. He apparently draws solace from believing that
"God wants me to be president."

As
I write this article, amidst repercussions of the lies about Iraq's
"weapons of mass destruction" and ties to al Qaeda; with
this administration's trying to conceal photos of coffins returning
from Iraq; and now with revelations of the torture and killing of
Iraqi prisoners; George W. Bush is on television with a proposal
to free Cuba from the dictator Castro!

If
I had more confidence in the practice of psychiatry, I would suggest
that America needs a whole lot of couch time!

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