After the Battle
of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror's army buried its fallen
comrades, but left the corpses of the English defenders to rot in
the fields where they lay.
Such is the
brutal nature of war: the victor inflicts all manner of suffering
and humiliation on the vanquished.
What the United
States is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is only marginally different.
Conqueror made no pretense about his brutal subjugation of the English.
They hated him and resisted his occupation for twenty years, during
which time he took all their property and gave it to the Norman
upper class. Over 300,000 English people were murdered and starved
(one fifth of the population) and some 300,000 French and Normans
were planted in England in positions of authority.
nobleman was likely blinded, castrated, and thrown in a dungeon
in one of the hundreds of prison William built across the countryside
to terrorize the population into submission.
being England, and William repented his sins on his deathbed.
While the U.S.
subjugation of Iraq and Afghanistan is following much the same pattern,
it is different in one respect. Unlike William, whose oppression
was done in the light of day, the U.S. conceals its crimes to preserve
the pretense of moral superiority that defines American "exceptionalism."
cover-ups, and deception are essential because, without the belief
in its inherent moral superiority, the American public might not
support its government's plundering of foreign nations on behalf
of America's ruling class.
The U.S. policy
of not identifying or accurately counting foreigners killed in recent
American conquests is a good example of why this Big Lie is employed.
U.S. has an official policy of not counting the number of people
it has killed and crippled, rendered homeless, starved, condemned
to sickness, disease and insanity. Thus it is impossible to quantitatively
measure the amount of misery America has visited upon Iraq, which
of course makes it easier for the U.S. Government to pretend that
all this death and suffering was for Iraqi benefit.
are reports of five million orphans in Iraq. That's three times
the number of Englishmen William conquered.
the face of such immense numbers, it is easy to forget that each
person matters, as much as you matter. Someone knows who these people
to the point, in many if not most cases the U.S. Government — the
hired killers in the military and the CIA — know perfectly well
the names and identities of each and every person they murder, maim,
or render an orphan.
don't tell you, but they know.
Afghanistan, for example, the CIA and military have been conducting,
through Provincial Reconstruction Teams, other "civic action"
programs, and a secret army of informants, a census of every village,
town and city in the country — much like William's Doomsday Book.
commander of the U.S. occupation army, General Stanley McChrystal
wants to know every Afghan by name, so he can decide who is Taliban
and who is not. McChrystal wants to know where each man lives, how
many people are in his family, who his wife and children and relatives
are, where he works and where his house is.
places like Marjah, McChrystal is at a bit of a loss, but he still
wants to know, and tries to know, largely through spies and all
manner of electronic surveillance, including satellites.
this biographical information on Afghans is entered into a computer
in McChrystal's office. The CIA carefully monitors that computer,
and with its military special operations counterparts, keeps a separate
folder for the Taliban alone.
that Taliban folder, every man is identified by the same biographical
criteria as every other Afghan. In addition, each Taliban is categorized
by his rank and position within the organization. Low-level fighters
are left to the Marines. High-Value Targets have their own folder,
and belong to the CIA and military special operations.
High-Value Targets are given the same special attention that William
the Conqueror afforded to English noblemen. High-Value Targets have
the property (intellectual as well as, say, opium fields) that McChrystal
wants, and thus more biographical information is gathered about
them. Their movements are tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Through spies and sophisticated electronic surveillance, McChrystal
even has a very good idea when they are leaving one safe house and
traveling to another.
jets are fueled, and the drones are in the sky, waiting.
this is how and why 27 Afghan civilians were summarily murdered
on 21 February 2010 while traveling between remote provinces in
a caravan of minibuses. The CIA and military special operations
forces were alerted that such and such a High-Value Target was traveling
with his family, and McChrystal seized the opportunity to kill them
a dirty war like the one in Afghanistan, killing High-Value Targets
almost always involves killing them while they are home or traveling
with their families; otherwise they are underground and inaccessible.
this psychological warfare tactic of killing important enemy leaders
along with their entire families is policy (albeit secret policy),
it is called "black propaganda."
is psychological warfare because it has a sobering effect on low-level
Taliban who wish to rise in the ranks. It is propaganda because
every Afghan citizen is aware of this policy. And it is black because
Americans can't believe it is true.
can't believe it is true for two reasons. First, because General
McChrystal looks like an American nobleman and, like William, he
they believe because the mainstream media goes along with the Big
And yet, despite
the PR work of correspondents at Newsweek, General McChrystal is
no less savage than William the Conqueror. His job is fighting battles,
killing enemies, and dismembering their bodies. Every man, woman,
The only difference
is that William did his killing personally, up close, with a battle
axe and a sword for everyone to see, while McChrystal stands far
away from the carnage, without witnesses, and allows other to do
his dirty work for him, with 2000-pound bombs, missiles fired from
drones, shotguns, and censorship.
Most of all
it works because no one ever knows the names and biographies of
the innocent victims.
Valentine [send him mail]
the author of four previously published books: The Hotel Tacloban
(Lawrence Hill, 1984), The
Phoenix Program, (William Morrow, 1990), TDY
(iUniverse.com, 2000), and The
Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America's War on Drugs
(Verso, 2004). His latest book is The
Strength of the Pack (TrineDay, 2009). For more information
about the author and his works, please visit his websites at www.douglasvalentine.com