“Yes, we can” turns deadly

7 10 2010

In the past, I wished upon a star that Obama’s election to the American presidency would pop the idealism cherry of a new generation.  I can’t help but noticed I missed something.  At least so far.

After Obama was elected, everyone was happy he wasn’t Bush.  And why not?  Bush was a tyrant.  Bad things deserved to happen to the nether regions of George Bush as some kind of karmic retribution for all the terrible things he did.  But what people fail to realise is that Obama has been no better.

And no, let me preface the following by saying that I really don’t care about Obama’s “socialism” or whatever else certain American demographics have falsely branded the guy with. (hint: the words “Muslim” and “terrorist” immediately spring to mind)

Seems like a good dose of “he isn’t Bush,” is more powerful than rohypnol.  After all, if Bush had carried out raids on anti-war activists, half the world would be up in arms.

As Cindy Sheehan wrote in a blog post for Al Jazeera,

“These raids have terrifying implications for dissent here in the US.

First of all, these US citizens have been long-time and devoted anti-war activists who organised an anti-war rally that was violently suppressed by the US police state in Minneapolis-St. Paul, during the 2008 Republican National Convention. Because the Minneapolis activists have integrity, they had already announced that they would do the same if the Democrats hold their convention there in 2012.

I have observed that it was one thing to be anti-Bush, but to be anti-war in the age of Obama is not to be tolerated by many people. If you will also notice, the only people who seem to know about the raids are those of us already in the movement. There has been no huge outcry over this fresh outrage, either by the so-called movement or the corporate media.

I submit that if George Bush were still president, or if this happened under a McCain/Palin regime, there would be tens of thousands of people in the streets to protest. This is one of the reasons an escalation in police state oppression is so much more dangerous under Obama – even now, he gets a free pass from the very same people who should be adamantly opposed to such policies.

Secondly, I believe because the raids happened to basically ‘unsung’ and unknown, but very active workers in the movement, that the coordinated, early morning home invasions were designed to intimidate and frighten those of us who are still doing the work. The Obama regime would like nothing better than for us to shut up or go underground and to quit embarrassing it by pointing out its abject failures and highlighting its obvious crimes.

Just look at how the Democrats are demonising activists who are trying to point out the inconvenient truth that the country (under a near Democratic tyranny) is sliding further into economic collapse, environmental decay and perpetual war for enormous profit.”

So, let’s just recap;

  • Bombing campaigns conducted inside allied country’s borders — yes, we can!
  • Continuation of Bush era legal doctrines to maintain government cover-ups — yes, we can!
  • Increased support for secret special forces groups to conduct extra-judicial killings in Afghanistan — yes, we can!
  • Extra-judicial executions of American citizens abroad– yes, we can!
  • Scaling up almost decade long war in developing country for access to resources (minerals) — yes, we can!
  • Declaration of “victory” in Iraq despite continued American presence — yes, we can!
  • Raids on anti-war activists for being anti-war — yes, we can!

Who knew the inspirational phrase, “yes, we can” would have such a downside?  Then I can’t imagine the world would be much safer with McCain leading America, either.  “No leaders” probably doesn’t seem like such an radical proposal for those across the pond.

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UPDATE:

Found this great article at The Superfluous Man discussing how Obama is no different from the average, big name political pundit, but also the inability for critiques from all corners of statist politics to grasp exactly this fact.

Why on earth wouldn’t he? He’s blowing hundreds of billions on the stimulus so that he and his political allies can fund pet projects, justify the exercise of greater influence and power over society and pass out government swag to friends, allies, and supporters. He’s doing the standard, normal thing for someone with political power to do – he’s just able to do more because of the circumstances he finds himself in.

He wants to raise taxes on higher income brackets? So does every other center-left politician cultivating his “friend of the people” persona. He wants to increase federal involvement in this or that sector of the economy? He’d be a bizarre anomaly if he was a major American politician who didn’t.

The same can be said of questions raised by faltering or disenchanted Obama supporters: Why hasn’t he shown interest in liberalizing drug laws? Why isn’t he renouncing the Bush era’s offenses against civil liberties and separation of powers? Why is he handing out wagonloads of boodle to big corporations?

Why would it be otherwise?

The problem D’Souza has- and that many conservative critics of Obama have, and that many liberal admirers of Obama have- is this: He thinks there must be some interesting, unusual, or complex explanation for what is actually entirely mundane, typical behavior with a mundane, typical explanation.

The conservative reaction to Obama’s programs are remarkably similar to the liberal reaction to George W. Bush, which also tended to ridiculously exaggerate the novelty of what Bush was doing by acting as if incremental changes building on established precedent were new and shocking.





The truth is out

15 06 2010

(CNN) — U.S. military officials and geologists have determined that the mineral deposits in Afghanistan are worth nearly $1 trillion, the Pentagon said Monday.

Vast supplies of minerals such as iron, copper and gold, all with worldwide technological applications, are scattered over the country, according to the Defense Department.

But officials caution that they won’t be easy to extricate and that it will take years to turn this newfound mineral wealth into actual revenue.

“It’s not a quick win,” the U.S. Geological Survey’s Jack Medlin said at a Pentagon briefing Monday.

Pentagon and State Department officials acknowledged that extraction efforts are challenged by remote locations, a weak infrastructure, a dearth of heavy vehicles and equipment, and a strong insurgent presence.

First they came for the terrorists, then they came to rip up the earth and claim someone else’s wealth.  The spectre of neo-colonialism raises its ugly head.  Empires trade Iraqi’s for oil and Afghani’s for minerals.  Anyone who suspected that the American government was going to cease and desist from its swaray across the world,has been misguided.  It may come in the form of ‘help’ or ‘assistance’ but Americans are going to be in Afghanistan for decades.





The attempted NY terrorist attack

10 05 2010

I would just like to take this brief opportunity to point out some neglected facts regarding the terrorist plot in NY.

As time goes on, the foiled terrorist attack is being billed as a victory for the authorities and a sobering warning to the people of the West that the threat is not over.

Sure, the fact that there was an attempt is shocking.

Sure, it was lucky that it was stopped in time.

But let’s put things into context;  America has been involved in two open wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade and proxy wars in Somalia and Pakistan.  The ‘Pakistani Taliban’ who are now, reportedly, credited with ordering the attack — except the “Taliban” don’t exist, but are made up of an ethnic minority called the ‘Pashtun’ whose tribal groups are split by the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  US drone attacks that have been continued and increased under Obama’s presidency has frequently resulted in the deaths of many civilians living around areas where the US military claims “terrorists” and the “Taliban” are operating.  The people who sought to carry out this attack are a bunch of poor, angry villagers and tribesmen living near the Afghani-Pakistan border.  Let’s not forget that and dehumanise who these people are, instead of referring to them as ‘The Pakistani Taliban with connections to Al Qaeda’.

The next question that is being raised is, how can this American citizen, with his life of luxury and extended education do such a thing against a country that gave him so much?  Well, above is your answer.  America’s war on terror that Obama has been continuing, albeit with more moderate rhetoric, acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The whole concept rests on an unknown threat.  The authorities know that it exists somewhere, but do not know when it is going to strike (thank you, Donald Rumsfield).  Therefore the only solution is to prepare to counteract that threat.  Domestic legislation  aimed at increasing security through stripping away civil liberties and marginalising particular nationalities or ethnic minorities in day-to-day tasks, is combined with the external strategy of bombing anyone who you feel may remotely appear to be a terrorist.  The obvious problem is that those people who appear to be terrorists are usually poor villagers, while others view themselves as reacting to some kind of structural or social injustice in their own countries government, usually left over from colonisation.  By bombing them, you generate anger and anger generates “terrorists”.

People with educations tend to be more critical of what is going on and will notice this.  People who feel they belong to the same marginalised and mistreated minority will certainly understand this.  Of course, not all of them take up the rifle to rectify the situation, (disclaimer: I am not attempting to justify this action, either) but inevitably, some will.  They are angry and there will be reprisals against the people who elected that government — the very same people democratic rhetoric has declared the government’s “boss” for so long now.  This presents an ethical dilemma, should people really be surprised when there is a terrorist attack on domestic soil when a nation has declared a “war” on a group, person, thing or idea?  Have people really become so desensitised to war, that they believe their government can engage in all sorts of military action without domestic populations ever having to experience reprisals?

Then there is another neglected fact; for all the fear-mongering and rapid expansion of US security by conservatives, neo-liberals, progressives and every other authoritarian ideology, not one government official noticed anything throughout the process of planning, preparation, production and placement of the bomb.  Who did notice?  Some guy on the street who saw smoke coming from a car — a guy without a badge — in a moment of pure dumb-luck.  So for all the money spent, the queues at the airports, the background checks and re-checks, the pat downs, the dogs, the cameras, the guys with guns and tasers, the bag searches at airports, the increase of police power, the expansion of overseas conflicts, not one of these measures picked up on the terrorist plot.

Why?  We come back to the idea of the threat being unknown and unknowable.  You don’t know where it will happen or when, but the powers that be urge us to prepare, which in turn creates a threat that no amount of preparation is going to prevent and then, game over.





When Obama meets Rudd,

25 03 2009

A consensus is formed.  They’ve agreed to drop more bombs (Afghanistan) and to more interference in our lives (regulation).  Though I’ve got no idea where the Americans will be getting the money from.

And the US President has also promised to end the “shenanigans” in the finance sector that triggered the global recession and to regulate to return to a state of responsible economic growth.

Mr Obama’s comments came early this morning after a 70-minute meeting with Kevin Rudd at the White House.

The first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders was dominated by the economy and Afghanistan amid widespread expectations Mr Obama will ask Australia to increase its military involvement in the troubled nation beyond its current troop strength of 1100.

But he said that despite the mounting death toll in the seven-year-old war, the involvement of the US and its Allies had failed to eliminate the threat of terrorism from Al-Qaida and its affiliates.

“I think the American and the Australian people also recognise that in order for us to keep our homelands safe, in order to maintain our way of life in order to ensure order on the international scene, that we can’t allow vicious killers to have their way,” Mr Obama told reporters in the Oval Office.

“We’re going to do what’s required to ensure that does not happen.”

Mr Obama said he understood the public frustration over the need to send troops overseas, some never to return to their families.

“As a consequence it’s important for us to stay on the offensive and to dismantle these terrorist organisations wherever they are.”

Mr Rudd also said he was confident concerted action by governments would be able to stabilise the global financial system.

But he said the new challenge facing the world was to replace dependence on speculative investment bubbles with new and safer drivers of economic growth.

Yes, because K Rudd (or Krudd for those that haven’t got the joke) has had a great grasp of economics so far; handing out free money when the economy was headed for a recession regardless, causing a run on financial institutions, proposing the nationalisation of the banking sector…

I don’t think anyone told him that regulation and interference by the American government started the financial crisis in the first place.  Oh, but wait, they’ve already jumped the gun.





Huh?

1 03 2009

In a recent speech by Obama concerning his administrations plans to pull out of Iraq, Obama made the following statement.

“We have also taken into account the simple reality that America can no longer afford to see Iraq in isolation from other priorities: we face the challenge of refocusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan; of relieving the burden on our military; and of rebuilding our struggling economy – and these are challenges that we will meet.”

Now, I’d just like to take a moment to ask when was America and the world, or in this case, America at war with Pakistan?  The last time I checked Pakistan was supposed to be an ally of the United States.  Although many politicians see it as perfectly legal bombs inside their allies borders — in the same way they ventured forth into Cambodia and Laos back in ‘Nam — I’m having a tough time getting around the idea that it’s legal to bomb your friends, especially when it seems to have some effect towards destabilising the country.

Following this, I’d also raise similar questions as were raised in this CounterPunch article that is also a must read regarding Iraq war propaganda.

Not to mention that the Afghani president may be getting ready to overstay his constitutional welcome, given that the country doesn’t have any other choice.





Face it, the wars are still not just

20 01 2009

It amazes me still.  Bring up the subject of Afghanistan or Gulf War II and you get a plethora of people who still seem to believe these wars are being waged for good reason.  There are always many allusions to, ‘the good being done there,’ that, ‘it’s a just war.’   Such arguments often dance back and forth between both Iraq and Afghanistan — even referencing Hitler and the Nazi’s for the ultimate guilt trip.  All in all, these people, whoever they are, seem to advocate the continuation of these wars simply because they believe them ‘just’.  It’s annoying and leaves little room for belief that Obama is going to change anything when people still believe that killing innocents is okay — oh and that America is winning in Iraq.  It is time for another quick recap of recent history, just to straighten things out.

It matters not how many times you bring these people back to the fundamental issue that BushII, who is thankfully on the way out, during the renowned September 11 attacks continued reading to that class of children instead of going to work  (not that I’m so naive to believe that he contributes anything of any value to society, anyway).  Instead, Bush and his NeoCon buddies got together soon after the dust had cleared and decided they needed revenge for an attack on “the world’s only super and a defender of what is good, righteous and holy in the world,” which, while an understandable sentiment was carried out with all the finesse of a suicide bomber.  So they, together with the solidarity of other governments around the world, boarded their tanks, loaded their rifles and invaded Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, a group who were not responsible for the attacks on the twin towers.  Oh, and the one’s ordering an attack stayed home.

Their battle plan? Hire local warlords and offer rewards for Taliban fighters and so and so forth.  How’d this result?  The warlords ‘captured’ people who had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, claimed that they were terrorists, received their rewards and sent them off into the outsourced American prison system that included such features as torture, humiliation and probably other nasties we’re not aware of. And Osama (the real guy they were after) escaped through the mountains.

Meanwhile, during the ‘reconstruction’ period and what seemed like a ‘victory’ in Afghanistan, Bush got together again and for some reason still under debate, decided to fire a few shells off at Daddy’s old enemy, Saddam and start Gulf War II (and ironically complete the plot for Team America).  So the key to the propaganda machine was turned to the ‘overdrive’ position and lies started streaming hot off the presses; Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, was going to use them, was harbouring terrorists, had links to Osama Bin Laden and once touched little Bobby in a bad place.  In traditional NeoCon fashion, BushII declared he’d, “go it alone,” and so began the Shock and Awe campaign, that indiscriminately targeted civilians, was designed to inspire fear in the population and conformed nicely to the definition of the word, “terrorism.” Thing is, irony is lost on these government types.  After a few days, and many reports from embedded reporters suffering Stockholm Syndrome and accompanied by graphics and background music, the war was over and won.  The reconstruction could begin and we could all go back to praising the Neo-Conservative geniuses behind the military action.  A little later we found out that Saddam had no nukes, no intention of getting nukes, he did not like Osama, did not officially sanction terrorist training camps and was hiding in a hole. Also, all that talk about using WMD’s if the Americans invaded?  It was a bluff not to dissimilar in motivation from the lie that Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction.  But a wrench was thrown into the NeoCon war machine when it turned out the natives didn’t like the idea that there were a few thousand Americans vacationing in their country armed to the teeth with machine guns, helicopter attack ships and bombs.  This in turn racked up a body count of both civilian and military deaths many times higher than those lost on September 11th.  Whoops!

Anyway, the powers that be decided that it would be better to, like they did in WWI, send more meat into the grinder and the ‘surge’ was born.  The mainstream media heralded the surge as a triumph and Petreus a hero but neglected to mention that people were still dying.  So attention was turned back to Afghanistan where the Taliban was making a come back.  Then somewhere along the line a provocation that would have seen Iran at war with the US was dodged and a third war as narrowly averted… by the actions of the Iranians.  A little chuffed at being thwarted the US instead decided to take a swaray into Pakistan, their ally, where it discussed the possibility of finally having some fun and being able to drop some bombs on that elusive third country — because the Iranians didn’t want to play ball. In true form, the US did it.  So more people died and BushII, I assume guilt free, sat down to an expensive dinner somewhere.

Somehow all that is meant to be ‘just’.

Now that we have the history out of the way, let us tackle the main defence of these wars.

“It’s a humanitarian war.  A just war.”

This is the typical argument closely followed by phrases such as, ‘support the troops’ and, ‘you don’t see what good we are doing over there, just the bad because the media hates bush’ and always provided in defence of the Iraq war.  Though it is absurd; what kind of humanitarian war is it where you go into ‘liberate’ a population and follow up by killing 90,000 of the people you are trying to save?

So much for liberation.

Then, what makes a ‘just war’ so just?  Is it for a noble cause, like removing a dictator?  Indeed it might very well be.  Dictators aren’t very friendly people at the best of times and god forbid you oppose them.  But to invade a country for the sole purpose of removing a dictator, a tyrant, who was actually behaving himself at the time (no nukes, nasty chemicals, invasions or genocides) to bring democracy to a people who didn’t care too much either, is supposed to be just?  I could certainly understand that it could conceivably be just if Saddam had gone back to killing the Kurdish again, but he hadn’t and America turned a blind eye when the Iraqi’s did rise up to throw off Saddam, only to be abandoned at the point where they actually needed help.  A generation later, America later returned to the region under the leadership of BushII and occupied the country and although the Kurd’s were still angry (and rightly so) most Iraqi’s no longer wanted American help.  They didn’t care about ‘democracy’ and, at least there was no sectarian violence under Saddam.  So where is the just cause in all this?  There had been no recent genocide, no bombs or nukes, no invasion, no wars or no outright request from the Iraqi people for ‘libertarian.’  Not that I’m defending Saddam, he was a tyrant and deserved to die — but under the initiative of the people he oppressed and not the will of a imperialistic, foreign nation who fancied itself as the world’s police.

As for Afghanistan, those people had been liberated from the Taliban only to be replaced with the other guys, who don’t respect human rights or recognise the rights of women.  I repeat: whoops!

“Support the troops.”

To some extent you need to have compassion for many of these soldiers.  They are told, “Be a soldier! See the world! Meet new people….” but the, “…and shoot them,” is left out.  It is impossible for these young men to see the world of warfare as one of smashed corpses, blood and gore.  Their closest approximation is to a world of video games.  Couple this with the specific targeting of those of lower means, and promises of a better life, guaranteed job, repayment of debts and so on, and a career in the military sounds awfully attractive.  It leads one to wonder whether there might be respawn points in RL?  Recruiters are quite happy to play on the naivete of these young men, but really these same people are merely just another number.  A piece of meat.  Then there’s no connection that the dehumanised enemy they’ll be shooting at in battle is very different from the digital collection of pixels on their screens.  Though I do not blame video games for this; I’d even argue that war has its place only in video games so that we may live out such fantasy’s without actually killing anyone. Further still the judgement of these young men has been warped from birth as they have been  taught that soldiers are to be respected — more so than doctors, labourers, scientists and factory workers or anyone else that actually contributes productively to society — and once a soldier, they look down on civilians as if they were of a different caste.  A soldier who is paid by other people’s money to be trained to murder systematically, or assist in the killing, is not somehow honourable, just as the mafia soldier is not noble for organising a hit.  It is under these false pretenses that many people enlist and to these people I lend my support, for if they discover how incredibly wrong they are, they’ll need all the help they can get.  It is the others, the ones who understand that they will be asked to kill and revel in that idea whom I refuse to support.  These really are no different from the gangs on the street, with the exception of the expensive rifle they carry.

“You don’t see what good we are doing over there, just the bad because the media hates bush.”

This one is the best.  Not only has the media consistently helped lie for Bush but they routinely take up the Neo-Conservative pro-war ideology right on queue.  They may happily air anti-bush messages, but they never question their government.  In fact Bill O’Reilly and others like him seem to happily defend Bush and have no problems yelling, screaming and accusing any opposition of being a liar or a terrorist sympathiser.

Following this, all the ‘good’ being performed in Iraq and Afghanistan (which is driving the US deeper and deeper into debt and that can only end badly for the US and eventually everyone else) is for nought when it is being built or performed on the graves of dead innocents.  You cannot sacrifice an innocent life and still claim a war is just: for you have just killed the very person you are trying to protect.

“They are over there for you.  They are dying for you.”

And this is the most aggravating.  To anyone that would dare put this comment to me in defence of the war, I would point out to them that I have not, ever, met every single troop serving in Iraq of Afghanistan and I have never, given my permission for each to die for me.  Nor will I.  In fact, if my opinion were ever worth so much as to be asked by the entirety of the military serving in hostile overseas operations, I’d ask them, explicitly, to cease and desist.  I will never ask anyone to die for me and anyone who would have these young man die for them should get off their ass and do their own fighting — then see how glorious war is.  For it is always these sadists who like the idea that poorer, young men are going out to die to for them (usually to protect their particular, wealthy and prosperous way of life) and are the first to declare that, “war is glorious!”

And finally,

“What about Hitler?  What about genocide?”

What about Hitler?  Every conversation regarding these wars always, invariably, leads to some comparison to Hitler and the Jews.  It’s intended to be a guilt trip remark defending their nature as ‘just wars’ or the ‘humanitarianism’ of invading Iraq and Afghanistan; though I was totally unaware that those two respective countries had a large, active, Nazi party responsible for conducting purges against Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, the disabled, communists and anyone else they thought were ‘impure.’

But in all seriousness, these examples don’t do much to support the argument.  World government’s have never been serious about invading people who are victims of genocide, as in the cases of Rwanda, Sudan, Turkey and so on, though even this qualifier would still not make the war right.  Even WWII was fought against Hitler not for humanitarian reasons, but political.  These just happened to be complimented by the fact that Hitler & Co. killed 6 million people — which didn’t stop America or other countries employing former, high-ranking, Nazi’s post-WWII.  The ‘humanitarian’ or ‘just’ labels are always attributed to a conflict after it has begun for the purposes of propaganda.  The initial decision to go to war is made by a government on the basis of some form of profit.  Unless a conflict is being conducted from a position of defence or rebellion against some particular authority (which means that its fighters see themselves as resisting a oppressive force and means their fight is a lot closer to a position that could be deemed ‘just’, depending on their conduct and how their ideas are recieved around the world), it is a war for profit and can never be ‘just’.  No government will happily go to war to stop a genocide; they simply do not care enough.

WWII wasn’t a war waged for ‘just’ purposes but for imperialism, control and the chance to play out old rivalries.

And so I would like to conclude today’s lesson by reiterating; war can never be just or humane.  People die, on all sides.  It is not noble or virtuous or honourable.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are of no difference.  They started off unjust and are wars of revenge, at the very best.  They are not some humanitarian mission of charity.  Murder, unless in direct self defence, can never be justified because it has been rubber stamped and sealed by some bureaucrat to make it ‘legal’.








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