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Friday, January 13, 2012

The "right" to murder anyone.......


The Varieties of Pissing


Arthur Silber


12afgh-as-88888.jpg
Three slain Afghans lay bloodied while American servicemen urinate on their bodies.*

*[[(Reuters) - A video showing what appear to be American forces urinating on dead Taliban fighters prompted anger in Afghanistan and promises of a U.S. investigation on Thursday, but the insurgent group said it would not harm nascent efforts to broker peace talks.
The video, posted on YouTube (HERE) and other websites, shows four men in camouflage Marine combat uniforms urinating on three corpses. One of them jokes: "Have a nice day, buddy." Another makes a lewd joke.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the video, describing the men's actions as "inhuman" and calling for an investigation, in a statement on Thursday evening.
It is likely to stir up already strong anti-U.S. sentiment in Afghanistan after a decade of a war that has seen other cases of abuse, and that could complicate efforts to promote reconciliation as foreign troops gradually withdraw.
"Such action will leave a very, very bad impact on peace efforts," Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan government's High Peace Council, told Reuters.
The U.S. embassy in Kabul also condemned the actions of the men, and the U.S. military has promised an investigation.(...)

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta denounced the actions show in the film as "utterly deplorable. "Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent," he said in a statement.
Panetta said he had ordered the Marine Corps and the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan to investigate. ISAF described the acts depicted in the video as "disrespectful" and "inexplicable".
Two military officials in the United States, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the video appeared to be authentic, but Reuters could not verify it or its source independently.
]]


January 12, 2012

Here is William Blum describing the destruction of Iraq by the United States (offered by Chris Floyd in a recent post; emphasis added):
"Most people don't understand what they have been part of here," said Command Sgt. Major Ron Kelley as he and other American troops prepared to leave Iraq in mid-December. "We have done a great thing as a nation. We freed a people and gave their country back to them."

"It is pretty exciting," said another young American soldier in Iraq. "We are going down in the history books, you might say."
(Washington Post, December 18, 2011)
Ah yes, the history books, the multi-volume leather-bound set of "The Greatest Destructions of One Country by Another." The newest volume can relate, with numerous graphic photos, how the modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state; how the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly, ... how the people of that unhappy land lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women's rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives ... More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile ... The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium ... the most awful birth defects ... unexploded cluster bombs lying anywhere in wait for children to pick them up ... a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris ... through a country that may never be put back together again …
The facts set forth by Blum are simply that: facts. These issues are not open to dispute, and one can discover the truth of what Blum says by reading numerous articles from many sources. Despite this, Blum notes that Barack Obama once again proclaims this all-encompassing destruction of an entire country and its peoples to be "an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making."

This complete inversion of the truth is the consequence of centuries of unending lies. The result is day turned into night, life transformed into death -- and all of it is, must be, good. These are the perverse demands of American mythmaking, as I described it in "The Blood-Drenched Darkness of American Exceptionalism" from July 2010:

[T]he U.S. invasion and occupation represent an ongoing series of war crimes. This is not an arguable point in any respect. Since it cannot be argued, it is ignored altogether.

And it is not just ignored, as malignantly evil as that would be by itself. The American exceptionalist myth tells us that the United States is unique and uniquely good. It is not sufficient to ignore negative consequences of our actions: we must transform any and all negative consequences into a positive good. This process has been rigorously followed for every American intervention ever undertaken (going back to the Philippines, then with the American entrance into World War I, on into many interventions after World War II, on into Iraq and Afghanistan today), and the identical process has been well underway for several years in connection with Iraq in particular.

...

Such is the limitless power of delusion on this scale: a blood-drenched tragedy of world-historical proportion becomes "an extraordinary achievement," and a criminal war of aggression is transmuted by the alchemy of cultural myth-making into a "success." This is the evil to be found at the rotted heart of the myth: whatever the United States does, it will lead to good and only to good.

And all of it -- all of it -- is a damnable, unforgivable lie.
In January 2012, we begin another year that will be filled with pain, terror, blood and death. The monstrous bearer of these terrible gifts will again be the government of the United States. The trail of suffering extends through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. Perhaps Iran will be yet another recipient of the United States' magnificent generosity.

The ambition of the United States ruling class extends far beyond what is suggested by this list. As I noted in "The Face of the Killer Who Is Your President," quoting Nick Turse:

This global presence -- in about 60% of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged -- provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.

...

In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans.
One further element must be added to the list of horrors:
Obama and his administration claim the "right" to murder anyone in the world, wherever he or she may be, for whatever reason they choose -- or for no reason at all. Obama and his administration recognize no upper limit to the number of people they can murder in this manner: they can murder as many people as they wish. And they claim there is nothing at all that may impede their exercise of this "right."

This is the game entire. Understand this: once Obama and his administration have claimed this, there is nothing left to argue about. They can murder you -- and they can murder anyone else at all. What in the name of anything you hold holy remains to be "debated" once a vile, damnable "right" of this kind has been claimed?
We recoil from understanding the nature and breadth of the horror that surrounds us. That is understandable, to some extent. Survival sometimes requires a certain degree of selective focus. (I had originally written "denial" instead of "selective focus." But denial is never advisable; it is especially not advisable in matters of life and death.) Yet if we wish to resist evil, we must be able to contemplate the enemy we face with dispassionate, even clinical detachment.

Perhaps this passage will help to make the issue clearer:
The highest levels of the United States Government have told you -- repeatedly, at great length, always emphasizing the critical significance of their conviction on this point -- that the lives of Americans are worth less than shit. Your life, the lives of all those you love and all those you know, the lives of everyone in your city and state, the lives of all Americans are worth absolutely nothing.

...

There is no power greater than that of life and death. This is absolute power. This is the power claimed by every slaughtering monster in history. You know this. You refuse to understand what it means.
As the condensed factual recitation above demonstrates, the United States Government recognizes no difference between the lives of Americans and the lives of anyone else anywhere on Earth: all human beings anywhere are to be brutalized, terrorized and murdered as the United States Government chooses.

The repeated actions of the U.S. Government over more than a hundred years -- and its actions today -- place this fact beyond all question. This is the horror that greets you upon waking in the morning; the screams of the victims are the lullaby to which you fall asleep. The horror is the air you breathe. It is the cultural atmosphere that surrounds you. It is the knock on the door.

In the parlance of the day, or what would be that parlance if we spoke more plainly, we can say with accuracy and precision:
The ruling class of the United States pisses on the entire world, just as it pisses on every human being who is not favored by privilege and power.
This is the ultimate foundation of our lives today. This is the truth that will almost never be spoken.

Since we resolutely refuse to acknowledge the actual horror, we neurotically displace our outrage onto matters of comparative triviality. It is certainly disgusting that U.S. Marines pissed on the bodies of several dead Taliban -- but isn't it more disgusting that the Taliban are dead in a criminal war of aggression waged to advance American global hegemony? Rank these items in terms of the disgust you think they merit:

* The systematic destruction of a series of nations and their peoples over a period of many decades.

* The murder of more than a million innocent people in a criminal war.

* The ongoing murders of people who do not (and most commonly could not) threaten the U.S., in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and on and on and on -- in 120 countries around the globe.

* The claim that the U.S. Government has the "right" to murder anyone in the world for whatever reason it chooses -- a "right," I remind you, which the U.S. Government has actualized.

* Pissing on three dead bodies.

We refuse to speak about the first four items, but the guardians of our culture insist that they are sickened and outraged by the last one. Displacement of this kind is never innocent. The purpose is to help those who claim to be disgusted and outraged convince themselves (and us) that they (and thus "we") are "moral," "good" and "decent." They are not. If they were, they would speak about the other items -- and they would speak about them all the time. But they almost never mention them, except to justify them.

The statement from a "Media Officer" for the Marine Corps is a genuine obscenity: "the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps." Under the pressure of the interminable lies of American exceptionalism, joy becomes suffering and life is turned into death, and it is demanded that these perversions be regarded as good. The "Media Officer" engages in another variant of these sickening inversions: "the actions portrayed" are the perfect embodiment of their "core values." The Marine Corps is a key instrumentality used by the United States Government in its wars of criminal aggression against innocent human beings. Nothing they do can be anything other than an obscenity. The fact that they are in Afghanistan at all is an obscenity. The fact that they murder human beings there is an obscenity. That they pissed on the dead bodies is a detail in the context of the policies and actions which give rise to the American presence in that country in the first place.

A further truth, a particularly ugly one, should be noted. Although many commentators have feigned outrage and disgust about this incident, what actually concerns them is not that it happened, but that the incident has become known. They are worried that public knowledge of the incident is bad PR. I heard a local Los Angeles radio host (this moronic fuck) express this despicable point of view with unusual clarity yesterday. I made notes during his comments, so this is very close to exact: "I'm upset because of what it does to the country [the U.S., that is] and what it does to the Marine Corps. I really don't care that they urinated on dead Taliban. I have no sympathy for the dead guys, maybe that makes me a terrible person, I don't know [it does] ... but this is really bad, that this story is out there."

The same host read an email from the father of a man who is currently in the U.S. military. The father exulted in the desecration of the bodies and said that is the least "they" deserve. The host wondered if the son would agree, thinking the son might take the Media Officer's line that such behavior is "not consistent" with the "core values" of the Marine Corps. The father wrote a followup email, which the host proceeded to read as well. The father had immediately written to his son and asked him what he thought. The son -- who, I repeat, is in the military today -- said, "Good! That's exactly what they deserve. My guys would be [bleeping] on them!" I assume the son had written "shitting," although the host declined to read that word on the air. We are so good and decent!

This kind of attitude is not uncommon among Americans in general, and it certainly cannot be uncommon among those in the military. This must be true given that the U.S. has not used its military overseas in a genuinely defensive war for decades. The U.S. military is sent overseas in offensive wars of aggression, or in preparation for wars of aggression. This isn't secret, specialized knowledge; it is knowledge easily available to anyone with minimal knowledge of recent history and current events. Moreover, this fact must be blindingly clear to a member of the military who travels many thousands of miles, to somewhere on the other side of the globe. A person who is capable of the most basic thought must wonder: "What the hell am I doing here, and how can these people possibly be a threat to the United States?" At this point in time, I do not think there is any legitimate reason for an individual to join the U.S. military. You will find my argument in several essays; you can start here and here, and follow the links. In the past, I did not offer as definitive a judgment on this question as I do now. If you join the U.S. military today, you are volunteering to be part of a vast, worldwide killing operation. Period.

One final point must be mentioned. I said that what actually concerns most of the "outraged" commentators is that this incident has become known, not that it happened. What I meant, of course, is that it has become known to the American public. It is not possible that an incident of this kind is unusual or perpetrated only by "a few bad apples." As was true of the horrific abuses at Abu Ghraib, it must be the case that incidents like this occur with considerable frequency. You cannot be part of a vast, worldwide killing operation -- you cannot travel across the globe and murder (or be prepared to murder) innocent human beings who otherwise could not possibly threaten you -- and remain a "nice," "decent" human being. I repeat: it is not possible. Since horrors like this must occur with hideous regularity, it must also be the case that the people who live in the countries victimized by the U.S. know of them. The horrors of Abu Ghraib were not news to Iraqis. Incidents like the one to which we Americans devote so much time today cannot be news to the people of Afghanistan.

But Americans live in the cocoon of the myths that are reinforced every day by almost every voice in the media, and by the majority of "ordinary" Americans themselves. Videos like the current one threaten those myths, and they throw into question our cherished belief that we are "good" and uniquely so. Pissing on dead bodies is not an image that can be reconciled with our desperate self-flattery, with our unquestioned and unquestionable belief that we are inherently superior to all other peoples and entitled to our way in everything, in all corners of the world. So it must be explained, and minimized, and excused. When it is condemned, it is condemned as an outlier, an extraordinary event that is "not consistent with our core values."

We will not acknowledge or come to terms with the fact that the U.S. Government has declared war on the world -- what else can it mean that the U.S. has ongoing operations in 120 countries? -- and that the ruling class maintains it has the "right" to murder any human being it chooses. So I state again:
The rulers of the United States piss on you, and on every other human being on Earth not favored by privilege and power.
You need to protect yourself as best you can.

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