The disturbing “sameness” of the crimes committed by the American state through many decades of rampaging about the world with almost complete impunity shows that this behaviour is systemic, not likely to change, and issuing from the irreversible dynamic of its imperial corporate DNA.
John S. Hatch
It is a commonplace that at the end of WWII scarcely a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer could be found, or even anyone with an inkling that a Holocaust had been taking place. Even as rocks flew through Jewish shop windows and homes were burned, the Good Germans didn’t know. Even when Jews began disappearing in huge numbers from right under their noses, the Good Germans weren’t aware. Later on, even amongst Holocaust deniers I used to wonder if there were a mitigating percentage, however small, who as otherwise decent human beings simply could not accept the horror that human nature can be so vile. To admit the truth would be to recognize that life was essentially meaningless and insane, with suicide as the only logical course, a choice which the all-powerful instinct for self-preservation attempted to prevent. Thus self-deception for self-preservation; an unhappy compromise. It was the Nazi-exploited Nietzsche who pointed out (in the late 1800’s remember) that one must first know the truth in order to bury it. Everybody knew, in one way or another. Violence, after all, is what One-Thousand Year Reichs do, and they must start very early.
America, America, Uber Alles
While there is much justified consternation surrounding the truly astonishing election of George W. Bush-first he steals power, then it’s handed back to him tied with a fancy yellow ribbon-the fact is that for the longest time American foreign policy (and often domestic as well) has been so savage as to shock the world. Yet the average American seems to care as little as the average German did about the Third’s Reich’s crimes against humanity or the Holocaust. Didn’t know, didn’t care or-liked it very much. ‘We’ are empire! Therefore ‘we’ are a priori justified in anything we do. Rules only apply to lesser nations, lesser beings.
Just to go back a short way, while George crusades to ‘free’ his beloved Iraqis’ (almost universally referred to as ‘ragheads’ and ‘sandniggers’ (!) , bastards and faggots by his like-thinking men and women in the field), LBJ was a crook with indirect ties to the Mafia, and likely foreknowledge of the Kennedy assassination. (And we can’t forget his vice-crook ‘Nolo Contendere’ Spiro Agnew, can we?) Nixon’s boys had their inherited gooks and commies to torture and murder and bomb and napalm, and he had even more direct ties to the Mafia from almost the beginning of his criminal career. (And Rumsfeld and Powell were honing their skills for later- Rumsfeld in Defense, Powell as chief spinner for My Lai). Both Nixon and Bush lied about their respective wars, using the most unscrupulous but effective assistants (Murray Chotiner, Karl Rove) in order to get elected, and then surrounded themselves with ambitious thugs and criminals, all rising like pus out of a pimple (Kissinger, Mitchell, Erlichman, Haldeman, Liddy, Hunt et al), or far-right religious zealots (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft et al, including the multi-untalented David Frum, sophomoric enough to brag about the pathetic comic-book phrase ‘Axis of Evil’). Then came Ford, who will always be remembered for pardoning Nixon’s crimes, many of which weren’t then known to the public, and as a participant in the official Kennedy assassination cover-up known as the Warren Commission.
Meanwhile the CIA continued to mingle, meddle, and assassinate willy-nilly wherever they felt like it. Jimmy Carter may have been a gentler soul, but he welcomed the despised Shah of Iran, installed by the US after deposing the elected government of Mohammed Mossadeq for deciding to take control of Iran’s own oil resources. The nerve of that uppity Mohammed! (Yet the neo-con tut-tutters keep saying that oil was not a factor in Iraq’s invasion-they forgot all about Iran, but would like to visit again, and soon.) The corporate press blubbered on and on when Reagan mercifully died, with scant mention of his murderous if shaky hand, guided by the likes of the truly bizarre Ollie North, John Poindexter, and the depraved (but very ambitious) John Negroponte, newly appointed ambassador to Iraq (honestly, it would require an outsourced factory of Shakespearian elves working overtime to do adjectival justice to some of these malicious miscreants).
How much American psychic energy was required to ‘forget’ Reagan’s ‘freedom fighters’ of Nicaragua (‘the equivalent of our Founding Fathers’, he was already demented enough to pronounce)? They used tactics learned at the famous US Army ‘School of Americas’ at Ft. Benning, Georgia, also known as ‘School of the Assassins’, whose distinguished graduates include Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos, formerly of Panama, and Roberto Violo of Argentina. The freedom fighters raped nuns and peasant women and used all sorts of lethal terror methods in the countryside to dislodge the elected government. Preferred targets were teachers and medical staff, but they bagged an Archbishop as well. A favorite horror method involved the stuffing of a grenade into the bleeding, broken-toothed mouth of an innocent man woman, and yes, even child (of course child, when you think about it) and then detonation in front of what might be left of the as-good-as-dead family. Well it seemed to work in the long run. Ronnie must have been proud. And looking at The Gipper’s shiny coffin and poor Nancy’s touching grief, how hard was it to forget Reagan’s prior treasonous secret interference in foreign policy affairs in order to have the American hostages in Iran freed later rather than sooner, with arms as a reward, more cash to the freedom fighters for grenades, and coke to California as a byproduct? He forgot all about it, right away. Ollie too. I wonder if any one of those dignitaries was trying to forget Ronnie’s pal ‘Blowtorch Bob’ (D’Aubisson) of El Salvador, and how he came to acquire his colorful sobriquet? Or even remember?
On and on. Bush I’s puerile denial that he wasn’t in Reagan and Ollie’s loopy ‘loop’ regarding Iran-Contra, his message to Saddam through Ambassador April Glaspie (July 25, 1990) that America was neutral regarding Iraqi plans vis a vis Kuwait, then presto! Ill-equipped, ill-trained and terrified Iraqi soldiers were being buried alive in the desert, surrender not even an option. Later, elsewhere, weaponless soldiers were picked off one by one by stationary, low flying helicopters while their brave pilots whooped and hollered, intoxicated by the sheer joy of delivering no-risk murder. Then there was the notorious ‘Highway of Death’, a 60 mile stretch between Mutlaa, Kuwait and Basra where non-combatant soldiers, fleeing back to Iraq on orders and civilian men, women and children were mowed down by bombs (including napalm and/or phosphorus) and bullets from planes and helicopters until not a single human being remained alive. Not even a dog. Such was the enthusiasm for the sport that extra air traffic controllers had to be brought in so that as many pilots as possible could participate without fear of bumping into each other. Estimated casualties (just dead, no wounded) were in the tens of thousands. Tens of thousands.
Then there came the insane sanctions, which did absolutely nothing to slow the building of palaces for Saddam and his revolting sons (did we forget that America had earlier assisted Saddam in its war against Iran, even providing certain chemicals which were to become famous?) Extending through the Clinton years these otherwise ineffectual measures are conservatively credited with killing one million ordinary Iraqis through malnutrition and lack of basic medicines. Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking, irrevocably America-defining utterances regarding Iraq and America’s arrogance and ignorance and self-induced amnesia was not by some slippery, war-mongering Republican from Kentucky, but from educated, refined ex-Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who when asked if the cruel and futile sanctions had been worth the deaths of 500,000 innocent Iraqi children, looked genuinely thoughtful for a moment, then answered in the affirmative. It is truly to weep. Adieu America! The requiem is for you too.
Armageddon the Blues
With his second, and perhaps final term (don’t forget, many Americans wanted to amend the Constitution to allow dear old Ronnie a third term) George W. Bush will feel emboldened to spend his famous political ‘capital’ in a world growing increasingly wary, fearful, and fed up with America’s growing rogue status, lack of trustworthiness, and willingness to embrace violence. That Bush would ever even consider appointing as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a signal that the former’s one-finger victory salute was not a joke, as tasteless as it was. To appoint as top law enforcement officer a man who considers the Geneva Conventions ‘quaint’ and obsolete and the strictures against torture inapplicable, the World Court without jurisdiction is unprecedented in any civilized nation anywhere. Add to that even more draconian elements to the execrably designated ‘Patriot Act’, and I am genuinely surprised that given the American proclivity for chattering incessantly about love of country and constitution, and bravery and freedom (‘Give me freedom, or give me.fries!’ Freedom fries!) that the streets haven’t been deluged with incandescently angry (real) patriots demanding their country back. No not demanding, taking. Perhaps America was always just empty talk, a superpower as vacuous as some of your ‘superstars’, as George II, lead by the nose by crazy Likudites, crazy Christians, and just plain power-mad crazies, leads the world to the brink of Armageddon. But there is no Jesus waiting (and, thank goodness, certainly not the creepy Christ of the cretinous far Christian right), no Anti-Christ (not even the U.N.), only prolonged hell on earth for many, hamburgers and SUV’s and beer for the few. And of course, Wal-Mart for everyone.
George II insists we have to be for or against. Well, I’m proud to come out against. I know America is a ruthless and formidable foe, but remember, there are billions of us around the world We are angry and sickened, and perhaps have finally had enough. Violence is not necessary (if only America would learn that)-imagine what a worldwide boycott of every single thing American would do to your economy, in fairly short order. The dollar would further erode, stock market indices would plunge, more countries would switch to the Euro as reserve currency, foreign owned treasury bonds would be called in in the billions, the American financial system would risk collapse. For starters. Imagine that your political elite and their oozing advisors not daring to leave the country for fear of arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It happened to Chile’s Pinochet in great Britain, and Kissinger escaped detainment in France only by a whisker (or was it a prayer?). That America no longer recognizes Geneva Conventions and International Rules of Conduct doesn’t mean that more civilized nations no longer do. For starters. A few days ago President Bush came to my country, Canada. Were there to exist true justice, he would have been arrested the moment he stepped off Air Force One in Ottawa, and would be held on suspicion of having committed a breath-taking array of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Of course that didn’t happen. Yet. But we can take some consolation in the fact that, despite being invited to address a joint session of Parliament and Senate as protocol dictates, his handlers politely declined, fearful of what his reception might be. Now, a group of Vancouver Lawyers (L.A.W.-Lawyers Against War) has filed papers with the U.N. charging Mr. Bush with war crimes. As Mr. Bush is not Canadian, our Attorney General has eight days in which to approve the filing or reject it. It will of course be rejected. For now.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Hatch is a writer, novelist, and film-maker living in British Columbia, Canada. His novel The Wolfe Chronicles was published in 2001. He is also a contributor to bcpolitics.ca He can be reached at <firstname.lastname@example.org> .