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Friday, March 22, 2013

America’s Willing Executioners

America’s Willing Executioners

By Rob Urie
Counter Punch
March 22, 2013

Ten years after the invasion, occupation and widespread destruction
of Iraq was set into motion the revisionist apologetics are flying fast
and furious.

These include the denial of culpability for crimes committed, the
systematic under counting of the innocents slaughtered and displaced
and the conveniently forgotten hubris of empire in the high theater
of technocratic carnage.

They also wanly posit the historical epic is behind ‘us,’ the 75% of
the populace reported in poll results to have supported the war
before news began leaking that its murder and mayhem weren’t
achieving their hypothesized results.

So to this 75%, a/k/a the American people, is the problem that
we murdered too many or not enough?

Put another way, what number of murdered Iraqis would be too
many if today there were a Starbucks on every corner in Baghdad
and Payday Lenders to bridge the cash flow shortfalls of the
citizenry that remains?

And whither the good old days?

Once upon a time the decomposing corpses of those responsible
for destroying an entire nation, murdering a million or more of
its citizens, causing the premature deaths of a wee chunk of the
home folk and costing it a few trillion of its national ‘product’
would be on display for all to see—a cautionary exhibit against
future hubristic incaution.

This, if for no other reason than to assure that before another such
adventure is undertaken, as the Nazis about to be hung at Nuremberg
had it, we are sure to ‘win.’

And as gestures of contrition for these and other transgressions
and magnanimity toward those slaughtered and their friends and
family who remain, fair trials followed by swift executions of
those found guilty at gallows set within public view on the White
House lawn for Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle,
Powell, and Ms. Rice, would place some distance between these
architects of distant carnage and the other 75% of this nation who
at one point or another supported ‘their’ war.

The culture and political economy of impunity and immunity from
prosecution for crimes high—war crimes under legally agreed upon
terms, is matched only by the absolute immiseration, persecution,
incarceration, torture and purposeful and negligent homicide of
those on the other side of this imperial power.

No war criminals have yet been charged in the bungled plunder of Iraq
and the torch of aggressive war, murder, torture, illegal surveillance
and robotic murder have been passed from war criminals past to war
criminals present.

Likewise, the methods of imperial economic extraction intended
for America’s client nations now place much of the same 75% that
at one time supported the war on the wrong side of the imperial
divide.

The murder drones tested on distant battlefields now carry
surveillance and murder technologies ‘at home’ to assure
phone bills are paid and for-profit prisons filled as the
‘other’ political party divides our collective wealth amongst
its new owners.

Of the 75% of war supporters not among its chief architects, but
certainly prominent in the supporting cast, is the propaganda wing
of the military-oil-banker oligarchy, America’s ‘fourth estate’ which
filled the alchemist’s role of converting fresh and long decomposed
bullshit into the solid gold of public ‘opinion’ so effectively.

The New York Times, former home of ‘reporter’ Judith Miller,
talented conveyor of White House press releases re: weapons
of mass destruction, and now occasional home of former
full-time dull-eyed hack and ‘liberal’ hawk Bill Keller, sought
street cred with the always kind and thoughtful crowd who
regularly confess their undying love for this god or that and
their fellow man in churches and synagogues across the nation.

In Mr. Keller’s (and the New York Times’) favor is that participating
in the murder of a million or more innocents and destroying an
entire nation-state was ‘just business’ with the articulated goal
of re-branding the (New York) Times the paper of choice amongst
the NASCAR/trailer park conservatives who prefer their dis-
information with a patina of ‘class.’

The task of ‘responsible’ war critics is now to assess the lessons
learned from the Iraq debacle while promoting the lowest possible
circumference of culpability.

The number of Iraqis who died as the direct consequence of the
U.S. invasion: 112,000 – 122,000.

Fuck you.

The only honest effort at counting placed the number at 655,000
by mid-2006. What makes the higher count more plausible than
the lower?

The lower number is that which can be ‘proven’ in the context of a
level of violence that assured most dead wouldn’t be counted. The
latter takes the context of violence into account and constructs the
higher number using associated information—cross-corroborated
family-hospital-morgue records.

What then is ‘responsible’ in leaving the historical record to favor
those responsible for the deaths of so many innocents?

Unless ‘conservative’ means farthest from the truth, America
murdered, or caused the premature death of, a million or more
Iraqis (2006 number inferred forward using higher known numbers
in 2007 – 2009) by the only honest effort at counting yet undertaken.

Likewise, the ‘lessons learned’ were there for all who cared to see
prior to the attack on Iraq.

Wars of aggression, torture and murder were known to be heinous
acts as well as prosecutable offenses under international law since
the trials at Nuremberg.

Imperial hubris has played a role in major military blunders
throughout known history. And the wounds the U.S. (as
oligarchic nation-state) received in the Middle East are
nearly all self-inflicted.

Conversely, the lessons coming from the Iraq debacle are
anti-history.

The rich and powerful are never called to account for their actions;
the institutional rot that accompanies war, murder, torture and
plunder has no effect on the viability of these institutions, and
the breach of public trust that derives from the lies of officialdom
never destroy the social ‘fabric’ to the ultimate detriment of us all.

But, in fact, this anti-history isn’t history at all, but rather a series
of wishful delusions that exist in the space between actions and their
consequences.

At this point re-addressing the lies of the attack on Iraq is so much
noise.

Weapons of Mass Destruction—where are they?

Payback for the attacks of September 11, 2001—Iraq had nothing
to do with them?

To democratize the Middle East—read the first Iraqi Constitution
and terms of political economy (written by the Bush White House)
if you’re really that gullible?

The ‘real’ reasons combine imperial conquest, domestic and global
political aspirations of connected Neo-Conservatives, personal
retaliation for Saddam Hussein’s alleged attempt on George H.W.
Bush’s life, military expansionism and to secure the second largest
known oil reserves in the world.

And let us not leave out belligerent stupidity and near complete
ignorance of history. Are any of the latter ‘legitimate’ goals?

In the first, none are the stated goals. In the second, even were
they deemed to be so by god, launching aggressive war, murder
and torture are war crimes prosecutable under treaties signed
and ratified by the U.S.

American culture, the national mythology, which feeds on Nietzsche’s ‘resentment’ informed by capitalist propaganda, sees in the ruling
class that led us into Iraq the loveable scoundrel, the soldier of
empire whose courage and wits have made ‘us’ the nation we are.

George W. Bush was raised to understand resentment better than
most likely have context to imagine—exploiting it is a central
strategy of the plantation management cum factory ownership/
management ‘skill-set’ taught the southern aristocracy from birth.

But what passes for swashbuckling bravado, his ‘bring it on’
comment inviting violent retaliation for the U.S. invasion is an
affectation used, along with the threat of a rope around one’s
neck or a Pinkerton’s nightstick to the head, to keep the hands
in the fields and the workers in the factories.

The calculated resentment epitomized by Mr. Bush’s pseudo-
populist belligerence effectively hid his (America’s) grotesque
slaughter behind a cartoon facade–the fathers, mothers, husbands,
wives, children, sisters, brothers, friends and communities
murdered, brutalized, lives destroyed, social demons unleashed,
that are the true consequences of America’s actions.

With as yet not fully realized irony the plutocrats and ‘their’
institutions that brought war and its death, destruction and
carnage to Iraq now bring it home.

Tiring of Mr. Bush’s hick-schtick and needing a technocratic language
to effectively sell bank bailouts and Quantitative Easing to a populace
now spending more time with unemployment checks than with the
sales pitches for ‘smart’ bombs of yore, the new boss, same as
the old boss, Barack Obama, claims the right to murder ‘terrorists,’
a/k/a anyone he wants to, abroad as well as in the ‘home land.’

The same ‘responsible’ critics of the war over there offer unqualified
assurances the ‘liberal,’ ‘progressive,’ Mr. Obama means to murder
only ‘bad guys’ here in the U.S.

But, the entire remainder of American history aside, anyone reading
the FBI files recently released under the Freedom of Information Act
knows the peaceful protesters of Occupy Wall Street were only a few
short months ago considered fair targets for state murder.

And one of the lasting gifts from Mr. Bush and his fellow war and
economic criminals is a political economy ringing America’s major
cities dependent on finding domestic ‘terrorists’ for house payments
and dental bills to be made.

A quick guess is find ‘them’ they will. More broadly, and stepping
further back in time, the U.S. was born as imperial project and
has always carried these internal dynamics with it. Mr. Bush, with
‘his’ war, and now Mr. Obama, with his own imperial predations
and bailouts of connected insiders, represents the interests of a
predator class that only sees national boundaries when it serves
their interests to see them.

In the mythology, ‘our’ lovable rogues stole oil from the Iranians and
bananas from the Guatemalans while acting in what was claimed to
be the national interest.

That in recent decades the ‘national interest’ was expanded to
cut your wages, loot your pension, destroy public education and
healthcare and steal ‘your’ house with a predatory loan, all for
the benefit of America’s ruling class, puts you, the 75% who flew
your flags and regaled in dim idiocy like ‘freedom ain’t free,’
squarely on the wrong side of empire.

That most Americans have more interests in common with ‘the
enemy,’ ordinary Iraqis, than with America’s ruling class, makes
the nationalist hatreds so easily rallied more toxic and self
destructive than could ever be inflicted from without.

America’s war on Iraq is among the sadder epics in millennia of
blood-soaked, tragedy filled history.

Those murdered and those whose lives were destroyed have no
heroic storyline, no grand narrative to ease their pain or to
provide the sense there is any possible rhyme or purpose to this
miserable existence.

They were murdered; their and their family’s lives destroyed, by
antique Cold Warriors and dull-eyed bureaucrats in the service of
pirate capitalists and the legions of resentful fools they so easily
rallied to do their bidding.

Today there is weak remedy in justice, fair trials for the culpable
with punishment commensurate with their crimes.

Even this, far more just than the idiot, lunatic violence visited
upon their victims, seems a remote possibility at present.

But with anti-history framing the space between actions and their
consequences, finding justice for those wronged would serve justice,
and with it history.



Rob Urie is an artist and political economist in New York

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/22/americas-willing-
executioners

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