Glenn Greenwald characterizes Barack Obama’s recent terrorism speech as a Rorschach test–something for everyone:
The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal. But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.
“Democracy” in action in Afghanistan is described in the NYT:
KABUL, Afghanistan — For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency. All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.
How has this cash benefited anyone?
[T]here is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.
Yes, this is democracy in action, American Style, complete with large amount of secret cash being transferred. And this is in addition to the two billion dollars per week that we have been wasting in Afghanistan for a decade. All of this occurring at a time when American politicians claim that they don’t have enough money to provide the basics for Americans.
I recently stumbled across an article about the fate of Kokura Japan near the end of World War II. In a sentence, cloudy weather saved the people of Kokura from being consumed in the world’s second nuclear bomb attack. Those same clouds doomed the people of Nagasaki.
A young man named Kermit Beahan peered through the rubber eyepiece of the bombsight, and he could see some of the buildings of Kokura and the river that ran by the arms factory, but the complex itself was blocked by a cloud.
So Bock’s Car gave up on Kokura and went on to its secondary target, Nagasaki. Clouds also partly obscured Nagasaki, but not quite enough of it.
The plutonium bomb killed somewhere around 100,000 people in Nagasaki, and it was the most powerful blast the world had ever seen, significantly more so than the one three days earlier when a uranium bomb destroyed Hiroshima. Nagasaki was destined for the history books, and Kokura was forgotten.
Today there’s an elephant in the room: a huge, yet ignored, issue that largely explains why Social Security is now on the chopping block. And why other industrialized countries have free college education and universal healthcare, but we don’t. It’s arguably our country’s biggest problem — a problem that Martin Luther King Jr. focused on before he was assassinated 45 years ago, and has only worsened since then (which was the height of the Vietnam War). That problem is U.S. militarism and perpetual war. In 1967, King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” — and said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” . . . What our mainstream media so obediently call the “War on Terror” is experienced in other countries as a U.S. war of terror — kidnappings, night raids, torture, drone strikes, killing and maiming of innocent civilians — that creates new enemies for our country.
Here is a basic rule of American journalism: Don’t speak the truth during times of war. Martin Luther King received received harsh treatment by the mainstream media when he dared to speak out about the Vietnam War, even after his many successes in the area of civil rights. The occasion was King’s somber Riverside Church speech.
Part II of King’s speech is here. King’s speech is accurately described as follows at this Youtube page:
By 1967, King had become the country’s most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech delivered at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Time magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi,” and the Washington Post declared that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.
At the recently concluded National Conference for Media Reform, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now commented on the propensity of the media to become obeisant to warmongering American politicians, and the equal propensity of the media to criticize those who criticize warmongering. To hear Goodman’s excellent speech, go to minute 28:00 of the composite video.
Glen Greenwald reports that when the Chinese government sought out the murderer of 13 Chinese citizens, the use of drones was not an option:
What kind of weak, soft, overly legalistic government worries about trivial concerns like international law and “sovereignty issues” when it comes to drone-killing heinous murderers for whom capture is difficult? Why not just shoot Hellfire missiles wherever you think he might be hiding in weaker countries and kill him and anyone who happens to be near him? Or if you are able to find him, at least just riddle his skull with bullets, dump his corpse into the ocean, and then chant nationalistic slogans in the street and at your political conventions. Who would ever want to give a trial to such a heinous and savage foreign killer of your citizens, particularly if it means risking the lives of your soldiers to apprehend him? What China did instead was conduct what the NYT this morning calls a “methodical and unyielding” law enforcement investigation over the course of six months.
Glenn Greenwald writes the following as part of his article on an upcoming film titled “Dirty Wars.”
The most propagandistic aspect of the US War on Terror has been, and remains, that its victims are rendered invisible and voiceless. They are almost never named by newspapers. They and their surviving family members are virtually never heard from on television. The Bush and Obama DOJs have collaborated with federal judges to ensure that even those who everyone admits are completely innocent have no access to American courts and thus no means of having their stories heard or their rights vindicated. Radical secrecy theories and escalating attacks on whistleblowers push these victims further into the dark. It is the ultimate tactic of Othering: concealing their humanity, enabling their dehumanization, by simply relegating them to nonexistence.
The following excerpt is from the website of “Dirty Wars.”
As [Investigative Reporter] Scahill digs deeper into the activities of JSOC, he is pulled into a world of covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix, and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the “kill list,” including U.S. citizens. Drawn into the stories and lives of the people he meets along the way, Scahill is forced to confront the painful consequences of a war spinning out of control, as well as his own role as a journalist.
As Kathy Kelly explains, the Iraq War is not over:
Effects go on immeasurably and indefensibly.
Effects of war continue for the 2.2 million people who’ve been displaced by bombing and chaos, whose livelihoods are irreparably destroyed, and who’ve become refugees in other countries, separated from loved ones and unlikely to ever reclaim the homes and communities from which they had to flee hastily. Within Iraq, an estimated 2.8 million internally displaced people live, according to Refugees International, “in constant fear, with limited access to shelter, food, and basic services.”
The war hasn’t ended for people who are survivors of torture or for those who were following orders by becoming torturers.
Nor has it ended for the multiple generations of U.S. taxpayers who will continue paying for a war which economists Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz have so far priced at $4 trillion.
For Bradley Manning, whose brave empathy exposed criminal actions on the part of U.S. warlords complicit in torture, death squads and executions, the war most certainly isn’t over. He lives as an isolated war hero and whistleblower, facing decades or perhaps life in prison.
The war may never end for veterans who harbor physical and emotional wounds that will last until they die.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now also added up some of the costs of the Iraq adventure:
On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we look at a massive new report by a team of 30 economists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal experts and physicians about the Iraq War’s impact. “The Costs of War” report found the total number of people who have died from the Iraq War, including soldiers, militants, police, contractors, journalists, humanitarian workers and Iraqi civilians, has reached at least 189,000 people, including at least 123,000 civilians. Financially, the report estimates a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $2.2 trillion, a figure that could one day approach $4 trillion with the interest accrued on the borrowed money used to fund the war.