JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
At the end of Amy Goodman’s interview with Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, and the award-winning documentary film with the same name appearing at theatres this June, Scahill concluded that we cannot avoid asking the question: Are Americans paying a high price for the U.S. government’s violent war polices? The corporate media will not go there when it comes to this question.
I agree with Scahill’s assessment. If these wars continue in our name, it’s highly likely that Americans will be the target of retaliation. America is no longer seen as the Beacon of Light in the world. For the last twelve years, our government is viewed globally as the Bully of Darkness. After the complete annihilation of Iraq, wrongly blamed for 9-11 and wrongly accused of harboring weapons of mass destruction, can you blame world leaders’ for escalating defense programs?
When speaking about war crimes i.e. statements such as “Look what we’re doing to those poor village peasants in Afghanistan and Yemen, killing up to 30 or 40 women and children for one suspect,” the pronoun “we” should be replaced with “President Obama”. Obama won the 2008 election on the campaign promise that that he’d put an end to these unconscionable wars and begin the process of healing and reconciliation. Thus, Americans are not responsible for what this government does. The President vowed to do so and he betrayed us.
I realize that the media refuses to discuss the motives of political acts of terrorism. But we need to have that discussion after ten years of killing and torturing Iraqis and Afghans. The Bush-Cheney administration lied to Americans and cruelly blamed Iraqis for 9-11. The truth is that Iraqis were a kind and generous people before 9-11, they sympathized with Americans when 9-11 happened; they had nothing to do with 9-11, and did nothing to harm us. And that’s true for Afghans as well. These war crimes are now all documented and have been revealed through the work and courageous efforts of independent journalists like Jeremy Scahill and Julian Assange via WikiLeaks. Independent journals such as Truthout.org have continued to cover these stories—so that the public can distinguish between facts on the ground and corporate media lies-propaganda.
There is a simple solution to diminishing violent acts of terrorism that this government refuses to acknowledge: Leave these poor people alone! Stop invading them, stop killing them! Send drones that drop boxes of food, bread not bombs, so that the healing can begin. Of course, by now, they probably don’t trust anything that comes from the U.S. government, including food and water—they’ll assume it will all be poisoned. Can you blame them?
Under Obama’s administration, the strategy has changed to “targeted drone attacks”. But it’s worth quoting Jeremy Scahill on what this really means:
“After 9/11, the CIA has been on a constant sort of curve back to paramilitarization. So you have the CIA functioning as a paramilitary organization, and JSOC (Joint Special Operation Command) has become very, very powerful.
And so, to me, the concept of The War Is a Battlefield actually is not something I thought up; it’s a doctrine, actually, a military doctrine called "Operational Preparation of the Battlespace," which views the world as a battlefield. And what it says is that if there are countries where you predict, where the military predicts that conflicts are likely or that war is a possibility, you can forward deploy troops to those countries to prepare the battlefield. And under both Bush and Obama, the world has been declared the battlefield. You know, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that was passed after 9/11 is technically the law that President Obama and his administration point to when they say they have a right to drone strike in Yemen, because these people are connected to the 9/11 attacks. But in reality, one of the enduring legacies of the Obama presidency is going to be that he solidified this Cheneyesque view of the U.S. government, which says that when it comes to foreign policy, that the executive branch is effectively a dictatorship and that Congress only has a minimal role to play in oversight. I mean, Cheney didn’t want Congress to have any role in it. Obama’s administration plays this game with Congress…”
Thus, if as reported, the Boston tragedy was a “political” act of terrorism i.e. retaliation for U.S. war policies, then the next question is why?
Though I’m no fan of congressman Ron Paul’s, he made a valid and obvious point at the Republican 2012 debates to paraphrase that “if this government continues to drive the debt up to trillions of dollars for unpopular and endless wars, if we continue to kill Afghans, Iraqis and their children throughout the Middle East region, it’s going to make those people angry, it will create more terrorists, and it will inevitably crush our own economy for middle-class workers. You can’t keep killing and torturing and not expect repercussions.” I guess that’s why the chicken-hawk war oligarchs that own the media dismissed Ron Paul as a “joke”.
To illuminate the point, a two-year independent investigation by the Constitution Project released Tuesday said that U.S. forces engaged in torture and senior officials bear responsibility for it. Senior officials=Bush and Cheney. In the torture memos, it’s been revealed that American and British forces mutilated Iraqi men: shocked their genitals, water-boarded, punched and whipped them to death; as for their women, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi girls have been raped and left for dead. I could go on listing unspeakable evils that these poor people have had to endure, their country is literally uninhabitable due to the amount of depleted uranium from illegal U.S. cluster bombs and weapons.
With drone warfare on the rise in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, six countries more to Bush’s Afghanistan, Obama turned CIA targeting killings “into one hell of a killing machine,” as one staff member put it. Under Obama, CIA’s Counterterrorism Center staff grew sevenfold. Approximately 20 percent of CIA analysts are now “targeters” and 35 percent supported drone operations.
I’m not blaming the President for the Boston tragedy, but Mr. Obama refuses to acknowledge the reality that violence breeds violence. Likewise, federal policies that benefit the few wealthy corporate oligarchs at the expense of a struggling middle class economy lead to poverty, crime and a violent society.
Both the Bush-Obama administrations’ war and domestic policies are a shameful embarrassment, and they’ll be remembered as a dark period in our history. To use Obama’s own words for the Boston bombings, his illegal drone “kill list” is an “act of cowardice”. Victims of U.S. drone attacks “have to collect pieces of flesh lying around after a drone strike. You can’t find bodies. So the locals pick up flesh and curse America...” (Yemeni Tells Senate Committee about Drone Attack on his Village)
President Obama campaigned on reversing Bush’s foreign and domestic policies. While our middle-class economy is teetering on the edge of ruin, Obama chose to make Bush’s dream come true by offering up Social Security and Medicare to the corporate elites. As Evan Knappenberger put it, “Most disappointing of all to the youth is Obama's betrayal of their values, particularly, his extensions of Bush policies and war-mongering.”
Given our history, it is a rare exception when a U.S. President renders policies that actually improve the conditions for working Americans. Most have catered to the one percent super rich. The last and exceptional President who boosted the middle class economy and almost single-handedly brought about world peace was former President Bill Clinton. He’ll go down in history as the “People’s President”. Bill Clinton wasn’t perfect, he made economic mistakes, but overall his accomplishments are quite astounding considering that the corporate elitists did everything in their power to destroy his presidency shy of assassination. Bill Clinton left the people a trillion dollar surplus, which Bush immediately raided for himself and his friends via tax benefits for the super rich.
Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton. Mr. Obama can no longer use Bush as an excuse for his failing domestic, military policies. With every campaign promise he breaks, the only change that Obama is creating for his voters is a sense of existential despair, hopelessness, cynicism, and a conviction that economic improvements for most Americans are impossible due to an escalation of war profits, corporate monopolies, greed, unfair laws, deregulation, and abuse of executive powers related to military. We are still waiting for President Obama to take executive action for solutions to global warming. My guess is that it will be a long and futile wait.
There is a lot of anger out there, and unfortunately, innocent Americans are paying the price for this government’s violent and immoral policies here and abroad. Perhaps that’s the real reason why Obama shut down the White House tours. When my friends travel to other countries, they wear Canadian flags on their shirts and backpacks. Americans are not responsible for this government’s policies—and we shouldn’t be blamed.
(Photo: Aaron Tang)