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February 18 2017, 6:11 a.m.
photo above: During a memorial service in Baghdad, Iraqis gather around a bomb hole in the ceiling of the Al-Amariya shelter in 2003, where more than 400 people were killed in a U.S.-led missile attack during the Gulf War. Iraqis opened a new memorial center outside the Al-Amariya shelter to mark the 12 year anniversary of the attack. Photo: David Guttenfelder/AP
When Barack Obama took office, he had two choices.
First, he could tell the truth: That the U.S. has acted with extraordinary brutality in the Middle East, that this had been the main motivation for most Islamist terrorism against us, and if we continued the same foreign policy Americans would be killed indefinitely in intermittent attacks. Then we could have had an open, informed debate about whether we like our foreign policy enough to die for it.
Second, Obama could continue trying to run the Middle East without public input, but in a more rational way than the Bush administration.
Obviously he went with the second choice, which demanded several different forms of political correctness.
Most importantly, Obama pretended that the U.S. has never done anything truly wrong to others, and can enjoy the benefits of power without any costs. This is the most pernicious and common form of political correctness, but is never called that because the most powerful people in America love it.
But Obama also engaged in something more akin to what’s generally called political correctness, by contending that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. But it does — just not in the way that Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller would tell you.
Religion and nationalism have always been similar phenomena, and Islam sometimes functions as a form of nationalism. And like all nationalisms, it has a crazy, vicious right wing that’s empowered by outside attacks on members of the nation. The right loves to jeer at Obama for calling Islam “a religion of peace,” and they should — not because Islam specifically isn’t a religion of peace but because there is really no such thing, just as there is no “nationalism of peace.” It’s true religions and nationalism can bring out the best in people, but they also bring out the worst (sometimes in the same person for the same reasons).
But Obama could never say anything like that, because he knew the U.S. needs the governments of Muslim-majority countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt to keep the rest of the Middle East in line.
This amalgam of political correctness made it impossible for the Obama administration ever to tell a story about terrorism that made any sense. For instance, in his 2009 speech in Cairo, he declared, “It is easier to blame others than to look inward” — and then went on to demonstrate that truism.
His description of wrongs done by the U.S. was vague to the point of meaninglessness: “tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims.” Also, “Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world.”
Obama then explained that “Violent extremists have exploited these tensions.” So … 19 people were motivated to fly jetliners into buildings by “tensions”? If that’s the only story that non-Muslim Americans hear, they’ll rationally be terrified of Islam.
In 2010, Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, emitted a similar bland puree of words at a press conference when questioned by Helen Thomas about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed underwear bomber. Their exchange went like this:
At his sentencing, Abdulmutallab explained his motivation in less time than it took Brennan to say there wasn’t enough time to explain:[I pledged] to attack the United States in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel and in retaliation of the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine, especially in the blockade of Gaza, and in retaliation for the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants.
To be fair, there is one situation in which American officials have lost the mushmouth and drawn a direct connection between a country killing Mideastern civilians and terrorist retaliation: when that country is Russia. William Burns, formerly Obama’s Deputy Secretary of State, recently and accurately proclaimed that “Russia’s bloody role in Syria makes the terrorist threat far worse.” John Kirby, an Obama State Department spokesman, warned that Russia’s brutalization of Syria would lead to “attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.”
That brings us back to President Trump and his executive order on immigration.
Trump’s story about why it’s necessary is, factually speaking, garbage. But a normal human being can at least understand it and its moral: These incomprehensible foreigners are all potential psychotics, we’ve got to keep them out. Under these circumstances, who cares that no one from any of these seven countries has killed any Americans yet? They’re all part of a huge morass of ticking time bombs.
By contrast, the Democratic, liberal perspective laid out by Obama makes no sense at all. We’ve never done anything particularly bad in the Middle East, yet … some people over there want to come here and kill us because … they’ve been exploited by violent extremists who’ve perverted Islam and … gotta run, there’s no time to explain.
Regular people could sense that anyone mouthing this kind of gibberish was hiding something, even if they didn’t realize that Obama was trying to keep the U.S. empire running rather than concealing his secret faith in Islam.
And because a coherent narrative always beats the complete absence of a story, no one should be surprised that many Americans find Trump’s fantasy of inexplicable Muslim hatred persuasive. The only way to conclusively beat it will be with a coherent, complicated, true story like this:
Please click on: Decades of Denial
- Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.↩
- It continued:
‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.” The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed. It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.↩
- Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.↩
-  The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.↩
- A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
In June , the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.↩