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January 22, 2021
cartoon: too true!
WN: What is true of the Criminal Justice System is also “too true” in general of our living “normal lives” in the West.
And it extends: to us in the West aware enough of what being in league/lockstep with Western powers (Five Eyes, NATO, NORAD etc., etc., etc.) that defend our right to . . . live serene lives atop “their” “peaceful” graveyards (the West’s enemies/exploited).
Nick Turse’s The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives is but one of multiple voices that tell us this is so. One can ask: How do we live with ourselves when we stop and consider such realities?
In my review of Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World I write:
In Watership Down [Adams, Richard (2001). New York: Perennial], Richard Adams tells the story of a rabbit warren seeking asylum. In its quest, it discovers a warren where everything seems ideal: that is until the awful truth emerges that the nearby farmer who created these “ideal” conditions captures and slaughters at will rabbits for delicious stews. The questing warren recoils in horror and moves on. Aerial warfare like drunk driving by definition claims innocent victims. Death of civilians is war’s inevitable horror. Elshtain’s flaccid, almost nonchalant acknowledgement, “they always occur in every war” is inexcusable. “Ain’t goin’ to study war no more” is the only moral response.
By analogy, “unintentionality” with relation to specific individual victims is no defence for drunk driving. Yet it is lawful in aerial warfare? It is a moral conceit that because premeditated killing of specific innocent victims (“John and Jane Doe”) is not in question, though assured!, there is ethical exemption for aerial bombing, hence absence of terror. This is ethical sleight of hand that is no comfort to war’s victims and their loved ones. “A rose by any other name…” To quibble, as does Elshtain, over claims (according to her, made by those opposing war, “inflated,” urged by those supporting, “accurate”) of numbers of civilian deaths is casuistry.
I add in a footnote:
David Cole, a professor of law at Georgetown University, writers: “The Bill of Rights, however, does not distinguish between [American/Western] citizens and non[American/Western]citizens. It extends its protections in universal language, to ‘persons,’ ‘people’ or ‘the accused.’ The framers considered these rights to be God-given natural rights, and God didn’t give them only to persons holding American passports (Cole, David (2004). “America’s Prisoners, American Rights,” The New York Times, April 20, 2004.).”
A friend uses language of “too nimble of thought,” say of an Erasmus, for him to be caught in a blanket moral imperative against war. I’m not sure however that it is nimbleness of thought so much as acquiescence to immorality when it comes to war. Or as I wrote in response to Elshtain: “Ain’t goin’ to study war no more” is the only moral response.
Arggh! Not easy stuff I find for us who live on the (overwhelming) violence-doing side of history . . . i.e. for us Westerners. Better I guess just to bury our heads in the sand until . . . what? Kingdom Come? That strikes though as exceedingly hollow and self-serving, not to mention missing entirely its already/not-yet revolutionary reality . . .
This is reminiscent of Bruce Cockburn’s mesmerizing 1984 song: “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” It was written after his tour of American carnage in Guatemala. It expresses something profoundly raw and justly enraged, even if his “solution” is metaphorical–as Cockburn put it:
The song doesn’t say, ‘I wish I had a rocket launcher. It says, ‘If!’ ”
As to the paragraph excerpted immediately below, in all simplicity it is . . . simply true. The writer calls forth harsh language–but what could be more deserved? We Westerners have however on this rather perfected the art of Holocaust Denialism. Or as in the Good Samaritan story, we readily enough turn aside and too blithely speed along on our journey . . .
For indeed, as the article says:
. . . all American presidents are certifiable war criminals.
Trump may be the worst president ever, and not welcome in the Living Past Presidents Club, but when it comes to war crimes and pace Holocaust Denialism, all presidents past and present belong to the same Club!
It’s pretty much an open secret at this point that all American presidents are certifiable war criminals, even the supposedly good ones. Thomas Jefferson killed the Indians he admired and raped his slaves when he wasn’t busy denouncing slavery. FDR put an entire race in concentration camps and even that dovish hayseed, Jimmy Carter, was a founding father of Al-Qaeda. Violating human rights comes with the job description when you run a runaway empire. Noam Chomsky probably put it best when he observed that, if held to the same standards as the Nuremberg Tribunals, every American president would swing from the end of a noose- “Every white one of them” as Zack de la Rocha once added a few years before that poetic sentiment became tragically dated. All this considered, there really is little room for self-respecting historians to get, well, histrionic. If this were anything resembling a fair country, every one of those bastards would have been impeached, from Washington up to Trump and Biden next. But historians are people too and every once in while there is a case, a single war crime, that leaves a stain on your soul that just wont come out. The tragic case of little Nora al-Awlaki is one of those cases for me. So while the whole country hyperventilates over the Donald’s latest dance with thuggery, I’m left wondering, what the fuck took you people so long?
Lets get real here people, we all know exactly why Donald Trump rubber stamped the first known US ground assault in Yemen in history. It’s the same reason Nora’s name sounds so hauntingly familiar. Nora al-Awlaki was the surviving daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the famed American jihadi propagandist. Barrack Obama had him extrajudicially murdered in a drone strike back in 2011. Two weeks later, by coincidence of course, Anwar’s teenage son was murdered in another drone strike. The troubling fact about Anwar himself that no American seems willing to touch is that the man has never been empirically tied to a single crime. The CIA ties him to everything and anything but never offers anything in the way of proof. Anwar’s crime was that he was an American Muslim who advocated for other western Muslims to reject western materialism and embrace jihad against the nations killing their family back home. He was an extremist agitator and kind of a prick. To America, that’s reason enough for a death sentence, and the murder of his next of kin simply underlines the point. Scoff at the scraps of empire and even your children will suffer.
Please click on: In Memory of Nora