'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrate Perpetual War on 9/11 (Part 2) 

Yesterday, President Obama made the connection between 9/11 and perpetual war explicit:

US President Barack Obama today hailed the 9/11 generation of US veterans and 6200 service members who perished in the hard decade of war spawned by the September 11 attacks.

Mr Obama, speaking to the 93rd annual convention of the American Legion, paid tribute to millions of servicemen and women who had signed up after the world's deadliest terror strike 10 years ago killed nearly 3000 people.

Today, as we near this solemn anniversary, it's fitting that we salute the extraordinary decade of service rendered by the 9/11 generation, the more than five million Americans who have worn the uniform over the past 10 years, he said.

Today we pay humble tribute to the more than 6,200 Americans in uniform who have given their lives in this hard decade of war. We honour them all.

Mr Obama said the 9/11 veterans had become a one America team that changed the way their country fights and wins its wars and had learned the cultures of the lands in which they had served.

We see the scope of their sacrifice in the tens of thousands who now carry the scars of war, both seen and unseen, our remarkable wounded warriors.

Most profoundly, we see the wages of war in those patriots who never came home. They gave their all, their last full measure of devotion, in Kandahar and the Korengal and Helmand, in the battles for Baghdad and Fallujah and Ramadi.

It is a most remarkable statement of imperialist intent and purpose, all the way down to the condescending remarks about how the troops learned the cultures of the lands in which they had served. It is an imperialism that the US intends to pursue indefinitely.

Meanwhile, wikileaks has provided us with an example of what US troops have been doing in Iraq during the period referenced by Obama, courtesy of a diplomatic e-mail written by a US diplomat in Geneva, Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Execution:

I would like to draw the attention of your Government to information I have received regarding a raid conducted by the Multinational Forces (MNF) on 15 March 2006 in the house of Faiz Harrat Al-Majma'ee, a farmer living in the outskirts of Al-Iss Haqi District in Balad (Salah-El-Din Governorate).

I have received various reports indicating that at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay'ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra'a (aged 5) Aisha ( aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz's mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz's sister (name unknown), Faiz's nieces Asma'a Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.

According to the information received, American troops approached Mr. Faiz's home in the early hours of 15 March 2006. It would appear that when the MNF approached the house, shots were fired from it and a confrontation ensued for some 25 minutes. The MNF troops entered the house, handcuffed all residents and executed all of them. After the initial MNF intervention, a US air raid ensued that destroyed the house.

Iraqi TV stations broadcast from the scene and showed bodies of the victims (i.e. five children and four women) in the morgue of Tikrit. Autopsies carries out at the Tikrit Hospital's morgue revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed.

I am aware that the MNF confirmed that an air raid took place that day in Balad and that it caused an unconfirmed number of casualties. The US military attacked the house to capture members of Mr. Faiz Harrat Al-Majma'ee's family on the basis that they were allegedly involved in the killing of two MNF soldiers who were killed between 6 to 11 March 2006 in the Al Haweeja area. The US military was further reported in the media as stating that MNF troops attacked the house in question to capture a foreign fighter facilitator for the Al Qaeda in Iraq network. Other reports indicate that over the past five months, there have been a significant number of lethal incidents in which the MNF is alleged to have used excessive force to respond to perceived threats either at checkpoints or by using air bombing in civilian areas.

Perhaps, you wonder, why is it so important to deconstruct such obvious propaganda? Well, first of all, it isn't that obvious for a lot of people, and second, it is the means by which US politicians preserve public support for US military operations around the world. As Donald Rumsfeld did on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, US politicians, like the President, persist in associating the deaths of those who died on 9/11 with US invasions and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and, to much lesser extent, Pakistan. Sweep it all up. Things related and not remains the governing principle of US foreign policy.

Exploitation of the people who died on 9/11 and, conversely, the suppression of any acknowledgement of the people who have subsequently died in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia as a consequence of US military operations is culturally central to perpetuating this imperialist policy. In other words, a mythology of victimization, a mythology whereby those who died on 9/11 are connected to conflicts unrelated to the attacks themselves, is necessary to provide a comprehensible ideological narrative for actions that would otherwise be recognized as violently expansionist. Needless to say, recourse to racist and sectarian stereotypes about Arabs, commonly described as Islamophobia, is also an essential feature of it, financed by influential corporate interests.

Accordingly, we should speak clearly about the tenth anniversary events associated with 9/11. They are offensive, because they exploit death to justify death on a permanent, exponentially greater scale. They constitute part of a sinister foundation myth for the so-called war on terror, a euphemism for the expansion of the American Empire, and its neoliberal, capitalist values, by means of military force. To participate in them is to participate in the embrace of the war on terror and all of the sadomasochistic brutality associated with it. On September 11, 2001, a covert clash of fundamentalisms erupted in full public view in the most spectacular fashion, a clash between the violence of radical Islamic fundamentalism and the violence of American exceptionalism, and we should instead recognize that these deaths are the tragic result of this conflict.

Shortly after the attacks, Tariq Ali asked an immigrant Central American cab driver in New York City about them, and he responded:

You know how many people they've killed in Central America? You know?... I feel sorry for the ones who died. That's more than they feel for us.

Indeed. But it's actually worse than that. Turns out that people like Rumsfeld and Obama, representative of the the political elites that govern the US, don't feel much for the people who died in the Twin Towers, either, because, if they did, they wouldn't have stripped the victims of their humanity and reduced them to US propaganda symbols. We can most sincerely respect their deaths by ascribing a tragic dimension to them equal to the deaths of anyone else.

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