Most Americans have no idea what their powerful and expensive military and armed Blackwater thugs have been doing in Iraq since the invasion of 2003. How could they? They are embedded in a corporately controlled imperial culture that insures that the public remains blind, deaf, dumb, and numb to the suffering caused by the 17 year war of conquest. That’s right – the US government has been incessantly waging war on Iraq for seventeen years.The 17 year old war started in 1991 when the US launched operation DESERT STORM to remove Saddam’s forces from Kuwait. During the 1990s, the US continually engaged in acts of war and aggression – air attacks and bombings, as well as economic sanctions that the UN claims resulted in hundreds of thousands Iraqi children dying. The second invasion , and from my viewpoint, the second phase in the war of conquest, began in 2003, This campaign named “Shock and Awe,” involved the intense bombing of Bagdad and Mosul, and a ground invasion. This was followed by a brutal and torture filled illegal occupation. A permanent US military presence in the Middle East has now been assured for years to come.
The war of conquest in Iraq continues today under the rubric of the “war on terror,” and the violence continues with no end in sight. Meanwhile, the US is building the largest embassy in the world in Bagdad, a virtual city of imperial vice right in the middle of the conquered nation. Unless the American people wake up soon to what is occurring It signals a long and bloody occupation.
For Bush and his neo-con advisors, “Shock and Awe”, the evisceration of Iraq, was really just a matter of finishing the job that was started by his father, former President George Bush. The climate of fear that was exploited after the Twin Towers went down in New York on September 11, 2001, gave Bush and his crusading neo-cons the excuse they needed to invade Iraq once again. The Democrats acted like sheep and passed a resolution supporting the use of force. Fear, especially a heightened fear fed by real horrific events, does not bring out the best in people anywhere, and demagogues and scoundrels usually benefit the most in such an irrational social psychological climate.
Most Americans , while vaguely opposed to the war as a “mistake,” are still apparently deaf and dumb regarding those “Arab Others,” those forlorn Iraqis, who have been killed or displaced and made homeless by Washington’s illegal war of aggression. Many just don’t want to hear about it.
It is important that we remember the deliberate lies that got us there. Remember the Downing Street Memo from Great Britian which showed that the Bush administration deliberately “fixed” the intelligence about the WMDS? Remember the admissions that the fabricated links with Al Qaeda did not exist? Remember when Vice-president Cheney, a former CEO of Halliburton (a major oil service multi-national corporation) told us on national television that he was “absolutely sure” that Iraq had WMDs? Remember Rumsfeld saying that “we do not do body counts?” Remember Rummy emphatically stating that the war has nothing to do with oil? Remember all the lies and half-truths we were fed as if we were so many passive cows grazing on the grasses of affluence?
Amazingly, the American media have acted like controlling the world’s oil resources has nothing to do with the war! While other factors help in explaining the huge American commitment in Iraq, such as Washington’s quest for “full spectrum” dominance in the region and its desire to protect Israel as a regional superpower surrounded by weak or decimated Arab States, it is hard to believe that this non-renewable resource that is running out has nothing to do with the hundred of thousands of US troops and the various deployed weapons systems and aircraft carriers deployed there.
The notion that the US is there to promote “democracy and freedom” for the Iraqi people would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. Iraq is a horror show directed from the United States. Millions have been liberated from their homes and lives, and now have nothing more to worry about. A true liberation! They have disappeared!
9-11 certainly blessed the Bush administration with the pretext to wage endless war against terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere, while attacking freedoms and civil liberties in the United States. The dead Iraqis, well over a million since the invasion, cannot speak. They cannot say “look at me.” The media collaborates in maintaining both their silence and invisibility. The 2 million Iraqi refugees outside of Iraq, and the 2 million displaced and homeless persons inside Iraq, are voiceless and invisible to the American media, and consequently the American public. In the embedded American media, they rarely are spoken about. There have been no in depth stories to my knowledge covering the millions of refugees that have fled from Iraq into Syria and Jordan. The American people have been prevented from seeing the real consequences of the war and occupation.
Remember the powerful picture we all saw during the Vietnam era of the young girl running from American planes dropping napalm on her village? We have not seen such pictures from Iraq, which may be the most censored war in American history. We were allowed to see the horrible torture pictures from Abu Graib, so we did get some critical coverage of American misdeeds. And recently, we saw the stories about the BLACKWATER goon squads joyously gunning down Iraqi civilians. But we have not been allowed to see the worst of it, the bombed out areas of Iraq and the many victims blown apart by America’s bombs and missiles. We have not seen many pictures of the innocent victims of the four year American occupation, nor has there been substantive coverage of the various military campaigns and air strikes accompanying “the surge.”. The American people saw no pictures of the widespread destruction and death inflicted on Falluja. These types of stories are obviously not newsworthy for our compliant self-censoring media.
Every day now more stories are fed to us from our military censors about numbers of Al Qaieda killed in various air strikes throughout Iraq. So I guess we sometimes do body counts. How do we know that these are not civilians or nationalist insurgents, conveniently labeled by the military as Al Qaida to soothe the public conscience? Can we believe a media that psychologically terrorized the American people with scary images of Saddam’s WMDs and visions of imminent mushroom clouds exploding outside our windows? More often then not they act as willing pawns for what Bob Dylan called “the masters of war.’
The non-embedded journalist Dar Jamail wrote the following words in Tom Dispatch on November 26, 2007:
From the beginning of the American occupation in Iraq, air strikes and attacks by the U.S. military have only killed “militants,” “criminals,” “suspected insurgents,” “IED [Improvised Explosive Device] emplacers,” “anti-American fighters,” “terrorists,” “military age males,” “armed men,” “extremists,” or “al-Qaeda.”
In other words, there is the suspicion that many Iraqi civilians killed by American bombs are conveniently labeled ‘Al Qaida” or “insurgents” to silence criticism. Writers like DahrJamail, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky , have reported the horrors create by American bombing runs for those of us who want to know. Sadly, these authors are rarely found in American newspapers, so we who are curious have to go to the internet or books to find out what is going on. For instance, how many Americans know or care that the US fighters and bombers flew 14,000 sorties in “Shock and Awe,” sorties that dropped tons of bombs and missiles on large densely populated cities like Bagdad (pop. approximately six million people) and Mosul (1.7 million people) as well as on the northern town of Tikrit (28,000) people. Just imagine the suffering!
Those who study air power have long noted that it invariably kills large numbers of civilians. For instance, author Beau Grosscup, an international relations professor from CSUChico argues in his book entitled STRATEGIC TERROR that air power is by nature indiscriminate and terroristic because it invariably kills civilians. This was demonstrated in World War Two during the fire-bombings of German and Japanese cities whicjh killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. This was certainly the case in Vietnam where millions of Southeast Asians in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos met an early death via America’s B-52s and napalm. It is also true that in Iraq, a society that has been fragmented and bludgeoned by American air power for seventeen consecutive years. Millions are suffering and have lost everything they once possessed.
Internecine strife threatens to paint the Euphrates and Tigris rivers blood red for years to come.
The conquest of Iraq has already generated a humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportions that threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East.
Not surprisingly, there has been a fourfold increase in the number of air attacks during “the surge” in 2007, meaning more innocent Iraqi people are being killed daily by air strikes. In a letter published August 21, 2007 in New York Times , the American historian Howard Zinn recently made a similar point that modern war, and terrorism are morally equivalent. Zinn wrote:
In countless news briefings, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, responding to reporters’ questions about civilian deaths in bombing, would say those deaths were “unintentional” or “inadvertent” or “accidental,” as if that disposed of the problem. In the Vietnam War, the massive deaths of civilians by bombing were justified in the same way by Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon and various generals.
These words are misleading because they assume an action is either “deliberate” or “unintentional.” There is something in between, for which the word is “inevitable.” If you engage in an action, like aerial bombing, in which you cannot possibly distinguish between combatants and civilians (as a former Air Force bombardier, I will attest to that), the deaths of civilians are inevitable, even if not “intentional.” Does that difference exonerate you morally?
The terrorism of the suicide bomber and the terrorism of aerial bombardment are indeed morally equivalent. To say otherwise (as either side might) is to give one moral superiority over the other, and thus serve to perpetuate the horrors of our time.
Zinn has argued elsewhere that we live in a nuclearized world were wars are the greatest and most immediate threat to the continued existence of our human species. We may have time to respond to threats like global warming and climate change, but a war can expand, become regional, and lead to dangerous confrontations involving nuclear armed states. Noam Chomsky in recent interviews maintains that the Middle East is filled with dangerous tripwires that could lead to a far wider regional war and the possible use of nuclear weapons.
If Emperor George W launches another pre-emptive war of aggression and launches air strikes against Iran it could be even a greater disaster and humanitarian crisis in the Middle east. And it could generate a crisis that could affect the very fate of humanity and planet earth for the rest of time.