Empire Burlesque
The Template Emerges and Tears Through the Flesh
Share
Written by Chris Floyd   
Saturday, 11 September 2010 10:43

 Our guest blogger today is Dr. Robert Dylan (Princeton, St Andrews) who in a passage written a few years ago, about another historical epoch (viz., the antebellum and Civil War eras), expresses what we believe are some pertinent, prescient observations about the contemporary scene:

After awhile, you become aware of nothing but a culture of feeling, of black days, of schism, evil for evil, the common destiny of the human being getting thrown off course."

 
Provocative Behavior: Pertinent Concerns Over the Burning of Korans
Share
Written by Chris Floyd   
Thursday, 09 September 2010 10:49

 

American policy, at the highest levels of state, is specifically and deliberately designed to kill, despoil, dispossess, insult and outrage Muslims, in operations all over the world. That's what the Terror War is all about. We have spent more than $3 trillion burning Korans -- and their readers -- in the last decade. This policy has been pushed, championed and cheered by virtually the entire bipartisan political and media establishments -- and by much of the religious establishment as well.

Yet this week we have been treated to the bleakly comic sight of the avatars of these very establishments expressing their deeply humanitarian concerns -- and their nostril-flaring moral outrage -- over the plans of a Florida religious crank to publicly burn a few Korans on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. These societal leaders -- such as Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- sternly warn us that such an act will inevitably produce violent blowback, stoke Islamic extremism and exacerbate anti-American feeling in the Muslim world.

Gen. Petraeus was admirably forthright about the effects such actions produce:

“We’re concerned that the images from the burning of a Quran would be used in the same way that extremists used images from Abu Ghraib — that they would in a sense be indelible,” Petraeus told NBC’s Brian Williams. “They would be used by those who wish us ill, to incite violence and to enflame public opinion against us and against our mission here in Afghanistan, as well as our missions undoubtedly around the world.”


These concerns are, of course, pertinent, and it is good to see them aired so prominently. However, one wonders about the ultimate effectiveness of such messages, coming as they do from these particular messengers.

For example, how many Korans have been burned in the countless civilian houses and institutions destroyed in attacks under Petraeus' command in both Iraq and Afghanistan? Hundreds of Korans? Thousands of Korans? Tens of thousands of Korans? (Along with their eviscerated owners, of course.)

How many Korans have been burned in the destruction of civilian houses by missiles fired in the Obama Administration's ruthless, ever-expanding -- and entirely illegal -- drone war in Pakistan?

Take this story, reported just yesterday by Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com: Children Among 24 Killed as US Drone Strikes Rock Pakistan.

The attacks destroyed three homes in North Waziristan as well as a car. The children were in a home near one of the targeted homes which was also damaged in the blast. The US has launched a number of drone strikes over the past several days, but there has been no indication that any “high value” targets were killed and most of the dead appear to be local tribesmen who are nominally affiliated with militant factions.


Three homes in this single raid (one of dozens now striking homes in Pakistan every month): how many Korans were burned, do you think? At least three, and probably more. And then there are the dead children, of course. One wonders if the fact (not just the "images") of these dead children -- and the thousands of other innocent children whose bodies have been gutted, beheaded, gashed in or torn to shreds by American missiles, bombs and bullets fired at the order of General David Petraeus and Barack Obama and all their worthy predecessors whose noble work they are so assiduously continuing -- will be "used by those who wish us ill, to incite violence and to enflame public opinion against us and against our mission here in Afghanistan, as well as our missions undoubtedly around the world"?

One wonders if the actual burning and slaughtering of actual human beings in the Muslim world -- covertly and overtly, in country after country, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year -- by the highest, most honored, respected and powerful worthies of American society might, just possibly, incite more violence and ill will against us than the burning of a few books by a marginal, powerless goober down in Florida.

But let us not spoil the nice little moral bubble bath our bloodstained leaders are giving themselves. They do enjoy it so much.

 
Got Love If You Want It
Share
Written by Chris Floyd   
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 23:48

UPDATE BELOW.

Days are grim, nights are hard, the road keeps spiraling down ... let's lighten our load for just a while.

Imagine leaving something like that off your album .... ! 

 UPDATE: Oh dear, it looks like our party got raided by the Web Sheriff! I suggest you click on the video anyway, then drop down to the little number in the line-up below by the unfortunately late and immensely great Doug Sahm, and let's carry on....

 
The Music of the Void Takes Hold
Share
Written by Chris Floyd   
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 23:24

Below we present a short film by the up-and-coming transatlantic auteur Avalon Floyd, with musical accompaniment by a down-and-fading obscurity, singing one of those geometric doxologies just like they did in days of yore.

 

 
The Last Believer: From Omar’s Mistake to Obama’s Atrocities
Share
Written by Chris Floyd   
Monday, 06 September 2010 13:16

altMullah Omar of Afghanistan must have been one of the last people in the world with a deep, abiding faith in the lawfulness of the American government. Certainly, the American people had long been accustomed to – and largely approving of – their government bending, twisting and breaking the rule of law, especially in matters of foreign policy and “national security.” And of course, the millions of people around the world on the receiving end of invasions, subversions and coercions from the Potomac potentates were well aware of America’s infinitely elastic notions of law.

Yet in the days after 9/11, there was Mulllah Omar -- the half-blind leader of a group of rural zealots who had stepped into the power vacuum left behind by decades of ruinous Great Gaming by foreign powers and vicious civil war – clinging firmly to the belief that the United States would never attack his country. After all, the Taliban had no prior knowledge of the attacks in New York and Washington – attacks which the Taliban had condemned unequivocally  and publicly the next day, while calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. If the Americans suspected Osama bin Laden, the former CIA ally living in Afghanistan, then surely they would produce documentary evidence of his guilt. And if such incriminating evidence was forthcoming, then the Taliban, as publicly promised, would cooperate in finding ways to bring bin Laden to trial. Thus, America had no legal reason to attack Afghanistan; and so the country was safe.

This was the reasoning that Mullah Omar expressed to one of his top foreign affairs advisers, Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, as Jonathan Steele recounts in an excellent article in the latest London Review of Books.  Omar simply could not conceive that the United States would simply shred all notions of law and due process to launch a devastating attack on an entire country, in order – ostensibly – to get revenge on handful of men: men whom the Taliban were more than willing to give up – in accordance with the rule of law and due process. But the dossier of “hard proof” of bin Laden’s guilt promised by Colin Powell in the few remaining days of peace after 9/11 never materialized (and still has not materialized). And so, despite Mullah Omar’s touching faith in the American system, the war came. -- Omar escaped the American onslaught (as did bin Laden, of course); but Zaeef was captured. Steele recounts his story:

The only detailed insider account of the Taliban is a memoir by Abdul Salam Zaeef, the movement’s former ambassador to Pakistan. ... My Life with the Taliban usefully shows that its leaders saw themselves as nationalists, reformers and liberators rather than Islamist ideologues.... Arrested after the Taliban collapse in 2001, Zaeef was sent to Guantánamo. On the way he spent time in US custody in Kandahar and Bagram, where he was kept in solitary confinement with his hands and feet tied for 20 days. In Kandahar – shades of the abuse in Abu Ghraib – Zaeef says he was stripped naked and mocked by male and female US troops, one of whom took photos. After three years in Guantánamo, he was offered release on condition he signed a statement that he had been a member of al-Qaida and the Taliban and would cut all ties with them. ‘I was a Talib, I am a Talib and I will always be a Talib, but I have never been part of al-Qaida,’ he retorted. Eventually they allowed him to go after signing a declaration: ‘I am writing this out of obligation and stating that I am not going to participate in any kind of anti-American activities or military actions.’

Zaeef maintains that he was shocked by al-Qaida’s attack on 9/11, of which he had no foreknowledge. He says he wept when he watched TV pictures of the burning buildings and people throwing themselves out and falling to the ground like stones: ‘I stared at the pictures in disbelief.’ He immediately saw the likely repercussions. ‘I knew that Afghanistan and its poverty-stricken people would ultimately suffer for what had just taken place in America. The United States would seek revenge.’ He admits that some of the Taliban watching the scene were jubilant and thought the US was too far away to retaliate. ‘How could they be so superficial?’ he asks.

Mullah Omar rang to consult Zaeef about how to react. Next morning Zaeef called a press conference in Islamabad and read a statement condemning the attacks. ‘All those responsible must be brought to justice. We want them to be brought to justice and we want America to be patient and careful in their actions,’ it said. Zaeef returned to Kandahar, where he found Mullah Omar blindly sure that the US was unlikely to attack. He tried to warn the Taliban leader. He told him Pakistan was urging the US to launch air strikes on Afghanistan and had already started talks with the Northern Alliance in the expectation that they would be the leaders of a post-Taliban government. But Omar claimed America could not attack Afghanistan without valid reason. He had asked Washington to deliver proof incriminating bin Laden and said the Taliban would take no further action until it was given hard evidence. Zaeef’s account seems plausible given that the Taliban made no preparations for war, but it shows how out of touch Omar had become.


Out of touch indeed. Scarcely two years before, the United States had launched a devastating – and patently illegal – war on a European nation, deliberately targeting its civilian infrastructure (which was expressly against the laws of war), unleashing chaos and ruin that led to the deaths of thousands and the suffering of hundreds of thousands. If it would do this to Serbia, to white Christian Europeans, what wouldn’t it do to swarthy exotic Muslims in the back of beyond? And for ten years before 9/11, the United States had been inflicting a genocidal stranglehold of sanctions on Iraq, leading directly to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children and other innocents, while constantly bombing the country in flagrant violation of any law.

Yet poor unlearned Omar actually thought the Americans would not attack his country “without a valid reason” – and of course no such a valid reason existed. – Nor does any valid reason exist today for the continuing – and expanding, and ever-more destructive – American operation in Afghanistan. The only thing the American presence is doing is delaying the start of what is sure to be a long and difficult process of national reconciliation. Yet almost every sector of Afghan society is calling for the beginning of such a process. As Steele reports:

Recent reports suggest that most Afghans, tired of the all-pervasive insecurity, want negotiations with the Taliban. A survey of 423 men in Helmand and Kandahar, carried out in May by the International Council on Security and Development, found that 74 per cent were in favour of negotiations. In Kabul in March, I interviewed several women professionals, the people who suffered most from the Taliban’s restrictions on girls’ education and women working outside the home. To varying degrees they all supported the idea of dialogue with the Taliban. They felt the top priority was to end what they saw as a civil war – not an insurgency, as Nato calls it. They saw the Taliban as authentic nationalists with legitimate grievances who needed to be brought back into the equation. Otherwise, Afghans would go on being used as proxies in a long battle between al-Qaida and the US. It was time to break free of both sets of foreigners, the global jihadis and the US empire. Shukria Barakzai, an MP and women’s rights campaigner, put it like this: ‘I changed my view three years ago when I realised Afghanistan is on its own. It’s not that the international community doesn’t support us. They just don’t understand us. The Taliban are part of our population. They have different ideas but as democrats we have to accept that.’


Yes, but there are other Democrats – and Republicans as well – who will not accept that. This is the bipartisan American foreign policy establishment, addicted to war and domination, and to their own pathetically inflated self-image as movers and shakers of the world. (Oh yes, and  the power and privilege and loot that accrues to the leaders and lickspittles of empire, of course.) All-party negotiations are the only way forward, Steele notes. Straining to end on a note of optimism, Steele holds out the wan hope that Barack Obama – whose embrace of militarism has been as ardent  and aggressive as any of his predecessors (and has outstripped many of them) – might recognize this reality and make the choice to “go into the 2012 campaign as a president who has started the endgame” of accommodation and negotiation.

Far more likely, however, is Steele’s alternative scenario: that Obama will instead “play the tough guy even though he must know any hope of defeating the Taliban militarily is doomed.”  And why not? As we’ve noted here for years, the Terror War is a win-win situation for America’s militarists, among whom Obama now stands foremost: whether they defeat the designated enemy of the day or not, the aforementioned accrual of power, privilege, loot and self-aggrandizement that attends the imperial project remains the same.

 
<< Start < Prev 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 Next > End >>

Page 82 of 123