The political-media-blogospherical establishment is currently working itself into a lather over the elevation of a "nutty" Tea Party woman to the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Delaware. The selection of Christine O'Donnell by a tiny sliver of voters in a closed primary in a tiny state whose main claim to fame is its decades of whorish service as a protective front for rapacious corporations is, we are told, an event of world-shaking proportions fit for endless analysis and scary headlines all over the world.
It's true that O'Donnell has taken the politically risky step of denouncing America's national pastime -- masturbation -- and has, over the years, supported any number of positions that put her on the far side of common sense. But one struggles in vain to find that she has advanced anything remotely as radical -- or lunatic -- as the idea that the President of the United States is some kind of intergalactic emperor who holds the power of life and death over every living being on earth in his autocratic hands. Yet this is precisely the position proclaimed -- openly, before Congress, God and everybody -- by the highly educated, intellectually sophisticated, super-savvy Laureate of Peace currently residing in the White House.
This same president has also fought tooth and nail -- often in open court -- to shield torturers, escalate pointless wars of aggression, relentlessly expand a liberty-stripping Stasi-style security apparatus, give trillions of tax dollars to rapacious financiers, health-care corporations, insurance companies and bloodstained war profiteers, while launching cowardly drone missile attacks on the sovereign territory of close ally, killing hundreds of civilians in the process - and has just signed off on the biggest arms deal in history with one of the most viciously repressive tyrannies on earth.
So I'm sorry, but I just don't see how a putzy, klutzy, wilfully ignorant Tea Partier from perhaps the most corrupt state in the Union is somehow more dangerous than the people we have in power now -- including a Vice-President who for decades was the senator (and corporate bagman) from this very same most corrupt state in the Union, and used his power to advance a "Bankruptcy Bill" that was one of the most savage class-war attacks on working people -- and the poor, and the sick, and the vulnerable -- that we have seen in many a year. Then again, as far as I know, Joe "Bankruptcy Bill" Biden has never publicly condemned the practice of masturbation.
Do I want to see Christine O'Donnell in the Senate? No, of course not. Not only because in her freely chosen ignorance she has embraced the most primitive, bleakly reductive understandings of religion, politics, power, sexuality and human reality in general, but also -- and mainly -- because she will support all of the policies delineated above: the imperial wars for loot and domination, the presidential power to kill and incarcerate at will, the slavish support for Big Money in all of its destructive manifestations, the perversion of every single public program into an engine of private profit for the elite, and so on down the line. But as her Democratic opponent will do the same thing if he is elected, I don't see why we should be all het up about O'Donnell's corporate-funded victory in the teeny-tiny Republican primary in little bitty Delaware.
But hey, it's all good fun, right? The tribal partisans get to jerk their knees in orgiastic spasms, drawing oceans of newsprint and TV airtime, while the real business of empire -- slaughtering, torturing and repressing human beings -- goes on unnoticed and unabated.
But a hardy few out there are still trying to draw attention to the actual crimes and moral atrocities being committed by the actual holders of actual power. One of these is Andy Worthington, who is beginning an eight-part series on the remaining prisoners still being held in the still-unclosed American concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay. As Worthington says, the series will
help explain how few of the remaining prisoners have any connection to terrorism, how some are civilians, and how others were foot soldiers for the Taliban, in an inter-Muslim civil war in Afghanistan that had nothing to do with 9/11, and very little to do with al-Qaeda. I also hope that it may contribute to the almost non-existent debate regarding the Authorization for Use of Military Force, and the administration's misplaced use of it to hold foot soldiers in Guantanamo, as well as highlighting other aspects of the habeas litigation, the military commissions, the moratorium on releasing Yemenis, and the decision to hold 48 of the prisoners indefinitely without charge or trial.
Hey, but you know what's more important than that, Andy? The fact that someone who won the votes of a sliver of the electorate in a tiny state doesn't think people should masturbate! Let's get our priorities straight here.
Another campaign now underway is a major effort to free Bradley Manning, the young soldier who committed the cardinal sin of trying to unearth a few nuggets of truth about the murderous reality of the American Terror War, now being prosecuted and expanded so assiduously by the Continuer-in-Chief. On Thursday, filmmaker Michael Moore and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg launched "The Campaign to Free Manning" in Oakland. The Guardian reports:
Demonstrations are planned in the US, Canada and Australia over the next three days in support of Manning, an army intelligence analyst who is being held at a military prison in Virginia ...Manning, 23, is also accused of involvement in WikiLeaks' exposure of a video of a US helicopter attack on apparently unarmed Iraqis in a Baghdad street. Two Reuters employees were among those killed.
Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon papers to the New York Times that laid bare the extent of US government duplicity in its claims to be winning the Vietnam War, said Manning was defending the constitution in revealing the truth about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Soldiers' sworn oath is to defend and support the constitution. Bradley Manning has been defending and supporting our constitution," he said.
Moore ... said the US military was being hypocritical in its attempts to discredit Manning and accuse WikiLeaks by asserting that making the secret documents public endangered the lives of Afghans collaborating with coalition forces.
"To suggest that lives were put in danger by the release of the WikiLeaks documents is the most cynical of statements," Moore said. "Lives were put in danger the night we invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq, an act that had nothing to do with what the Bradley Mannings of this country signed up for: to defend our people from attack. It was a war based on a complete lie and lives were not only put in danger, hundreds of thousands of them were exterminated. For those who organised this massacre to point a finger at Bradley Manning is the ultimate example of Orwellian hypocrisy."
Below is a quick roundup of a few other recent stories that aren't nearly as important as the selection by a minority party of a candidate who doesn't approve of masturbation.
1. Seven Civilians Killed in US-Iraqi Raid
That was the original headline for the New York Times story about the raid in Fallujah; within a few hours, however, the Pentagon PR units had rolled into action, and the seven civilians killed at the site of perhaps the most savage American campaign of the war had suddenly morphed into figures of vague menace. The story did note that of the dead, four were brothers "between the ages of 10 and 18." So America's non-combat soldiers killed a 10-year-old boy in a non-combat raid in the brave new era of non-combat service that has opened for the 50,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq.
But what is the life of that boy compared to the sliver of voters in a tiny state who voted in a closed, partisan primary for some gushing goober who doesn't like masturbation?
The Associated Press does an important story about an intensive drone strike campaign by the US military since September 2 in southern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s North Waziristan that has left 60 persons dead, among them innocent civilians.
On Tuesday alone, US drone attacks targeted suspected militants killed some 15 persons in the village of Dargah Mandi village on the outskirts of Miranshah, N. Waziristan’s main city.
The drone strikes have targeted fighters of the Haqqani network, one of five or so major insurgent groups fighting against the US & NATO presence in Afghanistan and against the Karzai government. Jalaluddin Haqqani is one of Ronald Reagan’s “Freedom Fighters,” who battled the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan in the 1980s with American aid. He could not accept the US invasion and occupation of his country, either, and organized an insurgency now mainly led by his son Siraj. The Haqqani group is not Taliban but rather Mujahidin and has only a vague tactical alliance with Mulla Omar’s Taliban and similar groups.
Cole also notes that protests against these continuing deadly incursions into Pakistan have been muted -- because the Pakistanis are still dying in floodwaters, and in the water's pestiferous wake. Millions are living in deadly deprivation. But look over there -- somebody's masturbating, or not masturbating, or something! Who cares about the drowned and drone-bombed dead?
3. Obama's Thatcherite Gift to the Banks
OK, the Terror War goes on -- but at least Obama's finally waking up to the need for more FDR-like stimulus for the economy -- and more FDR-style war on the fat cats who are strangling us, right? What about that big $50 billion infrastructure plan he announced on Labor Day?
The Obama transport plan is like a Fannie Mae for bankers, based on the President’s guiding mantra: “Let’s help Wall Street put Americans back to work.” The theory is that giving public guarantees and bailouts will enable financial managers to use some of the money to fund some projects that employ people – with newly created, non-unionized companies, presumably.
Here’s the problem. Transportation projects will make real estate speculators, the construction industry and their bankers very rich unless the government recovers its public spending through windfall site-value gains on property along the right-of-way ... But Obama’s infrastructure plan is for Wall Street investors to get the windfall – as property owners or as mortgage lenders making much larger loans against the enhanced site value.
The plan would not add to the government deficit, Obama promised. Unfortunately, in place of government taking more revenue, it will be the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector that does the taking. The banking system will now do what government was supposed to do back in the Progressive Era: finance infrastructure. The difference today is that instead of funding transportation out of tax proceeds (levied progressively on the wealthy) or by the central bank monetizing public debt, the Obama plan calls for borrowing $50 billion at interest from banks.
The problem is that this will build in high interest charges, high private management charges, underwriting fees – and government guarantees. User fees will need to cover these financial and other privatization costs “freed” from the government budget. This will build about $2 billion a year into the cost of providing the transport services.
This threatens to be the kind of tollbooth program that the World Bank and IMF have been foisting on hapless Third World populations for the past half-century. ... It looks like President Obama sat down with Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and his other Rubinomics holdovers from the Clinton/Goldman-Sachs Administration and asked what policies can be funded without taxing the wealthy, but by borrowing via a separate entity – with a government guarantee like the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gravy train for Wall Street.
Well, yeah, but at least you don't hear him talking trash about masturbation, do you? That's why we must support him. If we don't, a bunch of kooks who just want serve corporate interests will get into power! Then what will happen?
4. State Secrecy and Official Criminality Scott Horton at Harper's tells us how Barack Obama -- whom we have every reason to believe is a modern, rational man who has no problem with masturbation -- is diligently, doggedly working to protect not only the torturers of the Bush Administration (and his own) from the legal process, but also any and every kind of state criminality.
Obama has just won a great court victory for state torturers, state murderers, state terrorists -- and good old-fashioned grafters pigging out in the public trough -- when an appeals court voted narrowly to uphold Obama's contention that the government can shield any criminality from justice by crying "state secrets."
Horton quotes the LA Times' description of just what Obama wanted to cover up by killing a civil suit filed by an innocent victim of America's gulag. The victim was suing the CIA agent who had "rendered" him over to America's terror war allies, knowing he would be tortured:
The decision to short-circuit the trial process is more than a misreading of the law; it’s an egregious miscarriage of justice. That’s obvious from a perusal of the plaintiffs’ complaint. One said that while he was imprisoned in Egypt, electrodes were attached to his earlobes, nipples and genitals. A second, held in Morocco, said he was beaten, denied food and threatened with sexual torture and castration. A third claimed that his Moroccan captors broke his bones and cut him with a scalpel all over his body, and poured hot, stinging liquid into his open wounds.
There were no "state secrets," real or otherwise, involved in the case. The details were already known, around the world, from legal proceeding in the UK and elsewhere. But for Obama -- imperial militarist to the core -- there was a matter of principle at stake; i.e., the principle that the imperial court can shield the minions who carry out its ordered atrocities behind the unpassable gates of "state secrets."
Truth? No. Justice? Out. Compassion? Nix. Peace? Never. But masturbation -- sure, why not? We're not kooks like that Christine O'Donnell!
"Dizzy With Success." That was the phrase used by Stalin to describe the "few excesses" that had taken place in the "historic drive to collectivization," i.e., the Bolshevik war on the rural poor that had led to massive famine and the deaths and uprooting of millions of people. The campaign had left such a swathe of ruin that some of those who saw its effects went mad, or turned dissident, or subsided into horrified, soul-drained silence.
"Dizzy With Success" would be also be an apt description for the epochal ruin that has been visited on the people of Afghanistan in nine years of military occupation by the United States and its European allies. Or as Nick Turse puts it in a searing new article at TomDispatch, "How Much 'Success' Can Afghanistan Stand?"
With the arrival of General David Petraeus as Afghan War commander, there has been ever more talk about the meaning of “success” in Afghanistan. At the end of July, USA Today ran an article titled, “In Afghanistan, Success Measured a Step at a Time.” ... A mid-August editorial in the Washington Post was titled: “Making the Case for Success in Afghanistan.” And earlier this month, an Associated Press article appeared under the headline, “Petraeus Talks Up Success in Afghan War.”
As Turse astutely notes, all this talk of "success" centers on what the term might or might not mean for the bipartisan Potomac poobahs who take turns running America's militarist empire. But the "meaning" of the American occupation for ordinary Afghans is a topic of little note among the talking heads who steer the national "discourse" ... except of course for the occasional propaganda excursion pointing out the inestimable benefits the empire has bestowed upon the poor benighted denizens of Bactria -- and how infinitely worse it will be for them should Washington shirk its paternal obligations.
But the reality, of course, is that the lives of ordinary Afghans has, by almost every measure, been sent hurtling backwards and spiraling downwards at the hands of the Americans and the client state they have installed.
Between 2001 and 2009, according to the Afghan government, the country has received $36 billion in grants and loans from donor nations, with the United States disbursing some $23 billion of it. U.S. taxpayers have anted up another $338 billion to fund the war and occupation. Yet from poverty indexes to risk-of-rape assessments, from childhood mortality figures to drug-use stats, just about every available measure of Afghan wellbeing paints a grim picture of a country in a persistent state of humanitarian crisis, often involving reconstruction and military failures on an epic scale. Pick a measurement affecting ordinary Afghans and the record since November 2001 when Kabul fell to Allied forces is likely to show stagnation or setbacks and, almost invariably, suffering....
In October 2001, the BBC reported that more than seven million people were "at risk of malnutrition or food shortages across Afghanistan.” In an email, McDonough updated that estimate: “The most recent data on food insecurity comes from the last National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (NRVA), which was conducted in 2007/2008 and released in late October 2009. It found that about 7.4 million people are food-insecure, roughly 31 percent of the estimated population. ... Food insecurity indicators, McDonough pointed out, are heading in the wrong direction. “The NRVA of 2007/08 showed that the food security had deteriorated in 25 out of the 34 provinces compared to the 2005 NRVA.
In other words, after a near-decade of American occupation -- and hundreds of billions of dollars ostensibly poured into the country in the form of "aid" that mysteriously ends up almost entirely back in American pockets -- there are more hungry people in Afghanistan than before the invasion, with the situation worsening all the time.
But of course the Terror War is "all about the children," isn't it? Liberating them, protecting them, building them a brighter future.
In 2000, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), mortality for children under five years of age stood at 257 per 1,000. In 2008, the last year for which data was available, that number had not budged. It had, in fact, only slightly improved since 1990, when after almost a decade of Soviet occupation and brutal warfare, the numbers stood at 260 per 1,000. The figures were similar for infant mortality -- 168 per 1,000 in 1990, 165 per 1,000 in 2008.
In 2002, according to the U.N., about 50% of Afghan children were chronically malnourished. The most recent comprehensive national survey, done two years into the U.S. occupation, found (according to the World Food Program’s McDonough) about 60% of children under five chronically malnourished ...
OK, so the kids aren't doing so good -- but how about the women, eh? We know that the "good war" in Afghanistan has freed millions of women from the yoke of repression, right? Turse:
Life for women in Afghanistan has not been the bed of roses promised by Bush nor typified by the basic rights proffered by Obama, as Jones noted:
“Consider the creeping Talibanization of Afghan life under the Karzai government. Restrictions on women's freedom of movement, access to work and rights within the family have steadily tightened as the result of a confluence of factors, including the neglect of legal and judicial reform and the obligations of international human rights conventions; legislation typified by the infamous Shia Personal Status Law (SPSL), gazetted in 2009 by President Karzai himself despite women's protests and international furor; intimidation; and violence."
Her observations are echoed in a recent report by Medica Mondiale, a German non-governmental organization that advocates for the rights of women and girls in war and crisis zones around the world. As its blunt briefing began, “Nine years after 11 September and the start of the operation ‘Enduring Freedom,’ which justified its commitment not only with the hunt for terrorists, but also with the fight for women’s rights, the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan still is catastrophic.” Medica Mondiale reported that 80% of all Afghan marriages are still “concluded under compulsion.” ...
A June report by Sudabah Afzali of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting noted that, according to officials in Herat Province, “cases of suicide amongst women… have increased by 50 per cent over the last year.” Sayed Naim Alemi, the director of the regional hospital in Herat, noted that 85 cases of attempted suicide recorded in the previous six months had involved women setting themselves on fire or ingesting poison. In 57 of the cases, the women had died.
A study conducted by former Afghan Deputy Health Minister Faizullah Kakar and released in August gave a sense of the breadth of the problem. Using Afghan Health Ministry records and hospital reports, Kakar found that an estimated 2,300 women or girls were attempting suicide each year. Domestic violence, bitter hardships, and mental illness were the leading factors in their decisions. “This is a several-fold increase on three decades ago,” said Kakar. In addition, he found that about 1.8 million Afghan women and girls between the ages of 15 and 40 are suffering from “severe depression.”
But yes, there is violence against women in Afghanistan -- great violence. But this has only increased, not decreased, as the American military presence drags on, as Shaffer notes (see original for links):
Says Ann Jones, journalist and author of Kabul in Winter, "For most Afghan women, life has stayed the same. And for a great number, life has gotten much worse."
Sonali Kolhatkar, co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, says "the attacks against women both external and within the family have gone up. Domestic violence has increased. (The current) judiciary is imprisoning more women than ever before in Afghanistan. And they are imprisoning them for running away from their homes, for refusing to marry the man that their family picked for them, for even being a victim of rape."
Anand Gopal, Afghanistan correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, says "The situation for women in the Pashtun area is actually worse than it was during the Taliban time. ...(U)nder the Taliban, women were kept in burqas and in their homes, away from education. Today, the same situation persists. They’re kept in burqas, in homes, away from education, but on top of that they are also living in a war zone."
Note again Kolhatkar's remark: the Afghan government installed and maintained in power by the United States is now "imprisoning more women than ever before in Afghanistan." This is a stunning fact, a glaring example of the relentless degradation that the American war has brought to Afghanistan. Yet this fact is universally ignored by the American media, the American power structure -- and the American people, the latter of whom seem incurably, and disastrously, wed to the myth of the nation's inherent, ineradicable goodness, which imbues its every action and policy abroad.
Oh sure, sometimes "mistakes" are made, sometimes there are "a few excesses," and yes, sometimes, we "fight the wrong war at the wrong time" and can be a bit ham-handed, even "incompetent" in our military operations, but gosh darn it, our intentions are always good (because we are good and cannot be otherwise), and however much we might "blunder" from time to time, we do make things better for those we are trying -- selflessly, altruistically -- to help. It is hard, perhaps impossible to overestimate how deeply ingrained this belief is in the overwhelming majority of Americans. They simply will not give it up, no matter how much evidence of atrocity, ruin and degeneration caused by American policy is laid before them. So there is little hope of any kind of massive public pressure to change America's destructive imperialism ever being brought to bear on the elites who reap so much power and profit from the never-ending carnage.
[Frida] Berrigan notes the naked profit motive underlying Obama's grand strategy of "Afghanistanization" -- i.e., building up the military and security forces of the American-implanted Afghan government. As in Iraq, the aim is not so much "nation building" as "market building": setting up yet another conduit to pass American taxpayer money directly to weapons dealers:
"What’s Hot?" is the title of Vice Adm. Jeffrey Wieranga’s blog entry for Jan. 4, 2010. Wieranga is the director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is charged with overseeing weapons exports, and such pillow talk is evidently more than acceptable – at least when it’s about weapons sales. In fact, Wieranga could barely restrain himself that day, adding: "Afghanistan is really HOT!" Admittedly, on that day the temperature in Kabul was just above freezing, but not at the Pentagon, where arms sales to Afghanistan evidently create a lot of heat.
As Wieranga went on to write, the Obama administration’s new 2010/2011 budget allocates $6 billion in weaponry for Afghan Security Forces. The Afghans will actually get those weapons for free, but U.S. weapons makers will make real money delivering them at taxpayers’ expense and, as the vice admiral pointed out, that "means there is a staggering amount of acquisition work to do."
You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, Vice Admiral. There will be "acquisition work" out the wazoo as the war goes on -- and for decades afterward. But of course, these "free" arms sales are just like the samplings that pushers pass around outside the high school gates. Because once the mark is hooked, once the native military and security forces are thoroughly entrenched, they will need constant replenishment with more weapons, new technologies, and more lucrative "training" from American sources, both public and private. This in turn will leave the client state saddled with crippling public debt -- necessitating the usual "shock therapy" of "economic reform," i.e., shredding "inefficient" social programs -- like, education, sanitation, health care, etc. -- and turning the material wealth and natural resources of the country over to a few select private investors, foreign and domestic.
Meanwhile, the ruin of human lives goes on and on, as Turse details:
Rampant depression, among both men and women, has led to self-medication. While opium-poppy cultivation on an almost unimaginable scale in the planet’s leading narco-state has garnered headlines since 2001, little attention has been paid to drug use by ordinary Afghans, even though it has been on a steep upward trajectory. ...
"Three decades of war-related trauma, unlimited availability of cheap narcotics, and limited access to treatment have created a major, and growing, addiction problem in Afghanistan," says Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNDOC. Since 2005, the number of Afghan opium users nationwide has jumped by 53%, while heroin users have skyrocketed by 140%. According to UNODC’s survey, Drug Use in Afghanistan, approximately one million Afghans between the ages of 15 and 64 are addicted to drugs. That adds up to about 8% of the population and twice the global average.
There is much more in Turse's grim catalogue, so you should read the whole thing, if you can stomach it. But I want to point out one more startling fact he has unearthed: After nine years of America's benign and benevolent care, Afghanistan is now, officially, the worst place on earth to live.
In the near-decade since Kabul fell in November 2001, a sizeable majority of Afghans have continued to live in poverty and privation. Measuring such misery may be impossible, but the United Nations has tried to find a comprehensive way to do so nonetheless. Using a Human Poverty Index which “focuses on the proportion of people below certain threshold[s] in regard to a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living,” the U.N. found that, comparatively speaking, it doesn’t get worse than life in Afghanistan. The nation ranks dead last in its listing, number 135 out of 135 countries. This is what “success” means today in Afghanistan.
The two major military escalations launched by the Peace Laureate have only worsened the security situation, which has lead, inexorably, inevitably, to more and more degradation of life in Afghanistan. But in this, the Great Continuer is only following in the footsteps of his predecessors. Not just his shout-out buddy George W. Bush -- whose Terror War policies he has faithfully replicated and expanded -- but a whole string of temporary imperial managers, going back to Jimmy Carter: the pious, peace-loving Democrat who actually launched the rise of an armed, extremist international "jihad" movement in order to hamstring the Soviets. American presidents poured tens of billions of dollars into arming and funding fringe groups of rabid extremists, training them in terrorist tactics and diligently expanding their organizations.
As we noted here a few weeks ago, quoting an article in Foreign Policy by Mohammad Qayoumi, Afghanistan was not always a land mired in tribalism and obscurantism. Half a century ago, much of the country was striving toward its own form of modernity, where men and women freely mixed, pursued their educations, practiced their professions, even went to the movies, danced to rock-and-roll. It was not a perfect state by any remote stretch of the imagination -- yet compared to the utter hell-hole that we have made out of it over the past few decades, the Afghanistan that Qayoumi once knew was a paradise lost.
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.
“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?
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.
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."
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.