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You’ve Lost Your Alibi!

by OMAR BARGHOUTI

Dear Americans (I am here addressing only those of you who are rationally choosing to prolong the suffering of the human race for 4 more years):

Just this past week, Iraqis had the equivalent death toll of 9/11. In fact, they have one every week or two, on average, thanks to your sickening and utterly irrational support for the neo-con gang at the helm of power in Washington.

I, and I bet most people around the earth, cannot take it any more! The pictures from Iraq are gruesomely clear: your armed forces are committing awful war crimes, killing Iraqis in a wedding party (1); killing Iraqis dancing around a burnt out Bradley (2); killing Iraqis in custody by beating them to death (3); killing Iraqis sitting in their homes, sleeping on their roofs to escape the heat, or walking down the streets; just killing, butchering with impunity, brutality and nauseating repetitiveness.

And when they are not murdering, your proud soldiers are shattering souls and trying to efface human dignity. They torture prisoners with a barbarism that was thought extinct. A 14 year-old was “bleeding from his anus” after your soldiers raped him with a metal object (4). Two more children were terrorized by dogs “for the purposes of a game between the two dog teams to see … if they could get their bowel or bladder to move.”(5) Another child was raped in detention, while older inmates were “ridden like animals” or “forced to eat pork and drink alcohol in contravention of their religion.”(6) A teenage girl was “repeatedly raped” by your servicemen, while older female prisoners were paraded “naked in front of male prisoners.”(7) Prisoners were put on dog leashes, stripped naked for days on end, severely beaten, bruised, made to lie “in their own faeces.”(8) A prisoner was sodomized with a “chemical light,” others with a “broom stick.”(9) Simply put, Iraqi detainees — held without due process, without charges or trials — were subjected to “sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses,” as US general Taguba, who investigated the Abu-Ghraib torture, wrote.(10)

Your leaders who issue the orders to those soldiers(11), who free them of any obligations before international law (12), and who create the racist environment conducive to their unforgivable behavior, have stopped perceiving Iraqis as humans a while ago. But lately they themselves seem to have lost any semblance of human behavior; they’ve lost whatever claim to morality or human decency they ever had.

And when you mourned the death of more than 1,000 of your fallen soldiers, those brainwashed killing machines, you were apathetic towards the estimated 37,000 Iraqis who were killed (13) as a result of your illegal war and even less legal occupation. Are you still capable of recognizing them as fully human? I hope so, for failing to do so would entail a corresponding failure on your part to recognize the human in yourselves. Your intrinsic human trait of feeling compassion for fellow humans seems to have been deeply corrupted, blunted or tranquillized. We, Arabs and/or Muslims, simply do not show on your radar of relevant humans.

You’ve lost your alibi!

In a democracy, the majority deserves no better than the leaders they elect. No better. No worse. You seem to have chosen Bush. You deserve no less a menace to everything humane, civilized or ethical than him.

Barring an unforeseeable turn of events, Bush seems to be comfortably heading towards a second term, this time he will not need a mediocre court ruling to instate him; he will democratically win a valid majority of American votes. After four years of having the almost perfect, nearly credible alibi, “we did not really elect him,” come November, you shall have to finally look the entire world in the eye and defend why you’ve chosen as your leader a time-tested racist, ruthless, semi-intelligent, religious fanatic who has committed enough war crimes to warrant being locked up for life at the Hague.

I used to wonder how Israelis had lost their patent PR genius when they elected for prime minister Ariel Sharon, their most hideous, certified war criminal who orchestrated the Sabra and Shatila massacre of more than 2,000 Palestinian refugees in Beirut in 1982. Now it seems you’ve been infected with the same virus. Your lives are legislated by an Israeli-occupied Congress — this euphemism is not even funny any longer. Your White House is infested with dual-loyalty characters — how do you define a ‘spy’ given such an Israel-first dominated government? And, on top of it all, you are blessed with a president who, in four more years, is liable to turn Sharon, in comparison, to the “man of peace” that he once labelled him. But, unlike Israelis, you genuinely do not give a damn about world opinion. You fail to attach any significance to those beyond your empire’s gates. Have you learned anything from history?

After November, I assure you, the rest of the world will accuse you of complicity. For four years now, you’ve enjoyed the world’s benefit of the doubt about your intentions, your true moral stance on the crimes committed in your names, your continued, peaceful membership in the community of nations. In November, this goodwill will have expired. You will have lost your alibi.

In all likelihood, you shall stand guilty of renewing the mandate of Bush and his militant regime, effectively allowing them to continue battering, pillaging, ruining, dividing and hating the world, while erasing whatever is left of your civil and economic rights on their way. You’ve chosen that path, no question about it. But then again, you did not have much of a choice, really, given that other plastic, spineless, lobby-corrupted and just mildly less immoral candidate. No one envies you for such a choice between a witless yet ruthless emperor and a clinically confused emperor-to-be. Isn’t it utterly pathetic that a major subject of competition between the two is military service in Vietnam? Vietnam was without doubt a solid case of genocide. Your leaders ought to be ashamed of, not to mention put on trial at the International Criminal Court for, having anything to do with it. That is probably Bush’s only moral bright spot: that he was too much of a coward to actually take part in your savagery against the Vietnamese, another sub-human species from your perspective at the time. Imagine German candidates for Chancellor competing on who participated more actively in the Holocaust!

Nevertheless, I want to make myself perfectly clear about how I think the world should treat you after November. I am categorically opposed to terrorism in any shape or form, regardless whether it comes from your government — as is the case most of the time — or from any of your many victims seeking revenge. Terrorism is criminal, immoral and illegal, period. Rather than seeking justice and redress, it is a fundamental transgression against the essence of being human, and, therefore, is never justifiable, irrespective of the context, as important as the latter might be in understanding its root causes.

You chose empire. You are therefore guilty by association or by being an accessory to crime. However, most of you are to be blamed more for ignorance than for conscious participation in premeditated crime. One is obliged to differentiate between conscious builders of empire and the unconscious majority that is spirited along. Empire will never serve most of you, unless you are in the oil business, the military industries, the Israel-first lobby, etc. Did German workers gain anything by supporting Hitler? Did Italian masses benefit from standing firmly behind Mussolini? But, in a democracy, the responsibility for ignorance ultimately falls upon the shoulders of its citizens. You are responsible for suffering under a silly, periodic exchange of power between two versions of the same anachronistic, stupefying, comic and hubris-filled circus: the Republican and the Democratic “parties.” They are parties alright, and very raunchy at that! You remain the world’s greatest democracy, not a third-world junta-controlled tyranny, as much as one is tempted to believe otherwise, of late. No one can forever suppress your right to establish alternative political parties that represent your diverse interests if you have the will to exercise that right.

Despite that, moral consistency necessitates distinguishing between you, the voters for and enablers of empire, whether conscious or not, and the significant minority of Americans who have opposed it. And pragmatically speaking, this is not any minority. This is the only remaining hope that empire will one day be defeated. We all know that our chances of success in our resistance to empire are slim without the courageous support of progressive Americans.

Based on the above moral and political considerations, the world outside empire will be urgently called for after November — after your emperor defies law, logic and ethics to sit again in the oval office — to initiate or enhance already existing international campaigns of boycotts and sanctions against your industries, especially the weapons sector, and against your militaristic cultural products, such as G.I. Joe-type toys, RAMBO-like movies, your death-emanating “music,” your racist video games, your health-busting sodas, cigarettes and fast “food,” your genetically modified craze, your IT monopolies, etc.

The United Nations ought to be moved soon to any neutral city, perhaps Stockholm or Durban. Investments should be withdrawn from your global finance machine and reinvested in China, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, India, just any place outside the immediate grasp of empire. Oil should be sold in a combined basket of currencies (as has been suggested by some analysts lately), where the dollar gradually loses its untouchable prominence. Governments should be most pressured to avoid buying your weapons — perhaps they’ll do well not to buy any weapons! Let those gigantic manufacturers of death go to hell to sell their firepower. Bright minds should seek education anywhere outside your borders. After all, in four years’ time, Orwell would be horrified by the controls and intrusive watch mechanisms Uncle Sam will have deployed over them. It is high time for a reverse brain drain.

The world ought to exact a just, legal and morally sound punishment against you. That’s how hoodwinked, obedient subjects of empires learn to question authority, to challenge arrogant xenophobia, to reject relative humanization of the rest of the world, and to jealously guard their rights in harmony with international law and universal moral principles. It is a cold shower of sorts, if you will.

Perhaps you shall need four more years of Bush to wake up and smell the injustice, to see through the dense fog that has clouded your vision and your moral compass alike. I do not say this lightly, I must add, as I can only guess in unreserved horror what price the rest of us will be made to pay for you to have this soul-searching four-year experience. It will feel like an eternity to Palestinians suffering under Israeli apartheid and colonial oppression; to Iraqis praying for your smart bombs to miss them; to Africans still struggling to escape the historic legacy of slavery manifested in AIDS, abject poverty and despondency; to Latin Americans dreaming of life without your well oiled juntas, death squads and economic mafias; to south Asians striving to escape the grinding axe of your inhumane globalization; to those Europeans who are hoping to shed their colonial heritage, to fight the reemerging national chauvinism in their midst and to promote a dialogue of civilizations; to most Americans who are losing their livelihoods, their children’s education, even the remnants of their already abhorrent health services.

Rather than finding another alibi, please take a stand against empire. Make this coming sacrifice worth our collective while.

___________________
(1) http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/3741223.stm, http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=524671
(2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1303127,00.html
(3) http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?040510fa_fact
(4) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1304042,00.html
(5) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1291089,00.html
(6) http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=523724
(7) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1308346,00.html
(8) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1303296,00.html
(9) http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?040510fa_fact
(10) Ibid
(11) http://www.guardian.co.uk/guantanamo/story/0,13743,1303105,00.html
(12) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1303296,00.html
(13) http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=563620

OMAR BARGHOUTI is an independent Palestinian political analyst. His article “9.11 Putting the Moment on Human Terms” was chosen among the “Best of 2002” by the Guardian. He can be reached at: jenna@palnet.com

 

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