FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Who’s Watching Whose Back?

by CLANCY SIGAL

Last week’s farce of the court martial of Marine sergeant Frank Wuterich at Camp Pendleton, California is a license to murder.  Everyone, especially the Iraqis, seems to understand this except the American public from President Obama on down.  Wuterich led an eight-man combat team of Marines in a killing orgy in Haditha, western Iraq, in 2005, that massacred 24 unarmed civilians including 11 women and kids.   All witnesses, including the Marines, testified that what occurred was basically an execution not a fire fight.

Wuterich could have faced 152 years in the brig.  But under a plea deal, after a six year long investigation begun only when a Time magazine reporter began asking questions, and marked by a string of official lies, Wuterich was let off with a wrist slap, a reduction in rank and no prison time.  None of the other Marines will be punished.

All the members of Wuterich’s military court were chosen for prior combat experience because they presumably knew what the “fog of war” could do to a man under stress.  Thus, the issue became not one of guilt or innocence, or degree of culpability, but: what would you do in the boots of this fallible, frightened, angry Marine?

Under the current rules of engagement, dramatized a few days ago when Navy Seals daringly rescued two hostages, including an American woman, from Somali kidnappers who were shot down, anything is permissible if you feel yourself – or you later tell investigators – that you were under threat.

Obama loves his Seals, which is the same unit that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.  In their fierce focus on mission, fanatic discipline, unit solidarity, tactical skills, mastery of killer weapons and courage, they are –  the President insists – what we civilians should ALL be like.

It’s no secret Obama has a crush on, or been intimidated by, his generals – all those ribbons, all that braid!   Allegedly they answer to their Commander in Chief rather than the reverse, but in reality he gives them pretty much everything they want, and glorifies their military adventures as the very best that America can do in the world.

Now he’s gone overboard, in his 25 January state of the union speech to both houses of Congress – and in an election year speaking over their heads to the rest of us.

Ritual flattery was to be expected.  But his fawning went over the line into real, hardass absurdity, starting with his opening, “We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world.”   What world does Obama live in?

But then he got down to business by contrasting the greatness and glory of the military with our present, well, what shall we call it?, decay, disappointment, depravity of American democracy.  “At a time,” he thundered, “when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations.”

Then the kicker: “Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example!”

Uh huh.  As a former conscript, who liked the military and almost re-upped, what I know best about this hierarchical, do-as-you’re-told organization is that it is, and is supposed to be, undemocratic and that you follow orders without question…or else. Messy, argumentative loudmouth democracy is not on Obama’s agenda, military quick-step is.  Or rather, his fantasy of military life, since he never served.  “They’re not consumed by personal ambition.   They don’t obsess over their differences.  They focus on the mission at hand…Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example…”

Yes, imagine.  A militarized civilian life is Obama-the-liberal’s Utopia?

Just a couple of days ago military helicopters hovered over downtown Los Angeles and San Fernando valley practicing for what nobody will tell us except, in a tightlipped police statement, “to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments”.  And the Blackhawks will be back soon, it’s promised.   Local police departments all over America are pressing the Federal Aviation Authority to relax rules to permit more domestic use of unmanned Reaper drones for “urban monitoring”; i.e. domestic surveillance.   Colorado and Miami-Dade police already use UAVs to catch alleged criminals…and, I assume, to spy on Occupy protestors.

No, it can’t be, not the Saul Alinsky disciple and antiwar liberal Obama moving us closer to the police state that fringe groups and politicians like Ron Paul have warned us about?

One reason why Obama said we should copy the military is that “you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.”

That’s what worries me.

CLANCY SIGAL is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. He can be reached at clancy@jsasoc.com

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail