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Some Observations on the Recent Behavior of the Empire

* Perhaps the most Orwellian quote to come out of the Vietnam war, now a classic, was “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Now comes Mr. Rumsfeld, speaking of US “precision bombing” in Iraq: “It looks like it’s a bombing of a city, but it isn’t.”(1)

* The sharp reduction in advance airline reservations and heavy cancellation of existing reservations immediately following the invasion of Iraq(2) illustrates that people associate the terrorist threat with what the United States actually does in and to the world; not, as Bush keeps telling us, that terrorists just hate America because of its democracy and its freedom (as he calls those things), its wealth, its secular government, its plain simple goodness, and other tales fit for schoolbooks. But we already knew that that was not so. There’s a wealth of evidence to disprove Dubya’s lame rationalization.

* The US decision to not continue its military campaign in 1991 and overthrow Saddam Hussein was likely due to the great uncertainty of who or what would replace him. Washington didn’t want a Shiite government, which might join forces with neighboring Iran; nor a Kurd government, which would upset ally Turkey; nor any kind of even-nominally democratic government, which would upset Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; nor any kind of progressive government, which would upset Washington. But for the current war this problem has been solved, with a remarkably simple solution — Washington itself will replace Hussein.

* In 1997, National Security Advisor Samuel Berger declared that the US sanctions on Iraq “are the most pervasive sanctions every imposed on a nation in the history of mankind”(3) For over a decade we were told by the Empire that if Iraq would only destroy its weapons of mass destruction, the sanctions would be lifted. US hostility to the resumption of arms inspections put that claim into serious doubt; moreover, it should be kept in mind that Libya was told for many years that if they turned over certain suspects in the bombing of PanAm 103, the sanctions against Libya would be lifted. Libya turned the men over. The sanctions remained in place.

* Can Iraq expect “liberation” and a markedly improved life after the Empire takes over? Let’s look at the results of the Empire’s recent onslaught and occupation of Afghanistan.

1) warlords are active again

2) opium cultivation is once again booming

3) a man hand-picked by Washington is president; both the president and several of his ministers are actually Afghan-Americans

4) countless homes and other buildings have been destroyed by US bombing

5) thousands of innocent civilians have been killed as well as thousands of others engaged in combat who were only defending the country they lived in from a foreign invasion; not one of the many dead has been shown to have had any connection to the September 11 attack; most of the so-called “terrorists” at the training camps had come to Afghanistan to aid the Taliban in their civil war, a religious mission, none of Washington’s concern

6) crime and violence are once again a danger in the cities’ neighborhoods, which had been made safer by the Taliban

7) the country is occupied by foreign troops who often treat the population badly; US forces seize Afghans and take them away without explanation and keep them incommunicado indefinitely; some are sent to the 21st century’s Devils Island in Guantanamo Base, Cuba

8) in Kabul, the number of children suffering from malnutrition is almost double what it was before the American invasion(4)

9) the quality of women’s lives has very slightly improved, but is still far below what women enjoyed under the government the United States overthrew in the 1980-1990s

* “A man who allegedly wanted to harm people of Middle Eastern descent because of his anger over the World Trade Center attack has been arrested in a string of New York workplace shootings that left four people dead.” (5) How does this differ from US armed forces killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan? The American servicemen will not be charged with murder.

Notes

(1) Sidney Morning Herald, 3-25-03

(2) Washington Post, March 27, 2003

(3) White House press briefing, Nov. 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript

(4) New York Times, March 2, 2003, Sect.4, p.2

(5) Washington Post, March 31, 2003

WILLIAM BLUM is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir. He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com

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