Reuters, March 7: “Soldiers depicted in the new video would not face criminal charges, the Pentagon said. One section of the video showed a bound and wounded prisoner sprawled on the ground, and showed his bullet entry and exit wounds. At one point, a US soldier kicked the prisoner in the face. Army documents quoted a soldier at the scene as saying he ‘thought the dude eventually died. We weren’t in any hurry to call the medics’.”
This is no surprise, because there are energetic Christians in America who applaud the murder of wounded prisoners. They think it is wonderful to kill them. They are proud that US soldiers kill helpless people. Doubt me? Read on.
Here is an email sent me following my piece in Counterpunch on March 7, from “Yours sincerely, Todd Hale, Senior Church Image Consultant (http://www.faithHighway.com/ and, who is one sick citizen, and wrote:
“You asked the question ‘What was the reaction of most of the American people to the murder of a wounded, unarmed Iraqi lying helpless and barely conscious on the floor of a mosque in his own country?’
I think, based purely on the exit poll results of the recent Presidential election, re-affirming the current administration’s stance on the war on terror, including Iraq, that most of the Americans, or at least 65 some odd million of them again based on the election results would be like mine; “Sucks to be him, he should not be fighting for an evil regime like Saddam Husseins, that aids and supports terrorists and has killed thousands of his own people with chemical weapons, and if said man does fight for Saddam, he risks death, even if he’s wounded and lying on the floor of his mosque. I only hope that someone shared the good news of the saving grace of Jesus Christ with him before he died. You asked. May God Bless your liberally challenged mind!” [Emphasis in original.]
Let us all take a deep breath after these kindly words from a devout Christian and consider the rest of the Reuters’ report: “Army criminal investigators looked into the matter and decided no criminal charges were warranted against the soldiers. Documents showed that the Army deemed the actions shown on the video “inappropriate” rather than criminal. ‘It didn’t rise to the level of criminal abuse, according to the investigations,’ said LtCol Jeremy Martin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. ‘Clearly, the soldiers probably exercised poor judgment . . . and I’m sure that they were admonished by their command for their actions’.”
Sure; the world can be certain that “their command” took disciplinary action. Like issuing a bag of cookies and ten days’ leave. It is incredible to be told that a soldier who kicked a wounded prisoner was considered to have “exercised poor judgment”. The US military thug–for he cannot be dignified by the name of ‘soldier’–kicked a helpless man in the face, but LtCol Jeremy Martin, US Army, then spits in the faces of all of us when he says that the kicking “didn’t rise [he meant, presumably, ‘descend’] to the level of criminal abuse”. LtCol Jeremy Martin should go join Mr Todd Hale, the equally caring Senior Church Image Consultant, because they would have a lot to agree about.
LtCol Jeremy Martin of the Pentagon has no conscience. He is a robot, poor fellow. He is doing his duty as he sees it, of course, in the same fashion as the Army face-kickers and the Guantanamo Bay torturers and the Marine who murdered the unarmed, wounded prisoner lying semi-conscious on the floor of a mosque in Iraq last November, to the approval of millions of Americans.
He is a performing puppet, an unthinking, manipulated, rag-doll-in-uniform who does his best to please his masters, like countless other grey people for whom individual thought is a terrifying concept.
And this is the big problem for America. It is the little people, the Jeremy Martins of the uniformed brothers and the Todd Hales of the church brothers, who lead the populace in endorsing and actively supporting evil. They are just folks like other folks, of course. They live down the street or on the next block and they have 1.7 kids, an SUV and a couple of bicycles, a liking for the local baseball team, clean living and Church cookouts, and a deep and terrible ignorance of humanity, history, and tolerance.
Does anyone read William Shirer’s ‘Berlin Diary: Journal of a Foreign Correspondent‘ nowadays? He was a gifted American reporter who described life in Nazi Germany from 1934 through 1941 (and in 1959 wrote his masterpiece, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’) , but the diary itself is a story of personal despair and recounts the series of Germany’s national catastrophes that “slipped inexorably towards the abyss of war and self-destruction”.
Bush has plunged America into the abyss of everlasting war, and the parallels between what Bush America is becoming and what Hitler’s Germany became in the 1930s are as startling as they are repellent.
In Nuremberg in September 1934, Shirer wrote that “when Hitler finally appeared on the balcony for a moment [the faces in the audience] reminded me of the crazed expressions I saw once in the back country of Louisiana on the faces of some Holy Rollers . . . They looked up to him as if he were a Messiah . . .” and went on to record Hitler’s shriek that “We are strong and we will get stronger!”
“There, in the floodlit night . . . the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state of being . . .: the shedding of their individual souls and minds–with the personal doubts and responsibilities and problems–until under the mystic lights . . . they were merged in the herd.”
And in just such a speech on October 30, 2004 at the Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (it’s on the White House website), Bush said exactly the same thing: “We are strong, and we will get stronger.” And there was rapturous applause, just as at Hitler’s Nuremberg. ” . . . you know where I stand and where I intend to lead this country.” [Applause.] Audience: “Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!”, just as Hitler was greeted with the adoring mass chant of ‘Sieg Heil!, Sieg Heil!, Sieg Heil!’
The little people of America were speaking to Bush. In the words of William Shirer describing Hitler’s Germany, these were extremist Americans exactly like the Germans who “achieved the highest state of being . . .: the shedding of their individual souls and minds–with the personal doubts and responsibilities and problems–until under the mystic lights . . . they were merged in the herd.”
It was the “little men”, the ordinary people of the country, who first allowed and then encouraged Hitler to thrive in the moral sewer that he made Germany become in the Thirties. On March 3, 1934, in a speech in Frankfurt, his vicious associate, Herman Goering declared: “Fellow Germans, my measures will not be crippled by any judicial thinking. My measures will not be crippled by any bureaucracy. I won’t have to worry about justice, my mission is only to destroy and exterminate.”
The modern Goering, John Bolton, nominated by Bush to be ambassador to the United Nations in a calculated insult to the entire world, believes “It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so.” Beware, all those who seek justice, because, as Bolton wrote earlier, “Treaties are ‘law’ only for US domestic purposes” and have no meaning otherwise.
When international agreements become inconvenient for Bush Washington they can be unilaterally abrogated in a curt and contemptuous two paragraph note to the UN, as sent by Rice last week when Bush cancelled yet another long-standing accord. What sort of example does Bush think this conveys to the world? It is absurd for him to complain that other countries do not abide by international treaties or UN Security Council resolutions while he cancels US adherence to treaties and ignores flouting of UN resolutions by countries whose leaders have his approval. But Hitler was given to double-think and double-speak, too, like all tinpot autocrats and would-be emperors.
The historian John Toland wrote in his masterly ‘Adolf Hitler’ (Doubleday, New York, 1976) that in mid-30s Germany “a revolution was going on, but since it was almost bloodless, many Germans did not, or chose not, to realize it. This preliminary stage of the Revolution was given an innocuous name: ‘Co-ordination’. It appeared to be an efficient process of unifying the nation and was received with little alarm.” And just as the Patriot Act was thrust under the guard of the American people, so the German Nazis unified their country with promises of better things to come, emphasis on ultra-national pride, and utter contempt for foreigners and those within their national borders who did not conform to the standards of what the Leadership dictated. The Nazi’s equivalent of the Patriot Act was the decree “For the Protection of the People and the State” of February 28, 1933, which laid down that:
“Paragraphs 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 in the German Reich Constitution are provisionally null and void. Accordingly, the restrictions on personal freedom and the right to express opinions freely, including freedoms of the press, association, and assembly; monitoring of letters, cables, and telephone calls, searches of homes, and expropriation of property, and restrictions thereon, are hereby revoked within the limits previously stipulated in the law.”
It is bizarre that not a single US legislator actually read the Patriot Act before voting for it (although one honorable and intelligent senator voted against it and was of course then reviled). It was impossible to read it before voting, given the length of the document, the hundreds of cross-references, and the time available. And millions of Americans who haven’t read the Act or know anything about it agree with it completely because they have been brainwashed to embrace fanaticism. The Patriot Act is uncannily similar to Hitler’s decree that set Germany on the slide to moral destruction, and unlike the Patriot missile system, it actually works. (During the invasion of Iraq, US Patriot missiles downed a US Navy F-18 and a British Tornado, and a Patriot radar was destroyed by a USAF F-16 before it could be vaporized, too.)
I wrote in May last year that “The Patriot Act alters 15 Statutes. The prerogatives, personal authority and dominance of the president of the United States have been extended to include drastic and quasi-imperial powers that threaten the liberties of all Americans.” This followed a speech by Bush to the faithful in the Chocolate Ballroom in Hershey, Pennsylvania when he declared to cheers that “The Patriot Act defends our liberty . . . It’s essential law . . . It’s a law that is making America safer . . . It doesn’t make any sense to scale it back”. But if an American dares criticize the president in vehement terms, and that fact is recorded by some busybody, then the FBI can place such information on a citizen’s file. (This has happened.) The citizen will never know about this, except through revelation by true American patriots, because the FBI’s subpoena cannot be challenged in court and the victim of the Patriot Act is kept in ignorance about its ever being served.
Can this be freedom? No: this is Bush freedom. Which includes the freedom for a US citizen in uniform to kick a manacled prisoner in the face and for the world to be told that his cowardly cruelty was only a matter of “poor judgment”. It is the freedom for a US citizen in uniform to kill helpless, wounded, unarmed captives, secure in the knowledge that millions of good Christian Americans, including ‘Todd Hale, Senior Church Image Consultant’, will approve the murder and defend it against all tenets of law and morality.
Charles Mackay, in his “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”, published in 1841, was of the opinion that “In reading the history of nations we find that . . . millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it until their attention is caught by some folly more captivating than the first. We see one nation suddenly seized, from the highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire for military glory . . . Men, it has been well said, think in herds . . .”
Bush “freedom” is based on the belief of Cheney, Bolton, Rice, Rumsfeld, and other warped figures in the Nazi creed that “We are strong and we will get stronger”. The catchword has caught the attention–the worship–of the deluded crowds, the herds, the millions who have been brainwashed by patriotic persuasion that if they disagree with national policy they are traitors, no matter how immoral that policy might be.
Hitler’s sycophants applauded his insane ambitions to dominate the world, and in Bush Washington the same type of people bow and scrape and applaud his voodoo schemes to impose “freedom” by the bomb and the bullet. America has lost all international moral authority it ever had, courtesy of a messianic ninny who seeks to construct an ethically corrupt system that encourages the strong to persecute the weak, the rich to despise the poor, and credulous bigots to triumph over common sense and decency. If someone doesn’t agree with you, then go kick him in the face. It doesn’t demand thought, and millions of people will think you’re a great patriot.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com