Many years ago there was a song called “Why do we all love Australia” which was a bit of a spoof although funny and to the point. The main thing was that it was ironic and encouraged people to laugh at themselves, which does us all good from time to time. But there is nothing funny or ironical about a major international matter of the moment: Why do they all hate America?
It isn’t good for the world to have such a hate figure. Recent and current actions by Washington haven’t bound nations together, as fear and loathing of an outsider sometimes do. There is no benefit from the world-wide perception that the America of Bush and Cheney is astonishingly arrogant. And the problem is that this arrogance has created and continues to spawn an unknown but obviously large number of fanatics who want to destroy a country whose leader revels in displaying an insolent and unjustified superiority.
Consider the absurd contention in Washington that it is entirely the fault of Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki that his country is an ungovernable shambles. “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is unable to govern his country effectively and the political situation is likely to become even more precarious in the next six to 12 months, the nation’s intelligence agencies concluded in a new assessment”, announced the LA Times on August 24. Of course the man can’t govern the country. Nobody can govern the country so long as US troops and their mercenary comrades swagger round the place acting as a law unto themselves. Here’s an AP report of August 31:
“Everybody was pretty much upset,” [Sergeant Sanick] Dela Cruz told the prosecutor, Lt. Col. Sean Sullivan. “We were smoking outside . . . for whatever reason Staff Sergeant Wuterich made this comment that if we ever got hit again we should kill everybody in that vicinity, sir, to teach them a lesson.” . . . . Dela Cruz testified that he saw Wuterich shoot the five men by the car, then follow up with close-range chest shots to make sure they were dead. Dela Cruz said he too fired at the men.
Wuterich has previously said he shot the men because they were running away from the scene of the bomb blast. Military rules at the time allowed Marines to kill those seen fleeing in this way. But Dela Cruz claimed the men were “just standing around,” some with their hands interlocked on their heads. “Those men [were] not running, sir,” Dela Cruz testified. “Some of them had their hands up.”
“Some of them had their hands up”. How could ANY soldier kill an unarmed man with his hands up? Who trained and motivated the man who killed a defenseless human being? Who was in command of the soldiers who did this? The American people must ask why they should tolerate a regime that authorizes the shooting in the back of a terror-stricken civilian fleeing a bomb blast. (The report’s caveat “at the time” is meaningless. Nothing has changed in the Rules of Engagement.) And it’s even worse when you consider the filthy money-grubbing gung-ho mercenaries who, among other things, are responsible for the security of US diplomats.
When Blackwater’s thugs killed eleven Iraqi civilians a few days ago it wasn’t just bizarre and indefensible: it was yet another example of such action. Prime Minister Maliki said on September 20 that there had been six other instances of murder by Blackwater’s band of brutes, all of which had been reported to US officials. No action had been taken.
“. . . the Americans told us to turn back,” [Mr Jabir] said. “They shouted ‘Go’ ‘Go’ ‘Go.’ . . . When we started turning back, the Americans began shooting heavily at us. The traffic policeman was the first person killed.” The shooting set off a panic, Jabir said, with men, women and children diving from their vehicles, trying desperately to crawl to safety. “But many of them were killed,” he said. [He saw a] “boy jump in fear from one of the minibuses. He was shot in his head. His mother jumped after him and was also killed.” Suddenly, Jabir felt two bullets strike his back — one pierced his left lung and the other lodged in his intestines.” AP September 20.
Make no mistake: there is no law in Iraq other than that imposed, tolerated or endorsed by the US occupation force that is not accountable to any Iraqi government orders or decisions.
The people of Iraq detest American rule. The government of Mr Maliki can say anything it likes. It can even pass laws. But nothing it says or tries to do will have the slightest effect on the country. There is only one government in Iraq, and that is the imperial regime of the invader (except for the independent north where Kurds are running their own affairs and conducting US-tolerated ethnic cleansing as regards Arabs). Soldiers and mercenaries care nothing for Iraq’s own laws. They follow the orders of their demented leaders in Washington who despise and deride (and have almost destroyed) international conventions intended to make it easier for us all to live together on what has become a truly horrible planet, courtesy of Bush and Cheney. Consider another imperial exercise of power in Baghdad:
US forces have released seven Iranians who were detained in a swoop on a hotel in Baghdad, Iraqi officials say. The men were seized overnight from one of the main hotels in the capital and led away blindfolded and in handcuffs. The Iranian embassy in the city said the men were helping rebuild electricity power stations in Iraq. (BBC, August 29, 2007.)
Who ordered US soldiers to blindfold, handcuff and detain foreigners who were in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government? The fact that they were released is proof that nothing they were doing was of assistance to those fighting against occupation troops. There is no point in trying to guess what was in the minds of US commanders in Iraq when they gave orders for the snatch-job. Their myopic, self-defeating operation was in line with Bush-Cheney policy as sent down the line to the forelock-tugging generals: all Iranians are Bad Guys, so go get them. And the result, as could be predicted by anyone who is not George Bush or a US general, is that more and more Iranians and Iraqi Shias think, with justification, that the Bush Administration understands only force and doesn’t care a toss about any sort of law, be that national or international or even its own legal system, politicized and debased as it has become. So what is the US commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, doing about the situation?
Do you remember Art Buchwald’s wonderful column in 1969 about the US generals’ reaction to the Tet Offensive in Vietnam? (A year before I arrived there, incidentally, having believed all the propaganda we were fed at the time. This makes me feel sorry for young officers presently in Iraq: I was in a similar situation, fellas. I was a sucker, too.)
Part of the Buchwald column read:
Dateline: Little Big Horn, Dakota. General George Armstrong Custer said today in an exclusive interview with this correspondent that the Battle of Little Big Horn had just turned the corner and he could now see light at the end of the tunnel. “We have the Sioux on the run”, General Custer told me. “Of course we’ll have some cleaning up to do, but the Redskins are hurting badly and it will only be a matter of time before they give in.”
Is the wonderful General Petraeus (My name’s Petraeus, what’s YOUR hobby?) going to turn the corner in Iraq? Or is the corner going to turn him into a Custer? He wrote an Op-Ed piece in a national newspaper in support of the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, an act of blatant and indefensible political sniveling. Petraeus is the very model of the Cold War Warrior. He favors military confrontation over diplomacy. And it’s military confrontation that Bush-Cheney America is all about.
It isn’t just President Putin and his government and people who realize that Washington has gone out of control by surrounding Russia with anti-missile systems and increasing its military footprint in as much of a threatening circle as it can. The latest instance of needless provocation is Washington’s arrangement for “military facilities” (not BASES of course) in Romania, adding to the scores of existing US military airfields and troop staging posts that directly menace Russia. Naturally Putin has reacted to such arrogance. Bush-Cheney picked a quarrel with Russia, and nobody would care if it were only their personal problem. But they have insulted and aggravated a world power of immense importance, adding to the rapidly growing number of America-haters.
Then there is the amazingly idiotic US announcement of a 30 billion dollar military support program for Israel over the next decade. Has nobody in Washington got any idea just how much resentment and hatred this proclamation caused in the Islamic world? It is regarded as contemptuous spurning of the Muslim community, irrespective of the other billions to be given to rich oil-producing Arab countries. The process is only transfer of money from American taxpayers to US weapons’ manufacturers, but in international political terms it is disastrous.
The State Department could have made it clear to the White House that cash for Israel would send an incendiary message. In fact it is probable that State’s professionals did warn that there would be uproar and reaction. But since the time that State was right in its advice about the war on Iraq it has been distrusted and reviled by the warniks. The Secretary of State has become a joke and one of her Under Secretaries, Nicholas Burns (a career officer, alas), has sold his soul to the Company Store and declared that the 30 billion dollar endorsement of the nuclear-armed Israeli military machine “says to the Iranians and Syrians that the United States is the major power in the Middle East and will continue to be and is not going away.”
What right has America (or any other country) to trumpet itself so imperiously as “the major power” anywhere in the world? In fact, most people very much want the United States to cease meddling in the Middle East because its influence, activity and undeviating support of Israel have produced nothing but chaos.
We don’t have to ask: “Why Do They All Hate America?”
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY is a former army officer who writes on political and military affairs. His website is www.briancloughley.com