The Self-Delusionary American Tragedy

President Obama is following in the footsteps of George W. Bush as America’s Disconnector-in-Chief.  Obama went to Fort Hood, Texas, where 13 soldiers were killed and many wounded by military psychiatrist Major Nadal Malik Hasan, and continued the self-delusionary American tragedy of disconnecting cause and effect.  Calling the shootings “even more incomprehensible” because the Americans were killed here and not on a foreign battlefield, Obama said, “It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy.  But,” he continued, “this much we know—no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor.  And for what he has done,” Obama declared, “we know that the killer will be met with justice—in this world, and the next.” (“Obama’s speech at Fort Hood: The Transcript,” The Washington Post, Nov. 11, 2009).  Obama himself is “twist[ing] logic” by his overriding need to disconnect cause and effect.

“No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor.”  In fact, the illegal, falsely-based invasion and occupation of Iraq, the killing of well over one million innocent men, women and children, the destruction of the country’s life-sustaining infrastructure, the triggering of horrible and extensive sectarian violence, and the displacing of over four million Iraqi citizens—these “murderous and craven acts”—were justified by a “Jesus changed my heart,” peace-praying President Bush, who, led by “faith,” repeatedly proclaimed, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world, it is Almighty God’s gift to every man and woman in the world.” (The New York Times, Sept. 3, 2004)

“Twisted logic.”  In the face of America’s crimes against humanity in Iraq, President Obama told his Fort Hood audience, “In Iraq, we are working to bring a war to a successful end, as there are still those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much for.” (Ibid.)  Whose war? A successful end?  For whom?  It is about US political leaders’ war crimes that have denied a future to countless millions of Iraqis—and to tens of thousands of Americans and their allies.  It is about the US-orchestrated and-controlled UN sanctions that led to the deaths and denial of a future to half a million Muslim Iraqi children under five between 1991 and 1998 alone. (UNICEF, Aug. 12, 1999).

“Twisted logic.”  President Obama demonstrated more of it at Fort Hood with, “In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same extremists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans continue to endanger America, our allies, and innocent Afghans and Pakistanis.” (“Obama’s speech at Fort Hood.”)  Like former president Bush, Obama is using the tragic 9/11 deaths of “nearly 3,000 Americans” to justify an immoral, power-maintaining, imperialistic and arms and energy industries-driven war in which “innocent Afghans and Pakistanis” continue to be victims of American aggression.  Thousands of Afghan civilians have been indiscriminately killed by US airstrikes.  All civilians, including women and children, are “endangered”—in their homes, in other buildings, in cars, at wedding parties, in their mosques, in their villages.  The primary result of the Bush administration’s politically motivated revenge for 9/11 is the installation of a US-puppet as Afghanistan’s president, who is known for his corruption not his integrity and for his widespread election fraud not his spreading of freedom.

Matthew P. Hoh, Senior US Civilian Representative in Afghanistan’s Zabul Province, who recently resigned his position in protest of the Obama administration’s “twisted logic,” challenges the president’s use of the “killing of nearly 3,000 Americans” to justify continuing the criminal eight-year war in Afghanistan: “The September 11th attacks, as well as the Madrid and London bombings, were primarily planned and organized in Western Europe; a point that highlights the threat is not one tied to traditional geographic or political boundaries.”  Hoh finds “specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan.  If honest,” he continued, “our stated strategy of securing Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc.”  Hoh challenges the war’s “twisted logic” in stating, “My resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”  He concludes, “The dead return only in bodily form to be received by families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for a purpose worthy of futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept.  I have lost confidence that such assurance can any more be made.” (Sept. 10, 2009).

“Innocent Pakistanis” are “endangered,” but far more by America’s occupation-intended military than by homegrown “extremists.”  In Pakistan, CIA Predator drone air attacks have indiscriminately killed hundreds of civilians, which have helped to fan intense anti-American rage across the country.  The US-pressured and –equipped Pakistani army and air force continue to bomb Taliban-held strongholds, a reported consequence of which is “some 3 million refugees [fleeing] towns and cities turned into rubble and are now huddled in makeshift shelters in 28 camps, where only one in five is under canvass in the broiling heat . . . with the number expected “to climb to 4 million.”  (“Pakistani refugees: 3 million and counting,” by Armand de Borchgrave, UPI Editor at Large, UPE Asia.com, June 12, 2009).  The four million refugees may be reached soon, as 250,000 Pakistanis are reported to have already fled the Pakistani army’s major offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan.  (“Pakistani Taliban assault may see 250,000 refugees,” The China Post, Oct. 20, 2009)

President Obama’s stated concern for the well-being of the Pakistani people is “twisted logic” for American public consumption.  When untwisted, his logic is to disconnect cause and effect by the propagandistic peddling of an unjust war to its American victims and the electorate.  Polls indicate the reconnected reality of the Pakistan people.  For example, the Pew Research Center’s August survey “showed that 64 percent of Pakistanis regard the U.S. as the enemy.”  And “a poll released Oct. 2nd by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland shows 90 percent of Pakistanis think the U.S. abuses its power, the highest among the 22 countries surveyed.” (“Obama Drone Attacks Help Pakistan TV Hosts Fan Distrust of U.S.,” Bloomberg.com, Oct. 22, 2009).  The “anti-American vilification  . . . sweeping” Pakistan is also documented by McClatchy Newspapers: “Pakistanis are reacting to what many here see as an ‘imperial’ American presence, echoing Iraq and Afghanistan, with Washington dictating to the Pakistani military and the government.  Polls” the report continues, “show that Pakistanis regard the U.S., formerly a close ally and the country’s biggest donor, as a hostile power.”  (“Anti-Americanism rises in Pakistan over U.S. motives,” by Saeed Shah, Sept. 7, 2009).

Another poll, “funded by the quasi-governmental US Institute of Peace and designed by the University of Maryland’s Programme on International Policy Attitudes,” and reported by the Asia Times, “found that a strong majority of Pakistanis consider the US military presence in Asia and neighboring Afghanistan a much more critical threat to their country than al-Qaeda or Pakistan’s own Taliban movement in the tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.”  The poll revealed that “only 5% of respondents said the Pakistani government should permit US or other foreign troops to enter Pakistan to pursue or capture al-Qaeda fighters, compared to a whopping 80% who said such actions should not be permitted.”  Concerning perceived “US goals in the region, . . . 78% cited Washington’s alleged desire ‘to maintain control over the oil resources of the Middle East’ . . . 75% cited ‘to spread Christianity’; and 86% cited ‘to weaken and divide the Islamic world.’” (“Pakistanis see US as greatest threat,” by Jim Lobe, www.atimes.com, Jan. 8, 2008).

It is about the “twisted logic” of a president who lauds America’s military as “the finest fighting force the world has ever known . . . serving together to protect our people, while giving others half a world away the chance to lead a better life [italics added].” (“Obama’s speech at Fort Hood”)   It is about the “twisted logic” of a president, whose job is to disconnect the high treason of political leaders from their sacrificing of young American lives for power and the government-connected corporate profits of the military industrial complex.  It is about glorifying the sacrifice of these young Americans to justify their exploitation in the service of American imperialism.

It is about the “twisted logic” of a president who quoted President Lincoln’s words that “instead of claiming God for our side,” we should “always pray to be on the side of God.” (Ibid)  The “twisted logic” of a president who ended his Fort Hood address by saying “goodbye to those who now belong to eternity,” as “we press ahead in the pursuit of the peace that guided their service.  And may God bless the United States of America.” (Ibid)  Translation: “God is on our side.”

It is not about whether Major Hasan became “psychologically disturbed” and “snapped.”  It is about political leaders’ and mainstream media’s use of his assumed “insanity” to dissociate America from its horrible crimes against Muslim and Arab people.  It is about the insanity of patriotic American “exceptionalism” that allows our government to exploit and kill Muslim and Arab people in our name under the guise of spreading “freedom” and “democracy.”  It is about the tragic inability of many Americans to connect cause and effect, i.e. the consequences of the violation of the Golden Rule.

It is about the human logic of the rising suicides and post-traumatic stress and domestic violence of young deployed and returning American soldiers, traumatized by an immoral war in which their precious humanness became a casualty.  It is about wives and husbands and mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and friends grieving as the remains of their casketed loved ones are memorialized in sacred places in villages and towns and cities across America.

It is about burying precious loved ones with honor, as awareness of the political and corporate and religious imperialism that led to the unnecessary Bush administration-launched war is too much for many American families to bear.  Yet it is this painful awareness of cause and effect that will prevent more young Americans from being needlessly killed and maimed by political and corporate and religious motives hiding behind service to “God and country.”

It is about connecting cause and effect, and ending US tyranny abroad and its horrible effects there and at home.  It is about stopping the American-instigated and –supported “murderous and craven acts” against Muslim and Arab people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq and elsewhere.  America’s moral stature and security lie in connecting and being guided by cause and effect.

Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy.  Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion.  He can be reached at william.alberts@bmc.org.


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Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@gmail.com.

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