Even as President Obama and War Secretary Leon Panetta announce the “end” of the Iraq War, a US “covert war” against Iran, as the National Journal put it in a December 4 article, has already begun.
This secret war–at least secret from the American people–is being conducted in part directly by the US, as evidenced by the advanced American RQ-170 Sentinel stealth surveillance drone just recently downed–apparently by sophisticated electronic countermeasures that allowed the taking control of, and landing of the vehicle–by Iran. Also conducted in part of proxies, including the Iranian anti-government terrorist organization MEK (for Mujahideen-e Khalq), and of course Israel’s Mossad, this dirty covert war has led to an escalating string of acts of terror inside Iran, including a campaign of assassination against Iranian nuclear scientists, and bombings of Iranian military installations.
Not content to simply engage in such illegal hostilities against a sovereign nation that has not threatened the U.S., and that in fact has not invaded another country in some 200 years, President Obama had the effrontery to demand that the Iranians return the spy drone that they had captured!
Imagine for a moment if an Iranian, or some other nation’s, robot spy plane had been captured or shot down over U.S. territory. Imagine the official response if the nation that owned that plane were to demand its return! First of all, Congressmembers, probably almost unanimously, would be clamoring for the US to launch an attack on whatever company launched the spy plane. But the reaction to a demand to return such a device would be truly explosive! The audacity!
Actually, you don’t need to imagine. Look at the right-wing media and the official US government response to the arrest of two men in New York accused of the hard-to-believe conspiracy of planning, allegedly at the direction of Iranian
government sources, to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Forget about proving that this far-fetched alleged plot was real at all, and not just another creation of some FBI informant/provocateur, or whether Iran was really behind it even if it was. There were open calls for bombing Iran immediately!
President Obama, meanwhile, keeps saying that “all options are on the table” for dealing with what the US government alleges is an Iranian campaign to develop nuclear weapons — itself a very dubious claim. And to back up that threat, the US has actually delivered huge non-nuclear “bunker busting” bombs to Israel, a country which has openly been discussing plans to attack Iran.
These are all war crimes under the UN charter and actual acts of war.
But that’s just Iran.
The US is already at war with Pakistan, too, this country’s nominal ally in the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban. Two weeks ago, American planes, ground forces and helicopters attacked two Pakistani border posts, killing several dozen Pakistani troops. There is considerable evidence that these attacks were deliberate, though the US is claiming lamely that its forces had “incorrect coordinates” that led to the fatal attacks.
These days the US doesn’t just rely on Garman GPS devices for its attacks. It sends in drones with high-rez cameras and knows exactly what and who it is killing before it pulls the trigger.
Meanwhile, we’ve been killing people in Yemen for years with planes sent from offshore aircraft carriers, and using missile-firing Predator drones.
In Latin America, American military “trainers” are fighting a war against leftist forces in Columbia, the CIA is supporting opposition groups seeking to oust the elected governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries, and the US Justice Department is shipping weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico and helping to launder Mexican drug money back in the US.
There are credible charges that the US has also been supporting the latest protests against the Vladimir Putin government in Russia (even as our own Homeland Security and “Justice” Departments coordinate violent police crackdowns on the Occupy protests here at home against our own government’s craven support of the corrupt banks that have been wrecking the US and global economies).
And we Americans wonder: “Why do they hate us?”
If real people around the world weren’t dying from all this criminal US behavior, and if real people here in America weren’t suffering because of all the trillions of dollars being wasted over the years on military spending, spying, covert destabilization campaigns and overt war-making, it would all be laughable.
But real people are dying and are suffering and there is nothing to laugh about.
Someday there will come a reckoning for the US, as there came a reckoning for Rome, for the British Empire, for the German Reich and for the USSR. A hollowed-out country like the this one, which is under-funding education, health care, infrastructure investment, research, and environmental protection, while its governing class steadily disenfranchises, disempowers, and impoverishes the public while systematically taking away their right to protest, is ultimately doomed.
It’s just a question of time, and of course a matter of how it happens.
If we’re lucky, the dramatic awakening that began with the Occupy Movement in September will continue to spread and grow until an enraged public rises up en masse and evicts the entire corrupt gang from Washington, replacing them with genuine representatives of the people and a new commitment to true democratic governance.
If we’re not so lucky, this nation is likely to slide into global irrelevance — a backward relic of faded glory, a place where Chinese, Brazilian and European firms will invest to take advantage of our cheap, uneducated labor to produce goods to sell back in their own countries. Such an economic slide would of course not occur without violent conflicts and struggles over ever diminishing wealth and resources.
By then off course, if our government continues on its present course of militarily meddling in other nations, the US will be almost universally loathed and, in stead of being manipulated into fears of nonexistent threats to our “safety,” we Americans will finally have reason to genuinely fear the actions of other, more powerful, nations, which will find the temptation to compete in meddling in the affairs of what remains of the United States irresistible.
Why They Hate Us in Iraq
Reading the New York Times, an American might have been excused for wondering why Iraqis, and especially the people of Fallujah, would be so happy to see American occupying troops leaving the country at the end of this month and of nine years of war against their country that they were actually celebrating.
The Times made it sound as though Fallujah deserved what happened to it. As the article published Dec. 15 notes dryly, American forces in 2004 twice attacked this largest city in Anbar Province to “pacify” it (there’s a political euphemism for you!) after insurgents there in March of 2004 captured four US “contractors” driving through the city, burned their bodies, and strung them up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.
First of all, let’s also dispense with the euphemistic term “contractors,” which is meant to bring to mind the image of a couple of overweight construction workers. In Iraq, and especially in lawless areas like Anbar at that time, “contractor” means “mercenary,” and we now know that mercenaries in Iraq (and in Afghanistan) were and are a lawless, bloodthirsty, group of former US military personnel and vicious thugs from various foreign fascist states like Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, apartheid South Africa and elsewhere, who have killed countless numbers of civilians in Iraq and elsewhere, operating outside of any government monitoring or legal constraints for “security firms” like Blackwater (now Xe) and DynCorp.
What actually happened in Fallujah though, was that because of Pentagon and US media-stoked domestic public outrage at the treatment of the four captured mercenaries, 20,000 US Marines were sent in to the city to level it and to slaughter its male inhabitants in an example of the kind of massive war crime tactic once popular with the Nazi Wehrmacht in World War II, where it was known as “collective punishment.” The Nazis used to burn down villages, particularly in Eastern Europe and the USSR, if even one shot was fired at them. But taking things much further in Iraq, US forces encircled Fallujah, a city of 300,000, in November, 2004, and ordered all non-combatants out of the area. Women and children were allowed to leave through checkpoints, but no males of “combat age”–which was illegally set, according to reports, at the age of 11, or by some accounts, at 14. In either case, the whole thing was criminal. Under Geneva Conventions signed by the US, first of all all civilians are required to be granted free passage to escape from any field of battle or impending battle, and secondly, under those same Conventions, all children under the age of 18 are to be protected from war, not considered combatants. Even those who are found armed or captured while fighting are to be treated not as combatants, but as victims.
Instead of obeying the laws of war (which once approved by the Senate have the force of law under the US Constitution), US forces trapped all males in the city, including old men and young boys, and then went in with assault rifles, cannons, ground attack planes, helicopter and fixed-wing gunships, and with illegal weapons and weapons that cause mass deaths such as white phosphorus bombs, napalm, anti-personnel shells and depleted uranium shells. US forces basically killed everything that moved in numbers ranging upward of 6000 (In contrast the UN is expressing horror that the government in Syria has killed 5000 people in its crackdown on a democracy movement there). There were accounts of people being shot in the river as they tried to swim away from the city, of hospitals being raided and ambulances bombed, and there were even videos of seriously wounded and unarmed Iraqi fighters being coldly executed by Marines. What was done to Fallujah was as vile, evil and criminal a campaign of retribution and vengeance, exercised against enemy fighters and trapped civilians alike, as anything Hitler’s SS ever engaged in.
The Times article made no mention about any of this — an exercise in censorship and propaganda made all the more outrageous because the atrocity was well reported at the time it happened by the paper’s own excellent war reporter, Dexter Filkins.
Knowing what really happened, and what the US military really did in Fallujah, would make much more understandable to Americans why the end of US occupation of Iraq has been greeted with a “festival” atmosphere in the still recovering city of Fallujah.
DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new Project-Censored Award-winning independent online alternative newspaper. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.