Monday, February 8, 2010

Marja: Test of American Integrity

Everyone knows that Obama is about to test his surge strategy in the Afghan city of Marja, but how many see the real story?

The attack on Marja is the fundamental test to date of American integrity under Obama. Since the cosy days of the Cold War, the world has experienced a stunning series of intentional war crimes planned and executed by governments: Grozniy, Fallujah, Gaza. A few Pakistani cities should probably be added to that list, but since the Pakistani Army has been very effective at hiding what has been happening from Swat to Bajaur, I hesitate to name one. Will Marja become the next, or will Obama's military demonstrate to the surprise of all that it truly is the friend of the Afghan people?

First of all, watch for news. If a battle occurs "in private," in the absence of independent, on-the-scene reports by independent reporters, the history of the past decade would teach us to anticipate the worst.

Second, watch for follow-up. In Gaza, for example, despite the brave and generous efforts of many around the world, Israel has very effectively prevented follow-up: no reconstruction of civilian homes. Exactly what the U.S. conqueror did after destroying Fallujah would be worth knowing. Israel of course punished the Gaza population on purpose to send a clear message that its enemies would have to choose between terrorism and submission; was the U.S. in Fallujah playing the same game?

When I described Gaza last year as a laboratory for experimenting with ways to repress civilian populations, not a single person protested to me that my hypothesis was untrue. At the time, I was focused on Gaza and was viewing it as the center of things, but perhaps a more accurate view would have been to say Gaza was the latest in a string of "urban laboratories," where a city would intentionally be destroyed. The residents of Baghdad (1258), Dresden, or Hiroshima would understand and perhaps view those of us who grew up in the post-WWII era with our belief in human progress and international law as hopelessly naive.

It is not clear how new cultural traits develop. What persuaded so many Muslims that terrorism was OK? What persuaded so many Western governments that state terrorism was OK? Did Israel develop this modern barbarism and teach the American neo-cons or did Israel watch the Russians in Chechnya and the Americans in Fallujah and think, "Wow. They got away with it!" Evil spreads easily.

So, Marja is America's test. Will America prove to be just another barbarian conqueror or will it show that it does indeed qualify, as it so desires,to lead the world?


Veronica said...

I would replace the word "terrorism" in the following sentence with "resistance" and yes, U.S. in Fallujah was playing the same game:

"Israel of course punished the Gaza population on purpose to send a clear message that its enemies would have to choose between terrorism [resistance] and submission; was the U.S. in Fallujah playing the same game?"

Israel has been practicing barbarism long before Russians in Chechnya and the Americans in Fallujah and they have been getting away with all their acts and Western leaders have been supporting Israel. Also, America has been barbarian conqueror throughout its history either covertly through covert and clandestine operations or overtly through outright wars. It will continue to be barbarian conqueror until it changes its foreign policies, stops interfering in other countries' affairs, stops being greedy and hungry for power and blood.

How can there be any "Test of American Integrity" when the facts for so many decades indicate there is no integrity? The mere facts that they are in another country killing, raping, plundering, destroying, building military bases, stealing countries' resources, installing puppet regimes, and have planned attack on Marja, point to America with no integrity whatsoever. If Obama and his military had integrity and were friends of the Afghan people they would immediately withdraw from all other countries, shut down all U.S. military bases around the world, provide compensations for all the harm and damage they have caused, hold accountable all those responsible for these savage acts and release all held and tortured prisoners / detainees.

There is no such thing as good colonizers or good imperialists with integrity or good wars.

William deB. Mills said...


My thanks as always for your thoughtful comments...and my apologies to you and all readers for my sloppy writing in this instance.

What I meant to say was that Israel was sending a message that its opponents would have to choose between Israeli state terrorism and their submission to Israel.

As for American integrity, I refuse to believe it cannot happen, although I admit it may be hard to find in high circles. I have wondered my whole life whether self-selection or the corrupting influence of the system were the key to how senior decision-makers behave when they acquire more power than judgment.

I still do not know the answer. I have observed a number of politicians who appeared to have integrity. Dennis Kucinich is the most obvious contemporary example; Murtha, sadly just deceased, was another; also, Ron Paul. But who knows? I can't test my hypothesis because none of those named achieved real power. Well, not so fast. The truth is that I would have put Hillary on that list 15 years ago, but I removed her when she made the inexcusable remark about obliterating Iran. I also would have put Colin Powell on the list before his infamous sell-out at the U.N. Anyway, one keeps hoping.