Things the American government and media don't let go of. And neither do I.
“They’re leaving as heroes. I want them to walk home with pride in their hearts,” declared Col. John Norris, the head of a US Army brigade in Iraq.
It’s enough to bring tears to the eyes of an American, enough to make him choke up.
Enough to make him forget.
But no American should be allowed to forget that the nation of Iraq, the society of Iraq, have been destroyed, ruined, a failed state. The Americans, beginning 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, killed wantonly, tortured … the people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lie in wait for children to pick them up … an army of young Islamic men went to Iraq to fight the American invaders; they left the country more militant, hardened by war, to spread across the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia … a river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again.
“It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post on May 5, 2007.
No matter … drum roll, please … Stand tall American GI hero! And don’t even think of ever apologizing. Iraq is forced by the United States to continue paying reparations for its own invasion of Kuwait in 1990. How much will the American heroes pay the people of Iraq?
“Unhappy the land that has no heroes …
No. Unhappy the land that needs heroes.”
– Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo
“What we need to discover in the social realm is the moral equivalent of war; something heroic that will speak to men as universally as war does, and yet will be as compatible with their spiritual selves as war has proved to be incompatible.”
– William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
Perhaps the groundwork for that heroism already exists … February 15, 2003, a month before the US invasion of Iraq, probably the largest protest in human history, between six and ten million protesters took to the streets of some 800 cities in nearly sixty countries across the globe.
Iraq. Love it or leave it.
The British government recently warned Libya against celebrating the one-year anniversary of Scotland’s release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Libyan who’s the only person ever convicted of the 1988 blowing up of PanAm flight 103 over Scotland, which took the lives of 270 largely Americans and British. Britain’s Foreign Office has declared: “On this anniversary we understand the continuing anguish that al-Megrahi’s release has caused his victims both in the U.K. and the U.S. He was convicted for the worst act of terrorism in British history. Any celebration of al-Megrahi’s release would be tasteless, offensive and deeply insensitive to the victims’ families.”
John Brennan, President Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser, stated that the United States has “expressed our strong conviction” to Scottish officials that Megrahi should not remain free. Brennan criticized what he termed the “unfortunate and inappropriate and wrong decision” to allow Megrahi’s return to Libya on compassionate grounds on Aug. 20, 2009 because he had cancer and was not expected to live more than about three months. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying that the United States “continues to categorically disagree” with Scotland’s decision to release Megrahi a year ago. “As we have expressed repeatedly to Scottish authorities, we maintain that Megrahi should serve out the entirety of his sentence in prison in Scotland.” The US Senate has called for an investigation and family members of the crash victims have demanded that Megrahi’s medical records be released. The Libyan’s failure to die as promised has upset many people.
But how many of our wonderful leaders are upset that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi spent eight years in prison despite the fact that there was, and is, no evidence that he had anything to do with the bombing of flight 103? The Scottish court that convicted him knew he was innocent. To understand that just read their 2001 “Opinion of the Court”, or read my analysis of it at KillingHope.org.
As to the British government being so upset about Libya celebrating Megrahi’s release — keeping in mind that it strongly appears that UK oil deals with Libya played more of a role in his release than his medical condition did — we should remember that in July 1988 an American Navy ship in the Persian Gulf, the Vincennes, shot down an Iranian passenger plane, taking the lives of 290 people; i.e., more than died from flight 103. And while the Iranian people mourned their lost loved ones, the United States celebrated by handing out medals and ribbons to the captain and crew of the Vincennes. The shootdown had another consequence: It inspired Iran to take revenge, which it did in December of that year, financing the operation to blow up PanAm 103 (carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine –- General Command).
Why do they hate us?
Passions are flying all over the place concerning the proposed building of an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from 9/11 Ground Zero in New York. Even people who are not particularly anti-Muslim think it would be in bad taste, offensive. But implicit in all the hostility is the idea that what happened on that fateful day in 2001 was a religious act, fanatic Muslims acting as Muslims attacking infidels. However — even if one accepts the official government version of 19 Muslims hijacking four airliners — the question remains: Why did they choose the targets they chose? If they wanted to kill lots of American infidels why not fly the planes into the stands of packed football or baseball stadiums in the midwest or the south? Certainly a lot less protected than the Pentagon or the financial center of downtown Manhattan. Why did they choose symbols of US military might and imperialism? Because it was not a religious act, it was a political act. It was revenge for decades of American political and military abuse in the Middle East. It works the same all over the world. In the period of the 1950s to the 1980s in Latin America, in response to continuous hateful policies of Washington, there were countless acts of terrorism against American diplomatic and military targets as well as the offices of US corporations; nothing to do with religion.
Somehow, American leaders have to learn that their country is not exempt from history, that their actions have consequences.