1.13.2007

"the impresario of unnecessary violence"

Please read this.
The lynching of Iraq
By James Carroll

The hanging of Saddam Hussein Dec. 30 offered a view into the grotesque reality of what America has sponsored in Iraq, and what Americans saw should inform their response to President Bush's escalation of the war.

The deposed tyrant was mercilessly taunted. As he stood on the threshold of the afterlife and was told to go to hell, the world witnessed a chilling elevation of the ancient curse, making an absolute villain an object of pity.

And then, in chanting the name of Moqtada al-Sadr, whose family had been a particular target of Hussein's his executioners made clear that the execution was an act of tribal revenge, not of national restoration, much less justice. It was a lynching. This Shi'ite brutality is guaranteed to spawn Sunni savagery. Iraq itself is hell.

Officials of the United States, from military commanders in Baghdad to members of the Bush administration in Washington, sought to distance themselves from the bedlam, but they are essential to what happened at the last moments of Saddam's life. Decorum would have been the main note of his death if Americans had managed it, but the execution would have been no less an act of false justice.

The harsh fact is that the Shi'ite dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki, in its contemptible treatment of a man about to die, laid bare the dark truth of Bush's war. This is what revenge looks like, and revenge (not weapons of mass destruction, not democracy) drove the initial US attack on Saddam Hussein every bit as much as it snuffed out his life at the end. The hooded executioners took their cue from George W. Bush.

And why should they not have? Let's remember who this man is. As governor of Texas, he presided over the executions of 152 people, including the first woman put to death in Texas in a century. Her name was Karla Faye Tucker. Bush's response to the world-wide plea raised in her behalf was an astounding display of cruelty, a mocking imitation of the woman begging not to be killed.

Bush rejected appeals for clemency in every death penalty case that came before him. The Texas death chamber, with its lethal injection gurney, is a place of decorum. And savagery. That executions defined the main public distinction that Bush brought to the US presidency sums up the national disgrace, while suggesting also how little surprise there should be that America is presided over now by an executioner-in-chief.

Capital punishment is to individuals what aggressive war is to nations. The 20th century, for all its brutality (or because of it), marked the watershed era when world opinion shifted against both. Once, princes exercised life-and-death power over subjects with unchallenged authority. Once, the only check on a state's freedom to attack another state was its power to do so.

These two absolutes of realpolitik have changed. From the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 to principles laid down at the Nuremberg tribunals to the United Nations itself, wars of aggression stand condemned. The force of state violence is to be exercised only in self-defense or in defense of a victim people, in circumstances defined by international agreement. Similarly, nation after nation has abolished the death penalty, understanding the absurdity of defending human life by destroying human life. If killing can ever be justified, individually or communally, it is only as an absolute last resort. In sum, an international moral consensus has taken shape against unnecessary violence, whether targeting a criminal or a rogue state.

George W. Bush is the impresario of unnecessary violence. America has followed him into the death chamber of this war, and now he wants us to believe that the way out is through more death.

Iraqi loss of life remains mostly unimagined, but every evening on the television news, Americans see the sweet faces of young soldiers who have died in Bush's war. They were heroes, not criminals, yet Bush dragged each one of them up onto a gallows. He positioned them on the trap door, hardly wincing as they then fell through. And now, in perhaps the greatest outrage of all, Bush claims that the way to justify the unnecessary deaths he has caused is to add to them. Escalation is his way of saying, go to hell.

With his lies at the beginning of this war, and his fantasy now that an honorable outcome remains possible, the president is a taunting killer, caught in the act. He lacks nothing but the black hood. Stop this man.
If you're still reading, check out Paul Krugman, too, this time brought to you by Common Dreams.
Quagmire of the Vanities
by Paul Krugman

The only real question about the planned "surge" in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional.

Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks they're cynical. He recently told The Washington Post that administration officials are simply running out the clock, so that the next president will be "the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof."

Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for his research on irrationality in decision-making, thinks they're delusional. Mr. Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon recently argued in Foreign Policy magazine that the administration's unwillingness to face reality in Iraq reflects a basic human aversion to cutting one's losses — the same instinct that makes gamblers stay at the table, hoping to break even.

Of course, such gambling is easier when the lives at stake are those of other people's children.
Read the whole column here.

40 comments:

Granny said...

I keep wondering if we'll survive the next two years.

L-girl said...

That's a sobering statement to read.

I understand it.

lindsey starr said...

I read the following, written by Anne Flaherty of Assoc. Press on Saturday, and was horrified at the fact that this is the man in charge.

Bush struck a defiant note in an interview to be televised Sunday by CBS on "60 Minutes." Asked if he believes he has the authority to send additional troops to Iraq no matter what Congress wants to do, Bush said: "I think I've got — in this situation, I do, yeah. And I fully understand they will ... they could try to stop me from doing it, but, uh, I've made my decision and we're going forward."

so when others mention that we as a people/nation need to just get out there and protest and try to change what is happening, it makes it frustrating. How can we possibly have an impact when Bush is saying these things despite what is not only popluar opinion, but also that of many in Washington.

The article goes on to say:
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate intend to hold symbolic votes in coming days to demonstrate the extent of opposition to Bush's troop increase. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., told fellow Democrats in a closed-door meeting she intends to allow the Senate — where several Republicans have been vocal in their criticism of the president — to begin debate first.

It also mentions that the current approval of how Bush is handling things in Iraq is at 29%, while 68% of Americans disapprove.

Makes one really wonder what, as an American, can I/we do to change this situation? The majority of us don't agree with it, and even many who represent us on Capitol Hill don't agree. But still he will do what HE wants to. As if he were a prince, and not a man elected. It is not his birthright. He was 'chosen' (although not really) to represent us, but he fails at this miserably.

I can only wonder what the rest of the world is thinking now about the US, and how they will react.

I will be watching the 60 Minutes broadcast tonight, and I am sure I will be stunned and outraged by his audacity.

L-girl said...

was horrified at the fact that this is the man in charge

On that score, you have no worries: he's not in charge, and he never has been. He's a figurehead for people much smarter (and equally evil, if not more so) than himself.

I also wonder, Lindsey, about what we can do to change the situation. But I don't think this is about Bush, the man, and what he wants.

Bush is representing corporate and industry interests who are reaping mind-bogglingly huge profits off the occupation of Iraq. That's why the US is there, and remains there, despite popular opinion.

For my part, I don't focus on Bush. I loathe him, but he's not the problem. He's a symptom.

lindsey starr said...

oh I know it's not really Bush... but it does come down to what can we do.

I suppose maybe try to have some impact with the next elections. But then are we just going to, again, be given two choices of which neither is a really good one? Hope not.

I feel badly for those who are in Iraq, and for the families at home, and for those who may be shipped off. And I feel badly for people like Ivan Brobeck who have to deal with it directly, and then try to do something about it in the face of these wrongs.

I do also keep in mind things that I read in this book:
While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within
as I do think that this world needs to be aware of what is happening, and be oh so careful.

L-girl said...

suppose maybe try to have some impact with the next elections.

Do you really feel that can make a difference in the US anymore? I don't.

Also, do you really believe radical Islam is destroying the West from within? In what way is that happening?

In case it's not clear, I'm not goading or badgering you. I'm asking in all honesty.

redsock said...

Further to L's question, what destruction is "Radical Islam" doing that "Radical USAism" isn't doing more efficiently and on a much wider scale?

The US's "war on terrorism" is a colossal money-making hoax, and in many respects, that hoax extends to the existence of the actual terrorists.

redsock said...

note: lindsey, that first sky picture you posted on your blog on 1/11 is amazing.

L-girl said...

The US's "war on terrorism" is a colossal money-making hoax, and in many respects, that hoax extends to the existence of the actual terrorists.

That's an important point worth thinking about. Small-scale terrorism (as opposed to USA-style large-scale terrorism) does exist. But is it the threat to the western world BushCo and Fox News would have us believe?

Or is a convenient bogeyman, as communism once was, conveniently dovetailing with bigotry against Muslims and sundry brown people?

It should be obvious which I believe.

lindsey starr said...

Do you really feel that can make a difference in the US anymore? I don't.

no, I don't either.

Also, do you really believe radical Islam is destroying the West from within? In what way is that happening?

It has been almost a year since I read the book, but my overall impression is that yes, I think in the way it is. And it is a bit scary. It is happening by the islamic people imposing their ways in other countries, and not adopting and/or adaptimg to the cultures there. Not to say that they should give up their religion... but their attitudes and ideas about how women are their posessions, and can be just killed at any point for 'misbehaving' is outragous. This is just one of the things that struck me.

I think, knowing some of the books that you have read, and the things you post about, that you would be interested in reading the book. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

redsock- your question:
what destruction is "Radical Islam" doing that "Radical USAism" isn't doing more efficiently and on a much wider scale?
holy smokes! interesting to think about. My first thought: ugh... radical USAism is awful in many ways. but different too. Although for a place that claims to keep religion and government seperate... there seems to be an awful lot of mention of God, and even printed on our money... but that's a whole different issue (or is it?)

that first sky picture you posted on your blog on 1/11 is amazing.
thank you.

L-girl said...

but their attitudes and ideas about how women are their posessions

Sadly, that is not peculiar to radical Islam. This is found in Orthodox Judaism, strict Roman Catholicism and, of course, fundamentalist Protestantism.

The oppression of women is the oldest and most widespread of social diseases.

Re cultures killing women who "misbehave," that is loathsome, of course, but how is this infecting the West?

That sort of thing cannot be stopped from without, by war. It only be addressed from within the culture itself. Feminist groups working within, eg, Afghanistan have accomplished more for women there than all the armed forces in the world ever will.

Thanks for valuing my opinion enough to ask about that book. I'm afraid I couldn't read that. The title alone offends me. I could never get through it.

radical USAism is awful in many ways. but different too.

I think - although I could be wrong - that Redsock meant this in the larger sense, not in a religious sense. Meaning, the US invading other countries, destroying cities, torturing people, locking up people in cages indefinitely, etc.

In my opinion, if one puts side by side acts that can be attributed to radical Islam and acts that are attributable to the US, radical Islam looks like a puppy next to Godzilla. Granted, it's a dog who bites, but compared to the damage done by the US, what's a dog bite.

lindsey starr said...

oh I didn't mean in any way that I took his comment as being religious. I totally agree with what you are both saying about radical USAism in the larger sense! It is horrifying and to think that it is all coming from "the land of the free". Oh please.

Re cultures killing women who "misbehave," that is loathsome, of course, but how is this infecting the West?

That sort of thing cannot be stopped from without, by war. It only be addressed from within the culture itself. Feminist groups working within, eg, Afghanistan have accomplished more for women there than all the armed forces in the world ever will.



yes, it needs to be dealt with from within.... when it is in a country like that. But the book discusses the inherent problems when the people concerned are the immigrants and not trying to even slightly integrate themselves into their adopted countries.

Acts (like "honor killings") committed by Muslims in European countries, that would be criminal for ordinary citizens, are ignored in the name of social diversity... and all this occurs while the Islamic subculture grows in numbers that threaten the host nation sovereignty... this worries me.

So, I am not talking here about the acts of radical islam in the same way as acts attributable to the US in this instance. That is comparing apples to oranges in what I am talking about (if I understood you correctly). I suppose because this is not comparing the acts of one country (or group) to another. but rather the acts from within the group in each setting.
(am I still making sense?)

L-girl said...

Yes, you're definitely making sense.

I don't see people not trying to assimilate as a hostile act. The suggestion that this is somehow destroying the west is bigoted hyperbole. It sounds more like people who are afraid of change.

Acts (like "honor killings") committed by Muslims in European countries, that would be criminal for ordinary citizens, are ignored in the name of social diversity...

Is this true? Killings of women in European countries are ignored? In what countries is this happening? I'd like to see some evidence of that. I frequent the websites of international feminist organizations, such as Equality Now, and I have not seen this raised as a concern.

Considering the uproar over France's ruling about the veil, it seems to me if women were being murdered and the murders were excused because of diversity, we'd hear about it - somewhere.

If I'm missing some big piece of information here, please fill me in.

So-called honor killings et al are horrible no matter where they occur, of course. If this happens and it's not prosecuted as a crime, that is completely wrong. But that's the fault of the country itself, not of radical Islam! If France or Spain or Germany or the UK is not prosecuting women's murders when they are perpetrated by Muslim men, how on earth is that the fault of "radical Islam"?

Not so very long ago in the US, women were beaten and killed by their husbands and boyfriends, and the law enforcement and the judicial system largely looked away because it was a "domestic disturbance," best settled within the confines of the home.

This has changed a lot - although not yet perfect, it has been an absolute sea change - because women and concerned men forced it to change.

Was that any different? Why should we single out violence against women committed by Muslim men, as if it's somehow worse than the regular old oppression and violence by Christian men?

Because we want to demonize Muslims, that's why.

and all this occurs while the Islamic subculture grows in numbers that threaten the host nation sovereignty

In what way does the growth of "Islamic subculture" threaten national sovreignity? In what country does this happen, and how does it happen?

Are you sure it doesn't just threaten the status quo? The people who want everything to be Christian?

I'm really surprised you don't see this as fear-mongering and demonization of the Evil Other. You seem too intelligent for this kind of nonsense. Just because it's in a book doesn't make it so.

FormerOwl said...

I have also never heard of "honour killings" ignored in Europe. I have read that they are being prosecuted more and more in Turkey and Jordan.

It all depends on the culture of the country. Not so long ago, a Portugese Catholic priest in Toronto was notorious for preaching that women should know their place. The Portugese-Canadian women at the U of T campus gave him a real earful. Among some of the older generation of Portugese, beating wives is acceptable.

L-girl said...

Violence against women has been an issue with many immigrant groups in the US, too. I well remember a judge dismissing with a slap on the wrist a Chinese man who had attacked his wife with a hammer - a cultural difference, doncha know. There was a huge outcry from women - and from Chinese immigrants, too!

But I hope everyone here knows that violence against women occurs in all cultures. There is no culture that is free of it. It happens in Orthodox Jewish homes, it happens in seemingly mild-mannered WASP homes, it happens in First Nations homes, it happens in immigrant homes.

FormerOwl said...

PS - it wasn't so long ago in parts of Latin America that an outraged husband could kill his wife for being unfaithful, and everybody in the community understood that she had it coming.

Things change, slowly ...

In parts of Ethiopia it was considered acceptable to kidnap a teenage girl on her way to school, and forcibly make her your wife.

The Chinese government has had a problem dealing with kidnapping of women by families in rural areas to get wives for their sons.

L-girl said...

I well remember a judge dismissing with a slap on the wrist a Chinese man who had attacked his wife with a hammer - a cultural difference, doncha know.

I meant to say, this happened in New York City, the family lived in Chinatown.

L-girl said...

Thanks, Owl.

Things change, slowly ...

But not by themselves. They change because people raise the issue - speak about it - get services to abused women - teach their daughters to expect better - tell their boyfriends they won't be treated that way - etc.

L-girl said...

Equality Now

If this was happening in Europe, this group would be all over it. I'm looking through the website now.

redsock said...

It is happening by the islamic people imposing their ways in other countries

I read this as saying Islamic people are making serious attempts to overturn existing laws in various countries and imposing "their" laws instead.

I don't think this is happening at all, certainly not on any wide scale. After 9/11, I can't see something like that getting even a little traction anywhere.

Re the WOT: For an eye-opening examination of the years-long relationship and identical goals of various factions of the US government (slivers of the military and CIA, for example) and Al Qaeda, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's "The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism" is essential.

I've read a lot of stuff since 9/11 and parts of Ahmed's book shocked me, which I did not think was possible.

Acts (like "honor killings") committed by Muslims in European countries, that would be criminal for ordinary citizens, are ignored in the name of social diversity

Further to what L said, if this was going on, Fox News would set up a separate network dedicated to it.

L-girl said...

Here is a story about so-called honour killings in Europe.

It doesn't sound like they've been ignored or excused. They are being prosecuted as murders.

FormerOwl said...

Back on the initial topic here --

A somewhat different but absolutely horrifying view on the Bush decision making process is at "The News Blog."

Steve Gilliard says that Bush ignores honest military officers and other advisers who say that the Iraq war is being managed badly/is lost, etc. He listens to self-promoters who lie to him, flatter him, tell him what he wants to hear: "We can still win! Here's how ..."

For more - see post & comments at
Link to ACLU

From the comments section - an astonishing adviser:

************************
David Corn had a piece in The Nation early in Bush-Cheney about a taxpayer-funded "conference" on psyops etc. at the Pentagon. The main presenter was a "consultant" on futuristic warfare, namely Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - former guitarist for Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers and, coincidentally, BFF with Dana Rohrabacher. Skunk said that he makes a comfortable 6-figure income - I gather from other sources doing, among other things, horror film soundtracks - but that he had just that year matched his music session-man income with his "defense consultant" income. I tell ya, a salesman is got a dream ...

-- jlb
-- # Jan 14 2007, 06:47 am
**************************


Bismark said that God looks after fools, drunks, and the United States of America. If you take "God" to mean "string of good luck," that good luck is about due to run out for the US.

Unfortunately, many thousands more US soldiers and even more Iraqis, hopefully not Iranians, will get killed before this is finally over.

Toward the end of the Roman Empire, the rulers didn't listen to good advice either, and punished those who gave it ... getting into a messy situation, and counting on unrealistic plans to get out of it has happened many times before.

L-girl said...

Further to what L said, if this was going on, Fox News would set up a separate network dedicated to it.

LOL

They'd suddenly be oh-so-interested in the treatment of women. As long as they don't want abortions, that is. Then, kill them, who cares.

L-girl said...

Bush ignores honest military officers and other advisers who say that the Iraq war is being managed badly/is lost, etc. He listens to self-promoters who lie to him, flatter him, tell him what he wants to hear: "We can still win! Here's how ..."

That has always been the way. A-l-w-a-y-s from day one. (X-ref Richard Clarke, for example.) The junta has an agenda, and they're not going to listen to anyone who opposes it.

L-girl said...

getting into a messy situation, and counting on unrealistic plans to get out of it has happened many times before.

I don't think they want to get out of it. As long as they're making money, they don't give a shit how many people are killed.

I think it's important to look at their real, rather than stated, objective. (What is the stated objective these days, anyway?) That, in my view, is profit. As long as that continues, so does the occupation.

FormerOwl said...

Oops - my link above goes to the correct blog, but is mis-identified as ACLU.

It should be
The News Blog - Why the fuck is he making military policy

Steve Gilliard is swearing because he is particularly incensed at the latest idiotic ideas being promoted. They will get many people killed.

L-girl said...

I've just skimmed a whole lot of stories about so-called "honour killings" in Europe. (Please don't lose the quotes or the "so-called"!)

This very good story does mention that some courts have given lighter sentences because of "sensitivity" to cultural differences. Activists, of course, are working against that.

However, nothing I've seen in any story sounds any different than the many stories I've read about this kind of thing in the US - by ethnic groups who are NOT Muslim. If only "radical Islam" had the corner on the market on violence aginst women - that would be good news!

And guess what? Not all these so-called honour killings are by Muslims anyway! There are several different cultures involved.

FormerOwl said...

Almost exactly 50 years ago, a woman told my mother that in her home village (E. Europe), the married couples got along quite well. There were only two or three cases where the husband killed the wife.

My mother correctly assumed that "getting along quite well" included being beaten, anything short of being killed.

About five years ago, a friend of mine said that his neighbours (white, raised in Canada, presumably Christian background) had continual fights. Since the fights were noisy, he heard the woman complaining that if the man loved her, he would show this love by beating her.

Well, we have come a long way, but much still remains to be done.

L-girl said...

Since the fights were noisy, he heard the woman complaining that if the man loved her, he would show this love by beating her.

Oy.

Let's hope he knew better.

L-girl said...

International Campaign Against Honour Killings

lindsey starr said...

okay, perhaps you are more well read than I about the current state of the honor killings in Europe, and that somehow I was swayed by the author. I generally try to be more researched and on top of things. Apparently I have fallen down here.

I read this as saying Islamic people are making serious attempts to overturn existing laws in various countries and imposing "their" laws instead.

no, I meant that they are just imposing their own beliefs amongst themselves, but in a society where it is against the laws. not that they are trying to 'convert' the people there to their beliefs.

thank you formerowl and l-girl for pointing out the other instances of these same attitudes amongst other communities.

And I do agree- getting back to the original topic....

A somewhat different but absolutely horrifying view on the Bush decision making process is at "The News Blog."

yes horrifying....

I think it's important to look at their real, rather than stated, objective. (What is the stated objective these days, anyway?) That, in my view, is profit. As long as that continues, so does the occupation.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said:
okay... why are we at war now?

L-girl said...

Lindsey, I didn't mean to pile on you. My point was that "radical Islam" is not taking over Europe, and does not threaten the sovreignity of any western country.

If people don't want to assimilate, that is their right, as long as they obey the laws of the country they live in.

By the way, the expression "host" country is itself bigoted. It implies that immigrants are parasites.

L-girl said...

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said:
okay... why are we at war now?


Heh.

What are they even saying now? Do they bother to say anything?

lindsey starr said...

didn't feel dumped on Laura- no problem, just trying to figure things out on my own too and questioning myself as to why I didn't go hunt info down, as that is what I usually do!
By the way, the expression "host" country is itself bigoted. It implies that immigrants are parasites.

oh man! yuck. didn't by any way mean to imply anything of the sort!! you know I'd be outta here myself if I could figure some of my own stuff out, and then I'd be right up there with you!

L-girl said...

I totally knew you did not mean it that way.

Thank you for your open mind. I know you are on the side of peace and justice.

lindsey starr said...

oh, and I totally cracked up when I saw the bumper sticker too....

at this point I feel like I haven't a clue! (although I actually do). I try not to watch the news too much as it is so slanted and I don't feel like having that projected onto my kids that way. I'd rather have them hear stuff from me, and my husband, and hash through all sorts of things with them, and have them learn to question all....

L-girl said...

I also wanted to note that the day after the Resident announced the escalation, there were more than 1,000 separate demonstrations against it. There were actions in all 50 states.

Some details here.

Contrary to what was recently stated in another thread.

Maybe I should post this as a separate post.

L-girl said...

try not to watch the news too much as it is so slanted and I don't feel like having that projected onto my kids that way. I'd rather have them hear stuff from me, and my husband, and hash through all sorts of things with them, and have them learn to question all....

Smart mom. :)

One of my earliest political memories is watching the nightly news with my father. Walter Cronkite, of course. Every night, CBS posted the body count next to three flags - US, South Vietnam, Viet Cong. (Body counts were made up by Centcom.)

I guess the body count looked like a sports score, and I asked, Who's winning?

He said, it doesn't matter. It only matters that people are being killed for no good reason, and we have to stop the war.

In those days the war was on TV every night. Now they've "learned the lessons of Vietnam" - as the saying goes - so we aren't allowed to see.

redsock said...

parasites

I've always heard it as host & guests. Like the host country for the Olympics.

L-girl said...

You may be being overly generous. (When have I last accused you of that? :) ) Or perhaps I'm being overly cynical.

But in medical terminology, "host" is what a parasite feeds off of.