Sunday, August 26, 2007

Turn off the lights: you don't want to see this.

As if it was necessary to dim the solar rays so that the Bush administration could carry on its massacres discreetly. What's the point, when you can simply seal off towns, bust them up, and then let a former green beret posing as a reporter follow you around as you point out evil-doers and evil-dones? From time to time, there is a glimmer of good news: the troops openly saying the war is 'unwinnable', for example; the all-too-late withdrawal of troops from Basra, for another. But, with Democrat complicity assured, and little sign as yet that the antiwar movement is going to emerge from that canopy under which all life withers and dies, the Bush administration is going for the kill. This report, based on media reports, says Iraqi death rates resulting from the war have doubled in the last year, probably in large part due to the 'surge'. Now, I think you may remember me pointing out that the death rate had, according to the Lancet survey, doubled every year since the occupation began. If that trend has indeed continued, then there have been 1.3m excess deaths as a result of the war as of two months ago. For all that, Bush is so absurdly confident that he provocatively raises comparisons with Vietnam, while Cheney pushes for aggression against Iran. He doesn't have to worry - it isn't as if anyone is going to impeach him for anything he's done. Hardly any of it is being reported, at any rate.

The number of US troops in Iraq is at an all-time high, and there are 180,000 mercenaries at work alongside them. We hear that their operations are only beginning. We hear that the US is very disappointed with the Maliki government, and that US officials are starting to worry that the Iraqis can't hack democracy. As usual, the racist assumptions are wheeled out in support of the claim. A senior Republican from the House Select Committee on Intelligence says that Iraqi culture simply doesn't prepare its people for self-government - and so the troops must stay indefinitely. (At least this accurately summarises US elite thinking: it is always more obscene when Bush pretends that it is the arguments of opponents of the war that Iraqis are unfit for self-government.) And meanwhile Iyad Allawi - the ruthless thug who oversaw the destruction of Fallujah - is putting himself forward as the solution, and is paying Washington lobbyists $300,000 to promote him (this is how the old 'exile' community used to do business, in fact, which is how Makiya and Chalabi ended up bonding with neocons and Christian fundamentalists).

So, anyway, with all this happening, will someone kindly answer the following: why should any military opposition to the US, even 'Al Qaeda', stop what they are doing? I don't wish to blur important distinctions, or imply that 'Al Qaeda' has a legitimate war, but consider Bush's remarks to the National Endowment for Democracy in October 2005:

Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: Israeli presence on the West Bank or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the crusades of a thousand years ago.

In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world.


Set aside the fact that demoting the political aspects of an insurgency, and emphasising the allegedly irrational aspects is a classical technique of empire. This is a transparent case of projection: the reality is that the fanatical, adept, resourceful, devoted, imaginative and uncompromising servants of American power have for years used a litancy of excuses for violence. Their foes don't face a set of grievances that can be soothed or addressed. They intend to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No bribe, no soothing gesture, and no appeasement could compel them to stop. On Bush's logic, there is no reason for any group engaged in a war against the US to cease its activities, even if thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or into the millions of people are killed. Intransigence in the service of one's interests, however one chooses to moralise them, is evidently considered a virtue by American policy makers (hence, surely, the constant references to Frontier mythology and in particular to America's Last Stand). I realise that by saying this I don't add anything to mankind's sum of knowledge, but the United States government poses a far greater threat to what is called, without a trace of irony, civilisation, than any of its opponents, however unpleasant. Since this happens to be unambiguously the case, and understood worldwide if polls are any guide, the remaining supporters of the 'war on terror' in any of its aspects, have the unenviable distinction of being morally inferior by a very long shot to the supporters of 'Al Qaeda'.