Thursday, March 23, 2006

Root and Branch: American Forces Wipe Out Family

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - News of just one event in a doubtless eventful military operation was reported by Reuters today. U.S. forces taking part in the so-named, 'Operation Swarmer' entered the home of a suspected al Qaida in Iraq operative, bound his entire family, lined them up and shot them dead. The house containing the bodies was then demolished with explosives.

Root and Branch:
American Forces Wipe Out Family

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
March 17, 2006

In a terse statement, American military officials said two women and a child died in the raid. But police and witnesses in Ishaqi, a small town 100 kilometers north of Baghdad, tell a different story. They say, discovered in the rubble of the home were eleven members of a family. Five children, two men, and four women.

Ishaqi police spokesperson, Major Ali Ahmed says helicopters delivered troops onto the roof of a house in the middle of the night. Soldiers entered and shot the family, before destroying the house. Officer Ahmed's colleague, Colonel Farouq Hussein says autopsies were conducted in Tikrit. All eleven of the dead had gunshot wounds to the head; including the youngest, a seven month old infant. Hussein says they were all bound, their bodies found dumped together in one room of the demolished house.

"It's a clear and perfect crime without any doubt," Hussein says.

The story of the executed family, aired on local television, replete with images of the dead infant, its head displaying a "gaping head wound," has outraged the community, and officials there have demanded an explanation from the military. They say the U.S. military has arranged to meet with local leaders sometime Friday.

The entire town attended the funeral. Town administrator, Rasheed Shather expressed shock at the brutality of the attack, saying; "We want the Americans to give us an explanation for this horrible crime."

One man in attendance at the funeral angrily denounced the killings, saying; "They killed these innocent children. Are these considered terrorists? Is a seven-month-old child a terrorist?" Another, while watching wailing neighbours bury the dead, condemned America; "An entire family was killed. It's a barbaric act."

But there is method behind this barbarity.

No less a figure than U.S. Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld has unabashedly referred to the "Salvador Option" for Iraq, a reference to the U.S.-trained and supported death squads that terrorized much of Latin America in the 1980's. Credence was given to claims just such a death squad regime was emerging in Iraq when Ambassador John Negroponte was dispatched to Iraq. Negroponte was the central agent of the United States in Latin America in those dark years, long believed to have been the architect of the death squad policies there.

In conjunction with death squads, both American and British "Black Ops." have been operating in Iraq, their missions and methods classified. Some light was shed on this last September, when two British SAS agents were arrested in Basra after a brief exchange of fire with Iraqi police at a roadblock. The men, disguised as Iraqis, were found to be carrying weapons and bomb-making materials. This is a particularly salient point when considering last month's destruction of the Samarra mosque.

Recent months have seen an escalation in bombings and outrages with little discernible motive, other than to evoke outrage itself. The destruction of the Samarra mosque, one of Shia Islam's most sacred sites was initially ascribed to Sunni's. This despite the fact, the mosque is in the middle of a Sunni neighbourhood and had been co-operatively administered by both sects for decades. Since, suspicion for the bombing has fallen on American allies in the Iraqi National Guard, bent on, the belief is, sparking a sectarian war in Iraq.

Like the British before them, the American plan may now be to start a "civil war" to cover their retreat from Iraq, leaving a destabilized and chaotic country in their wake.

Chris Cook
is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and host of Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

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War Lovers

The War Lovers

By John Pilger

03/23/06 "
ICH" -- - -The war lovers I have known in real wars have usually been harmless, except to themselves. They were attracted to Vietnam and Cambodia, where drugs were plentiful. Bosnia, with its roulette of death, was another favorite. A few would say they were there "to tell the world"; the honest ones would say they loved it. "War is fun!" one of them had scratched on his arm. He stood on a land mine.

I sometimes remember these almost endearing fools when I find myself faced with another kind of war lover – the kind that has not seen war and has often done everything possible not to see it. The passion of these war lovers is a phenomenon; it never dims, regardless of the distance from the object of their desire. Pick up the Sunday papers and there they are, egocentrics of little harsh experience, other than a Saturday in Sainsbury's. Turn on the television and there they are again, night after night, intoning not so much their love of war as their sales pitch for it on behalf of the court to which they are assigned. "There's no doubt," said Matt Frei, the BBC's man in America, "that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East … is now increasingly tied up with military power."

Frei said that on April 13, 2003, after George W. Bush had launched "Shock and Awe" on a defenseless Iraq. Two years later, after a rampant, racist, woefully trained, and ill-disciplined army of occupation had brought "American values" of sectarianism, death squads, chemical attacks, attacks with uranium-tipped shells and cluster bombs, Frei described the notorious 82nd Airborne as "the heroes of Tikrit."

Last year, he lauded Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the slaughter in Iraq, as "an intellectual" who "believes passionately in the power of democracy and grassroots development." As for Iran, Frei was well ahead of the story. In June 2003, he told BBC viewers: "There may be a case for regime change in Iran, too."

How many men, women, and children will be killed, maimed, or sent mad if Bush attacks Iran? The prospect of an attack is especially exciting for those war lovers understandably disappointed by the turn of events in Iraq. "The unimaginable but ultimately inescapable truth," wrote Gerard Baker in the Times last month, "is that we are going to have to get ready for war with Iran. … If Iran gets safely and unmolested to nuclear status, it will be a threshold moment in the history of the world, up there with the Bolshevik revolution and the coming of Hitler." Sound familiar? In February 2003, Baker wrote that "victory [in Iraq] will quickly vindicate U.S. and British claims about the scale of the threat Saddam poses."

The "coming of Hitler" is a rallying cry of war lovers. It was heard before NATO's "moral crusade to save Kosovo" (Blair) in 1999, a model for the invasion of Iraq. In the attack on Serbia, 2 percent of NATO's missiles hit military targets; the rest hit hospitals, schools, factories, churches, and broadcasting studios. Echoing Blair and a clutch of Clinton officials, a massed media chorus declared that "we" had to stop "something approaching genocide" in Kosovo, as Timothy Garton Ash wrote in 2002 in the Guardian. "Echoes of the Holocaust," said the front pages of the Daily Mirror and the Sun. The Observer warned of a "Balkan Final Solution."

The recent death of Slobodan Milosevic took the war lovers and war sellers down memory lane. Curiously, "genocide" and "Holocaust" and the "coming of Hitler" were now missing – for the very good reason that, like the drumbeat leading to the invasion of Iraq and the drumbeat now leading to an attack on Iran, it was all bullsh*t. Not misinterpretation. Not a mistake. Not blunders. Bullsh*t.

The "mass graves" in Kosovo would justify it all, they said. When the bombing was over, international forensic teams began subjecting Kosovo to minute examination. The FBI arrived to investigate what was called "the largest crime scene in the FBI's forensic history." Several weeks later, having found not a single mass grave, the FBI and other forensic teams went home.

In 2000, the International War Crimes Tribunal announced that the final count of bodies found in Kosovo's "mass graves" was 2,788. This included Serbs, Roma, and those killed by "our" allies, the Kosovo Liberation Front. It meant that the justification for the attack on Serbia ("225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59 are missing, presumed dead," the U.S. ambassador-at-large David Scheffer had claimed) was an invention. To my knowledge, only the Wall Street Journal admitted this. A former senior NATO planner, Michael McGwire, wrote that "to describe the bombing as 'humanitarian intervention' [is] really grotesque." In fact, the NATO "crusade" was the final, calculated act of a long war of attrition aimed at wiping out the very idea of Yugoslavia.

For me, one of the more odious characteristics of Blair, and Bush, and Clinton, and their eager or gulled journalistic court, is the enthusiasm of sedentary, effete men (and women) for bloodshed they never see, bits of body they never have to retch over, stacked morgues they will never have to visit, searching for a loved one. Their role is to enforce parallel worlds of unspoken truth and public lies. That Milosevic was a minnow compared with industrial-scale killers such as Bush and Blair belongs to the former.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

On Peace and Peacefulness

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - I went down to the demonstration to get, I presumed, my fair share of abuse. But, there was little of that to be had. With the exception of one "business-type" hollering support for "our" Canadian mission in Afghanistan, and the benefits of "democracy" now enjoyed there, the entire affair was staid,judging by the numbers displaying the majority hopes for peace.

On Peace and Peacefulness

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
March 19, 2006

Hooking up with the Usual Suspects

Please, don't misunderstand; I'm a firm believer in the necessity of public protest, but yesterday's demonstrations marking the looming third anniversary of America's immoral invasion, and subsequent occupation, rife with illegalities, of Iraq was a stark demonstration of the apathy the majority of Canadians, in my town at least, accept these outrages against law and humanity.

By the Numbers

The corporate press gleefully advertised the depressingly low turnout for the global day of observance of this monumental crime against humaneness. You can take that for what it's worth; but, the numbers were low here in Victoria, a city of some 300,000 souls. Of the total population, perhaps 500 braved the sunny, yet still cool March day.

Many of those attending I recognize from years past, when we same gathered, sang, and marched into the city streets, waving banners, blowing whistles, and generally firing spitballs against the Colossus that is manifest as the militarizing of Canadian society.

Honks from the Fastlane

As we paraded up the town's main drag, motorists not cursing the momentary inconvenience of our collective presence - those in the free-travelling opposite lane - honked here and there in support of what they were too busy to partake of. Thanks for your support. I know Saturday's are busy, and there's so much to get done, before returning to the, ultimately, war-machine enabling labours that fill most of our work-weeks. The media though, that knows no rest, made a tentative appearance. I noticed them hanging out on the fringes with the bicycle cops, chit-chatting about who knows what?

And so, we marched. We stopped in the middle of Fort Street, in front of the military recruiting centre. Their front window is covered with a flashy graphic, one of those large decal-type things you see on city buses. There are too a couple of SUV's travelling around town with the same exciting graphic pasted on them, hoping to ignite the imagination of the young. Being Saturday, there was nobody home at the recruiting centre to witness the raspberries, and calls of "Shame!" Pity.

And Tomorrow, and Tomorrow...

So, what to take away from this further effort? After devoting a couple hours of my Saturday, I went home and began scribbling against the fascists: More spitballs against the Colossus. It was good to see the good people I only run into during like events, but I came away with the depressing notion: Canadians, for the large part, don't give a damn.

Perhaps when the bodies begin rolling home in greater numbers from Afghanistan, should the government and "war for" press deign report it - Canadians will look up from their hockey and steins, and begin demanding answers. Maybe. For now though, it looks as though this nation is willing to doze, a country of moral somnambulists, while the State takes the people's necessary tribute, and turns it to warfare.

See y'all next year at noon, in Centennial Square.

Chris Cook
is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and host of Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out his writings at the GR Blog and Empire Burlesque.

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