Escobar: War Porn & US Snuff-Films Using Real Populations
It may seem insensitive to blog about the evil savagery of war (called out profoundly in a recent article by Pepe Escobar) on Easter weekend, when millions of Christians are celebrating the death and resurrection of the extraordinary unconditionally open-hearted historical figure of Jesus Christ. However, to me it seems particularly appropriate considering most American citizens' (reflecting their amoral leadership’s) capacity to talk the talk of religious sentimentality and their incapacity to walk the spiritual walk role modeled by Jesus.
Commitment to promoting universal love, cooperation and partnership? Little evidence of such commitment in the United States.
Scott Peck in his book People of the Lie writes about sociopathy as well as the battle between good and evil. At one point he implores his readers to keep “a gentle place of shelter for Jesus in their hearts.”
Clearly Jesus has been massively forsaken by Americans.
“Whatever you do to the least among us, you do unto me.”
Certainly not words Americans heed. No gentle place for Jesus in the hearts of darkness of most Americans, whether leaders or plain old average citizens, when it comes to the welfare of foreign fellow humans.
What follows is a collection of some of Pepe Escobar’s penetrating passages on U.S. war porn:
War porn is a lethal, group subculture - complete with targeted assassinations, revenge killings, desecration of bodies, harvesting of trophies (severed fingers or ears), burning of Korans and pissing on dead bodies. It's essentially a collective sport.
US "kill teams" have deliberately executed random, innocent Afghan civilians, mostly teenagers, for sport, planted weapons on their bodies, and then posed with their corpses as trophies. Not by accident they had been operating out of a base in the same area of the Kandahar massacre.
... The Obama surge in Afghanistan - based on COIN - was a total failure. What replaced it was hardcore, covert, dark war, led by "kill teams" of Special Forces. That implies an inflation of air strikes and night raids. No to mention drone strikes, both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan's tribal areas, whose favorite targets seem to be Pashtun wedding parties.
Incidentally, the CIA claims that since May 2010, ultra-smart drones have killed more than 600 "carefully selected" human targets - and, miraculously, not a single civilian.
Iraq may indeed be seen as the Star Wars of war porn - an apotheosis of sequels. Take the (second) Fallujah offensive in late 2004. ...
Fallujah was reduced to rubble, at least 200,000 residents became refugees, and thousands of civilians were killed, in order to "save it" (echoes of Vietnam). No one in Western corporate media had the guts to say that in fact Fallujah was the American Halabja.
Fifteen years before Fallujah, in Halabja, Washington was a very enthusiastic supplier of chemical weapons to Saddam, who used them to gas thousands of Kurds. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the time said it was not Saddam; it was Khomeinist Iran. Yet Saddam did it, and did it deliberately, just like the US in Fallujah.
Fallujah doctors identified swollen and yellowish corpses without any injuries, as well as "melted bodies" - victims of napalm, the cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel. Residents who managed to escape told of bombing by "poisonous gases" and "weird bombs that smoke like a mushroom cloud ... and then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them. The pieces of these strange bombs explode into large fires that burn the skin even when you throw water over them."
That's exactly what happens to people bombed with napalm or white phosphorus. The United Nations banned the bombing of civilians with napalm in 1980. The US is the only country in the world still using napalm.
Fallujah also provided a mini-snuff movie hit; the summary execution of a wounded, defenseless Iraqi man inside a mosque by a US Marine. The execution, caught on tape, and watched by millions on YouTube, graphically spelled out the "special" rules of engagement. US Marine commanders at the time were telling their soldiers to "shoot everything that moves and everything that doesn't move"; to fire "two bullets in every body"; in case of seeing any military-aged men in the streets of Fallujah, to "drop 'em"; and to spray every home with machine-gun and tank fire before entering them.
Meanwhile, in the US, most of the population was already immune to war porn. When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke out in the spring of 2004, I was driving through Texas, exploring Bushland. Virtually everybody I spoke to either attributed the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners to "a few bad apples", or defended it on patriotic grounds ("we must teach a lesson to "terrorists").
In thesis, there is an approved mechanism in the 21st century to defend civilians from war porn. It's the R2P - "responsibility to protect" doctrine. ...
Now fast-forward to the end of 2008, early 2009, when Israel - using American fighter jets to raise hell - unleashed a large-scale attack on the civilian population of the Gaza strip.
Look at the official US reaction; "Israel has obviously decided to protect herself and her people," said then-president Bush. The US Congress voted by a staggering 390-to-5 to recognize "Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza". The incoming Barack Obama administration was thunderously silent. Only future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "We support Israel's right to self-defense."
At least 1,300 civilians - including scores of women and children - were killed by state terror in Gaza. Nobody invoked R2P. Nobody pointed to Israel's graphic failure in its "responsibility to protect" Palestinians. Nobody called for a "humanitarian intervention" targeting Israel.
And the beauty of R2P was that it could be turned upside down anytime. Bush pleaded for the "liberation" of suffering Afghans - and especially burqa-clad Afghan women - from the "evil" Taliban, in fact configuring Afghanistan as a humanitarian intervention.
The most recent installment in serial episodes of war porn is the Kandahar massacre, when, according to the official Pentagon version (or cover up) an American army sergeant, a sniper and Iraqi war veteran - a highly trained assassin - shot 17 Afghan civilians, including nine women and four children, in two villages two miles apart, and burned some of their bodies.
Like with Abu Ghraib, there was the usual torrent of denials from the Pentagon - as in "this is not us" or "we don't do things these way"; not to mention a tsunami of stories in US corporate media humanizing the hero-turned-mass killer, as in "he's such a good guy, a family man". In contrast, not a single word about The Other - the Afghan victims. They are faceless; and nobody knows their names.
A - serious - Afghan enquiry established that some 20 soldiers may have been part of the massacre - as in My Lai in Vietnam; and that included the rape of two of the women. It does make sense.
... anyone in an area under a drone watch using a cell phone was branded as a "terrorist", or at least "terrorist sympathizer". And then the focus of the night raids in Afghanistan shifted from "high value targets" - high-level and mid-level al-Qaeda and Taliban - to anyone who was branded as helping the Taliban.
In May 2009, before McChrystal arrived, US Special Forces were carrying 20 raids a month. By November, they were 90 a month. By the spring of 2010, they were 250 a month. When McChrystal was fired - because of a story in Rolling Stone (he was competing with Lady Gaga for the cover; Lady Gaga won) - and Obama replaced him with Petraeus in the summer of 2010, there were 600 a month. By April 2011, they were more than 1,000 a month.
Libya was a major war porn atrocity exhibition - complete with a nifty Roman touch of the defeated "barbarian" chief sodomized in the streets and then executed, straight on YouTube.
This, by the way, is exactly what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a lightning visit to Tripoli, had announced less than 48 hours before the fact. Gaddafi should be "captured or killed". When she watched it in the screen of her BlackBerry she could only react with the semantic earthquake "Wow!"
Only the hopelessly naïve may have swallowed the propaganda of NATO's "humanitarian" 40,000-plus bombing which devastated Libya's infrastructure back to the Stone Age as a Shock and Awe in slow motion. This never had anything to do with R2P.
This was R2P as safe sex - and the "international community" was the condom. The "international community", as everyone knows, is composed of Washington, a few washed-up NATO members, and the democratic Persian Gulf powerhouses of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), plus the House of Saud in the shade. The EU, which up to extra time was caressing the helm of Gaddafi's gowns, took no time to fall over themselves in editorials about the 42-year reign of a "buffoon".
As for the concept of international law, it was left lying in a drain as filthy as the one Gaddafi was holed up in. Saddam at least got a fake trial in a kangaroo court before meeting the executioner (he ended up on YouTube as well). Osama bin Laden was simply snuffed out, assassination-style, after a territorial invasion of Pakistan (no YouTube - so many don't believe it). Gaddafi went one up, snuffed out with a mix of air war and assassination. They are The Three Graceful Scalps of War Porn.
For example, the armed opposition, the so-called Free Syrian Army (a nasty cocktail of defectors, opportunists, jihadis and foreign mercenaries) brought Western journalists to Homs and then insisted to extract them, in extremely dangerous condition, and with people being killed, via Lebanon, rather than through the Red Crescent. They were nothing else than writing the script for a foreign-imposed "humanitarian corridor" to be opened to Homs. This was pure theater - or war porn packaged as a Hollywood drama.
The problem is Western public opinion is now hostage to this brand of information warfare. Forget about even the possibility of peaceful negotiations among adult parties. What's left is a binary good guys versus bad guys plot, where the Big Bad Guy must be destroyed at all costs (and on top of it his wife is a snob bitch who loves shopping!)
Only the terminally naïve may believe that jihadis - including Libya's NATO rebels - financed by the Gulf Counter-revolution Club, also know as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are a bunch of democratic reformists burning with good intentions. Even Human Rights Watch was finally forced to acknowledge that these armed "activists" were responsible for "kidnapping, detention, and torture", after receiving reports of "executions by armed opposition groups of security force members and civilians".
2012 is the new 2002; Iran is the new Iraq; and whatever the highway, to evoke the neo-con motto, real men go to Tehran via Damascus, or real men go to Tehran non-stop.
Perhaps only underwater in the Arctic we would be able to escape the cacophonous cortege of American right-wingers - and their respective European poodles - salivating for blood and deploying the usual festival of fallacies like "Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map", "diplomacy has run its course", "the sanctions are too late", or "Iran is within a year, six months, a week, a day, or a minute of assembling a bomb". Of course these dogs of war would never bother to follow what the International Atomic Energy Agency is actually doing, not to mention the National Intelligence Estimates released by the 17 US intelligence agencies.
Just like with Iraq in 2002, Iran is always dehumanized. The relentless, totally hysterical, fear-inducing "narrative" of "should we bomb now or should we bomb later" is always about oh so very smart bunker buster bombs and precision missiles that will accomplish an ultra clean large-scale devastation job without producing a single "collateral damage". Just like safe sex.
And even when the voice of the establishment itself - the New York Times - admits that neither US nor Israeli intelligence believe Iran has decided to build a bomb (a 5-year-old could reach the same conclusion), the hysteria remains inter-galactic.
[cross-posted on correntewire and open salon]