Archive for the ‘JOHANN HARI’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: OBAMA AND THE GRIM SHADOW OF AMERICA’S TORTURE PRISONS – AND THE BRUTAL FACT ONLY DREAMERS AND FOOLS BELIEVE IN CHANGE IN AMERICA   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JOHANN HARI IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

Yes, absolutely, the secret prisons in Afghanistan, and those in other places, cast a grim shadow across Obama’s smiling face.

I believe that decisions like keeping America’s torture gulag operating abroad are the greatest source of people’s disappointment with Obama.

But I’m afraid people were being unrealistic to expect much else.

America is an empire, not a dreamy “shining city on a hill,” but a rather brutal society which feels entitled to run the affairs of others in all parts of the planet.

It does this through a combination of its immense economic and military might.

America’s own population lives under a version of Social Darwinism, as relatively few people abroad fully appreciate. There is relatively little sympathy or patience for the concerns of foreigners, a simple but brutal fact.

The American establishment – the intelligence industry, the Pentagon, the defense contractors, and the huge multi-national corporations – do quite literally form a government within a government.

That is not a left-wing fantasy or a slightly paranoid delusion – after all, it was a Republican president and former general, Eisenhower, who first sounded the warning. It is the ineluctable result of this stupendously wealthy and largely unaccountable set of institutions.

A great many dark and devious men hold high positions in this establishment, and they have billions at their disposal plus a general population which is passive in accepting their actions.

Think only of the pointless holocaust in Vietnam. Countless billions wasted, an estimated 3 million Vietnamese murdered in an orgy of killing, and a devaluation of the dollar afterwards to help pay the bill. All of it done for nothing more than the fears and prejudices of that establishment.

The last American President who truly challenged that establishment died on November 22, 1963.

Obama wants to be the elementary civics-class textbook version of a president, the kind of president which the establishment tolerates from either party, not end up being either driven from office in shame or worse.

To talk with genuine expectations about change of any real consequence today in America is utterly naïve. It’s just about as meaningful as talking about change in the France of the late eighteenth century with its dukes and cardinals and princes, whose carriages simply thumped over the bodies of peasants who happened to be in their way.

Yes, a revolution did happen then, but try that in an empire with a military establishment pushing two million, all armed with unbelievably powerful weapons and a set of at least fourteen intelligence services which spy on every phone call and e-mail and even check the books you read at the library.

The French Revolution will never be repeated, and the pathetic American libertarians who naively believe that holding on to their beloved rifles and pistols secures their freedom surely only bring a quiet chuckle from those who know better.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICAN FALLACIES IN AFGHANISTAN   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JOHANN HARI IN THE INDEPENDENT

Thank you, Johann Hari has told the truth succinctly and accurately.

Of course, the Taleban – never the same thing as al Qaeda, but constantly blurred together in American popular media and by dumb national politicians like John McCain – never attacked anyone.

9/11 was the work of Saudis, and the dead perpetrators were virtually all in the United States on valid visas, almost unquestionably part of a secret CIA training program which backfired. There was an American diplomat at the time who raised the issue of great pressure from the CIA for certain embassies abroad to issue visas expeditiously.

The Taleban never had to be an American enemy. They were even willing to extradite those guilty for 9/11, provided that the U.S. offered some evidence for its extradition request, a normal procedure everywhere in the world, but one with which the United States angrily refused to comply.

The United States invaded for vengeance and no other reason, and it got plenty of it with about 50,000 killed just in Kabul.

From the beginning, the United States used propaganda about things like women’s rights to justify its extreme violence, the best propaganda always being based on truth.

The United States only quickly succeeded in its “victory” by using the brutes of the Northern Alliance on the ground fronted by the same kind of carpet bombing it so loved in Vietnam.

It worked, at least dispersing the Taleban, if not producing a genuine victory.

And who were these fine allies in the Northern Alliance?

Brutes like General Dostum, a torturer and mass murderer absolutely. It was likely his troops, under American auspices, who conducted the atrocity of killing 3,000 Taleban prisoners in the early days.

They were put into sealed vans, driven out onto the desert to be suffocated (a la early Nazi experiments with mass killings), then dumped in mass graves – all done while American soldiers watched.

Today, after all those years of occupation and brutal American tactics, outside Kabul virtually all women still wear the burka, and even in Kabul, an estimated half of women wear it.

America’s Potemkin village schools in the countryside for girls are often closed as soon as their photo-op opening is over. The government is unable to fund the schools and pay the teachers, and the local warlords do not want them anymore than the Taleban does.

Imagine going to seventeenth century Spain and trying to force Catholics to give up all their bizarre practices from self-flagellation to nuns’ cumbersome habits or The Inquisition? Ridiculous, of course, but that truly is a parallel for what the U.S. claims it’s doing in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is simply not a country as we are used to thinking of countries. It is collection of tribes living hard-scrabble lives in mountains and deserts, and it is demarcated by arbitrary and historically-meaningless boundaries vis-à-vis Pakistan.

Many people understood the invasion was a mistake before it happened, but the vicious idiots then running the United States ignored them.

The United States spent ten years in Vietnam, killing an estimated 3 million people with their barbaric tactics and throwing Cambodia into instability and “the killing fields” to achieve absolutely nothing.

And that precisely – albeit with a smaller pile of bodies – is America’s achievement to date in Afghanistan.

And note that it is well on its way to de-stabilizing Pakistan with its killer-drones and demands that Pakistan attack its own people, just as it once did Cambodia, and for the same sorry excuse that there occupation troops are affected by activities in the other county.

The real answer is, of course, to swallow its pride and get out.

Note that I only refer to America, and not to NATO or the UN. That is because in the early days after 9/11, the U.S. was able to brow-beat or cajole the appearance of international support for this violent folly. Its influence in these international bodies, heavily financed by the U.S., is great, and it often uses them to cover its unilateral desires.

The reality is that no NATO nation believes that Afghanistan is a genuine threat: we know this from their pitifully small commitments there. Only Captain Ahab America sees Afghanistan as the great white whale that must be killed.