Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Robert Bales Is A Victim Too

Robert Bales, the American Army Sergeant who went off base and killed 16 Afghan civilians in their homes, including 9 children, and then burned their bodies, is a disposable cog in a massive military machine designed for global domination, a willing tool of an Imperialist power system. Deployed four times into war zones (3 times in Iraq), separated cumulatively for years from his wife and two small children, under financial strain, and finally, seeing one of his comrade's legs blown off a day or two earlier by a mine courtesy of the ungrateful Afghans, who at a minimum protect by their silence (sometimes fear-induced) the Taliban trying to kill the Americans, he finally snapped under the strain put on him. That is, his emotions of rage overwhelmed his self-control.

Bales joined the military shortly after the flashy attention-grabbing 9/11/01 Al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. Like many people, his sense of dedication to his country and people was used against him, to make him a tool of cynical power-wielders (Bush, Obama, and the entire gang of apparatchiks constituting the U.S. Government institutional machinery), a chump, a fool, whose instincts of group loyalty and willingness to sacrifice for the group made him vulnerable to exploitation. (1)

One argument being planted in the U.S. media by anonymous military/official “sources” is that lots of soldiers have done multiple tours of “duty” in the war zones and didn't snap. That's reminiscent of the argument that not all poor people commit crimes, therefore poverty has nothing to do with crime.

That's just silly of course. Consider this analogy; parts in machines fail all the time. Why don't all the parts fail? Because 1) the parts have a different history of stresses on them, 2) the parts may look identical outwardly but have subtle differences on a structural and/or molecular level. People are incredibly complex. When you subject large numbers of them to stress, it is predictable that some will “snap” (break) under the stress over time.

The people calling the shots in the U.S. system are attempting to deflect blame from themselves for using loyal soldiers as cannon-fodder as they pursue a hopeless Obama “strategy” of seeking the unattainable goal of “victory,” or at least “stability” for the corrupt Karzai kleptocracy. They keep whispering in reporters' ears that Bales was drunk, and had marital difficulties- assertions denied by his family's lawyer. Already a battle of dueling narratives of who Bales is has begun, fought out on the terrain of the U.S. media. Thus has the trial already begun, in the media.

The military has a pro forma system of pseudo-mental health screening in place, purely for show. Military psychologists and psychiatrists understand, and do, their real job: making sure the maximum number of personnel are deemed “fit for duty” and deployed. This is what happens when an Empire can no longer involumtarily press men into the military to fight its wars for it. Shortages result.

The amazing thing is that there aren't more Baleses breaking under the stress. Mostly U.S. troops are keeping their resentment and hatred and fury towards the Afghans under sufficient check that it doesn't manifest itself in murder.

We must also hold open the possibility that Bales did not act alone, contrary to the U.S. media depiction of events and its tacit portrayal of Afghan claims to the contrary as hysterical and irrational. The U.S. has, throughout its Afghan “campaign,”repeatedly committed war crimes and atrocities, and then lied throughits teeth about them. [Click for examples.] Sometimes it has gotten away with it, sometimes not. (“Not” means finally being forced to do a limited hangout and admit to a watered-down version of the truth, “apologize,” and pay a few bucks to survivors. In one case, of the serial killers exposed by Rolling Stone, the soldiers were actually court-martialed, although not punished appropriately for cold-blooded murders.) Of course, this is a U.S. military pattern that extends back to Iraq, Vietnam, the conquest of the Philippines, and numerous other places. Guess you could call it a “tradition.”

More and more, the Afghan crusade is becoming reminiscent of Vietnam. A hopeless attempt by U.S. Imperialists to impose their will on a small, seemingly weak country, using misguided patriots to do the dirty work, which inevitably degenerates into atrocities and war crimes as the war is revealed as a war against the people of the target country, with feckless, cynical, thieving indigenous “allies” the U.S. thinks it can prop up as a “Government.” Which it can't.

Once again, the hubristic American Imperialists (and the two parties are identical in this regard) think that since they are so powerful, with a military capable of wreaking such great destruction, that surely they can impose their will on the situation. They don't seem to learn the fundamental lessons from experience. Instead they continue to craft techno pseudo-solutions, as epitomized by fancy “counterinsurgency doctrines” and fancy weaponry like drones, using them to commit more murder and mayhem, which thrill then and fill them with pride. (2)

Make no mistake, Afghanistan is an awful place, with a horrible, anti-human, backward culture. Of course, that's thanks to the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, which prevented the Soviets from dragging the country kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

Deliberately letting bin Laden escape from Tora Bora, as the Bush regime apparently did, set the stage for an endless, futile war. Bush didn't want to fight it- he immediately turned his attention to settling scores with Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And as long as the U.S. Imperialists refuse to face the real problem- Pakistan, the nuclear-armed patron, sponsor, and enabler of the Taliban, which provides them sanctuary, Afghanistan can be nothing more but an unhealable wound. And if carpet bombing North Vietnam with B-52s and fighter-bombers, and invading and/or bombing Laos and Cambodia didn't solve the “sanctuary problem” in that war, it's laughable for Obama and his regime to think that a few hundred CIA drone assassinations will win this war. But the way they keep tacitly boasting about it with planted articles in the media, that's what they seem to think. They're delusional.

In fact, given that Obama is using drone warfare in a number of countries now, apparently the plan is permanent global assassinations to try and contain Islamic jihadism. My guess would be it will make it worse, as the more murders the U.S. commits, the more Muslims become radicalized and replenish the ranks of the jihadists. It's rather like the situation in The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

  1. Bales has a bit of an unsavory past. In 2000, he was fined for defrauding a couple in his work as a Wall Street broker. He refused to pay the fine and was kicked out of the securities industry. (New York Times, 3/20/12.) He also has a record of an assault, which he was allowed to get away with, and a hit and run accident causing property damage, also swept under the rug, presumably because he was needed as a soldier. (Both occurred after he joined the Army.) Being white no doubt helps too.
  2. In 2009, a CIA drone killed Baitullah Mehsud, head of an Islamofascist group called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The upshot? He was succeeded by an even more vicious terrorist fanatic named Hakimullah Mehsud. (Mehsud is a Pashtun tribal name.) Now, Baitullah doesn't deserve having a single tear shed for him. Among his many crimes, he apparently arranged the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, with the connivance of then-”President” Pervez Musharraf. (Musharraf was head of the Pak armed forces who came to power in the traditional way, via a coup that overthrew the actually-elected civilian president. For awhile, he affected to call himself “President” while continuing to be the top general, until, partly due to external pressure, he figured it would look better- more legit- if he resigned his military command and just went with “President.” The U.S. media virtually never mentioned how the loathsome and extremely mendacious Musharraf came to power, so as to not embarrass him. They, like the U.S. Government, were invested in shoring up Musharraf's faux legitimacy just as Musharraf himself was.) Bottom line, the U.S. won't defeat this malign ideology via decapitation, no more than killing the President of the United States, or the CIA Director, or Secretary of “Defense,” or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would call the collapse of the U.S. Government or military or secret police. It's not like when the CIA murdered Martin Luther King, Jr, and Robert Kennedy, which ended political movements. Maybe that spoiled them.
Or it could be force of habit, as the CIA's stock in trade is preparing death lists and arranging
killings. That's what they did all over Latin America, and in Vietnam (the Phoenix program), and
even in places most Americans would be surprised to learn about, like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, where they helped him exterminate communists. But that was when he was a “friend.” Oh, the CIA also fingered Nelson Mandela for capture by the South African apartheid racist regime- that cost Mandela 25 years in prison- but at least he lived, unlike literally millions of other people the CIA has helped arrange to be killed or killed directly.


Friday, March 16, 2012

All Hail The Conquering Theocrat!

The Establishment media is all agog over medieval sex repressor Rick Santorum’s Great Victory in the darkest backwaters of the U.S., Mississippi and Alabama. He won- with one third of the primary votes in 4-way contests. A whole  308,000 primitives voted for him in the two states. See? That proves America's a  far right wing country!

In fact, as the numbers below show, Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich each got about a third of the votes in both redneck states. Functionally it was a three-way tie. But the media distorted the result to present it as a smashing victory for Santorum. Just about every newspaper and broadcast outlet ran with the same false narrative.* (There might as well be a Bureau Of Propaganda in the U.S., giving order, so slavishly conformist to their group distortion are the media in this case. The “coverage” could hardly be more uniform.) And speaking of distorting reality, indeed of creating a false reality to confuse people about actual reality, the corporate media insist on pretending Romney is a “moderate.” As a description of his political, ideological, and economic positions, he can only appear “moderate” from an extreme reactionary perspective.

And once again a tiny sliver of the U.S. population, a group of extreme right wing religious fundamentalists, (pretty racist too- you never see a single black face in all the photos of the GOP’s Southern rallies) is given the task of acting as gatekeeper for who can be the candidate of one of the only two parties that is allowed to meaningfully exist in the U.S. Thus are all normal people forced to vote for whatever slimy con man the awful Democratic Party happens to cough up. It’s a political extortion racket, forcing people to vote for the lesser of two evils.

The neofascist Wall Street Journal was pleased and offered Santorum free advice in an editorial on how to advance his candidacy.

By the way, the two corporate-oligarchic parties don’t assign delegates to states based on population. They “reward” “loyal” states (states that vote for their party’s candidate in the general election) with extra (“bonus”) delegates. So the backward redneck state of Alabama has the same number of delegates (50) at the GOP convention as New Jersey, which has almost twice “‘Bama’s” population.  Mississippi gets more delegates than Maryland, again with half the actual population.

Georgia is smaller in population than Ohio but has more delegates at the GOP convention. Nevada has about four times as many actual people living in it as North Dakota, but gets the same number of Republican delegates.  Plus even the tiniest states get a minimum of 10 delegates.

Yet another mechanism for skewing politics in the U.S. as far to the right as they can.

Results Of Alabama Republican Primary – March 13- 100% of precincts reporting:
Rick Santorum
Newt Gingrich
Mitt Romney
Ron Paul

Results Of Mississippi Republican Primary-

March 13-  99% of precincts:

Rick Santorum

Newt Gingrich

Mitt Romney

Ron Paul


*One typical example: His victories are “big news,” says Michelle Martin on NPR, where she has her very own show, Tell Me More. Of course the rest of the corporate media treated the Santorum “victory” as the top story of the day.