The Ties That Bind By William Bowles

6 May 2004

abu_ghraib_prisoner

“Congratulations — you have acquitted yourselves with honor in the crucible of armed conflict. You have won the battle, and with it our gratitude and our respect. Thank you for your service, for your sacrifices and your continued dedication to being quiet professionals.”
Maj. Gen. Herbert L. Altshuler, Commander U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne).

By now it should be clear that the photos published in the Daily Mirror last week, were a deliberate attempt to deflect exposure of the real and horrifying level of murder, torture and abuse inflicted on the Iraqi people. Not only since the occupation, but for past thirteen years of sanctions and bombings that resulted in the deaths of an estimated one million people.

But as with the Gilligan/Kelly affair, no amount of manipulation of the media (most probably by military intelligence), can alter the awful reality of the dirty underbelly of the beast.

Let them haul the editor of the Daily Mirror before some rubber stamping parliamentary committee and howl about the ‘damage’ it’s done to ‘our boys over there’ if, as is likely, these turn out to be the (only) fakes in the pile.

What is also truly despicable is the constant reference to the idea that only the “Arab and Muslim” world will be outraged by the unraveling events, in yet another expression of the self-delusionary nature of the West’s attitudes toward the colonised world, let alone our own populace. This in spite of the pages of exposés that reveals the institutional nature of the abuse that one after the other, peels back the layers of hypocrisy covering up the barbarism of the occupier.

But will these exposés like those of My Lai end up with only low-level soldiers being punished? Even then, I see that murder, at least as far as the US military is concerned, warrants only a discharge.

For what these ‘revelations’ show (revelations only insofar as the corporate media are concerned) is the scale of the hypocrisy the West has engaged in.

Most importantly, how does the imperium intend to deal with the exposés, given that “exceptions”, “only a tiny minority” and all the other ready-made excuses are failing to explain away the awful reality.

For several hundred years the West has gotten away with murder on a grand scale that makes the terrorist outrages truly insignificant by comparison. So where is the outrage over the millions who died in Indonesia and East Timor with the direct collusion of the US and the UK? Or of the thousands who died at the hands of Saddam himself, also with the direct collusion of the US (who handed him the list of names of Iraqi Communist Party Members, just as they did with the list they handed over to the military dictator Suharto in Indonesia that resulted in an estimated 500,000 people being wiped out in 1965)? Or what of those butchered in the most awful manner by the Nicaraguan Contras (or ‘freedom fighters’ as Ronald Reagan, Otto Reich, John Negroponte, Ollie North and the other gangsters who made the Contras possible)?

The corporate media’s approach is truly amazing in its ability to avoid not only the reality of imperialism’s double standards, but even more so, its ability to avoid the real causes. So for example, the Independent’s editorial (06/05/04) tells us:

“Yesterday, Iraqis and the rest of the Muslim world heard a torrent of American apologies.”

But what about apologising to the people of the West for deceiving them so outrageously as to what is and has been going on? For what else is it except deception to avoid naming the support the British and US government’s gave Saddam for all these years until it became ‘inconvenient’ to continue to do so.

Such is their arrogance that it is assumed that we are not also outraged and if not, what does this tell us about Western attitudes? For clearly, the major concern is not the people of Iraq (or any of the other countries we have systematically trashed in the name of democracy or ‘humanitarian concern’ such as Yugoslavia), but that they have been exposed for the liars that they are.

But even as the Independent seeks to ‘condemn’ the actions of the imperium, it still calls the actions of the occupiers simply “excesses” and tells us that these actions are “uncharacteristic”, a bigger lie would be difficult to tell. The editorial goes on to tell us that these actions are, “a regrettable aspect of the war” but no mention of the regrettable aspect of the invasion and occupation from which these actions inevitably flowed.

The editorial ends by telling us that “the damage is incalculable” but damage to whom? As far as the Independent is concerned the only damage is to America’s “elevated ideals” but these are “ideals” that the Independent has spent the last year and more elevating, in spite of its alleged opposition to the invasion (but not to the continued occupation). Any reading of past editorials of this rag would confirm the accusation that it has consistently represented both the Bush and Blair governments as being motivated by the ‘highest of ideals’.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (truth)
The evidence is after all, incontrovertible that US words have never matched their deeds. The Independent, along with the rest of corporate and state media have colluded in the con game, seeking to excuse the actions of the imperium, claiming that they are ‘not as bad’ as those of the former dictator and CIA “asset” Saddam Hussein. So now evil is conditioned by whether its performed by the ‘good guys’ or the ‘bad’.

Desperate statements, that reveals a corporate press scraping the bottom of the barrel in a vain attempt to rationalise the irrational.

Yet the juggernaut rolls on regardless, propelled by the inexorable ‘logic’ of capital that underpins all the fine words. For it is this fundamental aspect of the relationship between the occupation and its consequences that is never referred to, even obliquely in the media. Cause and effect are forever disconnected in the minds of the intellectual apologists for capitalism.

For the most dangerous thing to do is to reveal the ‘ties that bind’ events to fundamental causes.

Let the corporate press make its ‘moral’ pronouncements, just as Bishops bless those who go to war and search their bibles for suitable quotes to justify the obscenity, just as they condemn in suitably solemn tones the ‘excesses’ of the foot soldiers of the state and the corporate interests they represent.

The ‘logic’ of suitably expressed outrage will no doubt continue until the next terrorist attack conveniently diverts our attentions away from the ‘excesses’ of the imperium and enables the media to focus once more on the infinitely more valuable lives of the inhabitants of the ‘civilised’ world, sacrificed nevertheless as the imperium wages its ‘war on terror’. So much for their concerns, for we are all considered expendable.

One could also resort to suitable expressions of moral outrage at the behaviour of the soldiers of God and their masters, but this merely reduces the events to the actions of individuals. This is the tactic of the apologists for the oppressors. The Nuremberg principle still holds doesn’t it (if it ever did)?

But whilst the whinging and phony mea culpas roll effortlessly of the tongues of the pundits, I note that Halliburton stock prices are up a $1. The juggernaut rolls on regardless.

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