Wednesday, September 27, 2006

As Bush and Big Media gear up to provoke Iran...

Phyllis Bennis on Democracy Now on September 20, 2006:

"[T]he U.S. may be in the process of giving up a focus on the United Nations as the key venue for working out their escalating attacks on Iran, if they feel that they are simply not going to get the support they want, do what they did regarding Iraq, which was to deem the Security Council and the UN as a whole, in general, to be what they called irrelevant and go ahead on a unilateral basis.

That would be reflected in the new stories that have come out in the last couple of days in Time magazine and elsewhere, indicating that there have in fact been orders preparing to deploy U.S. Navy warships towards Iran with the goal being not necessarily a direct military strike, but rather a naval blockade of Iranian oil ports, which, of course, constitute an act of war. In that situation, the danger, of course, is that if there was, for example, imagine, a week or so of a U.S. blockade of Iran’s ports, Iran knows, its government and its people know, that that's an act of war. Most Americans don't know that a blockade is considered an act of war. And if Iran responded militarily, which unfortunately would be their right under Article 51 of the UN Charter calling for self-defense rights, the Bush administration would very likely call that an unprovoked attack on peaceful U.S. ships and would respond militarily, claiming to be responding in self-defense. That's, I think, a very serious danger that we face right now. And seeing Bush at the United Nations choosing not to use that rostrum as a podium for escalating threats, direct threats, against Iran, it makes the danger of a unilateral military move right now all the greater. "

An e-mail I sent March 27, 2003 to New Jersey 101.5:

I was on a New Jersey Transit bus at about 11:30 a.m. today, and the driver had the radio tuned to 101.5 FM. A male announcer and a female announcer were having a conversation. At first, it was a series of racist remarks about the production of little swarthy Italian men from a back room, where the general manager was at work.

The discussion then turned quickly into a discussion of how the two announcers thought something needed to be done about those peace protestors…that they should be gassed. The government should round them up and gas them.

I am a peace activist, so naturally, this caught my attention rather sharply. The pair then proceeded to talk about the war in Iraq. They said a peace protestor in New York City, stopping traffic to protest Ariel Sharon and the Israeli troops’ attacks on Palestinians, should be run over by the traffic. They made some derisive comments about Rachel Corrie, an American woman killed when she was run over by an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar bulldozer, in Rafah refugee camp, in Palestine, but they didn’t talk about what they would want a bystander to do if a soldier were about to bulldoze their homes. They talked about how ridiculous it is for peace protestors to consider Ariel Sharon a war criminal, and the woman mused aloud that if that were true, then George W. Bush would be a war criminal too, and surmised that that must be what peace protestors think.

They talked about how there must be something about those Arab people, they must not value life very much, since Saddam Hussein has “gassed his own people.” They didn’t mention how Saddam Hussein came to power with US support through the CIA. They didn’t mention how Saddam Hussein obtained his chemical and biological weapons from US suppliers, with US State Department support. They didn’t mention how Donald Rumsfeld met with Saddam Hussein during Reagan’s presidency, as an ally. They did talk about how silly it was for "those Arabs" to be spreading “propaganda” about the pale-faced Anglo-Saxon invaders, since America is not a pure Anglo-Saxon society. But they didn’t talk much about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Franks, Tony Blair and the other main proponents of the war, who are all white, Anglo-Saxon men, even though they command troops of all colors to carry out their orders to kill.

The two announcers talked a little bit about how those Arabs shot some American POWs through the forehead, and left them to lie next to live American POWs, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. But they didn’t talk about the Middle Eastern prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or detainees in New York, New Jersey and other prisons in other states, held without charge, without access to lawyers, without international supervision and in violation of the Geneva Conventions. They didn’t talk about the torture of Al Qaeda suspects as a violation of the Geneva Conventions against torture. And though they talked a little about the lack of American media coverage of the American POWs, and how the male announcer only knew about those POWs because his son had accessed Al Jazeera news through the Internet, and they talked about how the woman announcer believed “there’s a reason why they don’t show that footage to us Americans,” without saying what that reason was, they didn’t seem to see any similarity between the “propaganda” Saddam Hussein uses to mobilize Iraqis and the “propaganda” information American citizens are either given or denied, depending on who wants us to know what. In fact, the woman referred to what American citizens learn as “truth.”

The two discussed a little bit the poverty, oppression, and lack of democracy that they believe makes “those Arabs” so angry. They expressed great shock over how “those Arabs” treat “their women.” They didn’t talk about the growing divide between the American poor and the American rich, the crumbling schools and public health systems here, the growing prison population here. They didn’t talk about the fact that America has one of the highest homicide rates in the industrialized world, how many Ameircan women are raped and beaten every day, most often in their own homes, in America, nor how much higher the rate of woman abuse is in military communities than in civilian communities. They talked about a photograph of an American soldier holding an Iraqi child, and expressed outrage that Saddam Hussein would put women and children near military sites as human shields, rather than evacuate them. But they didn’t talk about how Iran and other countries in the area have closed their borders to refugees, nor about the fact that Baghdad is a city with 5 million people living in it, not one huge military ammunition depot, and that US troops have been bombing this city. They didn’t talk about the fact that more than half of the Iraqi population is under the age of 15.

It was an interesting, if one-sided conversation to listen to. I think it would be good if you would invite peace activists on, to present our views, how we came to hold those views, why we think that American citizens killing Iraqi citizens isn’t much of an improvement over Saddam Hussein killing Iraqi citizens, what other ideas we have about how international conflicts and genocide can be stopped in the present and prevented in the future, and many other issues. For example, I thought France and Germany presented a good alternative to war when they proposed 50,000 UN weapons and human rights inspectors should be sent there. It seemed like a way to stop one set of violent acts without committing more in the process. War is not the same; I do believe war is a crime against humanity, a human rights abuse, a weapon of mass destruction.

I would be happy to come on and discuss these issues, or refer you to other peace activists who could discuss these issues.


P.S. This web-site is apparently keeping track of how many Iraqi people the US military has so far killed.


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