Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blowback is a Bitch: Why We Need To Leave Afghanistan NOW!

Memorial to the 78 victims of the bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455 near Paradise Beach, Barbados. The bombing was done by Venezuelan terrorists at the instigation of the CIA. The primary architect, Luis Posada Carilles, was pardoned by Bush Sr.

In a September 13, 2001 interview with the magazine In These Times, Chalmers Johnson (the author of ‘Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire’,  2000) was said to “have seen the September 11 catastrophe coming”.  Johnson’s 2000 book argued that U.S. interventionist foreign policy and military overextension would lead to unintended and unpredictable consequences. A year later, his warning seemed eerily prescient.

One caller on C-SPAN (in the wake of the attack) observed that this terrorist hit would never be understood in its full context if people disconnected between what happened and the intervening years of U.S. sponsored global terrorism that preceded it. Creating an atmosphere within which ‘blowback’ – the CIA term for unintended negative consequences of national policy– could materialize.

Now we are getting new warnings, and one wonders how many Americans are processing them or simply retiring to their self-made social media cocoons.

The appearance of Farea Al-Mulsimi before congress and then on the 'All In With Chris Hayes' show last night, ought to be a wake up call. Al-Muslimi is a friendly, ordinary guy who lived in the U.S. for years then traveled back to Yemen to try and win goodwill for the U.S. of A. Sadly, it was a non-starter thanks to repeated deadly drone attacks. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Al-Muslimi cannot see any U.S. goodness in his drone-struck village in Yemen. Nor any difference between enemy combatant and non-enemy.

The difference is something that can be contained in a secret memo. This is apparently the case no matter whom a drone strike kills and no matter where it kills them. The world is the battlefield, and the enemies are Muslims. Young men in predominantly Muslim countries are posthumously declared enemies once a drone has killed them. They must be enemies. After all, they're dead.

One wonders how this sounds to a young Muslim man who's taken to heart the lesson that violence is righteous and that war is everywhere at all times.  Do people who blow up bombs at public sporting events think all together differently from people who blow up peaceful villages in Yemen? Is one case murder and the other "killing" and hence more justifiable? (As the biblical literalists seek to argue in trying to justify certain specific instances of butchery despite the 5th commandment's 'Thou shalt NOT Kill", period.)

Or is it something more sinister, abominable and damnable? That American lives are worth much more than any others?

Well, let me be blunt: Those who engage in murder believe that murder is justified, that's all there is to it. The reasons they have, whether secret or known, are irrelevant and unacceptable. Murder is not made into something else by declaring it to be part of a war, especially when such "war" has: a) never been paid for as other wars fought (WWII), and b) no limiting parameters have been defined, either what determines a "victory" or - in its absence-  a conclusion.

Blind paper patriots (like Mikey Marine) may not like to hear this, since they're deaf, dumb and blind anyway, but with America having killed thousands of Muslim civilians in its drone strikes and wars, the expedient (secret memo) rules of exceptional (and "righteous") American terror and murder are thankfully being challenged, and not by someone who is so easily smeared- say a hard core Leftist (Socialist)  like me. Oh no!

By none other than Tom Brokaw. So if anyone wants to piss on a critic's head, let them take on Brokaw. I merely report what HE said! During Brokaw’s appearance on “Meet the Press” last Sunday, discussing revelations that the bombing suspects may be connected to Muslim fundamentalism, he said:

“We have got to look at the roots of all of this because it exists across the whole (Asian) subcontinent and the Islamic world around the world. I think we also have to examine (America’s) use of drones (because) there are a lot of civilians who are innocently killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And I can tell you having spent a lot of time over there, young people will come up to me on the streets and say, ‘We love America, but if you harm one hair on the head of my sister, I will fight you forever.’ And there is this enormous rage against what they see in that part of the world as a presumptuousness of the United States.”

Well, all I can say is 'WOW!' he told it like is, no bullshit, no coddling to pander to the  consumer eye and ear that's converted most of us into infants. He dealt with us as presumably mature CITIZENS. Even more potent since it's coming from one of the corporate establishment’s own.  I mean we're talking of a guy that still believes a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK! Nonetheles, he remains one of the most venerated voices, and not prone to radical statements.

But  here's the deal and the importance of what he said: In a nation that often avoids acknowledging its own role in intensifying cycles of violence, it is unfortunately considered radical to do what the NBC News veteran did and mention that our violent attacks abroad increase the chance of retributive attacks at home. But if we keep these hidden, how can we ever change and recognize that WE also are the enemy? WE also are terrorists! We just choose to do it high tech, disengaged fashion. As Pogo once said: "We have met the enemy and we are it!"

Of course, Brokaw was merely stating the obvious: With America having killed thousands of civilians in its wars, we should be rightly appalled by acts of terrorism on our shores — but we shouldn’t be surprised by them. We should know that violence will inevitably come from those like the Boston bombing suspect who, according to the Washington Post, “told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack.”

Noting this is not to argue that such attacks are justified or that we deserved them, certainly not civilians just minding their beeswax. It is only to reiterate what Brokaw alluded to: Namely, that blowback should be expected in an age in which Permanent War  is waged incessantly and no moral limits are established. 

More importantly,  the one way to potentially avert such blowback in the future is to try to deescalate the cycle of violence. As long as we are killing, all these outraged across the world will make it their job to kill us. This is also what Chalmers Johnson warned about. You simply cannot continue to do "one way" kills and expect no reprisals, no blowback.

In his 2001 interview Johnson was asked: You implied that this type of terrorist warfare seems to be the warfare of the future. I assume that you would expect to see more?

He replied:

No nation can hope to beat the United States on American terms. Therefore you must devise a strategy that essentially makes our overwhelming military capability worthless. I think they have managed to do so.

People in Washington are continually talking about declaring war—but declaring war on whom? They don't know. If they are going to go out and attack Afghanistan, it will simply produce a further cycle of blowback and retaliation. In the meantime, it will also even further inflame the entire Middle East.

We need now to stop this escalation and insanity and do it now: Get our asses out of  Afghanistan (which cause is already lost and we haven't the $$$$ to keep our planes on schedule, far less nation build) and cease all the drone attacks across the region.

We aren't killing terrorists, we are creating ever more!

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