Upcoming from MER:
British Empire Mesopotemia
1920 - American Empire Iraq 2004
the "Evil Empire"
"Just like Apocalypse
Now, except without the grass and acid,"
"I...was briefed on special
poisons and assassination
a US marine sergeant murmured... "I
got one... I didn't even
have to think about it... I took aim, saw two guys running, opened up
fell. I don't just think I got him -- I know it. Man, was that
weapons that left no traces."
MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 8
and more even in Washington circles these days one hears...but in
spoken whispers certainly not in the corporate print or TV
media..."police state", "fascism", "Good Germans".
As for Capitol Hill, it looks more like a "no-go-zone" these days --
beyond being 'Occupied Israeli territory' -- than the
Congress of a free and brave democracy.
Most Americans of course are amazingly naive about the world they live
in and the history of anywhere else other than their own 'God blessed'
brave new land. But when this innocence becomes
imperialistic hubris on a worldwide rampage; and when the very
social, political, and economic fabric of the country begins to
noticeably weaken putting even the near future in doubt; the time
note and speaking up is now at hand for far more than
before. But the forums for doing so -- especially anywhere
near the corridors of power and influence -- are limited, credible
forums even more so, potent forums almost non existent.
circumstances some of the best commentary about what the Americans are
really doing in the world, as well as to themselves, often comes from
abroad these days. Foreigners away from American shores and
the restrictions of the big corporate media and political propaganda
ironically often more able and more free to thoughtfully reflect on the
ways of the American Empire than are its own. The following
with echoes about Vietnam comes from Australia; and following that with
echoes of the "evil empire" Soviet Union comes from Canada.
Iraq echoes an apocalypse past
The scene is Iraq and the
Euphrates but it is
eerily similar to Vietnam
and the Mekong of
yesteryear, writes Anthony
The Australian -
08dec04: THE ghosts of Vietnam
drift through Iraq. Denied and dispelled by
advocates of the war, they slink back in the "mission creep",
"quagmire" and "bodybag" accusations of its critics.
On the north bank of the Euphrates river on Sunday they gathered again,
chattering through the rotorblade throb of two overhead Hueys;
whispering through the tall rush-beds dividing the paddy fields and
irrigation ditches; lurking beneath the palm trees and shadows thrown
by a fat orange sun; echoing the words of the young American soldier
driving Bravo Company's commander to the starting line of the day's
father was in the Special Forces in Vietnam," said Private Scott
did four tours there between 1969 and 1973. He was shot in the Mekong
Delta, but survived, hiding beneath the body of one of his buddies
after his platoon took 90per cent casualties and the VC went through
them, finishing off the survivors.
a great soldier. but a lousy husband and an even worse father. He died
when he was 48. He lived life hard."
was early morning. Private Carlisle and more than 100 other Bravo
Company troops of the 44th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division --
backed by Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees -- were
deploying on Operation Bear, a lengthy mission to search for the
weapons caches of an otherwise invisible enemy.
the oily brown, slow-moving expanse of the Euphrates sat the city of
Ramadi, obscured by a line of palms and thick vegetation.
hotbed of insurgent activity, the area has taken the lives of 41
soldiers and wounded 300 more of the 5500 men in Private Carlisle's
brigade since they deployed to Ramadi in September.
from their vehicles, the American sappers moved forward in lines across
the paddy fields, some bearing mine detectors, all laden with up to
27kg of equipment including their M16s, grenades, 9mm pistols and
ammunition. The sun climbed and the heat bore down. Of combat-age Iraqi
males, there was no sign. Instead, as the American searchlines
converged on the few dismal farms, they found only women and children.
any suspicious activity in the area?" Captain Duncan Smith, a civil
affairs officer whose father served twice in Vietnam, asked the women
through an interpreter. The answers were identical: "No, nothing."
are your menfolk?"
always the same," Captain Smith said. "Ninety-nine per cent of the time
they tell you nothing, and the men have all skedaddled at the first
sign of the military."
offered him an orange. He accepted it, smiled and turned away. "Better
not suck it in case it explodes," he quipped.
Small Unit Reconnaissance Craft, crewed by marines and engineers,
joined the operation. Bristling with mounted machineguns, the small
boats careered across the river from bank to bank, their heavy wash
slapping at the reed beds.
like Apocalypse Now, except without the grass and acid," a US marine
sergeant murmured as he watched the boats' progress.
of the craft soon discovered a large weapons cache of mortar rounds and
130mm shells concealed on the bankside. They blew it up.
blast reverberated up the river. A discussion ensued between the
craft's crew and the sappers' commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Tommy Mize.
"We usually sink all the Iraqi boats along the banks when we find a
cache," a marine insisted. "Well, you're not sinking all the boats
today," Lieutenant-Colonel Mize declared.
afternoon a brooding tiredness had settled on the soldiers. No longer
were the searchlines straight.
contact. A burst of gunfire, joined by another, then another, and the
nought-to-ninety-in-a-second rip and roar of the adrenalin rush that
momentarily leaves the mind cartwheeling in its wake.
insurgents, lying on both banks, had ambushed one of the craft and
turned their fire on to Bravo company. In the boat, a sapper was hit
and killed, another wounded.
craft fired back and, in the turrets of two Bravo company Humvees,
machine-gunners joined the fray. Beside his commander's vehicle,
Private Carlisle dropped to the ground and raised his M16. He saw two
men ahead of him and opened fire. An hour later, long after the gunfire
had finished, confusion reigned still. As news of the casualties
spread, the men's mood sank palpably, except for Private Carlisle.
got one," he exclaimed. "I didn't even have to think about it. We took
fire, I dropped down, took aim, saw two guys running, opened up and one
fell. I don't just think I got him -- I know it. Man, was that
insurgents there was no sign. And the murmur of the Mekong whispered
Uncle Sam has his
Behaving like the
Soviet secret police won't make
America safer, Eric
The Lubyanka Prison's heavy oak main door swung open. I went in, the
first western journalist to enter the KGB's notorious Moscow
headquarters -- a place so dreaded Russians dared not utter its name.
When they referred to it at all, they called it "Detsky Mir," after a
nearby toy store.
After interviewing two
senior KGB generals, I explored the fascinating museum of Soviet
intelligence and was briefed on special poisons and assassination
weapons that left no traces. I sat transfixed at the desk used by all
the directors of Stalin's secret police, on which the orders were
signed to murder 30 million people.
Descending dimly lit stairs, I saw some of the KGB's execution and
torture cellars, and special "cold rooms" where naked prisoners were
beaten, then doused with ice water and slowly frozen.
Other favoured Lubyanka tortures: Psychological terror, psychotropic
drugs, prolonged sleep deprivation, dazzling lights, intense noise,
days in pitch blackness, isolation, humiliation, constant threats,
savage beatings, attacks by guard dogs, near drowning.
Nightmares from the past -- but the past has returned.
According to a report leaked to the New York Times, the Swiss-based
International Red Cross has accused the Bush administration for a
second time of employing systematic, medically supervised torture
against suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, and at U.S.-run prisons
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The second Red Cross report was delivered to the White House last
summer while it was trying to dismiss the Abu Ghraib prison torture
horrors as the crimes of a few rogue jailers.
According to the report's allegations, many tortures perfected by the
Cheka (Soviet secret police) -- notably beating, freezing, sensory
disorientation, and sleep deprivation -- are now routinely being used
by U.S. interrogators.
The Chekisti, however, did not usually inflict sexual humiliation. That
technique, and hooding, were developed by Israeli psychologists to
break resistance of Palestinian prisoners. Photos of sexual humiliation
were used by Israeli security, and then by U.S. interrogators at Abu
Ghraib, to blackmail Muslim prisoners into becoming informers.
All of these practices flagrantly violate the Geneva Conventions,
international, and American law. The Pentagon and CIA gulags in Cuba,
Iraq and Afghanistan have become a sort of Enron-style, off-the-books
operation, immune from American law or Congressional oversight.
Suspects reportedly disappear into a black hole, recalling Latin
America's torture camps and "disappearings" of the 1970s and '80s, or
the Arab world's sinister secret police prisons.
The U.S. has been sending high-level anti-American suspects to Egypt,
Jordan, Morocco, and, reportedly, Pakistan, where it's alleged they are
brutally tortured with violent electric shocks, savage beatings,
drowning, acid baths, and blowtorching -- the same tortures,
ironically, ascribed to Saddam Hussein.
Protests over this by members of Congress, respected human rights
groups, and the public have been ignored. President George W. Bush just
named Alberto Gonzales to be attorney general, his nation's highest law
officer. As White House counsel, Gonzales wrote briefs justifying
torture and advised the White House on ways to evade or ignore the
Grossly violating the Geneva Conventions undermines international law
and endangers U.S. troops abroad. Anyone who has served in the U.S.
armed forces, as I have, should be outraged that this painfully won
tenet of international law and civilized behaviour is being trashed by
members of the Bush administration.
If, as Bush asserts, terrorism suspects, Taliban, and Muslim mujahedeen
fighters not in uniform deserve no protection under the laws of war and
may be jailed and tortured at presidential whim, then what law protects
from abuse or torture all the un-uniformed U.S. Special Forces, CIA
field teams, and those 40,000 or more U.S. and British mercenaries in
Iraq and Afghanistan euphemistically called "civilian
Behaving like the 1930s Soviet secret police will not make America
safer. Such illegal, immoral and totally un-American behaviour corrupts
democracy and makes them no better than the criminals they detest.
The 20th century has shown repeatedly that when security forces use
torture abroad, they soon begin using it at ho
It's time for Congress and the courts to wake up and end this shameful
and dangerous episode in America's history.
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