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    Invasion of Iraq: The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost - Yet Again
    Posted on Friday, May 14 @ 01:48:19 UTC
    Topic: Torture
    Tortureby Kweli Nzito
    "President Kennedy never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon... Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they always made me glad" -- Malcolm X
    The savagery that has been visited on Iraqi prisoners at the hands of their American captors ostensibly referred to as "abuse", in fact constitute war crimes. Thus, American exemption from the international war crimes tribunals becomes continuous with a pivotal aspect of its foreign policy that is largely, but not exclusively, reserved for the Arab and Muslim world: pre-emptive war. Alas, it would seem that the criminal invaders had anticipated committing war crimes right from the planning stages of this gruesome occupation. Any deterrent measures that might otherwise be cheerfully taken to dissuade lesser countries from further indulging themselves in their barbaric conduct, are deftly deflected, America's awesome military might aside.

    Nonetheless, the assortment of justifications for invading Iraq whose chief crime is to be awash with oil, our oil, have swiftly evolved from fictitious WMDs, the war on terror, deliver Iraqis from a brutal dictatorship and Saddam's notorious torture chambers; finally, to give Iraqis a taste of American gunboat democracy. To which statement we pose the following question: has the United States really succeeded in imparting the democratic spirit to any country it regards as alien to its own culture in any other fashion other than by coercion? Indeed, cases abound as to the traditions of thuggery that the United States has bequeathed to countries that were to be "delivered" from their despotic political cultures. Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Congo, Ghana, El Salvador, Philippines, Viet Nam, Iran, Iraq to name a few, are some countries that have had the direct benefit of American-aided "democracy". America's humanitarian spirit was fast asleep while the genocide in Rwanda was furiously at work. Based on this track record then, one should envisage yet another American creation of an Iraqi gangster state that will have to toe the imperial line if it is to be tolerated, or else perish, assuming of course the liberation war that Iraqis are so courageously waging dissipates. That said, the torture, humiliation and, let us not forget, the wanton killing of unarmed Iraqi men, women and children should come as no surprise, except to their perpetrators. In the spirit of the culture of the conduct of American foreign policy, barbarism by proxy keeps our construct of the native's savagery alive and well; so let our self-fulfilling prophecies be realized.

    Consequently, these perpetual and as yet unfulfilled American aspirations for inferior peoples and their failed societies warrant closer scrutiny. In keeping with the muckraking traditions of healthy democracies, we assert that the muck stops here, meaning in this country, for that is where the muck comes full circle. Because in our assiduous efforts to define the Other, we unwittingly define ourselves and the picture is far from rosy. Never mind that a superbly efficient and relentless disinformation machine is unleashed concurrently with the grisly war effort; never mind that its nemesis is nowhere to be seen, except perhaps in the admirable but scattered efforts of the likes of Al Jazeera and the Independent of Britain, and a handful others, the very essence of democracy as a free market of ideas and information, is being ruthlessly undermined, starting at home. The perceived necessity of shutting down dissenting voices at gunpoint is regarded as fair game only out there in the alien wilderness peopled by beings regarded as America's natural inferiors with their contemptible customs and languages. Not in this country. A self-censoring press that measures its worth almost exclusively by its ratings, never by the deceit furnished by its news fabricators, has comprehensively accomplished that.

    So that if the degree of sophistication of the American public were to be measured in terms of their being informed, the trash that spews from the "mainstream" digital airways will not portend well for their public self-esteem. In short, having been sold to the idea of news as a consumer item, just like health care, education and entertainment, the American news consumer is truly and well pacified. To be sure, cruder and mafia-like measures of censorship, including killings are reserved for journalistic conduct unbecoming such as may issue from the publications of Muqtada Al Sadr, Al Jazeera, etc. What General Kimmit had promised Al Fallujah - pacification with a cast of a thousand Iraqi innocents dead - has been achieved in his home country with deadly efficiency, with negligible shots being fired and no tanks to execute the effort. An enduring culture of skirting issues making it almost impossible to distinguish fact from fiction has taken firm root here. It requires a colossal effort to escape the banal. So that at the end of a "news" bulletin where sometimes stray cats make it to the headlines, whether national or local, one could switch channels to soap operas without sensing the mood change that comes with transiting from the profound to the humdrum. In three sentences or less, people can be heard changing subjects from Iraq to American Idol in the same breath and with astonishing facility.

    The creed being promoted that the best of America is the best in everything anywhere renders an uncritical public credulous to subliminal media messages of America's superiority setting up the Other for impoverishment, death and mayhem. Worse, to be made to see in this charade, acts of benevolence and unadulterated philanthropy remains a truly astounding feat of thought control and indoctrination. Time and time again, foreign leaders destined to be trashed by American might were first to be routinely demonized and the democratic instincts of questioning and challenging were nowhere to be found - with eerie silences from Congress and the corporate media. Is it possible that an all-pervasive corporate culture breeds a corporate public and by extension a corporate democracy, which at the very best remains a pseudo democracy? Which brings us to the unpalatable heart of the matter: racism. As disconnected to the groundwork laid in these brief remarks of the American political culture as this phenomenon may seem, the fact that it remains taboo in public discourse begs the question. It then merits speculating about the mindset of the young torturers in the American military that derived pleasure from their ghastly racist games.

    Given the choice of candidates Americans have at their disposal, Jeb Bush or Trent Lott could easily substitute for John Kerry. Regardless, in the purportedly polarized politics of today, many among the electorate that will follow their pied piper Gorge W. Bush to the polling booth will no doubt be those least moved by atrocities committed by their kith and kin in Iraq. Among them too will be the torturers themselves. They will be overwhelmingly White and pompously brandish their Bibles along the way (as we are told does Lynndie England, the US military's very own voyeur extraordinaire). As the old political adage has it, a people will get a leader they deserve. Bear in mind that prior to the invasion of Iraq, an elaborate campaign had been let loose to prime the American public accustomed to their government's divine duty of ridding the world of barbarians. That campaign was waged on several fronts. This most inarticulate and mediocre of American presidents was to receive the helping hand of an assortment of think tanks, spiritual mentors and ideologues. Even a general of the U.S Army (General William Boykin) was to enter the fray by declaring the superiority of the Christian God over the Muslim one. No mention of course of the unprecedented dispossession and genocides committed through much of expanded Western Christianity in their God's name. And if gods were to be judged by the actions of their creatures, Western Christianity, especially the White American factions of it must not fare too well. Because it was by invoking this same God that Biblical validations and rationalizations were to be found for native dispossession, transatlantic slavery, Jim Crow and far, far away in South Africa, apartheid; and in much of the British Empire, colonialism. In that same campaign, the now "repentant" Rumsfeld, presumably on the advice of "scholars" like Daniel Pipes and ideologues like Wolfowitz and Richard Perle decided that Muslim hatred for America was being spawned in Muslim madrassas that simply had to be "reformed".

    But the real hatred, now a firmly entrenched way of life amongst the religious and racist right in this country, must surely have their own madrassas in the cosy homesteads of church going rednecks, rag heads, Klansmen, Aryans, skinheads and their latter day covert counterparts, the neocons - a culture that likely heads right down President Bush's alley, and one no less in dire need of reform. As this culture thrives, nothing less than a theater of the bizarre in the conduct of foreign policy should be expected. Without this constituency, President Bush should have as much chance of getting re-elected as deposed Jean Bertrand Aristide under the watchful eye of American might. We dare suggest the president's apology is borne less of remorse than embarrassment, not unlike that shown by White reactions to the beatings handed out to the African American Rodney King in lieu of a speeding ticket.

    The American patrons of the Iraqi atrocities are indeed part of a vibrant culture of hatred and racist venom. To thus label this disease as an aberration is to let the malady follow its natural course to the president himself or else Americans would be stuck with a president bereft of culture and identity. His frequent invocation of divine inspiration and guidance is yet another testimony of the spiritual dimension of the racist culture he subscribes to. For did Bush Sr. not depose former Panamanian President Noriega, now languishing in prison, to the pulsating rhythms of rock and roll as was to be repeated in the American massacre at Fallujah during the second Bush Dynasty? Rock music is to White youth aesthetic tastes as hip hop is to African American popular culture and it is hard to escape the cultural symbolisms playing themselves out amidst the torture and sadism by America's White warriors. It can therefore be reasonably deduced that racism is redefining itself in more generic terms having been forced into a cul de sac at home by political correctness. When classical racism defined itself in crude black and white terms, it is now re-emerging as an intrinsic inability to accommodate the Other and to appropriate one's racist self the power to refashion the demonized Other.

    The racist imperative is in compelling need for escape from the constraints of political correctness at home and subjugated Iraq could provide the ideal catharsis, where the long repressed sociopathic fantasies are to find facile and unchecked release. We now see the use of pejoratives once reserved for African Americans extended to Iraqis, "sand niggers". For administration warmongers to express surprise, abhorrence, disgust to be followed by apologies by their chief is to feign these sentiments. Such bogus reactions are a betrayal of their racist traditions and mores, and will do little to control the damage long inflicted on the Iraqis by this ghastly invasion that is now entering its predictable sadistic phase. Try as White America might to wave digital photos as indicators of the "aberrations" of a few, the real problem that hardly gets mentioned is the criminal invasion itself. To indict a handful, some 7 of 137,000 soldiers is to make the absurd claim that racism in America has declined to the misguided few. And based on the experiences of the punishment meted out to police officers that clobbered Rodney King and those that gunned down the Senegalese Mamadu Diallo in New York, the military sadists in Iraq cannot be expected to suffer punishment beyond a light spanking. They will certainly do much less to reform the racist institutions that continue to nurture the culture of virtual democracy, a model that is sure to be a hard sell in Iraq or anywhere else for that matter. In Iraq, the racist chicken fabricated in the United States has come home to roost, but at a hideous price to the Iraqis. Which should make the Iraqi fight for liberation that much sweeter.

    Kweli Nzito is an essayist living in South Florida and can be reached at freshair234@juno.com.

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