Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chris Hedges on Surviving the Fourth of July

Updated: 1:02 /July 10, 2008

To some Americans the Fourth of July just means a long weekend , picnics , road-trips, going to Cottage country etc. For others it is a time to reflect on their nations strength or failures. Here is Chris Hedges reflections on the meaning of the Fourth of July.

Chris Hedges at ICH
Surviving the Fourth of July /Truthdig

07/07/08 " -- - I survive the degradation that has
become America—a land that exalts itself as a bastion of freedom and liberty while it tortures human beings, stripped of their rights, in offshore penal colonies, a land that wages wars defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, a land that turns its back on its poor, its weak, its mentally ill, in a relentless drive to embrace totalitarian capitalism—because I read books. I have 5,000 of them. They line every wall of my house. And I do not own a television.
The historian Will Durant calculated that there have been
only 29 years in all of human history during which a war was not under way somewhere. Rather than being aberrations, war and tyranny expose a side of human nature that is masked by the often unacknowledged constraints that glue society together. Our cultivated conventions and little lies of civility lull us into a refined and idealistic view of ourselves. But look at our last two decades—2 million dead in the war in Afghanistan, 1.5 million dead in the fighting in Sudan, some 800,000 butchered in the 90-day slaughter of Tutsis and moderate
Hutus by soldiers and militias directed by the Hutu government in Rwanda, a half-million dead in Angola, a quarter of a million dead in Bosnia, 200,000 dead in Guatemala, 150,000 dead in Liberia, a quarter of a million dead in Burundi, 75,000 dead in Algeria, at least 600,000 dead in Iraq and untold tens of thousands lost in the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the fighting in Colombia, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, southeastern
Turkey, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Kosovo. Civil war, brutality,
ideological intolerance, conspiracy and murderous repression are the daily fare for all but the privileged few in the industrialized world."The gallows," the gravediggers in "Hamlet" aptly remind us, "is built stronger than the church."

and he continues:

I have seen the pits in the torpid heat in El Salvador, the arid
valleys in northern Iraq and the forested slopes in Bosnia. Falstaff is right. Despite the promises never to forget the sacrifices of the dead, of those crippled and maimed by war, the loss and suffering eventually become superfluous. The pain is relegated to the pages of dusty books, the corridors of poorly funded VA hospitals, and sustained by grieving families who still visit the headstone of a man or woman who died too young. This will be the fate of our dead and wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the fate of all those who go to war. We honor them only in the abstract. The causes that drove the nation to war, and for which they gave their lives, are soon forgotten, replaced by new
ones that are equally absurd.

...Patriotic duty and the disease of nationalism lure us to deny our common humanity. Yet to pursue, in the broadest sense, what is human, what is moral, in the midst of conflict or under the heel of the totalitarian state is often a form of self-destruction. And while
Shakespeare, Proust and Conrad meditate on success, they honor the nobility of failure, knowing that there is more to how a life is lived than what it achieves. Lear and Richard II gain knowledge only as they are pushed down the ladder, as they are stripped of power and the illusions which power makes possible.Late one night, unable to sleep during the war in El Salvador, I picked up "Macbeth." It was not a calculated decision. I had come that day from a village where about a dozen people had been murdered by the death squads, their thumbs tied behind their backs with wire and their throats slit.I had read the play before as a student. Now it took on a new, electric force. A thirst for power at the cost of human life was no longer an abstraction. It had become part
of my own experience.I came upon Lady Macduff’s speech, made when the murderers, sent by Macbeth, arrive to kill her and her small children.

"Whither should I fly?" she asks.I have done no harm.

But I remember nowI am in this earthly world, where to do harm

Is often laudable, to do good sometime Accounted dangerous folly."

Those words seized me like Furies and cried out for the dead I had seen
lined up that day in a dusty market square, and the dead I would see later: the 3,000 children killed in Sarajevo, the dead in unmarked mass graves in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, El Salvador, the dead who are my own, who carried notebooks, cameras and a vanquished idealism into war and never returned. Of course resistance is usually folly, of course power exercised with ruthlessness will win, of course force easily snuffs out gentleness, compassion and decency.
In the end, all we can cling to is each other.

And given the latest news from Iraq it is no wonder Chris Hedges feels there is little hope for America.

As we see in this case with the Iraqi government which insists American troops should leave- the Bush regime refuses. In other words Iraq is a free and sovereign nation unless they disagee with the American Regime whether Bush or whomever takes power in the United States after the next election.

First from Headzup July 9, 2008-Iaq wants time table for withdrawl-

And from the Huffington Post Jon Soltz writes:
The Flip Flopper on Iraq?McCain by Jon Soltz at Huffington Post /July 8, 2008

You'd think with all the media consternation with the non-existent "flip flop" of Obama on Iraq (you know, the one where he didn't change his position at all), reporters would be blowing their stack at the true flip flop from John McCain on Iraq.

Late yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki
it's time for the US to leave
, or set a timetable to leave.

There you have it. The Iraqis are basically telling the US that they endorse Obama's policy -- they want us to set a timetable to bring the troops home. John McCain in 2004 said
we'd respect
such a request
, telling the Council on Foreign Relations:

Well, if that scenario evolves than I think it's obvious that we would have to leave because -- if it was an elected government of Iraq, and we've been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government then I think we would have other challenges, but I don't see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.

I just checked the McCain campaign website, and so far, he hasn't announced today that he will respect the sovereign government of Iraq, and adjust his Iraq policy to include a timeline for bringing troops home.

Well, maybe he said something but it wasn't on the website yet?
According to the
Washington Post:

"McCain was silent on the comments Monday."
So the potential commander-in-chief has no answer to the prime minister of Iraq. Not even like, "Hey, Nouri, Roger that."

While McCain refused to answer questions on Iraq, today, his top foreign policy advisor said:
"Senator McCain has always said that conditions on the ground -- including the security threats posed by extremists and terrorists, and the ability of Iraqi forces to meet those threats -- would be key determinants in U.S. force levels."

That, my friends (as Senator McCain would say), is a flip flop. It is a major policy reversal. Saying "conditions on the ground" will determine when you start to bring troops home is an indefinite commitment, not a timeline with a goal for redeployment. And, McCain's lack of consistency or clarity of vision on Iraq is trickling down. I was on Hardball just a short time ago with Pete Hegseth, my counterpart and Iraq War veteran who runs Vets for Freedom.

or from YouTube:

Did you catch that? In one short segment, Pete took two positions on Iraq. He was against timelines at the beginning of the segment, but was OK with timelines at the end of the segment.

This is not the way to formulate policy on Iraq, and if in the White House, this kind of waffling on the major issue of our time from McCain would have disastrous consequences. When you send a signal to a foreign nation that you will leave their land when asked, you better do it, when asked. If not, you only bolster the notion that you are an occupier, and the idea that the only way to get rid of us is with deadly force.

John McCain's silence on the issue is severely troubling -- it's as if he doesn't know what to do now. His advisor saying McCain will stick to his guns -- Iraqi wishes be damned -- is a flip flop from his previous position. Combined, it is a very bleak and discouraging view of what a McCain administration would look like on what is, supposedly, his biggest strength.


And on Countdown on MSNBC -Countdown: Iraqi Gov. Says "America Must Go" 7/8/08
July 08, 2008
Rachel Maddow and Howard Fineman discuss how the Iraqi government has demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of the American troops and the two positions of the Obama and McCain camps on the announcement.

And here's another bit of a shocker about Conoleeza Rice pretending she is concerned about human rights that a laugh and a half if it wasn't so sad as many suffer in part because of her abuse of the English Language to justify torture and thereby protect her mentor George Bush from facing charges of War Crime and Crimes against Humanity. Her Ivy League schools taught her how to debate as Socrates would say about the Sophists of Athens who taught that the bad or evil was 'good 'and that the ' good 'was evil or wrong either way truth being merely relative or a matter of perception. In the end the strong and the heartless win out . Condi owes her allegiance to herself and chancellor Bush and not to truth or justice. Harvard and Yale were never interested in truth or justice but that one win the arguement or the case before you.

It is quite unbelievable that conoleeza Rice would be part of an International group debating sex as a form of violence and torture when her hands are dripping with the blood of countless numbers of people abused and tortured including sex as a torture technique to shame and ridicule detainees by her regime . The audacity of these people is beyond understanding. Sex as used to abuse and torture people is okay when those abused are being abused by Americans with the full knowledge of the Executive including Condoleeza Rice and President Bush. For others to do the same things to American captives is somehow reprehensible.

From Huffington Post July 7, 2008 Naomi Wolf: Sex Crimes in the White House

NEW YORK - Sex crime has a telltale signature, even when those directing the outrages are some of the most powerful men and women in the United States. How extraordinary, then, to learn that one of the perpetrators of these crimes, Condoleezza Rice, has just led the debate in a special session of the United Nations Security Council on the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war...
We now know that the torture of prisoners was the result of a policy set in the White House by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Rice -- who actually chaired the torture meetings. The Pentagon has also acknowledged that it had authorized sexualized abuse of detainees as part of interrogation practices to be performed by female operatives. And documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union have Rumsfeld, in his own words, checking in on the sexualized humiliation of prisoners.
The sexualization of torture from the top basically turned Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay into an organized sex-crime ring in which the trafficked sex slaves were US-held prisoners. Looking at the classic S and M nature of some of this torture, it is hard not to speculate that someone setting policy was aroused by all of this. And Phillipe Sands' impeccably documented Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, now proves that sex crime was authorized and, at least one source reports, eroticized: Diane Beaver, the Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo who signed off on many torture techniques, told Sands about brainstorming sessions that included the use of "sexual tension," which was "culturally taboo, disrespectful, humiliating and potentially unexpected

and so it goes,

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