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A View From the Gallows

 

More chronicles from the political frontlines

 

 By Antony Black

 

23/08/08 "ICH" -- - I don’t believe in capital punishment - as a rule. But I’m willing to make a few exceptions for our fearless leaders, indeed all the fearless leaders, who have so willingly prosecuted the totally bogus ‘war on terror’; who have, under the banner of peace, democracy and civilization, waged a ruthless campaign of war, terror and barbarism. Now, truth to tell, I would likely give a moments pause before the gallows floor gaped open - on general humanitarian grounds you understand - though the obscene roll-call of their crimes would, I suspect, soon seal the court’s resolve.

 

Naturally, nary a court now in existence is capable of reaching such exalted levels of critical jurisprudence and justice. Take the International Criminal Court for example.

 

The ICC has recently made a big splash by indicting a world leader for war crimes. Bush and crew you say? Or perhaps their brown-nosing poodles and fellow conspirators Tony Blair and Gordon Brown? Or maybe some of their fellow NATO war criminal comrades-in-arms, busy little fascist bees that they are burning down their own domestic liberties whilst spreading militarism, empire and a new global arms race unto the very reaches of outer space? Maybe some of these goons? You know, the ones who have helped turn whole countries that never threatened them – or us - in any way whatsoever into complete rubble? You know, the guys who’ve (just  recently) killed over a million people in Iraq and are implicated in the genocides, old and ongoing, in central (and as we’ll see, eastern) Africa? Like, maybe, these guys?

 

Nope. The ICC has, instead, fingered Omar Bashir of Sudan. Now not to review the whole modern history of Sudan (See Issue #21, ‘Darfur & Humanitarian Imperialism’), still it is pertinent, nevertheless, to recall that the US has been, and currently is, heavily implicated in the political woes of this war torn country having variously armed and supported all sides to the conflict over 30 years. Sudan’s woes, of course, don’t mean a tinkers damn to Washington which is more interested in its large deposits of oil, uranium and copper (currently under largely Chinese control), and in the strategic barrier it represents to the US’s goal of securing the African continent as part and parcel of its global empire. The ICC, then, is simply acting, as have the various kangaroo ‘international war crimes tribunals’, i.e. as a tool of war. The only difference is that whereas the criminal tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda served as post-facto justifications for subversion and attack, the ICC is now acting to justify in advance any potential ‘pre-emptive’ attack / intervention by the United States, or that is to say, the ‘international community’.

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the African front the Pentagon is moving fast and furious. For though the ‘eyes of the world’ are fixed steadfastly on the likes of Sudan and Zimbabwe, a larger and purely Western instigated humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding unseen and unreported – in Somalia.

 

The Horn Gets Gored

 

In December 2006 Ethiopia, acting under orders from Washington, and backed by US air and naval power, invaded Somalia. The Ethiopian invaders quickly installed a puppet regime called the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), this after having first deposed the popular Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU was the first administration in living memory to have won the support of the majority of Somalis allowing it to end a decade of warlord violence, corruption, kidnapping and extortion.

 

Unfortunately for Somalia, there was oil in ‘them thar hills’ (The US is expected to import up to 30% of its oil from Africa by 2018). In addition, the Horn of Africa sports deep water ports and a strategic location abutting the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Washington had long had designs on these and, indeed, had made a prior, if unsuccessful, attempt to take over the country back in 1994. Now, with Ethiopia having become one of its new ‘client states’ care of the new ‘war on terror’, the US proceeded to pressure the UN Security Council to grossly violate the UN Charter by passing a fraudulent resolution saying that the ‘situation’ in Somalia was a ‘threat to international peace’ – this precisely at a time when the ICU had, for the first time in decades, brought nothing but peace and stability to the war-torn nation. The UN Security Council, in playing along with this total fiction, not only sealed Somalia’s fate, but, incidentally, proved once again what a travesty is the UN’s vaunted ‘independence’.

 

With the UN resolution in hand, the US proxy force proceeded to kick butt. That is, they proceeded to kill thousands, round up thousands more into Ethiopian / US ‘rendition’ jails (i.e. torture gulags) and force hundreds of thousands of Somalis to flee the capital, Mogadishu. The ICU has since, however, been able to reconstitute itself as an effective and tenacious guerrilla force. The Ethiopians and TFG have, in response, resorted to wholesale violence and terror to try and break the spirit of the resistance. Thus, according to reports received by Amnesty International, Ethiopian forces are “slaughtering (Somalis) like goats”. At least 700,000 people have now been forced to flee Mogadishu, large sections of which have been reduced to rubble. In conjunction with the invasion, a prolonged drought has placed over 2.5 million Somalis in imminent danger of starvation, a figure which, according to UN monitors could easily top 3.5 million by the end of the year.

 

All this care of your friendly, neighbourhood humanitarian imperialism. And, of course, care of your dutiful, subservient ‘free press’ without whose total complicity this new, gratuitous humanitarian outrage – like all the multitudinous others - would scarce be able to operate unopposed.

 

More company on the gallows, methinks.

 

Afghanistan Takes Centre Stage

 

In recent statements Barack Obama has indicated that, should he become President, he would dramatically increase the numbers of US forces in Afghanistan. He has also said that he would “take out high-level terror targets” inside Pakistan. In truth, the latter is already a reality. Thus, American air-strikes on Pakistani soil have killed dozens of Pashtun tribesmen including women and children over the past few months. This turning on an old ally is, by the way, par for the historical course as far as empire is concerned. So much so that one wonders why anyone bothers to become a ‘client state’ at all given the inevitable duplicity of the global mafia don. But so it is.

 

The air strikes on the Pakistani border are, it is worth noting, part of the much larger, though more or less secret, air wars waged virtually incessantly against Iraq and Afghanistan proper. Thus, unbeknownst to most is the fact that United States conducts an average of 75 to 100 air attacks against ‘targets’ in Iraq and Afghanistan every day. As of June 2007, the famous survey of casualties in Iraq by the John Hopkins School of Public Health (published in the Lancet) noted that, of the 665,000 ‘excess deaths’ attributable to the US invasion (now raised to well over a million), between 102,000 and 147,000 were killed directly by US air strikes. Similar devastation reigns from the skies every day in Afghanistan.

 

Indeed, just as an exercise I decided to keep a tally of the number of civilians killed in July alone by these air strikes. Scouring the world news services my very conservative count was over 100 (It’s hard to get accurate figures as there is almost never any follow-up reporting). These included some two dozen or so killed from a wedding party (including the bride) in Nangarhar province, 50 civilians in Paktika, 17 in Nuristan and 13 Afghan police and civilians killed in a friendly fire’ incident in Farah province. (I didn’t include the dozens killed on the Pakistani side of the border). Indeed, the killing of civilians by America’s trigger-happy Top Guns is so prodigious that the American puppet ruler of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was forced, for appearances sake, to form (July 20th) a delegation to investigate them.

 

So, while Canada mourns the loss of its 88th soldier over a, roughly, six year period, the euphemistically labelled International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), of which Canada is a part, has just killed a minimum of 100 civilians in the last month alone – and this figure only accounts for air strikes, not ground-based assaults.

 

Not a lot of press let alone mourning going on here for those poor souls, just a lot of jingoistic hoopla glorifying the ‘mission’ of their killers.

 

And another thing (while I’m waxing indignant), what’s with this mewling defensive posture with regard to Omar Khadr? I mean, what I want to know is…

 

Where’s Omar’s Medal?

 

Let’s face it, quite apart from the fact that the entire operation (‘Enduring Freedom’) is a total croc, completely illegal, and a transparent pretext for imperial / colonial expansionism, the actual engagement in which Khadr was captured was a perfectly legitimate case of self-defense (US ground troops were moving in for the kill following an air strike) not to mention an eminently courageous act of legitimate resistance against a depraved invader and occupier.

 

That official punditry has refused to see this is merely a result of their reflexive grovelling before one of the great commandments of Empire, especially the American version over the past 50 years: Thou shalt not resist. In other words, not only do ‘we’ (as Chomsky so sardonically phrases it) “own the world”, which thus justifies in advance *anything* we do to possess it, but you, the victim, have absolutely no right, philosophical or otherwise, to *defend* yourself. As victim you are a mere cipher, in truth less, a non-being with negative rights, for any action you take to mitigate or prevent your own destruction or dispossession marks you as a ‘terrorist’, and as such beyond all legal canon, all civilized conduct. You are then but an object to be tortured and broken on the wheel of a Kafkaesque symbology whose entire raison d’etre is the reversal of the hitherto known moral universe.

 

Finally, it is worth remarking on the actual universe into which those, like Khadr, have been thrown. The Empire’s now notorious archipelago of torture gulags dot the globe both on land and on sea. They are to be found in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Iraq, Ethiopia, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Kosovo, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Thailand, and Diego Garcia. The UK human rights organization Reprieve has amassed evidence that the US has also employed as many as 17 naval vessels as ‘floating prisons’. By its own admission the US regime is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in these legal and moral black holes where, once inside, you are essentially ‘disappeared’. No proceedings, no notifications to kin, lawyers, Red Cross, no one. Beyond any law, beyond any protections of any kind.

 

‘Enduring Freedom’. What do you think? Do you think these fools have a sense of humour?

 

Note to self: more gallows. 

 

Antony Black - tal1@cogeco.ca

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