Forget Daesh: Humanity is at Stake
By Ramzy Baroud
November 26, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - I still remember
that smug look on his face, followed by the matter-of-fact remarks
that had western journalists laugh out loud.
“I’m now going to show you a picture of the
luckiest man in Iraq,” General Norman Schwarzkopf, known as
‘Stormin’ Norman, said at a press conference sometime in 1991, as he
showed a video of US bombs blasting an Iraqi bridge, seconds after
the Iraqi driver managed to cross it.
But then, a far more unjust invasion and war
followed in 2003, following a decade-long siege that cost Iraq a
million of its children and its entire economy.
It marked the end of sanity and the dissipation of
any past illusions that the United States was a friend of the Arabs.
Not only did the Americans destroy the central piece of our
civilizational and collective experience that spanned millennia, it
took pleasure in degrading us in the process. Their soldiers raped
our women with obvious delight. They tortured our men, and posed
with the dead, mutilated bodies in photographs – mementos to prolong
the humiliation for eternity; they butchered our people, explained
in articulate terms as necessary and unavoidable collateral damage;
they blew up our mosques and churches and refused to accept that
what was done to Iraq over the course of twenty years might possibly
constitute war crimes.
Then, they expanded their war taking it as far as
US bombers could reach; they tortured and floated their prisoners
aboard large ships, cunningly arguing that torture in international
waters does not constitute a crime; they suspended their victims on
crosses and photographed them for future entertainment.
Their entertainers, media experts, intellectuals
and philosophers made careers from dissecting us, dehumanizing us,
belittling everything we hold dear; they did not spare a symbol, a
prophet, a tradition, values or set of morals. When we reacted and
protested out of despair, they further censured us for being
intolerant to view the humor in our demise; they used our angry
shouts to further highlight their sense of superiority and our
They claimed that we initiated it all. But they
lied. It was their unqualified, inflated sense of importance that
made them assign September 11, 2001 as the inauguration of history.
All that they did to us, all the colonial experiences and the
open-ended butchery of the brown man, the black man, any man or
woman who did not look like them or uphold their values, was
All the millions who died in Iraq were not
considered a viable context to any historical understanding of
terrorism; in fact, terrorism became us; the whole concept of
terror, which is violence inflicted on innocent civilians for
political ends, abruptly became an entirely Arab and Muslim trait.
In retrospect, the US-Western-Israeli slaughter of the Vietnamese,
Koreans, Cambodians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians, South
Americans, Africans, was spared any censure. Yet, when Arabs
attempted to resist, they were deemed the originators of violence,
the harbingers of terror.
Furthermore, they carried out massive social and
demographic experiments in Iraq which have been unleashed throughout
the Middle East, since. They pitted their victims against one
another: the Shia against the Sunni, the Sunni against the Sunni,
the Arabs against the Kurds, and the Kurds against the Turks. They
called it a strategy, and congratulated themselves on a job well
done as they purportedly withdrew from Iraq. They disregarded the
consequences of tampering with civilizations that have evolved over
the course of millennia.
When their experiments went awry, they blamed
their victims. Their entertainers, media experts, intellectuals and
philosophers flooded every public platform to inform the world that
the vital mistake of the Bush administration was the assumption that
Arabs were ready for democracy and that, unlike the Japanese and the
Germans, Arabs were made of different blood, flesh and tears.
Meanwhile, the finest of Arab men were raped in their jails,
kidnapped in broad daylight, tortured aboard large ships in
international waters, where the Law did not apply.
When the Americans and their allies claimed that
they had left the region, they left behind bleeding, impoverished
nations, licking their wounds and searching for bodies under rubble
in diverse and macabre landscapes. Yet, the Americans, the British,
the French and the Israelis, continue to stage their democratic
elections around the debate of who will hit us the hardest,
humiliate us the most, teach the most unforgettable lesson and, in
their late night comedies, they mock our pain.
We, then, sprang up like wild grass in a desert,
multiplied, and roamed the streets of Rabat, Baghdad, Damascus and
Cairo, calling for a revolution. We wanted democracy for our sake,
not Bush’s democracy tinged with blood; we wanted equality, change
and reforms and a world in which Gaza is not habitually destroyed by
Israel and children of Derra could protest without being shot; where
leaders do not pose as divinities and relish the endless arsenals of
their western benefactors. We sought a life in which freedom is not
a rickety dingy crossing the sea to some uncertain horizon where we
are treated as human rubbish on the streets of western lands.
However, we were crushed; pulverized; imprisoned,
burnt, beaten and raped and, once more, told that we are not yet
ready for democracy; not ready to be free, to breathe, to exist with
even a speck of dignity.
Many of us are still honorably fighting for our
communities; others despaired: they carried arms and went to war,
fighting whoever they perceive to be an enemy, who were many. Others
went mad, lost every sense of humanity; exacted revenge, tragically
believing that justice can be achieved by doing unto others what
they have done unto you. They were joined by others who headed to
the West, some of whom had escaped the miseries of their homelands,
but found that their utopia was marred with alienation, racism and
neglect, saturated with a smug sense of superiority afflicted upon
them by their old masters.
It became a vicious cycle, and few seem interested
now in revisiting General Schwarzkopf’s conquests in Iraq and
Vietnam – with his smug attitude and the amusement of western
journalists – to know what actually went wrong. They still refuse to
acknowledge history, the bleeding Palestinian wound, the heartbroken
Egyptian revolutionaries and the destroyed sense of Iraqi
nationhood, the hemorrhaging streets of Libya and the horrifying
outcomes of all the western terrorist wars, with blind, oil-hungry
dominating foreign policies that have shattered the Cradle of
Civilization, like never before.
However, this violence no longer affects Arabs
alone, although Arabs and Muslims remain the larger recipients of
its horror. When the militants, spawned by the US and their allies,
felt cornered, they fanned out to every corner of the globe, killing
innocent people and shouting the name of God in their final moment.
Recently, they came for the French, a day after they blew up the
Lebanese, and few days after the Russians; and, before that, the
Turks and the Kurds, and, simultaneously, the Syrians and the
Who is next? No one really knows. We keep telling
ourselves that ‘it’s just a transition’ and ‘all will be well once
the dust has settled’. But the Russians, the Americans and everyone
else continue bombing, each insisting that they are bombing the
right people for the right reason while, on the ground, everyone is
shooting at whoever they deem the enemy, the terrorist, a
designation that is often redefined. Yet, few speak out to recognize
our shared humanity and victimhood.
No – do not always expect the initials ISIS to
offer an explanation for all that goes wrong. Those who orchestrated
the war on Iraq and those feeding the war in Syria and arming Israel
cannot be vindicated.
The crux of the matter: we either live in dignity
together or continue to perish alone, warring tribes and
grief-stricken nations. This is not just about indiscriminate
bombing – our humanity, in fact, the future of the human race is at
Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People's History
at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle
East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media
consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His
latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold
Story (Pluto Press, London).