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WHY DISCLOSING U.S. WAR CRIMES MATTERS:
Protection Racket Redux: A Response From Ken Gude
Thursday, 5 February 2009
An array of evidence shows quite clearly that the new Administration has adopted the imperial premises of its predecessors. And as long as we continue to go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, we will not only incessantly create new enemies, we will keep on breeding something morally bankrupt, functionally disastrous -- and monstrous -- in our own system.In the update to a post earlier today (See Protection Racket: Obama Gets Tough to Shield Bush Torturers], I took Ken Gude to task for his column in the Guardian which I took to be a defense of the Obama Administration's action in pressuring a UK court to quash credible evidence of torture at Guantanamo Bay. Ken asked to respond to my piece -- and we are happy to oblige. Here's his reply, and my rejoinder.
Chris Floyd replies:
But I do disagree strongly that the disclosure of the information would have serious ramifications, especially as the judges themselves -- again, Establishment stalwarts of long standing -- say clearly that it deals with no sensitive intelligence information. And I do think the scenario about Pakistan cutting off intelligence ties is implausible. In any case, I am highly skeptical of the real worth of such "intelligence" cooperation in particular, and of "intelligence" in general. After all, most of the many innocent men -- and children -- who have been imprisoned in Gitmo over the years were put there on the basis of some kind of spurious "intelligence" of one sort or another. As Arthur Silber has often noted, it is policy -- and politics -- that drive and shape "intelligence," not the other way around. When a certain policy is desired, the intelligence can be made to fit the agenda -- as we saw with the invasion of Iraq.
In the end, I think the only thing that might possibly imperil the connection between the US and Pakistani intelligence services is if Washington stopped funneling billions of dollars to the Pakistani military-security apparat. That might get their dander up. But I don't think any revelation of ISI-U.S. cooperation -- or of even ISI kowtowing to U.S. pressure -- would cause the kind of breach that Ken describes, and fears. Again, that's just my opinion; he obviously has another take.
It's also my belief that the best way -- the only way -- to protect American troops in the region is to get them out of Afghanistan altogether. I think that the invasion was unnecessary, the continued occupation is counterproductive and corrosive -- and Obama's plan to escalate the conflict is an act of sheer lunacy that will imperil the "national security" far more than any revelations about Binyam Mohamed's torture.
I think that if one buys into the premises of the "War on Terror," then one is, willy nilly -- and often entirely against one's intention and inclinations -- supporting the militarist mindset that Bush and Cheney epitomized so brazenly, and which the Obama Administration is continuing in its own form and fashion.
I wasn't trying to accuse Ken of being Dick Cheney. Far from it. I know he has spoken out strongly and often against the crimes of the Bush-Cheney regime. I certainly didn't intend to rank him alongside such vicious criminals, and I hope my piece did not do that. But I do think that if one buys into the premises of the "War on Terror," then one is, willy nilly -- and often entirely against one's intention and inclinations -- supporting the militarist mindset that Bush and Cheney epitomized so brazenly, and which the Obama Administration is continuing in its own form and fashion. The entire War on Terror only exacerbates and empowers the international terrorism that Ken wants to defeat. It not only radicalizes whole populations and generations, it also teaches by example: it shows every group in the world that violence on a massive, pitiless scale is the way to advance your agenda and defend your interests.
I believe the best way to defeat international terrorism is to begin by stopping the massive, continuous state terrorism that the United States is carrying out and/or abetting around the world. This would include not only the cessation of various military occupations, covert destabilizations and "regime change" operations (such as the disastrous adventure in Somalia), but also the dismantling of the vast empire of U.S. military bases that encircle the globe.
Instead of the premises of the "War on Terror," I would start with the principles enunciated by John Quincy Adams back in 1821:
It is because the fundamental maxim of the "National Security State" is indeed force that we find ourselves inextricably involved in the complex tangle of legality, disclosure, intelligence and "national security" that lies at the heart of the UK case. I agree with Ken that this one particular case is not in itself evidence that Obama will be anything like Bush. But, as I noted, it is all of a piece with an array of other evidence -- not least the court cases defending John Yoo and the unconstitutional imprisonment of Jose Padilla, and the "continuity" displayed in keeping Bush's own hand-picked man as head of the Pentagon, etc. -- that shows quite clearly that the new Administration has adopted the imperial premises of its predecessors. And as long as we continue to go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, we will not only incessantly create new enemies, we will keep on breeding something morally bankrupt, functionally disastrous -- and monstrous -- in our own system.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on February 6, 2009.
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