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02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]
02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
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02.21 John Oliver Compares Brexit ‘Disaster’ to Will Smith’s Genie in Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ (Video) [21:26 video; we’re approaching an Idiocracy-type of society, where stupidity is “normal”]
02.20 House report lays bare White House feud over Saudi nuclear push [Its hard to keep up with all the criminal crap going on...]
02.18 Hate-Fest in Warsaw
OTHER PEOPLES' CHILDREN DON'T MATTER:
The Children's Crusade
Monday, 11 May 2009
The U.S. military's "Overseas Contingency Operations" keep churning through the bodies of children: sometimes with chemical weapons that sear their flesh and leave them maimed and disfigured for life.Day after day, week after week, Barack Obama's "Overseas Contingency Operations" keep churning through the bodies of children: sometimes with chemical weapons that sear their flesh and leave them maimed and disfigured for life; sometimes with carefully aimed bullets ripping through their organs and leaving them dead right on the spot.
And in every such case, our brave and noble Terror Warriors -- who, lest we forget, are upholding the highest values of world civilization, bringing hope and change to benighted lands and defending our sacred way of life -- run screaming like spinsters in a hissy fit from the slightest hint of responsibility for their actions. Their first response, always, is to blame someone else: either the designated enemy of the day -- or else the burned and shredded children themselves.
This tendency was on vivid display this week in two stories from separate fronts in the ever-spreading Terror War. (Both pieces, from McClatchy and Reuters, come via the Angry Arab, who rightly notes Obama's moral ownership of the bullets and bombs of the militarist campaigns).
The most garish example can be found in Iraq, where American soldiers shot a 12-year-old boy in the streets of Mosul, one of the most troubled cities in the conquered land. Mosul, you may recall, is where Generalissimo David Petraeus -- now in military command of the entire Terror War -- built his vaunted but vaporous reputation for "effective counterinsurgency techniques" early in the war. It was a miniature model of the later "surge": using a massive influx of American troops, along with payoffs to favored local forces, to suppress the endemic chaos and violence unleashed by the invasion just long enough to establish a PR narrative of "success." Once the media spotlight has moved on, the evil, inevitable fruits of the original crime -- the Hitlerian act of military aggression -- flourish once more.
As in Iraq at large, so it is in Mosul. Last Thursday, American occupation troops rolling through the city were attacked by a grenade. In response, they shot a killed a 12-year-old boy, Omar Musa Salih, who was standing on the roadside selling fruit juice. Although eyewitnesses on the scene said the boy had not thrown the grenade -- they had seen, with their own eyes, an older man lobbing it toward the Americans -- President Obama's Pentagon insisted that the dead boy was an "insurgent" who deserved to die. Their proof? He had a handful of Iraqi dinars -- less than $9 -- in his hand when they inspected his corpse. So that means he was in the pay of terrorists, you see.
"We have every reason to believe that insurgents are paying children to conduct these attacks or assist the attackers in some capacity, undoubtedly placing the children in harm's way," a faceless "U.S. military spokesman" told McClatchy, in an email. Smearing the victim: a dead child -- oh, how noble, how civilized, how redolent of honor! You can certainly understand why no one would want to attach their face or name -- or even their voice -- to such a depraved, shameless and cowardly apologia.
For as McClatchy notes, there is no evidence whatsoever that young Omar was involved in the attack; quite the contrary, in fact:
Oh yes, these "deadlines" will doubtless prove to be infinitely flexible, easily extended; after all, President Obama has consistently reiterated his determination to be guided by the advice of his military officials and by "the facts on the ground" in implementing his scheme to remove some American troops from Iraq while leaving tens of thousands behind: a process of streamlined occupation that for some reason is called a "withdrawal."
But the lives of children are not so flexible, not so extendable. Omar Salih will not get up again. "Friends of the Salih family said he was the oldest of 6 children," McClatchy writes. "He quit school in the first grade, when he was six or seven years old. He was well-known in the Ras Al-Jadda neighborhood, where the attack took place."
He quit school at six or seven; that is, in 2003 or 2004, in the midst or in the aftermath of the American invasion. His life was spent on the street, trying to earn a pittance for his family. And now he is damned as a terrorist by the most powerful, most "advanced" nation in the world -- because he had a few strips of colored paper in his hand when he was gunned down at his fruit stand.
As we've noted several times in recent days, this is an inevitable result of military occupations in hostile lands: all of the natives come to be seen as the enemy -- children, women, the old and weak included. All are deemed imminent and/or potential threats by the conquerors, who live steeped in fear and incomprehension and anger at the "ingratitude" and hostility and recalcitrance of the locals. And so, ultimately, every civilian death can be "justified" -- because there are no civilians. There are just Them -- and Us. And whatever We do to protect ourselves from Them -- or to put Them in their place -- is rightful and just and should not be questioned.
This is the logic of the conqueror, the logic of domination. And it is the foundation and the philosophy of the War on Terror that America's bipartisan political class -- past and present, conservative and "progressive" -- has so enthusiastically embraced.
This week reports emerged about the possible use of white phosphorus shells in the American bombing assault last week that killed more than 140 children, women and old men who were taking shelter from a battle several miles away. These chemical weapons are "legal" when used "to illuminate a target or create smoke," but are illegal under international law if used purposely as a weapon. Of course, in dealing with attacks on populated areas -- the very heart of Terror War "counterinsurgency" -- this is a distinction without a difference. The shells explode in the midst of homes and streets, throwing their searing, unquenchable chemical gel everywhere, causing unbearable agony and permanent damage to the afflicted. However, the inherent ambiguity of carrying out military operations in civilian areas provides convenient cover for the use of this chemical weapon to put the natives in their place. (As we saw in Fallujah, for example, and most recently in Gaza.)
As always, the illumination-bringers in the American war machine blame someone else for the strange, horrific burns that doctors have discovered among the survivors of the massacre. After denying the use of white phosphorus in the attack for any reason, they first suggested that it was the Taliban who lobbed the advanced chemical weapon into villages that Afghan officials and the International Red Cross say were devastated by American bombs. Then they said the burns might have been caused by propane tanks exploding during the bombardment. But doctors dealing directly with the victims scoffed at this, as AP reports:
These new concerns come amidst new calls for an investigation of an earlier chemical weapon attack, which left an eight-year-old girl, Razia, with "her face an almost unrecognisable mess of burnt tissue and half her scalp a bald scar." She is the first known civilian victim of white phosphorus in Afghanistan. As Reuters reports:
As in the recent massacre, occupation officials point to the Taliban as the culprit in the chemical weapon attack -- a claim belied by experts on the region. But in the AP story on the massacre, Julian is suddenly asserting that "military officials believe that Taliban militants have used white phosphorus at least four times in Afghanistan in the past two years." We have heard nothing of this before, nor have any Afghan government official or acknowledged specialists. These charges of Taliban chemical weapons emerged only after Human Rights Watch began pushing the story of Razia's plight and the doctors in Herat found the strange burns in the massacre survivors. As Reuters reports:
Yet even here, as with the "child insurgents" of Mosul, the Pentagon can do no more than wanly assert its "belief" that such things could be going on. No proof is offered. There is only the bristling attempt to thrust away any responsibility, to deflect, distract, smear -- and obfuscate the inescapable realities of subjugating another nation by force.
Whatever the good intentions of this or that ordinary individual serving in the occupation forces -- such as the military doctors who saved what was left of Razia's life -- the underlying logic of domination will have its way, churning relentlessly through the bodies of innocent people caught up -- deliberately or "collaterally" -- in the brutal power of foreign forces which should not be in their land.
I wrote a piece last year about the lasting effects of those insescapable realities of subjugation. Although it deals with a different area of the Terror War, I'd like to close with an excerpt from it -- for, unfortunately, it is just as relevant as ever, if not more so. From "Written on the Body: The Reality of War" (see original for links):
I ended the piece with a quote I've used before, from Italo Calvino, because it is, as I said then, "one of the very best encapsulations of the horror, and hope, of our human condition":
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 May 12, 2009.
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