"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Sunday, June 18, 2006

State Terrorism

Massacre on a Beach in Gaza

Targeted assassination is premeditated slaughter; it has no place in civilized societies. There’s no link between justice and murder.

Israel doesn’t bother with low-intensity warfare anymore. It goes straight for the jugular. Day after day Israel has launched unprovoked attacks on Palestinian civilians only pausing long enough to assemble the requisite lies to fend off the media.

It’s quite extraordinary. One day they blow up a family peacefully touring in their new car; killing 3 generations with one mighty blast, and then a few days later they fire a mortar round at a beach in Gaza wiping out 7 members of another family. The entire incident in Gaza was captured on video providing a heart-wrenching visual-account of a traumatized 12 year old girl running around while the limp and bloodied bodies of her parents are carted off to the morgue.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s response to the tragedy was astonishingly bland:

”The IDF is the most moral military in the world. There has never been, and there isn’t now, a policy of attacking civilians.”

Olmert’s proclamations are meaningless; the IDF is neither more nor less “moral” than any other “organized killing-machine”. The IDF simply reflects the prevailing ethos of the Israeli leadership; a leadership steeped in arrogance and racism. If we look at the recent American massacre in Iraq, we see that there’s a straight line between the “execution-style” killing of women and children in Haditha and the Bush administration’s promiscuous attitude towards torture and cruelty. A fish rots from the head; so it is with the military as well. The culture of impunity begins at the leadership level, not with a few “bad apples”.

This explains why the very next day Israel fired off another 3 rockets into Gaza killing 9 more Palestinians including two children and one medic who was attending to the wounded. The policy hasn’t changed a lick. The only difference is that the backlash from the Gaza massacre is now be managed by an Israeli public relations team.

According to the Jerusalem Post, “The Israeli Foreign Ministry has launched an information campaign to change the minds of the world that has already blamed Israel….Israel’s message is simple: The Palestinians are responsible”.

Once again, Israel has decided to invoke the familiar strategy of “blaming the victim”. Fortunately, forensic evidence has already proved beyond a doubt that the shrapnel came from a “155 millimeter howitzer shell from a land-based Israeli firing device”. On top of that, the last surviving member of the family, 12-year-old Huda Ghaliya, has provided a lurid description of the Israeli shelling of the beach.

“We were sitting and all of a sudden the shells just started falling on our heads,” she said. What could be clearer?

There’s no doubt that Israel is responsible. Their PR blitz is bound to fail. Never the less, Israel has drawn up 6 “talking points” that will be reiterated by government officials and agents in the media. The public relations campaign focuses on three main themes:

1. Deny everything

2. Blame the victim (Say that Hamas had land-mined the beach)

3. Create the appearance that Israel was just defending itself.

The Foreign Ministry has added 6 “bullet points” to these general ideas, but they’re hardly worth going over except as a way of measuring the real depth of human cynicism. After all, we’re talking about the life of one despondent, terrified girl whose parents have just been murdered in a senseless act of violence. Olmert has taken that tragic event and transformed it into an exercise for manipulating public perceptions. That’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

The broader question that arises from the Gaza Beach Massacre is whether Israel is deliberately killing civilians or not? Certainly Israel has never backed away from its defense of “targeted assassinations”, but does that imply that killing innocent Palestinians can be rationalized as a matter of policy?

Here’s a statement issued by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on this point:

“Israel does not target innocents, yet must fight terrorists who willingly shield themselves behind their own population in their ongoing campaign to kill and maim Israeli civilians”.

The Israeli statement actually creates more questions than answers. It is clear, however, that the fight against terrorism is given priority over the lives of civilians, and that the state claims the right to kill “terror suspects” whether innocent people are sacrificed or not. This is a radical idea and it overturns long-held precedents about the “inalienable” right to life.

But how can the state authorize “targeted assassinations”? Government officials are required to comply with the law. Targeted assassinations are “extra-judicial” by their very nature; it is the deliberate killing of someone who has never been charged with a crime and has been deprived of all due process. The victim has no way to defend himself from completely arbitrary allegations. In Israel’s case, the decision for these summary executions is placed in the hands of unreliable militarists, like Sharon, who have a long pedigree of lying and war crimes.

Are these people who can be trusted pronouncing death sentences on Palestinian “suspects”?

Targeted assassination is premeditated slaughter; it has no place in civilized societies. There’s no link between justice and murder; the two are polar opposites. Security concerns should not be allowed to transform the law into a weapon for autocrats.

Never the less, targeted assassination is a central part of Israeli policy in the territories. As a result, incidents like the one on the beach in Gaza occur with increasing frequency. This leads us to question whether or not Israel has a policy of killing civilians.

The fact that 12-year-old Huda Ghaliya and her family were not intentionally fired on makes no difference. The issue is whether Israel has made reasonable assumptions about how many innocent people will be sacrificed in executing their policy.

We assume they have. We assume that Israel knows that from 2001, 552 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli assassinations, and that, 181 of these have been people who just happened to be in the vicinity or tried to help the victims when other missiles were fired. These figures prove that Israel knows “exactly” what the effects of its policy are, and that they still believe it is worth the price. Therefore, we can say with certainty that the killing of innocent people is a fundamental part of Israel’s calculation. Whether it is intentional or not, makes no difference.

In Nigel Parry’s “Does Israel have a Policy of Killing Palestinian Civilians?” the author digs into the larger issues surrounding targeted assassinations.

“After you see someone kill a child, you perceive humans very differently after that. We like to assume that when such a completely inexcusable event takes place that the deaths happened by some kind of “accident” or “error”.

“Crossfire” was perhaps Israel’s most successful lie at the onset of the Second Intifada, and no amount of statistics showing otherwise really seemed to penetrate our consciousness and make a difference.

It made no difference because inside we desperately want to believe that the murderers and serial killers of this world are aberrations, rare, that they are sick or somehow different. This conclusion is not possible when you witness a common, recurring pattern with your own eyes, across an entire army. At some point something gives way inside, and your fantasies about basic human decency crumble.” (Electronic Intifada).

Parry draws from his years of first-hand experience living in the occupied territories and witnessing the violent reaction of the IOF to Palestinians protests. In the many cases when he saw young Palestinians shot dead by Israeli soldiers, he never remembers an incident when any of the soldiers were in a life-threatening situation. Parry continues:

“Out of nowhere, when the energy of the clashes seemed to be dissipating, a soldier would suddenly shoot a child or teenager, 100 feet away from them or more ….

Let me be clear. The events I am describing, in the clashes where people died, were not the exception. They were the rule. And not one soldier was ever punished.”

Parry’s description is revealing on many levels. The violence against Palestinians is oftentimes gratuitous, tribal, and steeped in racism. No one was punished in the confrontations he witnessed just as no one will be held accountable for the deaths of 8 family members on the beach in Gaza. It is all part of a culture of impunity which has saturated every fiber of the Israeli leadership and trickled down to the soldiers in the field.

Israel’s obfuscations mean nothing. They simply reinforce the belief that Israel will not conform to internationally-accepted standards of justice until it elects leaders who are committed to following the rule of law. Targeted assassination is never acceptable. It is a violation of the most essential principle of law; the right to life. No amount of public-relations wizardry or buck-passing can justify firing missiles into crowded areas or the random killing of blameless civilians. The law is written to protect civilians against disasters like the tragedy in Gaza, where a girl's life was ruined in a flash by an errant mortar-round. If the law had been applied, the order would never have been given and young Huda would not have been left wailing inconsolably on the sand.

The law is our only refuge from the terror of the state. We should make sure our leaders comply.

Mike Whitney
-The author is a regular contributor to PalestineChronicle.com

Support the Troops

And it's up against the wall American Muthers,
Barbara Bush, who raised her son so well.
Now Dubya's out there smirkin' in God's honky tonk,
Just kickin' soldiers' asses and raisin' hell.

~~apologies to Jerry Jeff Walker

Once a year, George Bush shows up at Arlington National Cemetery and tells a tightly controlled, thoroughly vetted audience that he 'preciates the sacrifice of those who volunteered to die "in freedom's cause." There, surrounded by silent tombstones and armed Secret Service Police, this most infamous of military deserters befouls not only the hallowed ground, but the very air, as he regurgitates words he babbled the year before...and the year before. He reminds us that America is a "reluctant warrior," but we are resolved; our will must not be broken, no matter how many sacrifices it takes.

During the annual photo-op, Bush reads exerpts of farewell letters allegedly from fallen soldiers and marines, all apparently honored to have died in Bush's noble cause. Their words passed on to us by Bush are eerily familiar -- stay the course -- complete the mission of ridding the world of evil -- spread freedom and democracy to the four corners of the earth. Then, after hoping that the slain heroes made peace with their Maker before being blown to bits, and a final admonishment to "support the troops," Bush cuts out until next year.

The camera never strays from Bush's twitching mouth, darting eyes -- never scans the audience so we might see who these people are who applaud him so vigorously. It must be members of his administration and those legislators who follow him around like whipped pups, for I cannot imagine mothers willing to either sacrifice their children to bolster Bush's poll numbers in a barbaric slaughterhouse that grows more bloody and chaotic every day, or to cheer him on. Somehow I cannot conjure up an image of mothers offering up their sons and daughters to a pathological narcissist killer, knowing if they are returned at all it will be either in pieces or in boxes.

Hiding the Troops

Either way, Bush is determined to protect us from seeing the steady stream of ghastly homecomings. That's what mothers are for. Bush says he wakes up every morning trying to figure out how to protect the American people, and -- like his mother says -- folks shouldn't have to worry their beautiful minds with such depressing images.

So Bush not only banned the media and the public from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where dead soldiers are secretly shuttled back in country in the dead of night, but from military installations around the world.

Bush also restricted the media from covering funerals at Arlington, apparently deciding that the best way to support the troops is to "disappear" them from our view forever. Besides, if you've seen one aluminum transfer tube covered with the old red-white-and-blue, you've seen 'em all. Why bother parading 2,500 of them past a bored, disconnected, disinterested citizenry, most of whom have no children in this fight and could care less about other people's children...

General Tommy Franks, former Central Command Commander, who developed and executed the bloody Iraq fiasco, recently told the National Rifle Association that it wasn't important how many Americans died -- that those who count the increasing number of American soldiers killed in Iraq are missing the bigger picture. "What we're talking about is neither 2,400, 24,000 or 240,000 lives," Franks said. "Terrorism is a thing that threatens our way of life. It doesn't have anything to do with politics."

Americans fail to realize that words mean far different things to Bush, and apparently to Franks, than they do to coherent, rational people. To Bush, "support the troops" means don't criticize him when thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of innocents die in an illegal, bloody mess that he lied to get us into.

Bush brags that he's a war president. He says he sits in the Oval Office with war on his mind. He doesn't read --- doesn't need to because his gut makes all the decisions, and anybody who doesn't like that is aiding and abetting the terrorists.

So -- stick a yellow ribbon on your vehicle, shut up, and support the troops.

Supporting the Troops

In the only evidence of support I am aware of, just months after getting his war on, Bush opened a new $30 million, state-of-the-art, 70,000 square-foot mortuary at Dover to support the troops, or what is left of them, when they are sneaked back to the states under cover of darkness. Since then, he has sent America's sons and daughters unprepared and unequipped into a raging guerilla insurgency with orders to kill anything that moves.

Bush and his entire Iran-Contra war-criminal chickenhawk administration are devoid of ethos; incapable of empathy or compassion, and could care less about supporting troops. Bush has said on more than one occasion, "My attitude is, any time we put one of our soldiers in harm's way, we're going to spend whatever is necessary to make sure they have the best training, the best support and the best possible equipment."

That may be his attitude, but it is not the reality on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Far too many Americans Bush has put in harm's way are trying unsuccessfully to stay alive in soft-armored Humvees while wearing Vietnam-era flak jackets. Far too few of them have the Intercepter Vest designed in the late 1990's to protect its wearer with Kevlar lining and ceramic plates in front and back pockets to shield vital organs. Day after grinding day in the filth and horror of a war with the "front line" anywhere the enemy decides it will be, ill-trained and ill-equipped Americans are losing the battle to stay alive -- and there is no end in sight.

Most Americans neither know nor care about what is going on, but the mothers know. They are not only spending thousands of dollars sending critical armor, night-vision goggles, and other needed equipment to their children, but are sending food as well.

Journalist Bob Kerr writes in The Providence Journal that Marine Nick Andoscia called and asked his mother to send food. Kerr said Nick told his mother that he and the men in his unit had shed about 10 pounds in their first few weeks in Iraq. They were pulling 22-hour patrol shifts, and were getting only two meals a day -- not meals to remember. He said they were going to the Iraqis and literally begging for food.

The lack of support this administration gives its uniformed personnel is monumentally ruthless and evil. Since Bush's unprovoked attack on Iraq, nearly 12,000 soldiers have been evacuated because of disease. Some of the sickness can be attributed to Halliburton-KBR serving tainted water and rotten food in the mess halls, but most is undoubtedly from radiation poisoning due to the widespread use of the deadly Depleted Uranium.

Blaming the Troops

One of the more frightening things about wars, especially immoral wars like this one, is the enemy must be dehumanized so soldiers and marines can be kept under control and "up" for the killing they must do. Normal human beings can't turn cruelty on and off like a faucet; therefore, the troops must be also be dehumanized to the point of madness. They become predators without conscience -- drugged and brainwashed into a continuous white rage, not only willing, but eager to kill.

Their commander-in-chief is a ruthlessly self-centered, single-layered demon whose hypnotic cadence of kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill has succeeded in turning them into the monsters they must be for his world dominance aspirations to succeed. The US military are victims of a cruel fascist regime. They are used, then tossed aside to come to terms with what they have become on their own. It is a rare soldier who returns to find professional help available.

For many, the final battle with their predator leader is one too many. Because of the values they were taught from birth -- it all comes crashing down. Many can't cope with the magnitude of sheer evil that envelops them. Some commit suicide. Others become alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless, the walking dead.

When torture, murder and war crimes committed by Americans in places such as Guantanamo, Haditha, Abu Ghrab, Ishaqi and Fallujah, as well as in Afghanistan, comes to light, Bush and his criminal defense department initially try to conceal the atrocities. If forced to investigate themselves, they find no wrongdoing. When all else fails, Bush comes out, blames the troops and says the few bad apples will be brought to justice. Commanders stand silent, refusing to defend or protect those for whom they are responsible -- mute acknowledgement that, as Henry Kissinger said, "Soldiers are expendable -- dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy."

Every single member of Congress, every single member of this filthy administration, every single commander on the ground, and every single member of the shameful corporate US media must be blamed for allowing George Bush's rampant maiming and destruction of American citizens and for the genocidal murder waged against innocent Iraqi men, women and children. Every single one of them should be forced to don Vietnam-era flak jackets, crammed into unarmored Humvees and ordered to drive across Iraq, fighting to stay alive while choking on depleted uranium dust. Then they might acknowledge who is to blame for this fiasco.

Is it the troops?

No way in hell.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at: rsamples@sirinet.net . © 2006 Sheila Samples